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Covert Narcissists: How To Powerfully Cope & Recognize Them

When you think of a narcissist, you probably envision a self-obsessed, flamboyant individual who dominates every conversation. But covert narcissism is a quieter, more subtle subtype of narcissism where someone uses guilt trips and shame to control others yet lacks empathy for the feelings of those close to them.

While narcissists are not necessarily bad people, their words and actions can damage relationships. Whether you are trying to identify early dating red flags, deal with a narcissistic boss, or work on self-improvement, here are science-backed tips for recognizing and coping with covert narcissism.

Watch our video to learn how to get someone to confess:

What is a Covert Narcissist? (Covert Narcissist Definition)

A covert or introverted narcissist lacks empathy and is hypersensitive to criticism but does not display the outward sense of self-importance found in overt narcissists. Covert narcissists lack confidence and often feel entitled, envious, anxious, depressed, and bitter. This can lead them to manipulate others and display passive-aggressive attitudes. 

Often caused by childhood trauma, low emotional intelligence, or abusive past relationships. Covert narcissism is a maladaptive personality type that may include symptoms or traits of the clinically-defined Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Remember, people with covert narcissistic tendencies are not necessarily bad people. However, they may have mental health struggles that make it challenging to maintain friendships and relationships with them. You can feel compassion and empathy for a covert narcissist, but protecting yourself from potential emotional abuse or manipulation is also essential.

Covert Narcissist Test: Am I A Covert Narcissist? 

If you are wondering whether or not you or someone in your life is a narcissist, here are some easy ways to find out. Understanding your character flaws can help you to improve and grow as a person. On the other hand, identifying these red flags in others can help you avoid emotional damage and trauma from narcissistic relationships. 

Remember: Narcissism is a personality trait that exists on a spectrum. On the other hand, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a psychological disorder that can only be diagnosed by a mental health professional. These tests are for personal use to identify narcissistic tendencies or traits that may be present in you or others. They should not be mistaken for clinical diagnosis or advice. We always recommend seeking professional help if you are struggling with this issue.

Another vital piece of advice before testing yourself: If you know that you can be egocentric or selfish, these traits are changeable and do not necessarily indicate narcissism in your personality. A person worried or concerned about being a narcissist typically is not narcissistic. 

“If you’re worried that you’re a narcissist, it’s a pretty strong indication that you’re not one.” 

Dr. Meg Arroll, Ph.D., Psychologist and Author

This is because someone with high levels of narcissism is not concerned about how their actions impact others. They are less likely to be introspective or self-reflective. 

Covert Narcissist Quiz

With that, let’s get into it. Honestly answer these questions as yourself or based on the behaviors of someone you know:

  1. I am reluctant to share personal information with others.
    1. True
    2. False
  2. I think people are selfish when they practice self-preservation or set boundaries.
    1. True
    2. False
  3. I often think other people are “too sensitive” or “can’t take a joke.”
    1. True 
    2. False
  4. I consider myself a unique, misunderstood, and/or extra special person.
    1. True
    2. False
  5. I don’t like new surroundings and new people.
    1. True
    2. False
  6. I am suspicious about people who others look up to.
    1. True
    2. False
  7. I am obsessed with my physical appearance and expect many compliments, but I rarely compliment others.
    1. True
    2. False
  8. I have trouble regulating or expressing my emotions and can have intense mood swings.
    1. True
    2. False
  9. I can be dismissive of others (e.g., shaking one’s head, rolling my eyes, or saying “whatever”).
    1. True
    2. False
  10. I sometimes project my insecurities or flaws onto other people.
    1. True
    2. False
  11. I hold grudges for a long time or fantasize about getting revenge on people who have wronged me.
    1. True
    2. False
  12. When people annoy or disappoint me, I give them the “silent treatment” or emotionally withdraw.
    1. True
    2. False
  13. I feel bored or disinterested in the preferences, interests, or feelings of others.
    1. True
    2. False
  14. I get defensive when someone asks me to change or improve. They should fix themselves.
    1. True
    2. False
  15. I give very general apologies (“Sorry for everything”) and/or don’t feel remorse for how my actions affect others (“It’s their problem they took it that way”).
    1. True
    2. False
  16. If someone tells me something that is bothering them, I minimize their feelings or talk about myself instead.
    1. True
    2. False
  17. I am quietly smug in groups. I don’t interact with others or ask about them.
    1. True
    2. False
  18. I feel the whole world is against me, or many people have done me wrong.
    1. True
    2. False
  19. I am stubborn and/or dogmatic about my opinions (“My way or the highway.”)
    1. True
    2. False
  20. My relationships move very quickly. I can become infatuated, fall in love, lose interest, and move on to someone else very fast.
    1. True
    2. False

Tally up the total responses. 

