Navigating the choppy waters of a relationship with a covert narcissist is no easy task. One of the key elements that make it so arduous is their unique and often manipulative communication style. Covert narcissists are known for their ability to twist words, play the victim, and manipulate conversations to their advantage. Here are 10 things covert narcissists say that might make you feel as if you’re losing your sanity.
What is a Covert Narcissist?
A covert narcissist, also known as a closet or introverted narcissist, has a subtype of narcissism where the individuals are seemingly humble, sensitive, and introverted.
Unlike their overt counterparts who openly showcase their sense of superiority and entitlement, covert narcissists keep their grandiosity under wraps, making it difficult for others to recognize their manipulative and self-centered behaviors.
Covert narcissists often portray themselves as victims or misunderstood heroes, masking their true nature behind a facade of shyness or reserved behavior.
However, they share the same lack of empathy, disregard for others’ feelings, and a relentless craving for admiration and validation that all narcissists possess.
When processing the things that covert narcissists say, it often happens that while seemingly innocuous on the surface, their comments carry hidden meanings intended to manipulate, belittle, or control those around them.
Understanding the Manipulative Comments of a Covert Narcissist
Covert narcissists are notorious for their unique ability to use words as weapons.
They often make manipulative comments, aimed at undermining your self-esteem and establishing control over you.
This behavior stems from a profound need for validation, power, and control over others.
Here’s an in-depth look into why a covert narcissist might say hurtful things and the motives behind their biting words.
To Undermine Your Confidence
Covert narcissists frequently resort to insults or derogatory remarks as a means to undermine your self-confidence.
These subtle, often indirect jabs can leave you feeling insecure and unsure of yourself, making it easier for the narcissist to manipulate you. By causing you to question your worth or abilities, they manage to maintain control within the relationship.
To Shift Blame
When confronted about their actions or behavior, covert narcissists have a knack for shifting the blame onto you.
They make defamatory comments or hurl accusations your way, allowing them to dodge taking responsibility for their actions. This diversion tactic serves to destabilize you and divert attention away from their wrongdoing.
To Gaslight You
Gaslighting is another common strategy employed by covert narcissists.
They make comments designed to make you doubt your memory, judgment, or sanity. The end goal of this manipulation is to make you reliant on them for ‘reality checking’, further tightening their grip on you.
To Evoke Guilt
Covert narcissists skillfully use guilt-tripping to get what they want.
They may say hurtful things designed to make you feel guilty, thereby manipulating you into succumbing to their wishes.
These comments often revolve around their sacrifices or how unappreciative you are, aiming to make you feel indebted to them.
To Assert Dominance
Lastly, covert narcissists often make belittling comments to assert their dominance and superiority.
They operate under the belief that they are entitled to special treatment and will demean others to reinforce this belief. These hurtful remarks serve to put others ‘in their place’ while elevating the narcissist’s perceived status.
Recognizing the things covert narcissists say and understanding the manipulative intent behind their comments can equip you to deal with a covert narcissist effectively.
With this knowledge, you can take proactive steps to protect yourself and maintain your mental health in the face of their manipulative tactics.
Things That Covert Narcissists Say
“Here we go again.”
Covert narcissists are experts in the art of deflection. When you muster up the courage to confront them about their harmful behavior, they may retort with a dismissive “Here we go again.”
This phrase is more than just a simple expression of frustration. It’s a calculated move designed to make you feel as though you’re the one stirring up trouble and creating conflict.
By using these words, they cleverly shift the focus away from their actions and onto your response. This tactic undermines your legitimate concerns and attempts to hold them accountable.
It paints you as the ‘problematic’ one who is always complaining or overreacting, thereby diverting attention from their own misconduct.
This strategy not only helps them evade responsibility but also instills doubt and confusion in your mind. You might start questioning your judgment, wondering if you’re indeed making a mountain out of a molehill.
Over time, this can erode your confidence and self-worth, leaving you feeling disoriented and powerless.
“So you don’t want me to have friends?”
This reaction is a typical response from a covert narcissist when you voice unease about their questionable friendships or relationships. They employ this manipulative tactic to twist your words, reframing the situation to make it seem as though you’re trying to isolate them socially.
In reality, your discomfort likely stems from their inappropriate or disrespectful behavior within these relationships, not from a desire to control their social life.
However, the covert narcissist uses this accusation as a diversion, shifting the focus from their behavior to an alleged attempt on your part to limit their social interactions.
