Weird Things Covert Narcissists Do

Weird Things Covert Narcissists Do

Covert narcissism is a subtle and hidden form of narcissistic behavior that can be challenging to identify. While overt narcissists seek attention and admiration openly, covert narcissists display their narcissistic traits in more covert ways. In this article, we will explore the weird things that covert narcissists do, the signs of covert narcissism, and the manipulation tactics they employ.

Key Takeaways:

  • Covert narcissists exhibit their narcissistic traits in more subtle ways compared to overt narcissists.
  • Understanding the signs and behaviors of covert narcissism is crucial for identifying covert narcissists.
  • Covert narcissists engage in passive-aggressive behaviors and emotional manipulation to exert control over others.
  • They have a deep need for admiration and validation, often seeking praise and surrounding themselves with admirers.
  • Covert narcissists lack empathy for others and prioritize their own needs and desires.

Understanding Covert Narcissism

Covert narcissism is a unique subtype of narcissistic personality disorder that manifests in a more subtle manner. While overt narcissists seek attention and admiration openly, covert narcissists display their narcissistic traits in a withdrawn and introverted manner. To identify covert narcissists, it is essential to recognize their specific signs and traits.

Covert narcissists may exhibit self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and an entitlement mentality. Unlike their overt counterparts, covert narcissists are not vocal about their need for admiration and validation. Instead, they rely on more covert tactics to manipulate and control others.

Identifying covert narcissists can be challenging due to their reserved nature and ability to maintain a likable facade. However, understanding the signs and traits can help you recognize their behaviors and protect yourself from their manipulative tactics.

Signs and Traits of Covert Narcissism

  1. Introversion: Covert narcissists often display introverted tendencies, preferring to keep their true selves hidden from others.
  2. Lack of Empathy: They demonstrate a lack of empathy towards others, prioritizing their own needs and desires.
  3. Self-centeredness: Covert narcissists are excessively focused on themselves, their achievements, and their desires.
  4. Manipulative Behavior: They engage in subtle manipulation tactics such as guilt-tripping, gaslighting, and passive-aggressive behaviors.
  5. Grandiosity: Despite their reserved demeanor, covert narcissists may possess a grandiose sense of self-importance.

By understanding these signs and traits, you can develop the necessary awareness to identify covert narcissists in your personal and professional relationships. It is important to remember that covert narcissism can have a significant impact on your emotional well-being, so setting boundaries and seeking support are crucial steps in navigating these relationships.

Covert narcissism is a subtle yet potent form of narcissistic behavior. Understanding its signs and traits can help you protect yourself from the manipulative tactics employed by covert narcissists.

Passive-Aggressive Behaviors

Covert narcissists often resort to passive-aggressive behaviors as a way to express their aggression. These behavior patterns are designed to manipulate and control others while maintaining a facade of innocence. Understanding these tactics can help you identify covert narcissists and protect yourself from their toxic influence.

Here are some common passive-aggressive behaviors exhibited by covert narcissists:

  1. Backhanded Compliments: Covert narcissists may give compliments that appear positive on the surface but contain a hidden insult or criticism. For example, they might say, “You look good for someone your age.”
  2. Hurtful Jokes: They may use humor as a cover for their aggression, making jokes at the expense of others or sharing inappropriate and hurtful remarks under the guise of comedy.
  3. Chronic Lateness: Covert narcissists often arrive late to appointments, gatherings, or meetings, disregarding the impact it has on others. This behavior communicates a lack of regard for other people’s time and schedules.

The silent treatment is another commonly used tactic by covert narcissists. Withholding communication, affection, or acknowledgment, they intentionally create a sense of anxiety and uncertainty in their victims. By staying silent, they gain a sense of power and control over others, using their absence as a tool to manipulate emotions and conditions.

Image: Covert narcissists use the silent treatment as a manipulative tactic to control their victims.

Emotional Manipulation

Covert narcissists are known for their skillful use of emotional manipulation tactics. They employ various strategies to control and dominate others, often leaving their victims feeling confused and emotionally vulnerable.

Gaslighting: Questioning Your Reality

One of the most insidious manipulation tactics used by covert narcissists is gaslighting. They deliberately distort the truth, question your reality, and make you doubt your own judgment. By undermining your perception of events and making you feel like you’re going crazy, they maintain control over the narrative and create a sense of dependence on them.

Using Guilt, Fear, and Obligation

Covert narcissists are masters at exploiting people’s emotions, particularly through guilt, fear, and obligation. They manipulate your emotions, making you feel responsible for their happiness and well-being. They may guilt-trip you, use fear to keep you in line, or create a sense of obligation to fulfill their demands. These tactics make it difficult for you to assert your own needs and desires.

“The covert narcissist’s manipulation tactics are designed to erode your self-esteem and keep you under their control.”

The consequences of emotional manipulation by covert narcissists can be severe and long-lasting. It can lead to a range of detrimental effects on your emotional well-being, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a distorted sense of reality.

Being aware of these manipulation tactics is essential in protecting yourself from emotional abuse. By recognizing the signs and understanding the manipulative behaviors of covert narcissists, you can break free from their control and build healthier relationships.