  • Mostly A: You or this individual likely has covert narcissistic tendencies. 
  • Mostly B: You are unlikely to be a covert narcissist. 

Overt vs. Covert Narcissist

Although they seem opposites, overt and covert narcissism are two sides of the same coin. Psychologists have found that both types of narcissism are associated with deep emotional wounds that make it difficult for these individuals to regulate their emotions, communicate with others, and develop a sense of personal identity. 

Both overt and covert narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance due to a damaged ego, but they express this in very different ways:

Overt NarcissismBothCovert Narcissism
Typically display extroversion An exaggerated sense of entitlement or feeling better than everyone elseAppear introverted or shy; antisocial
Bold, charming, and confident personaNeed admirationSelf-conscious, insecure, cold, and/or emotionally withdrawn 
Combative and confrontational in conflictManipulate others to get what they wantPassive-aggressive behavior and defensiveness 
Arrogant and haughty behaviorLack of empathyVictimize themselves and blame others for their problems.

The most obvious difference here is the covert narcissist’s introverted tendencies. As opposed to people with grandiose narcissism, covert narcissistic individuals tend to isolate themselves from others and do not like to be in the spotlight. They expend much energy putting on a social mask and prefer to spend time alone.

7 Signs of Covert Narcissism

Covert narcissism is sometimes called shy, closet, or vulnerable narcissism. Unlike grandiose narcissism, studies show that covert narcissists don’t consistently outwardly demonstrate arrogance and entitlement. Instead, they are preoccupied with feeling inadequate and resentful. 

Clinical psychologist Joshua Miller says recognizing a covert narcissist isn’t always easy because of their subtlety, but these signs could be helpful clues:

#1 Lack of empathy

Psychologists have found that the most common trait among narcissists is an extreme lack of empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. In other words, it’s the ability to “put yourself in their shoes.” 

You can spot a covert narcissist by observing their reaction to other people’s emotions. Signs of low empathy may include:

  • Inappropriate responses to other people’s suffering (e.g., seeing someone in pain and feeling no remorse)
  • Calling others “too sensitive.” 
  • Impolite yawns while others are sharing vulnerable emotions
  • Eye rolls or a sense of annoyance when others express their feelings
  • A constant need to “one up” other people’s life challenges (e.g., “I have been through more trauma” or “they haven’t had it that bad compared to my experience”)
  • Making everything about them (e.g., someone shares that their grandfather recently passed away, and they respond, “well, I never knew my grandpa”)  

Beware that covert narcissists can sometimes display cognitive empathy, where they have an intellectual understanding of others’ feelings and have trained themselves to react in a socially acceptable way. 

For example, covert narcissists could make themselves cry at a funeral because they think it is the “right” thing to do or it makes them look like a “good person.” However, they typically lack emotional or compassionate empathy because they don’t understand how others feel or want to relate to them in a caring way. They rarely show emotional comfort to those close to them but may expect others to pay special attention to their feelings. 

Thankfully, empathy can be developed and practiced. If you lack empathy, learn more about the 15 Habits of Highly Empathetic People and follow our steps below to improve your empathy. 

#2 Low self-esteem and extreme sensitivity to criticism 

The term “narcissism” comes from the Greek myth of a man named Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water. Narcissistic people have an overinflated belief that they are better than everyone else, but deep down, they may suffer from extremely low self-worth. 

Covert narcissists are highly sensitive to constructive criticism yet tend to be hypercritical of other people. For example:

  • They may become incredibly defensive to suggestions for improvement.
  • They do not want to admit when they are wrong.
  • They deflect blame onto other people or circumstances and rarely take accountability.
  • They criticize other people about traits that may be present in themselves.

Researcher Brene Brown notes that narcissism is rooted in a deep sense of shame:

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, lovable, belong, or cultivate a sense of purpose.”

Brene Brown

A covert narcissist may cover up their insecurities with a pretentious vision of themselves, often without any evidence or accomplishments to back it up, which leads to the next big sign…

#3 Inflated sense of self-importance

Covert narcissists usually have a quiet smugness about them. They see themselves as superior to others and often envy others or feel they deserve the success that others have. 

