Narcissism is extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes a person ignore the needs of those around them. While everyone may show occasional narcissistic behavior, true narcissists frequently disregard others or their feelings. They also do not understand the effect that their behavior has on other people.
Most of the time, it is easy to spot the narcissist in the room. They are the ones who are working the crowd, loudly sharing fabulous stories that convey a sense of importance and accomplishment so that they can feel admired. Someone behaving like this tends to send out a clear signal to those around them that they are not approachable or compassionate.
A covert narcissist is someone who craves admiration and importance as well as lacks empathy toward others but can act in a different way than an overt narcissist.
Many people have fallen victim to the manipulative behaviors of a covert narcissist without realizing what has happened until they are already in emotional pain ( I was one of the victims).
Signs of a Covert Narcissist:
- Passive Self-Importance
The covert narcissist certainly craves importance and thirsts for admiration but it can look different to those around them. They might give back-handed compliments, or purposefully minimize their accomplishments or talents so that people will offer them reassurance of how talented they are.
2. Blaming and Shaming
The introverted, covert narcissist may have a more gentle approach to explain why something is your fault and they are not to blame. They might even pretend to be a victim of your behavior or engage in emotional abuse to put themselves in a position to receive reassurance and praise from you.4 At the end of these interactions, the goal of the narcissist is to make the other person feel small.
3. Emotionally Neglectful
You will likely not receive many compliments from a covert narcissist. Remembering that they are always focused on staying elevated to maintain their sense of self-importance, it is easy to understand how a covert narcissist would find it difficult to compliment you. There is usually little regard for your talents or abilities—usually, the narcissist has no regard for these things at all.
4. Giving with a Goal
A covert narcissist would be much more likely to put their tip in the jar when they know the barista is looking, in order to help facilitate some kind of interaction that allows them to be praised for giving.
Advocate for Yourself
When interacting with a covert narcissist, it can be easy to lose your voice. Because the patterns of interaction are so manipulative, it may take time for you to realize that the relationship left you in this place of not knowing how to advocate for yourself.