Feeling like someone’s taking advantage of you despite appearing shy and timid? You might be dealing with a covert narcissist. These people lack the heart and empathy to connect emotionally – leaving them unable to understand your feelings at all. So what does covert narcissism mean, and what are other weird things covert narcissists do?
In this article, I will explore five things and common behaviors associated with covert narcissism so that you can spot potential issues in your relationships before any harm is done.
I will also give you helpful ways to protect yourself from their manipulation tactics. Knowing what signs to look out for could help guard against any damage caused by covert narcissists down the line.
Covert Narcissists Vs Overt Narcissists: The Difference
A narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is when someone has an extreme lack of empathy, making it hard for them to connect with others emotionally. People diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are often described as grandiose, manipulative, and selfish.
Overt narcissists are the more typical type, exhibiting grandiose attitudes such as arrogance and being overly self-centered. Most people with NPD often exhibit this overt narcissism. However, overt narcissism and overt narcissism are different from covert narcissism.
While overt narcissists tend to be confident and self-absorbed all the time, covert narcissists can be much harder to spot due to their shy and passive appearance.
They often appear timid and reserved, making it harder for others to detect signs of manipulation or control.
Thus, the narcissistic traits of such a person can only be categorized as “weird stuff” since I can’t tell if it is a trait or something that happened just by coincidence. I’ve spotted those weird things covert narcissists do for a while now in every client case I encounter, so I decided to finally mention them in an article, as their frequency negates the coincidence bit.
Does a Covert Narcissist Know They Are a Narcissist?
Covert narcissists usually don’t realize that they are being self-obsessed or manipulative. They don’t sense how their words and actions affect those around them or even themselves and rarely accept responsibility. When they do, it is to justify a means to an end, such as temporarily making you feel better and cared for.
A narcissistic personality disorder means the individual may not have insight into their behavior. Their exaggerated sense of self-importance and self-esteem means they won’t always know their narcissistic rage is acting up.
For example, someone always trying to make their ideas look better and more interesting or appear persuasive could signify covert narcissism. A covert narcissist looks at the greater good by putting their idea forward. Still, more often than not, he or she wants to feel superior by subtly putting others down and invalidating their needs.
What Are Covert Narcissist Weird Habits?
These weird things covert narcissists do have been compiled after years of my interactions with clients and narcissists themselves. In every close relationship I have had with a narcissist, there are always subtle ways in which they will try to one-up me. Thus, these are those weird things covert narcissists do:
Gaslighting is a common tactic covert narcissists use to manipulate the reality of the situation to fit their agenda.
They will often deny their true intentions or blame others for their mistakes to make themselves look better.
It’s peculiar in a certain situation where there will be a couple of witnesses, and they would still deny it. Such people do not accept or concede anything, and work culture, or a romantic relationship with them, becomes toxic.
This weird trait reflects the superiority complex of covert narcissists, where nothing becomes a big deal so that they can prove their point.
2) Love bombing
Love bombing is a technique covert narcissists use to make their victims feel special and loved to gain control over them.
In my experience, I have received tons of gifts, compliments, and a positive attitude, only for things to go sour quickly. Such covert narcissists will shower their victims with compliments, gifts, attention, and affection while slowly increasing their demands until they are completely under the narcissistic person’s control.
Once the victim has been completely brainwashed (or if they do not respond to the brainwashing), they are subjected to weird acts like ghosting, not talking while present physically, and just being overly negative.
3) Fake apologies
Covert narcissists are known for their false apologies. They apologize, but not in a genuine way; rather, they use it as an excuse to have their victims forgive them o feel better temporarily and move on from the situation quickly.
These hoax apologies usually come with no sincerity or remorse and are meant to clear the air so they can escape their manipulative tendencies.
It is bizarre how they will say sorry for the sake of it and then continue doing whatever act puts them in that position in the first place.
4) Passive aggressive behaviors
Passive aggression is a common tactic of covert narcissists and can be difficult to deal with.
It includes behaviors like silent treatment, where they ignore you or refuse to answer questions to make themselves feel more powerful while making you feel small and needy.
They may also leave subtle hints that they are angry or frustrated without voicing their feelings. This may even include accusations or sarcasm without explicitly stating their feelings.