You may notice:

  • Subtle comments about why they are more special or better than other people
  • Self-centered or entitled behaviors, such as never taking others’ needs into consideration
  • Regular use of the contempt microexpression (a smug, asymmetrical smile where one side of the mouth is raised higher than the other)
  • Exaggerating their achievements
  • Obsession over their attractiveness and physical appearance
  • Treating other people as beneath them or using others for their benefit
  • Condescending, sarcastic, or overly critical comments about others, yet an inability to accept criticism about themself

Pro Tip: Be careful identifying someone as narcissistic when you notice this “red flag” on its own. At first, self-importance can be confused with true confidence. Genuine confidence and belief in oneself are positive traits. There is nothing wrong with feeling proud of your achievements or loving how you look, but people who think they are better than everyone else could have narcissistic tendencies. Here is How to Promote Yourself and Your Ideas Without Being Obnoxious.

#4 Dysfunctional relationships

Dysfunctional relationships are a proven sign of narcissism. Due to their manipulative, self-absorbed, and disrespectful tendencies, covert narcissists often have very few friends or close people. Unlike overt narcissists, covert narcissistic people avoid social interaction and come across as highly introverted.

These individuals have difficulty engaging in healthy communication or the mutual give-and-take of any relationship. Unfortunately, they may not have experienced positive examples of genuine love and emotional safety during childhood. This can lead them to see other people as “narcissistic supply” sources rather than genuine connections. 

People in romantic relationships with covert narcissists often experience a rollercoaster of emotions and conflict, which can lead to a toxic relationship cycle characterized by:

  • Extreme “ups” and “downs.”
  • Maintaining dominance and power in the relationship
  • Lack of empathy for their partner’s feelings
  • Constant need for attention and admiration
  • Belittling or humiliating their partner
  • Manipulating their partner to get what they want
  • Showing contempt and giving the silent treatment
  • Distorting reality and making their partner feel crazy

Pro Tip: Pay attention to how someone talks about the people in their life. For example, do they seem to have only negative things to say about family members or friends? Do they regularly reference dysfunctional relationships with exes and imply that any relationship problems were the other person’s fault? This could point to narcissistic qualities. 

Once again, this sign doesn’t necessarily make someone a narcissist. Some people don’t have quality relationships because they lack social skills, feel lonely, have an insecure attachment style, or struggle with mental health. 

#5 Outwardly charming, inwardly empty 

When you first meet a narcissist, they can be incredibly charming. They may even “love bomb” you with excessive praise and admiration. But when you get to know them a little more, covert narcissists often have an emptiness or darkness that you can’t put your finger on

Your intuition may sense that something is “off” about them. Some people even have a physical response, such as a stomach ache or sickness, after interacting with a narcissistic person. 

Sadly, narcissistic individuals struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. They may have a constant feeling of inadequacy or not being good enough. It is common for them to hide this emptiness beneath a charming persona.

#6 Gaslighting (invalidating your experiences)

Gaslighting is the primary tool that narcissists use to manipulate others. Gaslighting is a psychological form of manipulation where someone makes another person question their sanity or doubt their recollection of events. This sows seeds of confusion and self-doubt in the victim’s mind, ultimately giving the narcissistic abuser a sense of power and control.

Gaslighting phrases may sound like this:

  • “Can you hear yourself? You’re always twisting things.”
  • “I never said that. Stop acting so crazy!” 
  • “That never happened. You’re imagining things.”
  • “You are so dramatic. You know I didn’t mean it like that.”
  • “You are so sensitive. Why can’t you ever take a joke?”

When a narcissist is gaslighting you, you may feel like you are losing your mind or need to apologize constantly. This can be incredibly emotionally draining and toxic to your mental health. Learn more in this complete guide to Gaslighting 101: All You Need to Know (And How to Combat It).

#7 Disrespecting boundaries

Narcissistic people tend to build resentment and hatred toward people who stand up for themselves with healthy boundaries. When someone speaks up to a narcissist about their manipulative or toxic behaviors, they may respond with defensiveness, anger, or even rage. 

