Relationship Help

5 Symptoms Your Mate Might Be A Covert Narcissist

You’ve seen them before, the obvious narcissist, easily spotted by their constant self-important blubbering about unrelated things to any conversation going on around them. Maybe you’ve even had the unpleasant experience of confronting these types in your personal life and are all the worse for it? But what about the other type- what about the narcissist’s little sister? You know, the one who’s a bit more covert about her disgust toward the general public, the one who keeps it under wraps but not quite fully contained?

That’s the purpose of this savvy little read you’re glossing over right now. It might help you spot some signs that the one you’re with (or considering getting involved with) just might be a covert narcissist themselves!


What exactly is a “covert narcissist”?

These types are often times referred to as closet narcissist. They tend to be hypersensitive and vulnerable to emotional jabs even when the typical person wouldn’t necessarily be. As it turns out, people who exhibit these types of traits tend to be more shy, sensitive and even insecure. Those feelings tend to come out in defensiveness and anger.

One psychologist named Scott Barry Kaufman explained to Scientific American:


“While the ‘overt narcissists tended to be aggressive, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, and have extreme delusions of grandeur and a need for attention, ‘covert’ narcissists were more prone to feelings of neglect or belittlement, hypersensitivity, anxiety, and delusions of persecution.”



1. Hidden smugness or superiority

Ever see someone give an eye-roll so profound you’d think their peepers were about to pop straight out of their face? They might not just outright tell you about it, but you can rest assured that what they think of you, what you just did, or simply your opinion is “beneath them” or just “plain dumb” in their opinion. They may not be completely confrontational about it but they’ll have no issue with showing you through snide little actions that they simply do not care and are in no way interested in what you’ve got to say.

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2. Utterly self-absorbed

Your typical covert-narcissist will make a snap judgment on whether or not the conversation they find themselves in is even worth their interest- and if they determine that it is not then they’ll simply tune you out until it’s their turn to take the floor.

If you find that the one you’re talking to has a tendency to abruptly change the topic during a pause in the conversation to suit their delight, even if you’ve just asked them a question, then you’re probably dealing with the likes of the covert narcissist.


3. A total lack of empathy

It really doesn’t matter if we’re dealing with a covert or an overt narcissist, they just really don’t give a hoot about anyone’s feelings but their own. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through, and they especially don’t pay any mind to how their words or actions might affect others, especially those they know could be a threat.



They might be a total shell on the inside but often times narcissist know how to fake empathy simply by observing other’s in this state. They use it as a tool to get what they want, so next time you suspect someone you’re dealing with might be narcissistic yet they’re demonstrating powerful (and maybe even obvious) empathy, or showing sympathetic signs… they just might be trying to get something out of you.


4. They display passive-aggressiveness

Due to the fact your average covert narcissist likes to play their egos close to the sleeve, they’re not going to just outwardly argue with you. Instead they’ll usually opt to just “go with the flow” without the slightest intention of actually sticking to it. If you ever extend an invitation or offer up an idea and they say something like “yeah, great idea!” but never actually follow through in the end then you’re probably dealing with this sort of person.


5. The covert narcissist is highly sensitive

This isn’t to be mixed up with someone who’s just generally sensitive; there is a slight difference here. A covert narcissist tends to be seen as a sensitive type because they don’t respond well to criticism- they just can’t believe that somebody doesn’t see their value and it messes with them.

If you tick off this type of person you’ll usually find them get a lot more smug in the way they deal with you; no doubt in a very passive aggressive way.

It’s pretty important to notice the difference between someone who is just sensitive vs. someone who’s butt-hurt because you don’t see things their way or you simply don’t hold them and their opinions to such a high regard as them.


Dealing with narcissists of any caliber

It’s an unfortunate thing when you’re confronted with the possibility that your mate might actually be narcissistic. The thing to remember is that these types will burn right through you just to save face in almost any situation they think they can get away with. They can be poison to your life and it’s important not to let them get under your skin, and if they happen to just remind yourself that it’s truly not your fault but instead that you’re just dealing with a master manipulator.

Those who don’t value the worth and feelings of others often times hide things, they don’t want to pull the mask off because what’s underneath is very ugly. They know that if you are ever exposed to the truth you’ll run for your life and you absolutely should.

If you find yourself in suspicion of your partner, or perhaps it’s someone you are dating, or thinking of dating. If you know of a friend who’s involved with someone who exhibits these signs or perhaps it’s a beloved family member who’s seeing someone who just rubs you the wrong way… don’t hesitate to get to the bottom of the matter.


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