Aside from silent treatment, covert narcissists may also use small words and phrases such as “fine,” “whatever,” or “I don’t care,” or even actively avoid direct contact with others to manipulate them into doing what they want.
5) Manipulation with kindness
Often, this is done to gain control over another person and get them to do what they want.
The weird thing is that you never know when the kind words are sincere or just being used as weapons against you. It can sometimes be confusing, and it takes time to identify these covert narcissism traits.
What Drives a Covert Narcissist Crazy?
People who are comfortable in their skin and do not seek validation from others drive covert narcissists crazy. I have observed that this irks them because such people give no room for manipulation to narcissists.
In my experience, I have seen them go wild when people stand up for themselves or even ignore them. Due to their insecure nature, they cannot handle someone standing up against them and are easily triggered by anything that takes away from the power they think they possess.
They also don’t like to be confronted about their wrongdoings and can often become hostile or manipulative if someone tries to call out their narcissism. In these cases, it’s important to stay calm and not engage with the covert narcissist, as this could lead to dangerous situations.
Invalidation and disrespect
Covert narcissists are also driven crazy by people who invalidate or disrespect them in any way. This could include anything from not giving them enough attention to disagreeing with them on something.
When they’re faced with situations like these, they become extremely defensive. They often resort to manipulation tactics such as emotional blackmail, guilt-tripping, and gaslighting to make others feel bad for their actions.
One of the most infuriating things to a covert narcissist is indifference. They thrive on attention and admiration from their peers, so facing someone who doesn’t seem to care about them or their opinions can drive them crazy.
This kind of reaction typically leads to more aggressive behavior to get the other person to take notice of them.
Sarcasm and apathy
Finally, covert narcissists can’t stand it when someone is being sarcastic or apathetic toward them. They want to be seen as important and powerful, so anything that takes away from that image will make them angry.
It doesn’t matter if the sarcastic acts come from their friends, family, or significant others; they will retaliate if it’s wrong.
How to Deal With a Covert Narcissist
I have used these findings and observations of what drives them crazy, to make myself able to deal with such people. I don’t give in to their attention-seeking and spot the negatives early on.
Improve your self-worth and don’t feel guilty
It’s important to remember that you don’t owe them anything, and your worth isn’t determined by what they think of you.
If they try to make you feel guilty for not giving them the attention or validation they want, remind yourself of your self-worth and stay strong in your beliefs. Don’t allow their manipulation tactics to manifest.
Set healthy boundaries
You can stop the manifestation of their manipulation by setting boundaries. Make it clear to them that you don’t appreciate their behavior and that you won’t tolerate it.
Let them know there are consequences if they choose not to respect and stick to your boundaries. This will show them you’re serious about ensuring their manipulative behaviors don’t continue.
Spot the red flags early on
It’s important to keep your eyes open for narcissistic traits in people early on. Pay attention to their words, actions, and behavior; address it immediately if something seems off.
This will help prevent any further manipulation or gaslighting from happening and will also help you protect yourself from being taken advantage of by someone with a narcissistic personality.
Go no contact
If the person exhibiting narcissistic traits continues to be destructive and manipulative, it may be best to go with no contact. This means that you stop any communication or contact with them.
This will allow you to focus on your well-being and help reduce their power over you. It is an effective way of setting boundaries while also taking the abuser out of your focus for a bit.
Speak with a therapist or consultant
If all else fails and you’re still struggling to deal with a covert narcissist, speaking with a therapist or consultant may be helpful. They can provide valuable insight into the situation and help you find ways to cope with it.
Exploring the root cause of the narcissist’s reasons for such an attitude can also be beneficial.
Coping with a covert narcissist can be difficult and draining. It is important to remember that you are not responsible for their behavior, but it is your job to take steps to protect yourself.
By understanding covert narcissists’ behavior patterns and setting healthy boundaries, you can reduce their power over you.
More on narcissism and gaslighting:
- Reactive Abuse & Narcissism: What Is It & How To Deal With It
- The Narcissist Prayer: How To Dive Into the Narcissistic Soul
- Why Do I Attract Narcissists? 7 Main Reasons & How to Stop it
- Trapped in a Narcissistic Relationship Pattern? The 7 Awful Signs
- Am I Being Gaslighted Quiz: The Best Free Quiz To Find Out