5 Traits Of A Covert Narcissist That You Must Know About

5 Traits Of A Covert Narcissist That You Must Know About

Are you in a relationship with someone who seems to be the shy and quiet type who does not brag about themselves, but who also treats you differently behind closed doors?  Do they, at times, seem to hate themselves? Does this person appear to be an introvert, and despite their apparent lack of empathy, pretend to be overly sensitive and caring?

Are you starting to wonder if you’re crazy because they keep twisting everything you say and do to make it seem like you’re wrong, bad, or otherwise unsavory? Are you feeling confused, lost, or completely alone in the world?

Why do you feel so confused in your relationship? 

It makes total sense that you’re confused here. After all, why would someone who seems so humble and kind be difficult to deal with? They seem so gentle and insecure on the outside, but they somehow make you feel completely miserable. You’re not sure why or how this is happening, but you know that spending time with them makes you feel bad about yourself and your life. Yet, you can’t seem to get away from them somehow. I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you’re not crazy. But the bad news is that there is a good chance that you’re dealing with a covert narcissist.

What is a covert narcissist?

In this quick video, I offer a brief definition of a covert narcissist.

@coachangieatkinson##covertnarcissist ##covertnarcissism ##covertnarcissim ##narcissismdefined ##understandingnarcissists ##narcissisticabuserecoverycoaching ##queenbeeing♬ original sound – Angie Atkinson

A covert narcissist is also called an introverted narcissist or a vulnerable narcissist. They exhibit a very subtle, but equally toxic form of narcissism that presents with a more introverted personality. This kind of narcissism is referred to as “vulnerable narcissism,” which might be on the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) spectrum (a cluster B disorder, according to the DSM). It is characterized by vulnerability and sensitivity, two characteristics that manifest with defensiveness and hostility.  Like grandiose narcissism, covert narcissism will also involve grandiose fantasies and thoughts, an overinflated perception of entitlement, and a general sentiment of being better than others. But there are some subtle differences, in addition to the more obvious ones.

What’s different about the covert narcissist?

As explained above, the covert narcissist’s personality is characterized differently. They are also plagued by constant worry, and they deal with their own inability to function normally in relationships. In addition to ineffective functioning, the covert narcissist actively struggles with unfulfilled expectations (which lead to abuse of their sources of narcissistic supply – also known as the people closest to them). They are can also be extremely vulnerable to the effects of stress, depression, and anxiety.

What are some traits of a covert narcissist? 

1. They Put Themselves Down

Unlike typical narcissists, covert narcissists put themselves down by telling people that they feel they’re not good enough or not smart enough. They may also tell you how terrible their lives are – and in many cases, they will be telling the truth about how terrible they are as a person. Of course, this is at least partially about getting narcissistic supply from you. See, you’ll be inclined to soothe their pain by telling them that they really are good enough and smart enough, and they don’t give themselves enough credit. This is what they want. This is how they manipulate you and reel you in so they can go after other things they want from you.

2. They Are Passive-Aggressive

If they don’t feel they are getting enough of your attention, they will become passive-aggressive in order to get it. For example, they may purposely leave a mess after you ask them kindly to clean up after themselves after dinner. And when you get upset, then they put themselves down because “it’s not their fault they’re a slob,” or whatever excuse they choose to make. This makes you feel sorry for them and backpedal, and maybe even go ahead and clean up the mess yourself. It’s easier than dealing with their drama, and you feel a little sorry for them. This is exactly what they want, of course. It’s all about attention and sympathy – and getting what they want from you.

3. They Are Highly Reserved

Standard, grandiose narcissists are happy to make it known how amazing they are, or how amazing they think they are, anyway. They will brag about anything and everything, no matter how ridiculous. But you will not see this from a covert narcissist. They aren’t known to brag and they never tell anyone that they think they are the greatest, at least not overtly. They act like they’re shy and reserved but if you look closely, they are smug and express their superiority in quiet ways.

4. They May Be Involved In Helping Non-Profits Or Charities

Covert narcissists are sometimes harder to identify because they seem like such good people. As such, they often want to appear to be heroes and they may seem totally altruistic. That is why they will be involved in charities or non-profits, and they’ll pretend to be very passionate and to care deeply about whatever cause they are focusing on. This allows them to seem important and often gives them feelings of superiority over others. Here’s one way they might not brag, but they’ll definitely make it known that they are doing so much for the “less fortunate,” and they never do anything without strings attached.

5. They Express Envy

While grandiose narcissists feel envy, they do not generally express it to others. They worry that it would make them seem week or vulnerable, and they do not want to be perceived this way. But the covert narcissist will make it known that they are jealous and envious of others, and they really are. This is not an act for a covert narcissist. Remember that they are narcissists who want to be better than everyone else. If they see that someone has more than they do, or that someone is “better” than they are in some way, they don’t take it well.

