The Mind of a Covert Narcissist
The Mind of A Covert Narcissist

Behind the mask of a seemingly normal individual, lies the mind of a covert narcissist. And it is a truly twisted mind. Often difficult to spot, these deceptive individuals lurk within our society manipulating and harming those around them.

This blog will delve deep into the world of covert narcissism — what it is, how to recognize its signs, and how to navigate relationships with such an individual. Understand this complex yet increasingly relevant personality disorder found in today’s world by diving into the dangerous depths that lie beneath their charming façade.

Key Takeaways

  • Covert narcissism is a form of narcissistic personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self, lack of empathy, and the use of manipulative tactics to control others.
  • Covert narcissists use several manipulative tactics (gaslighting, silent treatment, triangulation) to maintain power and control in their relationships.
  • Coping strategies for dealing with a covert narcissist include identifying red flags, setting boundaries and seeking support from trusted confidantes while practicing self-care.
  • It’s crucial to prioritize your own well – being when dealing with individuals who have this toxic personality disorder.

Understanding Covert Narcissism

Covert narcissism is a form of narcissistic personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self, lack of empathy, excessive need for admiration, high level of insecurity, extreme sensitivity to criticism and the use of manipulative tactics to control others.

Definition And Characteristics

Covert narcissism, also known as vulnerable narcissism, is a subtype of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Those with covert narcissism display an inflated sense of self-worth and entitlement that is often hidden beneath a facade of vulnerability and insecurity.

The key characteristics of a covert narcissist include high levels of insecurity, extreme sensitivity to criticism, passive-aggressive behaviors, self-serving empathy, feelings of inadequacy and superiority, overblown fantasies about success or love, silent treatment when confronted or displeased by others’ actions and gaslighting manipulation to make others doubt their own perceptions.

For example, a covert narcissist may outwardly appear shy in social situations but secretly believe they are highly intelligent or exceptionally talented compared to other people.

Differences Between Overt And Covert Narcissism

While both overt and covert narcissists exhibit self-centeredness and a lack of empathy, there are distinct differences in the way they express their narcissistic traits. Below is a table comparing the main distinctions between overt and covert narcissism:

Overt NarcissismCovert Narcissism
Exhibits grandiosity and an inflated sense of self-importanceDisplays a sense of inferiority and victimization
Seeks constant admiration and validation from othersCraves recognition and praise but is more subtle about it
Openly manipulative and controlling in relationshipsUtilizes passive-aggressive tactics to manipulate others
Overly confident and boastful about their achievementsAvoids discussing personal accomplishments due to insecurity
Emotionally insensitive and disregards the feelings of othersPretends to care about others’ feelings but ultimately prioritizes their own
Brazenly exploits others for personal gainCovertly takes advantage of others to improve their situation
Exhibits aggressive and domineering behaviorDisplays passive and timid demeanor to conceal manipulative nature
Difference between Overt Narcissist and Covert Narcissist

The Mind Of A Covert Narcissist

A covert narcissist is adept at manipulating others to get what they want, often resorting to silent treatment and gaslighting; discover their twisted mentality and the destruction it can have on relationships in this enlightening article.

Manipulative Tactics

Covert narcissists use several manipulative tactics to maintain power and control in their relationships. These tactics can be subtle and difficult to recognize, but understanding them is crucial in dealing with a covert narcissist. Some of these manipulative tactics include:

  1. Gaslighting: A psychological manipulation technique that makes the victim question their reality, memories, and perceptions.
  2. Silent treatment: Deliberately ignoring or avoiding communication to make the victim feel guilty, unworthy, or anxious.
  3. Triangulation: Involving a third party in conflicts or conversations to undermine the victim’s trust and create a sense of competition.
  4. Love bombing: Showering the victim with excessive affection initially, only to withdraw it later when they fail to meet the narcissist’s unrealistic expectations. Love Bombing is a classic tactic of cover narcissists.
  5. Projection: Accusing others of flaws that the covert narcissist actually possesses themselves, shifting blame and responsibility away from themselves.
  6. Playing the Victim: Using a narrative of self-pity to gain sympathy and evade accountability for their actions.
  7. Passive-aggression: Expressing hostility or negative feelings indirectly through subtle actions rather than direct confrontations. Sometimes, this will include silly things like hiding your personal things.
  8. Guilt-tripping: Manipulating someone into feeling guilty for not meeting the covert narcissist’s demands or wishes by playing on their insecurities or emotions.
  9. Compliance testing: Gradually pushing boundaries to see how much control they can exert over others without resistance.

Understanding these manipulative tactics are essential in recognizing when you may be dealing with a covert narcissist. By identifying these behaviors early on, you can take appropriate steps to protect yourself and seek help if necessary.

Impacts On Relationships

Being in a relationship with a covert narcissist can be emotionally draining and damaging. They tend to manipulate their partners, causing them to feel confused, anxious, and invalidated.

The need for admiration and attention from others is overwhelming for them, leaving little room for anyone else’s feelings or needs.

The impact on the relationship can vary; some partners may find themselves walking on eggshells around their narcissistic partner to avoid setting off an emotional outburst or receiving the dreaded silent treatment.

Others may gradually lose themselves in the relationship as they adapt to meet the demands of their partner’s inflated sense of self-worth.

Covert narcissists can also be quite boring as they are only interested in themselves and so have nothing of value to say or add to someone else’s feelings.

