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My Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Reflections on loving and living with a Narcissist.  Let our experts guide you toward the healing power of moving on and allowing yourself some time in the spotlight.  Get advice on healing from his behavior and finding yourself again.

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Communicating with a narcissist usually goes one of two ways.  He either is doing all the talking or he isn’t responding at all. You see, either way he controls the conversation.

Narcissists don’t use language like normal people do. We communicate our needs, thoughts, feelings, and ideas. We talk to entertain and be entertained and we talk to gain intimacy in relationships. The narcissist talks to obtain a goal. He may be talking to win over a new source of narcissistic supply, to gain sympathy, to deceive, to divide people, or to divert consequences. He almost never talks in order to share who he is and he never listens without an ulterior motive. If he is in a conversation he can’t win he will either attack the person talking or he will take his ball and go home with a petulant, “You’re illogical – I’m outta here.”

It’s good to keep that in mind.

Tip One: Nod and Smile

Make sure you are listening because you don’t want to accidently agree to something dumb but you’ll find yourself not talking very much – and definitely not being listened to. Nodding and smiling allows you to really frustrate the narcissist because he isn’t getting a response and we all know how much fun that is.

If you want to stay on his good side for some reason throw him a bone now and then and praise him for something. That’s also good strategy if he starts to criticize you. Narcissists can’t resist admiration no matter what else is going on.

Tip Two: Appeal to His Ego

With an ego the size of his it’s not too hard to figure out what to say in order to achieve necessary communication. If he isn’t paying child support you can mention to him how the teacher at school bought your child a winter coat because she thought your child needed one and it seemed that it was not in the budget. This doesn’t work with all narcissists but those that like to be admired for their material possessions will usually make sure that no one thinks he can’t afford things for his child ever again.

Tip Three: Make a Record

No matter what you are talking about, whether it’s on the phone, text, Skype, or email make sure you keep a detailed record of how you communicated, when you communicated, and what was said. File it and keep it forever. I repeat, do not ever get rid of your files – you may need them far into the future.

If you have something on record he can never say he wasn’t aware or he didn’t understand. He cannot accuse you of lying. You have proof and proof is a valuable thing.

Tip Four: Get It in Writing

Try to keep your communications in writing. When you talk on the phone, even if you have a record of the conversation it can quickly become he said/she said. He won’t deny the conversation but he may deny what was discussed. Save emails, scan hard copy letters, and whatever else you have that is in a visual format to two flash drives. Put one in a convenient place and put the other somewhere that it will be safe from fire and other damage.

Tip Five: Keep It Exact

Always say what is necessary in the shortest possible way. Be precise. Give facts and as little else as possible. Do not try to appeal to his empathetic, sensitive side because he doesn’t really have one – a least not where you are concerned. This is not the time to use your favorite adjectives, adverbs, and other really cool parts of speech. Keep it caveman simple.

Doctor visit was $45. Your part is $22.50. Attached is the bill. Hard copy is in the mail.

Tip Six: Use Certified Mail

If you have to send receipts and whatnot to your ex always use certified mail. It’s too easy for him to say that he didn’t receive it. Certified mail doesn’t cost much and it proves that it was received. File the receipt away forever and also make a scan of it to add to your file.

Tip Seven: Don’t Let Him Be the Victim if You Can Help It

I have always been upfront with what is going on in my life, obviously. The problem is that I can be so upfront and honest about it that it looks like I am the drama queen. After all, all he is doing is trying to get on with his life and here I am telling people what a pain he is. Poor thing.

That makes me want to explain myself even more. Which in turn makes me look more like a drama queen to those who don’t know (and don’t want to know) the whole story.

It’s a tough thing to do, and not something I have mastered, but try to just vent with a close friend and keep it quiet publically. My problem with doing this is that I want y’all to know you aren’t the only ones going through it. When I share on social media and here I get emails thanking me. So, I will probably keep being transparent and hoping eventually he shows his hand. In the meantime y’all don’t do as I do – do as I say.