By putting you on the defensive, they successfully avoid addressing your valid concerns and instead make you feel guilty for establishing boundaries. This tactic can leave you second-guessing your feelings and questioning whether your concerns were justified, further deepening their control and influence over you.
“I do so much for you!”
This statement, a common refrain from covert narcissists, is laced with manipulation and guilt-tripping.
Covert narcissists are masters at playing the martyr. They often portray themselves as selfless individuals who go to great lengths for others, while subtly implying that their efforts are unappreciated or overlooked.
When confronted about their behavior or asked to take responsibility for their actions, they tend to deflect by reminding you of all the things they’ve done for you.
The underlying message is clear: “I’ve made so many sacrifices for you, and you’re not grateful.
This tactic serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it shifts the focus away from their actions, effectively derailing any attempts at holding them accountable. Secondly, it instills a sense of guilt and obligation, making you less likely to challenge them in the future.
However, it’s essential to remember that genuine acts of kindness or support do not come with strings attached.
In healthy relationships, people help each other out of love and respect, not to create a debt to be used as leverage later.
“We can talk when you aren’t angry/upset/drunk.”
This is a classic example of the covert manipulation tactics used by narcissists. It serves multiple purposes in their arsenal of control techniques.
Covert narcissists often use this type of phrase as a form of gaslighting, a psychological manipulation strategy designed to make you question your own sanity and emotions.
By suggesting that your current emotional state or supposed intoxication is preventing a rational discussion, they effectively undermine your credibility and feelings.
This tactic can be particularly insidious because it not only dismisses your emotions or concerns but also shifts the blame onto you.
The implication is that you are the one preventing effective communication due to your ’emotional state’ or ‘intoxication’, even when you’re perfectly sober and expressing legitimate concerns or feelings.
What’s more, by delaying the conversation until you’re no longer “angry/upset/drunk,” the narcissist gains time to prepare their defense or even find ways to avoid the discussion altogether. This can lead to a cycle where issues are never fully addressed or resolved.
Moreover, this phrase can subtly condition you to suppress your emotions out of fear of being labeled ‘irrational’ or ‘drunk. Over time, you may find yourself walking on eggshells, constantly monitoring your emotions to avoid such accusations.
“You’re lucky to have someone like me in your life.”
This is a classic !
It’s not merely a boastful comment, but a carefully constructed phrase designed to belittle and demean you, making you feel as though you’re undeserving or incapable of attracting someone of their ‘supposed greatness.’
By making this claim they are indirectly attacking your self-esteem, instilling a sense of inferiority and undermining your worth.
They want you believe that you couldn’t possibly find anyone better than them, thereby tying your self-worth to their presence and approval.
This manipulation tactic serves two purposes. It inflates their ego by painting them as a prized catch, and it creates an imbalance of power in the relationship.
“I’m just misunderstood; people never give me a chance.”
Covert narcissists are adept at painting themselves as the misunderstood hero, perpetually wronged by the world. They often use this narrative to elicit sympathy, manipulate perceptions, and maintain control over their relationships.
When they say something like this, they’re essentially portraying themselves as the innocent victim of unwarranted bias or unfair treatment. This tactic serves to deflect any criticism or accountability for their actions. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, they shift the focus to their perceived victimhood.
Furthermore, by insinuating that they are misunderstood, they create an illusion of depth and complexity that can be very alluring. You may find yourself feeling compelled to ‘understand’ them better or give them more chances, thereby falling deeper into their web of manipulation.
This narrative also provides them with a convenient excuse for any negative behavior. If they’re always the misunderstood party, then it’s not their fault if they act inappropriately — it’s just that people don’t understand them.
“You made me do it.”
Rather than taking responsibility for their actions, covert narcissists externalize blame onto others, usually those closest to them.
Narcissists are notorious for their inability to accept responsibility for their mistakes. This refusal stems from their inflated self-image and the need to maintain an illusion of perfection.
Any admission of fault could shatter this carefully constructed façade, so instead, they deflect blame onto others.
When a narcissist says, “You made me do it,” they’re essentially absolving themselves of any wrongdoing and placing the entire burden on your shoulders.
This tactic not only allows them to escape accountability but also serves to make you feel guilty and responsible for their actions.
“I’m always there for you, aren’t I?”
This is a subtle yet potent form of manipulation. It’s designed to induce feelings of guilt and obligation, while also painting the narcissist in a favorable light.
Covert narcissists are adept at using such phrases as a means of control.
By highlighting their perceived unwavering support, they aim to create a narrative where they are the ever-reliable figure in your life. The implication is that they’ve been a constant pillar of support, selflessly offering help whenever needed.
