Covert Narcissist Devalue Tactics
Covert Narcissist Devalue Tactics

In the innate complexity of human relationships, some people deploy subtle and damaging tactics that can leave deep emotional scars on their partners. Covert narcissist devalue tactics are a prime example of this emotional cruelty. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the shadowy world of covert narcissism, exploring its defining traits, behaviors, and most importantly, the insidious devaluation techniques that often accompany it.

These tactics, while not always easy to spot, can have a profound and lasting impact on the mental and emotional well-being of those targeted. Join us on this journey as we shed light on the covert narcissist’s methods and discuss ways to navigate the emotional minefield they create.

Covert Narcissism and Devaluation

Covert narcissism, a lesser-known but equally destructive form of narcissistic personality disorder, often operates under the radar, leaving its victims to grapple with the emotional aftermath. In this section, we’ll begin by defining covert narcissism, followed by an exploration of common traits and behaviors exhibited by covert narcissists. We’ll then delve into the core of the matter: devaluation within the context of covert narcissist relationships.

Defining Covert Narcissism

Covert narcissism is a subtype of narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by an individual’s hidden narcissistic tendencies. Unlike the more overt narcissists who openly seek attention and admiration, covert narcissists mask their self-absorption beneath a façade of humility and selflessness. This subtle but toxic blend of traits can make it challenging to identify them in everyday interactions.

Common Traits and Behaviors Exhibited by Covert Narcissists

To recognize a covert narcissist, it’s essential to understand the typical traits and behaviors they display. These can include:

  • Low Self-Esteem: Covert narcissists often have fragile self-esteem, which they compensate for by seeking admiration and validation covertly.
  • Victim Mentality: They frequently adopt a victim mentality, portraying themselves as the wounded party in various situations to garner sympathy.
  • Insecurity: Behind their exterior of humility lies deep insecurity, which drives their need for constant affirmation.
  • Manipulation: Covert narcissists excel at manipulating others emotionally, often using guilt and pity to get what they want.
  • Charm: They can be charming and charismatic, drawing people into their web of deception.

Devaluation in the Covert Narcissist Relationship Cycle

Within the dynamic of a covert narcissist relationship, devaluation is a pivotal stage. This is when the covert narcissist’s true colors begin to surface, and their insidious tactics come into play. Devaluation is marked by a deliberate attempt to diminish their partner’s worth and self-esteem, ultimately maintaining control and superiority within the relationship. In the following sections, we’ll explore the various tactics covert narcissists employ during this destructive phase.

Common Covert Narcissist Devalue Tactics

In the covert narcissist’s arsenal, there exists a range of tactics designed to undermine and devalue their partner. These tactics are often subtle, indirect, and immensely hurtful. Understanding these strategies is crucial for those navigating a relationship with a covert narcissist. Let’s explore the most common covert narcissist devalue tactics:

#1. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a manipulative technique wherein the narcissist seeks to make their partner doubt their own perception of reality. This involves invalidating their feelings and experiences, often leaving them feeling confused and questioning their sanity. Examples of gaslighting include:

  • Denying previous statements or actions.
  • Shifting blame onto the victim.
  • Trivializing their emotions.
  • Making the victim feel overly sensitive or irrational.

#2. Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive tactic used to control and punish the victim. Covert narcissists may withdraw affection, communication, and emotional support, leaving their partner feeling isolated and desperate for their attention. This tactic can cause anxiety and emotional distress.

#3. Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Covert narcissists excel in the realm of passive-aggressive behavior. They often express their hostility indirectly, through sarcasm, backhanded compliments, or veiled criticisms. This approach allows them to maintain a facade of innocence while delivering hurtful blows to their partner’s self-esteem.

#4. Triangulation

Triangulation is a tactic where the narcissist involves a third party to create jealousy, competition, or insecurity in their partner. This could be done by talking excessively about someone else’s accomplishments or using another person to undermine their partner’s self-esteem.

