Identifying a Covert Narcissist

Identifying a Covert Narcissist


Prefer to watch or listen? See video here to learn more about identifying a covert narcissist

When I was younger, I had a thing for a certain type of guy. I was seriously into these “dark and disturbed” types. The rebel without a cause. The guy who wrote poetry, who was probably a starving artist of some kind, and who hated the whole world and like 99 percent of the people in it. He would always have some cause he was super passionate about, and often called people “zombies” or “sheep.” He wasn’t super friendly and being the codependent I was, I would take pleasure in finding this kind of guy in dark corners of parties or other gatherings, and sort making it my mission to get inside his head and make him like me. We would end up having these deep, intellectual, and philosophical conversations that left me feeling like I’d had some sort of religious experience. I’d always be all googly-eyed, thinking that he “saw me” and that we were connecting on some deep level. The only thing was that after an initial couple of meetings, I’d always be left feeling like I’d been duped, but I couldn’t quite figure out why.

Do you know a covert narcissist?

Can you relate? Let me ask you: Have you ever met someone who seemed to be sort of an introvert – they might have been a little shy, and might have even talked about how they were a highly sensitive person or even an empath, but the more you got to know them, they also seemed to kind of show a weird sense of selfishness and low-key egocentricity?

If so, you might have been dealing with a covert narcissist. This is what we call someone who is sort of an “incognito” narcissist. They might act like an introvert as far as most people can tell. People who don’t live with them might even assume they ARE an introvert – just a little shy, maybe a bit too sensitive.

Think you’re dealing with a covert narcissist? Take the covert narcissist test and find out.

How to Identify a Covert Narcissist

So, how can you tell someone is a covert narcissist? What are the signs and how are they different from introverts and “regular,” more overt narcissists? Do you know how to identify covert narcissism? What are the traits you will see in a covert narcissist?

You might also hear covert narcissists being referred to as vulnerable narcissists, closet narcissists, and introverted narcissists. This is likely due to the fact that they don’t appear to have much self-confidence, as opposed to their overt counterparts. They are the eternal damsel in distress or the martyrs of some oh-so-noble cause.

What is covert narcissism?

Covert narcissism is a term coined by psychotherapist Dr. Karen Horney for individuals who are driven by the desire to be admired. This is a state of being characterized by deep-seated feelings of shame, low self-esteem, and feelings of personal inadequacy. These individuals are often driven by an unconscious fear that they are inadequate or inferior to others. They use charm, manipulation, and intimidation to make themselves feel better, but ultimately they have no real sense of self-worth or unconditional love for themselves, which results in unstable self-concepts and emotional outbursts when frustrated.

What is a Covert Narcissist?

In layman’s terms, a covert narcissist is someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (or might, if they’d ever go see a psychologist for a diagnosis), but who doesn’t seem to have the obvious grandiosity factor. Covert narcissists exhibit a very subtle, but equally toxic form of narcissism that is exhibited by someone with a more introverted personality. It’s characterized by grandiose fantasies and thoughts, perception of entitlement, and a general sentiment of being better than others.

What are the traits of a covert narcissist?

Covert narcissists are known to have an inflated sense of their own self-importance, an extreme need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward others.  Instead of being more concerned with themselves like grandiose narcissists, covert narcissists tend to focus their attention on how other people feel about them.

Covert narcissists often:

1. Are highly sensitive to rejection.

The main trait of a covert narcissist is being highly sensitive to rejection and criticism. This sensitivity leads them to develop a false self, which is used as a shield against potential disapproval and hurt feelings. The false self is easygoing and agreeable but also timid and agreeable — qualities that make others feel safe and secure around them while also making it difficult for them to express their true thoughts or feelings because of fear of rejection.

2. Are great actors.

They can be charming when it suits their needs; this enables them to take advantage of other people without remorse. They can also pretend to be humble and modest when it serves them to do so.

3. Are hypersensitive.

They’re quick to feel slighted or insulted because they hold unrealistic expectations for how others should treat them — as if anyone could ever live up to their grandiose self-image!

4. Are arrogant and boastful.

Their need for adulation prompts them to exaggerate their talents and achievements; they may even lie just to be able to say they’ve done something impressive or noteworthy in their lives. They want to be liked and admired by others, but this desire stems from a belief that they are superior. Covert narcissists believe that they are superior, but they don’t want others to know it.

5. Live with impostor syndrome.

In other words, they fear being exposed as a fraud. As a result, they try to hide their true nature, covering it up with a cloak of meekness and humility. For this reason, it is much easier for other people to take advantage of them than it is with overt narcissists who have no reason or desire to hide their grandiosity.

6. Have fragile egos.

The high standards they set for themselves and others make them prone to feeling humiliated and rejected, so they protect themselves by developing a cold, callous exterior.

Other traits of a covert narcissist include:

  • A deep need for attention and admiration
  • Subtly manipulative behaviors and attempts to one-up others
  • A tendency to display arrogance and a belief that he or she deserves special treatment
  • An inflated sense of importance, power, and knowledge; exaggerated opinions about their talents and abilities

Why are covert narcissists more difficult to identify?

Someone who is affected by covert narcissism might be harder to detect because they don’t always seem to act as self-important as the more overt or grandiose narcissist. They don’t appear to feel like they’re better than everyone – at least not before you know them well. They appear to be vulnerable and oversensitive, which will often manifest in their behavior as hostility and defensiveness. They will be the one who is quietly looking down their nose at you, judging you and everyone else around them harshly and often unfairly. It might help to understand the similarities and differences between covert narcissists and grandiose or overt narcissists.

