Coparenting sanity – tips on dealing with a narcissist

There are, thankfully, a few things that we can do when co-parenting with a narcissist which will help us to maintain sanity.  If your children are noticing that their narcissistic parent is different than others and frustrated with it, there are also some things that you can tell them which can help them to deal with it.

Let’s address the co-parenting aspect here.  Rules for sanity include:

1.  Disengage, disengage, disengage.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to emotionally buffer yourself from your ex.  Do what you can to ignore, pretend they don’t exist, focus on the good in your life which is unrelated to your ex.

2. Communicate as little as possible.  Similar to item #1, communicate with the narcissistic parent only as you have to for the kids sake.  Any communication should be business-style in nature and not react to anything that doesn’t require a reaction for your children’s sake.  If an email comes in from him/her which has accusations and blaming, do not NOT address it.  If in the middle of the email it says something about your needing to take little Joe to his soccer practice, then ignore all the rest of it and respond “I will take Joe to his soccer practice at 4pm this Saturday.  Thanks.”

Do not worry about anything other than items which may be placing your children in danger.  If they are stuffed with junkfood all weekend while they are at the other parent’s, then feed them healthy when they are with you and explain how important it is for their well being.  In the grand scheme of things, this is a very minor issue.

3. Remember that a narcissist projects.  “Projecting” is common with narcissist personality disorder.  A narcissist is suffering from the fact that there is a lot about their personality and self which is ‘unlikeable’.  They can’t see those pieces consciously, but they know it subconsciously.  In order to cope, they will project these unacceptable portions of themselves onto you.  I understand it can be hard to hear negative, bashing comments about you and not react.  This is one way to help you do that – remember that they are projecting.  When your ex says “All you ever do is stuff the kids with junk food.  You’re fat and unattractive and no one will ever want to be with you.”, immediately change it so that what you hear is “I am stuffing our children with junk food.  I’m terrified that I am fat, unattractive and no one will want me.”  It is soooo much easier to ignore this way, and an essential component of following rule #1.

4.  Don’t take to heart any threats, accusations or blatant lies about you.   Remember rule #3, they project.  Also remember that a narcissist needs, NEEDS connection with you – even if it is negative connection.  So he will escalate what he says and change what he says / does over and over again to get a reaction from you.  In my life, the only thing that would get a reaction from me was stuff about our children, particularly threats to try to get custody.  He knows this, and I guarantee you that this is a paramount reason why he takes our children for visitation (note – he probably also takes them because they give him narcissistic supply, and he is taking identity from them by associating himself as a father.  Otherwise, he would be alone and that would be horribly frightening.)

5. Do not deviate from the schedule.  Narcissists have difficulty with change, since they have no core sense of self, they use their environment to regulate how they feel.  When the environment changes, they feel frantic.  I can remember hearing “why are you doing this to me??” when I asked to make one small change to the schedule because a family member was ill.  It took a long time until that sentence made sense for me.  This rule also helps with #2 – communicate as little as possible.  If the schedule is always the schedule, then there isn’t any reason to communicate.

6. You don’t need to bear the brunt of the emotion for your children.  Yes, your narcissistic ex is going to dress up your children and use them to portray an image about himself.  NPD people see their children as ‘an extension of themselves’, so it’s necessary for them to make sure they match the identity that they are creating.  I don’t even recognize my kids if he dresses them, and they don’t recognize themselves.  They resent that he does this to them and won’t listen to their preferences.  This is their journey in life, not yours.  This is where you have to take a step back and remember that there’s something they need to learn in life – just like we all do, and that perhaps dealing with a narcissistic parent is the journey and lesson that they have on tap for them.  They will be stronger individuals than we grew up to be, because they will be learning this all first hand as young children.  Again – as long as they are not in danger, you can work with them to help minimize the emotional impact.  I may not yet have all the answers on how to do this, but I certainly think that there are some things which can be done.

7. Boundaries.  Do what you can to draw clear boundaries with your ex.  Boundaries are the end of me and the beginning of you.  They are things that you can basically take for granted with a normal person, but you can’t with a personality disordered individual.  Time is a boundary – if I’m supposed to meet you at 2pm but I’m consistently late, I’m being disrepectful about your schedule, which is your boundary.  When you were married, your ex probably insisted that you spend a lot of time with him, or at least available when he needed you.  My ex used to say to me that I needed to do everything that I wanted in life during my work hours, because all the time outside of work needed to be spent with him.  (ha!  I laughed… then I realized he meant it… and I ran).   What you like, dislike, believe in, stand for, need to do, friends you want to be with, where you live, your stuff – these are all part of what makes you who you are.  Personality disordered individuals have poor boundaries.  They have a hard time relating to others, understanding what’s appropriate, respecting other’s stuff, space, time.  You may have not realized you were prime for issues like this, because perhaps you never had someone consistently defy your boundaries.  It may be difficult to set boundaries with your ex because you need to understand and learn them first.  Additionally, your ex WILL NOT LIKE the boundaries you set.  It will feel uncomfortable to them to have you draw those lines.  You are not responsible for how they feel when you set boundaries which define what’s acceptable to you.  If they have a temper tantrum, it’s ok… let them :)

That’s my ideas on this so far, what I’ve found work or don’t work.  Please feel free to comment and suggest other ways in which it helps you in coparenting with your personality disordered ex.  Thanks!



122 Responses to “Coparenting sanity – tips on dealing with a narcissist”

  1. Gayle says:

    I passed this blog post to my partner a few months ago who has been having a horrendous time of it recently with the Narc BM. The contact/communication increased with my partner when she split with her boyfriend and was no longer able to use him for a source of drama and so it was aimed at BF to top it up. The main issue is that some people do not realise that they are dealing with a person with NPD and so feed the drama and/or go along doing everything they are told to do by the NPD to avoid that drama in the first place, a grave mistake imo. This can (and did) go on for years. She would get him to do things for her (not the child) or guilt money out of him and then sit and laugh about how much an “idiot” he was with her friends (confirmed by various mutual friends). The fact a lot of people with NPD accuse everyone around them of being a narc, which is typical of narc behavior when objects (people) do not agree with them and stop feeding their ego by taking the power away that person is all the names under the sun and the most selfish person on earth.
    My partner started putting boundaries in place a few months ago and of course all hell has broke loose as she suddenly realised that her power over him is being taken away bit by bit (of course this is my fault in BM’s eyes she constantly projects about me. I am also a single parent and have a fantastic relationship with my childs BF but then neither of us tries to abuse the other and respect each other and each others new lives). She literally has had tantrum after tantrum. She lies in her conversations (we have written proof from herself) then refuses to acknowledge that it even happened (even with the proof) and she continues with the new lie repeating it over and over…. its a very strange thing to watch unfold as she twists and turns to get what she wants guilt trips interspaced with rants and insults and lies… especially as it continues even without a reply…. He only started to see the pattern recently. The conversations are not based on or in reality, trying to reason with a narc is like hitting your head off a brick wall, pointless and painful. I think seeing me have such an easy relationship with my childs BF made him start to analyse his situation more and he realised that her behaviour was not normal and was detrimental.
    The communication part of your blog has really helped him, he no longer gets in to heated arguments with her while she emotionally blackmails him, throws buckets of guilt and spiteful abuse to get what she wants and instead now only responds to direct questions/details about his child. It doesn’t stop the childish narc behavior or rants but makes him feel empowered, more in control of his own life and he is no longer afraid to say no.
    In a way I feel sorry for her, she is poison and poisonous to everyone and everything around her and yet her very mindset means she will never see it as it actually is as she blames the whole world for her own faults and behaviors and uses the victim status to her advantage to get what she wants from other people rather than face herself head on and be the best she can be.
    It might also be worth noting that children may attempt to emulate narc behavior especially if they see BM or indeed BF getting what they want by using it so it is important to discuss these behaviors should they arise with any child involved, make them analyse the behaviour themselves, children generally know when something is not quite right anyway. Wish us luck as we do all of you. x

  2. Lisa says:

    Thanks so much for this post, it has really helped me to finally realise, after being separated for 3 and a half years, that the only way to co parent, is as little communication as possible. It sounds so simple but I was still trying to keep those channels open, and just getting wound up and upset for my boys, time and time again. Especially since his new girlfriend has got involved, believing all his lies. Thanks very very much! I now am leaving it to them to contact me, and will only respond to practical detail, nothing else.

  3. Justin says:

    Narcissism does not know race nor gender. – truth

  4. APD says:

    Co parenting with a narcissist is a living nightmare. It is absolute hell. Men narcissist are bad, yes. But if you have ever death with a narcissistic sociopathic woman is worse than that. First because she is the mother, and if she has managed to portray herself as a good mother, she will use the kids against their dad to make his life hell. She will not want him to move on – even tho she has. She is responsible for the end of the marriage, yet she take no respinsibility for it. Even after the children are adults she will still find something to bother her ex husband with. The Internet is the narcissistic sociopaths favorite weapon. They love spreading rumors and lies about their ex. It Just never ends

  5. Angie says:


    I don’t know the whole situation, but I do know that dealing with my ex is like a giant rollercoaster. Yes, for 1 or 2 weeks he is pleasant, charming, gift giving when he wants his way (to come back to the house). When his plans don’t work he turns everything on me. I am ruining the kids lives, I am obeying the devil..ect., making me feel that I am the one with the issues. It has been like this for 13 years! Good news is that my kids see the behavior and know it isn’t me and I have gotten very strong to his ways. I just say…I guess I am the bad one and you will have to leave it up to God to change me. Jesus Christ saved my life and He is the one that has gotten me through this. Just don’t play the game. Don’t let him bring you down because that is his goal. Sociopaths always adapt to their situations too so don’t feel bad for him. Pray for Him…it helps.

  6. Abi says:

    My ex makes me wrong almost constantly. If he’s not doing that he is overly nice to try to get something, like move back with our children.

    Is this a narcissist? I’m unclear.
    Thank you.

  7. Alicia says:

    Thank you so much for the advice! Great stuff! My story is a little different. It’s my husband’s ex wife that is a narcissist. We always say she’s crazy. But I couldn’t ever figure out which kind of crazy. The saddest part about it. He shares 2 daughters with her. I read an article “21 signs your mom is a Narcissist. Out of the 21, even seen around 20. It’s to the point it’s effecting the girls. They tell us all the time how crazy their mom is and they want to live with us. But, we live in a Mother’s state, Texas. My husband is even a lawyer, not family law. She use to stalk us on dates, call 10 to 16 times a day, email at least 5, and to many text messages to count. This was all when she had the girls. It was more when we had them. She finally found some poor soul to marry her. I felt very confident that things would change after her marriage. Oh heaven NO!!! It’s gotten worse. She threatens his teenage daughter with her cell phone. If she doesn’t call or text her right away. The woman goes NUTS. This past Friday night we were driving to meet my husbands parents for dinner. She asked the daughter, where are you doing to eat. When she told her, the mom said, well that expensive. Who’s paying for that and what kind of food? Her knowing we were at dinner she text the daughter and told her to call her immediately. Finally my husband went back to mediation and the mediator recommend a email service called Our Family Wizard. It has been a lifesaver for the most part. She isn’t allowed to contact him direct, but only for emergencies. This is court ordered so that helps also. But, she went to far a couple of weeks ago. The girls stayed with her sister and friend while she was gone on her honeymoon. Of course it’s was HER CALL and HER choice. Which is her FAVORITE line. While the girls stayed with both. They grilled them with questions about my husband and myself, more me. The friend went as far as taking the daughters iphone. Going through her instagram accout and looking at my account through the daughters (because I’m private). She asked her 50 questions. To the point the daughter got upset and mad. I’m so blessed to love my stepdaughter and they love me. We are very close. Which of course the mother HATES!!! The mom goes through all girls stuff to get info about me. So last night we had a family meeting. They flat said, they think their mom is crazy and wanted to know if I thought so too. Unfortunately the young daughter (10) overheard me talking to my mom. Everyone in our life knows this woman is nuts. Even the counselor thought maybe she’s bipolar. But when she started to get into that. She moved the girls to another counselor. I’m trying to stay out of it. But, it’s so hard at times. I’m a mom of 4 kids. I’m very close to my children. I see how bad this woman hurts her children daily. Thanks again for writing this article. It sheds so much light onto my situation. Which now I know is hopeless. Luckily my husband is learning NOT to respond to her at all. Thanks!

  8. Kim Yri says:

    This has been very helpful, thank you! My new husband has an ex that has NPD and we are dealing with her continually claiming that the parenting plan is too complex for her to understand (she has a masters degree in education) and therefore is frequently challenging or just ignoring the rules that have been outlined clearly, for all involved. After I looked at the section she “didn’t understand”, I suggested to my husband that she was doing this so that the communication with him could continue since he would send multiple emails and texts to try and help her. ALL of her replys had personal bashes, horrifying insults and accusations that he would have to wade through to get to the relevant topic. I suggested it wasn’t his job to find a way to make sure she understands since she won’t listen anyway. He wrote her an email letting her know he would no longer be trying to teach her and that she needed to find someone, preferably a legal professional, to go over it with her.
    This seems to be a pretty classic scenario and it’s nice to know there’s some help from people dealing with same situation.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for these tips. I’ve been dealing with a narcissistic ex for far too long, and have implemented these steps some time ago. But sigh… it never ends.

    What terrifies me is that he is insisting my boyfriend is a pedophile. Dear god, is he projecting that?

    We share custody 50/50. He keeps threatening to get full custody. It’s all so tiresome. I just wanted to say thank you.

    • N says:

      Amazing about the pedophile thing! My ex is convinced that I’m going to marry a pedophile – since my judgement can not be trusted, based on me leaving him. He went into court asking for 50/50 custody, which I knew was crazy, since I did ALL the parenting the whole time. When I asked him why he was asking for that when we both knew it was way off, he said it was because he knew I’d end up with a pedophile and that when I did, he wanted to be able to exercise his rights to have the kids half the time.
      He lost that battle and got every other weekend instead, which he doesn’t use. They don’t spend the night with him at all, thank God.
      I just don’t know how to help them cope when he pulls his a-hole behavior, like not speaking to our 6 year-old because she forgot to say hi and then making her apologize multiple times. He is sick,, and I hate that they even have to see him at all.

  10. Kathy says:

    Hello- Does anyone know of organizations that will help with drop offs and pick ups when school is closed? I had my family do it but recently my ex set my brother up and we had another court battle to defend my brother for doing nothing. Since my ex makes up things all the time no one will do the pick ups and drop offs. I cannot do it bc my daughter screams and cries and I cannot see that anyone. Wondering if a 3rd party can help.

