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9 Things He Does That Proves He’s a Covert Narcissist

9 Things He Does That Proves He’s a Covert Narcissist

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Navigating the world of dating and relationships can be a thrilling adventure, but it can also be fraught with hidden dangers, especially when it comes to dealing with covert narcissists.

These individuals mask their self-centeredness under a façade of charm and confidence, making it challenging to see their true colors until you’re in too deep. It’s essential to equip yourself with the knowledge to identify these red flags early on.

In this guide, I’m going to share some tell-tale signs that the man you’re dating might be a covert narcissist.

1. He Constantly Needs Validation and Admiration

Ever noticed how he seems to crave constant praise and attention? It’s as if his self-worth is entirely dependent on what others think of him. A covert narcissist has a never-ending thirst for admiration and validation from those around them. They want to be the center of your world, and they’ll go to great lengths to ensure that they are.

Now, don’t get me wrong—we all love a good compliment here and there. But with a covert narcissist, it’s a whole different ball game. They need constant reassurance that they’re the best, the smartest, and the most attractive person in the room. And if they don’t get it? Well, that’s when things start to unravel.

They might try to fish for compliments, subtly (or not so subtly) steering the conversation towards their achievements or good looks. “Did I ever tell you about the time I…” starts to become a familiar refrain, as they recount stories designed to highlight their supposed brilliance.

And it’s not just about bolstering their ego—it’s also a way to maintain control. By making themselves the focal point of your attention, they ensure that they remain in the driver’s seat of the relationship.

It’s easy to mistake this need for validation as insecurity or low self-esteem. But here’s the kicker: a covert narcissist doesn’t actually believe they’re unworthy. Quite the opposite, in fact. They believe they’re entitled to your constant praise, and when they don’t get it, they’ll become resentful and possibly even aggressive.

2. He Lacks Genuine Empathy for Others

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, and it’s a crucial component of any healthy relationship. However, when you’re dealing with a covert narcissist, genuine empathy is often in short supply.

He might go through the motions, offering a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear when you’re going through a tough time. But pay close attention, and you’ll start to notice the cracks in his façade. His responses might feel rehearsed or insincere, and he may quickly turn the conversation back to himself, subtly undermining your feelings in the process.

“You think you had a bad day at work? Let me tell you about mine…”

It’s as if your pain or discomfort is a mere blip on his radar, quickly acknowledged and just as quickly dismissed. And if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need genuine support and understanding, he might become distant or irritated, revealing his true lack of empathy.

3. He’s Overly Sensitive to Criticism

Constructive criticism is a part of life, and it’s something that we all have to deal with from time to time. But for a covert narcissist, any form of criticism, no matter how small or well-intentioned, can feel like a personal attack.

He might react with anger, lashing out and turning the tables to make you feel guilty for even bringing up the issue. Or he might withdraw, giving you the cold shoulder and creating an atmosphere of tension until you apologize for hurting his feelings.

It’s a manipulative tactic designed to keep you on your toes, constantly worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. And it can leave you feeling like you’re walking on eggshells, always careful to tiptoe around his fragile ego.

But here’s the thing: in a healthy relationship, both partners should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings, even if they’re not always what the other person wants to hear. A relationship should be a safe space where you can be honest and open, without fear of retribution.

So if you find yourself constantly censoring yourself or apologizing for things that really shouldn’t require an apology, it might be time to take a step back and evaluate whether this relationship is truly serving you. Remember, you deserve to be with someone who values and respects your opinions, even if they don’t always agree with them.

4. He Often Gaslights to Manipulate Situations

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic where a person tries to make someone else doubt their reality, memories, or perceptions. And, it’s a favorite tool in the covert narcissist’s arsenal.

When he gaslights, he’s not just dismissing your feelings or opinions; he’s actively trying to make you question your own sanity. He might deny things he’s said or done, or suggest that you’re being overly sensitive or misremembering events. “I never said that,” or “You’re blowing things out of proportion,” become common refrains.

This tactic serves a dual purpose: it allows him to maintain control and avoid taking responsibility for his actions, all while making you feel insecure and dependent on him for validation.

