The term “narcissist” gets thrown around a lot it’s often used as a catch-all to describe people with any traits of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Narcissism is more complex than it’s made out to be in pop culture. It occurs on a broad spectrum that involves a range of potential traits. Experts generally agree that there are two distinct subtypes. One of these is covert narcissism, also called vulnerable narcissism.

A covert narcissist is extremely difficult to deal with. Research shows that females tend to exhibit features of covert narcissism more often than males. This may be related, in part, to the fact that modern culture places a high value on female physical appearance. As such, women tend to internalize a profound sense of insecurity and shame about their perceived inability to live up to social expectations of beauty. They might seem self-centered or so focused on their importance that they’ve lost touch with reality. Or maybe they don’t appear to care about others and rely on manipulation to get what they want.

This personality has an inflated sense of self-importance, and they often need to maintain a certain level of control in their relationships. The secret of how to outsmart them is to create narcissistic injuries by targeting things they hate or fear and by taking away their narcissistic supply. Narc supply is anything you provide that makes them feel worthy.

What is covert narcissism? Covert narcissism usually involves fewer external signs of “classic” NPD. People still meet the criteria for diagnosis but have traits that aren’t usually associated with narcissism, including:

  • Shyness and introversion
  • Playing the “victim”
  • Passive aggressive manipulation
  • Neediness
  • Self-consciousness
  • Insecurity
  • Defensiveness
  • Sensitivity to what others think of them
  • Sensitive and reactive
  • React strongly to any perceived criticism that confirms their negative sense of their self

If you are in a relationship with a covert narcissist, it is essential to know how to outsmart them, here are seven tips to help you:

  1. Don’t give them your attention! They are attention-seekers and will do anything, good or bad, to be noticed. Whether it’s positive or negative attention, they want and need it. Never react to their rude or snide comments. Many times, they will say snide comments to make you doubt your worth. Don’t react! When they say nasty things, act as if you didn’t hear them or act as if your mind and thoughts are somewhere else.
  2. Show strength and confidence. Appearing emotionally weak and easily triggered around the covert narcissist convinces them they’ve got you under control. Rebuilding your self-esteem by repeating affirmations and interacting with confidence will frighten the egomaniac away. They will not deal well when you emerge strong and confident they will begin to feel jealous, insecure, and possibly enraged.
  3. Don’t believe the gaslighting! Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse designed to make you question your sanity. This is a biggie. This is challenging for most people, especially if you are someone who doubts yourself. However, this is a skill that you can learn. But you must be able to NOT believe the gaslighting. One of the best ways for anyone dealing with a narcissist to see through their games is to jot down your conversation. Keep a journal, and write down what was said by both of you. This may be a reminder that you are not the one with bad behavior in the relationship.
  4. Set and enforce boundaries! This is very important if you want to make any change in your interactions with this personality type. Clearly state what you will no longer tolerate. Make it very clear what your boundaries are and that they are non-negotiable. Eventually, they will learn to not cross your boundary once they realize you’ve had it with their bs.
  5. Challenge them. Knowing that narcs are innately arrogant, you can turn this against them and make them fear you by becoming a challenge yourself. They hate losing and will often throw tantrums like a child. Expose their nonsense, lies, and exaggerated stories with facts and proof. They will realize you’re not the one to mess with.
  6. Say no. Narcissists in general are accustomed to getting their way, usually through dishonesty, deflection, and control. Tell them “No,” “I’m not doing that,” or “Not today,” this will deflate them very quickly. They will most likely try to charm or bully you into changing your mind. Not complying with their demands will drive them nuts, since this is taking away from their “supply.” They also interpret this as rejection, which they hate. It sends a clear message that they cannot control you. So, stick to your decision and don’t bend!
  7. Hold them accountable. The covert narcissist is an entitled individual who dislikes being questioned, having to explain themselves, and admitting their mistakes. Knowing they are wrong and having to apologize shatters their false view of themselves as always being right and being better than everyone else. Ask them questions and hold them accountable for their unacceptable behavior. Hopefully, over time, they will begin to avoid their bad behaviors toward you for fear of being held accountable.

Target what they fear and despise. Starve them of the things (which is the fuel) that make them thrive around you – things like attention, validation, admiration, love, and money. It is essential to be aware of the signs of a covert narcissist and take steps to protect yourself. Remember that they are experts at manipulation and will often use guilt, shame, and intimidation to get what they want.

If you can stay strong, keep your boundaries firmly in place, and refuse to play their games (you have more power than you know) you will win and outsmart them!

Hayley Lisa

The Divorce Coach For Men