Covert Narcissist vs. Grandiose Narcissist: The Similarities

They do have a few things in common with overt narcissists, including:

  • A huge sense of (often unearned) entitlement
  • Grandiose fantasies about their life
  • Willingness to exploit others to get what they want
  • Seeking power and control
  • And of course, the trademark lack of empathy.

But how does a covert narcissist differ from an overt narcissist?

Covert Narcissist vs. Grandiose Narcissist: The Differences

Unlike the grandiose narcissist, the covert narcissist will not necessarily display narcissistic behavior that is immediately recognizable. You might even think they’re an empath because they seem so modest, so sensitive and so very unsure of themselves.

While they will have the standard grandiose fantasies for their life – all of which are sure to be unrealistic and self-centered, not to mention ridiculously over-inflated, they will believe that their dreams are unrealistic and unattainable. They will blame the world for somehow holding them back, but secretly believe they are a fraud. You see a lot of “imposter syndrome” in people like this.

Ironically, the covert narcissist will even feel guilty for wanting what they want, and somehow this inner conflict leads them to suppress most of their true feelings.

This leads to the inevitable for a covert narcissist: their inner conflict translates into outer behavior, such as:

Covert Narcissists and Narcissistic Injury

Ever heard of the “poor me game?” It was likely first played by a covert narcissist. After all, the average covert narcissist spends a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves. They practically invented narcissistic injury. But why do they do this? Why does the “vulnerable narcissist” play the “poor me” game so well?

It all comes down to one thing: covert narcissists hate themselves. In fact, they seem to believe that it is possible to hate yourself BETTER.

Though they continue to demonstrate the behavior they loathe, the covert narcissist is powerless to control their thoughts – and their deep inner conscience is NOT okay with the person they are (or have become).

Covert Narcissists Openly Criticize Themselves

Unlike their more overt counterparts, covert narcissists actually judge themselves more harshly than anyone judges them. And on a deep level, more harshly than they judge other people (at least those outside of his immediate inner circle).

Covert Narcissists Have ‘Quietly High,’ Unreasonable Standards

Either way, while they seem to be outwardly unconcerned with the world, they certainly have quietly high standards for their lives. But these may be outside of “normal” high standards. For example, the covert narcissist might be broke, but he might claim that this is because he doesn’t believe in capitalism, and then he will feel superior to anyone who he considers a sort of “servant to their jobs” or who wants and obtains things of monetary value.

So, they will quietly stick to this unreasonable standard to the best of their abilities, happy to secretly look down their nose at the people they deem “lesser” or otherwise inferior to themselves.

An Example of Typical Covert Narcissistic Behavior

For example, let’s say the covert narcissist is a passionate but broke musician who plays exclusively in basements and backrooms, and who does so because they claim they want to stay true to their art and they don’t want to “sell out.” And one evening after a gig, a record executive comes up to them and asks if they have a demo because they think they might be able to get a recording contract. The covert narcissist at that moment is likely to jump at this opportunity – because who doesn’t want a chance to be rich and famous?

But then, once they take the time to put together a demo and send it to the record exec, the guy either never respond or realizes he was more intoxicated than he thought that night and tells the narcissist that the deal is off. This sends the narcissist into a spiral of self-loathing.

And, of course, anytime the covert narcissist fails to meet these so-called “standards” and behaves in any way that their inner critic deems bad or not desirable (by, in this case, agreeing to “sell out” and sending the demo, rather than snubbing the commercial industry that they’ve always claimed to hate), they’re back to square one: hating both themselves and the “zombies” or “sheep” who caused them to fall off-track.

Now, they hate the industry, and especially the music executives who they say always want to commercialize everything. They even justify their rejection by saying that the exec in question just didn’t get their music because it is somehow above their level of understanding.

Later, they might even make up stories about how they were offered a record deal and turned it down because they wanted to avoid becoming a sellout. 

Why the Covert Narcissist Lives with Self-Hate: Distorted Self-Awareness

It all boils down to one thing: a covert narcissist understands on some level that their self-inflating ideas are not quite realistic – at least on some level. So, though they continue to have narcissistic thoughts and even occasional external behaviors, they are always holding themselves to a very high standard. They spend their lives competing with the one person they’ll never be able to beat: themselves – or some version of that.

At the same time, they are incapable of openly accepting blame or responsibility for anything that isn’t positive, and in fact they relate any such admission to weakness and “badness” of other people – which, most likely, is because of the angry kind of envy that psychologists say is involved in the creation of any narcissistic behavior.

The Covert Narcissist is a Perpetual Victim

The covert narcissist is often mistaken for an introvert or a shy person because to the untrained eye, they appear to be a pushover who is generally unassertive. They see themselves (and others see them) as victims or as people who aren’t able to obtain what they should have or deserve. People who don’t really know them may say things like, “oh, they’re just a big teddy bear” or “oh, their bark is worse than their bite!”

They will also:

  • Have outrageously adolescent daydreams about being a big famous something-or-other
  • Have feelings of being worthless, countered by feelings of being different, separate or “better” than other people
  • Have a somewhat questionable grip on reality, leading to personal guilt and self-hate.
  • Claim to be “a little OCD”
  • Call themselves a perfectionist

What do you think?  Any of that sound familiar to you?

Are you concerned that you might be a covert narcissist?

If you’re worried you might be a covert narcissist, but you thought you were a highly sensitive person (HSP), please check out this video: Covert Narcissist vs Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Being Sensitive – The Psychology. It will explain the difference.

