Why you should never voluntarily go into mediation with your narcissistic ex


…and what you should insist on when it is ordered from above.

I’ve always been a big fan of mediation. I think it’s a fantastic idea to bring a neutral third party into a conflict and, if that person is really well trained and knows his or her stuff, to be guided to a good compromise. All parties to the conflict feel comfortable because everyone is treated with respect and taken seriously.

Mediation is, according to Wikipedia, a structured, voluntary process for the constructive resolution of a conflict, in which independent “all-party” third parties accompany the conflicting parties in their resolution process. In this process, the parties to the conflict, also called mediants or mediators, try to reach a mutual agreement that meets their needs and interests.

So please do not confuse this with meditation…

If you yourself just in your – more or less consensual – separation together with the ex feel the urgent need for mediation, then do it!

… with one important distinction

A normal conflict is usually based on a failed communication of needs between the parties. Mediation is perfect for this.

But as mothers with toxic ex-partners, if they are suspected narcissists, we have very special conflict partners sitting opposite us:

  • Men who always see themselves as victims,
  • who project their own negative attitude onto the other,
  • who do not put their ex-partner on the same level as themselves,
  • who have an excessive attitude of entitlement, with which they think they have a right to have their demands and wishes fulfilled,
  • who are used to manipulating others,
  • who like to present themselves (in the best light), but who afterwards neither accept what is decided or discussed, nor do they stick to the agreements made,
  • who, as a rule, reject official institutions, ridicule them, do not take them seriously,
  • who never question and reflect on their own attitudes,
  • who have to win every social interaction and are constantly in competition, and
  • Men who have emotionally and mentally abused us in the worst way in the years before.

Mediation is based on a very specific basic idea:

All parties want to settle a dispute, but recognize that everyone in the game has their needs and a compromise should be in everyone’s best interest. In other words, people want to work out a settlement together and finally bring a matter to a close.

A narcissistically disturbed man does not think this way.

He only wants to push through his own interests and at most convince the neutral third party that you are the disturbed one and that he is doing the right thing for everyone.

He also needs the argument with you as a constant source for his energy supply.

Where is the fun when the dispute stops?

Attention: Danger!

Now, of course, you can say: It’s worth a try. After all, it’s about the children! You have to make an effort, and at least from your side you want to leave no stone unturned to have a peaceful separation and build up a good co-parenthood.

And then there is the case worker from the youth welfare office who strongly recommends it and you get the feeling that otherwise you will be the main blocker and possibly lose your children if you don’t do it.

Mediation with a suspected narcissistically disturbed person carries the great risk that it could become another trauma for you, and you really shouldn’t underestimate that.

Because: the individual mediation sessions (usually there are several) provide a stage for such men to continue their emotional and mental abuse in front of the eyes and ears of the troubled mediator.

He may say things that have greatly upset you before, but sound “normal” to the mediator.

He will most likely lie as much as possible, and these lies will be in the room for the time being – you would not be able to react that quickly (especially if it is his speaking time, in which you are not allowed to interrupt him).

Quite possibly he will say or claim things that can trigger you.

He may also become snarky or aggressive in tone.

The mediator – in the spirit of the rules – will try to listen to him in a professional manner, to value him and not to doubt what he says. That alone may feel like a toothache to you.

And it may be that your toxic ex is projecting all his hatred of the situation onto you, and that force may then blow you away.

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You watch this spectacle stunned and will only think, “Yes, doesn’t anyone see what’s going on here right now?” Should you have had the vague hope that you finally have a witness who will quickly understand what’s going on, this hope will quickly vanish.

But the really worst thing that is very likely to happen: Your toxic ex will hear everything from you about what you’re feeling and thinking right now, because you’re opening up and wanting to be honest – after all, you want to end the conflict. It is his arsenal of weapons for later when you are “alone” again.

Not to mention that after the meeting, when you walk out the door together, you could be verbally attacked by him directly with what you said in mediation.

My recommendation for you

If you think your ex has developed a narcissistic personality disorder, stay away from mediation.

You get to protect yourself!

No one else will do it for you, because the emotional and mental abuse you have experienced is impossible or almost impossible for outsiders to understand.

The last thing you need in your situation is another traumatic experience with an unsuspecting mediator who acts to the best of his or her ability but unwittingly becomes an accessory to psychological abuse!

The first rule when you come out of a narcissistic relationship is to keep your distance and avoid any contact in order to give your ex no more opportunities to bully you.

This is especially true if you have not been to court yet and are considering suggesting mediation to your toxic ex yourself.

However, it should also be mentioned at this point that family court judges like to first determine if mediation has already taken place, and then order that extra loop.

You could then say, for example, “I am happy to consult with a psychologist, but only separately, with no joint appointments. I do not want to do a joint mediation in a room for my own self-protection, I ask for your understanding here.”

Please discuss with your legal counsel beforehand that he/she will then obtain a so-called shuttle mediation if the judge/judge cannot be dissuaded from the mediation idea. In a shuttle mediation, the parties sit in separate rooms at the same time and the mediators switch back and forth between the rooms.

Kind of like an alternating model for mediators 😉 (pun intended!).

Because much of what I described above in terms of possible dangers would then fizzle out, because the respective statements would be filtered and delivered by the mediator.

And that, my dear, is then a really great thing – you can present your arguments without fear and be heard.

To summarize:

Provided you have a “normal” ex who simply has a different opinion on one decision or another – then do mediation.

If you have a toxic ex who is giving you hell on a day to day basis, then leave it alone while you can and have it in hand!

If you have a toxic ex, and the judge has ordered mediation, then try to get a shuttle mediation if you can’t be in the same room with the man without getting strong physical reactions.

If all of this cannot be avoided: then by all means acquire a strong inner mindset beforehand.

What do you think about it? Have you ever done (pendulum) mediation with your narcissistic ex? What’s your experience been like? I look forward to your comment below.

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