Covert Narcissist Gaslighting Examples
Covert Narcissist Gaslighting Examples

Gaslighting is a dark and insidious form of psychological abuse that often goes unnoticed by its victims. Covert narcissists, individuals with narcissistic personality traits hidden beneath a facade of humility and compassion, are experts at employing gaslighting tactics to manipulate and control their victims.

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the world of covert narcissism and explore 25 shameful covert narcissist gaslighting examples of behaviors covert narcissists use to exert dominance.

Understanding these examples will be crucial to recognize and escape the toxic web of covert narcissistic abuse. Let’s explore this deeply troubling aspect of relationships and mental health to shed light on the hidden darkness that is gaslighting.

What is Covert Narcissism?

Covert narcissism is a variant of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) characterized by a deceptive outward appearance of humility, vulnerability, and empathy. Unlike the more overt form of NPD, where narcissists openly display their grandiosity and self-centeredness, covert narcissists operate under the guise of being sensitive and selfless individuals. This covert nature makes them particularly adept at using manipulative tactics like gaslighting.

Covert narcissists often have a deep-seated need for admiration and control over others, but they go about achieving these desires in subtle and indirect ways. They may appear charming and caring on the surface, but beneath this facade lies a person who seeks to maintain power and dominance in their relationships.

Understanding the core traits of covert narcissism is essential to recognizing the gaslighting examples we’ll explore in this article. By shedding light on this personality disorder, we can empower victims to break free from the emotional turmoil it creates.

Gaslighting: The Manipulative Tactic

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser seeks to make the victim doubt their reality, perceptions, and sanity. The term originates from a 1944 film titled “Gaslight,” in which a husband manipulates his wife into believing she is going insane by dimming the gaslights in their home and then denying any changes occurred.

In the context of covert narcissism, gaslighting is a particularly insidious tool used by the narcissist to gain control over their victim and is one of the classic sneaky ways how covert narcissists manipulate their victims.

It is a tactic that thrives on the victim’s self-doubt and confusion, making them question their own thoughts, feelings, and memories. Gaslighting is designed to erode the victim’s self-esteem and independence, rendering them more susceptible to the narcissist’s influence.

The Goal of Gaslighting (In the Context of Covert Narcissism)

For a covert narcissist, the ultimate goal of gaslighting is to maintain dominance and control over their victim. They do this by systematically undermining the victim’s self-confidence and autonomy. By making the victim doubt their own reality, the narcissist can mold them into someone who is more compliant and easier to manipulate.

Gaslighting is a tool that covert narcissists use to ensure their own needs, desires, and perspective always take precedence. It allows them to create a skewed reality where they are the center of attention and authority. In essence, gaslighting is a means for the narcissist to maintain their fragile ego and protect their carefully constructed self-image.

How Gaslighting is Used to Control and Manipulate Victims

Gaslighting techniques employed by covert narcissists can vary widely, but they all share the common goal of disorienting and destabilizing the victim. This manipulation can include minimizing the victim’s feelings and concerns, shifting blame onto the victim, and even fabricating events or conversations that never occurred.

As a result of this relentless manipulation, victims of gaslighting often experience a range of emotions, including self-doubt, anxiety, and depression. They may become isolated from friends and family as the narcissist seeks to control their social interactions. Gaslighting is a potent tool that covert narcissists use to maintain their power and dominance within the relationship.

25 Covert Narcissist Gaslighting Examples

In this section, we’ll delve into 25 specific covert narcissist gaslighting examples. These manipulative tactics make victims doubt their reality, feelings, and memories. By recognizing these examples, you can empower yourself to identify and confront gaslighting in your own life or help others who may be experiencing it.

#1. Denying Past Promises

Covert narcissists are notorious for conveniently forgetting or outright denying promises they made in the past. They may have assured you of their support, commitment, or plans, but when the time comes to honor those promises, they act as if they never made them. This leaves you feeling confused and questioning your memory, making it challenging to hold them accountable for their commitments.

#2. Shifting Blame

When confronted with their own mistakes or hurtful actions, covert narcissists rarely take responsibility. Instead, they skillfully shift the blame onto you or others, making it appear as if you’re the one at fault. Their adeptness at deflecting responsibility can leave you doubting your judgment and self-worth, as you bear the weight of their actions.

#3. Minimizing Your Feelings

Your emotions are valid and deserve recognition and respect. However, covert narcissists often minimize your feelings, brushing them aside as if they’re inconsequential. They may dismiss your emotions with phrases like “You’re too sensitive” or “You’re overreacting,” causing you to question the legitimacy of your own emotional responses.

#4. Projecting

Covert narcissists frequently engage in projection, a defense mechanism where they attribute their own undesirable traits, behaviors, or thoughts to you. They might accuse you of being controlling, selfish, or dishonest when these qualities are, in fact, more reflective of their own character. This tactic aims to divert attention away from their shortcomings while sowing confusion and defensiveness in you.

#5. Withholding Affection

To exert control, covert narcissists may employ the silent treatment or withhold affection and emotional support. By depriving you of the love and intimacy you crave, they create a profound sense of insecurity and self-doubt. You may find yourself constantly seeking their approval, only to be met with emotional withdrawal and neglect.

#6. Creating Doubt

One of the most insidious gaslighting tactics is the creation of doubt. Covert narcissists excel at making you question your own thoughts, feelings, and memories. They may insist that you’re mistaken or deluded about specific events, causing you to second-guess your own reality. This erosion of self-confidence can leave you feeling lost and dependent on their version of the truth.