In psychology, this closely correlates with “narcissistic projection.” When they disrespect a boundary, covert narcissists often project their insecurities, flaws, or mistakes onto others to avoid blame or accountability. This may include:

  • Calling you things that you are not when you stand up for yourself (e.g., “You are selfish because you aren’t doing what I want you to do for me.”)
  • Using manipulative tactics to encourage you to set aside your emotional, financial, or physical boundaries (e.g., “If you loved me like you say you do, you would ___.”)
  • Accusing you of things that they are doing (e.g., blaming a partner of cheating when they are the one cheating)
  • Mimicking and exaggerating traits they see in you (e.g., they start copying your vocabulary, making up weirdly similar stories, or trying to “one-up” your accomplishments with similar, fake stories of their own)

They feel entitled to say and do as they wish, even if it means overstepping boundaries. This helps a narcissist feel in control of the people in their life.  

Famous people who are considered covert narcissists

Though they often lack the skills for healthy relationships, covert narcissists can become quite successful and famous in the public eye. These famous people could have narcissistic traits that reared their ugly heads in their personal lives:

  • Albert Einstein: Although renowned for his brilliance and eccentricities, Einstein was described as a covert narcissist because he craved public adoration and often used people without empathy for how his actions affected them.
  • J.D. Salinger: This highly reserved author of The Catcher in the Rye was remembered for his antisocial behavior and lack of empathy toward others. Like many of the central characters in his books, Salinger may have suffered from childhood neglect and alienation, followed by a nervous breakdown as a young adult, which led him to develop covert narcissistic traits.
  • Woody Allen: The famous author and filmmaker has been widely accused of narcissism, especially regarding his romantic relationships and the purported sexual assault of his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow. Allen may lack emotional empathy toward others and is known to take advantage of people for his success.
  • Greta Garbo: Known for her reclusiveness and reluctance to engage with fans, actress Greta Garbo had a reputation for keeping to herself and exploiting others for her gain.
  • Princess Diana: Based on reports for people close to her, the Princess of Wales may have covert narcissistic traits like needing constant adulation, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, and a lack of empathy towards those close to her.

Other common signs of covert narcissism include:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Passive aggressive communication
  • Obsessive self-reliance and distrust for others
  • Antisocial behavior and isolation
  • Delusional fantasies of recognition or revenge
  • Excessive need for admiration
  • Victim mentality
  • Blames others for their problems
  • Low emotional intelligence 
  • Compulsive lying
  • Inability to feel remorse
  • Projecting insecurities on others
  • “Love bombing” followed by degradation and discard

Causes of Covert Narcissism

While narcissism is often associated with arrogance and excessive self-love, it’s caused by extreme insecurity and low self-esteem. 

Covert narcissism can be a result of one or more of these experiences: 

  • Childhood trauma or abuse: Traumatic experiences in childhood are a common cause of covert narcissism. Physical, sexual, and mental abuse or neglect could lead to overwhelming shame, loss, or deprivation that causes psychological damage to a child, leading to covert narcissistic personalities as an adult. 
  • Absent or emotionally unavailable caretakers: Like above, when a child grows up in an unstable environment with a maladaptive parenting style, they may develop psychological coping mechanisms to protect their fragile ego. They might not have experienced an example of a healthy relationship with a parent or caretaker, leading to distorted perceptions of interpersonal dynamics. 
  • Excessive parental criticism: Some people raised by overly critical or narcissistic parents can become covert narcissists in adulthood. The child lacks the self-esteem or parental love needed to develop emotionally stable adulthood.
  • Parents who made them feel superior: On the other end of the spectrum, some studies have found that children with NPD were more likely to come from families with excessive value on status and achievements. This could cause the child to feel more special or valuable than others, leading to narcissistic tendencies in adulthood. 

How to Stop Being a Covert Narcissist

“I think I’m a narcissist, now what?” If this is you, finding resources to move forward can be challenging. It is not narcissists’ fault that they struggle with their mental health, but their responsibility is to grow so they can stop hurting themselves and others. 

If you notice covert narcissistic tendencies in yourself, this self-awareness is a huge step in the right direction! Here are some steps to heal your inner wounds and mend your relationships with people close to you.

#1 Seek therapy

Narcissism is a highly complex issue that can be part of a personality disorder. Because of its intense mental health implications, seeking help from a professional therapist or psychologist is the first step for anyone who recognizes covert narcissistic qualities in themself. 

There is some evidence that psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can help people overcome Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can check out Mental Health America’s helpful list of good resources for therapists.

#2 Practice accountability

Self-accountability is the discipline and willingness to accept responsibility for your actions (and their consequences). Covert narcissists often struggle with this because, when you admit you are wrong, it can feel like you are giving power and control to other people. 

