New Quora Space for Narcissism and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Information, Support and Answers

New Quora Space for Narcissism and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Information, Support and Answers

The QueenBeeing Team is pleased to announce the launch of a brand new way to get support for understanding the narcissist in your life and facilitating your own recovery from narcissistic abuse.

Introducing Decoding Narcissism

A New Quora Space for Narcissism and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Information, Support, and Answers

This new space offers a new platform for survivors of narcissistic abuse to connect and to get answers to their questions related to their toxic relationships, the psychology related to their own struggles along with the psychology and makeup of the toxic people in their lives. It is a place where we collect, curate, and create a comprehensive collection of the best questions and answers on narcissism, narcissistic abuse, narcissistic abuse recovery, and all of the related topics. Additionally, the Decoding Narcissism Quora Space offers support from our narcissistic abuse recovery experts, coaches, and support team, along with fellow survivors of narcissistic abuse.

What is Quora?

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Quora is a popular interactive Q&A site that also offers a really solid app for your favorite device. Here is a bit more information from Quora’s about page:

Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge. A vast amount of the knowledge that would be valuable to many people is currently only available to a few — either locked in people’s heads, or only accessible to select groups. We want to connect the people who have knowledge to the people who need it, to bring together people with different perspectives so they can understand each other better, and to empower everyone to share their knowledge for the benefit of the rest of the world.

How It Works

Our Quora Space offers a simple and easy place to ask and answer questions related to narcissism, narcissistic abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, psychology, codependency, and other related topics. To join, just join and/or sign in to Quora and go directly to our Quora Space, Decoding Narcissism. 

Is the Decoding Narcissism Space a Support Group?

While there is a support element since you can ask questions and get answers, our Quora Space cannot be considered a support group as it is not private and is focused more on knowledge and information than emotional support.

Please note: This is space is public and questions cannot be made private. We suggest that you use a pseudonym if you want to hide your identity on this site. Unlike our other support groups, you are not required to apply for membership and your questions and answers can be seen by anyone. Still, you are also welcome to just join and follow the space so you can keep up with the latest in decoding narcissism. 

Prefer a private online narcissistic abuse recovery support group?

Check out the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support System, which includes our SPANily narcissistic abuse recovery support groups and Angie Atkinson’s YouTube community, along with our off-Facebook support site, MySPANily.com, and now, our newly launched Quora Space Decoding Narcissism.

What can you expect when you join Decoding Narcissism on Quora?

Quora offers a clean, simple interface that can not only be easily used on your computer but your favorite device as well. It is super-easy to search and find what you want to know, and if for some reason your specific question isn’t already on Quora, you can just add it and get the answers you need. PLUS: if you feel so inclined, you can answer questions asked by others.

Visit our Decoding Narcissism Quora Space and try it out here.

What You Need To Know About The Narcissist’s False Self

What You Need To Know About The Narcissist’s False Self

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist or a toxic person of any sort, you might have some experience with seeing the narcissist’s false self – and with being aware that there is a difference between the person the narcissist shows to the world at large and the one that lives at home behind closed doors.

Prefer to watch/listen? See Narcissism: False Self on YouTube.

Narcissists can be really tough to spot – and there are a number of reasons for it – one of which is the fact that they’re not really showing you their true selves – at least not at the beginning of the relationship during love-bombing (also known as the idealization phase).

But if you stick around long enough for them to become comfortable with you, a shocking and upsetting thing happens: their mask comes off and you see the true face of the narcissist. And believe me – it’s not pretty!

Today, let’s discuss the narcissist’s false self, how it develops and exactly what you are supposed to do with this information.

The Narcissist’s False Self Begins in Childhood

When you are born, you express yourself through instinct. On so many levels, that is your true self. Your instinct is to live which means you need to be fed, changed, and cuddled every few hours. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but if your parents did the best they could and cared for you properly, then you would be showing your true self or authentic self.

But narcissists never show their true selves. In fact, they are living through what I’d call their false self.

Now don’t get me wrong here – just like you, the narcissist was born expressing themselves through instinct as well. But if they were not nurtured properly and were denied the things they needed, then they’d develop their false self and that is how they show themselves.

