A covert narcissist is the worst kind of narcissist there is. Like a stealth bomb, you can’t see them coming until they have left their destruction.
There are countless articles written on the psychology of narcissism. The reason that it’s so highly researched is that someone who has narcissistic tendencies can do so much damage to the psyche of those around them, seemingly without having any idea of what they’re doing. Masters of manipulation, it’s almost inspiring to see the way they do what they do so flawlessly.
There is something to be said about allowing someone to overpower you when you know better and see the signs. But it’s something entirely different when you don’t even see it coming. This is why the covert narcissist is a whole new breed of a narcissist. As if it isn’t bad enough that they manipulate you, make you feel bad for just about everything, and that everything is your fault, by the time you know what’s going on, you’re so sucked in that it becomes difficult to find your way out.
Covert narcissism is one of the most extreme and damaging forms of narcissism that you can encounter. The thing that sets these narcissists apart is their highly defensive nature and being emotionally vulnerable, seemingly without any exterior trace of the planning and plotting in which they engage. Unlike other forms, the covert narcissist is like a stealth bomb—they come without any warning and destroy everything in their wake.
The 25 characteristics of a covert narcissist
A narcissist is someone who can take a toll on your sensibilities and your self-esteem, but a covert one can take a toll on your sanity, too. Many characteristics that are specific to covert narcissism are more difficult to spot. To maintain your self-esteem and your sanity, look for these signs that you’re in a relationship with someone who is keeping their narcissism under wraps.
#1 They are overly critical. Because they have so many insecurities of their own, they have a tendency to be overly critical of those around them. Projecting their own weaknesses onto those in their path, they can leave you to feel stupid, unwanted, or insignificant.
#2 Although charming, you only see it when they want something. Very charismatic when they want to be, the covert narcissist’s charm only comes out when they want something from you or the people around you. Like a switch, they can turn it on and turn it off, but it’s always to get something from the person they’re schmoozing.
#3 No matter what happens, you always feel at fault. As upset as you are with them, if you confront them or get into an argument with them, they manipulate the situation with such mastery that you end up feeling at fault and apologizing. A covert narcissist knows exactly how to spin something to make you feel like everything you were thinking is wrong, even when your own common sense and logic tells you otherwise. This tactic can be so mind-manipulating that you can start to feel like you’re going insane.
#4 They leave you feeling empty in your relationship with them. No matter how long you’re with them, you can feel alone and lonely. Regardless of the time you are together, the experiences that you share with them and the closeness that you crave, it always feels as if something is missing or isn’t quite right.
#5 They don’t care if they have to lie, steal, or cheat to get what they want. A narcissist sees everyone in relation to what they can do for them. Not really caring about anyone but themselves, everyone and everything is merely a tool to get what they want in life. They are not above lying, cheating, or stealing in order to make themselves feel better, more powerful, more admired, or more wealthy.