The Top 13 Covert Narcissistic Passive-Aggressive Behaviors

The Top 13 Covert Narcissistic Passive-Aggressive Behaviors.

Within the realm of psychological disorders, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) has garnered significant attention due to its challenging nature. While overt narcissists tend to display an arrogant and grandiose demeanour, covert narcissists operate in a more discreet manner, often combining passive-aggressive behaviours with narcissistic tendencies. Understanding these top thirteen covert narcissistic, passive-aggressive behaviours is crucial for identifying and navigating relationships with such individuals.

Passive-aggressive behaviours are often associated with covert narcissists, individuals who possess an inflated sense of self-importance while hiding their true intentions and self-centred nature. This article aims to unveil and analyse thirteen covert narcissist traits.

  1. Non-Verbal Hostility:
    Covert narcissists often employ non-verbal cues to express their intense hostility. This behaviour might manifest as eye-rolling, sighs, smirks, or withdrawing affection. These subtle yet powerful gestures convey ridicule and disdain while maintaining plausible deniability for the narcissist.
  2. Silent Treatment:
    One of the most common passive-aggressive tactics employed by covert narcissists is the silent treatment. By ignoring or withholding communication, they manipulate others emotionally, giving them control while avoiding direct confrontation. This behavior is incredibly frustrating as it creates silence-induced uncertainty and anxiety in the victim.
  3. Backhanded Compliments:
    Covert narcissists skillfully utilise backhanded compliments to subtly undermine their targets. They cloak their insults within seemingly positive statements, leaving recipients feeling confused and invalidated. This behavior gradually erodes the self-esteem and self-worth of the victim.
  4. Indirect Provocations:
    Instead of openly expressing their discontent, covert narcissists engage in indirect provocation. They may make provocative statements or engage in subtle behaviours that provoke or antagonise others. The intention is to elicit an emotional response while maintaining plausible deniability and allowing the narcissist to play the victim when confronted.
  5. Passive Sabotage:
    Covert narcissists often engage in acts of passive sabotage, which they cunningly disguise as innocent mistakes. For instance, they might “forget” important dates, misplace important items, or conveniently fail to complete tasks they were assigned. These actions serve to undermine others’ confidence and competence subtly.
  6. Gaslighting:
    Gaslighting, a manipulative technique employed by covert narcissists, causes victims to question their perception of reality. Through subtle means like denying or trivialising others’ experiences, covert narcissists succeed in making their victims doubt their own sanity, thus maintaining control over them.
  7. Victimhood:
    Covert narcissists frequently assume the role of a victim, adeptly leveraging their circumstances to garner sympathy and deflect blame. By portraying themselves as innocent and wronged, they manipulate others into feeling obligated to support and protect them, maintaining control while avoiding accountability for their actions.
  8. Passive-Aggressive Notes or Messages:
    Covert narcissists excel at using passive-aggressive notes or messages to express underlying hostility. These written exchanges often leave room for misinterpretation or plausible deniability, making it difficult for the victim to address the matter directly. The narcissist gains satisfaction from the resulting confusion, frustration, and power imbalance.
  9. Withholding Emotional Support:
    Covert narcissists often withhold emotional support when their loved ones are going through difficult times. They may appear uninterested, dismissive, or even openly ridicule the person seeking support. This behavior serves to establish control and dominance while undermining the victim’s emotional well-being.
  10. Veiled Criticism:
    Covert narcissists rarely express their criticism openly but instead veil it in sarcasm, backhanded compliments, or subtle gestures. They skillfully hide their true intentions behind a mask of apparent concern or humour, leaving the recipient confused and unsure of how to react.
  11. Indirect Control:
    Rather than overtly demanding control, covert narcissists employ indirect means to manipulate others. They skillfully influence situations through emotional tactics, guilt-tripping, or subtly imposing their will, often leaving those around them feeling obligated to comply.
  12. Playing the Martyr:
    Covert narcissists frequently play the martyr in an attempt to garner sympathy and gain control over others. By presenting themselves as self-sacrificing or burdened by excessive responsibilities, they manipulate those around them into meeting their needs and desires, reinforcing their self-perceived importance.
  13. Triangulation:
    An essential passive-aggressive behaviour, triangulation involves covert narcissists pitting two or more people against each other. By selectively sharing information or sowing seeds of mistrust, they create an atmosphere of tension and competition, which serves to bolster their sense of power and control.

Recognising and understanding covert narcissistic, passive-aggressive behaviours is crucial for navigating relationships with such individuals. Awareness equips individuals with the tools necessary to protect their emotional well-being and maintain healthy boundaries.

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