Two excellent answers that describe the Covert Narcissist experience.
Flying below the radar, being extremely passive-aggressive (THIS to the point of almost being undetectable UNLESS you do some hardcore invasive homework, research, and fact-finding confirmation of things after the fact), the coverts are the worst and most rotten to the core types of all and, ironically, frustratingly, and unfortunately, they are also the hardest to detect and identify compared to an overt type.
You have to be on your A-game and practically hyper-vigilant to detect this type of disorder in someone quickly. Most of us who have experience with a covert type, more likely than not, invested a significant amount of time in the relationship before we really caught on to them. In my case, I can honestly say that if it had not been for a combination of social media research, in-person interviews, phone call interviews, emailing known associates, and most importantly, multiple days and hours of audio recorded surveillance activities, I may have never figured out the diabolical double life of the covert I was involved with. I left no stone unturned.
I can assure you that they plan and calculate every diabolical move they make to the point of what would be completely exhausting for almost anyone else, just like a sociopath, and then unlike their cold-blooded sociopathic cousins, they go the extra mile. By going the extra mile, I mean they enjoy revealing very subtle “tells”, hints, and clues to you about their real but purposefully disguised actions, thoughts, and intentions. This is where they truly have mastered things in the psycho department.
For they are simultaneously hoping that you will not notice or pay too much attention to their intentionally secretive and passive-aggressive bragging, while quietly celebrating and patting themselves on the back, to what is in their own minds, rubbing it all in your face. They fully realize that they are unnecessarily taking a risk of exposing themselves by doing this but they find doing it to be frightening, exciting, and addictive. The temptation and desire to rub something in your face, without you knowing or figuring it out, is as irresistible to them as a drop of virgins blood is to Count Dracula.
To get by with this regularly and repeatedly is heavenly for them. It gets even better for them at the point where you do start to question things and question them because then they get an additional high from layering on their premeditated plausible deniability to anything and everything you question them about so that you appear to be paranoid or like an aggressive attacker for no good reason. They are already multiple steps ahead of you and will adapt as needed to maintain the veil of normalcy. Hardly anyone is ever equipped to deal with them because, by the time you actually catch on and even have evidence or proof, it is usually too late because by then you have already been quietly and covertly discredited behind the scenes to anyone else who is relevant who might have, at one time, listened to you.
They are addicted to this cycle of passive-aggressive abuse and will act on it for as long as they can get away with it to satisfy this perverse desire. I honestly believe the torment they inflict on others gets them off mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Of all the types of disordered people in the world, I detest these passive-aggressive covert types the most above all others. They take being sick, cruel, and sadistic to a newer and higher level that’s so insidious it’s easy to understand why so many exposed to this get stuck in a state of severe cognitive dissonance and end up mentally and emotionally traumatized for years even after it’s all over and done with. If there was such thing as a prison for mental and emotional torment, many of these coverts would be serving a life sentence with no chance of parole. I’d venture to say that a serial killer (who doesn’t want to kill you) would make a better friend.
They don’t have the confidence to do the “look at me, ain’t I great routine.” They are more self-conscious and worried about being found out. They do not consider supply to be everywhere and easy to get so they hang onto it better. It’s my belief because of that their victims are more likely to leave them than get discarded than regular narcissists.
They carefully groom their public persona and are generally well-liked. But if you look into their past you will find a string of people who used to be close that now hate them to no end. These are the people they dumped their negative shit on so they could shine to the rest of the world. Their victims see how they treat everybody else and that contributes to their demise. Angel to everybody on the street, Devils at home where no one can see.
I consider them more dangerous because they are able to hide better and can knock the legs out from underneath you with subtle abuse, Criticizing jokes, complements with embedded insults, they have a whole bag of tricks.
They are more likely to get supply by being a victim and sucking up sympathy them normal Narcissists. They also will get supply by proxy, joining groups that do charitable work crap like that. Gaining attention being a people pleaser is common practice.
Their victims will be isolated alone in the relationship, neglected and permanently on the back burner. Unless the narcissist thinks they pushed things too far, then they will be given just enough attention to stay. Narcissists are experts at riding the edge. They keep maximum pressure on the victim pushing back what they will endure until they feel they deserve the abuse.
It is a dream turned nightmare for the victim. They are told they are the reason they are not in paradise and that the relationship failed. They struggle to prove themselves but the bar is always raised when they get close. They will be belittled, shamed, subjected to the silent treatment and have sex, and affection withheld.
Victims of covert narcissists come out broken, shell-shocked, emotional basket cases, lost to themselves and the direction they need to go. It will take years of recovery. Parts will remain broken.
The Narcissist will walk away from the relationship without breaking stride, nothing ventured nothing lost. They will claim they were the victim and believe it. And they will continue to crap sunshine and vomit rainbows for adoration from the rest of the world. More than likely they have a backup boyfriend or girlfriend or two. Or both. Generally the ones they threw into the victim’s faces.
Final thoughts. A covert narcissist is more likely to know the mask they present the world is false, that they are acting. They don’t care. That makes them more likely to know they are a narcissist. They still don’t care. They know they are hurting people, once again who the freaking hell cares.
Heinous, vile disgusting creatures. A true image of the father of lies. Nothing makes the devil happier than an overt narcissist. You probably know one and think they are the cat’s pajamas. You will never have a clue they kill people from the inside out, That they feed off other people’s suffering. And they think they are so much better than you.