When I’ve dealt with Narcissists in my own life, I never actually thought they were Narcissists until I began learning about Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Up until then, I had the stereotypical idea of Narcissists ingrained in my brain. I always thought that Narcissists were obviously arrogant, cared about material things and their appearance excessively, and showed no empathy for others. Although these are definitely traits of some Narcissists, the Covert Narcissist isn’t as easy to spot. The one thing they do have in common with the stereotypical type is that they have no ability to care for another person. They lack empathy. The Malignant Narcissist, or more obvious narcissistic type, is certainly dangerous; however, the covert narcissist is especially dangerous because of their ability to go unnoticed or seem harmless.
Signs to Look Out For
Passive Aggressive Behavior. Covert Narcissists are consistently passive aggressive. The specific behaviors, independent from each other, don’t seem all that awful; however, they will add up because of the constant ways in which they are utilized at your expense.
Gaslighting. Covert Narcissists love to get Narcissistic Supply from making you think that you are crazy. Little techniques are used by the Narcissist over time so that you actually start to question your sanity and intuition. In addition to getting supply from these behaviors, they are also using these methods to control and manipulate situations to meet their desired outcome.
Resentment Towards the World. Narcissists often portray judgment of others, an intolerance towards the world, and dislike/hatred towards anyone that might inconvenience them or get in their way of getting what they want. This is solely because they hate themselves, judge themselves, and can’t tolerate who they really are.
Depression. Narcissists, especially Covert Narcissists, can fall victim to severe depression. Because they see the world with such dirty lenses, they will often become depressed because of their inability to change their perspective. They feel as if they have been victims of the world and are unable to see any part they might have played in the way their lives have unfolded.
Withholding. A very common way Covert Narcissists will devalue you is through withholding. They might withhold sex. They might withhold finances. They might withhold information. All of this is, again, used as a way to control you, your relationship with them, and their appearance to others.
Tardiness. Another passive behavior that they do to devalue you is by showing up late- or not showing up at all. This is their way of showing you that your time is less valuable and that your expectations are unreasonable. They give you the idea or they explicitly promise that they will be home at a certain time, that they will meet you at a restaurant at a certain time, or that they won’t be late for your work event. Regardless of the circumstance, unless showing up on time contributes to their quest for obtaining supply, it is of no importance to them.
Empty Promises. Tied into their lack of care for your time or feelings, they will promise you a multitude of things in order to keep you as a source of supply. They will promise to do everything from taking out the trash to giving you the world. They will rarely do these things as they don’t value any of your needs or wants. They will only fulfill these promises if it benefits them.
Leaving You Behind. Covert Narcissists do not value your input, opinions, ideas, or really anything outside of the supply they can get from you. If you have an agreement to do a task together or make a decision together, they will often leave you in the dust and do these things on their own.
History of Trauma. Nearly all Narcissists have experienced some type of trauma. Whether they experienced a singular traumatic event or long-term neglect by their parents, trauma is pretty much the root cause for Narcissism. If you have experienced any of the above behaviors from your possible-Narc and they have a history of trauma, you have probably been dealing with a covert Narcissist.
Gut Feelings. If you are reading this, you might be at the point in your relationship where you feel like you can’t trust your intuitions anymore. This is because of all the devaluing you have had to endure as a result of being in a relationship with a Narcissist. If you feel like something isn’t right and you feel like this person doesn’t have your back, you should run away as fast as possible because you have probably been dealing with a Covert Narcissist. The Narcissist will not change so it is important to trust your instincts and leave them so that they don’t cause more damage than they already have.