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Texting with that Narcissistic Ex!

August 2, 2022

One of the biggest mistakes separated parents do in their texting and emailing with a narcissistic ex, is try to respond to all their false, misleading and manipulative remarks and allegations.

There is a felt need to correct the narcissist and not be blamed for matters that do not originate with oneself, but them.

With that the narcissist just sees you as engaged and rather than standing corrected, they respond with more infuriating and manipulative versions of their view of things.

This drags you further and deeper down their rabbit hole. You find yourself trapped with ever longer aggravating texts.

Lawyer and author Bill Eddy writes in his book, BIFF, that people are better off responding in a manner that is Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm.

Essentially he says to ignore that which is false, misleading and provocative to instead only reply to the kernel of whatever need be determined.

For instance, a parent receives one of those nasty lengthy texts detailing their shame and blame for a given situation a few days before the weekend where the exchange is yet to be sorted out.

With that, although mired in the missives of the ex, this parent can’t organize their weekend and the children’s schedule.

While the parent may be triggered, wanting to set the record straight, that response will result in a trip down the rabbit hole and the weekend schedule won’t be resolved.

A BIFF response instead would look something like the following:

“I have received your text. You raise many new issues that don’t however speak to this weekend’s schedule.

I will assume you are picking the kids up from my home at five as in the past.

If however you haven’t arrived by six, I will take it that you are not coming and I will then be off with the kids on other plans.

I would be pleased to hear back if you wish to suggest another plan otherwise I will take it that this plan stands.”

Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm.

By not responding to the diatribe you are neither accepting or rejecting the comments of shame and blame.

You are rising above to stay focused on the present, the needs and plans for the children with little to no provocative statements of your own.

As per Bill Eddy, if you receive yet another off topic text or one that distorts your BIFF response, you can choose to ignore it or simply reiterate your previous message.

Dealing with a narcissist ex is all about skill development.

As a parent disengages from being on the defensive to instead offer focused information neutrally, the parent can gain some semblance of control and peace in their life.

The ex may continue to lob their bombs, which in the end wind up reflecting poorly on themselves in view of your reasonable and focused communications.

Coaching is all about learning these and other strategies and skills to better manage the behavior and communications with a narcissistic ex.

This differs substantially from counseling which typically focuses on your feelings yet will do little to address the skill development necessary for better management.

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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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