You have known them for a long time, but there’s something about the covert narcissist that you cannot understand. You cherish your relationship with them, but their weird behaviors baffle you.
Covert narcissists do some really strange things, like refusing to express their deep feelings even if it means the end of a close relationship.
They almost never say “Sorry” or accept responsibility for their mistakes in the relationship.
Read on to find out how they behave in more unexplainable ways.
7 Behaviors of A Covert Narcissist: Weird Things They Do
Your partner is most likely a covert narcissist if they are unusually self-centered, secretive, and deceptive.
Covert narcissists show many signs that clearly reveal who they truly are. They most likely “covertly” boss you around, get under your skin, and make you react in abnormal ways.
Here are some unusual and strange behaviors of a covert narcissist:
1. They stubbornly avoid doing things you request them.
Covert narcissists are ready with a million excuses when you ask them to do something for you.
They give various justifications, both credible and improbable, for not doing the work you assigned them.
They might seem mentally fatigued, busy, or troubled by their own issues, but actually, they wilfully refuse to accept the tasks you give them.
- The simple explanation is no responsibility means no chance to screw up, and thus no taking the blame.
- They may also conclude that “complying” with your demands makes them feel like a slave or a servant, lowering their self-esteem.
- Another reason could be that they were hurt by your actions or words, even though your “mistake” was unintentional and too trivial for most people to take offense at.
When you ask what they are upset about to ignore your requests, they deny being upset at all. It is part of their process of putting on a perfect front to hide their fears and vulnerabilities from you.
When confronted and sternly demanded, they may give in and complete the task, but do it shoddily and tardily.
The root cause is that they are “takers” who are always looking for what they can take from others.
They are strongly opposed to giving people generous gifts, always anticipating what they will receive in return.
2. They lie without any reason, and offer fake apologies when caught.
Covert narcissists are pathological liars. They lie for no reason.
They lie about almost everything to either hide what is going on in their minds or lead you up a false path.
They can tell you that a certain person is bad because they took a loan from the narcissist years ago and did not pay it back. In truth, they have never met that person.
They often embellish their stories with bizarre details from their imagination, with the idea of creating a false image in your mind.
They can tell you that they had a dream in which you were extremely evil and were whiplashing a pack of whimpering dogs in a cage.
Their false gossips aim to alienate you from your friends so that you see them as the only person worth being with. It also boosts their ego because they have control over you without you knowing.
If you catch their lies and threaten to leave them if they continue their always-on lying act, they will apologize to you. But, maybe not strangely, all of these apologies are fake.
The true goal of any forgiveness is expecting that the person will change for the better.
Covert narcissists, however, say “sorry’ only to defuse a stressful moment and keep you in the relationship. They do not intend to change themselves.
3. They say things under their breath, but you can hear them.
They often sigh and say things under their breath, but in a volume and tone that you understand what they said and what they meant.
However, when asked what they just said, they reply with, “Nothing.”
Refusing to take responsibility for their mistakes or harmful behavior is alien to them.
Actually, they wanted to heap insults and blame on you, but without taking any direct responsibility for them.
It’s part of their relentless agenda to undercut others and dismiss their ideas and beliefs.
If you repeat their words and challenge them to tell you why they said so, they make up a story that is related to another person from their past. They conclude with why did you think it was about you when it wasn’t.
In retaliation, they can use guilt-tripping or withholding affection to get you under control.
4. They will patiently gaslight you in subtle ways.
Gaslighting is manipulating others into doubting their own perceptions and memories
When a covert narcissist has worked their way on you, you will be a highly confused person, always undecided about what to do next if the narcissist is not around.
They distort your understanding of yourself.
They also distort other people’s views of you. They spread a smear campaign about you behind your back so that people that you don’t even know look at you with suspicion.
They make it a point to remind you that you are contradicting yourself from a stand you took in the past.
Covert narcissists are always finding ways to blame things on you. They may say they missed an important appointment because they had to call you, and you had so much to talk about.
They may do something bad and will go to any length to say it was you who made them do that.
If you suspect them of cheating, they will flatly deny it and tell you that you are hallucinating. If you caught them cheating, they will say it was you who was responsible for their cheating on you.
They can even be more strange and tell you that since you were always suspecting them, this became true like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
5. They are selfish even in close relationships.
They always consider how something will benefit them first and foremost, before anyone else. For them, self-interest takes priority.
The covert narcissist will always take the bigger part of the pizza — unless they have an upset stomach.
The “coverts” are so self-obsessed that they are incapable of being truly interested in others.
They are mostly drawn to those who can fuel their narcissism by praising and admiring them.
They deftly play the roles of being made a martyr and victim by people in their other relationships. This “justifies” their incessant need for validation and attention.
They will show they have to urgently be elsewhere when you need them to help out with something, like taking you to a hospital checkup.
They will never recommend you to anyone to further your career or business prospects.
Even when it’s a small favor that they are easily capable of doing, they won’t do it because they feel it will override their needs.
In fact, if they are asked about their opinion of you, they will surely mention your negative and weaker sides. This is actually projecting their own flaws and negative traits onto others.
According to the Narcissism and Empathy Bell Curve (Baron-Cohen, 2011), most people have an average level of empathy as default and may behave in ways that can be called positive narcissism.
Covert narcissists can be placed on the left end of the middle part of the curve since they have low but enough empathy to stop them from acts of physical aggression.