    Thank you!

    • Kathy,
      There are safe exchange places. You would have to pay them to do the exchange, but essentially they time it so that you can drop off without your ex seeing you, then he picks up. If needed, there is supervised visitation at the same places. See if you can find one in your area.

      If not, another idea is to simply exchange in the parking lot of a police station. Then, if you need cover, there is someone else there to help.

      Lastly, it would be great if you can have someone who is recording and logging what your child is like during the exchange – and also willing to testify. I have done this personally for friends who I knew going through similar situations. That said, it is an art to be able to testify without getting flustered. It also requires the person to focus on the behavior that they witnessed without interpreting it. For example, one can say that the child was crying and they heard them say “I don’t want to go with you, I’m scared of you”. This is fine. However, if the person says that the child was crying because they didn’t want to go, then it’s interpreting why the child was crying. Anyway, see if you can find someone to go with you if you can’t find either of the above.

      I hope by now you’ve been able to find a solution. I’ve been pretty delinquent in monitoring this site (and finding a new computer as mine died :( )

      All the best to you and your little sweetie.

  11. Sylvia says:

    Thank you so much for all this information! I have been reading and it really is helping to know that there are other people experiencing what I have and that there is light and understanding! I worry about my two little boys being exposed to their father and how his behaviour and who he is will affect them. My sons are five and two years of age. My five year old acts out every time he comes home after a weekend at his father and it takes at least a week to settle him back down. I feel at my wits end at times and so helpless!!!!! It is so hard to not be bitter and angry, and your tips and the inforamtion you are sharing have been a huge help today! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

  12. jen says:

    I am step mom to 3 kids..14, 12 & 9. The bio mom is an alcoholic from what the children say, is out partying on her scheduled weekends, screams at, and swears, at the children constantly about my husband and i. (Name calling, bashing, blaming us for everything) I am questioning on how exactly to set boundaries. The bio mom loves control. She constantly bashes and blames in emails as well, i am not sure asking her to stop, or to start co parenting will do any good. She feels the need to not be responsible for anything when it comes to the kids, but in emails makes it seem like she does everything and complains about having to do all the “hard stuff” (like being a mother) while we are the “disneyland” parents. We have consistently asked for extra time with the kids, which she either denys us it, or makes ours and the kids life a living hell over it. We have now stopped asking, as it creates too much stress for everyone. We have documentation of everything.
    Need some advice about what to say to her/setting boundaries.
    We generally never respond to her blames/bashes and just stick to details regarding the children
    Another thing that comes up in almost every email with her is the fact that my husband chose to move an hour away from his children..well..because he met me, and started a life with me, is happy and no longer wanted to sit in an apartment alone for the rest of his life. Therefore extended her halfway meeting point for pick up/drop off.
    I believe she has NPD and HAP, however the one thing is, she doesn’t care about the kids..she doesn’t want them. They are a paycheck to her, she doesn’t dress them to make herself look good, they go everywhere in dirty clothes because she doesn’t do laundry, or cook. The boys have not had haircuts in many months. They wear too small of clothes and have shoes with toes sticking out etc…yes, we can do and buy all those things for them..and for several years we have..but she is using us..while she gets her hair and nails done about once a month and always has new clothing.
    How do we get her to be a mother?
    How do we go about boundaries?

    • Jenn says:

      Wow Jen, when I read your post I almost felt like I was reading mine and my husbands situation with his ex almost to a T. Our situation is obviously different in several aspects but as a whole your story hits very close to home. We don’t know if she has NPD but she has been diagnosed with bipolar, ocd and anxiety and this past November she suffered a complete psychotic break in which the police apprehended her after she was driving erratically on peoples front lawns in the middle of a horrible blizzard. My husband got temp custody but a couple of months ago she decided she wanted her “paychecks” back and took him to court and I don’t know how, but the judge who was angry at my husband for changing the boys school (they live with their mom almost an hour away from us) and CAS told us to change their school but anyways the judge ordered the children back to her custody. I will be checking back frequently to see the suggestions Natalia gives you!

      Natalia I do have a personal question for you based on the situation above. The children where put through a very traumatic event by their biological mother and she refuses to allow them to get any help for the anxiety, fear and anger they still suffer from it. In fact she says it wasn’t traumatic and pretty much implies that night was a “picnic”. We have tried fighting for the children to get help through CAS, court and a counselling program in our area but no one will force her to comply and get them help. Any suggestions how we could go about trying to get her to agree to get them some sort of help? They are only 6 & 9 years old, our fear is that not dealt with the mental damage will only escalate for them as they get older :(

  13. Brooke says:

    I am divorced from my ex-husband two years this april, and am only now absolutely positive that he has NPD. I thought that I was the crazy one due to the years of emotional abuse that brought me from a successful self-confident woman with tons of friends to a shell of my former self. The smear campaign that would leave me with only two friends out of a hundred went on for two years before we got divorced…he laid the groundwork well. While he was out getting drunk until 4:00 am and disparaging me to anyone who would listen about why he just couldn’t go home, I was raising our child alone. The only reason he allowed me to keep her was because it was just too much work for him.

    He continues to threaten me at least once a week, almost two years since the divorce was finalized, with suing for custody of our daughter because I am “unstable, unable to provide a loving home for her (this is INSANE since even the people that now think I’m crazy because of him would never ever say that I don’t love my child and wouldn’t do anything for her happiness) and if I ask for help with buying her clothes (he makes almost $20K a month and pays $2,000 in child support, I make $3,600) he says if I can’t handle paying for things then clearly he needs to take her off of my hands. This still scares me because he also inherited at least 2 million dollars last year and has basically endless financial resources in addition to that from family wealth on both sides.
    He has been to see a counselor and I believe continues to see one. I am scared because he is always ALWAYS using terms with ME in emails about how he has to “set boundaries” and he is always talking about “sticking to the parenting plan” and emailing me in ways that make it sound like I am the one with NPD. He will use these terms in response to a COMPLETELY innocuous question I might ask about our daughter. About 90% of the time, if an outside person were to read the text or email I sent him and then read his response they would be scratching their heads like me. I have been SO CONFUSED by these weird responses and thought well he is more deluded than I thought until I started reading about this disorder and realized he is making me out to be the one with NPD. Is this typical of this disorder? If so what in the world am I supposed to do with that? I am so scared he is setting me up. He is VERY intelligent and I have known for years not afraid to tell a completely fabricated story (not just embellish details, but make the entire thing up) and I am so afraid that the 10% of the time I went off and told him what a psychopath he was that that will be used against me. Help?

    • Hi Brooke, I am so sorry for the delayed response to you. I understand how much how you feel. I spent a lot of time living in fear of what my ex will do, and that didn’t change until I started addressing my own healing from the abuse and the fear itself. When I learned how to release the fear, it completely changed the dynamic between us. Everyone and every interaction has energy exchanged, and it’s those subtle, underlying dynamics (energy) that matter. He knows he can get to you with these threats, so he makes them. Its interesting, but I noticed myself recently feeling angst again around the times my ex spends time with our children (which is very little), and interestingly, I noticed his reactions to me shift. He has started sending texts again to pester for more time. I responded in a clear “what’s changed?” manner, but I could feel the energy within me have that feeling of frustration and angst. I decided to work on that myself. As I said, I understand your concern about the threats and the ability to follow through – I have used every penny of savings for the legal bills and am currently refinancing my house just to incorporate large credit card bills (as in $40k). It is outlandish, and these expense could be put towards college or heck – philanthropic causes instead!!

      It’s a long answer, but what I am saying is it is worth considering how you can let go of the fear, stand solid in your own space and knowing that you ARE a great mother and deserve peace in your life. Then his comments will have little affect on you.

      As for his weirdness in his emails, he is probably projecting his own issues onto you. It is likely that his therapist is trying to give him lessons around boundaries (narcissists have poor boundaries) and he is pushing that out to you. I do remember that my ex accused me of having bi-polar disorder and it threw me for a loop because it seemed so out of left field. I then realized that he had just gone to see a therapist, and it may be that he was told he might be suffering from that disorder. Unable to deal with that – he would have projected it outwards.

      Focus on yourself – what can you do to have the life you want. Be solid and consistent in your dealing with yourself, your daughter and anyone else. If you do that,there’s nothing that he can point to that says anything else otherwise.

      Also, if he sends odd emails that don’t make sense, you can always choose not to respond, or tell him “email received. no response necessary”. That stops the interaction right there.

      Oh – and last – limit interaction. In my opinion, the less interaction with him the better. Ask God for help with paying for your daughter’s clothes and not your ex (believe me, prayer works in wonderful, mysterous ways). The less points of connection between you and your ex, the better.

      Hugs to you!! You rule :)

    • Cheryl says:

      OMG. I went through exactly the same with mine. He is an attorney with unlimited resources to stalk and threaten. It stopped when I stood up to him and told him I took out a HELOC on my house and that he should feel free to fight me for custody. When I told him I spoke to an attorney who told me that unless I walk into court with my dealer and my pimp with a needle hanging out of my arm they would never take my son from me. Reminded him in our state they adhere to the tender years doctrine. They will not take a small child away from the mother unless there is compelling reasons why.

      Oh how I wish I could talk to you about all of this. I have so been where you are.

    • Anon says:

      I am going through this exactly and have been trying to divorce my husband for nearly 4 years. The best advice I can give is to not let him suck you into his crazy-making behavior. The more you stay calm and rational, the more his true colors will show and become evident to everyone that he is, in fact, the one with a personality disorder and you are not.

    • Summer says:

      I swear, this must be my husband (EX-only separated five months, thank God) My life in mirror. Good luck to you, and stick to your guns, away from him!! You are the sane one and he the crazy one!! Believe me!

  14. Debra says:

    Wow, I felt as if I was alone in what I felt and experienced/experiencing…… It saddens me to read those with small children……and here I regret not leaving my husband so much sooner, but now seeing these posts I realized I too would be in the same predicament with young children. But let’s be honest even with me staying longer with him still put my children through their own hell. I never knew of NPD, I just thought at the beginning he was raised to be a very selfish person. As time went on there were warning signs but I just dismissed them and ignored my frustration, unhappiness and depression because by this time I was preoccupied with being a mother and raising 2 children while my husband interests were focused on his business. I begged for counseling but he refused. I have experienced / endured all that has been described here not knowing, as I had said before, what NPD was….. When my children hit their teens they started to question many things and by then I was miserable and tired of the relationship I had in the marriage, that I realized the the children are now old enough to see things and their father for who he is. That’s when I stopped making excuses for him, and stopped being his enabler for fear of what my children would think of me….their father’s enabler. This is when things became progressively worse because now he was not getting what he needed from us….to stroke his eagle and make him feel he is important and looked up to. I had suspected of him of having affairs but never had any evidence…..until one night when the computer had his open email account up. It wasn’t the lost of my husband that bothered me, I t was the complete lack of consideration for his children and family emotionally, mentally, financially and physically for many years. The main reason I stayed and endured was so my children could have both parents as I had come from a broken family and didn’t want them to endure what I had. What I didn’t know was, again the NPD, but the effects it had on the children. They kept many thing to themselves for fear of hurting me, they had suspected him of his affairs, knew he was a liar, the amount of hurt for unfulfilled promises he had made, the feeling that he was better than us, that his children were not good enough for him, that he was ashamed of his family/children. That they have never experienced unconditional love from him, there is always an ulterior motives. That they were tired of the guilt trips he constantly lays on them by providing for them….and so on. They shared all this, the day the proverbial “shit hit the Fan” and the marriage was finally over. My youngest refuses to have anything to do with him, my oldest hasn’t seen him in 7 months now but her father continues to try, by reaching out and laying those guilt trips for which she now calls him out on it. The damage to my children is deep…. counseling revealed that we tend to look for or gravitate towards a relationship with the parent we have had issues with. So yes I now realized my soon to be Ex replaced my mother…..but what worries me more is my daughter; she gravitated towards 2 relationships with men similar to her father one being so abusive that she now suffers PTSD and each time her father reaches out to her he triggers it. This is something she now has to deal with. We are in the process of a divorce, and so far not fun. I have more bad days than good fighting depression which resulted from over 20 years with this person. But what kills me most is what this has done to my children…. My son says not to worry, this has taught him of what kind of man not to be, that he will be a better man….but I see his pent up anger. And I will always worry about my daughter of her constant battles and her relationships she will get involved in.

  15. LINDA says:

    Greetings, at this point now I am dealing with my ex’s false accusations, little devilish things that he does to me, name calling, the bitterness, hatred, and hostility, its extremely annoying and i find myself getting caught up in the madness of conflicts and constant arguments

    I am constantly praying and trying to just find ways to deal with the insults because one minute things are quite between he and I during the transition of our daughter then next thing you know he’s done something to cause conflict and offense and rationalize wrong doing to make it seem right to himself, and the cycle continues, arguing back and forth is what he seems to feed and thrive off of.

    I’m a spiritual person and don’t claim to be perfect I enjoy reading the word of God
    and I believe in his word one thing I found the other day while pondering and thinking on a better way to respond I mean who knows better besides our CREATOR THE SUPREME BEING, THE ALL WISE AND KNOWING GOD, BY WHATEVER NAME WE CALL HIM.
    in the scripture I found something that I’m personally struggling with; 1 PETER 3RD CHAPTER talks about “GODLY LIVING” is so beautiful it was what I had been searching for to deal with people of that personality everybody knows right from wrong even a child knows right from wrong which why they normally do wrong in the dark
    and even those with what we call narcissistic personality disorder or whatever type of personality disorder a person may have knows right from wrong that’s just the way the GOD CREATED MAN HE CREATED MAN TO THINK RIGHT

    their NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY FROM WHAT I’V STUDIED attitude and disposition is rooted in pride and arrogance. There’s a saying in the scripture that says, “PRIDE GOETH BEFORE DESTRUCTION AND A HAUGHTY SPIRIT BEFORE A FALL” which is why most people are not comfortable or attracted to those types of personality.









    • I love it.. “If God is for you then who can be against you?” Your comment is wonderfully written!

      When the harsh words come towards you, allow them to bounce into a field around you which absorbs them and defuses them… and protects you from them. I posted once a picture of a church sign that read “He who angers you, controls you”. How true is that? Do not allow him to get to you – let it hit that field around you and turn into love for you, with the knowledge that all that matters is God’s love for you and your children – and your ex’s angry words mean nothing. Keep your peace within, regardless of the war your ex rages on the outside :)

    • Amanda says:

      My father always says, “Aint nobody mad but the devil”.
      I pray you remember that next time. Shalom.

