10 Signs You Are Talking to a Covert Narcissist


Number 2: Gossiping and Bashing

Covert narcissists are constantly gossiping and bashing others as a way to elevate themselves. In some twisted way, putting people down makes them feel superior. So they talk badly about family members and friends, they will smear the reputation of exes and colleagues, and they will even say mean things about strangers.

No one is safe. They just can’t get enough of trash-talking and triangulating others. And if you try to say something positive or change the subject, they will undermine your positivity or act like you took what they said the wrong way. They’ll say, “I didn’t mean it in that way.” A covert narcissist often gossips bashes others, and plants seeds of doubt, disguising it as concern.

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For example, “Oh, poor Jenny, I feel so bad that her husband cheated on her. But you know, she gained all that weight.” And if you say something like, “Well, I don’t think it’s fair to associate his affair with her weight gain,” a covert narcissist will say something like, “That’s not what I meant. I was just saying that, you know, I can understand.” But then they go right back to trash-talking and fishing for gossip.

Number 3: They Criticize You

Covert narcissists don’t just stick to criticizing others; they will criticize you too. A covert narcissist will act like they are doing you a grand favor by being so honest with you, or they’ll wrap their criticism in a so-called compliment.

For example, they might say, “You’re pretty smart for someone who didn’t even go to college,” or “I admire how confident you are, even though you’re not conventionally attractive.”

And if you call them out on insulting you, they’ll say it was meant as a compliment, a joke, accuse you of being overly sensitive, or claim you’re taking things the wrong way.

Related: 7 Indicators of Mental Abuse by Narcissists

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