Few people have no empathy (and high narcissism, like malignant narcissists), and few on the other side have a high level of empathy (and no traits of narcissism).
6. They don’t let you finish your talk before bringing up their story.
They are chronic interrupters and conversation killers.
One of the things covert narcissists say quite often is, “I’m always right.”
That warns the other person not to cross them or risk serious consequences. It comes from their tendency to dominate conversations, make everything revolve around them, and dismiss others’ opinions.
Whenever you two are talking, they will cut you and take the discussion away to talk about their issues.
This behavior can leave their loved ones feeling drained and unheard.
To them, interrupting you is what makes the conversation interesting and dynamic. It points to their haloed sense of self-importance.
They usually do not try so in a group because they are afraid of being called out as a narcissistic person.
When you are in a relationship with them, they will hijack any conversation where you are in the spotlight. If you are talking in a group and everyone is listening intently, they will try to downgrade you with their comments or gestures like eye rolling or smirking.
If you are watching closely, notice that they actually are emotionally abusing you by steamrolling over your wishes to speak and be heard.
In case they have nothing, they may simply silence you with, “Shh…! Listen to that!” making you hear a non-existing rustle.
Narcissists In Relationships
7. They show the classic signs of passive-aggressive behavior.
When one expresses unpleasant feelings indirectly rather than talking about them openly, they are engaging in passive-aggressive behavior.
Passive-aggression behaviors include sulking, backhanded compliments, procrastination, withdrawal, and refusal to communicate. A covert narcissist shows all of them.
A covert narcissist may feel angry, resentful, or frustrated on the inside, but will show as if they are being unemotional or even cheerful on the outside. But their behavior patterns, like being sarcastic or argumentative, reveal they are in a negative state of mind.
They will criticize you for no fault of yours. They will make gestures of disgust at many things you do or say.
Covert narcissists make you feel small in subtle ways. They will make derogatory remarks about you, and when you show your discontent, they will say things like, “I was only joking.”
They show up too late when both of you have to be somewhere together, keep you waiting for most things, and reply late to your messages — just to show that they are more important than you.
Their compliments are non-compliments and always come with a rider. Like, “You would have looked more presentable if you were not this obese.”
Mark it, their passive-aggression is intentional.
When pushed, these covert narcissists will likely become openly aggressive, paranoid, and hostile, while accusing you or others of causing their outbursts.
What are some weird things narcissists say?
Narcissists have a way of saying things that can be confusing, hurtful, or just downright weird. Here are some things that they may say to others:
- “I’m the best at everything.” Narcissists often boast of their supremacy because they have an overinflated sense of self-importance and believe they are superior to others in every way.
- “You’re lucky to have me in your life.” Narcissists may use this statement to manipulate others into thinking they are valuable, helpful, or important to have around.
- “Hey, you’re too sensitive.” Narcissists use this dismissive phrase to play down others’ feelings, complaints, or concerns and make the actual victim feel like they are overreacting.
- “You’re just jealous of me.” Narcissists may use this to deflect criticism or lay blame onto others and make themselves appear superior.
- “I don’t need anyone else, I’m perfectly fine on my own.” They often use this phrase to assert their independence and self-sufficiency, but it can also be a way of avoiding vulnerability or emotional intimacy.
- “I’m the victim here.” Narcs cleverly use this to play the victim, thereby washing their hands off of all responsibilities (for any mistakes they made), and gaining sympathy or attention from others.
- “You don’t understand me.” Narcissists may use this phrase to create a sense of distance or isolation from others and make themselves appear unique or special.
What are some weird habits of narcissists?
here are some common weird habits of narcissists:
- Obsessive grooming: Narcissists are often overly concerned with their appearance and may spend excessive amounts of time grooming themselves.
- Seek but don’t give praise: Narcissists have an insatiable need for attention and may constantly seek compliments from others, but are reluctant to give out any.
- One-upping: This is a classic narcissistic habit. They will nearly always try to one-up others in conversations, even in their self-talk when overhearing others, making everything a competition where they hold the winning cards.
- Blaming others for everything: Narcissists can blame you for situations that are completely out of your control, such as a rainy day or a city-wide power outage. They rarely accept responsibility for their actions and instead blame others for their mistakes.
- Sense of entitlement: They often believe that they are entitled to special treatment and privileges, wherever they go, regardless of whether they have earned them.
- Need for control: Narcissists often have a strong need for control and may try to manipulate others to get their way.
- Lack of empathy: Narcissists often lack empathy for others and may not care about how their actions affect others. So, they can easily criticize others while themselves being quite sensitive to criticism.
How do covert narcissists behave usually?
• Usually, covert narcissists tend to be people-pleasers early in a relationship to win your attention, empathy, and devotion.
• They present themselves as the victim such convincingly that you tend to believe in and sympathize with them.
• They keep criticizing your actions and devaluing your achievements so that you are always trying to live up to “their” standards.
• They manipulate you into isolating yourself from your family and friends.
• They subtly take control of your behaviors, speech, and reactions.
Three more weird things narcissists do:
- They are obsessed with dictators,
- They prevent you from relaxing, and
- They can never give a genuine compliment.
Though covert narcissists may seem calm, cool, and collected on the outside, they are, in fact, incredibly stressful to be around when you are in a close relationship with them.
These individuals tend to be manipulators who charm others with their pleasant demeanor. This makes it easy for them to persuade others to believe in a false and faulty image of you that they have created.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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