Who are Covert Narcissists Attracted to
Who are Covert Narcissists Attracted to

Welcome to our exploration of a topic that might strike a chord with many of us: Who are covert narcissists attracted to, and why does this matter? It’s a question that often goes unasked until we find ourselves entangled in the web of a covert narcissist’s manipulation.

But what is covert narcissism, you may wonder? Well, we’ll dive into that shortly. Imagine you’re at a party, surrounded by seemingly charming individuals. They exude charisma and charm but hide a darker side beneath the surface. These are covert narcissists.

In this article, we’ll delve deep into the world of covert narcissism, uncovering their traits and tactics. We’ll explore the intriguing question of who covert narcissists are drawn to, and more importantly, why. It’s a crucial topic because understanding this dynamic can help you protect yourself or a loved one from falling victim to their manipulative ways.

So, fasten your seatbelts as we navigate the complex psychology of covert narcissism, shedding light on who they are attracted to and the reasons behind it. Let’s begin with a closer look at covert narcissism itself.

Understanding Covert Narcissism

To comprehend who covert narcissists are attracted to and why, it’s essential to first grasp what covert narcissism entails and read into the mind of a covert narcissist. Covert narcissism is like a hidden iceberg; most of it lies beneath the surface. Unlike their more overt counterparts who display grandiosity and arrogance, covert narcissists are experts at concealing their true selves.

So, what defines covert narcissism? Covert narcissism is a personality disorder often characterized by a deep-seated need for admiration and validation, coupled with a pervasive sense of entitlement. However, they cloak these traits in a veneer of humility and vulnerability. This makes them far more challenging to identify than their overt counterparts.

Covert Narcissistic Traits

Here are some key traits associated with covert narcissism:

  1. Insecure Self-Esteem: Covert narcissists may appear humble on the surface, but they harbor fragile self-esteem. They crave constant reassurance and admiration to bolster their self-worth.
  2. Manipulative Charm: They possess a magnetic charm that draws people in. This charm, which often includes doling out compliments, is often used as a tool for manipulation, allowing them to gain the trust and admiration of their targets.
  3. Victim Mentality: Covert narcissists frequently adopt a victim mentality. Portraying themselves as the ones who have been wronged is one of the classic tactics deployed by covert narcissists and it can be both appealing and emotionally manipulative.
  4. Lack of Empathy: Like their overt counterparts, covert narcissists often lack empathy. They struggle to understand or care about the feelings and needs of others.
  5. Fantasies of Success: They have grandiose fantasies about success, power, or love but keep these dreams hidden. This fuels their need for admiration and leaves their targets unsuspecting.

Now that we have a clearer picture of covert narcissism, let’s delve into the intriguing question of who these individuals are attracted to and why they are drawn to certain types of people.

Who Are Covert Narcissists Attracted To?

Understanding the allure of covert narcissists begins with recognizing the qualities they find attractive in their potential targets. While every situation is unique, there are common traits and vulnerabilities that covert narcissists tend to seek out. Let’s explore these aspects to gain a deeper insight into the dynamics of their attraction.

Attractive Traits in Targets

  1. Empathic People: Covert narcissists are often drawn to individuals who are highly empathic. Empaths possess a natural ability to understand and share the feelings of others, making them prime targets for covert narcissists to prey on. The empath’s empathy can be exploited for the narcissist’s emotional gain.
  2. Codependent People: Covert narcissists seek out codependent individuals who tend to be excessively reliant on others for their self-esteem and emotional well-being. This dependency provides the narcissist with a sense of control and power and the chance to victimize.
    This is what happened to someone I know who after years of living with a covert narcissist husband finally found the courage to dump him. And believe me divorcing a covert narcissist wasn’t easy!
  3. Victims of Abuse: Those who have experienced abuse at the hands of a narcissistic abuser in their past may inadvertently attract covert narcissists. The narcissist senses vulnerability and exploits it, making promises of protection and understanding.
  4. People with Low Self-Esteem, Low Self-Worth and a Deficit of Confidence: Covert narcissists are often attracted to individuals who struggle with their self-worth and confidence. These targets are more likely to be swayed by the narcissist’s manipulation and flattery.
  5. People with a History of Trauma: Individuals who have experienced trauma in their lives may be appealing to covert narcissists. The narcissist can exploit the trauma to gain emotional leverage and control.
  6. Lonely and Needy Individuals: Covert narcissists are skilled at identifying those who are lonely or in need of companionship. They present themselves as the perfect solution to these individuals’ loneliness, gradually gaining their trust and dependence.