That happens because when an infant is not given what they need and are not nurtured the way they need to be nurtured, they are on their way to not being authentic in any way at all.

It is possible that one of their parents was a narcissist and in that case, their needs would not be met. They would be given responses of disapproval over and over again. If the child attempted to show their authenticity, it would be shot down.

On the flip side, maybe they were too indulged and never had proper discipline and balance. That can be damaging as well. Either way, along the way, their authentic self was replaced by an artificial persona. As they grow up, they begin to build a false set of relationships that are all based on a facade they show.

Learn more about how a narcissist develops and what attachment style has to do with it. 

What Purpose Does The False Self Serve?

The false self is a protective mechanism that protects narcissists as children from feeling their dependency needs that were unmet. So, the false self blocks feelings of shame that the narcissist had from only having conditional love from their parents. It is also a way to prevent them from remembering any trauma or shock that is associated with being abandoned, neglected, or abused.

What Are The False Self Characteristics?

Those who are living through their false self can appear charming, well-mannered, and polite. Some part of you may see through this as their facade does not reveal who they really are – but it is easy to fall for this facade, even for the most intelligent people. Their false self had stopped them from feeling any type of empathy at all as all they cared about was having their own needs met, which never happened during childhood. And you can see how narcissists show their false self. That is because their authentic self is dead, empty, and there is nothing to offer.

Now you have an understanding of why narcissists have an inflated ego and can be abusive if they don’t get what they want and need – as in if they don’t get narcissistic supply. Now you also can see how the narcissist goes into fits of narcissistic rage when they are threatened with having their supply taken away or are rubbed the wrong way. And now you understand why they are insecure and how they would never allow their true selves to come out because it puts them to shame otherwise.

Why There’s So Much Confusion in Toxic Relationships

Because the narcissist nearly always hides behind this sort of “armor” that is the “false self,” they manage to fool you from very early on.

Your first impression of the narcissist was likely a very good one; that’s because he or she showed you only the best parts of themselves when you met – they constructed a series of qualities and traits that are those they present to the outside world.

This, along with their grandiosity and need for attention, can make it very difficult to see who they truly are – you’re stuck deciding whether you’ve really got the sweet and charming love you signed up for, or whether the wool was pulled over your eyes and the real him or her is actually the toxic, abusive, insulting and manipulative narcissist you’re dealing with in real life.

Of course, this leads you to a serious kind of mental torture that causes you to literally be at odds with yourself – we call that cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance in Narcissistic Abuse

Cognitive dissonance is form of psychological stress or discomfort that happens when you simultaneously hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. Often affects narcissists as well as their victims at different times and for very different reasons. So basically, when you’re dealing with cognitive dissonance, you are, for all intents and purposes, actively trying to reconcile the illusion you were initially presented with the person you have now got to deal with.

Here is a free cognitive dissonance toolkit I put together that will help you work through this if it is happening to you.

How Cognitive Dissonance Works Against You in a Toxic Relationship

In a lot of cases, in order to cope with this mess, you start trying to improve your SELF. Instead of recognizing that you’re dealing with a toxic person, you find yourself desperately trying to change yourself into something the narcissist seems to want and need. You blame yourself for their bad behavior – and that’s partly because they tell you it’s your fault. On the other side of the coin is the simple fact that some part of you KNOWS you can’t change the narcissist, but you care about them and you want to make it work. You DO know that you can change yourself, and so you go about the business of doing that.

Here’s the thing. In reality, some part of you must also recognize that you’re not the problem here. In fact, you’ve done nothing wrong and if you did, it was probably simply a reaction to the narcissist’s abuse. All you’re doing is trying to keep your relationship together, and on some level, you’re just subconsciously trying to uphold that initial impression you had of the narcissist – the image of his or her false self that is challenged during the inevitable devaluation phase.

Narcissistic Abuse and the Discard Phase

By the time you get to the discard phase (which, sadly is also inevitable with a narcissistic person – the cycle, like the beat, goes on), you’ll be treated to glimpses of the truly ugly face of the narcissist – the one that spews out the cruel and painful poison that causes you to lose all faith in yourself faster than you can say boo.

