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The Covert Narcissist Will Come With Warning Signs

Be cautious. It might be what saves you from a draining relationship.

4 min readNov 11, 2023


There are various types of narcissists, each driven to self-aggrandize with differing levels of vanity and a hunger for power. The grandiose narcissist is the most commonly recognized type, known for being pompous, seeking attention, lacking empathy, and insisting on the world revolving around them. They are persistent in wanting their way and take offense when they don’t get it.

The malignant narcissist shares these characteristics but goes further by engaging in hurtful and unethical behaviors to secure power and authority. They are willing to lie, cheat, and steal without remorse, showing little regret for actions that may harm others. These individuals manipulate the truth to cover up their misdeeds and feel no guilt as long as their actions serve their desires.

Understanding the covert narcissist

Covert narcissists share the same hunger for praise and prestige as other types, but they may adopt a “victim role” to cope with the disappointment of not receiving the acknowledgment they desire. Using passive aggression or self-deprecation in social settings, they seek validation and contradiction from others.

They often attribute their losses to others’ lack of appreciation for their brilliance, subtly downplaying their strengths to elicit compliments and validation from their partner or companions. Though less likely to “steal the show” in a room, their craving for positive attention and ego-stroking remains unchanged from other narcissistic types.

Unlike grandiose and malignant narcissists, covert narcissists may not fully reveal themselves early in a relationship. In the initial stages, when both partners are eager to maintain the relationship, tales of being an “underdog” or complaints about others not recognizing their strengths may receive strong support, even if the validity of these claims is questionable.

The natural inclination to support and take the partner’s side, activated by a sense of parental care, leads to offering comfort, praise, and bolstering the partner’s ego when they express frustration about the world not recognizing their…