But you can regain your power when you hold yourself accountable and accept your mistakes. Accountability helps you accomplish your goals, become more successful, and enjoy happier relationships. 

To practice more self-accountability, try one or all of these exercises:

  • Stop blaming others for your mistakes: Notice instances in your life where you blame others for your own mistakes. People in your past may have wronged you, and it can feel natural to blame them. However, you can also be honest about mistakes that were your fault. For example, if you cannot wake up on time for work, you may naturally want to blame your alarm clock or your spouse when, in reality, it was your fault for sleeping in. 
  • Read a book on overcoming narcissism: Breaking the Mirror—Overcoming Narcissism: How to Conquer Self-Centeredness and Achieve Successful Relationships by Norman Goldwasser, Ph.D. or How to Stop Being a Narcissist: Complete Guide on How to Give Up Control In Relationships by Antony Felix are two notable options.
  • Think of criticism as feedback: If someone gives you constructive criticism, recognize that this small piece does not mean you are terrible. They may be trying to help you improve. Try to reframe constructive criticism as feedback.
  • Admit when you’re wrong: Think about a time when you have said or done something that hurt someone else’s feelings. Take accountability for your actions by admitting to them that you were wrong and taking steps to fix it. For example, if your significant other has told you that they don’t feel very loved when you scroll on your phone while talking, let them know that you recognize your actions were wrong. Make it a top priority to put away your phone and be present in your conversations with them.

Check out these 7 Smart Ways to Hold Yourself Accountable (& Be Disciplined) and this guide to Self-Awareness: What It Is And How To Cultivate It.

#3 Improve your self-esteem

Feelings of worthlessness and low confidence might have been embedded in you since childhood. It is not your fault that someone put you down or made you feel bad about yourself. Fortunately, you can rebuild your self-esteem so you don’t feel so sensitive to other people’s opinions. You deserve to feel confident, safe, loved, and happy.

A professional therapist can make this process much easier, but there are several steps you can take on your own as well. Here is How to Build Rock-Solid Self-Esteem in 8 Weeks (or less!)

#4 Work on being more empathetic 

Empathy is the ability to understand and feel someone else’s emotions. There is evidence that narcissistic people have alterations to their brain’s prefrontal cortex, making it difficult for them to feel empathy. You may have noticed that you don’t react to emotions the same way as other people.

For example, Lee Hammock (a mental health advocate and diagnosed Narcissist on TikTok) has shared that he experienced a lack of empathy from a young age. He remembers a kid on the playground falling and breaking a bone. Instead of feeling bad for his classmate or trying to help him, Hammock reports feeling annoyed that the other kid’s injury would stop their recess. 

Luckily, empathy is an emotional intelligence skill that can be learned and practiced! 

Here are The 15 Habits of Highly Empathetic People (Empathy Guide). Some of our favorites include:

  • Express more curiosity in other people. Ask them a conversation-starting question or show interest in their passions. 
  • Eliminate distractions when you are with someone close to you, especially if they are talking about their emotions. Put away your phone or turn off the TV to give them your full attention.
  • Look for similarities with other people. Instead of focusing on your differences, you can build empathy by relating to the things you have in common with others.

#5 Apologize to people you may have hurt

Whether you realize it or not, your covert narcissistic tendencies have probably hurt many people close to you. You could be subconsciously manipulating or emotionally abusing others. Admitting your wrongs and apologizing may feel very uncomfortable, but it could lead to more intimate, healthy relationships. 

If you want to mend these relationships and improve future ones, try to:

  • Avoid generalized apologies: Instead of saying “I’m sorry for everything,” focus on specific behaviors and actions where you can admit you were wrong. 
  • Write a detailed letter of apology: Think of past relationships with significant others, friends, or family members where you didn’t end on good terms. Did they try to tell you something you did to hurt their feelings or harm their mental health? Write them a letter owning up to your mistakes. Let them know that you don’t expect them to accept you back in their life, but you do feel remorse for what you did. 
  • Avoid passive-aggressive behavior: Learn how you may be using passive-aggressive communication with people close to you and apologize for your actions. Practice communicating in a calm, direct, and respectful way that doesn’t make people feel beneath you. 

How to Deal with a Covert Narcissist

Whether you have a narcissistic boss, romantic partner, or family member, you must protect yourself from emotional damage. Start with the steps below and reference our guide on How to Deal with Narcissists to learn more.

