As I mentioned in my previous blogs; when I discovered my husband 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 husband 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 husband 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 by my husband 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 my husband 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.He likes to project his faults on me. 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.
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.
This is one of things I loved about my husband, he seemed to be so selfless, he would go over and beyond what anybody else would do, little did I know that it was all a front, a façade. He projects himself as a really good person, who will do anything to help. It comes with a fake morality and humility. They are usually seen as the pillar of the community and will perform charitable acts. They like being seen as the benevolent altruistic person. They also come across as very charming, charismatic characters, they are liked by everyone. My husband is very charming especially towards the opposite sex, charming and almost flirtatious a thin line between them.
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.
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. If we were going out with friends, my husband would open the door and allow me to enter the room first, obviously to give the impression that he’s courteous. He would never do it when we are alone. He would be the first one to enter building. If we’re going shopping he would never carry the heavy shopping, he would let me do it. Unless of course, there were people around, people he knew personally, then he would carry the shopping. He tries really hard to protect his image. He likes to be admired and respected, it’s unfortunate that he has to pretend.
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. Your mother’s the reason I have high blood pressure”, says my husband to the children. Most of it is exaggerated. “Mum, you can’t talk to dad because he says you’re always shouting and he has high blood pressure”, says my children to me.
After a confrontation which he initiates he will tell the kids he has a headache, he’s not well, he has high blood pressure. And the kids believe that I’m the reason why he has high blood pressure.
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 . This was not the case with my husband, he did not have a good childhood at all.
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)
There are some tips and signs to look out for when dating to save you from getting involved with a narcissist. These warning signs will help you avoid a harrowing and toxic relationship that can cost you your peace and self confidence. Knowing what I know now about narcissism, I wish I knew what to look out look for when I was dating. I believe that all people especially young people should be educated and informed before dating so as to avoid toxic and harmful relationships.
Because the narcissist is very good at concealing his true character, especially covert narcissist, you have to be extra vigilant. But you should be able to spot some signs after a few dates if you really look out for them.
The first thing you need to be aware of is not to just jump deep into any relationship. Take your time and really get to know the person. Some narcissists are notorious for rushing the relationship; within the first few dates, he’s already talking about getting married to you and starting a family. I know for some women that might be exciting for you to have a person who seems to want all the things you want, however that does seem to be too soon on just a few dates. You have to ask the question, why the rush? The narcissist wants to tie you down quickly because it’s much harder to leave him if you’re married with kids. One minute you’re dating ‘the sweetest guy’ and the next minute you’re married to a monster!
Don’t give too much information about yourself. The narcissist will want to know all about you. What he’s fishing for are weaknesses and vulnerabilities that he can take advantage of. When asked about yourself, give general vague answers, don’t be too specific, change the subject and ask about him. Narcissists do like to talk about themselves, ( they’re very self centred people) exaggerate their achievements and boast about themselves. Since they like to monopolise conversations try and find out about him and his former relationships with other women, his relationships with his family, mother, father, sisters, brothers. They might be evasive about their past and may bring the subject back to you again or entirely change the subject. I didn’t get to know all about my husband’s past until we got married, it was a source of shame for him. He told me he was ashamed of his past and his family. Find out who he’s living with and find out from them what he’s really like, or friends and family.
Does he stare at every attractive female that enters the room? That could be an indication that he might be a womaniser or that he is a narcissist searching for potential new narcissistic supply. Either way, you don’t want to hang around with this one! My husband without fail, always stares at every attractive black female when he’s with me, but will avoid it if we’re with other people.
Watch closely his responses. Does he seem to crave attention, does he get upset when your attention is elsewhere or when you’re talking to another male maybe one of your friends? Narcissists are very jealous people and hate not being the centre of attention, they will visibly get very upset. Watch how he relates and reacts to your male friends. Although some males might be slightly will be jealous, a narcissist will be very jealous, their responses are more extreme and over the top than normal people.
Is he extremely sensitive to any perceived criticism? Narcissists are very arrogant and will react against any critique as their fragile ego has been dealt a blow (narcissistic injury).
Does he stare or look closely at every attractive female that enters the room? Most will do this unless they’ve trained themselves to avoid it when dating.
In conversations with your date, do you find that he seems to blame every failure, weakness on other people? He doesn’t seem to accept responsibility or fault for anything. Narcissists are known fault-finders and blame-shifters.
Does he respect your boundaries, does he call you at ungodly hours, or visit you unexpectedly, and expect you to leave everything you’re doing to go out with him? Does he insist on knowing where you are or who you’re with all the time? Narcissists will not respect your boundaries or rules and regulations. They like to enforce rules but will not abide by them, because they consider themselves ‘special’ and above everyone else!! They can do whatever they want, but you can’t! If that’s the situation with you…run!
Is he very sensitive to any perceived criticism or slight and suddenly become quite upset and angry? He will make fun of other people’ but don’t ever make fun of him; he does not take personal jokes about him lightly. Does he become uncomfortable with personal jokes levelled at him, but likes to make fun of other people? Narcissists have a sense of humour when other people are the butt of his jokes, but turn it the other way around and it’s no longer funny.
Does he treat waitresses/ waiters very rudely and is not courteous, but condescending? Narcissists view themselves as superior and regard waiters beneath them and should be treated accordingly.