Tip Eight: Just Don’t

If you don’t have to communicate don’t. I send the emails I get from the ex’s new wife to my current husband. He can read them and decide if it’s something I need to read or not. I do the same with the ex’s emails. Then they go to the lawyer. Boom.

It’s much less stressful and it helps control my anxiety.

What are your tips for communicating with the ex? Join First Wives World today and share your best strategies for dealing with a narcissistic ex-husband.


Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: Rochelle Hartman 



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  • Comment Link Phyllis Sunday, 16 April 2017 20:01 posted by Phyllis

    I don't no what to do or where to go????

  • Comment Link Sunday Rossberg Monday, 06 March 2017 04:47 posted by Sunday Rossberg

    As a divorce attorney, I was very impressed with this very useful, concise information

  • Comment Link Christina Wednesday, 01 March 2017 23:12 posted by Christina

    Thank you for writing this article. It really helps to know that others have gone through this.

  • Comment Link Robyn Monday, 02 January 2017 02:14 posted by Robyn

    I left my narc 2 years ago. Like text book he moved on very quickly which didn't last, because he was expected to set up shop for the both of them during this time had very little to do with the children. 8 months post separation he pulled a suiside stunt while grooming someone else on line with 3 young kids, within eight weeks of meeting her he had convinced her to let him move in, telling me at least it is a real relationship and you are old China.he also had given her a

  • Comment Link Robyn Wednesday, 30 November 2016 01:59 posted by Robyn

    How do I communicate with my daughter in law is what I consider a narcissist! All I'm wanting is to talk to my grandson! I know she gets my messages but won't respond! Calling doesn't work cause as her voicemail is full! Always has been! I know it's a control thing but could use help breaking through! Any suggestions will be appreciated!

  • Comment Link Storm Monday, 14 November 2016 04:02 posted by Storm

    Thank you for the article ... but I have a problem with my narcissistic person I tried almost everything with my narcissistic person I REALLY need to talk to them (on the phone) but they keep giving me excuses I have been very very very patient with them I need help so if anybody has any ideas I would appreciate it alot.

  • Comment Link Bandit2008 Monday, 07 November 2016 07:45 posted by Bandit2008

    My wife is a cover narcissist and unfortunately I have to communicate with her because we have a son together. Scary part here is that she fabricates the truth and seems to believe it all. For example when truth is that she decided to move out and leave relationship, she has now over six months afterwards started to suggest there was some sort of drama involved such a me causing anxiety to her and she had no other choice but leave. Truth is that when we were together and I didn't yet know exactly what was her issue, I tried to help her discussing about marital problems and encourage her to get help with her anxiety and difficulties in expressing herself - however I didn't know then how much she hated the possibility that her anxiety was within herself. I was patient and loving, but of course I understand now there was nothing I could do - I was about to be discarded no matter what.

    Now she is really angry towards me as I care about our son and I expect to be part of my son's life (just started school) when she tries to separate me from him. We mainly send emails back and forth and basically everything is tangled around the fact that she tries to control me. She doesn't ask, she tells me. She gives me orders what to do and what I can't do. She really doesn't realise I'm an independent human being, an adult. She also sends me emails telling what mistakes I've made especially concerning parenthood / co-parenting etc.

    As an empathetic person, I also realise constantly considering if she has any point in requesting something from me and that is quite stressful. Fortunately I have very good friends who help me in keeping my sanity and keeping up reasonable boundaries towards her. I've let them see our communication and I've tried to be as open as possible. I know I tend to be a bit too understanding and flexible, but with narcissists that is really problematic mindset.

    My advice is: don't think you can make through this alone. Share your experience to your friends. Understand that you are dealing with a mentally injured person and there is nothing you can do to help him / her. Don't try to pay back or get even with them - just be yourself, but don't let anyone walk over you. They do suffer so you don't have to bully them back and make them even more miserable. Just defend yourself as far as you absolutely need to and keep communication in minimum. Remember to enjoy your life with persons who truly respect you and appreciate you being part of their life.