Question of the Day: Have you ever met a covert narcissist? How could you tell? What characteristics do you think most clearly identify the covert narc? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below this video.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

158 Signs You’re the Victim of Narcissistic Abuse

158 Signs You’re the Victim of Narcissistic Abuse

Could you be the victim of narcissistic abuse? If so, what can you do and how can you tell? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today  – signs that you’re the victim of narcissistic abuse (see video on YouTube).



 

What is narcissistic abuse?

Let’s begin today by briefly defining narcissistic abuse. In a nutshell, narcissistic abuse is officially defined as the intentional construction of a false perception of someone else’s reality by an abuser for the purposes of controlling them. It involves a sort of constructed reality in which the narcissist manipulates you emotionally and psychologically over a long period of time.

It can be difficult to figure out that you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse because it can be very subtle and pervasive. It took me personally 35 years to recognize it. So how do you know if it’s happening to you? Well, I’m here to help you with that. Please grab a pen and a piece of paper, or open up a note on your phone. As you read through the signs that you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse, go ahead and make a tick mark for each one that resonates with you.

Signs You’re Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse

Find out if you are being emotionally abused by a narcissist by asking yourself the following questions.

Does someone in your life:

  1. Act like you don’t matter to them?
  2. Act like you’re faking it if you’re sick, or even say it out loud?
  3. Act really jealous and possessive sometimes?
  4. Always expect you to take care of their feelings, but never concern themselves with yours?
  5. Always heart or love photos and videos of people of the same or opposite sex (whatever they’re into) on social media?
  6. Always hide their phone from you?
  7. Always make you wonder if you’re crazy?
  8. Always push and cross your boundaries?
  9. Always seem to kick you when you’re down?
  10. Always threaten to end your relationship?
  11. Become angry or sullen if you don’t go along with their demands?
  12. Become excessively pushy or forceful about sex, or even hurt you during sex?
  13. Become overly critical of everything about you when you don’t do what they want?
  14. Behave in ways that cause you to make excuses to others for them?
  15. Belittle your accomplishments?
  16. Blatantly lie to you about yourself and expect you to go along with it?
  17. Call you lazy when you’re not feeling well and can’t keep up with your usual schedule?
  18. Cause damage and/or give away/steal your personal property?
  19. Cause you to apologize for things you shouldn’t apologize for?
  20. Cause you to become anxious about confronting them about literally anything?
  21. Cause you to lose interest in life?
  22. Cause you to not want to do things you used to enjoy?
  23. Compare you to others?
  24. Compete with you over silly things?
  25. Completely ignore you when it’s convenient for them?
  26. Consider themselves the “boss” and insist on making all the decisions in your relationship/family/life?
  27. Constantly threaten to abandon you?
  28. Disappear for hours, days or longer without explaining why?
  29. Dismiss your pain if you’re hurting (emotional or physical)?
  30. Do things they know make you uncomfortable?
  31. Drink excessively or take drugs, and then blame their awful behavior on alcohol, drugs or their own history of abuse or tragedy earlier in their life?
  32. Embarrass you in front of friends or extended family?
  33. Expect more of people than is appropriate? (For example, getting upset if the mailman forgets their birthday?)
  34. Expect you to ask for permission to do stuff, as though you’re a child?
  35. Expect you to get over it when any tragedy happens in your life?
  36. Feel entitled to spending your money?
  37. Feel entitled to your attention and UNCONDITIONAL respect, regardless of how they treat you?
  38. Feel like they have the right to control your money?
  39. Forbid you from doing things?
  40. Force you to account for your time when apart from them?
  41. Get angry at you for things you can’t control, such as someone liking your photo on social media?
  42. Get excessively angry without warning or over tiny things?
  43. Get upset if you need to spend money on things for yourself, your kids or the house when they want to spend it on themselves or their own needs?
  44. Ghost you sometimes?
  45. Give you the “silent treatment” when you don’t do what they want?
  46. Go “dark” and not answer you or return your texts when they’re away from home?
  47. Go into your social media accounts and question everything?
  48. Go through your mail, hack your email or Facebook account or go through your personal belongings?
  49. Harass you when you’re away from them because you have to be somewhere (such as work or school)?
  50. Have a lot of so-called friends on social media they seem to flirt with?
  51. Have rules that you’re required to follow, even though they never told you this and you’re an adult?
  52. Have secret dating profiles or social media profiles you’re not supposed to know about?
  53. Have the whole “Jekyll and Hyde” deal happening – where one side of them seems charming or even sweet and loving, while the other is mean, spiteful and downright hurtful?
  54. Have weird sexual issues?
  55. Humiliate you in public or in groups of people?
  56. Isolate you and prevent you from spending time with friends or family members?
  57. Leave you hanging when you’re counting on them?
  58. Lie about you to others?
  59. Look through your phone at will?
  60. Make a point of telling you how unattractive you are or of pointing out your flaws?
  61. Make everything “all about them?”
  62. Make excessive and unreasonable demands for your attention, even to the detriment of your other responsibilities?
  63. Make threats about how they will “ruin you” or otherwise cause trouble for you at work, to your family or to others?
  64. Make you afraid or unwilling to talk about yourself?
  65. Make you afraid to make a decision without getting their approval?
  66. Make you afraid to tell them your feelings, or to express your feelings at all?
  67. Make you do things that you feel are unethical or morally wrong?
  68. Make you do things you don’t want to do?
  69. Make you doubt your sanity?
  70. Make you dread spending time with them?
  71. Make you feel completely worthless?
  72. Make you feel guilty for anything and everything?
  73. Make you feel jealous by complimenting and flirting with others in front of you?
  74. Make you feel like hurting yourself sometimes?
  75. Make you feel like you need to always prioritize them above yourself?
  76. Make you feel like you need to earn their love or loyalty?
  77. Make you feel like your opinions are not worth hearing or expressing?
  78. Make you feel like your reality is twisted?
  79. Make you feel like you’re always sort of “on guard” and hypervigilant of their moods?
  80. Make you feel like you’re constantly on edge?
  81. Make you feel like you’re living in limbo?
  82. Make you feel like you’re not allowed to say no?
  83. Make you feel terrible every time you spend time together?
  84. Make you feel ugly, stupid, or otherwise unsavory?
  85. Make you feel uncomfortable about spending time with friends, other family members or anyone else?
  86. Make you feel unheard?
  87. Make you forget who you are?
  88. Make you go without things you actually need, like food and personal care items?
  89. Make you hate going on vacation?
  90. Make you regret your accomplishments instead of lifting you up when you do something good?
  91. Make you responsible for maintaining the relationship while also making it feel impossible?
  92. Make you the scapegoat for all the arguments or problems in the relationship?
  93. Make you wish you were dead?
  94. Make you wonder if you’re even a real person?
  95. Make you feel like you’re always “walking on eggshells” or living with constant stress, anxiety or generally in fear?
  96. Manipulate you with the constant threat of mood changes and impending rage?
  97. Minimize your feelings or act like your feelings aren’t important or don’t matter?
  98. Never apologize to you unless they’re trying to get something from you?
  99. Not concern themselves with your needs, ever?
  100. Pick you apart?
  101. Play games with your head? Tell lies in order to confuse you or blame you for something you didn’t do?
  102. Play the “poor me” game anytime they don’t get what they want?
  103. Pressure you to use alcohol or other drugs, even when you say no?
  104. Refuse to admit wrongdoing, or if they do, it’s only if they can blame it on someone else?
  105. Refuse to allow any privacy?
  106. Refuse to allow you to access your money or family money?
  107. Refuse to allow you to work, if you want to?
  108. Refuse to be nice to you?
  109. Refuse to get a job and require you to pay for everything while they do nothing?
  110. Refuse to make plans with you or if they do, cancel them at the last minute?
  111. Refuse to post photos of you together on social media?
  112. Require you to do things for them, such as housework, laundry or other kinds of support without reciprocation of any kind?
  113. Ruin all the holidays for you?
  114. Ruin your birthday every year?
  115. Ruin your day when they’ve had a negative experience outside of you?
  116. Ruin your plans every time?
  117. Say overly critical things about your body and appearance?
  118. Say really mean things to you and when you get upset, claim they were joking?
  119. Say they know what you’re thinking, even when they clearly do not?
  120. Say things that don’t make sense and get angry when you point this out?
  121. Say things to intentionally confuse you?
  122. Say you’re mad at them when you’ve shown no indication of this and then get mad at you for not admitting you’re mad?
  123. Seem to find reasons to rage at you even when you do everything right?
  124. Seem to have double standards – as in, they’re allowed to do what they want, but you aren’t allowed to do what you want?
  125. Start arguments with you and others in your life through gossip or other forms of manipulation?
  126. Steal or hide money from you and/or your family accounts?
  127. Take control of everything in your life?
  128. Take credit for anything you do that’s good or that’s recognized by someone else?
  129. Take out their anger about other things on you?
  130. Take your paycheck?
  131. Tear down your friends?
  132. Tell or imply to others that they are interested in them when they are in a relationship with you?
  133. Tell or imply to others that they are sexy or otherwise attractive?
  134. Tell you how to dress, directly or indirectly?
  135. Tell you no one else will love you or that you’re unlovable?
  136. Tell you that you’d be nothing without them?
  137. Tell you they know you better than you know yourself?
  138. Tell you you’re too sensitive all the time?
  139. Threaten to hurt themselves or YOU if you threaten to leave?
  140. Threaten to hurt themselves when they don’t get their way?
  141. Threaten to take your children away from you, if you have them?
  142. Threaten you with physical harm or make you feel afraid of how they will react when you speak or act in general?
  143. Triangulate you with other people in your life, pitting you against one another?
  144. Try to control every second of your day?
  145. Try to get revenge on you if you make them angry?
  146. Try to pit your kids or other family members against you or each other?
  147. Try to steal your thunder (as in steal your spotlight anytime the attention is on you)?
  148. Use religion to belittle and/or control you?
  149. Use your insecurities against you?
  150. Withhold affection in order to punish you?

