Conversations with a narcissist are hard to handle at times, especially, when the narcissist isn’t aware of how they affect others. Most narcissists are not aware they are narcissists, but they believe this is a normal way to treat others and themselves. When most people think of narcissism, they think of someone aggressive, openly egotistical, and controlling.
Yes, those are true, but what if they are quiet and can do all of those things at the same time? We know what you are thinking, “You can’t be a shy narcissist!” Yes, you can; these are called covert narcissists. These narcissists are shy and can control people in more passive-aggressive ways.
They are not as social and out there, not as charming, and not as bold as other narcissists. They are harder to bond with and form a relationship with. So how can you tell when you’ve met a covert narcissist? So read to the end to look for key signs of a true covert narcissist.
Number 1: They avoid social situations.
The one thing that normal narcissists know how to do is charm people and socialize. They are great at influencing others to be their friend or spouse, or we can call it luring them in. Covert narcissists are the opposite. Coverts tend to avoid social situations. They usually don’t show interest in socializing as they find it unnecessary. They can usually make friends when people come up to them and start a conversation, but they avoid making the first move.
Covert narcissists also are not as charming as regular narcissists, they won’t flatter strangers to get their attention but they are mostly there to take up a space in the room. These moments of refusal to socialize are usually anxiety-provoking. Coverts usually have high anxiety and social anxiety and this causes their social skills to shut down.
They are emotionally unavailable to others so they fear conversations because they are afraid people will see them for who they truly are. With their inability to empathize, they seek out others who appear to be like them. How does that saying go? Birds of a feather flock together? That typically describes covert narcissists.
Covert narcissists will usually socialize with someone who does not have emotional baggage with them. It helps them feel more comfortable in this stressful situation. This is not to say that coverts will never socialize, which they will, but it’s rare.
Number 2: They get depressed frequently.
It can be hard to imagine someone who has such a high standard of themselves getting depressed or sinking into a self-loathing pity party. It does happen though. Many covert narcissists have such unrealistic expectations of themselves that they can find themselves in a depressive state if the goals are not met. They fear failure and for anyone to see that failure as well.
Covert narcissists do not take confrontation too well and can become depressed if they feel like someone can see who they are. They are scared for people to see that they do not empathize with others like normal people do. They don’t want to appear weird or different. They become frustrated with themselves easily and they start to believe they have it so much worse than others do.
Even though they are narcissists, covert narcissists can form suicidal thoughts if they are pushed enough or if someone picks up on who they are. This can be tough to see in a narcissist because they like to appear as well put together as possible but they find themselves drowning at times.
Number 3: They ruin all kinds of relationships.
Whether the relationship is with a friend, a colleague, an intimate partner, or a family member, they tend to ruin a relationship that is important to the other person. Covert narcissists have an unrealistic sense of themselves, which means they have a hard time finding someone good enough to meet their standards.
Some coverts will not even attempt to find a partner, but they will find people to fill the temporary voids and needs they have and then move on to someone else. They have a difficult time connecting to others because they lack basic social skills. Their anxiety can ruin these small friendships they have or if they do happen to find a person they care about.
The difference between covert narcissists and other forms of narcissism is that covert will not try to pretend to care about a person to lure them in, they will just express their true feelings as is. They believe their needs are superior to others around them. They will always act with this behavior because they believe the other side of the relationship is just temporary.
You will see coverts also having problems in relationships because they have difficulty praising and complimenting their partners or friends. If someone wins an award, the covert will see them as better.
The covert will not want someone better than them around them so they do not acknowledge their award. Instead, they may just tell them how to improve next time to satisfy their ego or simply ignore the situation.
Number 4: They act with passive-aggressive behavior.
The thing about covert is that they are not directly aggressive like other forms of narcissism. They are usually quieter and do not get physically or verbally aggressive. They will engage in passive-aggressive behavior. Many covert narcissists do not take the time to get to know you.
They see this as a way of telling you they do not care about you. They won’t come out and directly say they are uninterested and hurt your feelings, but it gives them pleasure in knowing that you care more than they do. Another way they engage in passive-aggressive behavior is they won’t stand up for people negatively talking about friends or family. They will sit back and allow the situation to happen.
When questioned why they didn’t stick up for them, they will usually reply with phrases like “I’m not getting involved,” or, “I didn’t know you wanted me to say something.” Things like that are some of the covert narcissist’s favorite catchphrases. They will also start a fight, maybe not directly, but through manipulation tactics, on somebody else’s birthday when attention isn’t centered on them.
This can be a normal occurrence and when the other person confronts them, the covert narcissist will become depressed and turn their attention away from the confrontation.
Another thing covert narcissists always do to be passive-aggressive is forget important events and dates on purpose. They see these dates and events that are so important to someone else as something bigger and better than them and they do not like that.
So rather than just pretending like they did not hear the person, they will acknowledge it then when time gets closer to the event, they will make it a big deal that they forgot. They want the other person to feel less important and hurt.
Number 5: Impolite body language.
Most people think of narcissists as verbally and sometimes physically aggressive when pushed enough, but that is not always the case. Covert narcissists can engage in impolite body behavior. This can tie into passive-aggressive behavior. They make gestures such as yawning when someone is telling a story about themselves when they are clearly not tired.
They yawn to show that their story is irrelevant to them. The other person is not important enough to stay alert for. Most people want someone to listen and look at them while they tell a story and yawning always indicates uninterested behavior. Covert narcissists roll their eyes too when they hear something that annoys them.
If they do not agree with what someone says, instead of discussing what they don’t like or just moving on, they roll their eyes to indicate their true feelings. Another way coverts tell others they do not care about them is turning away and focusing on another task when someone is talking. It is usually polite to stop what you are doing and give them your full attention to show them you care and listen.
Covert will want the person to know that they could be doing something more important than sitting and listening to someone else talk. It creates a sense of power in the conversation. It can get the other person to stop talking so it can allow the covert narcissist to start talking about themselves.
Number 6: They say these common catchphrases.
Many covert narcissists say a lot of the same catchphrases. The phrases are usually small and simple but with many meanings. Some covert narcissists’ favorite catchphrases include: • “Don’t get upset over anything.” • “Don’t be so sensitive.” •“I was just joking, calm down. ”You misunderstood me.” “I didn’t hurt you, you hurt yourself.”
These phrases along with others are just some of the common ones used by covert narcissists to initiate gaslighting. These narcissists want the other person to believe they caused these emotions, not the narcissist. The victim will many times hear these catchphrases and start to believe that they may have done it to themselves.
The covert narcissist will say all of this in a calm, non-angry tone which will make the person believe they are overreacting if they are angry and loud. The coverts use these phrases commonly to upset people more than anything. They want to upset them; their goal is to make the other person feel bad about themselves.
The phrases are intended to send mixed messages and make the person think the worst of what the words mean. The covert narcissist wants you to think the worst of yourself and question everything you do. If you notice, some of the phrases focus on the person harming.
The covert narcissist will want to deflect the problem from them and make people believe the victim is doing it all to themselves and the narcissist is trying to help them. In reality, the narcissist is breaking them down more and more every day.