    • danielle says:

      Linda thank you so much for your response. it inspired me i too am spiritual and dealing with a exhusband with npd he doesnt know he has it but after reading article after article allday long i am certain this is what hes suffering from. thank you for the scripture to relate to that was a added bonus.. be blessed

    • Ashley says:

      Thank You for your spirit filled words & sharing your story. I’m 29 yrs old mom of one 7 1/2 son, & I have Been reacting to my son’s father… I’m believe a soft answer turns away wrath, but when he does things directly involving my son, before I can stop the words, I’ve told him he’s not a father & called him a deadbeat. None in the presence of my son, and have apologized & revert back. I’m dissapointed because I’m a Good person with a Big heart & Never want to be the cause of someone else’s hurt. But the last to visits he’s taken me There…. I don’t want to be consumed with this type of thing any longer & would like to heal & move on from any hope that he will be a good parent, or co parent with me. I don’t have All the Answers but, the lord does. Thank You for the inspiration :)

  16. I like these in a theory way. But In my personal experience I have found when I have put in place boundries they have as you have said been dismissed and violated instantly. If I have said anything to reinforce this my partners instantly takes this out on my child in psychological abuse. Insuring that my little girl of 7 tells me of what her mother is doing. Social services invalidate anything I report and have suggested its me turning my daughter against her mother. Because she says she hates her mum

  17. Heather says:

    I have been divorced from the narcissist for over 10 years now, and I have never seen a more dead-on article than this one. I could have written this word for word about the ex myself.

    It took a lot of years for me to really ‘get it’, and to stop playing the role of his prey. Now he’s really working on our daughters, who are 13 and 14. My oldest is strong and has stood up…I just hope she continues down that path for herself. The youngest has never been accepted by him, and right now is because he is not liking the oldest at all for taking a stand for herself. I will fight this until the day he finally dies because I refuse to allow him and his family to control them and their happiness.

    Over 10 years, and he STILL attacks me on a daily basis, especially to my girls. I hear it all…and he has the criminal record to prove his violent tendencies as well. While I have completely moved on with my life and I do not regret the divorce at all, a small part of me still fears that he may one day hurt the girls or me. This is the one thing I know he still truly hates – that all of my attention has been on the girls since they were born and not on him. He uses them all the time as pawns in his games and manipulations, even with the courts, lawyers and guardian ad litems. Of course, he recommended I go to counseling for ‘my issues’, but when he was told he also needed to go, he has refused at all costs. Just like he did when we tried marriage counseling before I finally filed for divorce.

    Anyone have any suggestions for helping the girls endure this…and how long this continues through? I mean, will he continue to launch his attacks on me until the day he dies since I was dumb enough to have kids with him and marry him?

    I talk all the time to the girls and tell them how proud I am of them and how much they have to offer the world. I hope they’re hearing it, and take it to heart as much as I know its tough having to stand up to a parent. They deserve to live happy, on THEIR terms, and I fully intend to see that that happens for them.

    Thanks again for this article. Definitely made me not feel as alienated and crazy. :-)

  18. Trina says:

    I find Kathy’s comments about camp are petty and she is all about fighting. This is truly not necessary, and I personally deal with a narcissist, and if you are dealing with a n, whether a child goes to camp or not, is not worth all the calls and drama. Children do not like to be in the center of a conflict and Kathy you need to learn to pick your battles carefully.

    • Angie says:

      All I can say is that I am blessed to have found these women willing to open up about the narcissist in their lives. I too had no idea what that was until my ex-husband went to prison for 2 years on a slew of charges including child endangerment. I have 3 children: son 12, daughter 10, and daughter 8. I am a firm believer in the Bible and that it is God’s Word. Jesus Christ is the Savior of my soul and the world’s and I choose to follow Him the best I can. I am thankful for the 2 years God allowed me to be with my children without dealing with him. I have learned that having a good foundation in the fact that what God thinks about us is all that matters, not others. Reading my ex’s letters from prison allowed me in a non-judgemental manner to point out the manipulation so they can get an idea of how he works. Having an open and honest relationship allowing them to feel that they can talk to me and Jesus about anything without fear does wonders considering they are afraid to talk to him in not knowing “the reaction”. He is out now and yes, I still am learning how to deal with him. He claims to be this God fearing man who is “trusting the Lord” and I am serving the devil because of the divorce. Playing the children to get us back together and how I am the one with evil intentions of keeping this family apart. I could have a wonderful testimony if I would just forgive and give him another chance. It is all too familiar. I will be praying for you all and yes, God knows what is best for us. Keep in mind that God is working in ALL situations. Yours, his, the kids, and the people around you. You just keep doing what you know God says is right and let him take care of the rest. PS. The social worker seen my kids and was amazed at how confident and grounded they considering what was going on. It is all God’s doing. Feel free to write, I always have a listening ear.

    • Kathy says:

      Trina- funny how you judge after dealing with an N. You have no idea what the hell has been like with the N and sociopath. Which was founded in Court. Every breath I take is about how to save my kids from this terrible person. And yes camp comes into play. Let me tell you all about fighting. I have a little girl that sits in a corner and cries and I have a little boy that is starting to shows he Dads anger. I deal with this everyday. Oh and let me tell you that I am filing for bankruptcy to save my kids and havent asked the N for a penny so I can show the Judge that everything I do is about the kids and NOT fighting the ex over petty things. If you truly have an N you would understand. If you dont please dont post on this site.

  19. Kathy says:

    Need advice ASAP! Basically Ive been a coward for so long and finally after 4 years fighting to win primamry custody of my 7 and 4 year old (right now its 50/50). Its been almost 2 yrs since I filled, finished up with a 75 page custody report that states my ex is NPD and a Sociopath. on Aug 2nd is my short list to try and get temporary custody of my kids (well we all know how Short List hearings go…NOTHING HAPPENS). I cannot at all afford a trial and actually considering filing for bankruptcy. However, I finally have the right lawyer and knows the custody game. Bottom line after 3 years I am starting to get emails from my ex (matter of fact and on his best behavior since these emails will be brought into Court). Well there is nothing in my custofy order about my Sons camp and I found out that he signed him up for camp two days before the start…I cant affford to send my son to camp on my days and stays with my Mom…bottom line I have spent 2 weeks on phone, emails with Camp fighting each day on transportation and schedule. I have taken so much time out of work..basically, I got strong and told the owner of Camp that I have 50% legal custody and they had no right to only have one parents signature and everyday they send me emails on Rob’s days at camp. I told then enough is enough and set the schedule as they stated last week, but now AGAIN tellme my ex can have floating days…bottom line I cannot manage this at all nor coordinate my life and my moms last minute. My lawyer basically told me to pull my son out of camp asap and that I should sue if I find out he is at Camp on Mon….keep in mind my lawyer is the best part of me says I should stand my ground and do this right away. I already know my ex will RAGE and take it out on the kids but he does this anyhow. I hear everyone talk about setting boundaries, but understand I CANT with my ex. I am finally at my boiling point and had enough…there is so much more but tried to give you the abridge version….so thoughts on pulling my son out of camp and stay firm with my ex and th camp owner?

    • Hi Kathy,

      I know what you mean regarding it being really difficult to set boundaries. It is challenging and having the retribution targeted at your kids is difficult. Frankly, I think that you should follow the advise of your attorney in this case, and be clear with your kids about why you are doing what you are doing so they understand and don’t just think you are taking him out of the “fun” for no good reason.

      Another benefit to doing this which may help you to be stronger in setting boundaries – is that you are teaching your kids to do so when you do it. If they have a father that doesn’t respect boundaries, it will be super important that they learn how to do it and have a good role model (you) for doing so.

      Stand up for yourself … you are worth it!

      Major hugs to you…

  20. Cursedy says:

    I think my ex might have had some problems but he’s a lot better now. Not trying to sound like a hopeless victim and I don’t blame myself at all for his behaviour but he’s definitely miles better off now I’m out of his life. It’s a fact x

  21. Angelique says:

    I finally got divorced a couple months ago after being separated for 4 years. He kept on coming up with reason on why the divorce should be delayed one for example is that I do not have Fibromyalgia but someone my “delinquent” doctor of 10 years came up with. He has also refused to accept my youngest son has High Functioning Autism. It is incredible frustrating to deal with him in denial.

    I have two children one from a previous relationship who is 9 and one from him which is 4. Both are boys and my ex was father to the oldest one until last year when he decided he didn’t want to see him anymore. I think a large part of that was because Matthew was questioning him more and more and he didn’t like that.

    I have only recently began to set boundaries and only converse with him in email. Sometimes I slip because he seems nice and I hate being nasty or holding grudges but it never lasts for long. There is not a week that goes by that I do not have several accusing and demeaning emails from me. The funny thing is he will not take on face to face, there he is overly polite. He has tried in the past but I had alot of this growing up so I argue with reason and logic not emotions – he finds this incredibly frustrating so he only does emails.

    I have a really awesome man in my life who puts thing in perspective when I get annoyed by his emails. The other awesome person I have is my lawyer. He has cost me and arm and a penny but worth every cent. There are so many times he has caught my ex out and shown this to the court. Even now when my ex is trying to cause havoc in my house he will step in and inform the ex he is breaking laws. Which frightens him back into his hole for a while.

  22. Jamie says:

    I have been divorced for almost 10 years, have a 13 yr. old daughter. Her father took her from me last July and I have been fighting to get her back ever since. He called the police and social services on me and told them that I am an alcoholic and that I never have any food in my house. I was greeted at work by a Social Services person who told me he would be investigating me. Social services had to come into my home and my mother’s home to check everything out. They also had to examine my 3 yr old daughter (different father) to make sure she was ok. The report was deemed unfounded. But it was a very embarrassing thing to endure. We went to court, came to an agreement with a mediator. The agreement became court ordered. My ex demanded as part of the agreement that I attend counseling with my daughter before she could come back to live with my 50/50. The counseling has helped communication between my daughter and I. My ex had alienated her to the point she was believing all his lies and repeating them. Last week was the first week I got to have her back after 9 months. Everything went very well with her and I. Yesterday we had a counseling session with my ex, my daughter and I. My ex started by saying he didn’t understand why he had to go in ( there’s nothing wrong with him) and that he had to protect my daughter from me because all I do is drink and party all the time. He said that I let her stay up to midnight all last week on school nights and that I was letting her run the streets. In reality we were both in bed around 10 each school night. She did have a few girls over for a sleep over on Friday and we all stayed up really late. But she was never running the streets.
    He went on about how I don’t communicate with him. When I tried to talk to him he would interupt me and then tell me to quit raising my voice to him. I said I have to raise my voice because you won’t listen. How do I communicate with you when you won’t listen to me? He said “I don’t have to listen to you!” Then he got mad and walked out the session. The counselor said she will not call him back again, and she wants to refer me to an adult counselor because she thinks I have built up emotional trauma from him. I just want to know how to keep him out of my thoughts and how to communicate effectively with him.

  23. charm says:

    ….it’s amazing to me that I’m in a situation whereas I’m researching oh but yet again what a narcissist is…I married…divorced and truly forgave him for what he does not know about himself and moved on with my life. It took over 2 years to finally accomplish but is still a work in progress…the work – deprogramming and disengagement I eventually accomplished make me still very proud to this day. I used to say to my therapist…’Your job is to help me ‘uninstall’ the buttons that he installed’…and with prayer, perserverance…and the wish to save myself and in turn my sons from living with this person..i did it!!!!….Now, (ironically) enough…I find myself involved with a man who married a narcissist and is just now attempting to navigate the terrain of ‘breaking free’ of her…in seeing both sides of the coin…both male and female narcissists..i have to say…there is really no difference..both operate from the same manipulative, drama-creating…selfish and hurtful place…my wish to all…is that you seek counseling for yourself and your children…read all you can about personality disorders and learn to overcomee these toxic people and set you and your children FREE…(peace)

    • Hi there! thank you for leaving a comment. It’s interesting how things come around in our lives, and certain people come and go. It makes me wonder if you and your ‘significant other’ met because there’s a reason – for you to help him through the same thing you did. Just a thought…

      If you have any thoughts, comments, etc about what you did to set both you and your children free from the situation – I know that both me and many others would love to hear what you found successful. The most important thing we can do is protect the kids and set them free from growing up in a stressful situation.

      • charm says:

        Hi….I thought the same thing about why he and I were brought together. As far as my divorce from my ex, I found an awesome therapist that specializes in domestic violence/emtoional abuse….because these emotional vampires are committing domestic violence. I used to visualize that I had a Teflon shield around my body that I imagined protected me and deflected his words and behavior so they couldn’t get ‘in’. I became great at not-reacting to him….if you don’t react-respond then there is no engagement. I would communicate with him only via email or texts. I used to listen to alot of music that helped me…Already Gone by the Eagles (was one of my favorites to sing loudly), Free Bird….Kelly Clarkson’s first album came out that year and I loved Break Away….I remember one night he was at our house during the divorce process visitng our kids. I was upstairs on the bed and he came up and sat down and was like ‘is it too late’….I sat up and looked him dead in the eye and know what ____, I’m like a ship that has left the dock….and I’m sailing….and I don’t know exactly where the horizon is gonna lead me but I’m sailing and I’m never coming back to this dock. And that’s what I’m still doing…sailing…

  24. warrior says:

    thank you for this very informative website. it has been immensely helpful. i wanted to seek your advice and input. i am going through a custody battle with a severely disordered NPD man. he seeks custody (big surprise) even though he has never lived with our child, cannot provide an adequate home, is addicted to drugs, was imprisoned for violating my restraining order etc. i unfortunately am at the mercy of a jurisdiction where courts are corrupt and the judges, including the one presiding over my case, cannot be trusted to make decisions on the best interest of the child. in the event custody is turned over to him, considering my ex’s criminal past and egreigous vices, i am considering contacting the press or launching a social media blitz to shed light on my case. please let me know what you think. thanks.

    • Hi there. Here’s what I think, which is going to be a much different answer than you would expect. Personally, I’ve found that the statement “you get what you focus on” and “self-fulfilling prophecy” is relatively true. I’ve found that when I am worried about the potential of a particular result when I go into court (and I’ve been there more than I want), that it was exactly what happened. I found that when I envisioned wonderful outcomes and handed over my worry to God – they came true. While I’m not denying your reality that the court system sucks (it does) and that there is a large percentage of people who get the wrong outcome … I just personally try not to focus on it, and go so far in fact to even imagine my own attorney being shocked about getting such a good outcome. So, if I were you … I would focus on that and all the good stuff that you have stated is in your favor. Go into the court room with the take that you are glad that he has an interest in being a father, even with all the issues he has going for him. However, given the issues, you would like to start out this relationship with supervised visitation and parenting classes to help make sure to support the relationship for both your child and your ex. In this way, you aren’t screaming about how much he shouldn’t contact your child – but are saying that you would like the court to put in place mechanisms that will increase the likelyhood of a better relationship and keep everyone, including you who had to get a restraining order, safe.