Question of the Day: How many of these signs resonated for you? What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it. 

More Resources for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

 

No Contact vs. Ghosting and Silent Treatment

No Contact vs. Ghosting and Silent Treatment

(Prefer to watch/listen? See video on YouTube!)

If the silent treatment is a form of narcissistic abuse, does going no contact make you a narcissist? Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of comments from viewers who are worried that they might be the narcissist in their relationship. Most of the time, these comments are on videos related to the silent treatment, ghosting or things narcissists do or say in any given situation.

One of the most common concerns is whether going no contact makes you a narcissist. People learn that the silent treatment and ghosting can be considered forms of narcissistic abuse, and they equate this to the way we treat a narcissist when we go no contact with them.

I get why they feel this way – it’s a little confusing. In both the silent treatment and in ghosting, the narcissist ignores us and/or doesn’t respond when we try to reach out to them. And that’s exactly what we do when we’re using the no contact method to heal ourselves.

So what is the difference here?

How is no contact different from the silent treatment and ghosting?

Are we just as bad as the narcissist for choosing to end contact? Does this make us “one of them?” If the silent treatment is narcissistic abuse, does no contact make you a narcissist? And what are the differences between the silent treatment, ghosting and the no contact rule? Let’s do this.

First, let’s quickly define the silent treatment, ghosting, and no contact.

What is the silent treatment?

