Do Covert Narcissists Come Back
Do Covert Narcissists Come Back

Covert narcissism is a complex and often misunderstood personality trait that can have a significant impact on relationships. Understanding the behavior patterns of covert narcissists is crucial for those who have experienced their manipulation and abuse.

One common question that arises in the aftermath of such relationships is, “Do covert narcissists come back?” In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deep into the world of covert narcissists, exploring their traits, behaviors, and the reasons behind their potential return or absence.

By shedding light on this topic, we hope to provide clarity and compassion for those navigating the aftermath of such challenging relationships. So, let’s dive in and unravel the mysteries of covert narcissism and their return dynamics.

Understanding Covert Narcissism

To navigate the intricate dynamics of relationships involving covert narcissists, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of their personality traits and behaviors. This knowledge empowers individuals to recognize the subtle signs early on, enabling them to make informed decisions. In this section, we will not only define covert narcissism but also delve deeper into common traits and behaviors associated with this personality trait.

Defining Covert Narcissism

Covert narcissism represents a unique subtype within the spectrum of narcissistic personality disorder. It stands apart for its less overt, yet equally damaging form of self-absorption. In contrast to their overt counterparts, who openly flaunt their arrogance and entitlement, covert narcissists present a facade of sensitivity, humility, and even insecurity. This façade often obscures their true nature, making them challenging to identify.

Common Traits and Behaviors of Covert Narcissists

  1. Manipulative: Covert narcissists are masters of manipulation. They employ subtle tactics that allow them to exert control and dominance over others. This manipulation often leaves their targets second-guessing their own judgment and emotions.
  2. Controlling: Control is a central theme in their relationships. Covert narcissists are driven to manage various aspects, including decision-making and social interactions, often rendering their partners powerless and stifled.
  3. Abusive: While they may not resort to physical violence, covert narcissists can be emotionally and psychologically abusive. Their tactics can inflict lasting emotional scars on their victims.
  4. Self-Absorbed: Their self-absorption knows no bounds. Covert narcissists prioritize their own needs, frequently disregarding or belittling the feelings and needs of those around them.
  5. Entitled: A sense of entitlement is deeply ingrained in their psyche. Covert narcissists believe they are entitled to special treatment and attention, regardless of their actions or contributions.
  6. Needy and Insecure: Paradoxically, behind the veneer of confidence, they often harbor profound insecurities and a voracious need for validation. This fragility can manifest in constant demands for reassurance.
  7. Dependent: Covert narcissists may exhibit dependency on their partners for emotional support and validation, resulting in an imbalanced dynamic where one party holds all the power.

By thoroughly understanding these traits and behaviors, individuals can equip themselves with the knowledge needed to recognize and address covert narcissists effectively.

Next, we will explore in greater detail the circumstances that may lead covert narcissists to re-enter your life and, conversely, the reasons that might deter their return.

When Do Covert Narcissists Come Back?

Understanding when covert narcissists might re-enter your life is a complex endeavor, as their behavior patterns are often shrouded in manipulation and secrecy. To shed light on this topic, we’ll try and enter the mind of a covert narcissist and explore ten potential scenarios in which covert narcissists may resurface.

#1. Idealization Phase

At the inception of a relationship with a covert narcissist, there’s typically an idealization phase. During this period, they shower their target with affection, making them feel adored and valued. However, as the relationship progresses, the narcissist’s true nature emerges, leading to devaluation and, potentially, a discard. Covert narcissists may return during the idealization phase, lured by the opportunity to regain control and adoration.

#2. Need for Validation

Covert narcissists have a deep need for validation and attention. If they sense that their targets have moved on or found happiness without them, they may return to reclaim the spotlight. They thrive on the reassurance that they still hold a significant place in their target’s life.

#3. Manipulation and Control

Manipulation and control is a cornerstone of covert narcissistic behavior. If they perceive that they are losing control over their target or that their target has become more independent, they may return to reassert their dominance and manipulation.

#4. Fear of Abandonment

Covert narcissists often harbor an intense fear of abandonment, stemming from their fragile self-esteem. This fear can drive them to re-enter a relationship, even if they were the ones who initially ended it. They might employ guilt and manipulation tactics to make their target feel responsible for their return.

#5. Seeking Resources

In some cases, covert narcissists return solely for material gain. They may have exhausted their resources or burned bridges with other sources of support. Returning to a former partner can provide them with financial or emotional resources that they currently lack.

#6. Hoovering

“Hoovering” is a term commonly used to describe the tactic covert narcissists employ to suck their targets back into a relationship. This behavior involves a relentless pursuit of the target, often through a barrage of messages, gifts, or promises of change. Covert narcissists use hoovering to re-establish their control and manipulate their former partners emotionally. They may employ this strategy when they feel their target is drifting away or is on the verge of moving on, ensuring that their presence remains a constant in their target’s life.

