When you find yourself talking to a Toronto divorce lawyer about what ended your marriage, what will you say? That your spouse was self-absorbed, vain and selfish? Many people would call that an accurate description of their exes—but when is it considered a real personality disorder, and when is it just a case of your ex being a rotten person?

Spotting a Narcissist

Narcissism is a personality disorder that affects a surprisingly large slice of the population (as many as one in 16 people is likely to experience actual narcissistic personality disorder, and many more have at least some narcissistic traits).

Good examples of people who are likely narcissistic are those on reality TV. Some of the personality traits a narcissist exhibits include:

  • Taking advantage of others to get ahead and having little empathy
  • Having an inflated sense of self-importance
  • Exaggerating achievements and talents
  • Needing constant admiration and attention
  • Reacting poorly to constructive criticism
  • Being intensely self-absorbed and pursuing selfish goals
  • Expecting to be treated more favorably than others in similar situations
  • Obsessing over success, beauty or power

No one can really pinpoint what causes narcissism, but researchers are actively studying how genetics and culture both play roles in its development.

Dealing with the Carnage a Narcissist Leaves Behind

Often, people who are married to narcissists end up in a Toronto divorce lawyer’s office discussing their options. If you’re one of them, you’re probably looking forward to moving on and starting your new life without all the drama—but if you have kids, you’ll need to learn how to cope with the fallout until your kids have reached the age of majority.

  • Reframe your requests. Since narcissists often lack empathy, telling your narcissistic ex what you feel, need or want probably won’t get you anywhere. Instead, you’ll need to learn to frame your requests in a way that outlines how giving you what you want will benefit him or her. Instead of saying, “The kids want you to pick them up from school instead of having them take the bus,” try “The kids want to show you off to their friends—could you pick them up from school?”
  • Lower your expectations. Understand that your ex doesn’t have the same range of emotions you do, and that his or her emotions are generally only affected when it comes to “Me, me, me.”
  • Stop trying to please your narcissistic ex. You hired a Toronto divorce lawyer so you don’t have to constantly work to please your ex—so don’t forget it! You no longer have to go out of your way to make sure you’re stroking his or her ego. You can hang up the phone or walk away without having to worry about the consequences.

Keeping Your Toronto Divorce Lawyer in the Loop

If your ex’s narcissism continues to cause you problems after you’ve separated, tell your Toronto divorce lawyer. Your lawyer may be able to help you explore legal options that will ensure you can move forward in your new life peacefully and without having to focus on your narcissistic ex.