In a nutshell, the silent treatment is a manipulation tactic where the narcissist will stop talking to you for days, hours, weeks or even months in order to punish you for some perceived slight. It can cause serious emotional and psychological damage if you don’t realize what is happening.

What is ghosting?

Ghosting is basically exactly what it sounds like – the narcissist disappears on you without a word. This can be for any number of reasons – they may be attempting to punish you for something, or it may be a totally selfish reason in which the narcissist hasn’t even considered the possibility that you’d be bothered by their absence. Remember, they have a lack of empathy, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t consider your feelings. In ghosting, the narcissist might reappear at any given time, ready to consume more of that narcissistic supply they so desperately need.

What is no contact?

And then there’s no contact, which, if we’re being honest, is both a coping mechanism as well as a technique that is practically required to heal after narcissistic abuse. It involves removing yourself from the narcissist’s life. You stop seeing, speaking to, and interacting with the narcissist. This allows you to clear your life of the negative energy they bring into every room.

So what are the similarities and differences here?

No Contact vs. Ghosting and the Silent Treatment

Let’s start with what’s similar. As I mentioned earlier, in all three cases, one person intentionally avoids the other person. And, in all cases, the end of contact can be done without a word to the other person involved.

But that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

The differences between the silent treatment, ghosting and no contact go much deeper and are significant. So what differentiates no contact from the silent treatment and ghosting?

1. The Motivation/Intention

As I mentioned, narcissists give you the silent treatment because they want to punish you for something they think you’ve done wrong. Often, this is the result of a narcissistic injury. Ghosting can be done for the same reason, or it can be done out of pure selfishness and a lack of concern for your feelings and wellbeing. No contact is more about protecting yourself so that you can be safe and heal after going through an abusive, toxic relationship. The silent treatment is passive-aggressive and abusive, while no contact is really less about the narcissist and more about you. In no contact, you aren’t trying to hurt the narcissist – you’re just trying to save yourself.

2. What You Get Out of It

Again, the narcissist is often trying to get something from you when they give you the silent treatment. They’re trying to get you to do (or not do) something. Or they’re trying to put you in your place. Or make you submit to their will. But when it comes to going no contact, you want nothing from the narcissist except to be left alone. You don’t have an ulterior motive that involves them at all – you’re just trying to get away from them so you can have the space you need to heal.

3. The Trauma Bonding Part

Another difference between no contact and the narcissist’s ghosting or silent treatment is that no contact is that one of the first steps to resolving the trauma bond developed during your toxic relationship with the narcissist. Since trauma bonding causes you to feel sort of addicted to the narcissist (and you can learn more about that at the video I’ll link for you right there and in the description below), going no contact can be likened to an addict going cold turkey to quit their drug of choice. Like it or not, the narcissist has an almost druglike effect on us after all of the years of the trauma they’ve put us through – in fact, research shows the same part of our brain is affected by them as is affected by drugs. But while most narcissists have also suffered some form of trauma, usually in childhood, their reasons for giving you the silent treatment or ghosting you are usually not directly related to it (but it can be indirectly related since their impulsiveness and lack of empathy probably stem from their reaction to that trauma).

Think you’re dealing with trauma bonding? Take this test and find out now.

So how do you know you’re not the narcissist?

Often, codependents feel responsible for everything that goes wrong in their relationships, and this is often a result of the fact that toxic people over the course of their lives have conditioned them to feel this way. We know that one of the biggest red flags of a toxic narcissist is that they refuse to take responsibility for anything other than positive things they (or others) do. Anything that might be seen in a negative light or that doesn’t portray them as the vision of perfection they have for themselves? They squarely place the blame on literally anyone or anything else.

So, it’s fairly safe to assume that if you’re worried that you’re the narcissist, you might not be.

Narcissistic ‘Fleas’

Now, there is such a thing as narcissistic fleas – and that might be where your confusion is here. Narcissistic fleas are just little behaviors and habits that victims pick up from narcissists, such as verbal bullying, coldness, or an apparent lack of empathy. The good news is these “fleas” can be eradicated with mindfulness and intention.

But how could this be? We are so different from narcissists. We feel deeply and we aren’t bullies.

Well, look at this logically for a moment: when we spend a lot of time with someone, we naturally tend to pick up certain habits and speech patterns from them. For example, when I moved back to the St. Louis area after college, I recorded my outgoing message for my voicemail. After being back for six months or so, I called it one day and totally freaked out – I sounded completely weird to myself. During my years in college, I had picked up a bit of the country twang that people in my college town all seemed to have.

And, on a slightly more relevant note, when my ex-husband would be in the wrong mood, he’d take sort of a bullying tone with communication. He’d always talk in sort of an accusatory way – and even if he didn’t directly accuse me of something, it always felt like he did. A year or two after I left him, I found myself using a similar tone with a friend at one point. Luckily, I recognized it and did my best to change it.

When someone accuses you of being a narcissist

But what if the person you believe is a narcissist turns the tables on you and tells you that you are in fact the narcissist, and not them? What is going on when the narcissist calls you a narcissist for going no contact?

Their logic seems to go like this: “Well, you said that the silent treatment or ghosting is narcissistic abuse. You aren’t talking to me and won’t see me, so you must be the narcissist. Could they be right? Are we all toxic narcissists because we choose to go no contact?”

I think you and I both know the answer to that one. But just to make it perfectly clear, let me fill you in. There are two things to consider here.