#5. Projection

Covert narcissists frequently engage in projection, a defense mechanism where they attribute their own negative traits, feelings, or actions to their partner. By projecting their flaws onto their partner, they not only avoid taking responsibility but also manipulate their partner into self-doubt and guilt. It’s essential to recognize these tactics to protect your mental and emotional well-being when dealing with a covert narcissist. In the next section, we’ll explore additional devalue tactics to watch out for.

#6. Demeaning Criticism

Covert narcissists are masters of demeaning criticism. They may systematically pick apart their partner’s flaws, pointing out perceived weaknesses and inadequacies. This criticism is often masked as concern or constructive feedback, but it is, in reality, a tool to erode self-esteem. Examples of demeaning criticism include:

  • Constantly highlighting their partner’s mistakes.
  • Mocking their abilities or interests.
  • Criticizing their appearance or personality.
  • Making negative comparisons to others.

#7. Isolation

Isolation is a potent devalue tactic employed by covert narcissists. They may strive to isolate their partner from friends and family, making them increasingly dependent on the narcissist for emotional support. This isolation tactic helps the narcissist maintain control and prevents their partner from seeking external perspectives or support.

#8. Love-Bombing and Devaluation Cycles

Covert narcissists often employ a cycle of love-bombing and devaluation. During the love-bombing phase, they shower their partner with affection, attention, and compliments. However, this is merely a ploy to gain their trust and devotion. Once the partner is emotionally invested, the narcissist switches to devaluation, employing various tactics to diminish their worth. This cycle can be emotionally exhausting and disorienting.

#9. Withholding Affection

Withholding affection is another way covert narcissists exert control. They may withhold affection as a form of punishment or to maintain a power dynamic within the relationship. This tactic can lead to feelings of loneliness and emotional starvation in their partner.

#10. Projecting Victimhood

Covert narcissists frequently play the role of the victim. They skillfully employ projecting victimhood by portraying themselves as unfairly treated or misunderstood. This tactic deflects attention away from their own harmful behaviors and manipulates their partner into feeling guilty or responsible for their emotional distress.

#11. Guilt-Tripping

Guilt-tripping is a favored weapon in the covert narcissist’s arsenal. They excel at making their partner feel responsible for their actions or emotions, even when they are entirely unrelated. This tactic can create a constant sense of guilt and obligation, keeping the victim emotionally tethered to the narcissist.

  • Example: If the victim expresses a desire to spend time with friends, the narcissist might respond with, “You’re abandoning me when I need you the most.”

#12. Emotional Blackmail

Emotional blackmail is a manipulative tactic used to control the partner through fear, obligation, or guilt. Covert narcissists may resort to emotional blackmail by threatening to leave the relationship, harm themselves, or reveal damaging information about the victim.

  • Example: “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll tell everyone about your secrets.”

#13. Stonewalling

Stonewalling involves refusing to communicate or engage in discussions with the partner, often during a conflict. Covert narcissists may employ this tactic to avoid taking responsibility or addressing the partner’s concerns, leaving them feeling unheard and dismissed.

  • Example: When confronted about their behavior, the narcissist remains silent or walks away, refusing to engage in a conversation.

#14. Feigned Helplessness

Covert narcissists can expertly feign helplessness to elicit sympathy and assistance from their partner. They may pretend to be incapable of handling basic tasks or managing their emotions, relying on their partner for constant support.

  • Example: The narcissist acts overwhelmed and incapable of making decisions, expecting their partner to take charge of their life.

#15. Selective Amnesia

In situations where the narcissist is confronted with their hurtful behavior or promises made, they may conveniently suffer from selective amnesia. They claim not to remember crucial details or conversations, deflecting responsibility for their actions.

  • Example: When reminded of a prior commitment, the narcissist says, “I don’t recall ever saying that,” despite clear evidence.

Understanding these additional covert narcissist devalue tactics is essential for those in such relationships. In the following section, we’ll explore the emotional toll these tactics can take on victims and how to cope with them.