You become painfully aware of the coldness, the callous indifference that leads to what feels like absolute torture to you.

While your first reaction is that everyone has a bad moment and this can’t be who they really are, the truth is that this is probably the closest you’ll come to actually seeing the narcissist’s REAL self.

This is about the time you recognize that the amazingly charming or engaging or otherwise awesome person you got involved with in the first place is gone – and suddenly you see this horrible contempt that they seem to have developed for you. And when you realize they felt that way all along, your heart breaks a little more, if that’s possible.

But what you have to realize here is that none of this is your fault. In reality, narcissists are not capable of feeling genuine love or empathy for anyone else – they just use people to meet their own selfish needs. Once they exhaust one source of supply, it’s on to the next.

Don’t let yourself believe in the magical connection you once thought you had – it was just a part of the whole narcissistic abuse cycle – an illusion, just like the narcissist’s identity.

How to Deal with the Narcissist’s False Self

So now that you know all of this, what do you do with it? Well, you start picking up the pieces of yourself, and you begin the healing process.

In this video, you’ll also find a portion of a previous video attached to help you do exactly that. Remember this: You aren’t to blame – you were simply used as a pawn in the narcissist’s game. You are going to go forward, and when or if you can, you might want to go no contact (or low contact, if you’re forced to deal with them – say at work or as a co-parent).

Additional Resources for Understanding the Narcissist and the False Self

If you are looking for a deeper understanding of the narcissists’ false self and how it develops, watch: 4 Attachment Styles (How Attachment Theory Explains Narcissists and Codependents in Relationships) 

And a few more videos that you might also find helpful!

Question of the Day: What have your experiences been when it comes to the narcissist in your life and his or her identity? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments section below this video. Let’s discuss it.

 

The #1 Thing a Narcissist Will Never Do

The #1 Thing a Narcissist Will Never Do


What is the #1 Thing a Narcissist Will Never Do? Validate You. Watch Video.

One of the most difficult parts of dealing with a narcissist for me was the constant invalidation of my feelings, my thoughts, and my emotions. Since my first narcissist was a parent, I would develop some serious personal issues as a result of it. I remember feeling like anything I said or thought or felt was somehow less relevant or less real than what other people said, thought or felt. I literally felt like I was not even a “real person” – or at least not as real as everyone around me.

In fact, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I really, fully recognized myself as a whole person rather than a watered-down extension of someone else. Yes, it sounds silly, but it’s true. I really think that the hardest, most painful part of growing up that way (and later, marrying another narcissist) was that constant invalidation.

Just to be clear, when I say invalidation, I mean emotional invalidation, which is when someone rejects, ignores or judges everything you say, think or feel. For example, when I was in second grade, I noticed that I could draw better than some people. I told my mother that I wanted to grow up and become an artist, and she told me in no uncertain terms that I could not do that because artists don’t make any money. Of course, this is just one of many examples I could share, and it probably sounds pretty harmless.

But here’s the thing – when we’re talking about narcissistic parents, this is an ongoing issue that starts pretty much the minute you can talk. And even when you’re involved in a romantic relationship with a narcissist for years, it can deeply affect you. See, despite what a lot of people think, invalidation is actually one of the most damaging forms of emotional abuse, and this is especially true when it is happens repeatedly over the course of time. Not only can it make you feel like you’re not a real person or like you’re a little crazy, but it’ll leave you feeling constantly confused and full of self-doubt.

On the other end of the spectrum here is validation, or accepting and recognizing that someone’s thoughts and ideas are worth hearing, understandable, and legitimate. It doesn’t mean unconditional acceptance of ideas or thoughts – it means that you don’t automatically assume that someone has nothing of value to say. It means accepting someone as a real person who is not less worthy or valuable than yourself.

And, even though someone who isn’t a narcissist (a “normal” person) may disagree or have a difference in opinion, they can still recognize the value in the thoughts and opinions of other people. Plus, a “normal” person is likely to make an attempt to understand people. They will try to look at even “abnormal” behaviors from a place of empathy – it’s basic human nature to try to see the other person’s side of things.