Guide to Identifying Covert Narcissism

So, how can you tell someone is a covert narcissist?  In this video, I’m explaining exactly how to identify covert narcissism.

Get Support in Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

Do you know a covert narcissist? Take our free covert narcissism test and find out, right now. You’ll be directed to healing resources at the end of your test. If you’re already sure you’re dealing with a narcissist, you can start your narcissistic abuse recovery healing here for free.

Helpful Videos for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

The Female Narcissist And A Few Ways They Manipulate

The Female Narcissist And A Few Ways They Manipulate

Do you know a female narcissist?

Like every narcissist, the female narcissist often has many sneaky ways of manipulating.

For example, a female narcissist will often use the fact that she is female – not only to excuse the abuse but also to justify it. She may even attempt to cause you to appear to be the abuser in this process. Crazy-making would be an understatement in the effects the female narcissist can have on the people around her.

Have you been abused by a narcissistic mother, female partners, or friends?

Maybe you have had the unfortunate experience of having a narcissistic female boss or any other position of power over you. If so, you know the pain and frustration they cause.

What are some of the ways a female narcissist manipulates to get away with being abusive? 

Female narcissists control through manipulation and threats. They will use “care-taking” and even sexual behavior (favors, withholding, etc.) to get what they want from you. They use gaslighting, their physical attributes, guilt and obligation – and many more types of coercion to get people to do what they want. They become abusive in covert ways, and sometimes in more obvious ones.

In this video, I’ll fill you in on what female narcissists are like and how they most commonly manipulate you.

Need help with narcissistic abuse recovery?

More Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

  • Best Books on Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
  • Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Glossary: This is a comprehensive guide to words and phrases (related to narcissism, NPD and related conditions, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery) that are commonly used in articles, videos, and narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. Defined here as specifically how they relate to narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery, these terms have been developed by psychologists, coaches, therapists, and survivors of narcissistic abuse who need a way to understand and overcome the abuse.
  • FAQ Help: Whenever you need help with something related to this site or you want to know how to find something, join a group or otherwise deal with an issue you’re having, visit our new FAQ Help page.
  • Self-Care for Survivors: This is a page that covers everything you need to know about self-care, from how to build your own self-care kit to how to sign up for self-care support, and more.
  • New Resources Page: This is a one-stop overview of narcissism, NPD, and narcissistic abuse recovery, offering a long list of resources that will be helpful for you.
  • Stalking Resources Center: If your narcissist is a stalker, the information and resources on this page will help you get and stay safe.

 

 

How to Support Yourself So You Can Heal Faster After Narcissistic Abuse

How to Support Yourself So You Can Heal Faster After Narcissistic Abuse

When you go through narcissistic abuse, a strange thing can happen: you can sort of lose yourself. You forget to do things for yourself, or you intentionally neglect them in favor of doing things for others. What’s worse is that even as you go through narcissistic abuse recovery, you might still neglect self-care since your life is changing and things get busier with kids and/or work, for example. And regardless of your personal circumstances, if you’re reading this now, chances are that you’ve neglected yourself or at least forgotten to include yourself on your own priority list.

So let me ask you: when’s the last time you put yourself first in life? Have you ever put your own needs first? There may have been a time when you were a child when you did put yourself first – well, that is if you didn’t grow up in a toxic family.

Growing Up in a Toxic Family: How It Affects You

Growing up in a toxic family usually leads to one of a handful of outcomes, one of which is becoming a toxic person or a narcissist. The other extreme is becoming more of a people-pleaser who becomes prone to abuse in adulthood, thanks to feeling like “toxic” seems “normal” for us.

But whether you met the toxic person in your life by birth or by chance, before you knew it, your attention was off yourself and your own needs. And, if you’re like most narcissistic abuse survivors, your attention most likely turned toward what the people around you wanted, demanded, and otherwise asked of you, and the responsibilities take root so firmly that you begin to neglect your own needs.

What’s a people pleaser?

A people pleaser, for the record, is someone who has a codependent personality that causes them to sort of need everyone to like them. They tend to avoid conflict to the point it becomes detrimental to their own lives or needs. This can make you especially vulnerable to narcissists and narcissistic abuse. But the reason for your “pleasing” ways isn’t as simple as you might think – and it most certainly isn’t as easy to stop as you might hope. But there are things you can do to heal from codependency, including learning how to set and enforce firm boundaries. But one often-overlooked way is less about how you interact with other people and more about how you take care of yourself. So let’s talk about that.