Emotional Impact of Covert Narcissist Devalue Tactics

Covert narcissist devalue tactics, while executed with subtlety, possess a potent ability to inflict profound emotional wounds on their victims. Understanding the extensive emotional toll these tactics exact is crucial for individuals navigating such relationships.

In this section, we will delve deeper into the emotional repercussions of covert narcissist devalue tactics, providing a more comprehensive perspective on the range of feelings and experiences they can evoke.

#1. Anxiety

The relentless anticipation of the next devaluation tactic can give rise to overwhelming anxiety. Living on edge and fearing the narcissist’s next move can manifest physically and mentally, leading to symptoms such as racing thoughts, restlessness, and even panic attacks. This constant state of apprehension can significantly impact a person’s overall quality of life.

#2. Depression

Depression often becomes an unwelcome companion in relationships with covert narcissists. The ceaseless devaluation and manipulation gradually erode an individual’s sense of self-worth, fostering a pervasive feeling of sadness and hopelessness. Over time, the accumulation of emotional wounds can lead to a deepening sense of despair and a loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities.

#3. Low Self-Esteem

Covert narcissist devalue tactics are meticulously designed to erode a person’s self-esteem. Victims may find themselves internalizing the negative assessments made by the narcissist, resulting in low self-esteem and a diminished sense of self-worth. This diminished self-regard can permeate every aspect of their life, affecting their relationships, career, and overall happiness.

#4. Self-Doubt

The constant barrage of criticism, gaslighting, and projection can sow the seeds of profound self-doubt in victims. They begin to question their judgment, perceptions, and abilities. The once-confident individual becomes uncertain, second-guessing even the most straightforward decisions. This self-doubt can undermine personal growth and hinder the pursuit of happiness.

#5. Confusion

Covert narcissists employ tactics that deliberately leave their victims in a perpetual state of confusion and disorientation. Gaslighting, in particular, can make victims question their reality and memories, leading to persistent bewilderment. This mental fog can affect one’s ability to think clearly, make sound judgments, and maintain a sense of self.

#6. Guilt

Guilt is a heavy burden that often accompanies covert narcissist devalue tactics. Victims find themselves burdened with an unshakable sense of responsibility for the narcissist’s actions and emotions. This guilt can be crippling, leading to an ongoing internal battle between wanting to please the narcissist and seeking personal well-being.

#7. Shame

Covert narcissists excel at instilling shame in their victims. Through relentless criticism and humiliation, they make their partners feel deeply flawed and unworthy. This sense of shame can extend beyond the relationship, affecting self-perception and hindering personal growth.

#8. Isolation

Isolation is not only a tactic but also an emotional consequence of dealing with a covert narcissist. Victims may become increasingly isolated from friends and family, as the narcissist seeks to control and manipulate their social connections. This isolation intensifies feelings of loneliness and dependence.

#9. Loneliness

Living with a covert narcissist often leads to profound loneliness. Despite being in a relationship, victims may experience a deep emotional void as their partner fails to provide genuine emotional connection and support. Loneliness can exacerbate feelings of despair and hopelessness.

#10. Emotional Exhaustion

The constant need to navigate covert narcissist devalue tactics can result in emotional exhaustion. Victims find themselves expending immense energy trying to anticipate and counteract the narcissist’s behaviors. This exhaustion can manifest physically and emotionally, leaving individuals feeling drained and overwhelmed.

#11. Fear

Living under the shadow of a covert narcissist’s devaluation tactics often instills an overwhelming sense of fear in victims. The unpredictability of the narcissist’s behavior and the potential consequences of upsetting them can lead to constant anxiety and apprehension. This fear can manifest in various aspects of life, hindering personal growth and fulfillment.

#12. Paranoia

The covert narcissist’s manipulative tactics can breed paranoia in their victims. As the narcissist plants seeds of doubt and distrust, individuals may become excessively suspicious of others, even those who genuinely care for them. This heightened sense of vigilance can be emotionally exhausting and strain relationships outside the narcissistic one.