      I hope that make sense.

      When you are done getting that amazing outcome for your child… then you can consider doing a media blitz for someone else who didn’t get a good outcome… and you can use your good outcome to illustrate how much better things could be for the kids that need this help and interference.

      I am praying for you!!

      • Katie says:

        Hi Natalia, Brilliant & helpful article!!! Just found your blog today! I left my abusive husband 5 years ago. He still won’t divorce me, even though he has a new gf and baby. Will this be the year that I get legally free? I have nothing to do with him at all now, but of course my issue is my 2 kids. He tries to control them fiercely and they are suffering a lot. My son is going to court today to talk about his experiences. Praying that they will really listen and understand him. I really want to make this experience into a positive learning experience for me and my children. I’m looking forward to reading more from you x

  25. suze says:

    What a wonderful article! I learned the hard way to keep communications formal and businesslike. One time I had a knee jerk reaction to his belittling, and I saw how he soaked it up and tried to keep it going.

    All I would add is to give your children a safe, loving home, as close to what is your opinion of ‘normal’ and healthy as you can. They really do get to a point where they see the difference and will make their own decisions.

    I struggle with keeping my children safe. How much do I allow him to manipulate them? How much physical violence is too much? CPS and I differ on this, as I would rather err on the side of caution. My ex has been repeatedly reported by teachers and the pediatrician, most recently for injecting our children during visitation. No one knows for sure with what. CPS is doing nothing. The only glimmer of hope I have is that they have not officially closed the case after a year, nor have they taken any action.
    It may be the children’s journey, but I have had to deal with a suicidal 11yo whom I took to a counselor until my ex told the child that I was paying the counselor to get into the child’s head and make them hate their father. That child weathered the journey with grace and poise in the long run and is thriving in many areas of life.
    I could go on and on, but I suspect the stories are all too familiar for many. However, I do very much appreciate the article as validation and for the suggestions and most of all, knowing that I am not the only one in the world who has this kind of relationship with their ex out of necessity.

  26. AD says:

    Kathy, I was in your exact situation. My ex husband is a narcissist and is “best of the best”. He could fool anyone, and people who know nothing of narcissism would believe all his lies. My daughter experienced the same thing, she was being emotionally abused and was physically sick by it because she could feel it wasn’t right. She needs you, her mother, to fight for her. I believe in children needing both parents, but in cases where there is abuse, it is NOT in the best interest of the child. You need to make sure you have a lawyer that understands narcissism. They are trained in knowing how to handle them. I fought and WON full custody. It took me a few years but I was determined to stand my ground. You DO NOT communicate with your ex, except by email ONLY so it is documented. Narcissists NEED you to argue with them, but when you do you are only feeding them. Get books on how to deal with a narcissist. CUT THEM OFF!!!! Email, text only!!!! My daughter is now a teen and has chosen NOT to visit with him anymore as his anger and abuse worsens each year. If you truly believe he is a narcissist, you MUST fight for her. YES! LOTS OF PRAYER! You need GODS guidance and strength to get you through this. Me and my daughter are living proof there is life after the narcissist. It doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. You need to be strong and on your Best behavior. YOU CAN DO THIS. I will be praying for you Kathy, and your precious daughter. :)

  27. ryan says:

    . I have shared joint and shared physical.custody son. He was born.premature due to.moms drug use. Even after court its been very difficult dealing with her negativity and sense of entitlement. Im looking for.some help on finding piece in this situation
    Devoted Dad

    • Hi Ryan,

      I am glad you were here, and apologize for having been absent as I adjust to a new full time job. I agree with you that it is hard to deal with, and I hope you find some suggestions that I have found work for me and posted on this site. The best thing to do is to release the past and every part of her negativity, and try your best to treat every interaction in a detached manner. In other words… you take the high road, accept her as she is (she can’t change) and deal with her by setting boundaries. This will help your son in the long run too as he can learn from you how to protect himself emotionally.

  28. Kathy says:

    Ill keep it short..I have a 4 and 7 yr old. Been divorced 7 yrs. My ex is a brilliant Narcissist/Sociopath, I have 50/50. My ex and I have spoken in 2 1/2 yrs. I just finished my 1st custody evaluation, well almost..he wont let the evaluator speak to the kids therapists, so waiting for another court date and now my trial has been delayed. Consider myself pretty normal, intelligent, etc…and I cant take this anymore. It breaks my heart when my little girl wakes in the middle of night asking when she can stay with my every day an then proceeds to throw up….please please someone tell me how to handle this and keep fighting and going through lawyers when I am now finacially runined.

    • Kathy says:

      Oops I meant divorced 3 yrs, not 7 yrs.

    • Hi Kathy,

      I am so sorry to hear how you are doing and about your daughter. She is clearly emotionally hit by the situation and her body is physically rejecting it. I wish I had something magical that I could advise. The best things I can think to do to help yourself stay strong is a lot of prayer and visualization. Visualizing and believing in the outcome you want and that you are truly deserving of the outcome can help. In some ways, communication may have been helpful for reducing your stress. However, it may still be helpful to you in that courts look for parents who can coparent, which requires commuication. To me, that would be a red flag in itself that the situation needs to be changed for the kids.
      In terms of the court battle – I think that Bill Eddy’s book has a lot of wonderful helpful tips on how to expose the truth of the situation.
      Personally, it gave me hope that even if it’s not immediate, at some point my ex would reveal who he really is to others, and that would help to make changes occur for my kids.
      Remember to take care of yourself – your kids need you to remain strong for so many reasons.
      All the best to you… I’m sending many prayers your way.

    • Molly says:

      I am not an attorney—what I understand about the law ans custody is that no matter how much $$$ you put towards your trial–most people end up with 50/50 anyways.
      Know what your fighting for and whether or not it is worth it. Are you spending $10,000 to get a Saturday?

      My daughter’s dad and I meet with a co-parenting counselor/ mediator every once in a while when an issue comes up. (Although right now he is refusing to meet and would prefer to go to court…) I have very clear boundaries with him–no talking, no texting—no communication that can’t be documented!

      It’s awful dealing with these guys. No, you can’t win…this type of person just wants to engage and rage and cause chaos.
      Get your daughter a good ‘play therapy/ sand tray therapist’ If you can’t afford the going rates find a clinic that has interns. One or two session per week for your child probably for the next few years.

      • Kathy says:

        Thanks Molly and Natalia- This is the deal. I have the best of the best. My ex is able to fool anyone in the court system ,except the kids therapist. She has never seen children so little and so controlled.

        This breaks my heart, but I am at the verge of signing over parental rights. Sounds weak? How does anyone live like this everyday of their lives? What kind of Mom and I to see how emotionally destryoed my kids are and what craziness I deal with. I was abused on all level by my ex that is why I kept going back. Until 3 yrs ago I just couldnt do it and now what he is doing to the kids is exactly what I knew would happen. Please do not tell me to pray (even though I do), but there has to be someone that got to the top of the mountain and able to get more than 50% custody? How do I keep going and fighting the fight? I have no financial sources anymore and my ex has millions in the bank.

        Just someone be honest? Who lives a life like this? I just know I cant fight this anymore and continue to go through lawyers for everything…but I can tell you my ex and I will NEVER speak again..that isnt me being stubborn, its something he is totally incapable with dealing on an adult level.

        • Hi Kathy, Your kids need you. You are their only hope right now, and they will emulate your actions over time. If you show strength, they will find strength too. Even if you have to fake it.. just do.
          I know it sounds odd.. but I really found the most help with Theta healing. The point of it is that we carry subconscious beliefs that play out in our lives. In order to change our lives, we have to change those beliefs. It has been incredibly empowering. If you look at your situation – you see yourself as limited and powerless. Your ex is not God, no matter how much money he has. He has power over you because you let him (hang with me.. that’s a tough sentence). Some of the big subconscious beliefs that I found I had and released was that (1) my ex was God or like God, (2) that I wasn’t in my own power – that I was cowered away. This was big.. when I subconsiously stepped into my own power and realized that I had that same worthiness and deservedness that my ex has to have what they want in life – the way I felt, and the way I approach the situation changed completely. (3) The worthiness was also a big factor. I subconsciously felt or believed that I wasn’t worthy of having what I wanted in my life. When I asked God (through the theta healer) to teach me that I was worthy, and what it felt like to be worthy, that was huge as well. (4) Worthy of support… When I addressed that I was worthy of finding support and people in my life seeing the truth in our situation, that also shifted what happened around me. Therapists, CPS social worker, pediatrician – every person rallied around us much stronger. It has been an amazing journey.
          Stay focused on what you chose to have in your life …that your kids are with you more than 50% of the time. In the meantime, remember that they need you for that 50%, and that it’s 100% better than none. You are their light and their way out… and you CAN do it.

        • NInja says:


          My heart goes out to you…and any person that is where all of us have been when it comes to a NPD person. My children’s dad is one and I am pretty sure his new gf is one as well. I know this is a later response but I could not help but respond. Kathy I know what n lift up your it feels like to have that heaviness over you. To hardly be able to even lift up your eyes. TO pray and feel completely defeated even after. I have wonderful news for you Kathy!
          IT GETS BETTER! I promise. If you can hang in there I promise you it gets better.
          I have a pre law degree and have worked many Family Law cases myself. Your ex is doing what all Attorneys do…dancing. They dance and dance until the other party feels so worn that they can’t dance another step. He is still abusing you and wearing down your mind. He is furious that you have the strength to go against him in court. But even more angry that you are no longer for him. The rose colored glasses are off PRAISE GOD! :) But it’s a hard place to be. All of the emotional and mental abuse has taken its toll. You are stronger Kathy. The harder you try to get away from evil the harder it will try to keep you there or destroy you completely. You are strong Kathy! Its in you and you see glimpse of your own strength every time your child smiles at you. Every time you push that negative thought out of your head and replace it with a positive. Dealing with feelings and thoughts of worthlessness, failure, fear,guilt, defeat, shame and all the other unhealthy things are NOT TRUE for you. They are ALL lies. Acknowledge the good in you. “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world”. I am praying for you Kathy and I am praying HARD for you. YOu are an amazing woman and mother and your children are BLESSED to have you as their mother.
          I know I am going hard with prayer but it helps so much along with all of the wonderful tips in this article! If you ever feel you can I would like to suggest a few readings for you Kathy. Psalm 23, Psalm 91 and Psalm 121. These are all wonderful for your soul and for learning to focus on a positive outcome for yourself and your little family.
          Peace be with you deep in your heart Kathy.


      • Mimi says:

        How can you get a therapist for your child if you share legal custody? The other parent has to agree to the therapist as well. Please share how it can be done please.

        Thank you.

  29. jared says:

    I am dating a woman who was married to a person who suffers from nsd and ocd. We are getting serious and have talked about marriage. They have a 3 year old and have 50/50 custody. My question is how do I handle him when we do get married and move in together?

    • Hi Jared,
      I’ve always felt that everyone – even those with such deep issues, should be handled with integrity. In your role, you may not need to speak with him at all, but if you do – act out of what is best for the child in the mix. If you weigh all your actions on what will give this child the best environment to grow up in and listen to your gut… what more could anyone ask for?
      By the way – I give you a ton of kudos for thinking about it and searching for information. That in itself shows that you are on the right path. Thanks in advance for being a support to your special someone and for her child too :)

  30. Louise says:

    I have suspected for the last three years that my ex husband is a narcissist. This site has made me sure of it!

    There were plenty of things that should have tipped me off when I met him, but we were teenagers then and I guess I thought he was going to grow up and grow out of it. In some aspects, he had seemed to do just that. Very shortly after we began dating I realized that he didn’t have a core of his own, though at the time I would not have described it as such. I always said he wasn’t his own person and he didn’t have his own opinions and that if his friends thought he should be a certain way then he was.

    He was the type of guy to feel upset and slighted if I didn’t buy him something when I went shopping to use gift cards that had been given to me as presents at Christmas. He would call me selfish for not thinking of him and using some of the money that people had given me as a gift for me on him. Once we bought a house he assumed control of all the bills. He would buy golf clubs for himself and tell me that he used his own money from his separate savings account to purchase them, while also telling me that I had to wait until next pay day to buy myself new underwear. His separate savings account was just for him, while my separate savings account somehow became OUR savings account (despite our joint checking account and despite the fact that I was the only one putting money in the account from each pay check) and I had to ask his permission to use any of the money in it on myself. He would take my debit card and take money out without my knowledge. Throughout these six years I just thought he was greedy and selfish, and when I didn’t think that I would rationalize away his behavior.

    However in 2009 when he cheated on me and left in my 7th month of pregnancy, his narcissism began to get a little more overt though I STILL didn’t recognize it for what it was. In private, he blamed me for everything that had happened and for his leaving, saying that spending six years with me was like doing six years hard time in maximum security prison. He wrote me an 8 page letter that he read to me out loud in my 8th month of pregnancy where in the opening paragraph claimed he was not trying to shit on me and blame me for everything but quickly regressed into 7 1/2 pages of how I am demanding, demeaning, embarrassing, harassing, emasculating, ungrateful, greedy, lazy, and a bitch while his only fault or flaw is that perhaps he should have been more vocal and open about his feelings. In public he pretended that he was so torn up about having to leave me and our marriage that he would spend his evenings in the local bar in our small town crying openly and telling everyone how much it killed him to have hurt me like that. His tears didn’t last very long though, because soon enough he was telling everyone what a giant bitch I was, that I was crazy, and that I was trying to punish him and control him via our daughter who’d finally been born.

    Our daughter is three now and from then to now I have realized that he is truly a narcissist! From doing things like walking into my home unannounced during morning drop offs and coming into my bedroom while I am sleeping, to making threats to get custody of our daughter, to telling me that he will no longer contribute to the cost of preschool unless I lower his child support and/or allow him to claim her every other year on his taxes, to taking her to see a family doctor other than her established pediatrician without my knowledge thus creating a situation where she had two treating physicians that did not know about one another, to yelling at me and calling me names in front of our daughter when I will not give him his way, to telling me that his time is HIS time and if I see our daughter on the street at a community event on HIS time while she is with HIM that I am to ignore her, to telling her things/stories that made her terrified of my home where she spends 80% of her time. There is always something new with him, always some argument or tension and it is clear to me and to my attorney as well that he wants absolutely NO part of co parenting.

