Nine Signs Of A Covert Narcissist.

“You will never know where you stand with a narcissist, so it’s better to stand without one.

Signs of a covert Narcissists based on the DSM-5 nine characteristics, not all will have all nine traits. Not all narcissists behave this way. If someone has five characteristics no matter how they behave, they are most likely on the spectrum, Narcissistic or not Abuse is Abuse, and there is no excuse, it’s not easy to see their manipulation games, for which you are not to blame.

When people think of narcissism, they often think of the outward Grandiose, attention-seeking, superior, confident, outgoing, charming, ( superficial charm.) lack of responsibility, exploiting others, manipulative and the rest. Yet not all are the overt, grandiose or extraverted. Some are fragile, introverted, shy, Vulnerable, closet, the covert narcissist. Yes, they have the same destructive behaviours as the grandiose or overt narcissists. They can cross over between the two at times, depending on who they are with and what manipulation tactics they are using, so most narcissists can play the woe is my victim if needed, most can play the hero if needed, and most will never be the villain, only ever offering a False Apology if they have something to gain by doing so.

Many introverts and extroverts are not actually on the narcissistic personality disorder spectrum if they don’t go around exploiting people. If they don’t feel entitled, and if they have the ability to care for others, if they have the emotional empathy, they are not a narcissist. If they don’t have five of the nine traits, they are not a narcissist, as most people can behave narcissistically in one way or another.

Although no type of narcissist is actually obvious at first as we often don’t even know about the disorder, yet when we do, we listen more to our own instincts when the signals go off, also when we are unsure as to what they are telling us, as narcissistic people do have a way of making others feel off-balance, they have a way of influencing others, and the more we know, the more we notice, as hard as it can be to listen to those instincts as most narcissists will have raised you so high at some point, so we want to believe they are good genuine people, with their blame-shifting, gaslighting and other manipulative behaviours, we are often led to think the problem is us, yet once we’ve been sucked in before, learned about the disorder and learned about ourselves, we learn to listen to those instincts and walk away from people we meet that just something doesn’t feel right, words not matching actions, the way they treat others etc.

An overt narcissist will say things in more obvious ways ” I am more educated than you.” “You look awful in that.” “You’re not qualified.” “You’re not capable.” “You’re crazy.” You can not do that.” And all the rest.

A covert does the same yet is a lot more subtle. ” I don’t think you can do that.” “I don’t think you should wear that.” ” are you really going to do that?” “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” “Are you losing your mind?” And all the rest.

All narcissists act covertly, as any behaviour they might have consequences for they keep hidden, deny, blame-shift.

“Them not telling you something, or hiding something from you, is just the same as lying.”


1. A grandiose sense of self-importance, a belief they are special.

They are Self-absorbed. Most narcissists do not pay attention or listen to others, with the overt they will but in a, take over conversations, not to be helpful, to make it all about them, sort of way. Coverts can be quieter. Therefore they might just look like they are listening and paying attention to you. They actually just zone out and block out what you are saying. Reasonable people can do this if they are busy or stressed over a situation. Coverts do this most of the time, they make a quick judgement on whether the conversation will serve them, and if not, their mind is out of there as they think about themselves.

They might sit quietly and pretend to listen to others, yet they often are in deep thought about themselves, looking for opportunities to interrupt and talk about themselves.

Anything negative that’s happened to you, they will have experienced far worse. These are usually negative people.

They are highly sensitive. Most people are sensitive. Most narcissists are sensitive to most forms of criticism, even constructive helpful criticism, where an overt might twist it onto you, provoke an argument so they can blame-shift an overt will most likely, defend themselves with smugness, seem to dismiss what you’ve said to them completely, or completely withdraw from the conversation, and go on one big sulk or a silent treatment. Most do not let on that they have been offended and will continue to scheme to get people back. Even if you’ve offered them advice they felt criticised by, they might just shut the conversation down. Conversations with a narcissist are confusing. They might pity play, so you feel sorry for them and make excuses up for them. Things like. “It’s ok for you, and you got help from x. I have to do things for myself. No one ever helped me out.” A Narcissist will blame others for how they are feeling.

In contrast, a genuine, sensitive people will often question themselves and ask others for advice to see what’s wrong with them. Often they are sensitive due to the manipulative narcissist they are around. There are those of us that end up in therapy because of those who should be in therapy, not that we knew it at the time because while they were too busy blaming it all on us, we were blaming it all on ourselves.

