Dr Jozelle Miller
July 19, 2022
The Narcissist Part 2

Traits of Narcissists you should be aware of:

Passive Self-Importance

Where the more overt, extroverted narcissist will be obvious in their elevated sense of self and their arrogance when interacting with others, the covert narcissist may be less obvious.

The covert narcissist certainly craves importance and thirsts for admiration, but it can look different to those around them. They might give back-handed compliments, or purposefully minimize their accomplishments or talents so that people will offer them reassurance of how talented they are.

Blaming and Shaming

Shaming is a tactic that narcissists may use to secure their sense of an elevated position in relation to others. The overt (extroverted) narcissist might be more obvious in their approach to gaining leverage, such as explicitly putting you down, being rude, criticizing you, and being sarcastic.

The introverted, covert narcissist may have a gentler approach to explain why something is your fault and they are not to blame. They might even pretend to be a victim of your behaviour or engage in emotional abuse to put themselves in a position to receive reassurance and praise from you. Whether overt or covert, the goal is to make the other person feel small.

Creating Confusion

Although not always sneaky, some covert narcissists can take joy in creating confusion.

They may not engage in blaming or shaming, but instead, causing people to question their perceptions and second-guess themselves.

Another way to create leverage between them and another person, the covert narcissist needs to use tactics like this to elevate themselves and maintain power in the interaction. If they can get you to question your perceptions, it allows them the opportunity to manipulate and exploit you more.

Procrastination and Disregard

Because their need for self-importance reigns supreme, covert narcissists will do whatever they need to do to keep the focus on themselves. So, where an extroverted narcissist will blatantly push you aside or manipulate you to accomplish their goal, the covert narcissist is a professional at not acknowledging you at all.

It is not a coincidence that narcissists, in general, tend to gravitate toward interacting with caring and compassionate people. The covert narcissist recognizes those opportunities for manipulation as well.

They have no problem letting you know that you are not important.

Rather than explicitly telling you that you’re not important, they might stand you up on a date, wait until the last minute to respond to texts or emails, always show up late, or never make confirmed plans at all. There is no regard for your time or interests, leaving you feeling small, unimportant, and irrelevant.

Giving With a Goal

In general, narcissists are not givers. They find it difficult to put energy into anything that doesn’t serve them in some way. A covert narcissist might present themselves in a way that looks like they are giving, but their giving behaviour is only demonstrated with the intent of getting something in return.

A simple, everyday example could be something like putting a donation in the jar for a charitable cause. A covert narcissist would be much more likely to put their contribution in the jar when they know someone is looking, to help facilitate interaction that allows them to be praised for giving.

Emotionally Neglectful

Narcissists are inept at building and nurturing emotional bonds with others. The covert narcissist is no different. So, although they may appear kinder and less obnoxious than their extroverted counterpart, they are not emotionally accessible or responsive either.

You will likely not receive many compliments from a covert narcissist. Remembering that they are always focused on staying elevated to maintain their sense of self- importance, it is easy to understand how a covert narcissist would find it difficult to compliment you. There is usually little regard for your talents or abilities—usually, a narcissist has no regard for these things at all.

Just as with an overt narcissist, you will likely find yourself doing most of the heavy emotional lifting in a relationship with a covert narcissist.
Although the covert is more likely to appear emotionally accessible, it tends to be a performance and usually done with intent to exploit or eventually leave the person feeling small through disregard, blaming, or shaming.

Since one of the hallmark traits of narcissistic personality disorder is lack of empathy, the covert narcissist is not going to be emotionally responsive to their partner in a healthy way.

How to handle a Narcissist?

Take these steps to handle a narcissist:

Educate yourself:

Find out more about the disorder. It can help you understand the narcissist’s strengths and weaknesses and learn how to handle them better. Knowing who they are may also allow you to accept the situation for what it is and have realistic expectations.

Create boundaries:

Be clear about your boundaries. It may upset or disappoint the narcissist, but that’s OK.

Speak up for yourself: When you need something, be clear and concise. “Make sure they understand your request.”

Watch your wording:

Narcissists don’t take constructive criticism well. Try to make comments in careful, positive ways.

Stay calm: Try not to react if they try to pick a fight or gaslight you (making you doubt your own reality). If they lash out, think of them as a 3-year-old who feels rejected because their parent sets a bedtime.

Create a support system:

Living with a narcissist can lead to feelings of insecurity, confusion, and self-doubt. “Make sure you have a core group of people in your life that can support you,”.

Bring in a counsellor. Therapy won’t cure your partner’s narcissism, but it may help you work certain things out. A counsellor can show you ways to approach problem- solving with the narcissist.

What Not to Do with a Narcissist

Certain things may trigger problems with a narcissist, so it’s best to avoid them.

Don’t argue or confront. It is best not to confront a narcissist directly. As difficult as it may be to constantly tiptoe around them, it can be better to manage or resist their need to feel in charge.

Don’t try to direct them. Narcissists like to have control and often fear losing it. “Efforts to lead or instruct a narcissist will often fail.”

Don’t expect them to see your point of view. Narcissists don’t like to admit when they’re wrong or that they’re unlovable, so trying to make them see things your way could backfire.

Don’t expect deep, meaningful communication. “Narcissists have very little empathy, so honest, heartfelt communication often doesn’t get through and can even create an angry outburst or shutdown response.”

People with narcissistic personality disorder usually don’t change, so keep that in mind.

if you learn to manage your relationship better, it probably won’t ever be a healthy relationship.