Friday, January 30, 2015

How Do I "get along" with the narcissist/sociopath/psychopath?


Communication Protocols

In this post, I aim to describe how I "get along" with the narcissistic/sociopathic/psychopathic ex-husband with whom I must share child custody.

With shared custody, one must participate with the other parent. "No Contact" is not possible.   But, how much participation must we actually have?   There is a rock-solid custody agreement.  There is very little to discuss. 

The disordered person wants engagement, drama, entanglement, confusion, details, discussion, attention, accusations, defenses, explanation….and on and on.   Give an inch, and he'll try to take a mile.  Therefore, the rule of the game is to Reduce Engagement With The Disordered Person As Much As Possible. 

I have a set of policies and procedures that I practice to reduce engagement with the disordered father of my child(ren). 

The Short List 

1. A Dedicated Mobile Phone, Only For Him.  

2. No Voice Conversations - Texts Only. 

3. A Dedicated Email Account, Only For Him.

4. Texts Instead of Email Whenever Possible. 

5. Reduce Face-To-Face Contact To Nearly Zero. 

6. Delay. a.k.a. The 24hr Rule.

Here's a little more detail.

1. A Dedicated Mobile Phone, Only For Him.  
My child(ren) always have access to this phone to contact their father. 
We have a spot where the phone lives in the house.
We have given the phone a name.  (Example: We named the Daddy-Phone "Peanut.")  
I think this helps reduce the drama for my child(ren). 
He may contact them on this phone. 
We do not call Daddy from Mommy's Phone.  
Daddy is not allowed to call Mommy's Phone.  
Daddy is only allowed to call The Daddy-Phone. 

2. No Voice Conversations - Texts Only. 
I do not talk to him on the phone. 
I text, and only from The Daddy-Phone. 
I don’t need the psychopath to reach out and touch me via my personal phone.  
He needs to be sequestered. 
I check the Daddy-Phone at least once per day. 
I do not check it at night, close to bedtime, because I don't need to get upset/rattled/energized. 
But, he doesn't text very much, because I don’t engage.

3. A Dedicated Email Account, Only For Him.
I used to check this once a day. 
Then, I checked it 2 times a week. 
Then, I checked it once a week. 
Nowadays, I check it about 2 times a month.  Or whenever I need to send something. 

4. Texts Instead of Email Whenever Possible. 
Texts are preferable to email. 
The shorter, the better. 
The less engagement, the better. 
The less I say, the less there is to say. 
Texting tends to keep his responses short.

5. Reduce Face-To-Face Contact To Nearly Zero. 
Custody exchanges happen at school.  Sometimes, when there is a holiday, or a teacher workday, we exchange the kid(s) in a public location.  I often have a friend do this for me.   I find that the more face-time he gets, the more agitated/enraged/interested he becomes.

6. Delay. a.k.a. The 24hr Rule.
When it seems like there is a need to respond to an email, I have a 24 hr rule.  There is usually nothing so important/urgent that demands a quick response.  I find that by giving myself a cushion of time, I give myself peace.   Often, I find that I can wait even longer.  A two or three day cushion lets me really measure my response.  Best case: an entire week.   Often, after waiting a week, I find that I don’t need to respond at all. 

More than anything, the psychopath (narcissist, sociopath) wants your attention. 
He wants your time, your energy and your pain. 

Don't give it.

Photograph by Mark Nockleby on flicker. 
Title "Denver Roller Dolls Mile High Club roll out before the championship bout"
Used under the Creative Commons License


  1. That's a good approach. Good that you think about a possible court battle, lengthy emails are good for that purpose. Interesting idea with a dedicated phone and dedicated email account - I haven't myself think of that.

    I have 'no emails, only texts' policy. My aim was to keep his manipulative emails short and give myself more time to think while responding (often I responded to his emails impulsively).

    If he hasn't file for a full custody so far, that's a good sign. Most likely he won't.

    I've been dealing with N/P ex (more P) for last 6 years. The divorce was almost 5 years ago. Three years ago he filed for a full custody. He lost last year, but now he's preparing for next battle. And he addresses the mistakes he did last time. So, again I'm a wreck. I'm very tired of all that and too weak to fight with him.

  2. Hi (again!) Anonymous,

    If you try the dedicated phone/email account, I hope you will let me know if it helps. I got the idea from a gal online, and I am so glad I tried it.

    I almost always regret the times when I impulsively and/or quickly respond to his emails/texts. Sometimes, there is a reason to just get it done and out of the way. But, mostly, I am so grateful when I have let it sit for hours or days.
    I dislike the never-ending Strategizing that I must do with a psychopath, but it goes with the territory. Ugh.

    I am going to write a post about the Psychopath and His Love of The Battle, and how they seem to be Enriched by the Fight, while we wilt like a cut flower in comparison. It's just no good to fight with them.

    Big hugs,
    AKA Rose Lee

  3. Since I can't really afford a dedicated phone for xh, I personally try to minimize texting. It is intrusive and I do not want to hear from him. I use my cell for texting other people, and I discourage texting unless it is truly urgent (and it's written into the orders - otherwise I would get texts all hours of the night and day). Texting can be manipulated a bit more easily than email. in my experience. Since I need to have my cell phone on for the kids, I don't want to use it for texting xh.....other than really simple immediate stuff.

    But a dedicated cell phone, and a dedicated email account - yes yes yes!

    How do you keep your regular cell phone number from getting leaked to xh? Do the kids know your regular cell phone number, or do they call you from xh's house on the dedicated xh phone?

  4. Love and use nearly all of the suggestions. One other thing that has worked VERY well for me. I am fortunate to have two close family/friends who have been with me through the entire battle. I set up an email filter when I first realized that every time I saw an email from him, my stress level and anxiety skyrocketed -- I was afraid to even log into email. My filter does this: Email from any of his addressed immediately gets forwarded to these two trusted people and then filed into an 'Exhole' folder. So I might see that I have one new message from him, but it's not in my inbox and I don't see the subject or first line. Then, these trusted people will simply let me know if there is anything that needs to be responded to at all such as logistics for the kids (most don't as they are accusing, trying-to-engage hate mail). Then I just respond back as brief and direct as possible. It allows me to ignore, not engage with, and not even read all the lies and false accusations. I figured someday after the divorce I'd remove the filter. But it's been four years and I don't even see myself leaving it when the girls turn 19 in 10+ years. Thank you again for sharing your tactics! I appreciate your blog.