#7. Trivializing Your Achievements

When you achieve something significant or reach a personal milestone, covert narcissists may downplay your accomplishments. They’ll make it seem as if your achievements aren’t as noteworthy as you believe, intentionally diminishing your self-esteem. This tactic undermines your self-worth and keeps you seeking their validation.

#8. Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is a potent form of manipulation in which covert narcissists withdraw communication and affection as a way to punish and control you. This tactic forces you into a state of anxiety and insecurity, as you desperately try to regain their attention and approval.

#9. Flipping the Script

When confronted with their own behavior or wrongdoing, covert narcissists often employ the tactic of flipping the script. They abruptly change the topic or introduce unrelated issues, diverting attention away from the matter at hand. This leaves you feeling unheard and invalidated, unable to address the original concern.

#10. Playing the Victim

Covert narcissists frequently portray themselves as the victims in various situations, even when they are clearly responsible for the problem or conflict at hand. This is referred to as covert narcissist victim mentality.

By casting themselves in this victim role, they deflect accountability and manipulate you into taking on the role of the aggressor or wrongdoer, further adding to your confusion and self-doubt.

#11. Selective Memory

Covert narcissists possess an uncanny ability to selectively remember events and conversations. They conveniently forget their own transgressions and mistakes while recalling yours with remarkable clarity. This selective memory serves to distort the narrative, making it challenging for you to defend your position and leaving you questioning your own recollections.

#12. Gaslighting by Proxy

Covert narcissists may employ others, such as friends, family members, or colleagues, to indirectly gaslight you. These allies act as validators of the narcissist’s perspective, casting doubt on your own thoughts and feelings. This manipulation tactic isolates you further, making it seem like everyone agrees with the narcissist, leaving you feeling isolated and unsupported.

#13. Mocking and Ridiculing

To erode your self-esteem, covert narcissists may resort to sarcasm, mockery, or ridicule. They use belittling language and demeaning comments to undermine your thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Over time, this constant humiliation chips away at your self-confidence, making you more vulnerable to their manipulation.

#14. Guilt-Tripping

Covert narcissists employ guilt-tripping as a means of manipulation. They use guilt-inducing statements to make you feel responsible for their actions or to coerce you into doing their bidding. This emotional manipulation can be particularly effective in forcing compliance and compliance, as you strive to avoid feeling guilty.

#15. Interrupting and Over-Talking

During conversations, covert narcissists often dominate by frequently interrupting or talking over you. This behavior not only silences your voice but also dismisses your opinions and feelings. Over time, you may begin to doubt the value of your own contributions to the conversation.

#16. Changing the Subject

When faced with uncomfortable truths or accountability, covert narcissists have a tendency to swiftly change the subject. This diversion tactic allows them to avoid addressing the issue at hand and deflects responsibility. Consequently, important issues remain unresolved, leaving you feeling unheard and frustrated.

#17. Using “I Don’t Remember”

In an attempt to undermine your credibility and invalidate your experiences, covert narcissists may frequently claim that they don’t remember events, conversations, or promises. By gaslighting you in this way, they cast doubt on your memory and make it difficult for you to assert your perspective.

#18. Comparing You to Others

Covert narcissists often employ a tactic of constant comparison. They compare you unfavorably to others, highlighting your perceived flaws and shortcomings while praising others’ qualities and achievements. This ongoing comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, leaving you seeking their validation.

#19. Isolating You

To gain more control over you, covert narcissists may subtly isolate you from friends, family, or other sources of support. They may sow seeds of doubt about the intentions and loyalties of those around you, making you increasingly dependent on them for validation and emotional support.

#20. Rewriting History

Covert narcissists have a knack for revising past events to suit their narrative. They may reinterpret history to depict themselves in a favorable light while painting you as the antagonist. This manipulation of the past can create confusion about the true nature of your experiences, making it challenging to hold the narcissist accountable.

#21. Exploiting Your Vulnerabilities

Covert narcissists are adept at identifying your vulnerabilities and using them to their advantage. They exploit your insecurities, fears, and weaknesses to gain the upper hand in the relationship. This form of emotional manipulation further undermines your self-esteem and autonomy.

#22. Triangulation

Triangulation is a manipulation tactic in which covert narcissists involve a third party in conflicts or disputes. By doing so, they create jealousy, confusion, and competition among those involved. Triangulation destabilizes relationships and keeps you on edge, as you attempt to navigate the complexities introduced by the narcissist.

#23. Deflecting Responsibility

Covert narcissists rarely accept responsibility for their actions. Instead, they deflect blame onto others, deflecting consequences and accountability away from themselves. This leaves you grappling with the consequences of their behavior while they evade responsibility.

#24. Withholding Information

Covert narcissists may withhold crucial information, keeping you in the dark about important matters. By restricting access to information, they maintain a sense of control and power over you, as you become dependent on them for guidance and knowledge.

#25. Love-Bombing

Covert narcissists often alternate between gaslighting and love-bombing. They shower you with affection, praise, and attention, creating a deep emotional connection. However, this affection is often used as a tool of manipulation, as they can withdraw it abruptly, leaving you confused and craving their validation.

These covert narcissist gaslighting examples illustrate the myriad ways in which manipulative tactics can impact your mental and emotional well-being. Recognizing these behaviors is the first step toward breaking free from the grip of a covert narcissist and seeking healing and recovery.

Closing Thoughts

Navigating a relationship with a covert narcissist can be an emotionally draining and psychologically damaging experience. Gaslighting, as we’ve explored in detail, is a central tool they use to exert control and manipulation over their victims. Recognizing these covert narcissist gaslighting examples is the first step towards breaking free from the toxic grip of a covert narcissist.