The Hoover Maneuver

First, the narcissist is intentionally trying to manipulate you into responding to them, so by accusing you of being the very thing they are, they tempt you to respond to them and reengage – they hope you’ll argue with them so they can hoover you back in, one way or the other. Hoovering is what we call it when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after the discard. This can be drama-related or it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship or to get you to break no contact. In other words, the narcissist will call you a narcissist to get you to accept the blame for everything that they’ve done wrong (plus anything you did in reaction to said wrongdoing) and then get you back into their little circle of narcissistic supply. Don’t fall for it. That brings me to my next point.

Projection, Gaslighting, and the Smear Campaign

And second, in addition to projecting their own bad behavior and qualities on to you, the narcissist is, in a way, gaslighting you with this kind of accusation.

In case you’re new around here, gaslighting is a pervasive and highly-effective tactic the narcissist uses to manipulate you into doubting your own reality, not trusting yourself and your perceptions, and questioning your own sanity. This little mind game is quite effective, especially when done over the course of several years in a relationship, and it helps the narcissist sort of brainwash you into doing what they want.

While self-awareness is scarce among narcissists, they seem to intrinsically and systematically extract narcissistic supply from anyone who allows it. And, whether you were raised by, married to or otherwise engaged with the narcissist in your own life, you KNOW they know they can get it from you. You know they have a freaking map to every button you’ve got – and they won’t hesitate to push them.

So, if the narcissist can insert even a small amount of doubt into your head about the fact that they are the reason that your relationship would ultimately fail? Well, they feel a strange kind of validation and satisfaction. Plus, they’ll use this as part of the sob story they’re going to tell about you in their inevitable smear campaign.

That’s where they’ll tell everyone you know (and even some people you don’t know) about what a horrible partner, son, daughter, sister, brother, employee – or whatever – you are, so that they can get attention from other people, who will feel sorry for them and give them more narcissistic supply – you know, attention, validation, pity. The stuff that narcissists need to keep going.

Bottom Line: The Difference Between No Contact, Ghosting, and the Silent Treatment

So, what is the bottom line here? Basically, if you are going no contact, you’re doing that in order to prevent further abuse and trauma being inflicted on you by a person who has proven repeatedly that they will never stop hurting you. You are not doing anything TO them, other than not allowing them to be part of your life. It is not a move meant to hurt them or get revenge on them. It is simply a move to save yourself so you can heal. If someone is giving you the silent treatment or ghosting you, they do not necessarily intend to completely end contact with you – they simply intend to hurt, manipulate and control you. Or, in some cases, they simply just don’t care or don’t think about how their behavior would make you feel. And even if they do, they are unlikely to be bothered by your feelings.

Take the Narcissist Test

How can you be sure you’re not the narcissist in all of this? How do you know you’re not just justifying your behavior by telling yourself that you’re going no contact, but secretly you’re just ghosting a perfectly nice person?

Ask yourself two simple questions:

1. Do you care how people feel and sometimes change your behavior because of how someone else feels?
2. How did or does the person you’re going no contact with make you feel when you spend time around them?

If you are a narcissist, you would’ve answered “no” to number one and you would have varied answers to number two. If you are not, you would have answered yes to number one and most likely, you’d find yourself feeling terrible, unlovable, worthless or otherwise negative when you have spent time with the person in question. They hardly ever make you feel good these days, but they may have once made your heart soar. Still not sure? You can take our narcissism test here.

Question of the day: Have you ever worried that no contact, ghosting, and silent treatment were all the same thing? Have you ever worried that you might be the narcissist? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it!

 

Don’t Fall for These Sneaky Things Narcissists Do to Get You Back

Don’t Fall for These Sneaky Things Narcissists Do to Get You Back

Doing what I do, I get to talk to a lot of interesting people – and I hear some really revealing stories. For example, I was talking to a client the other day and she mentioned to me that her ex had unfriended their son on a certain social media platform. This caused her to reach out to him and ask why he’d done it – it upset her son and she had to know why he would do such a thing. He admitted that he was childish and the two had an hours-long conversation afterward, leaving my client more confused than ever.

Another client told me about how her father kept sending her strange boxes of things that belonged to her deceased father, despite the fact that they’d been no contact for years. Luckily, she didn’t react, but it definitely messed with her head.

A male client shared with me that his ex had been giving him the silent treatment for weeks. In fact, it had gone on for so long that he assumed the relationship was over. Then, one day, she contacted him to let him know she was pregnant and that the baby would be coming in a few months. He instantly forgot about all of the drama that had gone down between them and rushed to her side. A year later, after he’d helped name the baby and had fallen madly in love with him, he learned that he wasn’t the father – and worse, that the mother had known it all along, but did not tell him because the real father had gone to prison. But now that he was out, she said, he wanted his baby and she wanted him.

And then there was the client who told me a story about how after she’d struggled to end a relationship with a particularly difficult ex, she heard a knock on the door one day, and there he stood, holding his dog. She said he told her the dog was sick and he didn’t know what to do or to whom else he could turn. Of course, she helped him get the dog to the vet and made sure he was okay afterward. They ended up dating for three more months after that.

Sneaky Things Narcissists Do to Get You Back

All of these stories sound different, right? But they all have one thing in common – they are sneaky things that narcissists did to get people back in their lives. And these are just a few of probably thousands of examples of this phenomenon. If you’ve been pulled back into a relationship with a narcissist, or you’re worried that you might be, stick with me, because that’s exactly what we’re talking about today  – sneaky things narcissists do to get you back, plus: how to recognize them and what to do if it happens to you. See the video on YouTube for more, or read more here.

This is Hoovering

When you end a toxic relationship with a narcissist, you might think that it’s over – but very often, the narcissist has other ideas. in fact, more often than not, the narcissist will do something to suck you back into their drama – or even fully back into the relationship – using a technique called hoovering.