#13. Anger

Covert narcissist devalue tactics often ignite a simmering anger within victims. As they endure continuous criticism, manipulation, and humiliation, anger becomes a natural response to the injustice they face. However, this anger can be stifled, leading to suppressed emotions that further erode mental well-being.

#14. Frustration

Frustration is a common emotional response to the covert narcissist’s tactics. Victims may repeatedly attempt to communicate their needs or grievances, only to be met with resistance, deflection, or dismissal. This frustration can escalate over time, leaving individuals feeling unheard and powerless.

#15. Loss of Trust

One of the most profound emotional consequences of covert narcissist devalue tactics is the loss of trust. Victims may find it increasingly challenging to trust their own judgment, emotions, or even their ability to form healthy relationships. Rebuilding trust in oneself and others can be a long and challenging journey.

Understanding the extensive emotional impact of these final devalue tactics is crucial for individuals seeking to escape the clutches of a covert narcissistic relationship. In the upcoming section, we will explore practical strategies for handling these tactics and, most importantly, regaining control over one’s emotional well-being.

How to Handle Covert Narcissist Devalue Tactics

Navigating a relationship with a covert narcissist can be emotionally challenging, but it is not without hope. Understanding how to handle their devalue tactics is crucial for protecting your emotional well-being and ultimately breaking free from their control. In this section, we will explore practical strategies for dealing with covert narcissist devalue tactics effectively, providing more comprehensive guidance on each approach.

#1. Recognize the Behavior

The first step in handling covert narcissist devalue tactics is recognizing the behavior for what it is. Educate yourself about the traits and tactics of covert narcissism, and be vigilant in identifying when these tactics are being used against you. Awareness is your most potent tool in combating their manipulative actions.

  • Example: Notice when the narcissist employs gaslighting by denying previous statements or shifting blame. Recognize their passive-aggressive behavior when they use sarcasm or backhanded compliments.

#2. Set Boundaries

Establishing clear boundaries is vital when dealing with a covert narcissist. Define what behavior is acceptable and what is not, and communicate these boundaries assertively. Be prepared to enforce consequences when these boundaries are crossed, as narcissists often push limits to maintain control.

  • Example: Clearly communicate that insults and belittling comments are not acceptable. Let the narcissist know there will be a time-out or limited contact if such behavior continues.

#3. Stay Calm

Maintaining your composure in the face of covert narcissist devalue tactics is essential. Narcissists may provoke emotional reactions to gain the upper hand, so staying calm and collected can disrupt their tactics. Practice mindfulness and deep breathing techniques to manage your emotions effectively.

  • Example: When the narcissist tries to bait you into an argument, respond calmly with phrases like, “I won’t engage in this conversation when emotions are running high.”

#4. Document the Behavior

Keep a detailed record of the narcissist’s behavior. Document incidents, conversations, and any evidence of their tactics. This documentation can be invaluable if you need to seek support, legal action, or simply maintain a clear perspective on the situation.

  • Example: Maintain a journal where you record dates, times, and descriptions of specific incidents, such as gaslighting attempts or instances of silent treatment.

#5. Seek Support

Dealing with a covert narcissist can be isolating. Reach out to trusted friends and family who can provide emotional support and objective perspectives. Sharing your experiences with others who understand can help validate your feelings and reduce feelings of loneliness.

  • Example: Confide in a close friend or family member about your experiences. Consider joining support groups or online communities where you can connect with others who have faced similar challenges.

#6. Educate Yourself

Gaining knowledge about covert narcissism and their devalue tactics is a powerful tool in your arsenal. Educate yourself about the intricacies of this personality disorder, read books, articles, and seek professional advice if necessary. Understanding the psychology behind their behavior can help you detach emotionally and respond more effectively.

  • Example: Learn about the hallmark traits of covert narcissism, such as the facade of humility, manipulation techniques, and the cyclical nature of their relationships. Arm yourself with information to bolster your resilience.

#7. Practice Self-Care

Taking care of your emotional and physical well-being is essential when dealing with covert narcissist devalue tactics. Practice self-care regularly to counteract the stress and emotional toll of the relationship. Engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and a sense of fulfillment.

