top of page

14 Signs You’re Dealing with a Covert Narcissist

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

The covert narcissist is one of the most insidious and sneaky variety of narcissist.

They are hard to spot.

Hard to point out.

Hard to figure out.


Because they tend to fly under the radar of what we define as abuse. They don't typically rage in violent manners be it with their voices or their fists, but their brand of abuse, it is a death by a million paper cuts.

It's the daily micro aggressions that add up to seriously demoralize you, degrade you, incapacitate you, and harm you to your core. Without ever lifting a hand or raising a voice.

So here are 14 clues you may be dealing with a covert narcissist:

1. Excessive need for validation: Constantly seeking affirmation and reassurance from others.

2. Subtle superiority: They believe they are special or unique and subtly convey this belief.

3. Lack of empathy: Difficulty understanding or relating to others' feelings and needs.

4. Manipulative behavior: Using subtle tactics to control or manipulate situations and people. Projection, deflection, triangulation, gaslighting are but a few of their preferred methods of manipulation.

5. Chronic self-absorption: Often preoccupied with their own problems, achievements, or desires.

6. Playing the victim: Frequently portraying themselves as victims to gain sympathy or support. This is apparent in their workplace, friends group, life in general. They are always the victim and never the villain.

7. Difficulty taking criticism: Becoming defensive or hostile when receiving feedback or criticism. They can criticize but cannot tolerate being at the receiving end of any perceived criticism. That's right, it doesn't actually have to be actual criticism for them to become deeply offended.

8. Hidden envy: Feeling envious of others' success or achievements while hiding these feelings. They can't stand other people's successes. Even their own children's (which is confusing, as they also love to boast to others about their children's achievements but that's only because they view their children as extensions of themselves. They'll rarely praise their own children for their accomplishments, oftentimes downplaying their achievements and saying things like "well, your report card twas good, but why didn't you get straight A?")They can't stand competition of any sort by anyone, not even their own kids.

9. Passive-aggressive tendencies: Expressing hostility or resentment indirectly rather than openly. They simmer inwardly, but can typically refrain from exploding outwardly.

10. Feelings of inadequacy: Secretly feeling inadequate but projecting a confident exterior. Although, they do oftentimes come across as more shy, more reserved, more quiet than their overt counterparts. They often offer up fake humility, but are dying to be praised and recognized for being exceptional.

11. Excessive focus on appearance: Using physical appearance or material possessions to gain admiration.

12. Need for control: Seeking control over situations, relationships, or outcomes.

13. Boundary issues: Disregarding personal boundaries and invading others' privacy. They typically won't rage when you say no, but rather, will continue to pick at your no, until you finally cave in, acquiesce and turn your NO into a YES.

14. Inconsistent behavior: Displaying different personas in different situations or with different people.

This type of abuse leaves victims very confused, because of its insidious, stealth characteristics.

It's typically very hard for victims themselves to even recognize they've been the victim of a covert narcissist and it's that much harder to explain their experience to anyone as there is not a few major occurrences, but rather, a plethora of microscopic ones. It's a pattern of behaviour that creates the incredibly toxic and abusive environment.

So please give yourself space and grace as you untangle yourself from this and start to peel back the many layers.

Remember: healing is a journey and not a destination.

How many on this list are traits you've experienced?? Let me know!

With love, always,

Chantal xo

77 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Extrinsic VS Intrinsic Motivators

A narcissistic parent will always focus on their children's external: their looks, their accomplishments, their awards, their achievements, their academics, their athletics. They truly view their chil


bottom of page