However, when there’s a narcissist involved, we’re not exactly dealing with “normal,” are we? Instead, we’re stuck with a walking, talking human-like being who seems to have a giant hole in their soul. A narcissist isn’t capable of true empathy, so it only makes sense that you can’t expect them to validate you.

Invalidation is a Hallmark of Narcissistic Abuse in Toxic Relationships

In fact, as it turns out, invalidation is one of the hallmarks of this kind of emotional abuse.

Sadly, there’s a simple reason, in my opinion: the narcissist sees you as a possession, an object – a thing. You are simply an extension of the narcissist, according to them. If they saw you as equal to themselves, it would shatter their grand illusion (the way they deceive themselves into thinking they’re better or more important than everyone else in the world).

Well – that, and because it’s yet another way the narcissist gaslights you and keeps you tightly in place in the narcissistic supply chain. Between the gaslighting, the narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury, and the flying monkeys of it all, you can become overwhelmed to the point that you completely lose yourself. And the truth is that all of the name-calling, verbal cut-downs, and narcissistic control that you deal with could all be placed under the umbrella of invalidation.

How do you recognize invalidation from a narcissist?

If you haven’t ever taken the time to watch for it, you might not even recognize that you’re being invalidated by a narcissist. If you’re anything like I was, you’re likely to assume that YOU are the problem, rather than your abuser. But it’s so important to recognize when it’s happening because it is essentially the #1 way that narcissists actively tear down your core self in order to keep you feeling off-balance, confused, and plain old not good enough – all of which, sadly, makes you easier to control. It is my goal to help you to take back your life, though, so I want you to see it when it’s happening, or at least to be able to recognize it in hindsight because essentially, it is one more way the narcissist lies to you and gives you the wrong idea about who you are – one of the most difficult parts about going through narcissistic abuse. If you want to recover, you first have to recognize it, right?

Signs a Narcissist is Invalidating You

So, in order to help you recognize it in your own life, here are some examples of what invalidation looks like.

1. During a Conversation

If you’re having a conversation with a narcissist, you might notice that when it’s your turn to talk, you get only grunts or a couple of words in response. Nothing that actually indicates the narcissist has heard you or understood you. Maybe even just a pause and a breath. You might even notice that they are just waiting until it’s their turn to talk again. They could care less what’s happening inside your head – they only want you to hear what they have to say. It doesn’t matter what you think or feel, as far as they’re concerned, because they see you only as an extension of themselves with nothing of value to share.

2. How the Narcissist Feels About You

Have you ever asked a narcissist how they felt about you? More specifically, have you ever asked what they like or love about you? Or did they ever volunteer that information to you? If you think back, you might remember that they always said things like:

  • I love the way you make me feel.
  • I love how you always listen.
  • I love that you’re always there when I need you.
  • I love how you take care of me.
  • Etc.

See how there wasn’t really anything about YOU PERSONALLY there? Rather, the focus is all about what you DO for them, not who you are. That is because the narcissist only cares about what they can get from you – what you do for them – not who you are as a person. As always, it’s all about the narcissistic supply.

Here’s the hard part – and it seems counterintuitive – but you have to figure out a way to not take it personally. Don’t get me wrong – I know it hurts, and it certainly IS a personal attack. But it’s not ever really about you. It’s really about the narcissist’s own shortcomings.

I want to tell you that you shouldn’t really care or even feel offended – I mean, it’s just the narcissist’s “way.” That is how they treat everyone, right?

Well, that would be the case if you didn’t seem to catch the narcissist appearing to genuinely connect with other people when they’re more of a brick wall when it comes to understanding YOU. That brings me to my next point, number 3.

3. Connections to Other People

I can’t tell you how many times, in tears, I literally asked my ex-husband, “Can you please just be nice to me?” Being with a narcissist can feel very lonely at times. And it is so frustrating to watch your abuser be nice to other people when they can’t even be polite to you, much less kind. Worse, they will seem to have empathy for them, while being completely heartless to you. And if you dare to even bat an eyelash the wrong way in regard to those people? He will tell you HOW THEY FEEL! And still, when it comes to you, the narcissist seems to hold tightly to this apparent blind spot, as far as you can tell.

