They usually are soft gentle, chilled-out and sensitive when you first meet them. Maybe love-bombing you into falling for them completely.
But in some cases they might even outright tell you they are selfish or have narcissistic tendencies in the first few meetings which an unsuspecting person will most likely interpret such as a display of humility or a healthy acknowledgement of self-awareness.
They often display the victim mentality which helps you develop empathy, and want to understand them —since no one else ever has. Underneath this lies the inability to accept their own flaws and failings and by inflating both poles of success and failure, they successfully hide their lack of core sense of self-worth. They need to be showered in empathy, support, understanding. They need to be adored. This is all they crave.
But things start to not add up. Neither words and actions are inconsistent. And basically, once you start to feel something is off, and begin to question things, it goes downhill pretty quickly from there. It is only until this point do you see their true colors.
Everything they do is done to keep their mask intact. Which is just terrible insecurity at the end of the day. It’s exhausting because the time and effort involved in giving high appraisal, support, an ear, a shoulder and a friend is of no use.
When and if a problem arises that may adversely affect how others might perceive them, that’s when a covert narcissist turns as cold as ice.
The severity of exposure all depends on when the problem arises, how big the problem is, and how responsible they are themselves for the problem. All it would take is simple conversation of acknowledgment, and to admit how and why they were wrong. But it’s exactly at this point when the tables start to turn pretty quick.
The whole situation quickly escalates into drama in order to deflect the blame and attention far far away from themselves. It will always everybody else’s fault for where they fell short.
You’ll know because you’ll start to think you’re going crazy or you’ve missed something. In the end, you’ll feel confused.