What is Covert Narcissism?
With the education now available in the media and online, people are much more aware of narcissistic people. In fact, all people who are abusive show narcissistic tendencies. But not everyone would be classified with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The Overt Narcissist is often grandiose in their gestures and sense of self-importance. These are classic narcissists, and they’re the poster child for Narcissistic Personalities. However, the Covert Narcissist is the more damaging and dangerous type. They’re harder to identify and can lure people in by appearing to be the victim. They are more introverted, and the signs of their narcissism can often be mistaken as personality quirks. If you look carefully and honestly, you’ll see that their motivation is primarily controlling others.
Signs of Covert Narcissism
Keep in mind that just because someone exhibits one of these signs, doesn’t automatically mean they’re a covert narcissist. A covert narcissist may have only a few of these traits, or most of them. It varies. In cases of domestic abuse, many or all of these signs are present.
- Extreme Self-Interest. We all have a certain level of self-interest. But the covert narcissist is only interested in controlling and exerting power over others.
- A Sense of Entitlement to Special Treatment. The narcissist will often perceive insults that didn’t actually happen. Because they believe they deserve special treatment, they’ll act out in controlling ways when they are offended.(1)
- A Constant Need for Admiration. If you do not admire him/her and say so or act like it, you will not be in a narcissist’s circle of friends.
- Self-Serving Humility. They are humble only when it benefits them in some way.
- An Unrealistic Sense of Self-Importance/Secret Grandiosity. Self-importance is not the same as self-esteem. People with covert narcissism actually have a very low self-esteem. They may appear shy, meek, or self-conscious. On the inside, they feel a deep sense that they’re far superior.
- Difficulty Forming Meaningful Relationships. Because of their superiority complex, they find it difficult to be vulnerable with “inferiors”. They find it hard to build meaningful bonds, and refuse accountability for their actions.
- Lack of Empathy. They don’t truly care for others. They care only what they can gain from others.
- Quick-Tempered. They are quick to blame others when things go wrong.
- Never Accepts Blame. Even when the blame obviously belongs to them. Will adopt an attitude of self-righteousness. (“If you’d have listened to me, things wouldn’t have gone wrong.”)
- Avoids Social Events. This is due to a fear of comparing themselves with others and coming up short. So they choose to isolate instead.
- Self-Isolation for Long Time Periods. They isolate because no one can live up to their unrealistic expectations. Also because of their fear of being held accountable for their actions.