signs of covert narcissismWe all have come in contact with the flamboyant narcissist. Their self-absorption can’t be mistaken. But there is also the covert narcissist, who is not so easy to decipher. They are equally as self-absorbed as the outward version and equally as destructive in relationships.

Narcissistic personality disorder is created in one of two ways in childhood. Either the child is given too much attention or not enough. This leaves a large void as they enter adulthood. Their never-satisfied “taker” stance becomes the perfect magnet for the unknowing “giver” personality. Narcissists will attempt to find someone who will give them the attention they either had or lacked as children, putting others at an emotional deficit.

Narcissists will exhibit these five signs:

1. False Humility

This is actually a form of pride but will be shown in a self-deprecating way. Narcissists will play the victim and put themselves down so that they bait you into complimenting them. They will say they are doing things because they want to, but they are approval-seeking. They are concerned about themselves and are not truly humble.

Their goal is to let you know they are important and seek high status positions. Yet they disguise themselves in humility — which isn’t anything like an inner humble character of one who puts others before themselves. Their goal is to make sure they are stroked for their efforts.

2. Lack of Empathy

Narcissists will ignore any valid concerns you may have. They will choose to follow their agenda in every circumstance because they are selfish. They don’t want to learn compassion and want to stay isolated and withdrawn. They will ignore you when you aren’t feeling well but want to be doted on when they are not well. There is no meeting halfway since they only want to be served, not to serve.

3. Immature Responses

Narcissists are highly sensitive and take offense at simple criticisms. They magnify a perceived or real offense more than it deserves. They are not able to dialogue but deflect blame onto others for their reactions.

They attempt to cover their anger by pretending things don’t bother them, yet their nonverbal body language shows anger even though they don’t admit it. They can become passive-aggressive in their responses and not follow through with actions.

4. Simplification of Others’ Needs

Narcissists will minimize the needs of the people around them. They will not explore the details of a particular situation because they don’t deem it worthy of their time. They will label people and deflect blame onto them instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. They reduce complex issues to simple ones in order to brush them aside as stupid or useless. They don’t want to be bothered with facts or logic, only their own limited scope of what is important so as not to invest their time or energy in anything contrary to their personal agenda.

5. Unable to Listen

Narcissists tend to “shoot from the hip” with quick advice and not ask questions during conversations, but instead shut down dialogue so they do the minimum amount. They do not want to expend any energy toward relationships. They don’t care about what you have to say because they want to follow what is best for them regardless of what you are sharing. In the end, they don’t care enough to listen to you.

Obviously, not all quiet or shy people are covert narcissists. But keep these signs in mind. Covert narcissists are not as benign as they seem and can cause you much distress.

Woman with crossed arms photo available from Shutterstock