Why Is It So Hard To Leave A Covert Narcissist? 5 Manipulative Traps They Use


, ,
hard to leave a covert narcissist

Why is it so hard to leave a covert narcissist? Because they use covert emotional manipulation tactics to trap you in a relationship and prevent you from leaving.

The scenario: Insensitive, forgetful, dismissive, selfish, and never wrong, a partner has pushed you to the edge. Standing up for yourself results in nightmare fights without a resolution. The inconsiderate behaviors rarely change, and the disrespect continues as if it was not addressed.

Exhausted from the constant disappointment, hurt, and anger, you decide to end the relationship. You work up the nerve to “pull the trigger.” Yet your partner barely acknowledges the break-up and persuades you to revisit the issue the following morning. The next day, he acts as if there is nothing to talk about. Uttering a few compliments while offering you half of his bagel, he makes a joke, and just like that, you are back.

The same cycle continues. You swear you’ve had enough. Yet each time you attempt to end the relationship, he reels you in with empty promises and insincere sentiments. Ironically, after he has convinced you to re-invest in the relationship, he breaks up with you.

This cycle of reeling a person in to pull the rug out from under them is a sign a partner has control issues. A deeply insecure partner unconsciously combats insecurities by controlling another person’s emotions. Oscillating from nice to mean, caring to cold, interested to dismissive, and then back again, the emotionally impaired partner gains a person’s trust then blindsides him or her.

Related: What is a Covert Narcissist?

This continually throws a person off and keeps him or her spinning. The emotional turmoil is paralyzing, and the need to stop the hurt creates a desire to blame yourself so you can return to the partner and stop the pain.

Yet nothing changes. Each time the person concedes and re-invests in the relationship, the selfish partner increases his or her control. Eventually, the partner takes complete control by abandoning the person. This is the ultimate blow because the person has sacrificed and surrendered aspects of who he or she is to be with the manipulative partner. The rejected person’s damaged self-esteem plummets, and thoughts such as, “If he doesn’t want me, who will?” may be all-consuming.

A helpful way to deal with the situation is to understand the partner’s covert emotional manipulations. Once the intangible dynamics become apparent, it is easier to refrain from absorbing the blame that belongs to the partner. Seeing a covert narcissist realistically allows a person to differentiate between a narcissist’s distorted perceptions and reality.

For example, maybe the narcissist accuses the person of being “dramatic” and “crazy” when she is hurt and angry because the partner humiliated her in front of her boss. The narcissist denies his part in the conflict and continues to point the finger at the person, accusing her of being someone she is not. Uncovering these distortions and manipulations assists a person in escaping the emotional trap a narcissist sets.

A covert narcissist commonly uses five emotional manipulation tactics which include the following.

5 Manipulative Traps A Covert Narcissist Uses

1. Playing The Victim

Playing the victim occurs when a partner attempts to dodge accountability by garnering sympathy and re-directing the focus. If a partner attempts to escape a confrontation by painting himself or herself as the victim in the scenario, he or she is probably playing the victim.

An example includes a partner who is caught tracking and stalking his girlfriend when she is spending time with her girlfriends. When it is discovered, he states, “Every partner I have ever had has cheated on me, so I have trust issues. It is not my fault.”

He excuses his controlling manipulations because he believes he has been wronged in the past. Yet incurring hardship in the past does not give a person a license to mistreat someone in the present. Talking about this vulnerability and working through it instead of using it as an excuse to bully someone else is the healthier option.

Related: The Covert Narcissist: Angel On The Outside, Devil On The Inside

2. Deflecting Accountability

Extreme deflection of accountability is a second common tactic a covert narcissist uses. Denying culpability may be an almost everyday occurrence. Rewriting history in order to exonerate himself or herself, the narcissist often makes a person feel crazy.

For example, say the narcissist consistently refuses to go to the dog park with a person, but when the person mentions it, the narcissist says, “I go with you all of the time!” Although this is completely false, the narcissist vehemently believes the lie. The narcissist changes experiences in his or her own mind to excuse any fault. Arguing does not help the situation as the narcissist refuses to budge.  