  • Comment Link Susanne Saturday, 05 November 2016 18:54 posted by Susanne

    Thank you for this article. If it wasn't such a devastating part of my experience right now, some of your suggestions are almost funny. I had to laugh a bit at the way you presented some of them. Thing is, I am still in a marriage to a man very much like this. I take one day at a time and try to live the Christian life (that doesn't mean, by the way, taking bad stuff always lying down). It is a struggle, especially when I've done something I think is really quite minor and he ignores me for as long as it takes for ME to come to him in some manner of reconciliation. It is a balance of letting go (and let God!) and using my wits--with God's help--to deal with this most unpleasant person.

  • Comment Link Sarina Tuesday, 18 October 2016 05:10 posted by Sarina

    Thank you for writing such a great article, I'm going through something like this with my father and i just don't know how to deal with him cause i feel like he never listens to me and if i insist on showing him my side of story he either will get mad or try to stop me from talking!
    now i have a better vision about my options!

  • Comment Link mrs jones Sunday, 18 September 2016 21:35 posted by mrs jones

    Finally I found out who the hell I have been dealing with for 18 years of my life I will never get back. I went on meds. I spend a lot of time alone. Their selfish ungrateful and expect the world on a silver platter. Take away their power by finding someone else. They are useless as a person who is braindead at hospice.

  • Comment Link Annette Saturday, 13 August 2016 22:52 posted by Annette

    Pray and Thank God he loves you unconditionally and is not bitter toward you. Command not where he can hear you that he enjoys giving to you. Doing things eat and tell him as little as possible about everything you do. Tell nothing unless necessary. Don't let your right hand know what the left hand is doing.

  • Comment Link Connie Tuesday, 02 August 2016 16:44 posted by Connie

    I am dealing with what I consider to be a hardcore narc. I have been on and off with this person for about 8 years. we broken up and gotten back together I don't know how many times. in that time he has caused me to leave and go with no contact and eventually he would always wiggle his way back in. when I express how I feel and communicate things to him he gets upset and shuts down. even if I text he doesn't like I text yet we cant seem to talk in person either. always being over looked as far as my feelings are concerned. I struggle emotionally to try and get out yet some how I feel stuck. i'm not afraid of being alone as I have felt alone for a long time. i'm not sure what it is in the core of my soul that keeps me in this situation when I know it's not healthy. I seek counseling to make sure i'm still sane. that it's not me, that i'm not being irrational etc.. I try to make conversation but he really doesn't let me into his world much if that makes sense. he seems to talk with his friends more or if we go to a bar or some place he is a social butterfly and we often times just sit there and watch the tv with not much conversation among him and I. like i'm just there as a trophy figure. Affection isn't something he gives much of. i'm very lost feel weak and vulnerable. I have my shit together outside of this relationship. I don't know what the heck my issue is and i'm trying hard to fix it within myself.

  • Comment Link soonenough Thursday, 02 June 2016 11:08 posted by soonenough

    I have been in a relationship with a narc for a year. My mother told me he is a narc. So I came to your site thank you so much for you insight. I read everything and it described him exactly. Thank you I am putting an end to this relationship before it gets worst.

  • Comment Link snowasana Friday, 06 May 2016 22:53 posted by snowasana

    Great wisdom! Thank you for making it public. It's hard and even harder when it's the ex and you have children to take care of. The narcissist in my life is my father and I am just about to cut off communication. It still hurts, but it feels like the best solution.

  • Comment Link Sister of NPD person Monday, 25 April 2016 16:38 posted by Sister of NPD person

    My narcissistic person is my sister,only sister, 2 yrs older. I only learned a couple years ago of the condition she has, she has made my life miserable all my 67 years.
    She is evil and hurtful and fits the description of a NPD perfectly. I am going thru a bout with her now and I have my husband read the email as of yesterday because her evil communications gets my anxiety going and I cannot sleep, etc. I cried all day yesterday. I feel for all of you who have one in your life.