Hoovering, named after the famous vacuum cleaner company, is what we call it when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after you’ve left them or ended the relationship, or after they have discarded you. They may use some kind of personal problem or dramatic issue to pull you back in, or they may use love-bombing. Hoovering is always an attempt to obtain more narcissistic supply from you, and in many cases, it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship. It can also just be a manipulation tactic used to get you to break no contact.

Question of the day: Have you ever had a narcissist do sneaky things to get you back, and if so, how did you deal with it? Did you fall for it, or not? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

How To Make The Narcissist Miss You After The Discard

How To Make The Narcissist Miss You After The Discard

Have you been discarded by a narcissist?

The discard has happened, the narcissist has erased you from their lives just like that. You are shocked, wondering what happened or how it came to be so fast. You are wondering whether to call them or text them, begging for an explanation. But no matter what you do, nothing works. They seem unable to get over what they believe you’ve done, or even what they have done to you – and you become convinced that the only way to get back into their favor is by making the narcissist miss you after the discard.

How do you make the narcissist miss you after the discard?


(Prefer to watch/listen? See video on YouTube)

What should you expect when your relationship with a narcissist is over?

Going no contact with a narcissist is never easy, and that’s true whether you’re the one who left or you’re the one who got discarded. I remember when I finally got the nerve to leave my ex-husband, there was part of me that sort of wished I could make him realize exactly what he’d lost. I wanted him to regret what he’d done to me and how he’d affected my life. It was a little different when I went no contact with my mother. I wanted her to know I was doing better without her in my life if that makes any sense. In either case, while I knew for sure that I didn’t want them in my life any longer, I guess a part of me kind of wanted them to miss me, or at least to regret losing me.

Can you relate? Maybe you finally found yourself free of a narcissist in your life who gaslit you, manipulated you like there was no tomorrow, and who seemed to live to bring you grief. And now that they are gone, you kind of hate to admit it, but there might be a tiny little part of you that misses them despite the fact that they took you for granted, minimized you, and made you feel like you were worthless.

Does this sound like you?

You’ve done your research, and you recognize that you probably miss the narcissist because of the trauma bond which was the result of the ongoing cycles of a toxic relationship.

You might even already know that going through these cycles of intermittent reinforcement – ongoing punishment and reward, sprinkled with tiny crumbs of affection here to keep you hooked – will cause that trauma bond to make you feel like an addict who has gone cold-turkey on their drug of choice when the narcissist is no longer part of your daily life.

Do you want the narcissist to regret losing you?

Have you ever found yourself wishing the narcissist would regret losing you? Or wanting them to miss you once you’re gone? If so, you’re going to want to stick around, because that’s exactly what we’re talking about today: how to make the narcissist regret losing you and/or miss you after the discard – what you can expect from the narcissist, how they think about you once you’re gone and exactly what you can do to make them realize exactly what they’ve lost when they lost you.

Listen, I totally get how you feel here – and who could blame you for feeling like you want them to suffer a little? After all, they were awful to you and you did everything in your power to make you happy. In many cases, you feel like they’ve ruined your life – and maybe even affected it in so many ways that you can’t undo. If nothing else, you spent far too long trying to fix the unfixable. And you’re rightfully angry.

What Will Narcissist Miss About You?

The first thing we need to recognize when it comes to narcissists is that what they miss isn’t so much you as an individual, but what you did for them. They miss you as a source of narcissistic supply, which, in case you’re new around here, means that you offered them attention, validation, and maybe even admiration – all the “supply” they needed to feed their ego. Plus, they might miss the things you did to help them take care of themselves and their lives: cooking, cleaning, taking care of their bills and business – stuff like that.

But is it even possible for them to miss you as an individual?

Will a narcissist miss you for who you are?

Sadly, the answer is no – at least not in the same way that a normal person might miss you. I mean, don’t get me wrong. They’ll definitely notice your absence because you’re not giving them all the things you did before. They will miss having you as their own personal emotional garbage dumpster. They will miss your money or your attention or your lovemaking. They will miss the status or social standing you offered them. They will miss the supply your family and friends may have given them, if they haven’t completely pushed them all away from you by now. But as much as at least a part of you wants the narcissist to miss you for you, it cannot happen.

How Do Narcissists ‘Love’ You?

Rather than longing for you, they long for your services or for the benefits they get out of the relationship. Look at it like this:

For the average toxic narcissist, the discard leads to the “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon. They don’t see you as a whole person but as an extension of themselves. Their perception of relationships isn’t the same as yours or mine – they see previous relationships sort of like normal people see their smartphones.

The Smart Phone Comparison

Sure, when we first get our smartphones, they are amazingly new and shiny and fast. They have new features. They do all this cool stuff. But over time, they get overloaded and they start glitching here and there. We notice some new apps that we are DYING to try won’t work on our phones. Before long, we hear about a newer, faster, better model that recently came out. Before we can say boo, we’re at the Verizon store, casually joking with the cute salesperson as we sign the dotted line. We’re getting that new phone, by golly and we aren’t sad about the fact that we’re no longer going to use the old one. I mean, sure we might miss the sparkly case we bought for it, or we might miss the little clip-on stylus we paid extra for, but in general, we don’t sit around crying about our old phones. We just replace them without a second thought.

That’s how narcissists see relationships. And we all know that narcissists are infamous for revisiting old flames, for sure. But you’ve got to know that, for a narcissist, it is never about how amazing you might be – it is about what they can get from you in the form of narcissistic supply.

What is narcissistic supply?

