Covert narcissists are the worst type of narcissists. They thrive by pretending to be something they are not. They pretend to be altruistic, kind, and codependent. Covert narcissists get what they need out of life by creating a false self. Simultaneously, they hurt people in their most intimate relationships by behaving pathologically narcissistic behind the scenes.
But what should YOU do if you have found yourself in a relationship with a covert narcissist?
Naturally, coming to this awareness is disturbing, because who you thought you loved, the kind, benevolent, giving person, is far from reality. We all want to believe that the person with who we were in a relationship with really cares about us and that their empathy is real. When that facade comes crumbling down, it leaves us with a gaping hole.
Related: What Is A Covert Narcissist?
What happened to us? How could we have been so foolish?
If you have unmasked a covert narcissist and find yourself asking these questions, consider the following.
Here Are 6 Things You Should Keep In Mind After Unmasking A Covert Narcissist
1. Be gentle with yourself.
If you are a victim of a covert narcissist, please remember to not be so hard on yourself.
Their treatment of you is nothing personal. Narcissists thrive on being able to fool and deceive anyone they encounter. Not because they are sociopaths or liars, but because they cannot get what they want if the world knows who they are.
So, do not beat yourself up.
Narcissists thrive and survive on bad self-esteem, so the worst thing you can do when you uncover a covert narcissist is beat yourself up. You are just one of many victims they have preyed upon.
2. Stay calm.
Once you realize you are just one of many to suffer at the hands of this narcissist, simply calm down. It is normal to feel overwhelmed when you unmask a covert narcissist. But an emotional reaction, especially a public one, will only make you look bad.
A narcissist has everything to gain by making you look, irrational, mentally ill, or foolish. Or just to intimidate you and berate you until you recoil and admit that you were wrong.
So, do not call out your narcissist. There is too much at stake for them to lose their audience, group of people, job, or other supply.
3. Create an exit strategy.
Not surprisingly, once you discover that your loved one is a covert narcissist, you will want to find a way out of the relationship.
With a narcissist, however, you will not be able to simply terminate the relationship and walk away. You will have to develop an exit strategy. Your exit strategy will require you to avoid an obvious confrontation.
You will have to carefully think it through and carefully execute it, for you to be successful.
If the covert narcissist discovers your exit plan – to terminate the relationship, to break up the relationship, to seek your divorce – they have too much to lose not to discredit you and turn it around back to you.
4. Build a boundary of protection.
As you begin to execute your exit strategy, the next step is to create a boundary of protection around you.
Remember we do not do well at holding our ground and setting boundaries with manipulative narcissists. When we decide to create an exit plan and move on with our lives, the covert narcissist will automatically become nervous and try to derail your plan.
They are smart enough to know that if you are not part of their followers, the audience that loves them, and you back off, get cold, or establish even the most minor boundaries, they are going to know something is wrong.
If the signals are there, they will work hard to turn the situation around on you and make you look like the bad guy to restore their covert narcissist façade.