  • Example: Dedicate time to hobbies you enjoy, engage in regular exercise, prioritize sleep, and maintain a balanced diet. These self-care practices can help fortify your emotional resilience.

#8. Avoid Engagement

Covert narcissists thrive on emotional reactions and attention. To disrupt their tactics, avoid engagement in their manipulative games. Limit emotional responses, refrain from arguing, and maintain emotional detachment when confronted with their behavior.

  • Example: When faced with criticism or provocation, respond with neutral statements like, “I hear your perspective,” without escalating the conflict.

#9. Build a Support Network

In addition to seeking support from friends and family, consider building a broader support network. Connect with therapists, counselors, or support groups specializing in narcissistic abuse. These resources can offer professional guidance and validation.

  • Example: Attend therapy sessions to work through the emotional impact of the relationship and develop coping strategies. Join support groups where you can share experiences and learn from others facing similar challenges.

#10. Consider Professional Help

Dealing with a covert narcissist can be emotionally draining and may require professional help. A therapist or counselor experienced in narcissistic abuse can provide you with strategies to cope with the emotional toll, rebuild self-esteem, and explore the possibility of ending the relationship if necessary.

  • Example: Consult a therapist who specializes in narcissistic abuse to gain insights into your specific situation and develop a personalized plan for healing and recovery.

#11. Seek Legal Advice if Necessary

In some cases, dealing with a covert narcissist may involve legal matters, especially if there are shared assets, custody issues, or threats to your safety. Seeking legal advice can be crucial to protect your rights and interests. Consult with an attorney experienced in family law to understand your options and take appropriate action.

  • Example: If you are in a marriage or cohabiting relationship and facing divorce, consult with a family law attorney to discuss property division, child custody, and alimony matters.

#12. Focus on Self-Growth

One powerful way to reclaim your life from a covert narcissist is to focus on self-growth. Use the challenges you’ve faced as an opportunity for personal development. Set goals, acquire new skills, and work on improving your self-esteem and self-worth.

  • Example: Enroll in courses, workshops, or therapy sessions aimed at self-improvement and personal growth. Dedicate time to rediscovering your passions and interests.

#13. Maintain Perspective

When dealing with covert narcissist devalue tactics, it’s essential to maintain perspective. Remember that their behavior is a reflection of their issues, not your worth or value as a person. Reframe negative thoughts and replace self-doubt with self-compassion.

  • Example: Challenge negative self-talk by reminding yourself that you deserve respect, love, and happiness. Shift your focus towards your strengths and accomplishments.

#14. Plan an Exit Strategy

If the relationship becomes unbearable or poses a threat to your well-being, it may be necessary to plan an exit strategy. Consult with professionals, friends, and family to create a safe and structured plan for leaving the narcissistic relationship.

  • Example: Your exit strategy might involve securing a safe place to stay, gathering essential documents, and seeking legal advice on divorce or restraining orders if required.

#15. Practice Patience

Recovery from a relationship with a covert narcissist takes time and patience. Practice patience with yourself as you heal and rebuild your life. Understand that the effects of their devalue tactics may linger, but with consistent effort, you can regain control and lead a fulfilling life.

  • Example: Recognize that healing is a gradual process. Celebrate small victories along the way, and be kind to yourself during moments of setbacks or relapses.

These strategies offer a comprehensive guide for handling covert narcissist devalue tactics and taking steps towards a brighter future.

Closing Thoughts

Dealing with covert narcissist devalue tactics is a challenging journey that requires strength, resilience, and self-compassion. It’s essential to recognize that you are not alone in facing these manipulative behaviors, and there is hope for healing and reclaiming your emotional well-being.

By understanding the tactics, setting boundaries, seeking support, and focusing on self-growth, you can navigate the complexities of such relationships. Remember that healing takes time, and it’s okay to seek professional help when needed.

As you continue on this path, maintain perspective, practice patience, and know that a brighter future awaits—one where you are free to thrive, rediscover your self-worth, and cultivate healthier relationships.