    It is beyond frustrating and every time I read a post on this site it’s like I am reading my past, present, and future!

    • I am sorry to hear of what you are dealing with, but thankful to know that you’ve learned more of what you are dealing with so that you can learn how to deal with it better for you and your daughter. You are right – it is very frustrating! There are things that you can do to help yourself, empower yourself, and as you move along this path it does feel easier. It is interesting to know how very similar they are from one another (interesting but sad too), and that the tactics they use really don’t vary all that much! I also have the comment that you have noted above that it is my ex’s “time” and I am not allowed to see them during that time (or at least that’s what he says) even if they are at after care or somewhere without him. Those actions are meant to hurt us and our children – to be able to take something from us that we treasure, because they feel it is due to them that we feel pain since we hurt them. Even my daughter’s therapist pointed out that much of what my ex does is because he wants to get even with me for ‘rejecting’ him.

      I hope to “see” you here in other places as well. It’s wonderful to have the connection with others and feel the encouragement. I hope we (me and others who are here regularly) can offer that to you.

  31. Chris says:

    I have to deal with the female equivalent of the vindictive narcissist. I have been out of a relationship with her for at least 3 years now but we share 2 children together she has 4 total as she two more kids from an ex husband. She broke up with me on the phone while I was at work two months after my daughter was born in the midwives birthing center. I am not saying we didn’t have our share of problems but I felt even in ending a relationship mutual respect in having a face to face conversation and had a reasonably long history with kids that such would show maturity and foster civility in our relations as parents. It was just cold. Anyhow no such luck. From there on she became controlling as the primary guardian of the kids before our custody papers became precise in wording in terms of days and hours spent towards visitation in was left to us. She set all the times and days on the weekends I could see my kids and if I was ten minutes late due to traffic.. turn back around and drive back to NYC from Connecticut back the 75 miles you came or you are trespassing. I also did not see my daughter for four months of her infant life except for at the door when I was bringing my son back and forth. Highly unfair since we had joint shared custody of our kids already set up . So when I went to court and got the specific days and hours for weekend visits to amend it.. but even that the wording was precise no later than 7pm or so your visits will be forfeit. Once I drove through a hailstorm and traffic at a stand still bumper to bumper and told her in advance I would be ten minutes late then and this as was Father’s day when I arrived I received a text when I knocked at her door once and then twice.. get off her lawn or I will call the cops. I called them myself and they were scratching their heads as to how someone could be that vindictive and scrutinizing like that. They said the paper work was legal and they could not intervene. Since then and since that pain I have never been late for any reason but still she sends text messages and emails that pick fights. When I told her once when we had heavy winter snows a few years back that I could not pick up the kids as my car would skid all over the winding country road she lives on and put them in danger.. she drove up to my home in a rage in a her mini-van and took pictures of my home and emailed them to me and said I was disgusting and pathetic for making such an excuse and I wondered how come she didn’t simply compromise and bring the children with her on that day. When she would bring the children I would invite her in to have a glass of water and sit down and talk about the kids rather than wait in her car with the motor running as that would be civil. When I would go to pick up the kids she would me wait out in the rain or in the snow until they came to the door ready to leave. I could not even come in to use the bathroom.. and yet in my home I was the decent one. I learned to stop rising to the bait of her emails by not responding because when I did it would fuel her and frankly she would reverse it and accuse me of harassing her and yet the trail of instigation and follow with more scathing comments about how I would grow old and die alone and she would proceed to psychoanalyze me and attack me further and tell me the kids were my idea when we both planned them I was the only one using contraceptives and that I was only a rebound for sex and not meant to have been a boyfriend or husband material. I could not believe she did not take her share of accountability for them being here especially when she was crawl on top of me when I was asleep in the early morning and drift half asleep and find her trying to insert me inside her saying she wanted some before her older daughters woke up. By the way she moved back into her mothers house and that is where I suggested she go to get back on her feet post divorce and she did and that is where we made our children above her mother’s head in the upper portion of her home. The last three years or so have been terrible. I steadfastly paid her child support and when I lost my job I still paid her she said to me we can negotiate this outside of court and compromise on a fair amount for the kids until you get back on your feet and then you can pay the full amount when you are working again. My payments were on time and only twice were they delayed where I notified her in advance due my unemployment checks coming later than expected and what did she do ? She reneged on our arrangement took me to court and then did not honor any ” street agreement ” between us and that I should have modified my child support legally taking her to court. It was a costly lesson as I now had to catch up with back support with my tax refund and it hobbled me financially. Thank God I had a profession and a degree so I wasn’t out of work long.. but she used the court and the state to hammer me down any new job I started I had to go court no sooner than to recalculate the money and my employers weren’t that thrilled that court drama was taking me out of my first week of work. And for the next few years financially I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was in court with guys who hadn’t paid 80,000 or more dollars and were in and out of jail with their babies mother’s and were proud of it and I was disgusted because I was dragged here by someone using this as a get back at to punish me and for what.. she broke up with me and I was faithful to her throughout the relationship. She broke into both my Facebook and Gmail accounts being jealous and suspicious and found nothing and she confessed this and apologized to me and I felt violated but then when I met her online dating years back she was cyber stalking her soon to be ex with key logger to find passwords to access his email to access receipts from his hotel stays with his mistress. I ignored red flags for outer beauty and passion and what I mistook for love on her part but what was only desire and I have paid for that ignorance at cost. All I can do is continue to take the higher road with the support of my family and friends. We both now have harassment disclaimers tagged in our emails things are civil for the time being until things become unpleasant again. I keep a mortgage, help raise my kids, cook for them, bathe then and read to them and treat them as a good father should. I co-parent with someone who refuses to cooperate and put aside pettiness.. refuses to tell me if the kids are sick during the week until the day I receive them at the door.. oh they are both sick.. my son has asthma so that can worsen. poison ivy etcetera. It is really tough. But it can happen to men and in a very bad way too.

    • I am very sorry o hear what you are dealing with – it is really difficult and challenging to deal with this. Narcissistic personality disordered individuals can be very vindictive and relentless in their desire to get even. I don’t think it makes a difference who broke up with who – they feel righteous in their pursuit to make the other person pay. I also don’t think that gender makes a difference either – narcissism is narcissism whether it is in a male or female person.

      Stay strong and continue to model for your kids what true loving, kind and compassionate parenting looks like. This is what they will seek as they grow older and you can be there for them to explain the issues that their mom has (in a loving way) and help them with how that may have impacted their lives.

      I wish you and your kids all the best!

  32. JD says:

    I had a question regarding #6 dressing kids up. What about changing the way the kids dress? My ex and I dreesed typical nothing special but now she is with the person she had affair with and he is all country so she will send the kids wearing totally different clothing in what they are use to wearing. She will also send the kids wearing clothes that regards her new life like he watches footbvall so our kids will come with his/her favorite football team clothing. remind you that she never watched foot ball either did my children nor myself.The school can tell who has the children just from how they are dreesed, I have always dressed good and so have the kids but because there mom has changed her appearence (dressed down) she has dressed the kids in that fashion, then because she has done so will look at the way I dress and dress the kids and say I am the one who UP dresses the kids(knowing we have always dressed this way) Is this narssistic behavoir I am seeing?

    • Hi there, I have to say that I don’t have the qualifications to say one way or the other. Narcissists often worry about about the outwards appearance, but it isn’t always based on clothing (it can be on trying to keep up what people think about them). I think what probably matters the most is the way the kids feel about this and interpret it. Do they care? Do they have a say in what they wear in either house? Are they able to pick out their own style and have a voice in their attire? If they can’t, help them to be able to voice their opinions and be comfortable in expressing their own desires.

  33. D- says:

    Metrowest Mom:

    Reading your post made me feel validated. This is exactly my situation. My husband is already involved in anothe relationship. He has ADD as well and potentially a sex addiction. He is living with his current sugar momma as he has never lived on his own.

    I understand the extreme empathy. He cried to me last night that he had to move from the house he rented on the next block (with his girlfriend who started as his 6th mistress) because he couldn’t afford it. I actually felt myself compelled to help him. To rescue him. Again.

    My prayer is that he hit rock bottom. But the woman he is with is an accomodator times 100. She is about as sick as he is.

    It is tough. This was the time life was supposed to get easier and it has gotten tougher.

    My friends tell me I”m lucky. I have this man out of my life. I don’t sharing a child but I do have more freedom. Screw it if he doesn’t listen to anyone. Put your kids first and let him whine. You are momma bear. You know what is right. See his strengths and allow them in. There are families like yours who don’t break up and the kids come out ok. This way your kids have a chance.

  34. MetroWest Mom says:

    I want to thank you for your site. In June, I discovered that my happy marriage of 14 years was based on the perfect storm of a narcissist (my husband) bonding with an accomodator (me). I’m an extremely empathetic person (to a fault, as I apparently have given up all of myself to accomodate his narcissitic supply while carefully avoiding triggering his true self). It turns out he has been a serial cheater, trolled for women like Tiger Woods and has turned our life upside down.

    After the discovery of his affairs, he is still capable of going on the attack, hurtfully blaming me for the consequences of his actions (pulling a full Peter Cook-like, “what about the children?”) and going on the attack accusing me of being incapable of forgiveness and full of anger. I don’t even have the capacity for anger – I am so blindsided by what has happened, amazed by his sudden disregard for the 10 years I’ve been at home (having said hurtful things like ‘I won’t pay one penny extra for therapy, etc.’). It’s like dealing with a complete stranger. Now that I have filed for divorce I am seeing his true self, and I am terrified for my kids.
    Co-parenting with a narcissist is impossible! They have no reason, no insight and no empathy. These are all characteristics that are crucial in a parent. Every time I put my children first (with the help of professionals including teachers, counselors and highly-respected psychiatrist), he goes on the offensive. He doesn’t even care what the experts believe, because if I agree with it, it’s wrong. He wanted us to spend Christmas morning together and pretend we are a family?! This would have destroyed my son, who is already confused and hopeful that we will get together again. So my husband wants to futher the damage by pretending Santa can make a miracle happen?
    My husband was engaging in sick, obsessive sexual behavior, sending thousands of texts involving the affairs, and is the parent to a first grade daughter. I have trouble reconciling sharing custody of my children with him, but also can’t keep going into the hopeless battle. The experts are telling me he will return to this behavior as soon as the divorce is final, if he hasn’t already.
    His narcissism extends to how he is handling interactions with couples we have known and loved for years – sending emails claiming ‘there are two sides to every story’…
    Using an example some may be able to relate to, Peter Cook (and Matt Lauer who supported him in an interview w/Christie Brinkley) seem to be frightening examples of how people can be so easily convinced to believe the malignant narcissist over the loving, dedicated and destroyed spouse they leave in their wake.

    • You are unfortunately right about the behavior and how people fall prey to it. It seems to me in listening to all the stories that have come in here and through reading on my own – that those who are mostly narcissistic/NPD and potentially borderline are the ones who go on the social campaigns to bring in others in their defense. My ex seems to have a large amount of sociopathic/antisocial disorder, and as a result doesn’t do that part. It is interesting, though – how some NPD’s will try to push for more communication and coparenting, while others enjoy withholding communication & information as much as possible.

      I pray that over time the world (in particular the family court system) will become smarter, more aware and more enlightened at these struggles. These are basically the same story over and over… any time where there is a case which goes on for years in a contentious manner, there is one (or both) parents with a personality disorder. I know that many people prescribe to both parents being involved in a child’s life. I cannot – in the case where a child or children can be protected by a mentally stable parent, then we need to do that – for the betterment of our society. Exposing children to this only increases the likelihood that we have more psychopaths in society in the future. We need to protect our children & our future.

      Thanks for writing in… and I apologize for the diatribe! I’m a bit at my wit’s end these days in dealing with my ex.

      • Lori Lee says:

        I have fallen prey I just found this site today.I have been divcore since 2010 and things are getting worst from my ex. He just hassels me and our two daughters especially now I have moved on in my life in a relationship . I am a full time student and lucky I get child support and alimony. But it comes with a cost. My ex thinks he can run my household and yes I fall for the nice guy act than he comes at me like a pit bull. I know how he truely feels he tells our daughters he hates me and etc with insults. He even has our oldest daughter saying to me if I tell the courts you abuse me I can live with dad. She is 10 and our other daughter is 8. He is CEO and has money and is buying the girls everything they want for example a iphone and it is hard because I have rules at my house and he tells the girls that my opinion does not matter and what I say means nothing this is his way. I choose not to well any more buy things for the girls to win there effectition. He also does not inform me on anything I find out thru the kids or school . He plays the good cool guy.The lowest is that he has told me have your lawyer draw up the papers and just disappear from the girls lives. Why do I let this effect me at times? I have realize I gotta come to terms with this and I am working on it but I get so frustrated that it effects the relationship I am in and my daughters . I am not proud of this at all. Guess still healing from the damage he has done and realize I have the control but I do trip up sometimes I am human > Help any suggestions. I am for the most part strong it has been two years why can he not just let me be and realize he gotta pay for his actions which was an affair and asking for a open marriage to justify it . Of course that was the icing on top and I got out. He swore if I did not give him what he wanted he will make my life hell and he has off and on thru the pass two years . How do I get the control back? I know ignore him distance your self from him , but diffucult with coparenting and he sees the girls two nights out of week and ever other weekend. It is set and my lawyer says nothing I can do to change it now that is set without putting the girls thru hell . So i take on the bruden of the situation and try to be there for my ladies . Also learn not to take brunt of emotions for the ladies and not take to heart the threats. Those very helpful going to try Thanks Any advice all ears

        • Hi there – first – my sincere apologies for the long delayed response. I have been doing a lot of very introspective work myself over the past month. It has helped a lot to stay focused on myself and not on my ex. I try to spend more time thinking about me, my kids and enjoying life and less time worried about the control he has. I thought about switching attorneys, and met with someone for a consult. He told me great advice… which should have been very evident to me, but it wasn’t. He said:

          “As the primary parent, you have to realize that you are in the position of power”.

          That was an amazing “ah-ha” moment for me. He also reminded me to stay grounded and centered within myself, so that the emails, words, threats and lies that my ex throws off won’t impact me. “Stay focused and steadfast on what’s best for your children”, he said. True.. as long as I’m acting out of what is best for them, how can that be wrong?