2. A preoccupation with fantasies of power and success, beauty, love.

They will blame all others for why they are not successful, “I’m not working all hrs to suck up as they did just for a promotion.” “The boss just doesn’t like me, I think they’re bullying me, but I’ll deal with it.” So you feel sorry for them, and a form of triangulation. When in reality, they most likely didn’t put the work ethics in, or couldn’t pity play that they had children to feed in order to manipulate and exploit the boss as easy as they’d hoped.

Parents will blame their own parents, “My mum or dad wasn’t there for me. They always preferred my siblings.”

They will often Promise things and rarely deliver, as most coverts like to procrastinate, often saying they never promised in the first place. Some people do generally forget from time to time. Still, they will apologise. Narcissists will just twist all the facts, so they are not accountable, and it’s all your fault. They do not care for the consequences of their actions, and they will blame all others if something doesn’t go their way. Even if they were totally or partly to blame, they would not accept any responsibility.

3. A belief they are special.

They often believe they are misunderstood. They think they’re special, yet the world around them often doesn’t seem to agree. While most narcissists believe they’re better than all others, unique and special, and it’s ok to feel special, the difference is narcissistic people feel specially entitled, and above all others, they do not see people as individuals that are equal, and everyone is worthy, they only see themselves as righteous, a covert can feel like the world is against them, the covert can act and speak more vulnerable and tell tails of how all others let them down and hurt them, Overts will often say. “They can read people.” Coverts will often say. “Nobody gets me.”

They still want the people to take care of their needs. They will often play the role of victim, sulking and becoming depressed to gain the attention of those around them. Depression should always be taken seriously, but get them the professional help and don’t get sucked into any game playing.

4. A need for excessive admiration and attention.

They, like any narcissist, can be extremely impatient. Yet, they’ll probably be extremely polite if the food takes a long time in a fast-food restaurant if someone doesn’t give them the correct order, if they are kept waiting by others, they will often turn to you and get you to complain and speak up for them “Don’t you think this is taking too long?” “Perhaps you could say something.” They might complain themselves yet in a polite, misunderstood way as deep down they will be really annoyed they’ve been kept waiting, perhaps insulting staff to you. When the staff ask if all are ok, they change into a really polite, understanding person. When a staff member has left, they’ll talk about them to you again, they like most narcissistic people believe they are special and deserve special treatment. We can all be impatient when in a rush.

They are very easily upset when things don’t go their way. We can all not like it when we don’t get our own way. However, most reasonable people will take a breath, understand others perspectives even when they disagree, back down or find a Compromise. A narcissist will not compromise, or they might offer with one hand yet take with the other, where you’re left feeling, not like you’ve reached a compromise, but you’ve just been taken for a ride, they just seem unable to take on board others opinions or advice.

They can be prone to putting themselves down to others, to gain attention from those around them, to get their egos boosted. Those who are suffering from low self-esteem due to being invalidated by a narcissist. Putting yourself down alone does not make you a narcissist.

They can minimise their success around others in the hope that others will keep praising them, boosting their self-esteem. Those who are not narcissists and are just humble or embarrassed will often try to change the subject or focus on things you’ve achieved. A Covert narc will be all for “it’s not a big deal.” While thinking, please keep going on and on about how I achieved something. They will bring things up to then downplay them.

5. A sense of entitlement.

They are self-entitled, and they believe their needs come first. Without a care for who they hurt, they will often hold a grudge against others for a very long time, so listen carefully to how they talk about those they believe in having crossed them, they often seek revenge on those they believe in having mistreated them. Usually, they’ll wait for the perfect opportunity to take someone else down.

Most narcissists believe they are entitled to have whatever they want, whenever they want, they will happily take, and only give if they get some form of recognition for doing so.

They have no real sense of self, just following others behaviour that gets rewarded to then pass off as their own to hook people in. They can also switch from super happy to super sad very fast.

They have a quite smugness, kind of entitlement, superiority. Overts can be easier to spot with their big act in grand ways of how much better they are than others and their exaggeration of achievements, coverts are a little trickier, they tend to listen half-heartedly and observe what’s happening around them, they might not express negativity straight out like the overt who’d criticise what others say or do and put people down, coverts most often, eye roll, groan, eye glare, start yawing, dismissive gestures or get bored. Any comments made will be extremely judgemental and only from one point of view, which is as all narcissists their point of view only.

