Is Your Ex Really a Narcissist?

Ben, Nikki, Susan and Kate were joined by Michelle Dempsey-Multack, Certified Divorce Specialist and host of the Moms Moving On podcast, to tackle a topic that’s been floating around the divorce industry recently. 

There has been a lot of talk about narcissism and its place in divorce over the past few years. There are so many podcasts, books, and blogs discussing how to deal with a narcissist. However, like any bit of information that gets brought to the forefront, labels can be thrown around carelessly. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a very serious and dangerous mental illness. Like any disease, you shouldn’t identify any person by their illness. But it’s also a problem when we label people who are self-centered or egotistical as a narcissist. Narcissism and having NPD are two very different things. So here are a few things to keep in mind before throwing labels around:

Labeling somebody who is self-interested as a narcissist is similar to labeling somebody who had a bad day as depressed. Just because somebody displays self-interested behaviors or has egotistical tendencies does not mean they are a full-blown narcissist. Not everyone who acts like that is, and using such a heavy label that is attached to mental illness can be damaging to everyone involved. It can even stop you from trying to make the best situation possible in your divorce. 

Think about whether they really suffer from NPD or AEH.
A wonderful term coined by our guest, AEH (Asshole Ex-Husband Syndrome), is very different from NPD. Not everyone who treats you poorly or makes your situation worse because they’re just watching out for themselves is a narcissist. Sometimes they’re just insensitive and not being a good person. NPD is something that is diagnosed by a professional, not you. 

All of us have narcissistic traits at times.
This can include things like entitlement, bad behavior, and not considering how our decisions could hurt others. Having behaviors like this doesn’t make us narcissists, they make us human. Everyone acts like this from time to time and the only way to do better is to recognize it and grow from it. 

You can’t make your relationship better with a narcissist. You can make a relationship better with somebody who’s just an asshole.
Dealing with a true narcissist is a non-starter. They won’t change no matter how much effort you put into that relationship. With somebody who isn’t a narcissist but is just not treating you the way you need or want to be treated, you can communicate in new ways and work toward mending that relationship. 

To listen to all of our full livestream recordings, visit our Youtube page.

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To learn more about Kate Anthony and The Divorce Survival Guide, visit her on Facebook and Instagram or visit Listen to her podcast at

Discover more about Susan Guthrie and The Divorce and Beyond Podcast on Facebook and Instagram or at Listen to the Divorce and Beyond Podcast here:

To learn more about Michelle, check out her Instagram, @themichelledempsey, and listen to her podcast Moms Moving On

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