#7. Revenge or Retaliation

Covert narcissists can be vindictive, especially if they feel wronged or rejected. When they perceive that their target has taken actions that diminish their perceived importance, they may return with the intention of seeking revenge or retaliation. This can manifest in various harmful ways, such as spreading false rumors, attempting to damage the target’s reputation, or causing emotional turmoil.

#8. Boredom or Lack of Supply

Covert narcissists thrive on attention and admiration and can get easily bored. If they find themselves bored or lacking a sufficient supply of adoration in their current circumstances, they may rekindle old relationships to satisfy their craving for attention. They see former targets as a readily available source of validation, making them appealing options when they are feeling unstimulated or underappreciated.

#9. Self-Interest

Covert narcissists often prioritize their self-interest above all else. If returning to a previous relationship serves their goals, whether financial, emotional, or social, they may not hesitate to do so. Their actions are guided by a relentless pursuit of what benefits them, even if it means rekindling a relationship they had previously discarded.

#10. Testing Boundaries

Covert narcissists are known for pushing boundaries to see how much they can control and manipulate their targets. Returning to a past relationship allows them to test the waters and assess if they can regain the upper hand. They may want to see if they can continue to exert influence and dominance over their former partner, and if successful, they may intensify their efforts to maintain control.

Reasons Why Covert Narcissists May Not Come Back

While covert narcissists can be notorious for re-entering relationships, there are also circumstances that may deter them from returning. Understanding these factors can provide individuals with valuable insights into why a narcissistic ex-partner might choose to stay away.

#1. Self-Sufficiency

Covert narcissists often seek relationships for validation and support. However, if they perceive that they can meet their needs independently or have found alternative sources of validation, they may opt not to return. Self-sufficiency can diminish their reliance on former partners.

#2. New Supply

Covert narcissists commonly engage in serial relationships, swiftly moving from one target to another. If they have secured a new source of supply, someone who fulfills their need for attention and validation, they may have little reason to revisit a previous relationship.

#3. Burned Bridges

Narcissists can leave a trail of damaged relationships in their wake due to their manipulative and abusive behaviors. If they have burned bridges or caused irreparable harm in a past relationship, they may recognize that returning to that particular partner is not a viable option.

#4. Fear of Exposure

In some cases, covert narcissists may fear that returning to a previous relationship could expose their manipulative and abusive behavior. If their former partner has become aware of their tactics or has support from others who understand the narcissist’s true nature, the narcissist might choose to stay away to avoid exposure.

#5. Strong Boundaries by Target

If the target of the covert narcissist has established strong boundaries and is less susceptible to manipulation, the narcissist may find it challenging to re-enter the relationship. Strong boundaries can act as a deterrent, making it more difficult for the narcissist to regain control and dominance.

#6. Personal Growth

In some cases, individuals who have been involved with covert narcissists may embark on a journey of personal growth and self-discovery. As they gain insight into the dynamics of their past relationship and develop a stronger sense of self-worth, they may become less susceptible to the manipulation and control of narcissists. The covert narcissist may recognize that their former target has evolved and grown, making it less appealing for them to return.

#7. Legal or Social Consequences

Covert narcissists often engage in behaviors that are socially or legally unacceptable. If their actions have led to legal consequences or significant social backlash, returning to a previous relationship may not be in their best interest. Doing so could expose them to further scrutiny and accountability.

#8. Loss of Interest

Covert narcissists are driven by their own needs and desires. If they have lost interest in their former target or have found someone or something more captivating, they are less likely to return. Their attention often shifts swiftly to whatever or whoever provides them with the most gratification at a given moment.

#9. Manipulation Exposed

In some cases, covert narcissists may underestimate their target’s ability to discern their manipulative tactics. However, if their manipulative behavior is exposed or their tactics are revealed, they may find it challenging to regain control in that relationship. The target’s awareness of the narcissist’s methods can serve as a powerful deterrent.

#10. Target Has Improved Support System

If the individual who was once entangled with a covert narcissist has built a stronger support system that includes friends, family, or therapy, the narcissist may recognize that their influence is diminished. A robust support network can provide emotional validation and protection against manipulation, making it less appealing for the narcissist to return.

Closing Thoughts

Navigating a relationship with a covert narcissist can be an emotionally taxing journey, often filled with manipulation, control, and emotional turmoil. Understanding the complex nature of covert narcissism and the circumstances that may lead them to return or stay away is a crucial step in healing and moving forward.

Remember that you are not alone, and seeking support from friends, family, or therapy can be instrumental in your recovery. By recognizing the signs and behaviors associated with covert narcissism, you can protect yourself from future harm and embark on a path of personal growth and self-discovery.

Ultimately, your well-being and happiness deserve to be the top priorities in your life, free from the shadows of narcissistic manipulation.