But then you start to wonder. What’s so bad about me? Am I really as (insert insulting lie here – crazy/lazy/ugly/bitchy/stupid, etc.) the narcissist says I am? Do I really deserve to be treated this way? No one else in my life seems to think I’m that bad. Why this person? If you’re there, you’re on the right track.

Why the Narcissist Invalidates You

See, by devaluing and disregarding you with those subtle little behaviors, the narcissist gets something out of it: you, emotionally devastated and behaving like the good little narcissistic supply they need.

But if you think this is going to improve how you’re treated, you are sadly mistaken. See, once you’ve been properly molded into the ideal person the narcissist wants, you’ll hope that they will finally be happy with you. And while you might not notice that you’re more concerned about their happiness than your own (which is a problem in itself), you figure if you don’t make any “mistakes” and you do what they want, it’ll all be okay. But sadly, the happiness you hope for will never quite arrive – and if it does, it’ll be fleeting. That’s because the more you try to become perfect for a narcissist, the more they lose respect for you.

Narcissists Want to Devalue and Destroy You

Over time, they will have you believing that you’re not even an actual human who even deserves to be treated with even the most basic dignity. And you will find yourself acting in kind as you desperately seek to justify it to yourself with thoughts of personal change and self-sacrifice.

You rack your brain on ways YOU can change in order to elicit change from them. But here’s the thing – none of that will matter unless both people are willing to give.

You can only change so much without any reciprocation at all. Compromise means two parties come to a mutually agreeable resolution in which both parties get what they want. Otherwise, it’s just you giving and giving and them taking and taking until they completely drain you.

And my friend, you deserve better. You are just as important as anyone else in the world. Your thoughts, your ideas, your experiences – they are valid, they matter and they are worth hearing. Please, don’t forget.

Question of the Day: Is validation one of the biggest things you’re missing when it comes to your relationship with a narcissist? Are you forgetting who you are? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below this video, and let’s discuss it.

Narcissists and the Karpman Drama Triangle

Narcissists and the Karpman Drama Triangle


See Video on Narcissists and the Karpman Drama Triangle – AKA The Narcissistic Drama Triangle

A male narcissist I used to know once admitted something to me that left me a little shocked: he said that whenever he felt like he was being shown up in a conversation, he would quickly change the subject. He would start talking about something he knew he could use against them – something that could hurt that person. It was his way to sort of take back the attention or “win” the conversation. I found this admission shockingly insightful and sadly stereotypical of narcissists in general.

Karpman Drama Triangle and Narcissistic Manipulation

Let’s talk about the Karpman drama triangle, what it is, how narcissists use it against you, and what you can do to cope.

We all know that narcissists love to create trouble and drama in the lives of the people around them. They enjoy watching you squirm in the wake of their emotional destruction because it makes them feel like they’re able to control and manipulate you. They twist things to their own advantage, and this is true whether we are talking about someone you work with or someone with whom you’re in a romantic relationship. It’s even true for your parents if they’re narcissistic.

Narcissists are odd in that they crave your attention, even though as far as you can tell, they don’t seem to like you very much. While the level of attention they require might vary from person to person, and depending on what type of narcissist they are, in most cases, they are happy when they have the spotlight. Ths is true whether they’re getting attention for positive or negative reasons, unfortunately.

At times, the narcissist will intentionally create drama in order to get you to react to them. Your reaction offers them narcissistic supply. Of course, there are times that they’ll be kind to you one minute and cruel the next. They suddenly become someone you don’t recognize – that whole Jekyll & Hyde thing.

What is the Drama Triangle?

The drama triangle is a concept first documented by Dr. Stephen Karpman back in the 1960s. At its most basic level, the drama triangle outlines three different roles, including the victim, the persecutor, and the rescuer.

Here’s another area where narcissists are especially interesting – at any given moment, they can and will play any of these three roles interchangeably as it serves them to do so. That means that you’ll never know exactly which role they’re going to play in any given moment. It means you don’t know what to expect from them. And, since you’re so used to walking on eggshells, you might not even really know how to respond at all.

