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5 Signs You’re In A Relationship With A Covert Narcissist


when you think about a Narcissism, you probably picture someone whose demeanor is grandiose, entitled, and arrogant—known as an extreme narcissist. But there’s another, lesser-known type of narcissism that often flies under the radar: It’s called “covert narcissism.” And while a covert narcissist’s behavior may be less obvious, it can be just as damaging to their orbit.


Like direct narcissists, covert narcissists lack empathy for others, use manipulation to get their way and have a strong drive to feel special compared to other people. clinical psychologist said, but the way the two different types of narcissists try to stand out is different Craig Malkin,

“Covert narcissists do not feel special based on positive qualities such as attractiveness or intelligence; They feel exceptional because of their pain or suffering, agree with statements such as ‘Most people don’t understand my problems’ and ‘I am more sensitive by nature than others’. “Rethinking Narcissism,” told HuffPost.

Think about it this way: “In open narcissism, their weaknesses are hidden and their magnificence is loud,” he said. “In covert arrogance, magnificence is hidden but vulnerability is in full measure.”

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Experts explain how covert narcissism can appear in a romantic relationship.

A University of Georgia psychology professor said that covert narcissists may appear quiet, introverted, anxious or even depressed. W Keith Campbell,


“It takes a while to see the self-centeredness and entitlement in covert narcissism because it is often indirect and comes across as anger about other people’s success, and insecurity and defensiveness about not being appreciated,” Campbell, author of “The New Science of Massacre,” told HuffPost.

It is also important to recognize that narcissism exists on a continuum; It is a quality that all people have in varying degrees. You may have narcissistic tendencies in a certain area of ​​your life without meeting the diagnostic criteria for being well-rounded narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD – A diagnosable mental health condition.

Covert narcissism is not a formal diagnosis, but it is a term that mental health professionals often use to describe “a certain manifestation of narcissism that has a lot of anxiety, insecurity and neuroticism associated with it,” Campbell said.


“People use the term ‘covert narcissist’ informally to describe someone who is high on that personality trait of covert narcissism,” he said. “But this is not a clinical description.”

So what does a covert ego look like in a romantic relationship? Experts explain some signs to watch out for below:

they constantly play the role of victim


no matter what the situation, one way or the other you have a partner Always injured party.

“Because they broadcast their grandeur as the most misunderstood or victimized person in the room, covert narcissists always seem to win the game of who was hurt the most,” Malkin said.

“One of my clients had a boyfriend who turned the conversation predictably to how neglected he felt whenever he brought up the smallest request of hers—even something as simple as putting stuff back in the fridge. too,” he said.

Even when you try to complain thoughtfully, your partner will say things like, “You don’t appreciate me,” said the therapist. Wendy Bihariauthor of “DThe Narcissist” and founder and director of The Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey.

“They always feel criticized, frustrated, and unsupported,” she told HuffPost.

So if you find yourself apologizing any time you feel hurt or misunderstood — it’s a sign you may be living with a covert narcissist, Malkin said.

They burn with envy when the spotlight is on you

While grandiose narcissists practically push people out of the way to be the center of attention, the covert narcissist is quietly “judging about being in the spotlight, feeling jealous, feeling insecure, resentful and fantasizing about being in the spotlight.” doing”, Behary said.

“There’s a lot of neuroticism, a lot of hypersensitivity to not getting this extraordinary attention that they think they deserve, never feeling appreciated enough,” she said. (She also noted that people with secretive types tend to have more trauma or abuse in their upbringing).

Let’s say your friends throw you a dinner to celebrate your promotion at work. If your partner is a secret narrator, he or she will have a hard time taking on another role during your big moment.

Bihari said, “The covert narcissist is just boiling inside and will find other ways to punish you or try to rob you of this moment of glory.” “And they will probably do it by calling attention to their own suffering, their own victimization. It can look like vulnerability.

“Because they see their grandeur as the most misunderstood or victimized person in the room, covert narcissists always have to win the game of who was hurt the most.”

– Craig Malkin, Clinical Psychologist

They think or act rather than saying what’s really on their mind

A covert narcissist uses emotions in a manipulative way. Malkin said that any vulnerability they show is more a display than a genuine emotion.

“If your partner breaks down in tears when you ask for help with work or dares to suggest that they ask you about your day, you should be more off topic than expressing real needs or reactions.” Feelings about change can be high.” Malkin said.

“Covert narcissists don’t really trust people enough to state their needs and feelings directly and clearly, so the feelings never seem real. In fact, covert narcissists often say what’s on their mind rather than , worry.

they suck all the air out of the room

A covert narcissist believes their problems are more important than yours — or anyone else’s, for that matter, Malkin said. And they act accordingly.

“For this reason, they feel entitled to air time. If instead of a hug or a hello, you get an angry tirade about mistreatment at work or endless stories about how everyone should be treated better and have more advantages.” If greeted with, it is a strong sign of covert promiscuity,” he said.

they are very protective

It may appear asDefensiveness about lack of accomplishment or negativity and hostility toward other people’s success,” Campbell said.

Covert narcissists are both insecure and overconfident, which can make them “very difficult to deal with,” says psychiatrist. Dr. Harold Hong explains Mind Body Green,

“They are constantly seeking reassurance and validation, but are also quick to become defensive and react angrily when they feel threatened,” he said.

Experts offer advice on what to do if you love a secret narcissist.

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Experts offer advice on what to do if you love a secret narcissist.

How To Cope If Your Partner Is A Secret Narrator

When you’re in a relationship with someone who dominates every emotional exchange, it becomes all too easy to put your needs aside, ignore your own feelings, and lose your voice in the process.

“Covert narcissists can make it so unpleasant when you ask for anything that it seems easier to stay silent,” Malkin said. “But when you do that, you’re nurturing a relationship where your partner’s pain is always more important than yours.”

Psychotherapy is often “the key to the process of holding onto its center,” he said.

Marriage and Family Therapist, “It is important to become acutely aware of the covert narcissist’s complex game-play through your candid observations, intuition, and research.” Linda Martinez-Levyauthor of “Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life,” told HuffPost.

“Renew your promise to be faithful and true to yourself as a person,” she said. “Develop a practice of mindfulness that keeps you psychologically grounded. Respect and maintain stable, stable boundaries.”

Behri said she often tells her clients about planning their departure — whether it stems from toxic interactions with their partners or from the relationship altogether.

“Find a way to say: ‘When you are more ready to speak about it, without heightened emotion, without accusations, without blame, when you are ready to have a heart-to-heart, So I’m happy.” To talk about it,'” she said. “And to really walk away because it can be upsetting to constantly feel like you’re being accused of being a bully.”

You might consider setting an ultimatum: If your partner doesn’t seek professional help, you can’t move forward in the relationship. Beharie also said that therapy is usually needed to make “any meaningful, lasting change” in such relationships.

Her biggest advice for partners of covert narcissists is to work on finding your voice and “feeling strong in your skin again.”

“Because it’s something that gets lost in the drama of living with people with this type of disorder.”

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