This post is similar to the last one, except it helps to identify some of the tactics of covert narcissists.
Covert narcissists are like their name implies, very covert in their actions. Because of that, they can be much harder to identify than their overt counterpart. Their actions can leave a victim wondering if they are being oversensitive or reading too much into things. I’ve said many times that if I have to deal with a narcissist, I’d prefer an overt one simply because I know exactly what I’m dealing with.
Covert narcissists are quiet in how they get attention. They don’t get attention by bragging or being loud & obnoxious like overt narcissists. They get it by appearing gentle & humble. They “let it slip” about how they helped someone in need or that they are very active in their church.
Covert narcissists appear fragile & vulnerable, like they need someone to take care of them. They give off an air of naivete & needing someone to protect them that makes people want to take care of them, in particular, their children. The life purpose of the child of a covert narcissist is to take care of their parent’s every need.
They are always the victim. No matter what a covert narcissist does to someone, you can guarantee they will blame the victim for being so mean to them for reacting as they did. After all, they often say, they were just trying to help or they had no idea that the person would be upset by their actions. The covert narcissist comes away from this situation looking innocent while the victim is shamed & even shunned for being so mean.
Covert narcissists have no empathy. Unlike overt narcissists, however, coverts are quieter about this. They will simply act bored, discreetly change the subject or walk away if someone is talking to them about their problems.
Covert narcissists manipulate in subtle ways. A covert narcissist looking to manipulate someone won’t use fear or intimidation like an overt narcissist. Instead they may use tactics like guilt, pretending to be helpless or even acting concerned. Covertly narcissistic elderly parents also are known to use their health problems as a way to manipulate others, in particular their adult children. They may even go so far as to skip taking medication or taking too much to make themselves sick.
Covert narcissists will ask how their victims are doing & other questions about them or their friends & family, but it isn’t out of genuine concern or love. It’s about gathering information that can be used against the victim. They will use what they learn to smear the victim’s reputation to other people or to criticize the victim & those the victim cares about.
Speaking of criticism, covert narcissists have no problem using scathing, cruel criticisms, but only will do so when no one is around other than the victim. Covert narcissists always want to be seen as good people, so when they are verbally abusive, you can guarantee there will be no witnesses. That way, no one sees their awful behavior, which also makes it harder for the victim to be believed.
Covert narcissists can change according to who they are around. If a covert narcissist is around someone they wish to impress, they will claim to share the same likes, dislikes, beliefs & more as the person they wish to impress. This is called mirroring, because the narcissist is behaving as a mirror to the other person. Mirroring makes a person feel closer to the person mirroring their behavior, because it appears that they have a great deal in common.
While this list isn’t a fully comprehensive list of the many tactics covert narcissists use, it should help you to recognize several red flags, at least, & help you to protect yourself from these people.