6 Signs You Are Dealing With a Covert Narcissist

Covert narcissists are the most sneaky of them all. It isn’t enough that they carry the traits of a regular narcissist, but they do so with the, “I just want to live my life in peace and do the best I can” attitude.

Narcissists covertly find ways to get under your skin, and make it purposely difficult for you to to call them out on it because guess what, they can perfect the victimized smile.

“It wasn’t me.”

Enough of that!

When you’re dealing with a covert narcissist, there are so many signs that will confirm this – and I have cherry picked the very top 6 just for you.

Are you ready?

#1 They Become Dismissive When You Fail To Do Enough For Them

When you don’t do enough for the covert narcissist, it doesn’t take long for them to put on their cloak of dismissiveness. They wear it because they want to look like you not ‘needing’ them is a sign of rejection. 

Covert narcissists hate to be rejected. It’s not in their DNA to not even notice you can’t make a date, or you have to let them down in some way. A shrug and a, “Okay no problem, maybe next time” is only something you or I know how to do, but the covert narcissist will see you letting them down, which does what exactly?

It dents their pride and lets them know that they haven’t got somebody in their life who has their back the way they thought. 

This is a Mistaken Trait in the Beginning

When you first get to know a covert narcissist, the struggle can be real. They will react in these extreme ways to you changing or flipping your plans (ultimately ‘letting them down’), and make it seem to you as something, or someone they just ‘are.’

Oh, you know what they get like when I can’t make it.

It’s just who they are.

They can become a little distant when they’re annoyed. They’ll come back around soon. 

It’s not narcissism, they can just get really low self-esteem sometimes.

No… actually it doesn’t really work that way, and after a certain length of time, that realization begins to open up further when more covert narcissism traits seep out and reveal themselves to you. 

Your empathic nature will give them the benefit of the doubt in the beginning, and I see this pattern all the time.

#2 Life is ‘Never Fair’ For Them

You will hear… time and time again… how life is never fair for the covert narcissist. They love nothing more than to tell the world how much they have going on, and even joke sometimes that there’s ‘no rest for the wicked.’ 

Covert narcissists bulk out their days with appointments, places they have to go and people they have to see. They do so, knowing they can complain about their lack of free time to anybody willing to listen.

I haven’t got a day free for three weeks. People need me.

I can’t afford to take time off, I have got too many people relying on me.

I love what I do, but I wish I had more time to put myself first.

Oh dear, poor them, right?

In reality, the covert narcissist is busying themselves on purpose – mainly so they don’t have a spare second to be alone with themselves because they can’t stand it.

Poor Me

Yes, victimization is strong in the blood of a covert narcissist because it’s how they justify all the wonderful things they do for everybody while getting very little back in return. 

#3 Their Energy Makes You Feel Off

I have actually had people tell me that their blood runs cold when in the presence of a covert narcissist. I made sense of this when I started to hear how the room might have a kind of energetic feel to it, as the covert narcissist bounces off the people in it, but for those who spot something isn’t right, they feel it in their bones. 

On top of that, many people feel physically sick if they spend too much time around covert narcissists, or get headaches or tension in their muscles. Remember that the body and mind are connected, so if you are feeling stressed every time you are around them, watching them fake-smile their way through another conversation, it can alter your own physiology too. 

Covert Narcissists create stress, and the body and mind respond to that in ways that try to protect you. Stress doesn’t need to be one huge shot of cortisol, it can be small, constant offerings to keep you on high alert – and that’s where your body starts to feel very off.

#4 They Compete With You

Covert narcissists are old hat at competing with you. If you have something they want, they will go out and buy three.

If you are working towards a new goal, they will find a new goal for themselves, bigger and better than yours, and even manage to finish it before you finish yours. 

Anything You Can Do…

You bet, the covert narcissist can do better! 

This is a sure and strong reflection of their low self-esteem. It isn’t enough that they can just be happy for you. They have to have it for themselves too.


They want the spotlight on themselves!

#5 The Grudges Are Real

Covert narcissists rarely say things they don’t like in the moment because they know too well it will cause the wrong kind of attention. 

They don’t want to be seen as troublemakers!

However… they can hold it against you. If they feel they have been treated unfairly, they will wait for the perfect moment to unleash their revenge on you in a way that makes you look terrible. 

When You Least Expect it

Don’t for one second ever think you’re safe with a covert narcissist. Their smiles and laughter is always covering something up, and if it is some form of punishment to you, you’re going to find yourself stuck in a very unpleasant surprise. 

#6 The Bubbling Envy

The most special and deserving person on the planet award goes to…

The Covert Narcissist! *Cheers and surprising gasps*

Yes. The covert narcissist wants to always feel superior, and special in a way that nobody else can fathom. They want the glory and recognition, and they want to be told how fantastic they are.

If… on the slightest off-chance… the award or praise heaps on you for once – don’t expect the cover narcissist to cheer. 

They will smile and do that little polite silent clap, but they will do so already plotting their next step to overshadow you. They can’t stand to see you being the center of attention. 

As the old saying goes:

Pay attention to those who don’t clap when you win.

Related Articles