Is Your Ex Really A Narcissist?

Signs & Behaviours of A Narcissist and Strategies for Divorcing Someone Diagnosed With NPD


Even if you don't quite understand what narcissism is, it's highly likely you've at least heard of it or seen the term used online. Although experts report that a very low percentage of the population has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, many people report that their former spouse/co-parent is or behaves like a narcissist.


In this episode of Split. The After Ever After Podcast, we speak with coach and toxic relationship expert Matthew Phifer. Matthew provides the true definition of a narcissist and outlines the essential strategies for divorcing and co-parenting someone who has been diagnosed with this personality disorder.




Ashley Wood: Narcissism is coming up a lot on social media and in podcasts. Can you define the difference between someone who has NPD versus someone who may just be selfish or may be acting narcissistically?


Matthew Phifer: So break it down. I don't like getting into the clinical terms into the criteria because

I mean, even clinicians sometimes have a difficult time discovering what narcissism actually is. So, some of the main features that I tell people to look for is that they do not respect boundaries. Every relationship, all relationships, every single health relationship has to have boundaries, healthy people, respect, boundaries. When you're with someone that doesn't respect boundaries, they don't respect you. Number two, they don't take responsibility or accountability for anything that they do. Some of the things that I, uh, when someone's trying to figure things out, I'll ask them once the last time you and them had a disagreement and things actually went your way, or you guys found some sort of compromise in the middle and quite often the answer, even if they'd been together for 10, 20, 30 years is no. Or, or, um, I remember one or two times, but there was a punishment that happened right after. So when you start hearing those types of dynamics where we're talking about something completely different.


The other thing is I'd tell people to listen to their body, that feeling of walking on eggshells. Your body keeps score the entire time, you might be confused about the relationship. You might even be scared to leave the relationship. Your body knows. Quite often it knew way early on, but because going back to the codependency and people pleasing behavior, because you didn't validate your feelings in the first handful of weeks and months, and you just kept going and going your bodies and your body just kept on taking tally. Your body is saying I'm telling you, I don't like this person. I don't like them. It's that walking on eggshells feeling. It's a part of cognitive dissonance where you know you should leave, but something is holding you back - maybe it's the investment, the fear, you're not quite sure what, but your body doesn't want you to stay there.


People are surprised when I tell them I'm not even really big into the title or diagnosis of narcissism. Instead, I tell people to study the behaviour. Something to remember is that even in healthy relationships, people fight...


But what confuses people is that when you're in a toxic relationship, you're only thinking about the good times and you're working really hard to get it back to the good dates, the good sex, the nice vacation. And when you look at those things, they look exactly the same way that healthy relationships do.


You're like, oh, this is what my, my aunt and uncle do. This is what, you know, this is just how relationships are, but that's not the definition of a healthy relationship. With toxic relationships you have to look at when times are not so good. That's the definition of what your relationship actually is.


So I always compare it to karate kid. You think of Daniel? Yes, he fights. He does karate within the confines of the rules. I'm not trying to hurt you. I'm doing this for a sport, with respect, with fighting with honor. Right. And within the confines of the tournament, things like that. But you think of his adversary, the Cobra, Kai...It was strike first, strike hard, no mercy. They wanted to win at any cost. Even if they broke the rules, it didn't matter if they broke his ribs. It didn't matter if they bullied him at school. That part didn't matter, as long as they won, because they had nothing to do with honor, they had complete disrespect of their opponent.


As long as they win, that's all that matters. And that's what it's like with being a narcissist.




Connect with Family Law Mediator Jennifer Sanders

The content on this podcast is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal OR medical advice and should not be used as a medical diagnosis.


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