Support Yourself in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, chances are that you don’t really know how on what YOU want, and more importantly, what you need in your life – mentally, spiritually, and physically.  Despite what the narcissist would have you believe, life’s not meant to be lived in a state of fear, stress, and chaos. And despite what you might think, your own mental, emotional and physical health are all connected.

How do you finally put yourself first?

So how do you go about relearning (or maybe learning for the first time) how to take care of your own needs first? Have you ever done this before? As I mentioned, if you grew up with a narcissist or otherwise toxic parent in your life, chances are that you may have never known what it felt like to be on your own priority list. But even if you are one of the small percentage of survivors who did not have either a toxic parent or a serious trauma earlier in life, and even if you did happen to have a serious sense of self-esteem before you met the toxic narcissist you’re dealing with (or have dealt with), you’ve still got a lot to remember.

For example, despite how you might be feeling right now, it’s really important that you remember the possibility of enjoying your life. What would that look like for you?

My Philosophy on Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse (And Life in General)

In general, I am all about shifting perspective based on new information. And, I do my best not to judge others, for the most part. I try to remember that if I live in a happy mindset, I  live in a happy world – while if I live in a negative mindset, then I live in a negative world.

While I don’t vibe with the whole “toxic positivity” thing, I do believe that once you’ve got yourself free and safe, you’re going to do better if you make an intentional effort to feel better. BUT, that doesn’t mean you should shove your feelings down. It means you should be aware and awake, and let your feelings happen. Then, work through them and go forward from there. I learned the hard way that shoving your feelings down and trying to stay happy can actually hurt you in the end.

I find that the most important thing I learned in my own narcissistic abuse recovery is to focus only on what I have the power to change – and not what I don’t. This reduces a significant amount of stress across my entire life.

And I like to live by the philosophy that we should enjoy our days as much as possible. I believe that if we can open our minds to the possibility that we might have been mistaken or even plain wrong about any belief or idea we’ve had, even if it’s been in our heads for our entire lives, we are more intelligent and will have better lives than people who stick with rigid thinking and unchanging ideas. Being open to having been wrong about stuff I believe or believed before I learned something new is actually a big part of what led me here to you today – and I’m betting you could say the same about what led you here, to me today.

Self-Care is a Powerful (and Necessary) Part of Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Putting yourself on your own priority list and paying attention to your own needs is going to be a big part of how you can reclaim your life and conduct a slow, but methodical total life makeover that takes you from stressed and overwhelmed or exhausted to free, happy and motivated.

It won’t happen overnight, but with intention and active self-care, you can heal and be even better than you could have imagined. You’ll regain your energy, have time for things that you are passionate about and crave, and watch as you see your efforts not only contribute to your own life betterment but for your kids and/or anyone else you most care about. There’s just one thing I ask of you: You need to give it your all. That means to pick and choose the ideas and thoughts shared by myself and other narcissistic abuse recovery coaches, not to mention your fellow narcissistic abuse survivors, to implement in your own recovery.

Not everything that works for me will always work for you, so don’t beat yourself up if you find that one thing works but not another. But in any case, follow through on the ideas and healing techniques you do try, and give it time.

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you’re not going to go to sleep tonight and wake up with a totally different life. But if you stick to it and stick with your own personal plan for successful narcissistic abuse recovery, you’re going to see true results that nurture your spirit and help you get healthy on all levels.

Self-Care Guide for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Don’t worry about being perfect, but get yourself on some kind of self-care schedule – just a way of reprioritizing your day and night so that there’s time for what matters most – you! You may go through some initial emotions that feel like pushback against this idea, but just let them come and go as you work toward healing. One last tip for today: Don’t forget that things like guilt and avoidance are simply your mind’s way of resisting change. Change can be scary and it can feel really difficult. But if you think logically about it, you know that self-care is not an indulgence – it’s a necessity, especially if you’re working on narcissistic abuse recovery.

Be sure to check out our comprehensive self-care guide for narcissistic abuse survivors. And remember that with self-care, consistency is key, so it is really important that you find a path that helps you develop a routine that works best for you. You don’t need to feel intimidated by the process, because if you’re like me and most other survivors, that might mean you just freeze – or even give up completely.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support & Resources

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.

More Free, Helpful Information & Resources to Help 

Related Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Overcoming Trauma Associated with Narcissistic Abuse

Overcoming Trauma Associated with Narcissistic Abuse

If you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, you have likely experienced significant and ongoing trauma. And while it might feel like no one in your life gets what you’ve been through, you’re far from alone. In fact, according to the National Council For Behavioral Health, approximately 70% of Americans (over the age of 18) have experienced trauma in their lifetime. That is well over 200 million people – and that’s not even considering the fact that so many lives have been permanently altered thanks to the pandemic.