Setting boundaries is critical when dealing with a covert narcissist in any type of relationship. This includes recognizing red flags like constant blame-shifting and gaslighting manipulations that invalidate your experiences while validating theirs.

It also involves seeking support from friends and professionals who understand what you’re going through so that you can maintain perspective while attempting to cope with this kind of toxic personality disorder.

Sometimes a relationship, especially a married one, becomes irretrievable and then divorcing a covert narcissist remains the only viable option.

Also, your experience can vary depending on whether you’re in relationship with a male covert narcissist or a female covert narcissist. The former should be aware of what it takes to live with a covert narcissist – for instance living with a covert narcissist husband. The latter should be aware of the power of the female covert narcissist and what they can wrangle out of their partners.

Other times the relationship could be with a sibling – like a covert narcissist brother – in which case you will need to prepare differently.

The Mask Of Deception

A covert narcissist is a master of deception, able to project the image of an empathetic and caring person while subconsciously manipulating those around them for their own gain.

They can be charming, charismatic, and appear genuine in their actions towards others.

The mask of deception worn by covert narcissists is one that allows them to appear vulnerable or even victimized at times. This persona allows for manipulation through guilt-tripping or emotional blackmail: they may play on your sympathies by using phrases like “I’m just trying to do what’s best for us,” when really they are attempting to manipulate you into doing what benefits them most.

A key characteristic of these individuals is the ability to switch between different masks seamlessly, adjusting them based on who they are interacting with at any given moment.

Coping Strategies For Dealing With A Covert Narcissist

Identify red flags, set boundaries, seek support, practice self-care and self-awareness, and seek professional help when necessary. These are just some of the coping strategies that can help you deal with a covert narcissist. But before you can select a coping strategy you need to know the things a covert narcissist can say so that you are better prepared for them and know how to respond.

Don’t let their manipulative tactics take control of your life – learn how to recognize and address covert narcissism for a healthier future.

Identifying Red Flags

If you suspect that someone in your life may have covert narcissism, it’s important to pay attention to certain behaviors and actions that may signal this personality disorder. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  1. They constantly seek validation and praise from others.
  2. They have difficulty accepting criticism or feedback.
  3. They tend to switch between extremes of idealizing and devaluing others.
  4. They have an exaggerated sense of self – importance and entitlement.
  5. They lack empathy for others and struggle to understand different perspectives.
  6. They often manipulate situations or people to maintain control.
  7. They frequently make passive – aggressive comments or use the silent treatment as a form of punishment.
  8. They become defensive or angry when confronted about their behavior.

If you notice these behaviors consistently in someone, it may be a sign of covert narcissism. Remember, it’s important to seek support and set boundaries when dealing with individuals with this personality disorder, as it can be emotionally draining and damaging to your own well-being.

Setting Boundaries And Seeking Support

The unpredictability and manipulative behavior of a covert narcissist can be overwhelming and draining. It is important to establish boundaries and seek support to protect yourself from their harmful tactics. Here are some ways you can do this:

  1. Identify your non-negotiables: Determine what behaviors or actions are unacceptable in your relationships with the narcissist, such as gaslighting or emotional abuse.
  2. Communicate your boundaries clearly: Once you have identified your non-negotiables, it is important to communicate them directly and assertively to the narcissist. Be clear about what you will tolerate and what consequences will arise if they cross those boundaries. If you need help with this, here are some clever phrases to disarm a covert narcissist.
  3. Seek support from a trusted confidante: Narcissists often try to isolate their victims, so it is crucial to reach out to supportive friends, family members, or professionals for validation and guidance.
  4. Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care activities that boost your mental, physical, and emotional health while you navigate the complexities of dealing with a covert narcissist.
  5. Stay vigilant: Remember that even with boundaries in place, covert narcissists may try to push past them or manipulate situations in their favor. Stay alert for red flags and trust your instincts if something feels off.

By setting firm boundaries and seeking support from others, individuals can better protect themselves from the harmful effects of interacting with a covert narcissist.

Practicing Self-Care And Self-Awareness

Dealing with a covert narcissist can be mentally and emotionally draining. It is important to prioritize self-care practices that promote inner peace and mindfulness. This begins by understanding your own limits in dealing with manipulative behavior, setting boundaries, and taking time to recharge.

Additionally, it’s essential to surround yourself with supportive people who validate your feelings instead of belittling them. Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment help reduce stress levels while boosting overall well-being.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’re dealing with a covert narcissist, it’s essential to seek professional help.

A qualified therapist can provide insights into the patterns of behavior exhibited by covert narcissists and identify specific coping strategies that work best for you. They can also help uncover any underlying trauma or co-occurring mental health conditions that may be fueling the narcissistic behavior in the first place.

Furthermore, therapy sessions offer a safe space where you can express yourself without fear of judgment or gaslighting from your abuser.

Remember, seeking professional help does not make you weak, it makes you strong and proactive in addressing your concerns head-on.


In conclusion, understanding the twisted mind of a covert narcissist is key to identifying red flags and setting boundaries in relationships. Their manipulative tactics, hidden behind a mask of deception, can have devastating effects on others.

Coping strategies for dealing with a covert narcissist include seeking support, practicing self-care and self-awareness, and even seeking professional help if necessary. By recognizing and addressing this personality disorder, we can all strive towards a healthier life without the toxic influence of a covert narcissist.