Signs and Symptoms of A Covert Narcissist (Part One)

As I mentioned in my previous blogs; when I discovered my relative was a narcissist, I did some research just to find out a lot more about this personality disorder. What I discovered was that there are different types of narcissists. There is the overt narcissist, covert narcissist, malignant narcissist, cerebral narcissist etc. I found out that my relative is a covert narcissist and I’ll share some of the signs and symptoms.

What is a Covert Narcissist?

A covert narcissist is a person who doesn’t exhibit his topic behaviour openly, they operate under cover. Unlike the overt narcissist who does not hide his personality, the covert narcissist are wolves in sheep’s clothing as they pretend to be what they’re not; they are very difficult to identify for this very same reason.

They are considered to be the most dangerous type of narcissist because they will do whatever it takes to keep their real identity secret. They will destroy, devalue and demean the character of anyone who attempts to reveal their true personality even if it means destroying anyone who finds out who they really are. Because of this false persona they put on, it can be difficult to identify, only people who have a personal relationship, such as very close family . It took me a long time before I discovered my relative was a covert narcissist. I think because his toxic behaviour became really more pronounced ( research has established that narcissists worsen over time)in the last few years. And I knew something was not quite right, but I was always told when I questioned his behaviour, that he was reacting based on my own behaviour ( but he would never elaborate on what aspects of my behaviour affected him, because it was really just an excuse). I believe that’s why it took me such a long time to discover what he was. He was always denying everything, never admitting anything he did (gas-lighting).

It’s very important, once you discover who they really are to not publicly expose them. As this would cause them to go into a rage and they will completely discredit you and initiate a smear campaign against you. I found this the hard way when I tried to expose his lies.They will do this in such a passive aggressive manner. Before you know it, everyone will think you’re the crazy narcissistic one, because they’ll convince everyone that you are. I’m saying all this from experience. After I learnt about narcissism, I confronted him and accused him of this personality disorder. He of course denied that he had any problem, it led to all sorts of problems to the point that he even told my mum that I had psychological issues and that I need to see a psychiatrist. They like to project their faults on other people. They will not allow you to blow their cover, they will do everything and anything they can to protect their image and completely destroy yours.

Overly Altruistic

They are overly altruistic, caring, benevolent, self sacrificing persons. There is a strong desire to be seen as a rescuer or a hero. It’s like a messiah complex.

They seem to be so selfless, they would go over and beyond what anybody else would do. They are usually seen as the pillar of the community and will perform charitable acts. They like being seen as the benevolent altruistic person. But it is all a front, a facade. It comes with a fake morality and humility. Covert narcissists also come across as very charming, charismatic characters, they are liked by everyone, especially by the opposite sex.

Covert narcissists will go the extra mile for people. They give the impression that they’re empathic, but nothing can be further from the truth. It’s all an act, it’s all a cover.They know if they portray their true colours they will not receive the adulation, admiration, power, recognition they desire so much; which is their real motive and not because they truly care.

Most covert narcissists are normally public figures, teachers, ministers, therapist, politicians, celebrities, personalities etc. Because of their personality, they are naturally inclined to be in positions of authority; which is convenient for them because of the attention and recognition from people those positions attract. They know that if they give the people they are leading what they want which is care, love, attention, they will get what they want power, success, money, influence etc. They don’t really care about people, but they act like they do, to get what they want.

The only way you can detect them is you have a personal relationship with them. They cannot be detected from the outside only from within. Because the person who has a personal contact or relationship (family, close friends) with the cover narcissist will soon discover his real self, because no matter what the narcissist cannot keep up the cover forever the mask will slip and it will be seen by those closest to the covert narcissist.

Extreme Self-Centredness

Covert narcissists are extremely self centred and don’t have time for anybody else, they live for themselves. It’s all about them. As I mentioned above, when they ever do anything for anyone it’s because they expect something in return. Covert narcissists believe the whole world should revolve around them and take offence if the spotlight is not on them.They are actors.

Playing the Victim Card/Projected False Image

They are very vulnerable to stress. It must be difficult keeping up with the false self. They are the victims of trauma themselves so it is an developmental issue. But they can overplay the vulnerability card. “Oh I’m so stressed, I’m taking medication for high blood pressure. I don’t want to get angry because I don’t want my blood pressure to rise.

There’s a lot of sob stories, and sympathy parties. Everyone’s out to get him, he’s the only good person, every one else is bad. Everyone else is at fault, except for him. Everyone else has a problem, except for him. Covert narcissists have a victim mentality. Everybody’s always out to get them, or they are so jealous of them. They will project their own insecurities and defects on to their partners. They continue with their toxic and negative and start to accuse their partners of the same behaviour. They will start to call you a narcissist. If they’re cheating on you they will accuse you of cheating

They can often paint the picture of the perfect childhood, but this is normally a false portrait.

The covert narcissist knows that their projected image is false. Which contributes to the stress and worry that they have, they know that this projected front is not true and it takes some energy to cover it up from the world.

(Will continue with part 2 tomorrow)

5 thoughts on “Signs and Symptoms of A Covert Narcissist (Part One)

  • Interesting write-up. Like others, I got attracted to him because he was so helpful to everyone.
    But after we got married, he became something else. For a while, I thought, it was my fault.
    But thanks to your article, I now know better. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I think it should be more widely publicised that covert narcissistic abuse does not just happen between spouses or partners. My daughter was the victim of this form of abuse from a friend. Thinking back there were hints of it for a while but it all changed on the day they started working together. From that day forward she was vile to her but only when no-one else was around. When others were around to see, it was completely the opposite. I just wanted people to realise that covert narcissists don’t just pick on spouses, they will abuse whoever they can if they can get away with it.


    • I totally agree with you. Covert narcissists can be partners, bosses, friends,relatives etc. They are everywhere. I think I just focused on narcissistic partners/husbands because it was my husband’s toxic behaviour I was experiencing at the time. Thanks for your comments!


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