What is narcissistic abuse?

The term “narcissistic abuse” is thrown around a lot these days. While not all abuse technically involves narcissists,  a narcissist is involved more often than you might think. Malignant narcissists have a seriously impaired ability to experience emotional and compassionate empathy, and they are known to act from that perspective.

In layman’s terms, that means that, essentially, they don’t care how you or anyone else feels, and you can tell because of the way they treat the people around them.

Narcissistic abuse involves subtle manipulation, pervasive control tactics, gaslighting, and emotional and psychological abuse.  In most cases, narcissistic abusers might be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder – if they actually go to a psychologist for diagnosis, but this rarely happens.

Due to the nature of this personality disorder, most narcissists don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with them, and they are likely to look outward at other people if there are problems in their lives. They may be overtly narcissistic, or they may be more of a covert narcissist. In either case, anyone in a close relationship with one of these toxic people will be used as a form of narcissistic supply and not treated like an actual person. Sadly, even the most intelligent and educated people can be manipulated and abused by a narcissist.

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is similar to a dysfunctional relationship, but it is in many ways far less repairable. While therapy and ongoing effort can repair many dysfunctional relationships, toxic relationships are physically and/or psychologically unsafe. They can even be life-threatening for one or both partners involved. A toxic relationship involves more negativity than positivity, and it doesn’t emotionally support one or both of the people involved. When narcissistic abuse is part of a toxic relationship, only the narcissist’s needs are addressed and the victim is actively manipulated and abused in order to facilitate this.

Toxic relationships will involve resentment, contempt, communication problems, and varying forms of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. In the most extreme cases, you may need medical help and intense therapy to begin recovery. I always suggest seeing your doctor and getting checked out on a regular basis anyway, and I think it is an important first step in narcissistic abuse recovery. This way, you’ll know for sure what you’ve got to deal with, and you can get your doctor’s advice on taking the next steps in your personal journey toward recovery.

But in most cases, you can manage with some support and intentional healing. In nearly all cases, people who are victims of narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships will experience some level of ongoing trauma and will struggle with the after-effects long after the relationship ends. In any case, intentionally working toward narcissistic abuse recovery can make a significant difference in both the length of your recovery as well as the quality of your life during and afterward.

What is trauma? 

Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as: “The emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event.” The effects of trauma can vary from person to person. Some people may be minimally affected by trauma. Others may be debilitated by the effects. In narcissistic abuse, ongoing trauma related to gaslighting and other forms of manipulation and psychological abuse can lead to trauma bonding.

In addition to prolonged psychological abuse, physical violence, and other forms of abuse, trauma events include things like a car accident, a natural disaster such as a tornado or hurricane, the death of a loved one, serious illnesses, or divorce. In some cases, minor trauma can even occur as the result of seemingly positive changes, such as moving, getting married, or changing jobs.

Many narcissistic abuse survivors also experience trauma bonding with their abusers. This video offers some additional insight into trauma bonding and how it affects you during and after narcissistic abuse.

Emotional And Psychological Trauma as a Side-Effect of Narcissistic Abuse

What happens when you survive a traumatic event? 

During each trauma you experience in your toxic relationship, your body goes into defense mode, creating the stress response which results in a variety of symptoms, both physical and mental. You will experience your emotions more intensely and likely behave differently as a result of the trauma. The body’s stress response includes physical symptoms such as a spike in blood pressure, an increase in sweating and heart rate, as well as a loss of appetite.

How does your body respond to a traumatic event?

During episodes of narcissistic abuse, whether they’re psychological or physical, your body will have a stress response. This will affect your thoughts, your moods, and your emotions, but also your physical health.  Your body perceives what you’re dealing with as a physical threat, whether or not you’re in physical danger. This is why so many survivors find themselves living in fight or flight mode (or even experience an ongoing freeze response). The flight or fight response causes your body to produce chemicals that prepare your body for an emergency. As you might imagine, this can profoundly affect you.

The symptoms involved can lead to a variety of complications, including the following.

  • You get anxious.
  • You lose your appetite.
  • You suffer from other stomach and digestive issues.
  • You sweat more.
  • You breathe faster (respiratory rate increases).
  • Your heart beats faster.
  • Your blood pressure goes up to a dangerous level.

There has been some real hope found in Polyvagal Theory for healing the physical response to ongoing trauma.

How does your mind respond to the trauma associated with narcissistic abuse?

Following each traumatic event you go through during narcissistic abuse, you will deal with uncomfortable and potentially devastating emotional and psychological effects. For example, it might mean you deal with experience denial and/or shock. So many survivors of narcissistic abuse tell me that they do not even realize that they are being abused until they feel too stuck to leave – or until they are discarded and trying to figure out what happened.