          The other piece that happened lately for me was that my daughter has a therapy session with her dad. In it, she had him sign a contract that said he wouldn’t speak badly about me. That evening, she came home and said she wanted me to sign one too that I wouldn’t speak badly about her dad. I said I wouldn’t because I don’t… but what I did sign is this:

          “I promise to always speak the truth about your father, and only facts not judgement. I promise to strive to help you to see the truth in the situations around you.”. I used the example that her father returned them an hour late that night (9pm on a school night). I said I was mad about it. The truth and fact is – he did return them super late and without any communication to me. I’m not speaking bad about him when I state that fact.

          My point in telling you this is that you can help your daughters to see the truth about their father. Happiness does not coming from having anything you wish for being handed to you… it comes from inside. It comes from love, compassion, personal connections that have meaning and matter. This is what you will give them and it is more valuable than any physical gift their dad provides. Being CEO doesn’t make him better than you… it means nothing. What matters is the love in you and how you approach life. They will learn that from you, and it is priceless.

          I’ll be posting more often now, and I hope to see you here. It is wonderfully supportive to be able to relate to others who really get it.

  35. Jeanne says:


    Thank you for your site – very helpful. I have been legally separated for a year, with 2 kids. With my therapists help, I have finally pieced together that my ex is a narcissist. My greatest challenge is that when I set boundries he doesn’t adhere to them. He won’t accept my boundaries. Nor will he respect the legal separation document in regards to visitation. While our visitation agreement allows for him to plan visits on a month to month basis, there are deadlines and limits. If he misses deadlines he thinks he should still get to see the kids whenever he chooses. If I don’t comply with his requests, then he accuses me on preventing him from see the kids, and threatens legal action.

    Secondly my daughter has refused to talk to him on the phone during the week (he lives in another city). She wants to have a minimal relationship with him. She feels he makes promises to her, and he rarely keeps them. She has felt this way for over a year. She is now a young teenage.

    So recently my son, still in elementary school, is not wanting to talk to him either. He is also tired of broken promises, constant changing of plans while with his dad, and his dad’s preoccupation with work during their visitations.

    Of course my Ex has accused me of brainwashing the kids into hating him! I have always encouraged my kids to talk to him, share with him their achievements, and told them how much he loves them. But you can’t make kids love someone who doesn’t know how to love them back!

    I want to disengage with my Ex, but monthly we have to plan visitation, and it’s exhausting. Any suggestions?

    • Hi there, I am sorry you are in this situation. Truly, it sucks. In my opinion, the best thing you could possibly do is to create a concrete schedule for each month that eliminates negotiation, deadlines and as much communication as possible. It may mean that you have to make a record of the interactions and how they are arduous each month along with any threats (written or even if you are just recording them in a log) and go to court to ask for a modification of the agreement. In some states, your daughter may have the ability to have her opinion be taken into account as well. Perhaps the agreement becomes that there is one weekend a month which he can have the children, deadline or not – and either he shows up or he doesn’t. The stuff around threats and brainwashing is so incredibly common. I wish that judges could see this trend – but I do understand that there are many times when the psychological issues exist with both parents and it makes it more difficult to figure out who actually has the issues.

      As for the threats – at first I think that it is something that you need to exhibit has no control over you. If you don’t react and can show that it doesn’t have any effect, your ex won’t do it because there’s no fun in it anymore. For e.g. – tell him to do legal action, so what, you don’t care.

      As for letting him see the kids regardless of missing the deadlines- from a legal defense, you really just need to play that high road anyway, but the best way to get past it is to eliminate that stuff. The other thought I have is that if he tends to have an oppositional disorder (always doing the opposite of what you want), then bug him about following through on visitation, and bug him about when he is going to take the kids, etc. He may very well react by dropping the ball further!

      One last thought in my long answer…. be grateful: one is that your ex lives in another town. two is that your kids recognize him for what he is and they don’t sound like they are hoping he is something he isn’t. That’s huge – it’s huge now and it’s huge for their mental health down the road. Kudos to you!!

  36. D- says:

    Hello. I came to this as well looking for help and honestly
    hope. I’m 6 months into separation. I caught my husband in his 6th affair. He and that mistress now live in a home a block away from mine. This was done to control me under the guise of it being for our son. My biggest challenge is understanding how on earth someone can be so cruel. His girlfriend is worse then he is. I find it so hard to stay sometimes. It is so tough sometimes I want run away. From it all. I just thought it was me makings husband be so cruel , even though he was like this when I met him. He rationalizes everything. It’s despicable yet I think it’s a temporary thing. Like he is cruel cuz I am not giving him what he wants. I’m smart educated and my self esteem is shot. I am exhausted. How does one irritate for the long haul. What’s the point? I feel like he has all the power and always will. I hate myself for not seeing his ugliness 13 years ago.

    • Hi D…. Can you please give yourself the most amazing pat on the back?? You are doing what is really tough… you left your ex, you dealt with the truth (6 affairs), and you are battling the worst of it. The hardest part is the initial phase when you leave as when you first put boundaries in place, they aren’t used to it and react even harsher. Studies repeatedly show that someone who leaves an abusive relationship is at the most risk when they leave and not when they are in it. As for power.. YOU HAVE THE POWER. YOU ARE TAKING YOUR POWER BACK. Forgive yourself for the past 13 years … the beginning of your life starts TODAY. Please, please seek therapy with someone who is well versed in domestic abuse, and focus on healing yourself and making yourself stronger. It will take time so be forgiving of yourself. (It took me years to get to even this point). It is the best thing you can do for yourself and your kids. There are wonderful resources out there (like Louise Hay and other’s noted on this site). You may not yet be ready for that part of your journey, but you are on the right track. YOU ROCK and don’t you dare forget it!

  37. D- says:

    Hello. I came to this as well looking for help and honestly
    hope. I’m 6 months into separation. I caught my husband in his 6th affair. He and that mistress now live in a home a block away from mine. This was done to control me under the guise of it being for our son. My biggest challenge is understanding how on earth someone can be so cruel. His girlfriend is worse then he is. I find it so hard to stay sometimes. It is so tough sometimes I want run away. From it all. I just thought it was me makings husband be so cruel , even though he was like this when I met him. He rationalizes everything. It’s despicable yet I think it’s a temporary thing. Like he is cruel cuz I am not giving him what he wants. I’m smart educated and my self esteem is shot. I am exhausted. How does one irritate for the long haul. What’s the point? I feel like he has all the power and always will. I hate myself for seeing his ugliness.

  38. Ally says:

    I find that really ‘short to the point’ text messages on the phone are good. But don’t be too eager for a reply, let him take the time to think about it and reply.
    I have found this has worked pretty well. I also found a time that he answers quicker, so I try to time my messages then if I have to.

    I found it hard in the beginning to not be nice and do things my way, but he responds better without any emotion. Brief Hi (focus on the kids if you can, “Enjoy your weekend kids.” )

    • Katie says:

      Very nice post. Thank you. However, I feel that fathers are overrepresented as NPDers. So many moms have NPD. My husband is going through a horrible divorce situation with his ex. We just went to court again and she is such a tiny woman and my husband is a fairly tall man, we also have some ethnic variations… The judge’s decision was already done when he saw us. Now the kids are picking up her traits, it’s getting so hard to bear through….

      • I find the gender portion interesting because there are supposedly 75% of narcissists that are men. However, more books are written about narcissistic mothers. Either is very damaging to be around, male or female. Also at play is the comorbidity ofpersonality disorders. The way the DSM IV describes it, there are more borderline women than men. Alot of the traits are similar between the disorders. The real bottom line is the queayion of how to deal with someone who has these traits and to raise children to be resilient in the gace of this behavior. The other bottom line ia that ciurts need to be able to recognize it and protect the kids.

  39. LC says:

    What really has worked (if anything)???

    • In terms of being able to personally cope and make the situation as diffused as possible – the stuff listed on this page has made a huge difference for me and my situation. A narcissist can’t change – so there isn’t any point in trying to change their behavior, you can only change how you react to their behavior. Changing how you react is a process of releasing the emotions from the past with them and being able to look at the situation objectively. This helps to keep your calm and think calmly about what to do and what would be the best way to deal with them.

  40. LC says:

    Thank you for this site. I am adding this to my favorites big time. I am crying reading all these post. I have been divorced little over a year and half seperated for 2 years.I have a 4 year old and finally have meet a nice healthy man. We have been togehter for a year have an unbelievable connection and has helped me dea with my narcicissitic ex. well he isnt sure he can handl all the drama for the next 14 years and that hurts knowing that my ex may have won in the end my happiness will be gone ( hoping not) i have been harrased by him called the cops they stopped it for a bit with the constant texting about stupid stuff. I just am so confused right now and not sure what i am saying… except i will be a regular person on here hoping i can help someone or they can give me ideas on co parenting thanks evryone

    • I’m glad you’re here, although I’m sorry to hear that the posts made you cry. Hang tight – and focus on taking care of yourself so that you can be strong and take care of/stand up for your child. Being strong and knowing that your voice counts (it does!) is a lot of the battle.

  41. Jewel17 says:

    I just read your blog that was emailed to me. I must say that I have never ever seen or heard more brilliant ideas and suggestions than the one’s that you have outlined and listed. Any suggestions on a narcissist that is also a pathological liar, abusive mentally and physically, and manipulative? My ex is now taken his mental illness to a new level. He is now telling my daughter that I am (this, that and the other). My daughter is 12 y/o, and is begging me to hire a lawyer to get full custody so that she will only have to “visit” instead of see him half the time. I am extremely worried about how all this is going to affect my daughter in the long run.

    • Hi there – and thank you. Pathological liars…. if that doesn’t bring up images of a destructive tornado, I don’t know what does. I’m sorry to hear of your daughter being stuck in that situation, and I agree about the long term effects and trying to counteract them. In terms of being the coparent trying to fight the lies – the first thing that comes to mind is to document your life, and do what you can to catch him at the lies. Whatever kind of proof you can gather that can eventually show a court that his word can’t be trusted is invaluable. Keep a journal of everything religiously. I have found for me that the easiest way to do this is to write it in a daily calendar I purchase each year. If it is a faithfully kept journal, then it can be submitted as evidence to a court. Also, the least amount of contact – the better. There’s less room for conflict when there’s little contact. In terms of your daughter – I’m assuming that she is seeing her father for the truth, and that is a really awesome thing. If she can learn to discern truth from lies, it will not only be helpful for her with her father, but throughout life. It could also be helpful for your daughter to keep her own journal – so she can see where he may be telling conflicting information rather than trying to trust her memory when he is probably telling her that what she remembers isn’t true. For the comments about you, it may be hurtful, but hurtful doesn’t make them true. You are who you are – and if she can picture that as he says derogatory statements about you, it can help her. That seems to have worked well in my situation, anyway. There are books for adult children of narcissists on the market, which can help to understand what healing a person needs after having a parent with this disorder. I have hope that with the help of someone who recognizes the disorder and helps their child/ren through it – that the long term effects are at least diminished. Take care of you and your daughter… I pray the best for you. Oh – and try a DV agency for attorney recommendations if you go that route. You need an attorney that understands disorders and abusive behavior.

  42. Ava says:

    My NPD ex works for the court system where I filed for divorce. He is an attorney. I got a real doozy! I have been divorced for 9 years and it still continues. There is one child from this person. I am remarried and have been for 5 wonderful years, with three children of our own. These are half siblings to my first child, but are referred to as ‘step brothers/sisters’ by the ex. He is double digits many years my senior and has endless amounts of time on his hands to interfere with my custody time. After I filed for divorce, when our child was two years old, he did many outrageous things, to include concealing our child for one week in the home of his boss, holding our child for the “ransom” of forcing me to agree to his demands relative to custody. Although this came out in the custody eval and the boss admitted to it, nothing was ever done to have a lasting impact, considering how indicative this is of the lengths an individual will go to for control. I have been to endless amounts of counseling, struggled with PTSD. I paid numerous attorneys well over $200K, just to respond to all the ridiculous court filings, it still continues. Although I’m the primary custodial parent, he used his tactics to force me to cave to his school choice, where he has family members that work within the school system. He will manipulate and somehow get his way, even at a public school. Every year our child is at this school, there is at least five incidences created by my ex. Some of the school staff mistreats me and have also called to inform him when I am at the school, where he will then “drop by”. One time I was volunteering and he showed up in the classroom and said “just stopped in to say hi”. Although it is scary and highly inappropriate to have a parent waltzing on to campus at their whim, nothing was done. He also used a parent at the school to serve me with legal papers in front of our child, students and staff at the parent pick-up line, nothing was done. If he sees me having conversations with another parent, that parent will be the latest prey to his “work”, intefering with every connection or relationship I have related to our child. Even calling dentist and doctor offices to question my comings and goings, to tell him his sob story. We were taken back to court by the ex to try to obtain an order to allow total control of all the extracurricular activities. The desire is to monopolize all of the custody time that I have. The latest is whenever I sign-up to volunteer at our child’s school, he will sign-up as well to be there on the day I am there. I could go on with all of the tactics that have been employed by him, it is endless. He even climbs the locked gate at our house. I have done just about everything recommended on this website. This is going on 10 painful years. It feels like a life sentence. Unfortunately, I’m wishing away the next 8 years. This has affected our child. I left the marriage when our child was very young, with the idea that would grow up to know nothing other than mom & dad were always living apart. Of course my plan did not work, since the ex is telling our child everything, just not the truth. Recently the ex even made a statement in open court that our child “wished ‘good luck’ to him before the court hearing.” I am so sickened by the things he tells our child. He exhibits an extreme lack of boundaries and acts like a buddy, instead of a parent. Children want to have unconditional love and acceptance by their parents. Unfortunately in these situations, the narcisstic parent will place expectations on the child that often the child cannot possibly meet. This will create a deficit within the child as they struggle to do anything to please the overly controlling parent, most certainly to the detriment of the healthy relationship with the non-NPD parent. Any thoughts, advice, support, words of encouragement for me would be so appreciated. People are not empathetic, supportive or sympathetic to persons in our situation, especially when we are female. It’s amazing how many of the manipulated that work to do the bidding of the male NPD parent are fellow females, mothers, wives, etc. It was astounding the number of females that were willing to write disparaging lies about me, even after never even having been in my home or sometimes having less than one or any personal conversations or interactions with me. I have also had hurtful comments and complete lack of understanding of the severity of this problem, plus the overall implications this has on mothers in our court system. What others don’t understand is that these individuals are cunning, manipulative, charming chameleons that con you into marrying them. You then find out about six months to one year into it how fast you need to turn and run. That is why the marriages are typically short-lived if you are a person that can rebuild themself despite the abuse and free yourself. Not that life will be wonderful dealing with the NPD co-parent, far from it, but at least you don’t have to be living in the same house with them. I go through cycles of time when I am fine, and then once things start up again, it seems my guard is down and I have to rebuild again. There are goals I have and things I’m doing with my own life, but when I am summoned to go back to court, forced to pay another lawyer, I shut down. Our court has a law that requires in my situation that the party most able to pay for the attorney will pay and no one should be denied representation. Although I don’t work presently, I have paid all of my attorney fees over the years, there have been ridiculous, non-sensical court orders that have been doled out, never in the best interest of the child. Thank you for allowing me to share a little bit of my story.