All three roles will exhaust you, but the narcissist will find them strangely exhilarating. The entire dynamic of this kind of drama is incredibly toxic. Whether you’re healthy, you’re codependent or you’re a narcissist, it can be difficult to get out of the cycle once you’re in it. Certainly, you will feel the need to escape, but you won’t always feel like you can do that – and this is especially true when there is a narcissist involved.

Most narcissists have a tendency to hold onto drama and negativity like a dog with a bone. This is demonstrated in the Karpman drama triangle.

Karpman Drama Triangle: Definition of Roles

The Victim

The victim will see the situation at hand as though everything is happening to them. They will feel helpless and like they have no power. They think they have no ability to change their own circumstances. They need someone to rescue them. They desperately want validation of the fact that their problem is unsolvable, and they are not looking for actual solutions. They just want you to feel sorry for them.

The Rescuer

The Rescuer seems like they really do want to help the victim feel better, do better, and solve the problem at hand. But what you’re really dealing with here is someone who is acting as if they want to help, but who is really more concerned about everyone being aware of the fact that they are rescuing the victim. The narcissist plays this role because it gives them plenty of attention and narcissistic supply. Unfortunately, they’re not always actually helping – rather, they’re putting on the mask of a helper in order to get attention.

So within Karpman’s drama triangle, the rescuer position is always held by someone who is letting people know they’re trying to help, but they’re really there for that attention. By being the rescuer, the narcissist also holds a certain amount of power over you. Anytime they do (or promise to) solve a problem for you, it will be done with strings attached. This way, the narcissist gets even more benefit from the situation.

The role of the rescuer seems to focus on the anxiety of the victim. It is problem-focused, rather than solution-focused. It is specifically geared at keeping you powerless and preventing you from getting your needs met. It keeps you from actually getting the solution to your problem, so while you might initially feel relief when the offer of help comes through, it’ll be short-lived.

The Persecutor

The Persecutor could be a person or even a situation that is actually causing the problem to the victim in the triangle.

How to Deal with the Karpman Drama Triangle When a Narcissist is Involved

Your primary goal is to get out of the triangle, so that begins with awareness – being aware that it’s happening and that you’ve become involved. Then, you have to recognize your own role in the triangle, which in most cases, you chose or were assigned without realizing it.

Often, as codependents and narcissistic abuse survivors we all into one of these roles unintentionally. Most likely, we do this because we have experienced this ongoing cycle throughout our lives, often beginning in childhood. It’s like an old habit, almost.

The drama triangle will leave you feeling confused and lost.

Once you’ve gone through the idealization or love-bombing phase of a relationship with a toxic narcissist and you’re in the devalue phase,  you’ll find yourself spinning into one of these situations.  You’ll have no idea what you did to deserve this or what you’ve done wrong, so you’re always trying to get back to what you thought the relationship was in the beginning. When you can’t, you blame yourself – because as far as you know, you might be the problem. You don’t know that you’re dealing with a narcissist (until you do), so you just think you’ve done something to upset or anger them.

Karpman Drama Triangle and Narcissist Manipulation Tactics

The narcissist uses certain tactics around the drama triangle, such as guilt-tripping and even pretending they’re going to save you, but then persecuting you for actually asking for help. They might also act like they’re your victim and that somehow you’ve negatively affected them by needing help.

All of this is then combined with the intermittent reinforcement that keeps us hooked on the narcissist – alternating verbal abuse and praise, comfort alternating with tearing down and devaluing you. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself making excuses for the narcissist’s behavior.

More details on the Karpman Drama Triangle are included in this video. 

 

 

What is a covert narcissist?

What is 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.

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 do you 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?

Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about – how to identify covert narcissism. And, we’ll cover the traits you will see in a covert narcissist.

Covert narcissists are also often 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 a Covert Narcissist?

In a nutshell, 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. They don’t always seem to act as self-important as the more overt 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.

Covert Narcissist vs. Overt 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. Overt Narcissist: The Differences

Unlike the overt 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 Play the “Poor Me” Game

Your 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).

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).

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.

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 himself 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.

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!

 

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