SURE signs you are dealing with a covert narcissist
Who is a covert narcissist ?

A covert narcissist is someone who craves admiration and importance as well as lacks empathy toward others but can act in a different way than an overt narcissist.

According to psychology study, behavior can be described as overt or covert. Overt behaviors are those that can be easily observed by others. Covert behaviors, however, are those that are more subtle and a bit less obvious to others.

This article focuses on exposing covert narcissist behaviors because they can be very confusing most times to the victims. Whereas, making it difficult to figure out if one should see it as normal or abnormal.

In general, Narcissists find it difficult to build or maintain connections with others because of their manipulative tendencies and lack of empathy. They often feel entitled and lack compassion, yet crave attention and admiration.

They place grand sense of importance on themselves with no regards to other’s feelings whatsoever that influences their decision-making and interactions.

People with covert narcissism tend to display very different personality traits to those with the overt variation of narcissism.

Instead of the extroverted characteristics such as attention-seeking and blatant manipulation. They come across as likable and reserved, they tend to be withdrawn, shy and introverted.

Covert narcissists fly under the radar, and before they’re detected, they’ve probably already done the damage. Besides introversion and having a withdrawn temperament, social adeptness and intelligence may also contribute to covert narcissism.

Covert narcissists know that overt narcissism has its downsides, which they minimize by taking a covert route to narcissism. Here are some detailed ways to know that one is a covert narcissist.

1-They show passive-aggressive behaviors

Overt narcissists tend to be overtly aggressive, they’ll put you down overtly without shame. Covert narcissists have a more passive approach to their aggression. They’ll put you down- so gently that you’ll be left scratching your head, debating their maleficence.

For example, they’ll dish out a backhanded compliment like:

“You don’t look fat in that dress.” (But in every other dress)

Or they’ll hurl a hurtful joke at you and then say:

“I was only joking. Why are you taking it seriously?”

Covert narcissists won’t directly tell you that you’re worthless and they’re superior to you. They’ll convey their lack of regard for you in other ways.

For example, they’ll show up late for meetings or respond late to your texts, conveying their lack of respect for you and your time.

Nobody should feel good wasting people’s time or keeping them waiting without any notice. Even if something came up, the right thing to do is to notify the other person instead of just staying silent till whenever it’s convenient for you.

2-They forget deliberately

This is another sneaky passive-aggressive behavior. If you ask a covert narcissist to do something for you, they’ll ‘forget’ to do it.

Since they’re selfish and only care about themselves, they don’t really want to help you, but they know they can’t directly refuse you. So, they passively disobey you with their deliberate forgetting.

It’s a different ball game when, one genuinely forgets things maybe due to work / life stress but when this happens all the time with someone-  just know that they are intentionally doing it. They would always keep having excuses for failing you. And are quick to use tricky words to confuse your judgement.

For example; words like- “if I don’t care, I won’t be apologizing for fucking up. You know it’s not my fault that I keep forgetting.”

3-They apologize insincerely

Covert narcissists make significant efforts to maintain their relationships. They have to maintain them because they hardly contribute to them. To them, relationships are a way to boost their self-worth, not a two-way street.

When they do something wrong to cater to their selfishness, they apologize, not to mend the relationship but to keep their partner. They don’t genuinely regret what they did.

For example; They fuck you up and would beg with their life to stop you from leaving. It’s confusing cause you’d feel like they don’t wanna lose you because they love you so much, and then you take them back and the cycle keeps repeating itself.

4-They’re obsessed with their reputation

They are super critical and judgemental, hateful and resentful, they look down on people, they say nasty things about people behind their backs, especially if they think these people are lower than them.

They’re obsessed with looking good for two reasons:

  1. It helps them win the admiration of other people
  2. It allows them to hide who they really are.

They make a big show of their status and charity. If they help you; they make it feel like it’s a big deal and they make you feel less and at their mercy. It sucks.

5-They’re not genuinely interested in anyone

Covert narcissists are so preoccupied with themselves that they can’t be genuinely interested in anyone else. The people they do seem to be interested in are their supplies who feed their narcissism by praising and admiring them.

They’ll ask you questions about you not because they want to get to know you but because they want to gather information about you to later use it against you.

They’ll ask you questions about you but not really listen to your answers because they see the interaction only in terms of superiority and inferiority. They’ll frequently interrupt you to push out more of their own voice, breaking the flow of conversation. They don’t like to do the listening. 

6-They’re super competitive

They want to prove to themselves and to the world that they’re better than everyone else. Their high competitiveness makes them sensitive to loss and failure.

Unlike an overt narcissist who’ll get mad and launch a tirade upon losing, a covert narcissist will simply refuse to play. If they lose 100 games, they’ll play game 101 just to win and never play again after attaining the superior position.

They gloat at the misery of others because they’re always competing. They can’t drop their competitiveness for one minute and empathize with suffering people.

7-They’re different with different people

A sure sign of a fragile sense of self is being different with different people. Covert narcissists behave so differently with different people to get into their good books that you’re left wondering:

“Who is he, really?”

They either have no core values that they stick to, or their values keep changing. They are chameleons!

8-They devalue themselves

“Wait!” you might be wondering, “If they have a grand sense of self-importance, why would they ever devalue themselves?

Well, they do it to fish for compliments. When you devalue yourself, sympathetic people are likely to praise you to reassure you.

They’ll be good at something but pretend they suck at it. They’ll deny their good qualities. This false humility makes them look great when they do moderately well in what they were supposedly bad at. How pathetic!!

9-They’re hypocrites

They judge others for the things they themselves do. For instance, they’ll gossip to feel superior to others and then judge others who gossip to, again, feel superior.

Or they’ll criticize those who show off but do the same when they get a chance. The goal of showing superiority remains the same. Only the tactics change as per convenience.

10-They can’t take jokes and criticism

They’ll pretend they’re strong when they’re really feeling weak. They’ll pretend they’re above criticism when it hurts them deeply.

They’re okay with cracking jokes, as long as the joke is not on them. Also, they don’t like it if anyone else is cracking the joke because it takes their attention away.

They can’t answer questions that could make them look weak. They will make it all look like they don’t have any worries, any traumas, they are so strong and don’t care about anything.

With all these; you should be able to fish out the covert narcissist in you life. Stay safe and remember- not everyone is okay for your mental health and peace. Cut the bad fruits off!

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