The Vulnerability Factor

One common thread among these attractive traits is vulnerability. Covert narcissists are skilled at sensing vulnerability in potential targets. This vulnerability can manifest as emotional wounds, a desire for validation, or a need for companionship.

Covert narcissists are like emotional predators, preying on the emotional vulnerabilities of others. They recognize these vulnerabilities as opportunities to exert control and manipulation, ultimately fulfilling their insatiable need for admiration and validation.

The Role of Admiration

Admiration plays a pivotal role in the attraction of covert narcissists. They crave constant praise and admiration to feed their fragile self-esteem. When they find individuals who readily offer this admiration, they become magnetically drawn to them.

In the eyes of a covert narcissist, their target may initially seem like the perfect source of endless praise and validation. However, as we’ll explore later in this article, this attraction often leads to a tumultuous and destructive cycle.

The Why Behind Covert Narcissists’ Attraction

Understanding who covert narcissists are attracted to is only part of the puzzle. To unravel the complexities of this dynamic, we must delve into the psychological motivations behind their attraction to certain individuals.

Exploring Psychological Dynamics

  1. The Need for Control: Covert narcissists have an intense need for control in their relationships. They seek out individuals with vulnerable traits because it gives them power over their targets. This control allows them to manipulate and exploit their chosen targets, fulfilling their insatiable desire for dominance.
  2. Idealization and Devaluation Cycle: Covert narcissists often engage in an idealization and devaluation cycle within their relationships. Initially, they idealize their chosen target, showering them with affection, compliments, and attention. This intense admiration can be incredibly alluring.

    However, as time goes on, the narcissist’s true nature emerges, leading to a devaluation phase where they criticize, belittle, and emotionally manipulate their target. This cycle keeps their chosen target emotionally invested and constantly seeking their approval.
  3. Validation of Self-Worth: Covert narcissists rely heavily on external validation to bolster their fragile self-esteem. They are attracted to individuals who readily provide this validation. By being in a relationship with someone who adores them, they can maintain their facade of self-importance and mask their deep-seated insecurities.
  4. Feeding the Ego: Covert narcissists have a voracious appetite for admiration. They are drawn to those who consistently stroke their ego and make them feel superior. This admiration is like fuel for the narcissist’s self-image, and they go to great lengths to keep their chosen target captivated and under their control.

The Attraction’s Dark Side

While the initial attraction to a covert narcissist may feel flattering and intense, it often evolves into a toxic and emotionally draining experience. The very traits that attracted the narcissist to their target become the source of manipulation and exploitation.

As the relationship progresses, the covert narcissist’s need for control intensifies, and they may employ tactics such as gaslighting, stonewalling, and triangulation to maintain their dominance. This leads to emotional turmoil for the target, who may struggle to understand why the person they once admired has become so emotionally abusive.

Understanding the psychological dynamics behind covert narcissists’ attraction can empower individuals to recognize the warning signs and protect themselves from falling deeper into this manipulative web.

Red Flags and Warning Signs

Recognizing red flags and warning signs is crucial when dealing with covert narcissists. While it’s not always easy to identify them early on, being aware of these indicators can help you protect yourself or a loved one from falling victim to their manipulation. Here are some key red flags to watch out for:

1. Excessive Flattery and Charm

Covert narcissists are masters of charm and flattery, especially in the early stages of a relationship. They may shower you with compliments, gifts, and attention, making you feel like the most special person in the world. While this attention can be enticing, it’s essential to remain cautious if it feels too good to be true.

2. Emotional Manipulation

As the relationship progresses, covert narcissists often engage in emotional manipulation. They may use guilt, pity, or the silent treatment to control your emotions and actions. If you find yourself constantly walking on eggshells or feeling like you’re responsible for their happiness, it’s a warning sign.

3. Lack of Empathy

One of the hallmark traits of covert narcissists is their limited capacity for empathy. They may be dismissive of your feelings or needs, prioritizing their own desires above all else. If you repeatedly feel unheard or invalidated, this could indicate their narcissistic tendencies.

4. Idealization and Devaluation

As mentioned earlier, covert narcissists tend to cycle between idealization and devaluation phases. In the idealization phase, they put you on a pedestal, but this can swiftly shift to devaluation, where they criticize and belittle you. This rollercoaster of emotions can be emotionally exhausting and damaging.

5. Isolation from Supportive Relationships

Covert narcissists may try to isolate you from friends and family who provide emotional support and objective perspectives. They want to maintain control over your life and manipulate you without interference. If you notice a pattern of distancing from loved ones, it’s a red flag.