6. Exploit.

Coverts tend to use Passive Aggressive manipulation, although overts can also. Some covert narcissists deal with conflict or situations in passive-aggressive ways, often acting indirectly aggressive, which most narcissists can do, coverts do so most of the time, the show resistance to requests from those around them in more subtle ways, than the obvious covert who will tell you straight out, “I’m not doing that.” Or “I do things my way.” A covert might actually agree with a shrug of the shoulders, say “of course.” “Yes.” Or “as you wish.” When You ask them if they could help you out, then sit and do nothing, they might be sullen, sit and procrastinate or be stubborn about it, yet not actually do it. When you ask why they didn’t, they might make up excuses or say things like. “I thought you meant this.” Or “I forgot because you didn’t remind me.” And still not bother even though they agreed. They will conveniently forget. So if you ask them to grab something and they don’t, it’ll be. “You forgot to remind me.” You feel let down as you thought they would, yet you can not really say anything as it could be a mistake. Now good people do forget and will often try to make it up. Covert conveniently forget on a regular basis, gaslight by saying, “I forgot.” They shrug their shoulders and never do anything about it.

They will lie about everything, yet some of them have stories about things that seem ridiculous. To others, as they tell these stories with such truths, it’s difficult not to believe them. A lot will exaggerate actual events. When they are lying, if you pay close attention, they may not even blink, they may also change the tone in their voice, so observation is a must. Observe don’t absorb to protect yourself from people with a narcissist personality disorder. Many people will bend the truth, and the more the lies get out of hand, the more uncomfortable they look, feel and act. As it’s not natural to them, narcissistic people tend to get more confidence and more convincing when they lie. This could be because they actually believe their own false reality within themselves. So a calm demeanour doesn’t mean someone is telling you the truth.

They have an explanation for everything with their Word Salad, so they do trick our brains with great ease. You really need to pay close attention to your gut instinct. If something feels off, even if you don’t know it, trust your intuition.

When they get caught out with a lie, they will not back down, and they can be sat eating your chocolate someone brought you for Christmas, while theirs is sat sealed, and if you ask them, they will gaslight you with more lies, “you said I could have it.” Even though you didn’t so, you end up questioning yourself or feeling guilt for pulling them up on taking something without asking that’s yours. Where healthy people just wouldn’t do it, or if they ate all theirs and were super hungry, they’d most likely ask, or if they did and got caught, they’d slump their shoulder, apologise and offer to get you another, as narcissists believe they are entitled and have every right to what they want. Their wants come above all others needs, so they often think they’ve done nothing wrong and stand firm, that they are not in the wrong. Their image is more important than reality, and they will not back down, often with word salad, false apologies, or blame-shifting, they will convince others doing all they can, gaslighting, sulking silent treatments. That their reality is fact and that you are wrong, with or without evidence. They are always right.

Everyone can be moody, we all wake up some days with no clue as to what’s wrong, yet Covert narcissists can be extremely moody, turning hot and cold without any true reason, leaving those around them confused and often believing it was something they did to the narcissist.

7. Lack of empathy.

Most narcissists have a complete lack of Empathy. They are self-absorbed and often just think about themselves and getting their need met. They will rarely to never be there for you when you need them the most. Some people, when sick, will keep going. Therefore they might act, say or do things in a way you wouldn’t if someone else is sick, so for example, if someone with empathy is sick, yet carry on, when you’re sick they might ask how you are, yet expect you to carry on, yet not judge you if you don’t, a covert narcissist will want, need and demand attention help and support when they are sick, yet when you are it’ll be things like. “You said you’d do this for me today.” Or “are you still going to take me here?” It will always be about them getting their needs met, and if you don’t, they will hold it against you forevermore when they need to bring it up, they’ll forget the part where you were so sick you couldn’t and remind you about the fact you didn’t do something for them.

8. Jealousy and envy.

They resent those who have what they don’t.

Difficulty maintaining relationships. Most narcissistic people find this difficult, as deep down, most are insecure individuals that run around telling so many lies, they don’t know who to trust, some have actually had some form of trauma and been deeply hurt in their past. However, this is no excuse to go around hurting others, good people who’ve been hurt go around helping others through, which does help them feel better. Narcissists go around destroying all others to help them feel better. Most narcissistic people do the idolisation, devalue, discard and hoover. Some can stay in a relationship for years, others only months. Still, all have problems maintaining a healthy relationship with anyone close to them due to their lack of ability to compromise, their need for control, and the fact they never think anything is their fault, as they flip the script within their own minds, change the reality and end up believing their own lies while getting enables and flying monkeys to believe them also.