Need for Admiration and Validation

Covert narcissists exhibit a deep need for admiration and validation. They are driven by a relentless desire to maintain a positive image and will go to great lengths to receive praise and recognition. Their behavior patterns revolve around seeking constant validation from others.

One covert narcissist trait is their tendency to show off their accomplishments. They often indulge in grandiose displays of their achievements and talents, hoping to garner admiration and awe from those around them. This need to be admired fuels their ego and provides them with a sense of self-importance.

Covert narcissists will often seek professions that allow them to receive respect, recognition, and adoration from others. They crave positions of power and authority, where they can bask in the glory of their success and be the center of attention.

In addition, covert narcissists surround themselves with individuals who constantly praise and admire them. These individuals become their sources of validation, feeding their insatiable need for attention and approval. They carefully select those who will boost their ego and ensure their positive image remains intact.

It is important to recognize these covert narcissist behavior patterns and understand the roots of their need for admiration. By being aware of their incessant craving for validation, we can better identify and protect ourselves from their manipulative tactics.

Comparison of Overt and Covert Narcissists’ Pursuit of Admiration

Overt Narcissists Covert Narcissists
Behavior Attention-seeking, loud, and boastful Reserved, withdrawn, and subtle in expressing narcissistic traits
Method of Seeking Admiration Directly demanding praise and admiration Indirectly manipulating situations to receive praise and seeking validation through others
Profession Preferences Often attracted to high-visibility careers that allow them to be in the spotlight Choose professions that earn them respect and admiration from a select group of individuals
Inner Circle Surround themselves with individuals who provide constant admiration Selectively build a network of people who serve as a source of validation

Lack of Empathy

One of the defining traits of covert narcissists is their lack of empathy. Unlike individuals with a healthy level of empathy, covert narcissists struggle to understand and share the feelings of those around them. They are primarily focused on their own needs and desires, showing little consideration for others.

Covert narcissists may engage in superficial conversations and ask questions about others, but their interest is often insincere and driven by their own agenda. They lack the genuine curiosity and emotional connection necessary for true empathy.

This lack of empathy can be damaging to relationships, leaving those who interact with covert narcissists feeling invalidated and unheard. It can also make it challenging to establish meaningful and fulfilling connections with them.

The Impact of Lack of Empathy

The absence of empathy from covert narcissists can have significant consequences for those in their lives. Here are some ways in which this trait manifests:

  • Minimizing Others’ Emotions: Covert narcissists downplay or dismiss the emotions and experiences of others, making them feel insignificant or unimportant.
  • Self-Centeredness: They consistently prioritize their own needs and desires over those of others, often at the expense of others’ well-being.
  • Inability to Provide Support: Covert narcissists struggle to offer genuine emotional support to others, as they lack the ability to truly understand and empathize with their struggles.
  • Lack of Emotional Availability: They rarely show vulnerability or allow others to see their true emotions, maintaining a guarded emotional barrier.

Understanding the Lack of Empathy

It’s essential to recognize that the lack of empathy exhibited by covert narcissists is not a personal failing but a reflection of their narcissistic personality disorder. Their focus on self-preservation and self-validation often overrides their ability to empathize with others.

“I always felt like my feelings didn’t matter when I was with him. He would dismiss my concerns and turn the conversation back to himself. It was exhausting and made me question my own emotions.” – Anonymous

By understanding this trait, we can better navigate relationships with covert narcissists, establishing boundaries to protect our own emotional well-being.


Understanding the covert narcissist traits and behavior patterns can empower you to identify and protect yourself from their manipulative tactics. By recognizing their subtle manipulation tactics, such as gaslighting and passive-aggressive behaviors, and their lack of empathy, you can navigate relationships with covert narcissists more effectively.

Setting clear boundaries is crucial when dealing with covert narcissists. Establishing and enforcing your boundaries will help you maintain your emotional well-being and protect yourself from their manipulation. It is also essential to practice self-care and prioritize your own needs in relationships with covert narcissists.

If you are dealing with the effects of narcissistic abuse, seeking support from trusted friends, family, or professionals can be invaluable. Remember, you deserve to be in healthy and respectful relationships, free from the toxic dynamics of covert narcissists. By arming yourself with knowledge and support, you can break free from the cycle of manipulation and create a happier, more fulfilling life.


What are some weird things covert narcissists do?

Covert narcissists engage in passive-aggressive behaviors, manipulation tactics, and exhibit a lack of empathy.

How can I identify covert narcissism?

Look for signs of self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and an entitlement mentality.

What are some examples of passive-aggressive behaviors in covert narcissists?

Covert narcissists may give backhanded compliments, deliver hurtful jokes, or give the silent treatment.

How do covert narcissists emotionally manipulate others?

They may engage in gaslighting, using guilt, fear, or obligation to control their victims.

Why do covert narcissists have a need for admiration and validation?

They are obsessed with maintaining a positive image and seek praise and recognition from others.

Do covert narcissists lack empathy?

Yes, they primarily focus on their own needs and desires and lack understanding or sharing of others’ feelings.

How can I navigate relationships with covert narcissists effectively?

Set boundaries, practice self-care, and seek support if dealing with the effects of narcissistic abuse.

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