3. Projecting Blame

Robustly projecting blame is closely linked to deflection but maybe more damaging because projections are unfair attacks that detract from a person’s sense of self. Also, a projection is usually about the partner who is criticizing, not the person who is being criticized.

For example, say a partner consistently completes all of the chores around the house. One day, he decides to forgo some housework in order to go watch a game with friends. Upon his return, he notices the narcissist did a load of laundry. He thanks the partner and the partner utters, “You do whatever you want. You are so selfish. You only think of yourself.” Obviously, it is the narcissist who is selfish, not the partner.

4. Inflicting Guilt

Continually inflicting guilt is another painful weapon a narcissist wields. This happens when a narcissist does something nice for a person then throws it in the person’s face when attempting to control the person, or when trying to take advantage of a person’s empathy.

For example, say a person conveys to the narcissist that separation is necessary. The narcissist may say things like, “How can you do this to me when I helped you start your own business?”

A projection may follow, “Were you just using me?” The narcissist may also say things to imprison the person in the relationship using guilt. “If you leave, I’ll never be the same.” Or “You will devastate the kids. You are ruining everyone’s life. I hope you are happy.” Exploiting a person’s conscience to manipulate and control the person is never acceptable.

Related: 7 Signs You Are Being Manipulated By A Narcissist

5. Acting Passive-Aggressively

Routinely acting out in a passive-aggressive fashion is also a tendency of a covert narcissist. This typically transpires when a person doesn’t comply with a narcissist’s wishes.

For example, say a person interviews for a position the narcissist does not agree with. She lands the position, but her new boss mentions that she needs to “clean up” her LinkedIn page. She checks it out and discovers the narcissist messed with it, subtly creating a sloppy and unprofessional appearance. When she approaches the partner, the partner claims he was trying to help her and accuses her of being “ungrateful.”

These emotional manipulation tactics are often unconsciously motivated by insecurity, so the narcissist may be unaware. Reality is also distorted by the narcissist’s unconscious defense mechanisms, which may make it nearly impossible for the narcissist to see. Yet, these narcissistic dynamics destroy healthy conflict resolution, tear apart a person’s self-esteem, and undermine a person’s strides towards success.

They may have a destructive impact on a person’s life over time. Assessing a partner’s motivation to examine these compulsions is necessary and professional help may be helpful. Yet, if a partner is unmotivated to trust a person and honor the request to address the problems, the safe solution may be to exit the relationship.



Written By Erin Leonard
Originally Appeared In Psychology Today
Emotional Manipulation Tactics Covert Narcissists In Relationship Pin
Covert narcissist
hard to leave a covert narcissist pinop
hard to leave a covert narcissist pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

What Netflix’s ‘Baby Reindeer’ Teaches About Dealing With Online Stalkers

Dealing With Online Stalkers? Important Baby Reindeer Lessons

“Baby Reindeer”, the British miniseries, hit on Netflix, highlights the horrifying truth of having an online stalker. Ever faced anything similar? If yes, read on to know more!

Baby Reindeer Netflix show is based on Richard Gadd’s autobiographical one-person play and tells the story of Donny, an unsuccessful comedian who becomes the target of Martha, a woman he meets at a local bar.

More or less 7.5 million individuals are cyberstalked each year based on the latest figures. This is also known as tech stalking, and about 80% all stalking victims experienced it while 67% were subject to traditional forms of stalking too.

Up Next

Emotional Monitoring: Is It Sabotaging Your Relationship? 5 Ways To Fix It

What Is Emotional Monitoring: Best Ways To Fix It

Are you frequently asking, “Are you okay?” or “Are you mad at me?” If you find yourself either asking these questions or receiving them, then you may be stuck in a behavior pattern called emotional monitoring.

Emotional monitoring is where one continually scans other people’s emotions in order to regulate their own responses which can lead to emotional burnout and problems with communication.

