How to Beat the Mind Games Narcissists Play in a California Divorce

If you married a narcissist, you might think that a divorce would release you from the trap of all the mind games, but your divorce litigation might be the perfect playground for a narcissist to get under your skin. This article will summarize five strategies to successfully navigate the challenges of divorcing a narcissist.


  • Narcissists often distort the facts and events and distort their own behavior. 
  • Combat this tactic with evidence. Save videos, texts, emails and other hard evidence that corroborate your version of the facts. 


  • A common tactic used by narcissists is to blame others for their own faults or for things that are beyond anyone’s control. 
  • Combat this tactic by ignoring the noise. The battlegrounds of a divorce are typically children and money, and the ex-spouse’s blame for issues relating to the marriage are largely irrelevant and a tactic to try to get you to react in a way that takes away your peace or logic to fight the important battles. For this reason, an effective way to beat this game is often to tune it out. 


  • If you have lived with a narcissist for very long, you are probably used to their victim mentality. They try to get sympathy or support from others by portraying themselves as innocent. 
  • Combat this tactic by being confident in your own self and standing your ground with friends and family. Think through a clear, strong and short message about why you are getting a divorce and how your position is fair and stick with that short and to the point story. Do not allow the narcissist to draw you into a spiral of guilt in your own mind, or a dithering story to others. 


  • A narcissist will often try to introduce a third party into the situation to gain support. This could be a family member, friend, religious leader or even one of your children. 
  • Combat this tactic by gently but firmly asking the third party to stay out of the divorce. Effective communication is key to helping others understand why their input is not helpful and can actually be harmful to the resolution of your divorce. 


  • Hoovering is deliberately manipulative behavior intended to pull a person back into a cycle of abuse. This can play out with affirmations of love, excessive flattery (often known as love bombing), and promises to change. 
  • Combat this tactic by becoming whole in yourself so that you do not need the narcissist’s false love. Get therapy, focus on a new hobby, dedicate more time to friends and family, or set goals for exercise. Do whatever helps you become a satisfied and complete person who is not susceptible to fake overtures of affection.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we understand that divorcing a narcissist can be extremely challenging emotionally and complex legally, but we will help you fight these tactics and successfully navigate the challenges of your California divorce. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.