In any case, you might find yourself living in the stress response for days or weeks before going through a series of emotions that could lead to healing. Note: while some level of relief may occur for those who are still dealing with narcissistic abuse, it is very difficult to fully heal unless you free yourself of the ongoing abuse. In most cases, that means you’ll need to go no contact with your abuser (or low contact, if you have children together).

When you stick around and continue to tolerate narcissistic abuse, you’re doing more than making your life harder. The ongoing abuse makes it nearly impossible to heal, and this can result in a serious impact on your overall health and wellbeing.

Symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma include the following. 

  • You’ll feel shocked (at least initially) by the abuse.
  • You’ll deny that it’s even happening, or you’ll doubt that it did.
  • You’ll find yourself feeling foggy and sometimes confused, and you won’t be able to concentrate.
  • You’ll be irritable and you might feel angry a lot.
  • You will deal with mood swings that might feel out of control.
  • You’ll be anxious and you might feel scared or on edge all the time.
  • You’ll often feel guilty, and you’ll blame yourself for everything that goes wrong (in your relationship and otherwise).
  • You’ll suffer from shame, whether it’s related to the fact that you’re tolerating abuse, or it’s related to the self-image the abuser has created for you.
  • You’ll self-isolate and withdraw from your friends and extended family, and this will leave you feeling more alone than ever.
  • You’ll find yourself feeling hopeless and you’ll always have an underlying sense of sadness.
  • Eventually, you’ll go numb, and you’ll feel like you’re not even living, but just “getting through the days.”
  • You might find yourself just sort of “existing,” and you might neglect your own physical needs, your responsibilities, and even, at least on some levels, your kids or other people you care for.

These responses are the result of evolution – your body has evolved to respond this way to effectively cope with an emergency, whether it’s to stand and fight or to run away as fast as humanly possible. Unfortunately, our bodies and brains weren’t designed to deal with ongoing narcissistic abuse, so these issues can become debilitating for victims.

What are the long-term effects of ongoing trauma related to narcissistic abuse? 

PTSD & C-PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder often diagnosed in soldiers, as well as in survivors of abuse, in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Post-traumatic stress disorder can leave people feeling anxious long after they experience trauma, whether it results in a physical injury or not. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of anything to do with the trauma, panic attacks, poor concentration, sleep issues, depression, anger, and substance abuse.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities.

Depression

Depression is a very common issue for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse, manifesting in a persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities – both daily “chores” or responsibilities as well as things you normally really enjoy doing. Depression significantly affects your daily life in ways that not everyone understands – and it can also affect your physical health in a number of ways. When we’re talking about depression, we don’t mean those moments where you occasionally feel sad or a little down – we’re talking about a lasting experience of intense negative emotions such as hopelessness, anxiety, helplessness, and negativity.

Not only can these issues affect your health as noted, but both the physical and mental effects of trauma may lead you to practice bad habits that negatively contribute to an overall lack of wellbeing.

How do you recover from trauma related to narcissistic abuse? 

If you’re ready to start healing from the abuse you’ve experienced, you’ve come to the right place. Now that you’ve recognized that you’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse, you’re ready to start learning how to deal with and heal from the ongoing trauma you experienced during your toxic relationship.

Start With Self Care

Self care is always important, and when you’re trying to heal from significant trauma, it is even more important than ever. Especially during the first days and weeks of recovery, you might find yourself neglecting your self-care. You might also beat yourself up too much, and this is the time when self-compassion must be a big part of your plan. So be kind to yourself – you’ve had enough abuse from the narcissist. Don’t continue it on their behalf.

Instead, be gentle with yourself and take the extra time you need to get a healthy diet, hydrate, rest, and nourish your soul and emotions. Journal, exercise, or do any favorite activity that makes you feel good. All of these things can help you restore your sense of well-being and wholeness in the moment and will help your overall state of mind anytime.

Discover the Right Resources for Your Recovery

Start by finding out what kinds of narcissistic abuse recovery resources are available to you, and which ones will best fit your personal needs and your budget. Understanding your needs and which of the available options is best for you going to be a critical step in moving past emotional or psychological trauma you’ve death with through narcissistic abuse. Talk to family, friends, or trusted people in your life who may understand what you’ve experienced, or reach out to a narcissistic abuse recovery support group.

If you need to report an event to a professional or law enforcement. do so. The same if you may need to see a doctor. Do your best to make informed choices here and do what is best for you and your health and wellbeing.

Understand the Effects of Narcissistic Abuse-Related Trauma

Knowledge is power when it comes to narcissistic abuse recovery. Not only will understanding what happens mentally and physically during and after the abuse give you insight into your experiences, but it can also help you learn how to help yourself heal.

