7 Weird Things Covert Narcissists Do (Strange Behaviors!)

The weird things covert narcissists do! Like, they make it a point to know about your weak points so that they can hurt you where it hurts you the most.

Another odd thing they do is that they are stubbornly unwilling to discuss their deepest feelings.

You’ve known them for a long time, but there’s something about them you don’t understand. You cherish them more than anything else in the world, but their weird behaviors baffle you.

Are they intentionally trying to get under your skin? Or are they secretly ordering you around and having their way with you? If your partner seems unusually self-centered, secretive, and devious, they are probably a covert narcissist.

Video by HIP.

Want to find out if they are? Read on.

Strange behaviors of Covert Narcissists

7 Strange Behaviors And Weird Things Covert Narcissists Do

A covert narcissist shows many signs that clearly reveal who they truly are.

They play the vulnerable victim who needs your attention and empathy. They like to control you and your actions, like cutting you off from your friends by telling you they are a bad influence on you. They criticize you and downplay your successes.

Here below are some strange behaviors of a covert narcissist:

1. They refuse to do things you request.

Covert narcissists react with stubbornness to your requests to do something for you. They deliberately forget the responsibilities you assigned to them.

One reason is that they might have felt hurt by your actions or words, even if it was unintentional on your part or too trivial for normal people to take offense at. Another possibility is that doing what you want them to do makes them feel like a slave to you.

When you ask them what are they upset about that is stopping them from neglecting your requests, they deny being upset at all. They give various reasons, both credulous and incredulous, for not taking up the work you assigned them.

When confronted and sternly demanded, they may give in and complete the task, but do it shoddily and tardily.

They are takers, and 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.

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2. They lie without any reason, and offer fake apologies.

The covert narcissists are pathological liars. They lie about almost everything to either hide what is going on in their minds or lead you up a false path.

They lie for no reason, like telling you that a passerby is bad because they took a loan from them years ago and did not return it when the truth is that they have never met that person.

Moreover, they embellish things with details from their imagination, usually with the idea of creating a false image in your mind.

They can easily say that they had a dream in which you looked extremely cruel and were whiplashing a bunch of docile wolves around you.

Covert narcissists work hard to keep their relationships going. They do this to keep their ego and self-importance boosted.

To that end, anytime they fear you may be about to leave them, they apologize to you. But all of these apologies are fake. 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.”

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.

4. They gaslight you in subtle ways.

They distort your understanding of yourself.

They also distort other people’s views of you. They will often spread a smear campaign about you behind your back so that people 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 think about how something will benefit them first and most before anyone else. For them, their self-interest takes priority.

The covert narcissist will always take the bigger part of the pizza, unless they have an upset stomach.

Covert narcissists are so obsessed with themselves that they are unable of being really interested in others. They are mostly interested in those people who can fuel their narcissism by praising and admiring them.

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. In fact, if they are asked about their opinion about you, they will surely mention your negative and weaker sides.

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.

Narcissism Empathy Bell Curve
Narcissism and Empathy Bell Curve

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.

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).

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.

6. They do not let you finish.

They are chronic interrupters and conversation killers.

Whenever you two are talking, they will cut you and take the discussion away to talk about their issues.

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.

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 outburst.

[Check out the 10 Strange Behaviors of Narcissists In Relationships]

Final Words

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.

But you can see through that façade if you look closely at the classic signs of a narcissist.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, mindfulness, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).


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