Having a relationship with a narcissist is tough; if it’s a covert narcissist, it is tougher.
A covert narcissist is a person with narcissistic tendencies or suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder, but doesn’t openly behave like a narcissist. Typically, they put on a show of being shy, humble, caring, and unselfish. But they are anything but these.
Covert narcissists are experts at the art of dominating and manipulation without you being aware of what is happening. They’ll lie, cheat and use underhanded covert narcissistic tactics to accomplish their desires with no care for you or your emotions. Minimizing, projecting, gaslighting, and ridiculing are some of the common covert narcissistic strategies.
They achieve their goal by making you feel you’re wrong. They ignore your arguments and use evasive maneuvers to avoid conflicts and resolve them with maturity. Things covert narcissists do can be incomprehensible to a normal person. They are usually passive-aggressive and emotional manipulation is a tool they favor to take advantage of their victims.
A person may have narcissistic traits even if they are not diagnosed with a covert narcissistic personality disorder or NPD. They hate to lose arguments or else their ego gets damaged. As the toll of a loss is heavy for a narcissist, they will use any means to achieve what they want.
“All’s fair in love and war”. This is how they justify their words and actions.
This article is an attempt at understanding the behavior of a covert narcissist. Here you will find all you need to know before getting into an argument with a covert narcissist. This article also includes things covert narcissists say in an argument so that you’ll be well-prepared for the next round.
Things covert narcissists say in an argument
Being covert, they are not easy to identify. However, their covertness doesn’t make them any less toxic or harmless. They are sometimes worse than overt narcissists. Because when you are dealing with an overt narcissist, others would be aware of what you’re going through and it would be easier for you to get help.
When you are dealing with a covert narcissist, you may need all the help you can get to recognize them and handle them in the best way possible to safeguard your interests. These are typical arguments, statements, and phrases covert narcissists use. Once you’re aware of the things covert narcissists say in an argument, you can do a better job of protecting yourself.
- You’re too soft and sensitive.
- You’re overreacting and upset over nothing.
- You’re exaggerating and making a great deal of nothing.
- You’re so aggressive and always attacking and reproaching me.
- You’re always so callous and malicious to me.
- Can’t you just agree with me for once?
- Can you try to be nice to me for a change?
- You’ve no idea what you’re saying.
- Really? Do you believe that to be true?
- I just can’t believe you would say this to me.
- You’re the problem and not me.
- I’m restraining myself to not upset you.
- I’m sorry to break your heart, but ….
- You force me to retaliate. It’s all your fault.
- It’s your fault that I’m feeling horrible.
- You said so. (Or, You agreed to this.)
- I don’t appreciate how you said that to me.
- You’re the only one who thinks like that.
- If you ask anyone; they would agree with me.
- Calm down. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
- This isn’t the first time I did this. Why didn’t you say anything earlier?
- This is so inconsequential. Why are you upset about it?
- How am I to blame? It’s you/work/stress or lack of time/money.
- I did this only because you did that. How am I at fault?
- You knew well who I was from the beginning. Why did you marry me?
- Why are you accusing me? I never would do/say that.
- How can you say that when you know very well it never happened that way?
- You twist facts. It’s not how you say it is.
- Your words are empty and false.
- Your proof doesn’t amount to anything.
- That’s so absurd.
- You’re mad and unhinged.
- Just recognize that there’s something quite wrong with you.
- After all that I’ve done for you, is this how you’re planning to repay me?
Characteristics and behavior of a covert narcissist
Covert narcissists hide their narcissistic traits intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes, not even they are aware of the flaws and anomalies in their character and behavior.
These character traits are usually found in covert narcissists.
- Shy, reserved, and introverted
- Passive aggression
- Covert grandiosity
- Inability to handle criticism
- Demand attention
- Need for appreciation and adoration
All these character traits will reflect in their behavior in negative tones. Here are some weird things covert narcissists do.
