It is believed that there are two types of narcissists: the grandiose and the covert.
The first type is much easier to spot as they exhibit the overtly vain, self-entitled, exploitative, and aggressive behavior widely associated with narcissism.
The covert narcissist, however, is less conspicuous. They appear modest and empathetic, but inside, harbor much of the same grandiosity and over-inflated self-image found in their bombastic counterpart.
Covert narcissists variously identify as introverted and sensitive. The anxiety, defensiveness, and vulnerability of the covert narcissist are character traits commonly associated with introversion. While the pompous narcissist will assert their superiority in explicit and intrusive ways, the closet narcissist will hardly hint at it.
Let us look at a list of signs to help you in determining if someone you know is a covert narcissist:
1. They are passive aggressive and manipulative
An introverted narcissist who wants to be noticed and admired for their awesomeness might resent any demand you make of them. When you do need a favor, they’ll say “yeah” and reassure you that they’ll sort it out, no worries, and then they’ll grunt and boil in silence because they feel having their time and energy wasted.
They will avoid doing what they’ve been asked to do, and then try to dodge you when you try to follow up with them. And when you finally confront them for their behavior, they’ll lash out and go on about how overworked they’ve been and how indelicate you were to make such unreasonable demands of their time.
Even if they still go ahead and do what you requested of them, be sure that you’ll never hear the end of it. They’ll go around telling everyone how inconsiderate you were to them in order to garner other people’s sympathy while appearing as victims.
Some narcissists also have no issue with stooping to the most pathetic, guilt-tripping manipulations in order to get what they want. This might be, for example. a person who wants their partner to stay at home with them because they’re feeling unwell. When the partner tells them that they’ll be fine for a little while without them, the narcissist will counter it with something like, “Okay then, you go ahead and have fun. Just so you know, I’m having issues in breathing, so you’ll have to live with it if I die from an asthma attack.”
2. They lack empathy
Grandiose and introverted narcissists alike share an ego-centric attitude that puts little value and significance in others. WIth the covert narcissist, this can manifest in poor listening and obvious disinterest in anyone or anything outside what affects them directly. Often they are apathetic to other people’s needs although they may pretend to care. The reality is, they resent others who try to burden them with their issues.
3. They are overly sensitive
Introverted narcissists tend to be extremely sensitive and unable to handle any form of criticism. When facing negative feedback, they will defend themselves with an increased sense of superior smugness and dismissive arguments, while others will simply withdraw from the situation. Normally they will try to conceal how much the negative experience bothers them, and instead, pretend to be indifferent.
4. They are unable to form proper relationships
Introvert narcissists experience much greater anxiety in forming relationships with others because of the fragility of their self-esteem. They may even avoid relationships altogether out of fear that a potential rejection may be too intolerable to bear. Spouses of introverted, vulnerable narcissists rate them as dissatisfied, anxious, and bitter, in contrast to with their counterparts who are cited as bossy, cruel, argumentative, and demeaning. Part of the covert narcissist’s aloof hubris functions as a defense mechanism for keeping people at bay in order to avoid being exposed for their interpersonal inadequacies.
5. They blame others but never themselves
Introverted narcissists will try to blame every person around them for their own failures in life, never taking personal responsibility for the things that have gone wrong for them.
They will blame their own parents for not providing them with enough opportunities as children and they’ll blame their boss for not making enough money.
They’ll blame their friends for not helping them to meet the right people, and they’ll blame their romantic partners for their own inability to commit to the relationship.
A closing note
The world is full of narcissists. Many of us have covert narcissists in their family, at work, and as neighbors.
We are encircled by people who only think and act in their own self-interest.
Narcissists are categorized as those who act form a place of selfishness, often manipulating other people to advance their own standing, and putting them in harm’s way so that they can come out on top.
It’s not difficult to spot a narcissist, but it’s not always easy to see them in your own family or to identify yourself as one.
Shall you find yourself dealing with a narcissist, always remember to keep your wits and don’t react too emotionally.
Understand your own self-worth and set the right boundaries to avoid being manipulated by them.