If you notice these 11 signs, you’re dealing with a covert narcissist

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Ever heard the term ‘narcissist?’

You probably think of someone who’s full of themselves.

But there’s another kind of narcissist that’s harder to spot – the ‘covert narcissist.’

They’re tricky, they’re sneaky, and they can be pretty harmful.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you figure out if you’re dealing with one.

In this article, we’re going to tell you about ten signs that might mean someone is a covert narcissist.

1. They Play the Victim Card

Covert narcissists are masters of playing the victim. They’re constantly painting a picture where they are the innocent one being wronged.

This technique is a way for them to gain sympathy and attention, while also avoiding any responsibility for their own actions.

So, if you notice someone always seems to be dealt a bad hand in life, or always has a sob story to share, you might be dealing with a covert narcissist.

They usually have an excuse for everything and it’s never their fault.

Remember, we all face challenges, but if someone always seems to be in the middle of a drama, it’s a sign you should not ignore.

2. They’re Passive-Aggressive

Ever dealt with someone who’s nice one moment and cold the next? If that’s a regular pattern, you might be dealing with a covert narcissist.

They often use passive-aggressive behavior as a way to express their hostility or negativity without being direct.

This could be in the form of sarcastic comments, silent treatment, or backhanded compliments.

It’s like they’re playing a mind game, leaving you feeling confused and off balance.

If you notice this kind of behavior in someone, especially if it happens often, take note. It’s a classic sign of a covert narcissist.

3. They Lack Empathy

One of the most telling signs of a covert narcissist is their lack of empathy.

They find it hard to understand and share the feelings of others.

I remember a friend I had who never seemed to genuinely care about how I was feeling.

If I was going through a tough time, she would brush it off, change the subject or somehow twist it around to make it about her.

It was as if my feelings were invisible to her. And then I realized – that’s because they were.

To her, it was always about her needs, her feelings, her problems.

If you find that someone in your life consistently lacks empathy towards you or others, be cautious – they might be a covert narcissist.

4. They’re Quietly Manipulative

Covert narcissists are manipulators, but not in the way you might think.

They aren’t usually the ones pulling puppet strings in plain sight. Instead, they manipulate subtly and quietly.

They might use guilt trips, twist conversations, or subtly belittle you to control situations.

The scary part? You might not even realize what’s happening until you’re deep into it.

Manipulation tactics used by covert narcissists can be so subtle that they are often overlooked or misunderstood as genuine concern or harmless jokes.

This makes it even more important to keep an eye out for this sign.

If you constantly feel manipulated or undermined but can’t quite put your finger on why, it’s time to question if you’re dealing with a covert narcissist.

5. They Have a Superiority Complex

Covert narcissists may not be as brash as overt narcissists, but they still harbor a sense of superiority.

They feel they are better, smarter, or more important than others – they just won’t say it outright.

This superiority complex can be really damaging to those around them.

It can erode your self-esteem, make you doubt your worth, and leave you feeling insignificant.

It’s like being in the shadow of a tall building, always looking up and never feeling like you’re enough.

If you notice someone subtly making you feel inferior or less-than, consider it a red flag.

Remember, everyone has their own worth and nobody has the right to make you feel otherwise.

6. They’re Insensitive to Your Boundaries

Covert narcissists have a knack for disrespecting boundaries.

I remember an old colleague who would constantly invade my personal space.

Whether it was borrowing stuff from my desk without asking, or insisting on details about my personal life that I wasn’t comfortable sharing, he just didn’t seem to understand or respect the concept of personal boundaries.

Despite my attempts to set clear limits, he’d always find a way around them, making excuses or acting as though he’d simply forgotten.

It was exhausting and frustrating.

If you notice someone persistently crossing your boundaries, despite your efforts to assert them, you might be dealing with a covert narcissist.

It’s important to remember that your boundaries are valid and should be respected by everyone, no exceptions.

7. They’re Never Satisfied

Covert narcissists are never truly satisfied. It doesn’t matter what they have, what they achieve, or who they’re with – it’s never enough.

They’re always chasing the next best thing, the next high, the next source of attention.

It’s like they’re stuck on a hamster wheel of dissatisfaction. They might have a great job, a loving partner, or a bunch of achievements, but there’s always something missing.

And let me tell you, being around that kind of energy is draining. You can bend over backwards trying to please them, but it will never be enough.

If you notice this perpetual dissatisfaction in someone, it could be a sign of covert narcissism.

So be honest with yourself and consider if it’s worth your energy.

8. They Hold Grudges

Covert narcissists have a memory like an elephant when it comes to perceived slights or wrongs.

They hold grudges, harbor resentment, and are unlikely to forgive or forget.

Even a small disagreement can result in a lifetime grudge – they don’t let go easily.

This tendency to hold grudges is often due to the narcissist’s inflated sense of self-importance and their inability to cope with any sort of criticism or perceived attack on their ego.

If you find someone is holding onto past issues and using them as ammunition in the present, it’s a sign you could be dealing with a covert narcissist.

9. They’re Emotionally Unavailable

Covert narcissists can be emotionally unavailable, and I’ve experienced this firsthand. I once dated someone who was never really ‘there’ emotionally.

On the surface, he seemed caring and attentive.

But when it came to deeper feelings or emotional support, he was as distant as a star in the night sky.

Whenever I needed emotional support or wanted to discuss my feelings, he would either brush it off or steer the conversation towards something else.

It felt like trying to hold onto smoke – impossible and frustrating.

If you’re dealing with someone who seems to avoid emotional intimacy or is consistently unavailable when you need emotional support, it’s a sign they might be a covert narcissist.

10. They’re Overly Defensive

Let’s be real here: covert narcissists don’t take criticism well. Even the tiniest hint of critique can set them off into a spiral of defensiveness.

They’ll quickly turn the tables, making you feel like the bad guy for even bringing it up.

It’s like walking on eggshells, never knowing when they might explode.

Here’s the hard truth: if you’re constantly tip-toeing around someone’s feelings, or if you’re afraid to voice your concerns because of how they might react, you’re probably dealing with a covert narcissist.

11. They Make You Doubt Yourself

Covert narcissists have a way of making you doubt yourself. They undermine, belittle, and gaslight you until you start questioning your own worth and reality.

It’s a subtle and insidious form of psychological manipulation that can leave you feeling lost and unsure of yourself.

The bottom line?

If you’re constantly second-guessing yourself, feeling unsure about your memories, or questioning your worth because of someone’s influence, it’s time to step back and consider if you’re dealing with a covert narcissist. Trust me, you deserve better.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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