In my opinion, covert narcissists are the worst. The two narcissists in my life were covert narcissists. They are the ones that drove me to devoting my life to helping those who have suffered from a narcissistic relationship get out and move forward with their lives – as I have done. Although all narcissists have similarities, covert narcissists fly under the radar which is why I believe they are incredibly dangerous. Mind you, covert narcissists can also be malignant narcissists. Terrifying. To the rest of the world, covert narcissists seem like wonderful, humble, generous, and kind people. Only to their targets do they show their ugly, heinous, and terrorizing side to. Anyone that enters a relationship with a narcissist enters the relationship believing what the rest of the world believes. Not until one is so deep into the relationship does the narcissist begin removing their mask. This is how covert narcissists attack their victims.
All narcissists initiate their relationships with others through love-bombing. In this phase, they’re testing you out to see if you’re the right one for them, to see if you’re going to be a good form of supply for them. They present themselves to you as wonderful. If it’s a romantic situation, they’re the perfect spouse. If it’s a business situation, they’re the perfect business partner. Once they’re firmly in place, they will start devaluing you. They will start off with less obvious forms of devaluing until they know that they can get away with obvious bullying and abuse. Covert narcissists are experts at blurring these lines so that their targets don’t even realize that they are being attacked until it’s often too late to leave the relationship with ease.
So the first way that covert narcissists attack their victims is through passive aggression. This may come in the form of a back-handed compliment, groans or subtle forms of hostility at requests, cynicism, negating things for the sake of doing so, and having an attitude to gain attention. Passive aggression is usually the first way covert narcissists will attack their victims.
Similarly to passive aggression, covert narcissists love to make empty promises. Whether it be used as a form of love bombing or used as a devaluing tactic, it is safe to say that covert narcissists are liars and should never be believed when promising something. Covert narcissists will use this as a love bombing tactic to hoover you or to keep you around as a form of supply or they will use making empty promises as a form of passive-aggression to devalue you.
All narcissists love gaslighting. Essentially, gaslighting is a method used to make others question themselves. Gaslighting can be very obvious once you understand what it is; however covert narcissists are experts at gaslighting in less evident ways. Remember that gaslighting is something that narcissists use to gain control over their victims by making them question their own sense of reality, their own thinking, and their own truth.
Another thing that covert narcissists do to attack their victims is stone-walling or ghosting. They may fail to get back to you regarding important matters or will outright just stop talking to you without an explanation. This can be used as a form of passive aggression; however, it is very much so used as a way to gain control over you and your emotions.
Although all narcissists like to isolate their targets, covert narcissists do so in a very subtle way- often by playing the victim. They will isolate you from your family and friends by making you put all of your attention and focus on them. They will become jealous if you are talking to anybody else but will tell you in a very manipulative way that will make you want to change your behavior to protect their feelings. They will try to make sure that everything you do revolves around them. If you are super focused and driven in your work – a covert narcissist may even try to get in the way of your ambitions and career because it takes up your energy that they want to solely be directed towards them. By isolating you, all of your feelings, thoughts, and emotions become pushed to the side and your relationships become damaged so you’re left with nobody to turn to except for the narcissist in your life. How convenient for them.
In an attempt to isolate you, narcissists will use triangulation to not only save their face but also to destroy relationships that you might have with others. Covert narcissists triangulate by attacking you and your character indirectly behind your back. Usually they will gossip about you and spread lies/rumors about you to people that you would ideally want in your corner. In doing this, they not only isolate you from your friends and family but bring those specific people on to their side. Covert narcissists are incredible at this. Because they are covert, they love that they are able to attack you indirectly and sneakily. When the covert narcissist practices triangulation, they line up their flying monkeys and make them believe that there’s something wrong with you. They couch it in ways that make them look good and considerate by addressing false concerns such as, “Betty isn’t doing well. She’s been drinking so much. I’m really worried about her. I want to help but I just don’t know how.” In doing this, they assume the victim role while not only making you look bad to others and isolating you but also by making themselves look good so that if anything happens – they have saved face.