Narcissism is a relational disease. When a narcissist gets into a relationship, marries, or has children, their relational problems and fear of intimacy often lead to high-conflict divorces. Narcissists can be manipulative, and their dramatic and impulsive personalities can lead to intense legal battles. Being able to readily identify narcissistic behaviors can provide an eye-opening perspective to future and past conflicts.
Female Narcissists are Common
Older research characterized pathological narcissism as being more prevalent among men. In fact, many outdated studies estimated that over 90% of narcissists were male. More recently, it has been suggested that as many as 1 in 4 narcissists are women. At Keithley Law, PLLC, we have just as many clients divorcing female narcissists as male narcissists.
We have personally witnessed 3 categories of female narcissists, and each type employs different personas in court:
1. The Seductress: The seductress is often likened to a femme fatale, or a woman who uses sexual appeal to lure her victims. She will pay excessive attention to appearance and attire, possess an unhealthy desire for attention, and have a general tendency to discard one partner for the next. You may have been intrigued by her beauty during the love-bombing or idealization phase and feel lucky to have attracted such a beautiful partner. Underneath the luring mask of beauty is a skilled manipulator used to getting what she wants by using her sex appeal.
- In court: The seductive narcissist will attempt to use her sex appeal to sway judges, lawyers, and other people involved in your litigation. She will flirt, dress impeccably, and she may even use a type of “baby voice” or flattery to appeal to others. You will need a skilled lawyer on your side who understands the façade and can pierce the illusion to dissuade others from falling for her charm and sex appeal.
2. The Perfect Wife/Mother: Think of Betty Broderick, the infamous husband killer of the 80s who was known as the perfect wife and the “perfect PTA mother” to her four children. Behind closed doors was a manipulative, histrionic, and narcissistic woman who had no concern for others and felt that her husband owed her for the years she supported him during law school and medical school. This type of narcissist will seemingly be involved in the family’s lives and thrive on her public persona as the perfect wife/mother.
- In court: The perfect wife/mother narcissist will call witnesses who can vouch for her involvement and boost her self-image as the perfect woman who has done everything possible for her family’s success. She will try to manipulate judges, lawyers, and witnesses to view her as a perfect person. You need a lawyer who can investigate and understand that this is just a persona she uses to get her way. She will most likely view herself as a martyr and victim so make sure your lawyer can deconstruct that image so others will understand that her sole motivating factor is to boost her image for attention. She sees others as extensions of herself. She wants credit for helping you work, recognition for your children’s’ educational successes, and she even considers your personal achievements as her own. Your children’s success feeds her narcissistic ego. She will use guilt-inducing behavior and behind closed doors, she will be different.
3. The Drama Queen: The drama queen loves to create situations that feed her empty soul and make her feel alive. She will threaten you with police action, allege abuse, and may even pursue unwarranted protective orders for no reason other than to punish you and gain attention for her drama-seeking behaviors. She may fight with authority figures, including daycare providers, teachers, even her own lawyers. You will have experienced a litany of dramatic situations, and she will be involved in drama everywhere. You may have even called her “eccentric” or “entertaining.” Forever bored, she somehow sees herself as an innocent bystander in other people’s drama.
- In court: The drama queen will often employ theatrics and paint herself as the heroine in every situation. She may attempt to convince others that she’s just standing up for what’s right, justice, her children, etc. Your attorney needs to gather her previous attempts to create drama and hostility. Your lawyer needs to understand that the drama queen may even use her children as pawns in her boredom and involve them in dramatic situations. For instance, have there been examples of her calling the police and filing incident reports that went nowhere when your children were present? Your lawyer needs to understand that her penchant for drama will not end after divorce, and pathological narcissism doesn’t just go away. What will co-parenting entail so that you don’t become victim to her drama? She may switch daycare providers for perceived slights, always causing a scene in the end. Unfortunately, the drama queen can be the most problematic for future custody proceedings. You need to find legal help anticipating the drama.
Discuss Your Case with a Qualified Legal Professional
Understanding the common female narcissistic types can be crucial for those caught in a divorce or custody battle with a narcissist.
If you suspect you are involved in a marriage or relationship with a female narcissist, and are contemplating a Virginia divorce, you should contact the Fairfax divorce attorneys at Keithley Law, PLLC today. We are familiar with this disorder and are here to help.
Rely on 40 years of legal experience. Call Keithley Law, PLLC at (703) 454-5147 to schedule a consultation.