    • Hi Ava, I’m so sorry. I absolutely hated reading this. I’m sure it feels like there’s no way out of it and you’re having to live life in an oppressed manner. I do think that the worse the narcissistic and sociopathic traits a person has, the more this type of vindictive and stalking behavior shows up. It also sounds like from your other comment that there is oppositional defiance disorder at play. As for it being an issue from the mother – I know that my ex’s mom and father are both messed up, so it’s had to say if it originated from one vs. the other or a combination of both. I pray your son will be able to come out of this with the right perspective about what’s a healthy relationship vs. unhealthy. Although, in the meantime, I think praying for a miracle would be good too. I’ve looked up a little before about stalking behaviors and what to do with them, and spoke with an expert in it this past weekend – and she said that the advice of “no response” and “no contact” is what they recommend across the board – even though this enrages some stalkers. I will keep you in mind as I learn more. Many hugs to you -

    • Maree says:

      If he is climbing on your gates at your home, buy a cheap electrical unit, hook it up and let him get zapped. He won’t do that twice. Hook up cameras, take photos, and record everything in a journal. Try not to worry too much, kids sense who the bad guy is, he can’t keep the act up all the time in front of him. Sounds like a stalker!

  43. Jenni says:

    I’m so glad I found this site. I recently was granted a harassment restraining order against my ex because his inability to respect my boundaries led him to send abusive, threatening, coercive emails and do some really weird things.

    His attorney, though, is threatening to make this about me and not him. I didn’t ask for any changes to his custody or his relationship/ability to communicate with the kids — just that he not contact me, except very minimally, not use abusive language, not threaten or blackmail, etc.

    We have a hearing in two weeks at which time I have to prove that his constant communication is harassing and perpetuates the fear/anxiety I’ve had since before we divorced. We’ve been divorced three years, he’s remarried, and it’s getting worse by the month!

    Btw, I’m a writer and mentioned that I thought my ex was a narcissist (in an anonymous blog he somehow found) and he was really angry. He then accused me of projecting my own “childish, self-centered” narcissism on him.

    Any advice on holding my own against him and his attorney in court? Btw, in my original request for the HRO, I asked for minimal contact and the judge said No Contact. His attorney’s already gotten me to agree to limited contact. I just don’t know how to stand up for myself without looking like I’m a bad parent who won’t talk to such a great guy about our children and, therefore, is putting them at risk. Of what, I’m not sure.

    One more thing — he violated the no contact order less than 24 hours after being served and was arrested. That, also, has made him very angry with me…

    Thanks for any thoughts you all have!

    • Wow. There’s so much you’re saying yourself about the situation – like the fact that he’s scaring the crap out of you. This is a warning sign and you are smart to heed it and take action. You should be proud of yourself. You should also give yourself a high five for his arrest on violating the court order. I think it’s also awesome that the judge ordered no contact, and I think you should stick to your guns on that. For everything I’ve read on harassment and stalking, no contact is really key. His behavior is really alarming, and the judge recognized it. Protective orders are only as good as the paper that they are on – and if you ever think you are still in danger, then call the police for help. If you have the law in your state to hide your current address and can do something to make where you live anonymous, then if it were me, I would ask for that as well. The kids can be exchanged in other safe places, through a friend or relative, or by themselves, depending on how old they are. His constant communication is his way of keeping you afraid and having control over you. I don’t mean to scare you further – I’m just saying that YOU ARE SMART in doing what you are doing. A great tool to help you assess things and look at it realistically (and validate your feelings and keep you strong): Gavin de Becker’s risk assessment tool. You can go through the questions for the sake of understanding the risk. It may also be smart to call a domestic violence center or the hotline and create a safety plan for you and your kids. Stay true to yourself!

  44. Julia says:

    I cannot thank you enough for creating this website. I’ve been divorced from my narcissistic ex-husband for over 7 years now but am still tormented by him almost daily. Our children are now 13 and 10. During our separation he was employed 6 days a week and signed off on a visitation agreement that had him seeing the children every other Sunday afternoon only. He had trouble sticking to that schedule! At this time he was living with family. Almost immediately after our divorce was finalized he moved in with a woman (I later found out he had known her for a couple of weeks and the children hadn’t been introduced to her yet) who was financially independent and ten years his senior. She is an uber-codependent who protects him like a lioness would protect her cub. She never had children of her own (and now it’s too late) and she has very much wanted to patch together a family using him and our children. He has not worked (even though he claims to be an independendt insurance agent – typical of the NPD personality to create a fake persona) in approximately 6 years but tells the children he “works from home”. Five years ago, he wanted to start seeing the children every other weekend which I agreed to. 3 years ago he wanted to add a sleepover in the middle of the week, which I agreed to. Then he wanted another weeknight added which I did NOT agree to – he had a huge tantrum and then sued me. 1 1/2 years of fighting in the courts later, his petition was GRANTED. I was told over and over again how I could not lose. Ha! Well, my children lost that day. Now, they have to see their father even more and are questining me why? What was wrong with the way things were? They do not want to go to their father’s house. They say their dad ignores them when they’re there or if he does pay attention to them he lectures them. When they come back to my house they seem starved for affection and attention – they fight with each other to get close to me and stay close to me all night. I’m so frustrated. I’ve been trying so hard to make-up for who their father is since the day my first child was born. Now, I’m not sure any of that matters. He will always be their father and I can’t protect them from him. Since the custody fight (almost 2 years ago) I’ve cut off almost everyone from my life. I’m just now realizing this and trying to figure out why I’ve had this reaction. I’ve just kind of – stopped living my life when my children aren’t with me. I will not date because I don’t trust my judgment and the thought of going through this kind of torture again makes me want to hide away forever. My mother told me that she feels me “slipping away.” I’ve read so many posts on here and it seems like I’m the only one whose ex was able to get an increase in visitation. God I feel like a failure. If only I’d known what NPD was 7 years ago…..

    • Hi Julia – I am so sorry to hear about how much you and your children have been impacted. I have so many thoughts for you. First and foremost – I think that far too often the family court system fails the non-NPD parent. There are a number of movements to try to fix family courts so that the abusive parents don’t wind up winning, as they are so good at playing the court game (lies, deceit, feel sorry for me, sense of entitlement, twisting and turning the truth). I had the same experience as you- and crumbled in tears in the court room hall. I just checked to see – but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually written up a post on that day. In short, my ex basically hung himself through various statements (admitting physical abuse, saying I wasn’t invited to our son’s birthday party because I wasn’t family anymore, he wouldn’t pay for the kid’s schooling b/c we got divorced, etc), but the judge gave him what he asked. To this day, I am thankful for how little he asked for. I have had to face the same questions (as many of us do) from my children – “why do we even have to see him?”.
      I also went through a period where I stayed to myself to make it through the time they were with their dad. Eventually, I found that I had lost myself when I was in the relationship, then re-found me, then lost me again when he won in court. I had to find me again. It’s for my kids just as much as for me. They need a healthy mom. I need to show them what that looks like and what healthy relationships look like. I can’t be in a healthy relationship unless I am emotionally healthy myself. You are not, by any means, a failure. It sounds like you’ve done everything you can to fight for your kids. What a wonderful mom you are – and how lucky they are to have you! Yes, it totally sucks how your kids are in the situation that they are – but nothing is forever, and it can change again. Even if it doesn’t – what your kids learn is how to recognize and deal with a personality disordered individual. At some point, they can stand up for themselves, and at some point, they can make their own choice to have a relationship with their dad or not to. And every day along the way – you will be there as an example for them as a very strong mom and someone they love dearly.

    • Had Enough says:

      This blog is great! My STBX has run us back to our lawyers four times in one year since we settled. He is driving his attorney nuts. His attorney is pushing for us to use a parenting coordinator.

      We have 50/50 – shared physical/joint legal. Stupidly I never documented my abuse for a myriad of reasons that seemed good at the time so we settled for 50/50 out of court, half-hoping he wouldn’t be able to cope and I’d soon find I had primary physical.

      After reading about your experience with a PC, I know it would be super foolish of me to agree to a PC. The issues my X brings up will have him smacked out of the courtroom by a judge. They really are minor. If I agree to one, it only gives him an audience to use to try to further control and punish me for revealing what a d-bag he is.

      Good stuff!

  45. StrongerMe says:

    Have I mentioned that I love your blog? If not, I LOVE YOUR BLOG.
    #6 – My kids constantly complain about having to play dress-up with their dad. They feel like puppets. They went to Alateen and a girl there was complaining about having to dress up for her alcoholic mother. It makes sense, since alcoholism and narcissism go hand in hand.
    I am considering reducing visitation because of the lack of stability (evictions, girlfriends, etc), but it is a constant debate in my head. Mental abuse is so hard to show. I get it, though. I know why they don’t want to go.
    And on that note, my ex also knows that the way to hurt me is through them. He will keep them to SPITE me. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but he would rather pawn them off on other people when the Constable shows up to evict them, as opposed to letting them come home. I had to worry and wonder where they were sleeping and how they were handling it.

    • That is insane – being evicted. I have the same in that my ex would rather have them with someone else because it’s “his time” and he can decide. So, be it a girlfriend, parents or whomever he can dig up… it’s better than calling me and having them with me. Do they have a cell phone to keep you apprised of where they are? If it’s a smart phone, it can be tracked GPS, so that can be a helpful way of knowing where they are and feeling some sense of safety. You’re right that mental & emotional abuse is basically impossible to show, and it stinks as that has a very long impact. Perhaps he will eventually wind up with no way to have them (no address or place for them to be) and it will work out on it’s own. I know someone like that who shared custody for a long time, and eventually the inevitable occurred where he was homeless and the kids were back with her full time.

    • Oh… and a very big thank you! It’s great to know it helps and to connect with you.

    • Julia says:

      When I read your response I couldn’t stop crying. For the first time, after 21 years of having this relationship with my ex-husband (whether he was my boyfriend, husband, or ex at the time), I finally felt like I had someone who fully understood what I had been through. Family and friends have tried their best to be supportive but no one really got it – they just wrote him off as a huge jerk. So you have given me such a gift and I can’t begin to thank you enough. This blog and your support and the support of all of the others who have been living with these issues will provide me with the information, comfort and understanding I’ve been lacking for so long. My journey has been long and very lonely. I’m overwhelmed with the possibility of living a different kind of life now that I am reading everything I can get my hands on regarding NPD and their victims (I hate that word). I’ve been living without a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve literally been comforted by the thought that someday I’ll be dead and this will all be over (no suicidal thoughts just comforted that there will be an end someday). Then I look at my children who I love more than life itself and I tell myself to “get a grip”!! Like I said, a very lonely existence. So thank you, thank you, thank you, for understanding how very much those of us living with this needed someone like you to create a place like this. You are such a blessing!

      • Thank you! I really didn’t mean to make you cry!! There is one other thing that I read once that really resonates with me and I think it will with you as well. It was like my ex really permeated my body and damaged my soul. I have felt that I needed to not only wash him off of me, but clean every part of his residual negative energy out of me. I think that this is what is meant by the word “victim”. I hate that word too – but in the sense that being around such negative energy and having to fight it out of your life every day – it kinda fits. There’s a book – “Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity
        “. I bought it because the title screamed at me, although I’ve never had the courage to read it. Now that I feel I have worked through removing all of that from me and finding me again – I pretend that there’s a protective bubble around me whenever I am around him. It screams out “I am who I am” and blocks all the negative vibes from him. A little corny, I know, but I feel better. Also, whenever I think negative thoughts about him, I mentally say “I release you . I bless you with love and I let you go”. This is from Louise Hay, a wonderful positive affirmation author and CEO of Hay Publishing.

  46. Grace says:

    I particularly identify with #3. My ex told me (heck, continues to tell me) everything from I have no fashion sense, am too fat or too skinny, need plastic surgery, should see a dermatologist for acne, am from a small town (I’m not), boring, uneducated, a bad mom, and a general failure at life.

    All of these make me laugh, because not a single one is true, and he wouldn’t say any of it if he wasn’t feeling insecure about himself.

    I want to add that I’ve come to recognize his rages and tantrums as usually being tied to something specific going wrong in his life. When the going gets tough, he lashes out at me.

    I used to wonder what I had done to lose control of the boundaries I work so hard to put into place, and what caused him to go from respectfully co-parenting to name calling and bullying in the course of a single email (followed by 6 other emails, all reiterating how he’s so disappointed in me for xyz).

    Come to find out, when that happens, he’s got something big stressing him out and he takes it out on me. Except I have learned not to engage or participate as much as I can.

    I quote the decree to answer his questions, and am berated for ‘overstating the obvious’. That’s okay…if it was so obvious he wouldn’t be asking the question in the first place (then asking it again ten different ways, hoping to get a different answer).

    I find that it helps to reword his rants and bullying so they are less of a trigger to me and more of an entertainment ;)

    How hard it must be to be a 50 year old man, who can only express himself in the same way as our 5 year old.

    I’ve also just recently found a very effective way to minimize his ability to contact me (this is post Parenting Coordinator ordered by the court and Our Family Wizard). I set up a new email address, notified him, his parents, and our parenting coordinator of my new address (worded so that it appeared it went to my entire address list and NOT created just for him/them). I check it twice a day when he has the kids, and once every other day when he doesn’t.

    He can barrage my inbox with emails all he wants..I sift through them at MY convenience, and the lack of instant connection helps buffer me and my soul. Because I have an iphone his emails were lighting up my phone all day and all night, despite repeated requests to cease harassing me (which he seems to take as a personal challenge to CONTINUE and even increases).

    Such a simple thing, but has proven to be very effective for me, and I thought I had tried EVERYTHING.

    Hope that helps someone!


    • StrongerMe says:

      Recently, my ex started one of his rants with our boys. It was over something small like a picture getting knocked over, but he started crying. My youngest son was devastated that he had hurt him. I explained that there was probably other things going on to stress him out. He wasn’t that upset about the picture. Hopefully, they can learn that now, instead of enduring it and taking blame like I did for all of those years.

      • Did your ex cry or your son? With a more “normal” adult, the adult would apologize, and what happened to their child to help them process it. The good thing is that you’re there to do it, and that when you get upset, you can show the boys an example of what it looks like to more properly process & handle emotions.

