The world has two types of narcissists: overt and covert. They both crave attention and praise, but in different ways. The overt narcissist is grandiose exhibitionist, entitled and extroverted in their behavior. A covert narcissist feels unworthy, lacks confidence, is full of self-doubt, and is more introverted.

As a result, the covert narcissist is less easy to spot. Covert narcissists are shy and, therefore, subtle in their actions. Indeed, many of us won’t know them until we are in a close relationship with them. There are, however, weird things covert narcissists do which help us identify them.

11 Weird Things Covert Narcissists Do

1. They steal your thunder

One of the first weird things covert narcissists do is steal your thunder. A covert narcissist doesn’t brag about their so-called achievements the same way an overt narcissist does. Overt narcissists demand you pay attention to their latest story.

Covert narcissists like to piggyback or jump on your bandwagon with outrageous tales of their own. Whatever you tell them, they’ll top it with something more spectacular or entertaining. For instance, if you’ve ever donated to charity, they completed the Iron Man Challenge, raising thousands in the process.

2. They reveal their trauma early on

It doesn’t matter whether you are a friend, a potential love interest, or a colleague. Talking about trauma early in the relationship is another weird thing covert narcissists do.

They are extremely open about past traumatic events after a brief encounter. Covert narcissists have no problem recounting the most horrific details soon after meeting you. They do this to gain your sympathy and trust.

3. They have a weird way of apologizing

Narcissists don’t apologize because nothing is their fault. However, covert narcissists have a weird way of saying sorry. It’s often long-winded, revolves around them, and is a way of explaining their unacceptable behavior. They’ll discuss how their life’s traumas have shaped them.

Make no mistake, they’ll tear at your heartstrings. This is the point, of course. You’ll find the apology will be extremely harsh on their actions, forcing you to sympathize.

4. They won’t try anything new

We all have food we won’t eat, or music we don’t like, but we’re not afraid of trying something new to see if we like it. Covert narcissists refuse to try anything new.

They are picky about what they eat, the clothes they wear, the places they frequent, even sex. Everything must be perfect for them to have the usual vanilla sex, with absolutely no deviation.

5. They always put themselves down

Shame and self-loathing occupy the minds of covert narcissists, so they’ll never big themselves up like overt narcissists do. Instead, they’ll be self-deprecating in the hope you’ll build them up with compliments and messages of reassurance.

If you don’t get the hint when they put themselves down, supplying the desired response, they can explode in anger, with you wondering what on earth just happened.

6. But they portray themselves as saints

The covert narcissist is happy to tell you about all the times they helped someone. Donating money, volunteering, building, making, giving things away for friends, family or strangers. At first, they will impress you with their kindness and compassion. And, of course, helping others isn’t a red flag.

But as you get to know them, they’ll start complaining they are being taken for granted or not appreciated and the whole thing becomes a bit of a ‘poor me, I’m so good but so hard done by’.

7. They use ‘black and white’ thinking

One of the weird things covert narcissists do is use extreme language or ‘black and white’ thinking. For example, if something upsets them, you ‘always’ do this or you ‘never’ cared about them. The world is incredible or hellish. Women are amazing or mean b****s. There’s no grey area or nuance with a covert narcissist.

8. They hold on to the tiniest grudges

Something you have no recollection of becomes the focus of their rage in seconds. It’s as if they’ve kept notes of every tiny little thing you did wrong that upset them. Even if they said it was not a problem and they’ve moved on, clearly, they haven’t. They might pretend to be OK with something, only to bring it up again months, if not years later.

This behavior occurs during the devaluation phase of a relationship with a narcissist. This is a gaslighting technique designed to make you feel insecure. You try to placate the narcissist and your efforts result in a return to the idealization stage again.

9. They are happy/not happy for your success

You might expect your partner to be happy for your success, and in the beginning, they look as if they are. However, it will come at a cost. The enthusiasm first shown towards you soon fades into resentment, jealousy, and bitterness.

This is because covert narcissists are deeply envious of other people’s talents, achievements, etc. So, while at the start, they may seem like your greatest supporter, they’ll quickly become grumpy and sulk until the focus goes back on them.

10. They are experts in passive aggressive behavior

Lots of people are passive-aggressive. However, this is one of the main weird things covert narcissists do. Because of their low self-esteem, covert narcissists are afraid of direct confrontation.

So, they use passive aggressive techniques instead of dealing with a conflict. They’ll avoid talking face-to-face but are happy to engineer situations to put you in the wrong. For instance, they’ll deliberately tell you the wrong time to meet for dinner, then berate you for being late.

11. They like to accuse you of wrongdoing

Covert narcissists don’t like to fight, however, they will provoke arguments by accusing you of something you haven’t done. This is another form of gaslighting, designed to make you question your memory or reality. It won’t matter if you remain calm and level-headed.

In fact, that will infuriate them even more. They’ll accuse you of being a cold-hearted b**** if you refuse to engage with them.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are lots of weird things covert narcissists do, either to gaslight you, get your attention or sympathy, or simply to raise their self-esteem. If you have any experience with them, why not let us know?



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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Julie

    Thank you Janey. Very, very helpful information. I have had experience with many of the covert’s offensive (not, as in, I take offense to the words) behaviors. They practice these so as to throw the onus quickly off of themselves, their methods and onto the recipient.

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