With a narcissist, Jealousy means to envy and to destroy. They have little to no self-esteem. Therefore they are extremely jealous of everything around them, not that they’ll show it to all those around them. Narcissists believe that everyone around them has something they don’t. They want it, no matter what they have, as they don’t have inner happiness they want more to fill that void, not understanding happiness comes from within, they can be jealous of their own children, for a number of reasons main one if the children are getting more attention than themselves, often why when their children do succeed at something, in the narcissists mind it’ll all be down to the narcissist if that’s the fact they helped them achieve it, or it’s from the narcissists DNA. The narcissist will always try to turn the attention back onto themselves.

Due to Jealous and envy, a narcissist will try to sabotage anything and everyone around them that the narcissist perceives as doing or achieving more than them.

9. Arrogance and Dominance.

Patronising and condescending, most narcissists patronise people around them, all take people down, so those around them are left feeling not good enough, with an overt it’s more “you can not do that.” Or “you’re crazy. With a covert, they’ll say things more like. “I wouldn’t if I was you.” Or “I’m concerned for your mental health.”

Coverts on the outside don’t often seem that bad and are not often physically abusive, all narcissists are confusing when we don’t understand what they do, yet coverts are so much more subtle in the way they go around things. Often their words never match their actions, and you just feel off around them, they might not directly put you down, or they might do it in a way that seems to be like they are helping you. They might not scream and shout or lash out. Yet you feel belittled by them and confused around them, questioning what they meant by that last remark. Listening to your body and your instincts, if something feels off, even if you don’t know what, those instincts are trying to protect you.

They can actually avoid social situations where they might not be in control of the situation. Often they’ll blame someone else for why they shall not be attending, their spouse doesn’t want to go, or their child is sick, so they are not to blame for not attending, yet they don’t risk looking less than they are, or being exposed by others, this isn’t from anxiety or panic attacks, this is due to their fear of not being top dog at an event.

The narcissistic personality disorder is on a spectrum, and they will use a weakness or strength of the individual they are targeting. They will use their manipulation tactics to suit their needs and depending on the person they are trying to manipulate. As we have the malignant, grandiose, somatic, cerebral, overt and covert, the victim narcissist on the spectrum, some are far more dangerous than others. You need to stay well clear. Others, if you can manage your own state of mind and limit contact, you don’t have to cut them off completely. Just be careful they don’t infect your mind.

Some once you see what they are and what they do, you can learn to observe and not absorb their toxic nature. I shall add the video link at the bottom. Some you can limit time around and avoid certain topics of conversation. Some you need to stay well clear.

Those who have the disorder have a disorder, you can not change them, it’s a hard enough job changing ourselves, plus they don’t want to recognise and faults within themselves to learn from mistakes and find strategies to cope with their disorder, they’d just prefer to carry on their path of destruction while blaming all others.

Never call them out on their behaviour. Those without empathy, you never know how they will act. If you don’t like how someone treats you, you are more than entitled to leave them to it and go live your life with them no longer in it. It’s not cruel. It’s not mean to let someone who continuously lets you down and hurts you to go live their life while you go and live yours, much wiser, much stronger, and so much happier.

They want control of all events, people and situations. If they don’t have control, they will manipulate the situation any way they can until they do, often leaving you thinking you were to blame. They may provoke you to get a reaction from you, just so they can blame it all on you, so you believe it was your fault for reacting. They will control you financially, sexual, your friendships with others, your education, your work. They control their affection they are willing to offer. They will threaten and/or guilt trip to control others.

With a narcissist, it is all about them, so if you find yourself feeling really miserable and drained emotionally or physically, or both, full of self-doubt, questioning yourself and events, blaming yourself, you are most likely around a narcissist.

Narcissists are Prone to putting others down. It’s is on a spectrum, and although most of us could act in one of the above ways at times, you do need at least five characters to have a narcissistic personality disorder. However, they may not show all the characteristics to one person at any given time.

Set Boundaries and stop all contact. Grey rock if you can not do no contact. At the start, it’s going to be really hard. You will have withdrawals, keep going. It gets easier. Do it now. You have to go through the withdrawals no other way. It’s far better to do it now than in ten years time. After withdrawals, you will reclaim your happiness.

Replace that void that they leave behind with new activities, new friends, anything, just get yourself busy, and keep going so you don’t go back. Sometimes it’s not the person you miss. It’s the routine you miss.

When you’re having down moments, put some uplifting music on, or call someone close to you, do yoga, meditation or exercise, watch something funny that makes you laugh.

Get help, support groups, find and connect with others who’ve been their best friends, family, reach out and find someone to help you. You can, and you will recover from this.

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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.

Click here for Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended reading list for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse.

Observe don’t absorb.

You’re not crazy.

The two faces of narcissism.

Mind games of a narcissist.


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