6. Manipulative Behavior

Watch for signs of manipulation, such as gaslighting (making you doubt your reality), stonewalling (refusing to communicate or resolve issues), or triangulation (creating conflicts between you and others). These tactics are used to maintain control and can erode your self-esteem.

7. Emotional Drain and Anxiety

Being in a relationship with a covert narcissist can be emotionally draining and lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. If you constantly feel stressed, anxious, or emotionally exhausted, it’s essential to seek support and evaluate the relationship’s impact on your well-being.

8. Trust Your Gut

Ultimately, trust your instincts. If something about the relationship doesn’t feel right, pay attention to your gut feelings. Your intuition can be a powerful ally in recognizing the warning signs of covert narcissism.

In the next section, we’ll discuss coping strategies and the importance of seeking help when dealing with covert narcissists. It’s essential to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being in these challenging situations.

Coping Strategies and Seeking Help

Dealing with a covert narcissist can be emotionally draining and challenging, but there are strategies you can employ to protect yourself and regain control over your life. Additionally, seeking professional help and support from loved ones can make a significant difference in your ability to cope with the situation. Here are some coping strategies and recommendations:

1. Set Boundaries

Establish clear boundaries in your relationship with the covert narcissist. Communicate your needs and limits firmly but respectfully. Be prepared for resistance, as narcissists may resist any attempt to limit their control. Stick to your boundaries and prioritize your well-being.

2. Maintain a Support System

Maintain connections with friends and family who offer emotional support and understanding. Covert narcissists often try to isolate their targets, so staying connected to a support system is crucial. Share your experiences and concerns with trusted individuals who can provide perspective and empathy.

3. Practice Self-Care

Invest time in self-care activities that promote your mental and emotional well-being. This might include exercise, meditation, journaling, or therapy. Prioritize self-care to help you cope with the emotional toll of the relationship.

4. Seek Professional Help

Consider seeking therapy or counseling, both individually and as a couple if applicable. Therapists with experience in dealing with narcissistic personality disorders and codependency can provide valuable guidance and strategies for managing the relationship and its impact on your mental health.

5. Educate Yourself

Learn more about covert narcissism and its dynamics. Understanding the narcissist’s tactics can help you depersonalize their behavior and develop effective strategies for dealing with it. Knowledge is a powerful tool in this context.

6. Exit Strategy

In some cases, the best course of action may be to leave the relationship, especially if it becomes physically or emotionally abusive. Creating a safe exit plan is essential. Consult with a therapist or domestic violence counselor to develop a plan that prioritizes your safety and well-being.

7. Maintain Perspective

Remember that the covert narcissist’s behavior is a reflection of their issues, not your worth. Maintain perspective on your self-esteem and self-worth. You deserve to be in a healthy and respectful relationship.

8. Stay Patient

Coping with a covert narcissist can be a long and challenging journey. Be patient with yourself as you work through the complexities of the relationship. Healing and recovery take time, but with the right support and strategies, it is possible.

9. Consider Support Groups

Joining support groups or online communities for individuals dealing with narcissistic relationships can provide a sense of belonging and shared experiences. Connecting with others who have faced similar challenges can be reassuring and empowering.

Remember that you don’t have to navigate this difficult situation alone. Seeking help and support is a sign of strength, and it can significantly improve your ability to cope with the challenges posed by covert narcissists. In conclusion, let’s recap what we’ve explored in this article before we wrap up.


In conclusion, understanding who covert narcissists are attracted to and why is not merely a matter of curiosity; it’s a vital step towards protecting ourselves and our loved ones from potential emotional harm. Covert narcissists seek out those with empathetic and vulnerable traits, luring them with charm and admiration. Their attraction is rooted in the need for control, validation, and the perpetuation of a cycle of idealization and devaluation.

Recognizing the red flags and employing coping strategies is essential when dealing with covert narcissists, and seeking professional help or support from a trusted network can be a lifeline. Remember, your well-being is paramount, and by staying informed and resilient, you can navigate these challenging relationships with greater strength and insight.

Recommended Further Reading

If you want to dive deeper into this topic of narcissism, and covert narcissists in particular, here are two books I recommend.

Certainly! If you’re interested in further exploring the topic of covert narcissism, relationships, and mental health, here are some additional reading recommendations:

  1. The Covert Passive-Aggressive Narcissist” by Debbie Mirza: This book delves deep into understanding covert narcissists and offers valuable insights into coping with their behavior.
  2. Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself” by Shahida Arabi: This book provides strategies for dealing with narcissists and protecting your own mental health.