Plus, if you’re anything like me, looking at the situation from the perspective of a “scientist,” as in logically and not emotionally, can help you find the catalyst you need to get out of a toxic relationship and to heal your whole life on a more profound scale. This is especially helpful for diverting your most extreme emotions if you can logically understand that what you have experienced isn’t your fault – and then to go deeper and look at how your own psychology as well as the narcissist’s psychology almost doomed you to end up in a toxic relationship in the first place.

With this kind of self-awareness, you can intentionally redesign yourself. And while you definitely cannot become the same person you once were after you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, you can absolutely become a better, more enlightened, and intentionally-created version. I like to think this is the one silver lining to narcissistic abuse recovery. Clearly, we’d all rather avoid having the narcissistic abuse experience in our lives – but since it is so soul-crushing and psychologically damaging that it breaks us down to the point that we feel like a shell of a person, we have to rebuild ourselves anyway.

You can look at this as a horrible injustice, and you’d be right. But the hidden bit of light here is that you can literally rebuild yourself to become the person you really, truly want to be – the person maybe you should have been all along. And this leads me to my next point.

Overcoming the Effects of Narcissistic Abuse-Related Trauma

Depending on what level of trauma you experienced during narcissistic abuse, the process for dealing with it varies. In cases of shorter relationships and those that aren’t as significant (such as a co-worker of a few months, versus a 20-year marriage, for example), you might feel better with time. But most of us will need to go through a whole process that will involve an extended period of self-reflection, research, learning, coping, grieving, and ultimately, and personal evolution.

After you’ve worked through the painful parts of the narcissistic abuse recovery process, the silver lining is fully in place, and you’re ready to begin discovering who you are, what you want, and what your life will look like from here on out.  (THIS is the good part!)

It’s around this time that you’ll begin to feel a sort of shift in your narcissistic abuse recovery, where things will start to become clearer than ever. It’s as though you’re nearing the end of a lifelong existential crisis – and you can really begin to feel yourself evolving into a whole new level of consciousness – and that can be a beautiful thing.

Get Help With Healing From Narcissistic Abuse Related Trauma

Overcoming emotional and physical trauma associated with narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships can be a long, difficult process. It takes digging deep and doing the work each day to move past the all-encompassing and life-altering level of trauma brought on by the ongoing abuse.

Please remember that you’re are worth it and that you deserve to be happy and healthy. And, whether we like it or not, when we’ve experienced narcissistic abuse and the trauma related to it, our health, happiness, and wellbeing literally depend on doing this work. Take the time to heal, empower yourself, and move forward from psychological and emotional trauma.

Remember that in every stage of trauma recovery, getting support is going to be critical. Whatever path you choose, the level to which you share your experiences with people in your life is a personal decision. Don’t keep things to yourself, but understand who is going to be a “safe” person with whom you can safely discuss the abuse and trauma you’ve experienced.

Remember that not everyone has experienced what you have, so they may not fully understand the depth of it. Trying to explain the psychological abuse narcissists inflict on you can feel impossible when you’re talking to someone who just doesn’t “get it,” if you understand what I mean.

You might even want to hire a narcissistic abuse recovery coach to help you work through your recovery –  or even just to have someone who will understand and help you process what you’ve been through.

Resources for Healing After Trauma Caused By Narcissistic Abuse

Professional Help for Managing Trauma and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

If you are experiencing symptoms that are affecting your day-to-day life, it is important to get professional if needed. There is no shame in working with experts to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Consider talking to experts if you experience the following symptoms.

  • Ongoing distress, anxiety, sadness, etc for multiple weeks.
  • Feeling like you’re stuck or you have an inability to function in your life.
  • Feeling hopeless all the time.
  • Your work or school is affected.
  • Your daily life and activities have been affected.
  • You are using drugs or alcohol to cope.

It never hurts to start by contacting your family doctor or mental health professionals. Also, consider talking to a clergy member about a referral if you go to church. They may know a professional in your community that you can work with. You can also check out the narcissistic abuse recovery support resources here.

Self-Assessments for Managing Trauma and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery 

More Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

  • Best Books on Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
  • Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Glossary: This is a comprehensive guide to words and phrases (related to narcissism, NPD and related conditions, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery) that are commonly used in articles, videos, and narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. Defined here as specifically how they relate to narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery, these terms have been developed by psychologists, coaches, therapists, and survivors of narcissistic abuse who need a way to understand and overcome the abuse.
  • FAQ Help: Whenever you need help with something related to this site or you want to know how to find something, join a group or otherwise deal with an issue you’re having, visit our new FAQ Help page.
  • Self-Care for Survivors: This is a page that covers everything you need to know about self-care, from how to build your own self-care kit to how to sign up for self-care support, and more.
  • New Resources Page: This is a one-stop overview of narcissism, NPD, and narcissistic abuse recovery, offering a long list of resources that will be helpful for you.
  • Stalking Resources Center: If your narcissist is a stalker, the information and resources on this page will help you get and stay safe.
  • Visit Our Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources Page

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only.  It’s very important to always check with your doctor before taking any action that could affect your physical or mental health.  