#1 Set and enforce firm boundaries

Boundaries are the “rules” of your relationships that define how you allow people to treat you. Setting strong boundaries (and sticking to them) is essential for anyone in any relationship with a covert narcissist.

Narcissists test people’s boundaries regularly and walk all over those who don’t enforce them. If you aren’t careful, you may be catering to a covert narcissist’s every demand while neglecting your well-being. 

Communicate and stand by your boundaries, including:

  • Communication boundaries: Determine how you allow a narcissist to talk to you and stand up for yourself when they cross the line. When you notice belittling comments, criticism, or aggressive communication, remove yourself from the relationship and seek support from loved ones or a therapist.
  • Physical boundaries: In a romantic relationship, narcissists may feel entitled to physical intimacy on their terms. You must enforce physical safety by removing yourself from coercive or uncomfortable situations. 
  • Financial boundaries: Covert narcissists sometimes have trouble managing their finances and may guilt you into loaning or gifting money. Draw the line by keeping your finances private and freeing yourself from the obligation to support a narcissist in your life.

Use this complete guide on How to Set Boundaries: 5 Ways to Draw the Line Politely, as well as these 4 Strategies for Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People.

#2 Listen to your intuition

When you have a gut feeling that someone is narcissistic, you must listen to your intuition and cut ties with the individual. Because covert narcissists slowly erode your confidence through gaslighting and manipulation tactics, you may start quieting your intuition and listening to them.

You may feel:

  • Emotionally drained after being around them
  • Highly confused about your conversations or relationship
  • Self-doubt or low self-esteem
  • Physical symptoms like hair loss, weight gain/weight loss, headaches, or illness

#3 Encourage healing and treatment

It is tough when someone you love is showing covert narcissistic symptoms. You may recognize their behaviors hurting you, but you also feel empathetic for their past experiences that might have caused the issues they are facing. You may want to encourage them to seek professional help.

It is crucial to approach this topic with great sensitivity. For example, avoid saying, “You have problems and need therapy!” This condescending implies something is “broken” or wrong with them. They could perceive this as criticism, leading to a backlash with insults or defensiveness. 

Instead, make suggestions in a gentle way that shows this person you care about their well-being:

  • “I see you are struggling with your mental health. I want to see you happy. Here is a therapist I found that could be able to help.” (Give them a therapist’s contact information)
  • “I know you have been through so much hardship in your life. A professional could help you overcome some of those mental battles. 
  • “I am going to therapy to help heal my past wounds and become a better communicator in my relationships. It’s been so helpful for me! Have you ever considered talking to a therapist?”

Remember, you can’t force someone to go to therapy or change. They have to decide on their own. However, you can plant the idea in their mind and hope they pursue it. 

#4 If necessary, cut off communication

If the covert narcissist in your life begins to affect your mental health seriously, it may be time to cut them off from you completely. This sounds simple, but it is certainly not easy. 

The “No Contact” rule is a widely suggested strategy for breaking free from narcissistic people. This is the ultimate form of boundary-setting to protect your well-being. 

It can include:

  • Blocking them on social media
  • Blocking their phone number
  • Avoiding the places they go
  • Cutting ties with mutual friends
  • Avoiding discussion about the narcissist  
  • Never talking to or seeing them again

#5 Avoid revenge and be happy instead

Feeling upset at a narcissistic person who has emotionally wounded you is normal. But the only real way to “get back” at a narcissist is to pursue your happiness. Revenge is futile in the face of a person who ultimately wants to see you as weak and failing. Covert narcissists hate to think you are doing better without them because they base their self-worth on who they can control. 

If a relationship with a covert narcissist has emotionally damaged you, the best thing you can do is focus on your happiness and self-love. This may include:

  • Practicing self-care rituals
  • Doing your favorite hobbies 
  • Spending time with uplifting people who support you
  • Pursue your goals 
  • Going to therapy

Key Takeaways: Covert Narcissists Subtly Manipulate Others for Their Gain

In summary, a person with covert narcissistic traits lacks empathy and creates a false persona of superiority to cover up their insecurities. Because of their contorted ways of thinking, a covert narcissistic personality can be extremely difficult to deal with. 

However, there is a silver lining to any relationship with a narcissist. It is a valuable lesson in psychology, social skills, and self-love. Understanding people’s personalities can help you to communicate better and build connections with them. It is also key to optimizing your behavior and improving yourself.

Take Our Free Personality Quiz and See Where You Rank for the Big 5 Traits

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