Learn to read your date’s body language. Does he mimic or mirror your movements? Based on research, psychologists have established that a narcissist because he does not have empathy, cannot copy or mirror your gestures e.g. like yawning, touching your forehead, picking up your cup. If the person doesn’t mirror you or hardly at all this is an indication he is a narcissist. Mirroring is a sign of empathy and Narcissist lacks this emotion.
And lastly, trust your instincts and intuition, if you feel that something is not right about the person your dating, then you’re probably right…get out quickly!
First of all, I’d like to mention that I’m no expert on this topic at all, I’m just a person who has found themselves confronting circumstances that I have never had to deal with before and I’m just trying to make sense of it all. I’m just a lay person sharing information I discovered because of what I was going through in my family. Like I said previously, I decided to do some research on the topic after learning that my family member was a narcissist and these are some of the information that I discovered on the internet.
The term ‘Narcissism’ and ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)’has been used by psychologists to describe someone with an extreme preoccupation with satisfying self/ selfishness/self gratification. According to experts most sufferers of NPD are men, but women suffer from it also.
Psychologists have concluded that for a person to be diagnosed as suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder he must present with five or more of the following traits:
• A grandiose sense of self importance (e.g exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements).
• A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
• Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
• Requires excessive admiration.
• Has a sense of entitlement, i.e unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
• Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
• Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
• Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
• Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes.
(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed))
During my research I found out that this personality disorder develops due to some trauma suffered during the narcissist’s early developmental stages of their life, that’s during the formative early years. During our formative years, we learn certain skills that help us later on in life such as, reading, writing etc, we also learn learn other important skills such as learning how to regulate and control our emotions and other coping strategies. However if the environment is not conducive to learning and developing the latter important skill, then an personality disorder may develop.This trauma could be emotional, sexual psychological abuse and or neglect.( Trauma, by definition, is any experiences that has caused psychological injury or pain)
This trauma happened before the stage when the young child would have learnt emotional development like empathy and compassion for others.. Because his emotional development was stunted and he did not learn normal emotional responses, they can get out of control with their own emotions. That’s why when an adult narcissists feelings flares up, he behaves like a little child, because he did not learn how to respond in a normal way.
The narcissists parents were emotionally or physically unavailable and the needs of the child were ignored and or rejected and in some cases one of the parents, one of the parents (or both) is a narcissist. Because the child’s needs are not met by either parent, the child begins to focus more on his own needs, on his own world to the exclusion of everyone else. He learns to take care of only himself. There is no one to guide the child to teach him empathy and how to care for people other than himself, he becomes more and more focused on himself (Hence the extreme selfishness in narcissists) As they grow older and reach out to their parents for acceptance, validation, approval they are often rejected. Based on what I knew about my cousin and his background ,it certainly seems very accurate.
My cousin described an incident that happened in his childhood, where he used to act out just so he could receive some form of attention even if it was negative. When he was in school, he was naturally very bright and he knew the way to get approval was to do very well in school. That was the only way he could get his father’s approval and approval from authority figures in his life.
In my husband’s case, his mother died when he was very young and his father remarried. His stepmother neglected him and his older sister. His father used to travel a lot, during that time she didn’t care whether he had anything to eat, but she fed her own children. According to him, he would have to find food in the dustbin, or some neighbours would give him something to eat. When his father was around, he didn’t pay any attention to him at all. They basically abandoned him.The only time he ever got attention was when he did well in school or when he misbehaved. He learnt to survive and take care of himself. His father would go on trips abroad and buy clothes and things for the children, but his stepmother would not give him anything. Can you imagine how it would feel to a child where all the children sitting together in the living and things being distributed to each child, but you are the only child exclude?. It is so sad that adults can behave in such a manner.
So in such cases, the child basically has to fend for himself and as he grows older he believes that nobody loves or cares for him and nobody can be trusted because they’re all fake. These thoughts play out in his head all the time and he believes it. The reason why this happens is because if a child is rejected or ignored by the parent then the child believes that there is something wrong with him. (Children, most of the time ,have the tendency blame themselves if anything bad happens in the home.) So the child will begin to believe that they are worthless and damaged.
In the situation where the parent is a narcissist. For example the mother is a narcissist and the child is rejected by the mother and ignored by the father who is trying to cope with the mother’s toxic behaviour. The child learns to take care of himself. The only time they pay attention to him is when people visit, but as soon as they’re gone, both parents revert back to the same behaviour. The parents would give him everything he wants or desires, except for what he needs, which is love, validation and acceptance. Which explains why the child will later on in life conclude that all people are fake and everyone is out to get what they want. The child will associate having everything they want as a sign of love, he has not been taught any different. This also happens to very spoiled children who are given everything they want. They have never been told ‘no’ by their parents. So when they become adults they associate denial with lack of love. As adults they explode in anger when they are denied anything. Very much like a child.Which is why as an adult, they always have an child like view of things of that nature because they have not been instructed by their ‘care givers’ on how to mature and appropriate a healthy outlook on life.
So they grow up as adults on the outside and toddlers on the inside. People with the intellect and experiences of an adult but the emotional capabilities of an infant.
So a narcissist becomes a narcissist through neglect, abandonment, indulgence and abuse.