 

Dating After Divorcing a Narcissist?

Dating After Divorcing a Narcissist?

Have you experienced a divorce that involved a narcissist? If you’ve been through narcissistic abuse and you’re now thinking about entering the dating world again, there are some things you need to think about first. Let’s face it, a divorce can be a traumatic experience especially when you’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse, and jumping into the dating scene can be more than you might be ready to deal with. The only one who will know if you are truly ready to start dating after a divorce is you, but here are some things to consider before you go on that first date.

Are you really ready to date after your divorce?

This is where you have to take stock of your own emotions and what it is you are looking for after getting divorced. Only you can really answer this question but something to think about is why do you want to start dating again.

Are you lonely and think that dating again will help fill that void left by your ex-spouse? If this is the case you may not be ready, because the person you date may not fulfill your expectations, particularly if you do not know what it is you want out of a new relationship.

If you look at it from the point of asking yourself what you want from a new relationship you may find it easier to make a decision about dating after your divorce.

Are you confident enough in yourself to date safely?

Going through narcissistic abuse can destroy your entire self in so many ways, the least of which is a complete erasure of your self-confidence. So, when you’re ready to date again, its’ a really good idea to do a double-check and ask yourself if you’re really confident enough to get back out there. Do you have what it takes to deal with someone in a dating relationship?

For many survivors of narcissistic abuse, simply going through the divorce itself can be devastating. You need time to recuperate and to heal from the years of trauma you’ve just been through. You have to ask yourself if you’re ready to deal with someone on that emotional level again. Are you confident enough in yourself that any letdown or rejection during your foray into dating will not damage your emotional state?

Do you know what you’re looking for in a potential partner? 

What kind of person are you going to date? How detailed are you being in your “checklist” of wants and needs in a partner? Your tendency may be to try and find someone who is the complete opposite of your ex-spouse – and who could blame you if that person was a narcissist?

While this may sound logical, you might be missing something important if that’s the direction you’re planning to take here. Why? Two reasons.

First, you were attracted to your ex-spouse for a variety of reasons, none of which involved the toxic person they later showed you they were. Because your marriage didn’t work doesn’t mean that you didn’t like some of the things that attracted you to your ex in the first place. You need to accept people for who they are, not who they remind you of.

Second, there is more than one type of narcissist, and on the outside, a covert narcissist may appear to be the complete opposite of an overt one. This can lead to you getting involved unknowingly with another toxic person who may act a little different but who might still be the same level or type of toxic as your ex. For example, I personally looked for a person who was the opposite of my narcissistic parent and I found him. Sadly, he turned out to just be a different kind of narcissist – he flew under my radar because his external behaviors were so different. But underneath it all, he was exactly the same.

Are you prepared to deal with trigger moments? 

After you’ve been abused by a toxic narcissist for a long time, you might be a little sensitive in ways that won’t make sense to your potential dates. As I mentioned, knowing what you want is important, but be careful not to overly compare anyone you date to your ex-spouse. Certainly, there are toxic behaviors you’ll have to watch for and avoid in a new person, and it will make it even more difficult if that someone you are dating seems to do some of the things that your ex used to do that drove you crazy.

Realize that most of the time they will be unaware that they are doing something that reminds you of your ex-spouse. Their otherwise innocent behavior might trigger you in a way you’re not expecting, and it might erroneously lead you to assume you’re dealing with a narcissist. If this is a concern, you’re going to want to have a pattern interrupt plan in your back pocket – as in, be prepared to pattern-interrupt yourself in the moment so you can consider what happened later, when you’re not feeling scattered or afraid.

Are you ready to take it slowly (and safely)?

Listen, I get it. After a toxic relationship, you might just want to hurry up and move on with your life. And I get it! Heck, we’ve all heard the (really terrible) advice of “If you want to get over someone, get under someone new,” right? That is completely off-base, just in case you wondered.

If you really like this new person in your life and you want to give them a chance, then they might be worth it. BUT, despite what your heart seems to be telling you, you should not rush into this or any relationship – and you should give yourself some grace here.

The most important piece of advice I can offer here is to take it very slowly, even if you’re sure this is your actual soulmate. The thing is that while a toxic person might push you to move faster in the relationship than you want to, someone who is really “your person” will be happy to take it slowly and not rush things.