- Stubborn and dishonest
- Envious and jealous
- Inability to converse with maturity
- Unable to resolve disagreements and conflicts amicably
- Need to dominate and always win
- Lack of empathy and sympathy
- Skewed self-esteem and fragile ego
- Superiority complex, hero complex, and victim mentality
- Seeks validation
- Avoids responsibilities and holds grudges
- Consider themselves unrealized geniuses
- Sociopathic and psychopathic behavior
That is quite a collection of negative behavior. You may not find all of them in the same person. But a person with a covert narcissistic personality disorder will display many of the behavior traits listed above.
10 common arguing techniques of a covert narcissist
What do covert narcissists say in an argument? It depends on the position they find themselves in. Being master manipulators, they can change tracks in the blink of an eye.
- They lie and deny: As they need to win at any cost, they may lie and deny to confuse you and muddy up the situation. You may find this similar to being gaslit. Gaslighting involves denying something happened when you know for sure it happened. You will begin to doubt your sanity and ability to judge people and situations.
- They behave in a high-handed manner: They intend to dominate the conversation. They use aggressive methods to incite and intimidate you. They want you to either back down or accept them as right.
- They accuse and project: They use this to shift the focus from themselves to you. They may blame you for toxic behavior, even as they refuse to accept and address their own.
- They argue in bad faith: They don’t take the effort to understand your perspective. Sometimes they may do this even deliberately. They use hurtful words without caring for your feelings.
- They talk rubbish and rely on falsehood: Their arguments may be too illogical, incoherent, and peppered with factual untruths. They may rely on techniques they don’t understand, but consider as sane, rational, and reasonable.
- They like to gossip and rely on slander: Covert narcissists use this technique to win you over to their side and agree with whatever they are saying. They have no scruples about tarnishing the reputation of a person to get what they want.
- They minimize your pain and distress: Their lack of empathy can be blamed for their uncaring and ruthless behavior. They may also do this deliberately to take advantage of you. If you try to make them aware of this, they may minimize or downplay the whole episode.
- They may shift the blame from themselves: From a narcissist’s perspective, they can never be wrong. In case you accuse them of something, they will find a loophole to turn the tables on you and shift the blame to you. Instead of them apologizing, they will force you to apologize for something they did.
- They ridicule you and make you feel foolish: Narcissists are very good at changing the narrative and twisting facts to suit themselves. When arguing with a narcissist, you can expect to be pulled down, mocked and laughed at, showered with insults, and made to look silly and unreasonable.
- They redirect, deflect, and use evasive tactics: When confronted with indisputable evidence of their negative behavior, a covert narcissist would use any of these techniques to distract attention and escape unhurt. This includes bringing old or irrelevant issues into the mix, projection, and guilt-tripping.
How to respond to a covert narcissistic argument?
- Don’t believe them blindly
- Don’t feel embarrassed or offended
- Don’t bother pointing out their flaws
- Don’t expect them to apologize
- Don’t get too emotional
- Use a counterintuitive approach
- Focus on facts and truths
- Use “I” statements as opposed to “You” ones
- Keep your cool (You may try the Gray Rock approach)
- Stay focused and resist distractions
- Hold your ground and maintain your boundaries
- Let go of your expectations
- Consider setting limits
- If you feel threatened, walk away without delay
Final thoughts on things covert narcissists say in an argument
Arguing with a person with a covert narcissistic personality disorder is a waste of breath and time for you. Things covert narcissists say in an argument can astonish even the seasoned and hard-hearted.
However, when they drag you into an argument, you may find yourself trapped and cannot escape. You should be well-prepared to deal with such situations if you’re living with a covert narcissist.
When dealing with covert narcissists in relationships, the trick is not to rise to their bait and let them take control of the situation. The best approach for you is to stay one step ahead of them and avert their covert narcissistic game plan. And, always leave an exit route open should they prove too much for you to handle.