Covert narcissists (aka closet or vulnerable narcissists) aren’t nearly as easy to spot as overt, grandiose or malignant narcissists. They are dark and hidden and in the shadows, even in broad daylight, even as they seek the attention they crave so desperately.
They may appear shy and/or humble. They play the victim to elicit sympathy. They are charming and self-deprecating. They say things to make you believe they care about you when actually the only thing they care about is themselves.
You think they are open and honest, until you discover they are pathological liars. You think they are sweet and loving, until they crush you just as they would a bug underfoot. They charm and disarm you, and then they manipulate and maul you. To them it’s just a big game they repeat over and over again to feed their empty inner selves. They leave grief, confusion, despair and brokenness in their wake. What a shame.
It’s easy to get caught in a covert narcissist’s trap – just as I did. After the initial love bombing/idealization phase, I observed all of the traits below in the narcissist who preyed on me. Beware!
20 traits of covert (aka: closet, vulnerable) narcissists
Note: These twenty “covert” traits are in addition to those exhibited by narcissists in general.
- appear humble (especially initially)
- are often “off-the-charts” charming
- control with silent treatment, stonewalling, and other forms of withholding
- manipulate with guilt and self pitying performances
- use tears and sob stories to hoover you back
- flutter and fawn over others to win favour
- feign innocence, absolve themselves of guilt
- lie and cheat with impunity and without remorse
- fake humility to draw attention to themselves
- are adept at acting, faking, fooling, and shape-shifting (i.e. they are chameleons)
- behave worshipfully and go beyond the call of duty when they are idealizing someone (in the initial stages)
- have delusions of victimization and persecution
- stage crises to gain attention
- take pleasure in other peoples problems and tragedies
- harbour long-term grudges
- resist answering questions directly / are evasive
- exaggerate suffering and sickness to garner sympathy
- blame problems and failures on “unfair” people, institutions, and circumstances
- use backhanded tactics such as gossip and smear campaigns, against people they envy
- criticize indirectly through implied blame, lack of acknowledgement, and unfavourable comparisons
Grandiose and malignant narcissists demonstrate additional and/or different traits and behaviours, which I’ve also sourced from Hall’s book. I highly recommend the book to anyone who was raised in a narcissistic family system (as I was), and/or who is or has been in a relationship with someone who is high on the narcissistic spectrum – yes, I’ve been there too! This book is proving to be an invaluable tool in my own ongoing healing process as is Hall’s blog narcissistfamilyfiles.com.
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