There are both overt and covert narcissists. The overt narcissists are easy to spot - you can see their egocentricity and grandiosity. The covert narcissists are harder to spot and it can take some time to realize this is why you’ve become disconnected from yourself and something is not right.
Some signs that you have been affected by a covert narcissist are:
- making excuses for the person (e.g. they had a rough childhood)
- feeling constantly exhausted and drained
- feeling like you are in a fog
- feeling like you’re never enough
- constantly apologizing
- feeling like you can’t trust yourself.
Narcissistic abuse can encompass many types of abuse: psychological, emotional, sexual, and even physical. Covert narcissists are so good at appearing like they care that it can be hard to pinpoint their problematic behavior, but how you feel in the situation is your best indicator that they are manipulating you. Some of their manipulation tactics include: gaslighting, distorting reality, blame, shifting the focus to what they say you’ve done wrong, indirect insults, and mixed messages (Mirza).
Overt narcissists can be easier to spot, but if you have been in a relationship with a covert narcissist, it can be hard enough for you to recognize it, let alone the people around you. Even once you recognize it other people may still take the narcissist’s side because they are so charming and good at convincing others. And that can make it all the harder to validate that you’ve been manipulated and get out of the relationship. You need to make sure you have someone on your team who sees through their manipulation and can support you, like a good therapist.