Narcissism is a term that is frequently thrown around in today’s society. However, many people do not understand the full scope of what it means to have a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). While many people assume that all narcissists are loud, grandiose, and attention-seeking, the reality is that narcissism can also manifest in more subtle ways.
In particular, covert narcissism is a form of NPD that is often difficult to detect. Covert narcissists are individuals who display the same core traits as their more overt counterparts but are much less visible in their narcissistic behavior. Instead of loudly proclaiming their achievements and seeking out constant admiration, covert narcissists tend to keep their narcissism hidden under the surface, only revealing their true selves to a select few.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of covert narcissism can be challenging, but it is essential for anyone who wants to protect themselves from the harm that can be caused by a narcissistic individual. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of covert narcissism and provide some tips for dealing with someone who may be exhibiting these traits.
What is Covert Narcissism?
Covert narcissism is a type of NPD that is characterized by a more subtle form of narcissistic behavior. While overt narcissists tend to be loud, attention-seeking, and boastful, covert narcissists are more likely to be quiet, reserved, and self-deprecating on the surface.
However, this outward humility is often just a facade. Covert narcissists are just as self-centered and lacking in empathy as their overt counterparts, but they are better at hiding it. They may use manipulation, guilt-tripping, and passive-aggressive behavior to control others and get their way, all while appearing to be kind, considerate, and self-sacrificing.
The Signs of Covert Narcissism
If you suspect that someone in your life may be a covert narcissist, there are several signs to look out for. Here are some of the most common traits of this type of NPD:
- A Lack of Empathy
Covert narcissists are often very good at appearing empathetic on the surface. They may be skilled at mirroring others’ emotions, expressing sympathy, and offering support. However, this empathy is often only skin-deep. Underneath the surface, covert narcissists are usually more interested in their own needs and desires than those of others.
- A Need for Control
Like all narcissists, covert narcissists have a strong need for control. However, they may be less obvious about it than their overt counterparts. They may use manipulation, guilt-tripping, and passive-aggressive behavior to get their way, rather than outright aggression or bullying.
- A Sense of Entitlement
Covert narcissists often believe that they are special or unique and that they deserve special treatment. They may feel that the rules that apply to others do not apply to them, or that they are entitled to privileges that others are not.
Covert narcissists may appear to be modest or self-deprecating on the surface. However, this behavior is often a way of seeking validation and attention from others. They may fish for compliments or play the victim in order to get sympathy and admiration.
- Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Covert narcissists may use passive-aggressive behavior as a way of getting what they want. This can include things like sulking, giving the silent treatment, or using sarcasm and snarky comments to undermine others.
- Inability to Handle Criticism
Covert narcissists may have a very fragile ego and be unable to handle even the mildest criticism. They may become defensive, angry, or even hostile when faced with criticism or feedback that challenges their sense of superiority. They may also be quick to dismiss others’ opinions or invalidate their feelings, believing that their own perspective is the only one that matters.
- A Lack of Boundaries
Covert narcissists may have difficulty respecting the boundaries of others. They may overstep boundaries or disregard them altogether, believing that their own needs and desires take precedence over those of others.
- Difficulty Maintaining Relationships
Covert narcissists may struggle to maintain close relationships with others. Their self-centeredness and lack of empathy can make it difficult for them to form meaningful connections with others. They may also struggle with feelings of jealousy or envy, which can make it hard for them to be happy for others’ successes.
Covert narcissists may have an intense need for perfection and may be highly critical of themselves and others. They may become anxious or frustrated when things do not go according to plan, and may struggle to cope with failure or setbacks.
While covert narcissists may appear humble or self-deprecating on the surface, they may also harbor grandiose fantasies or beliefs about themselves. They may believe that they are special, unique, or more talented than others, and may feel entitled to special treatment or recognition.
Dealing with Covert Narcissists
Dealing with a covert narcissist can be challenging, but there are some strategies that can help you protect yourself from their manipulative behavior. Here are some tips for dealing with someone who may be a covert narcissist:
- Set Boundaries
It is essential to set clear boundaries with a covert narcissist. Let them know what behaviors are not acceptable and what consequences will follow if those boundaries are violated.
- Stay Calm
Covert narcissists may try to provoke a reaction from you, so it is essential to stay calm and rational. Do not engage in arguments or power struggles, as this will only feed their need for attention and control.
- Seek Support
Dealing with a narcissist can be emotionally draining, so it is essential to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Talking to others who understand what you are going through can be very helpful.
- Don’t Take it Personally
Remember that the covert narcissist’s behavior is not about you, but about their own insecurities and need for control. Do not take their behavior personally, and try to detach emotionally from their manipulation.
- Stand up for Yourself
It is essential to stand up for yourself and assert your own needs and desires. Do not let the covert narcissist push you around or make you feel guilty for setting boundaries.
- Consider Going No Contact
In some cases, it may be necessary to cut off contact with a covert narcissist completely. This can be a difficult decision, but it may be the best way to protect yourself from their manipulation and abuse.
Covert narcissism is a form of NPD that is often difficult to detect. Covert narcissists are individuals who display the same core traits as their more overt counterparts but are much less visible in their narcissistic behavior. Understanding the signs and symptoms of covert narcissism is essential for anyone who wants to protect themselves from the harm that can come from these individuals. By setting clear boundaries, seeking support, and standing up for oneself, it is possible to deal with a covert narcissist in a healthy and effective way.
In this article, we have discussed ten key traits of covert narcissism, including lack of empathy, self-absorption, and a need for control. We have also provided tips for dealing with a covert narcissist, such as setting boundaries and seeking support.
Overall, understanding covert narcissism is an important step in protecting oneself from the harmful effects of narcissistic abuse. By being aware of the signs and symptoms of this disorder and taking steps to deal with it effectively, individuals can maintain their sense of self-worth and well-being, even in the face of a covert narcissist’s manipulation and control.