Narcissistic supply is most often gained through attention-seeking from an individual, but it can also be gained from a pet or group of people. In the narcissistic abuse recovery community, we often refer to  ourselves or other people who are being used for narcissistic supply as “the supply.” In general, the narcissistic supply is used by the narcissist to get attention, validation, admiration – all the “supply” they need to feed their ego. The narcissist often has a circle of supply or “narcissistic harem.”

Understanding Narcissistic Supply

Don’t confuse that with the idea that they miss you or that they feel something real. The truth is that the narcissist just wants someone – a body – to fill the space that you previously occupied in your life. Let me explain.

The Ice Cream Truck Illustration for Narcissistic Supply

Think of it like this: let’s say you’re a little bit addicted to ice cream. You’ve been trying to quit eating it, but one day you find yourself really needing a little ice cream fix. Just then, you hear the ice cream truck coming down the street.

“What luck,” you think. “I was just craving ice cream!”

You go outside and you stand there with your money. Your excitement rises as you hear the trademark ice cream truck music getting closer and closer. As the ice cream truck approaches, you notice it’s not the same truck that usually comes through your neighborhood. Do you turn away and go back inside if it isn’t the truck you expected to see? Of course not! You get your ice cream! That’s because you are not thinking of that specific ice cream truck at all. You’re only thinking of the delicious ice cream you’re about to indulge in – so it’s what it can provide, not the truck itself. You can and would get your ice cream fix from any ice cream truck.

So, in this example, you’re the truck and the ice cream is the narcissistic supply.

They won’t miss you for you. What they do miss is your narcissistic supply. That is if they don’t end up getting it from somewhere else. If they are able to move on to get their narcissistic supply from elsewhere, then they most definitely will appear to forget you exist. I mean, they will certainly use you as a weapon against the new supply – so, if the new supply folds their laundry wrong in their opinion, for example, and you did it “right” – well, they will throw that in the new supply’s face. But again, that’s about what you were doing for them, not who you are.

How to Make the Narcissist Miss You After the Discard

So, how can you make the narcissist miss you? How can you make them regret losing you?

We’ve established that the only thing narcissists miss about you is the supply you gave them. And there is one thing that the narcissist regrets about losing you, and it is that they didn’t take even more from you before they did. They don’t regret the way they treated you. They don’t regret the way they discarded you, and even if you discarded them, they don’t regret what they did to cause you to do that.

But there is one way that you can cause a narcissist to think they’re missing out on you, after all. It’s just five steps and probably simpler than you might think.

1. Remove Yourself

First, you have to reduce or eliminate any contact you have with them following the discard. So just stop engaging with them on any level that isn’t absolutely necessary. If possible, go completely no contact and remove them from your life. If not, just deal with them as much as you need to – so, if you have kids together, only communicate with them about the kids and the business of raising them. No emotions, no kindness. Just black and white facts and information that is necessary to do your pickups and drop-offs, any medical information you’re required to share, and stuff like that.

2. Focus on You

Now, once you’ve started to do the low or no contact thing, you’re going to want to start focusing on taking care of yourself. During your relationship with the narcissist, chances are that you kind of lost yourself – if you ever fully understood yourself before you started. And now is a perfect time to start getting to know yourself, finally. Figure out what you like and what makes you happy. Find out what your passions are, if you don’t already know, and indulge in them. Throw yourself into a fun project or something that makes you want to get up out of bed in the morning. Imagine what your ideal life would look like, and start taking steps to create it now.

3. Fix What’s Broken

If there is something you don’t like about yourself that you are capable of changing, now is an ideal time to do this. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds or maybe you want to increase your self-esteem. Or, you want to get better at keeping up on your housework, or you want to start working out or reading or going to church more often. Whatever you’ve been meaning to do that will make you feel more complete and happy – start working on it, one tiny baby step at a time. Even just researching your desired result can be a great way to start moving in the right direction.

4. Get Clear on What You Deserve

You spent a long time feeling worthless, thanks to the narcissist and their abuse. Now, you need to really take a good, hard look at this whole situation. Be honest with yourself. Did you really deserve the way they treated you? Was any of it your fault? I can tell you with all certainty that you didn’t deserve that. How do I know? Well, because no one deserves to be treated the way a narcissist treas the people close to them. And chances are that you’re a kind, compassionate and giving person who loves hard – which the narcissist knew when they met you, and that’s part of the reason they have managed to keep you around as long as they did. Let me remind you that you deserve to be loved, to feel safe, and to not be scared in your own home, at the very least. You deserve to be loved in the same way that you’d love. What you don’t deserve is to be taken advantage of, abused, and treated like you don’t matter. Because my friend, you do matter. You are important and your thoughts and your feelings and your ideas are real and they are worth hearing. Please always remember that.

5. Live Like No One’s Watching

While you might be tempted to show off your newfound awesomeness once you get there or to send the narcissist a little message letting them know how much better you’re doing, don’t bother. Their response, if any, will only annoy or frustrate you. Worse, they may try to hoover you – as in, suck you back in – so they can get more supply from you now that they can see you’re sort of “recharging” yourself. So rather than sitting around wondering if they’re missing you, try living like they don’t matter. Live as if they never existed at all. Find ways to make yourself happy and ways to make yourself feel amazing, and embrace them. Now is the time you can truly begin to create the life you’ve always wanted – or maybe the life you couldn’t have imagined before. Baby-step your way there and you can’t lose. Meanwhile, the narcissist will be fully aware of the fact that you no longer want or need them, because you’ll be too busy living. And the cherry on that little ice cream sundae will be the fact that you’ll be so busy living the sweet life that you might even forget you ever missed them, eventually.

Question of the day: Have you ever wished you could make a narcissist miss you after the discard? If so, how did it work out for you? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

 

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