It’s a subtle form of emotional abuse, and it can be incredibly damaging over time, eroding your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. If you find yourself constantly second-guessing your own memories or feelings, it’s a red flag that you might be dealing with a gaslighter.

5. He Has a Tendency to Play the Victim

No matter what happens, it always seems like he’s the one who’s been wronged. Even when he’s clearly in the wrong, he has a knack for twisting the narrative to make himself the victim.

This victim mentality serves several purposes. It deflects attention and responsibility away from him, garners sympathy and support from others, and manipulates situations to his advantage. If he can convince you (and others) that he’s the one who’s been wronged, he can use it as leverage to get what he wants.

He might recount past events with a dramatic flair, painting himself as the misunderstood hero or the victim of unfair treatment. And if you ever try to hold him accountable for his actions, he’ll likely turn the tables, accusing you of being unfair or cruel.

This constant victim-playing can be exhausting, leaving you feeling like you’re the one who always has to apologize or make amends. But remember: a relationship should be a partnership, not a never-ending pity party. You deserve to be with someone who takes responsibility for their actions and treats you as an equal, not someone who’s always looking to play the martyr.

6. He Struggles to Maintain Equal Relationships

When it comes to relationships, a covert narcissist often struggles to maintain an equal and balanced dynamic. Instead, he may seek out relationships where he can maintain control and hold the upper hand.

You might notice that he tends to surround himself with people who admire and look up to him, rather than peers who challenge him or hold him accountable. In romantic relationships, he may seek out partners who are willing to cater to his needs and desires, often at the expense of their own.

This imbalance can manifest in various ways, from subtle put-downs and backhanded compliments, to more overt forms of control and manipulation. He might try to dictate how you spend your time, who you spend it with, or how you dress, all under the guise of caring or wanting what’s best for you.

7. He Has Unrealistic Expectations of Favorable Treatment

A covert narcissist often believes that he is entitled to special treatment and that the rules that apply to others shouldn’t apply to him. He expects others to go out of their way to accommodate him, and he becomes resentful and angry when things don’t go his way.

This sense of entitlement can manifest in various aspects of his life, from expecting preferential treatment at work or in social settings, to believing that he should always get his way in relationships.

He might become sulky or withdrawn when he doesn’t get what he wants, or he might lash out, berating and belittling those around him until they acquiesce to his demands.

It’s a toxic and exhausting dynamic, and it can leave you feeling like you’re constantly bending over backward to keep him happy, only to be met with more demands and expectations.

8. He’s Preoccupied with Fantasies of Success and Power

The mind of a covert narcissist is often a playground for dreams of grandiosity, fantasies where he is the most successful, the most intelligent, or the most influential person in the room. He may not always voice these fantasies out loud, but they play a significant role in how he views himself and the world around him.

You might notice that he often seems dissatisfied with his current circumstances, always believing he’s destined for something greater. While ambition is not inherently negative, in his case, it stems from a deep-seated belief in his own superiority.

He may downplay the achievements of others, attributing their success to luck or external factors, while seeing his own setbacks as temporary and unfair. This constant preoccupation with fantasies of success and power can also lead to a lack of genuine connection and intimacy, as he’s always somewhat mentally removed, focused on his next big break or opportunity.

9. He Exhibits Passive-Aggressive Behavior

The covert narcissist’s aggression is not always overt, but it is always present. Instead of direct confrontations, he may employ passive-aggressive behavior as a means of asserting control and manipulating situations to his advantage.

This can manifest in various ways, from backhanded compliments and sarcastic remarks to procrastination and deliberate inefficiency. He might agree to do something, only to drag his feet or do a subpar job, forcing others to pick up his slack.

His passive-aggressiveness is a way of expressing his dissatisfaction or anger without having to confront the issue head-on. It’s a form of control, a way of keeping others on their toes and ensuring that he remains in a position of power.

Recognizing these behaviors for what they are is crucial in protecting yourself from the covert narcissist’s subtle manipulations. Remember, you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who respects and values you, not someone who sees you as a pawn in their game of control and domination.

Stay strong, trust your instincts, and never forget that you have the power to protect yourself and demand the respect and equality you deserve.