But it is possible to break this cycle; it starts with knowing what signs look like and deliberately changing our ways when we see them.

What Is Emotional Monitoring In A Relationship?

Up Next

What Are Yellow Flags In A Relationship? Is Your Relationship Sending Warning Signals?

Identifying Yellow Flags In A Relationship and How To Deal

Have you ever felt a tinge of uncertainty in your romantic relationship? A flickering doubt, a slight unease? Relationships are complex, and it’s normal for them to have ups and downs. However, it’s crucial to pay attention to the subtle yellow flags in a relationship that may indicate potential issues down the road. 

These early warning signs can offer insights into the health and sustainability of a relationship. Let us explore what does a yellow flag mean, how to identify them, and most importantly, how to deal with yellow flags to foster a stronger and healthier connection.

What Does a Yellow Flag Mean in a Relationship?

A yellow flag in a relationship is a cautionary sign that som

Up Next

Brain Fog After Narcissistic Abuse? 8 Ways Narcissists Can Muddle Your Brain

Brain Fog After Narcissistic Abuse? Reasons Why It Happens

Have you ever heard of the term “brain fog”? Brain fog is like a maddening haze that seems to muddle your thoughts, makes you forget what you were saying, and has you searching for your clothes in the trash bin? Well, today we are going to talk about a specific sort of brain fog – brain fog after narcissistic abuse.

Imagine that you have just escaped from a toxic and abusive relationship with a narcissist. You are slowly picking up the pieces and trying to get your life back in order, but somehow you feel like your head is not in the right place. Everything still feels very odd and you still feel very lost.

Even though you are free from the clutches of your narcissistic ex, this bizarre mental fog just won’t lift. Let’s explore how narcissists cause brain fog, and the link between brain fog and narcissistic abuse.

Up Next

What Is A High Functioning Sociopath And How To Identify Them

What Is A High Functioning Sociopath? Common Traits

Have you ever come across the term “high functioning sociopath”? But what is a high functioning sociopath? Do they suffer from some mental disorder? Can they pose a threat? Should you be wary of them? Let’s find out.

The mysterious allure of sociopaths has captured the attention of popular culture, with characters like Sherlock Holmes and Hannibal Lecter captivating our imagination. However, in reality, encountering a high functioning sociopath can be a complex and challenging experience. 

Today, we will delve into the depths of this enigmatic personality type, exploring high functioning sociopath traits, and how to navigate relationships with them.

What is a High Functioning Sociopath?

Up Next

Strange ‘Love Brain Syndrome’ Identified: 5 Signs You Might Be At Risk For It

Warning Love Brain Syndrome Symptoms: Are You At Risk?

Unbelievable and bizarre news! Identify “love brain syndrome” after a Chinese girl calls her boyfriend 100 times a day. Let us examine this psychological term and whether you have it or not.

An 18-year-old woman from China named Xiaoyu was diagnosed with “love brain” after she showed signs of extreme possessiveness toward her boyfriend. She would call him more than a hundred times per day and get upset when he failed to answer.

A video of her went viral, showing her messaging him over and over again — and having a breakdown when he didn’t respond. She wound up in the hospital. “Love brain disorder” is associate

Up Next

How to Recognize and Counter Emotional Blackmail: 8 Techniques and 7 Signs

What Is Emotional Blackmail? Telltale Signs Revealed

Picture this: You’re sitting across from a friend, engrossed in conversation, when suddenly you feel the atmosphere change. Their tone becomes harsh, their eyes seem accusatory, and it feels like you’re trapped in an emotional minefield. Now, that’s what is emotional blackmail.

We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives, whether it’s a toxic relationship, a manipulative friend, or even within our own families. But what is emotional blackmail exactly, and how to deal with emotional blackmail?

In this article, we are going to take a look into the world of emotional blackmail and try to understand each and every nuance. We will talk about the signs of emotional blackmail, the types of emotional blackmail and how to deal with emotional blackmail.

So, are you ready to do this?