  • Comment Link Ozzy Tuesday, 12 April 2016 23:18 posted by Ozzy

    My ex girlfriend of 5 traumatizing yrs fits almost all the characteristics described here. She constantly criticizes me for "talking too much" or how I sound and articulate my words. It bothers but i realize she's just a pathetic mean little girl trapped in a 28 yr old body. The tip to speak simple seems to work and get her to fuck off so thank you for that. :-)

  • Comment Link Maletarget Tuesday, 08 December 2015 01:34 posted by Maletarget

    Darren, I am the same. One (of many) reason is because more females report/ complain their instances online.

    I myself have had 4 Narcissist females come through my life, but I've never really complained about it online...

    The worst are the malignant kind; the ones who are so sick and twisted with schadenfreude (enjoying other's suffering). Had one who was SO obsessed that she asked others to hack my pc. She was so obsessed with trying to ruin me everything else she had in life fell apart..

  • Comment Link Darren Wednesday, 18 November 2015 17:48 posted by Darren

    Why is it that everything I've read about narcissistic behavior refers to a man. I'm finding life so hard with my sons mother but can't find any help its always for the woman. Why is this?

  • Comment Link Tracey Monday, 12 October 2015 15:34 posted by Tracey

    I've been in a toxic relationship with an abusive Narc. I went back three times, the horror unfolded to epic abuse. As a lay person I had no idea about the silent treatment and the sarcasm etc.
    The final blow was beyond my experience of humanity. Out and out cruelty without provocation, disappointed in my outfit was the cause, so all my fault etc.
    Quickly he hooked up with a new partner, which added to the trauma. I broke free and in an effort to gain closure found out about Cluster B he 100% is the real deal. Frightening.
    I gained my self confidence back, moved forward all was well. Then out of the blue hoovering began (it had happened before twice and I'd fallen for it).
    My anxiety came back, Ive mirrored the insane pretend nothing happened emails. I'm super sensitive to the veiled insults disguised as humour. I want to say buzz off but am afraid to mention his girlfriend or past behaviour as the consequences would be horrific.
    He has my details and can always find me. I once attempted logic but it backfired.
    Normal people don't understand the fear, I'm told 'don't let him win' and 'why are you letting him get to you'. It's none of these it's pure fear nothing about winning, I threw in the towel a year ago.
    I think the Narc is unique in humanity, very destructive and will carry out serious abuse before a good nights sleep.

  • Comment Link maggie Monday, 20 April 2015 23:54 posted by maggie

    Ok this is all well and good but;
    I have been married to my (I think narc) husband for 38 years. During this time he has had 15 affairs that I know of. The last one went on for about 11 months. Call me stupid but I only clicked on, well into the affair. When I asked him why it was all because I didn't love him enough, didn't want him enough and didn't care about him enough. His new women did. After a bit of investigating I found out that this ow is an alcoholic and will take on any man after she has hit the bottle and do anything. Why would he be with her. because she lied to him as much as he lied to her.
    I have tried to forgive him again but I now doubt everything he says ,most of it lies.
    When I question him (carefully)He either will not talk or just says "its over I don't want to talk about history. I love only you. Leave it.)
    How do I get him to be honest and talk to me???

  • Comment Link Urvi Tuesday, 12 August 2014 13:56 posted by Urvi

    My biggest guilt is in order to not to talk back and make him worse, I never talked at all

  • Comment Link gracierr12 Monday, 11 August 2014 08:18 posted by gracierr12

    Please keep being transparent....just like scotch tape, reading your wisdom/experiences is helping me keep it together....thank you!

  • Comment Link tspohn Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:43 posted by tspohn

    I am so happy to have found this site!!! I really thought no one out there understood! Everything I read is exactly what I've been through. Thank you so much!!!!

  • Comment Link Marye Wednesday, 23 July 2014 04:23 posted by Marye

    Joy - He shields me because of my PTSD. As far as incredible - Let me count the ways. How many men, finished with raising children, would marry a woman with 6 kids still at home? He is wonderful in every way.