However, this statement carries an insidious undertone. It’s not just a reminder of their supposed dedication. It’s also a tool to make you feel indebted to them.
The phrase subtly suggests that you owe them something in return for their ‘support’, whether it be your loyalty, compliance, or silence about their toxic behavior.
“You’re too soft and sensitive.”
By labeling you as ‘overly sensitive’, the covert narcissist is essentially dismissing your concerns and emotions.
They suggest that the problem lies not with their behavior, but with your perceived overreaction. This invalidation can make you question the validity of your feelings, leading to self-doubt and confusion.
Moreover, calling someone ‘too soft and sensitive’ is a way of dismissing their personal experiences. It implies that your interpretation of events is flawed due to your supposed over-sensitivity, thereby undermining your personal experiences and perspectives.
“You’re overreacting and upset over nothing.”
Much like the previous point, this is a way for covert narcissists to minimize your feelings. They are essentially dismissing your feelings as trivial or unwarranted.
This tactic also allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. If your reactions are portrayed as unreasonable, then they can escape accountability for any harm or discomfort they’ve caused.
How to Deal with the Manipulative Statements of Covert Narcissists
Navigating a relationship with a covert narcissist can be challenging, but understanding their manipulative tactics and knowing how to respond can help you maintain your mental and emotional well-being.
Here are some tips on how to deal with the things covert narcissists say:
Recognize the Manipulation
The first step is to recognize the manipulation for what it is.
When they say things like “You’re lucky to have someone like me in your life” or “I’m just misunderstood; people never give me a chance,” understand that these are calculated statements designed to control you.
Be aware of these manipulative tactics to avoid falling into their trap.
Maintain Your Boundaries
Covert narcissists often try to push your boundaries to assert their dominance.
It’s crucial to establish and maintain clear boundaries to protect your self-esteem and emotional health.
Remember, it’s okay to say no or disagree with them.
Don’t Take It Personally
Their manipulative statements are not reflections of your worth but rather their need for control and validation.
Try not to internalize their comments or let them affect your self-perception.
Dealing with a covert narcissist can be emotionally draining.
It’s essential to have a strong support network of friends, family, or a professional counselor who can provide advice and emotional support.
Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Engage in activities that make you happy and help you relax.
Regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate rest, and mindfulness practices such as meditation can help you cope better.
Remember, it’s important to prioritize your well-being. If the relationship becomes too toxic or harmful, it may be best to distance yourself from the person.
Final Thoughts On Things Covert Narcissists Say
Covert narcissists are masters of manipulation, often using their words to control, deflect blame, and maintain power in their relationships. Understanding the tactics they use can be a powerful tool in maintaining your own emotional well-being.
Phrases like “I’m just misunderstood; people never give me a chance,” “You made me do it,” and “I’m always there for you, aren’t I?” are all part of the covert narcissist’s arsenal. This is how they create narratives of victimhood, shifting blame from themselves to others, and induce guilt to gain control.
Remember, individuals are responsible for their own actions, and no one can ‘make’ someone else behave in a certain way. Genuine support doesn’t come with strings attached, nor does it serve as an excuse for harmful behavior.
In conclusion, while covert narcissists may be skilled at manipulation, recognizing their tactics empowers you to stand strong, maintain your boundaries, and prioritize your mental health.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Things Covert Narcissists Say
When a covert narcissist labels you as ‘too sensitive’, they’re attempting to invalidate your feelings and experiences. It’s a manipulative tactic that dismisses your concerns and makes you doubt your emotions.
This statement is a form of manipulation, designed to induce feelings of guilt and obligation. By highlighting their perceived unwavering support, they aim to create a narrative where you feel indebted to them.
This is a classic example of blame-shifting. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, narcissists often externalize blame onto others, thus absolving themselves of any wrongdoing.
Recognizing these manipulative tactics is the first step. Establish boundaries, rely on facts, and don’t let their words make you doubt your feelings or experiences. Consider seeking professional help if you’re in a close relationship with a covert narcissist.
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Carla Corelli is an author, advocate, and survivor of narcissistic abuse. Having grown up with a narcissistic father, Carla experienced firsthand the profound impact of psychological and emotional abuse. Fueled by her personal journey, she pursued a degree in psychology and has dedicated herself to shedding light on the complexities of narcissistic abuse.
With over fifteen years of experience in writing and advocating for survivors, Carla is deeply committed to providing support, education, and empowerment to those who have endured similar trauma. Through her articles, Carla aims to offer a compassionate space for healing and growth, while advocating for greater awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse.
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