**Note: This story has been shared with permission and names have been changed to protect identities.**
Amanda never would have thought her husband was a narcissist. No way! Amanda thought that narcissists are charming, popular, and arrogant- right? No, not always. In fact, Amanda found herself in a relationship with one of the worst and most toxic narcissist subtypes- the covert narcissist.
Her husband, Eric, wasn’t successful, charming, or arrogant. He wasn’t handsome or suave. To most who knew him, he would have just seemed like an average guy. A good guy even. The sort who always went out of his way to help others- in fact, he always prided himself on just that. Amanda and Eric had a good start but things got rocky soon. Eric had trouble on with his career. After failing out of school, he found a full-time job in a local factory and spent the rest of his time drinking. He was angry and bitter about failing his graduate program, and over the years he displayed the traits of a covert narcissist as their marriage got worse.
Because the covert narcissist projects an outward image of low self-esteem and may even come across as a generally good person at first glance, it’s harder for their targets to get wrap their heads around what is going on, but sooner or later the narcissistic abuse inevitably starts being doled out to those unfortunate enough to share an intimate life with them. As time goes on, their facade of humility is revealed as a mask to cover up for their envy and entitlement.
An overt narcissist often has an arrogant personality that covers up an inner lacking or feelings of low self-esteem- they tend to misbehave in ways that are more obvious for the people around them to see. On the other hand, covert narcissists project an outward personality of humility that belies a quiet inward smugness and entitlement. Since they “know” on the inside how much better they are, they feel entitled to misbehave in hidden (and some not-so-hidden) ways.
Amanda began to notice how Eric used his “good guy” image to conceal his toxic interior. Because he was such a “good guy”, Eric, like a typical covert narcissist, felt entitled to act in violent, abusive, and unhealthy ways behind the scenes. Soon, he was expressing himself in physically violent ways during their arguments. He refused to stop drinking because he felt like he was entitled to indulge in his alcoholism, including driving under the influence, because he was such a big help to everyone. When Amanda initially reached out to friends and family, nobody could believe a great guy like Eric would do things like that!
Living with a covert narcissist feels like having a secret vampire living in your house who everyone thinks is so nice, but behind the scenes, he (or she) is a blood-sucking monster who drains the life force out of you! For someone who gets rid of the covert narcissist in their life, it’s not uncommon for them to feel like their life is wonderful and brand new again.
Thankfully, Amanda was able to end her relationship with Eric, and today she can’t believe how much better she feels. If you have a covert narcissist in your life, you owe it to yourself to see how better things can be when they’re gone.
Our firm specializes in divorce and family law cases complicated by narcissism and other personality disorders. We’ve written an extensive catalog of posts about how to handle the situation if your ex is a narcissist. Call us at 949-363-5551.
Signs of a Covert Narcissist
- Quiet or self-effacing attitude
- Outward humility with a tendency to put themselves down (looking for others to reassure them how wonderful they are, no doubt)
- Lacking outward arrogance but with a quiet smugness or superiority
- Passive-aggressive behaviors
- Envious of others
- Feeling that others don’t deserve their blessing but they deserve what other people have
- A lack of empathy for the feelings or situations of other people
- Helping others out of a desire for recognition
The Catch-22 of Dealing with a Covert Narcissist
If you are dealing with an outright overt narcissist and seek support from friends and family, it’s not very likely that you will be met with outright skepticism or disbelief when you voice your suspicions. Because this type of narcissist is loudly self-obsessed, other people besides have also likely caught on to this person’s narcissistic tendencies. Not so with the covert narcissist. The covert narcissist takes great care to project an outward image of humility- so many other people are likely to be skeptical or even hostile to claims that a mutual acquaintance is a covert narcissist. It’s better to get the support you need from a trained mental health professional rather than try to convince mutual friends and family of your suspicions.
Things to Do When Handling a Covert Narcissist in A Divorce
- Let go of the need to convince others your ex is a covert narcissist. If your suspicions are right, most will find out in their own way and in their own time. You’ll just stir up prejudice against yourself by going on a crusade to convince others.
- HIRE THE RIGHT ATTORNEY. More than anyone, you NEED an attorney who understands narcissism if you are dealing with a covert narcissist. If you are in Orange County, call us at 949-363-5551 since this is our specialty.
- Get into therapy. You are going to need support that isn’t as likely to come from mutual friends a family. A trained professional who is a neutral third party and who is trained in narcissism subtypes can give you the support you need.
The Good News
The good news is that you can still come out on top. If you make the right moves and hire the right counsel, the judge who has the final say in the matter can shut narcissistic legal maneuvers down and force your ex to accept a final judgment that awards you all that you are entitled to get. We’ve seen and successfully navigated this situation for our clients countless times and we can help you move forward.
Do you have a divorce or family law question?
Call our office today at (949) 363-5551. We specialize in helping clients who have divorce and family law matters complicated by narcissism, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. John A. Bledsoe is Orange County’s premier divorce attorney and a certified family law specialist. Our firm offers a confidential initial case evaluation. to learn more.
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