    • Ava says:

      Hi Grace, I actually quit using an iphone and switched to a GoPhone, since my ex was constantly texting. I also had to block his emails from two addresses and create another address. Although I disconnected my iPhone in February, he still insists I have the same mobile telephone number, which I don’t (gosh, I feel very sorry for the person that was assigned that telephone number). He even placed my old cell phone number on the emergency card at school, after removing all of my current information. We were ordered onto Family Wizard (although we’ve been divorced for nine years, just got this order). I understand what you mean about when you request anything, it then becomes a challenge for them to show you they are the boss. I believe there is some deep-seated problems these individuals had with their mothers. Because my NPD spouse is always trying to prove to me that he doesn’t have to listen to authority of any sort,but especially when anything resembling direction comes from me, but he is also above the law. Court orders are for only the rest to follow, not him. I’m happy to hear that this is working for you. I’ve tried everything, but still have new issues that crop up. Just when you think you’ve plugged all the holes in the wall, you get a leak!

      Peace be with you!

  47. Katie says:

    Hi, just wanted to write and thank you for creating a forum for this kind of support. I’m recently divorced from a narcissist (after a long battle over the best interest of our child) and I’ve seen a few other sites dedicated to supporting victims of narcissism, but it’s great to see one specifically focused on co-parenting with a narcissist. My situation is so much like the other stories I’ve read here. Though I’m saddened that others have had to deal with this, it’s comforting to know the insanity around my relationship with my ex and the difficulty I’m experiencing is not just my fault, as my ex would have me believe (and has on many occasions).

    I am now in a relationship with a loving, generous, kind and RATIONAL man, T, who wants to take on the challenge with me of parenting my three-year-old son who idolizes his narcissistic father (my ex). We met T’s parents this weekend and I had a humiliating meltdown because my son was tired and acting up, and I didn’t know how to handle his whining and tantrums in front of them. I had certain expectations of how things would go, and they clearly didn’t go the way I had planned. So now I’m sorting through what I could have done differently to avoid the meltdown, what I can do in the future to avoid that kind of behavior, and what aspects of my son’s behavior were due to my ex’s influence on him or just the fact that he’s three years old and his parents are divorced and seeing other people. T was very supportive and assured me that he (and his parents) understand that parenting is tough sometimes, so I’m thankful for them, but still having a hard time navigating life.

    Parenting is hard enough as a confident person, without a co-parent who makes me second-guess every decision I make, so thank you again for this space to share stories and gain support from others in a similar situation.

    • Hi there, thanks so much for commenting. The mere fact that you are looking for how to handle the situation better for you and your young son says that you are an awesome mom! You’ve taken the time to understand what the disorder is that your ex is dealing with, and are already helping your son to deal with it. Those are huge steps, as is being in a normal, supportive relationship. I agree that parenting is challenging, and I find my comfort and strength in chatting with others who often validate my thoughts or concerns. It helps to counteract any of the comments I get from my ex. I also find that working closely with teachers (preschool/daycare too) can help – because then they can provide a second voice of reason to my children about the behaviors that are expected and to help guide and direct my children’s emotions that cause the behaviors. Trust me… people understand… I have been there with my kids throwing the worst tantrums, punching me, school refusal, screaming fits, etc. When people hear that they child has challenges in their life, I’ve found they pretty much are immediately understanding and supportive.

  48. Jenny says:

    Great tips!
    I am almost 10 years out and still dealing with this man, and because my children are still young (12 and 15), I will be for several more years.
    Any new information I can get is helpful!
    I liked #3 – reversing the language, I hadn’t heard that one before.
    All the rest is great, and I would add to get really good professional help. I have a counselor who is a PTSD specialist and in a few short months has really helped me deal with an emotional relapse I had after my ex moved back into my town and began an all-out campaign against me.
    Also, read, read, read. Information is power.
    After 10 years (and knowing some women going on multiple decades), I can say, no, they may never leave you alone. But yes, you can ignore, set boundaries, stay “professional” and do many other things to keep you sane and your kids protected.
    I have sons, who have both made attempts at emulating their dad’s behavior. Fortunately, my counselor had some great wisdom. First, they aren’t him, so remove the emotion from your head before you deal with the situation (time-out for you). Second, dialogue with them about the behavior. Help them to critique and analyze it themselves. Then gently, but firmly, help them to understand that that kind of behavior will not be tolerated in the future and follow through with appropriate consequences if necessary. Emphasize love, and be sure to state that they can always come to you with questions or feelings. You may need to get quite firm if they have developed habits, but over time and with consistency, they may come around. I’ve been much more conscious of my reactions and feelings and once I have those under control, it’s easier to parent well.

  49. Bonnie says:

    It makes me sad to see so many others dealing with the same mess I deal with daily. I have been divorced for 5 years now from an NPD serial bully. Just this week, I broke rule #2 thinking he was being so nice and cooperative that we could actually have a normal conversation. Instead, I got a 10 page rant of #3, projection!!! It is so frustrating and emotionally draining. He is remarried, but that hasn’t changed anything. We went to court last year for him stalking me. He can no longer come to my property. Talk about boundaries!!! I will come to this site regularly to help me cope. Thank you so much for sharing. Your rules were not anything I hadn’t already heard before. It is just not as easy to put them into practice.

    • Wow. You are so right that it’s not easy to stay with the rules and to momentarily think that he’s a rational person. I imagine you know that you need to save that 10 page rant — and be thankful that he puts that stuff in writing. Thank you for your comments – it is sad to see everyone who is impacted with a similar situation. I’m hopeful that we can find support with each other.

    • Grace says:

      Bonnie-can you share what his behavior/actions were that led to you successfully proving that he was stalking you? I’m wanting to pursue the same, but because my finances are tight I want to make sure I have a tight case to present to the court.


  50. Jaime says:

    I stummbled upon this site while looking up ways to handle co parenting with a narcissist. I have been in a lot of therapy and have heard this word a lot in regards to my ex. I was never really sure what was true and what wasn’t he clouded my better judgement. In the begining our relationship, he always did everything to please. We went to concerts, ball games everything that I enjoyed doing. He became more and more obsessive as the days (not months) went by. I ended things after 4 months just to trun around and go back. I always felt like the constant fighting had to be me. When in fact he was convincing me that it was me and not him. We had a child together and when she was 4 months old I knew I had to show her a better life and left. He fought me for 2 years on everything. He had to pay an attorney $35,000 to get supervised visitation, an order of protection and lose a great deal of time with his daughter. He has since then agreed to a parenting plan and everything that is stated about her being an extension of him is so true. I am just now learning how to deal with him. It is hard for me to forgive because it is a disorder when he is so hurtful, hateful and attmepts to use my daughter against me. I am working on it because I am healthy happy and free of his restrains.

    I hope you continue to update this blog I will be an avid follower.

    All the best

    • Hi there! I would love to know how you were able to get the protective order and supervised visitation. And have you changed the visitation plan since? I’m curious as to why, and how you feel about it? If you have a chance to comment again, please do! Thank you for your support! It’s great to hear that you are working on finding forgiveness and learning how to deal with him – for you and your daughter’s sake. It is so much easier said than done! Joy to you~

  51. Heather says:

    I’m co-parenting with a narcissist and these are brilliant suggestions. Any suggestions for when his borderline sister who acts like his wife thinks she’s the mother of your children?

    • Hi there! I have to give this some thought and research, but want you to know that I am thinking about it. That sounds like a very tough situation. What immediately comes to mind is take peace in your children’s knowing that she’s not their mother -and to give them tools on how to respond if she is trying to mother them directly. Also to be very calm, assertive and deliberately clear when communicating that you will make the decisions for your children as their parent. It’s tough to deal with anyone who provides parenting opinions, and it has to be even tougher with a boundary-less borderline ex-sister in law! Stay strong!!

  52. kelly says:

    I found your site last night in attempt to find some answers on how to deal with a controlling ex husband. I am so grateful you have the courage to share your story so others like me know we aren’t alone and there are ways to deal with it. You put to words everything I have been feeling and experiencing for the past seven years. My ex husband was sweet and charming up until the day after we got married, and then he changed completely. I’m still trying to figure everything out while raising our two kids, 4 and 2 alone. He comes in and out of their lives when it suits him. I have no control over his visitations and when I try to set some boundaries he gets angry and makes threats.
    Thank you so much for all your insight and info!

  53. Missy says:

    Thank You! I’m in a custody battle with a Sociopath/Narcissist and I just found your blog! I will visit regularly.

  54. Julie says:

    I am currently co parenting w a very manipulative narcissist who became violent at the end of our relationship when I tried to take back control of the household. One thing I want mention is that many narcissist are capable of rages when they feel like they are not getting their way. Their rages are very similar to a 2 year old having a temper tantrum except that when an adult does it it can be quite baffling and scary. I have a restraining order on my ex. Many people did not believe me because he is educated good looking has a very good job and he is extremely charming and completely void of empathy. I stress apprise behavior and empathy to my son. We have rules- we do not, yell, push, ect. In mommy’s house we treat each other nice because that is how people that care anout each other act. When you yell people cannot understand you and you make them feel bad. When we
    see a person or animal I ask my son what he thinks they are thinking and feeling.

    • Hi Julie! I totally think what you are doing is awesome! I agree with you in instilling and emphasizing how to respect other people and treat every one nicely. In my opinion, your son will learn this from you and eventually see his Dad for the truth of who he is, and will make sure not to replay those types of behaviors when he grows up and is in his own relationship. The only thing I’m surprised about is that since you have a restraining order – that your son has visitation at all. I hope it is supervised. Nonetheless… I commend you for your strength! Thank you for sharing!!

  55. Sam says:

    I have just read practically everything on your website.
    Firstly, I would like to thank you for sharing all of this and secondly to empathise with you.
    I have been feeling quite depressed about the influence my ex is having over my son (12), mainly through vacation visitation, thank God for me and my son, (not that my son feels this way) he lives in another country. I can feel for you immensely! To have to go through this on a weekly basis must be hellish. Thankfully you are also a Christian and are able to get your strength from the Lord.

    In my situation, my son adores his father which makes this even more complicated.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing and good luck with your situation. My ex did re-marry and has a few more children so that has definitely taken the heat off me. Now I have to deal with the flare ups less often because he is busy. Hopefully, the same will happen in your situation.

    Also, I am remarried to a wonderful normal man who is supportive and clearly sees my ex for what he is.

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Sam, thank you for your comment and support! It is good to hear of the other blessings in your life and that you are focusing on those aspects (he’s remarried, things aren’t as bad as they were, ex is in another country, and you’re remarried to someone who’s great). Those are all wonderful! I am looking to learn more about the impact on the kids. It’s such a hard line, because it’s not that narcissists are always pure evil (some are, imho, because of the pathological level of issues). In this way… it makes sense that our kids would like their fathers to some degree. After all … we did too at some point, right? Plus, because your son sees him less and only on vacation – he’s really only getting the glorious parts of your ex. This is good, and not so good all at the same time. He enjoys the time with him, but he doesn’t see the truth . Have faith as well that the whole situation will work out for everyone’s best and highest good. It sounds like you are doing everything you can, and doing wonderful at it. God Bless!

  56. Hi Jess, thank you for your comment and support! Now remember that you also deserve the same — you have recognized the relationships you were in for what they really were/are and sought help. And now you are doing the same for your little one. That’s good stuff!

    A few thoughts for you – (1) is that one of my biggest regrets was not getting an order of protection when my ex was last physically violent with the kids involved. I had vainly hoped and hoped he would settle out and that I could peacefully have him in my children’s lives. Today, 5 years later, I think that the best thing for my children would be that he could know him through supervised visits. They might not have understood why if that’s all they ever knew, but at this point – they would understand why if we are to change to supervised visitation (which is what I think is in their best interest). Now, that’s my take on my ex. I don’t know the extend of narcissism you are dealing with with your child’s father. My ex’s strong narcissism really limits him from ever being able to be a positive impact on my kid’s lives when left to his own devices.
    (2) In my state – whether you were married or not is really irrelevant. It’s “custody” court, not “divorce” court. What you could consider is because you are working with a newborn – is to ask for a graduating schedule. Have your arguments ready as to why this would be best for your baby/child, and then ask for a schedule which changes and grows with age and child development. Most narcissists aren’t really interested in a baby – as the baby doesn’t provide any narcissistic supply and is fully a ‘taker’ in any relationship. A baby is also particularly vulnerable, so if your ex has low frustration tolerance and/or rages as most narcissists do – consider that carefully before allowing for any extended periods of care (and by extended, I mean more than a few hours). (3) the other avenue or perspective to consider taking is one that would trigger the oppositional defiance aspect in narcissism. Meaning… I heard of one mom who told the father that if they wanted to be involved, that was great.. but that he darn well better be in 100% from now until eternity and to carry his weight in the parenting process fully. The dad, not surprisingly, actually said ‘no thanks” and walked from the child’s life.

    Any other readers with thoughts? Collective knowledge and experience is certainly more powerful than standing on our own!

  57. Julie says:

    The best thing in custody is to never marry a NPD in most states the man will need to battle for parental rights and file paternity unless you open the door requesting child support. Although you feel like your child should spend time with her father think carefully how much access and legal rights you give him. NPD’s are not good parents or co parents EVER.

  58. Jamie says:

    You just saved my sanity!
    Thanks you

  59. StrongerMe says:

    No, Jenny, no! Say it isn’t so. TEN YEARS? I am only four years out. My boys are 15 and almost 14. I see other people move on after divorce and we are still in madness. I was hoping that I was near that HEALTHY point. lol

  60. Julie says:

    I also wanted to add that filing paternity involes months of paperwork and a DNA test. NPDs react two ways with children non interest or seeing them as an extension. If your lucky he will not be interested enough to deal with the hassle of paternity. Also NPDs frequently begin to batter you during pregnancy because they see you as weak. If he slaps pushes or threatens you call the police and do not feel sorry for him press charges. Batteing a pregnant woman is a very serious charge and in many states he can go to prison for 5 years

  61. Great Advice, Julie. I wish I had someone say that to me when my ex smacked my face while I was pregnant. I did feel sorry and didn’t press charges – didn’t realize the severity of the issue and comprehend what it takes for someone to be that dissociated from their actions that they would hurt a pregnant woman. I also think that the reactions to a child change between pregnancy (when they can’t visualize there’s a real baby) to when there is a child who can bring attention to them. For the latter, there became a point when a person would be paying attention to the baby – but the narcissist personally feels the attention instead. So, my guess is that the time to recognize and take action is earlier rather than later.

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