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Updated: May 16, 2023

A Covert Narcissist is often overlooked and unrecognized as a narcissist yet some in the professional world see a covert narcissist as the most dangerous-partly due to this dynamic.

According to

  • "The covert narcissist fails to develop emotional empathy, self-awareness, or a stable sense of identity and self-esteem in childhood.

  • Covert narcissists avoid the spotlight and prefer passive-aggressive means of controlling others due to their fear being exposed and humiliated.

  • Tactics of a covert narcissist might include belittling, triangulation, and avoiding direct responsibility."

As you can see above, covert narcissists will still try to control you just like the other kinds of narcissists but they do it in a much more passive-aggressive way. Some covert examples are:

  • Changing the schedule or routine. Maybe they refuse to keep one at all. This gives them control in the sense that everyone is having to work around them.

    • They refuse to eat dinner at the same time each night so that they can have you constantly trying to accommodate them and feel guilty if they ‘have’ to eat a cold meal.

    • They never get up at the same time. This way, you have to work around them to make up the bed, how quiet you have to be when getting ready.

  • Being Late

    • Making everyone either have to work around them, feel bad for not working around them, or to be an interruption that gets them attention when they get there.

  • Forgetting things that are important to you

    • Leaving you frustrated and therefore controlling your emotions

    • Making you feel unimportant

  • Mumbling and not speaking up

    • Controlling that you have to stop everything to hear them and completely focus on them.

    • Causing you to have to continually ask them to repeat themselves

    • Causing you frustration and therefore controlling your emotions.

  • Being loud or interrupting when you’re trying to do something & focused

    • Distracts you and puts your focus on them

    • Leaving you frustrated and therefore controlling your emotions…Seeing a pattern yet?

    • Making you late, unprepared, or unable to accomplish what you otherwise could

  • Deliberately doing things the way you don’t like it

    • Gives them control over your emotions

    • Counting on you to either ‘nag’ them about it so they can make you look bad or causing you to hold it in and let that repressed emotion turn into dis-ease. Hmmmm….sounds like the cause of physical symptoms…

  • Never asking you how you like something

    • Leaves you feeling less than, unimportant, not enough, unlovable, and unworthy

    • This is a prime way of tearing you down covertly

  • Not discussing their purchases with you or hiding their receipts, accounts, insurances, or money access

    • This keeps you on the edge of always having anxiety regarding money

    • This disempowers you from feeling you can do anything about your situation

  • Disturbing your sleep

    • Controlling your schedule, your emotions, etc.

    • Damaging your health

    • Impairing your ability to recognize what they are doing as easily and it’s a bonus if they can make you irritable because then they can blame it all on you!

  • Rushing you into intimacy

  • Stonewalls by just giving you the cold shoulder and treating you as though you don't even exist

  • Thinking they are "above the law"

  • Speaking to you in a condescending way

  • Likes to "pick" and then gaslight you when you state you don't like it

These things can make you lose who you are, experience brain fog and health issues, make you lose other relationships, lead to job loss, interfere with your ability to parent to the best of your ability, make more mistakes than you would otherwise, be less wise to their schemes, and so much more.

Some things you can do to counter this:

  • God time-Everyday! He is where our ultimate wisdom comes from.

  • Boundaries. Read the books I recommend in my program and apply them in your life. They will be uncomfortable at first, but the more you apply them, the more comfortable and easy they will become. Remember, God created boundaries!

  • Do not react, but do respond in ways that give consequences to these behaviors. If they are going to act like an egocentric, unruly toddler, they need to learn they will not get the results they are hoping for.

  • Simply not centering everything around them. The need to learn that God is the center of our world, not them!

  • Sleeping in a separate room if they don’t respect your sleep. You might find you like this if you are living with a narcissist! Sleep is essential. This also provides you a safe space.

  • Create your own schedule and stick to it. Do not jump to respond to their every request and message. Let them learn that your time is valuable and worthy of respect.

  • Take separate vehicles. If you don’t feel safe, don’t ride with them. If they don’t respect your time, driving separately gives both of you autonomy to decide.

  • Make sure you have access to money so that you aren’t at their mercy for expenses. The Proverbs 31 woman worked. She had her own income and skills to provide if she needed to. You have the personal agency to decide how many hours based on your responsibilities & preferences but this keeps you out of financial codependency and the ability to escape and provide if ever necessary. A healthy, safe man should not have a problem with this.

  • If they mumble, you don’t have to keep asking them what they said. This is a natural consequence using this as a manipulative tool.

  • Put in earbuds, lock the door, or find a private space elsewhere if they continue to interrupt you. You deserve that respect.

  • Trust your body when you feel rushed or pressured that it is warning you something isn't right.

  • Refuse to allow the stonewalling to control you. Go on about your life and find something soothing to comfort you instead of focusing on their behavior.

  • Hold them to the standards they enforce on you

  • State your boundaries of what you are okay with and what you are not. If they resist, do not engage in their arena of crazy making. Just repeat your boundaries and enforce consequences if ignored.

  • Know your worth comes from the Lord and no one else. Keep meditating on Scriptures that confirm this so much that when you are spoken to that way, you are not rattled but instead see it as poor behavior and character on their part.

  • It's not you. They do not change. It's their personality and who they are.

  • You aren't crazy. You are worthy. You are loveable. You are enough. You are important. You are not alone in this.

  • Please reach out to me if you need further assistance and are ready to make necessary changes for your and your loved ones.

***Always, always, always, think safety first. Pray and use wisdom and discernment in how you approach these situations. Everyone’s circumstances are different. If your circumstances are extreme or if you feel you are in danger, please contact your local DV center for help and resources or call 911 if in immediate danger.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233 (SAFE)

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matt. 10:16

"Emotional abuse is simply covert physical abuse." Connie Diffenderfer, BSN, RN, NC-BC-BC-MHC

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