Remember too that what you see and think may not be what they intend for you to see and think. It is hard for a new person to prove they’re not like your ex, and they shouldn’t have to do that, necessarily. Rather they should be themselves and you should try to judge them on their own merit. It isn’t really their job to help you overcome the demons of your past relationship, even if they seem to want to try.

It’s Okay (And Recommended) to Wait Until You’re Ready

Avoid dating at all if you’re not ready to do it – there’s nothing wrong with waiting until you’re ready, mentally, emotionally, and otherwise. At the same time, don’t be afraid to enter into the dating world after your divorce when you are ready, but at the same time, you need to know who you are and have the confidence to find what you are comfortable with when it comes to dating. Trust yourself to make the right choice and chances are you will thrive as you begin your new life dating after divorce.

Not Sure You’re Ready to Date After Divorce?

Take this free self-assessment to find out if you are ready to date after a divorce from a narcissist. 

Related Resources for Dating After Narcissistic Abuse

 

Male Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Should Be Recognized, Not Minimized and Invalidated.

Male Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Should Be Recognized, Not Minimized and Invalidated.

If you are a man who has been dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, you are likely filled with self-doubt and you might not even know where to turn for help. Despite the popular assumption that only women are abused in relationships, the opposite is true.

Men experience toxic relationship abuse too – and they are not at fault.

You are not responsible for the toxic and hurtful behavior of another person no matter what your gender. I was talking with a friend about his feelings of self-blame after being in a toxic relationship. He was told that he was at fault by the abusive woman and because of his ability to be accountable to his own part in things became convinced that even though logically it could not be his fault he must still be to blame. This issue with men seems to go deeper because of the way they are taught by society as well as the lack of support surrounding emotional abuse toward men. Why is this? The issue is complicated. 

Female Abusers Fly Under the Radar.

Female abusers may be more prominent than you’d expect. This video goes into detail about toxic women and their impact on their victims. Any of that sound familiar to you?

Men Are Taught Their Feelings Don’t Matter.

Men seem to be taught that their feelings do not matter and when abuse happens to them in a relationship and it is somehow their own fault.  Women who are abused are also taught it is their fault, especially with narcissists, however, it seems men have a secret shame they also carry about what it means to be a man and experience their emotions around abuse. Male survivors tell me that even though men recognize the abuse,  they lack the support needed to truly personally acknowledge it and leave the situation. Friends may likely say you are weak and should just stand up to the abuser.

Good Men Take Care of Their Wives, Right? 

Or in the case of a man with a narcissistic woman, the message might be something like “ a happy wife is a happy life” leaving the man with the belief that he has to accept the behaviors, that this somehow is normal. Men have told me they use avoidance or shut down in order to cope, pushing their own feelings aside to “ keep the peace”. Having very few outlets for being heard leaves a lot of men totally invalidated.  As an example of what I am talking about, another male survivor of abuse told me, “Many men have this false thought that as a man they aren’t allowed to speak up about abuse. They fear they will be shunned and laughed at and told they “let it” happen. This is, unfortunately, a stigma that is very hard to remove.” 

Men Who Speak Up Might Be Invalidated.

Men who have survived narcissistic abuse face the problem of when speaking out about the abuse they have suffered, people often do not believe them. What can be frightening at times is that people instead believe they, the man, are the abuser.  It is a challenge for people to see at times that being screamed at and devalued by any gender is abuse including when it happens to men, and this can be incredibly invalidating and demoralizing for male victims of narcissistic abuse. Worse, invalidation is one of the most painful parts of this kind of abuse in general – so not being heard or believed can be especially traumatic for men who have been abused by females or any partner in relationships. 

You Are Not Alone

There are so many things that I can not write and even as I am writing this I struggle to say all that I feel needs to be said. In order to help men who have survived narcissistic abuse by any person in their life, know you are not alone and your feelings matter, your experience matters.  The delicate nature of feelings for both men and women makes it very difficult to talk openly about this. Some men find there is no support, not from family or friends when they mention the issues that are facing.  

Your Abuse Experience is Valid.

The message I would like to give to men is this. Your experience is valid. Your feelings around that experience are real and they matter. Most of all though, you did not deserve abuse. Think of the abuse in reverse ( man abusing woman) it would be blatantly unacceptable on all levels. We know with the complexity of narcissistic abuse that in almost all situations the abuse can be covert and very difficult to be recognized by anyone outside of the relationship, This is not to minimize the abuse women also face but instead to illustrate the challenges men face when speaking about the abuse they have lived with. 

Get personal support in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

Helpful Articles & Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

 

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