  • Comment Link joytheauthor Monday, 21 July 2014 13:34 posted by joytheauthor

    You must have a caring, supportive, current husband to forward emails from the ex and his new wife. Don't think I would want my current husband to have to deal with them and the situation. If anything, I would want to shield him from the conflict and drama. Guess I would do it for us...set some boundaries around us as a couple. He has to be an incredible person.

  • Comment Link Tash Thursday, 17 July 2014 22:34 posted by Tash

    That is an excellent, helpful and supremely useful list. Thank you! I have heard it helps to begin a surreptitious audio or video recording when interacting in person with a narcissist; however, I'm not sure of the legality or ability to submit the recordings in court. My ex has told me several times "I am monitoring you." I cannot express the anxiety I feel constantly, stuck in our old apartment, on our old computer. I got rid of my cell and got a new one, but only after a few months of what he'd said. And then, I wonder about the SIM card. I have scrubbed my computer for evidence of keyloggers/spyware/networks, but I'm afraid he's already somehow gotten into my information. I also believe he may have planted a camera either in the apartment or my old car (which I've since replaced). What happened is, he realized that after lying to me, wasting a bunch of money and threatening divorce over and over, it prompted me to investigate him - I found out he had been using pick-up artist books, dating and soliciting an escort, on top of opening up credit lines in his name and cancelling our credit cards, plus taking a vacation without telling me, etc. Oh, and weeks of the silent treatment and some physical abuse (I'm fine, but still). Plenty of altercations. I had to take out a restraining order, and this flipped him out - so now he is smearing my name/slandering me, investigating me and taunting me (he can afford a lawyer, he has a girlfriend, he has a decent job and money). I am so furious and upset, that I did express way too much to him at first - which of course looks bad in the eyes of the court (by the way, when did marriage and family suddenly become equated with a business arrangement? I am human and have been torn apart by a coldhearted two-faced rageaholic. Yet I'm supposed to stay calm, cool and collected and not express any of my emotions?

    I digress.

    So anyway, theses suggestions are stellar, especially the putting it all in writing via text/email.

    I might add: choose ONE form - preferably email - for ANYTHING you want to save/print/show. Texts are for logistics - like "the mail is on the bench outside" or "our child will be dropped off by 5:15." It's hard to print out texts, they take longer to scroll through, you might lose them more easily (especially if you lose your phone or it fails!) You can't forward the texts in threads, just individually, and screenshots or images take too long to transfer/collate.

    Also - keep a journal and update it EVERY night. I made the mistake of thinking I could just go back and figure out what was going on/dates, etc. however; that is a huge undertaking and you tend to forget crucial details. I wish I had an assistant to get me through all of this.

    Thank you!~

  • Comment Link marye Thursday, 17 July 2014 16:02 posted by marye

    Cleveland - I don't know of one for men but the information is the same. I know a man who is married to a full blown narcissist and he reads here. Someone should seriously start a site for men!

  • Comment Link Cleveland Thursday, 17 July 2014 01:33 posted by Cleveland

    I was married to a narcissist and my fiancé's ex wife is a narcissist. This is a great website for women, but I wonder if you have a suggestion for men? I don't know if you have seen "Chumplady " but I truly respect her for being non-sexist. Please let me know if there is a website similar to this one that I can direct him to for support and advice. Five years into the relationship my heart will not stop breaking for him and his son based on her continued abuse and disregard for the emotional consequences.

  • Comment Link SharP Tuesday, 15 July 2014 20:10 posted by SharP

    The best tip I ever got was from a stranger in court. I went early and watched all the couples going up and down before the judge. The lady next to me and I began to talk. Most of the problems seemed to be the exchanging of the kids drama. The judge had made some of the couples start exchanging at the police station and others at the local library. Hmmmm she said to me the best thing the judge ever did for her was to have the switch at a third location. She does the school... And so do I. All seasons, all holidays.... When the switch was made at the school, it cut down on my need to interact with him. We follow the rotation schedule... Time, location... Everything is in there. Not much left to communicate over. I had the opportunity to redo the rotation when he moved. So I was able to tweak it. If you find he is suing you for something, you can retweak the rotation schedule then.