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Is Your Friend A Covert Narcissist?

Posted Mar 08 2010 1:05pm
Most people give their friends a break. They expect shortcomings and lapses from even their closest companions. In any friendship there is a natural rhythm of give and take. We don't expect our friends to be perfect.  There is a category of "friend" that can be difficult to recognize---the Covert Narcissist. They are narcissistic personalities who conceal themselves behind a facade of humility and pseudo empathy. Most of us are fooled by the covert narcissist. They are experts at pretending to put their needs in the background, focusing on you and indicating a deference toward you. They often use compliments as a way of making you feel comfortable and at ease with them. They may even idealize you and show gratefulness on all that you have done for them. Their  behavior and investment in you  appears to be genuine.

There will come a time when your friend the Covert Narcissist reveals his or her fangs. It can begin  with subtle criticisms in the form of "helpful suggestions". You notice that this person is competing with you and even envies your appearance, social status, professional accomplishments and personal relationships. Eventually you recognize that this "friend" wants everything that you have, including your spouse or boyfriend. They are after something that will increase their narcissistic supplies. They ask you to do them a favor, a professional entrée---introduce them to one of your influential business contacts that can maximizes their chances of getting a prestigious, high paying job. After you have done this favor and your friend has benefited from your kindness and naiveté, you notice that this individual begins to distance herself/himself from you. You are initiating all of phone calls. When you do reach your friend she is deluged with work and familial obligations.  Your friend doesn't return your calls or respond to email. You now remember that beneath it all, the relationship was always about her and her narcissism. She was a brilliant actress who had played  the role of "friend" to the hilt until her goal was achieved. Now you can't reach her--by phone, email, texting, relatives--She has vanished from sight like a mirage in the desert.

This is a painful reckoning but valuable to you as a human being. Learning how to recognize the Covert Narcissist early before you become highly invested in the relationship will spare you a lot of heartache. To understand more about the ploys and clever twists of the Covert Narcissist, go to my blogs on the website:  

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Telephone Consultation



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