Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. The most commonly known type of narcissist though is the one who is flagrant, obviously attention-seeking, loud, and in your face. These are what psychologists call overt narcissists because they are basically extroverts.
But there is another kind of narcissist that is not easily identified. This is the “kind” narcissist or the covert narcissist. The covert narcissist has all the same traits as the overt narcissist but it’s more difficult to outright point out because these narcissists are introverts.
What is a “Kind” Narcissist?
According to VeryWell Mind general narcissistic traits include, “having a strong sense of self-importance, experiencing fantasies about fame or glory, exaggerating self abilities, craving admiration, exploiting others, and lacking empathy”.
It can be difficult to imagine that a narcissist can be introverted because we are used to the glaringly obvious description or display of overt narcissists. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for an introverted person to be a narcissist.
“A covert narcissist may be outwardly self-effacing or withdrawn in their approach, but the end goals are the same”, explains a VeryWell Mind article, “For example, this might be described as listening to your favorite song while blasting the volume, compared to listening to that same song on a low volume. The song itself hasn’t changed, just the volume in which you are listening”.
Because covert narcissists aren’t easy to spot at first, they may come off as kind and understanding even helpful until a demanding situation occurs that they view as a threat to them.
Tonya Lester, a psychotherapist, explains “kind” narcissists in a blog for Psychology Today.
“At first, the kind narcissist seems like a generous, attentive person”, writes Lester, “Trouble arises once more is asked of them than they want to give. It’s the same insidious selfishness and entitlement as regular narcissism, tucked inside a nice guy façade”.
Some situations in which this nice guy façade cracks are in romantic relationships and in relationships where children are involved. The entitlement of the narcissist prevents them from keeping up their mask for too long.
“This instinct to preserve their time, autonomy, or affections is not based on what’s fair or necessary but instead on their feelings of entitlement about how much (or little) should be asked of them”, Lester explains.
Signs of a “Kind” Narcissist
According to Lester, a few ways in which this type of narcissism can manifest in real life are:
- Not doing one’s share of housework.
- Insisting that their work responsibilities always take precedence over yours.
- Resistance to spending time with people or activities that are more important to you than to them.
- Reluctance to spend money on things important to you while insisting on big-ticket items that they value.
- Not doing their job at work, and letting others handle the slack.
Lester relates the story of a friend whose husband refused to repair their kitchen saying they didn’t have the money for it but later splurged on a $100,000 new truck because he wanted it.
Another example that Lester uses is of one of her clients. This client was married to a “kind” narcissist who refused to help her with the house, the children, or anything really that he deemed was taking too much time and energy from him.
“In their relationship, when Meredith was upset, Jack would “turtle,” retracting into his shell until the storm had passed. Then he’d stick his head back out and resume operating as usual”, explains Lester.
They went to counseling but the husband kept asking what he would get in return if he did the things that were asked of him.
“This is classic kind narcissist behavior”, writes Lester, “He says all the right things and seems contrite and ready to make a change. But he can’t stop thinking about his end of the deal.”
In the end, Meredith left because she didn’t want to keep threatening divorce every time she needed Jack to do something.
What to do with a “Kind” Narcissist?
Like overt narcissists, “kind” narcissists only care about themselves and will only do things when it benefits them even though they seem kind and giving. So, how do you deal with a “kind” narcissist once you have identified one?
Don’t take it personally
Even though the narcissistic manipulation aims at you to take what they are saying personally, try to healthy detach yourself and observe the situation. Remember that what they are trying to project is actually about them and not you.
Do not give them any type of response or energy because that is what they want. Let them own what they did and do not give them leverage.
1- Set boundaries
Narcissists have unhealthy boundaries which is why you have to set yours and remain steadfast in keeping them.
“The more you can practice setting boundaries with a narcissist, the more consistently you are conveying to them that their tactics are not working”, states VeryWell Mind, “Remember that boundaries are just a way for you to let someone else know what your values are. Consider what is important to you, what your values are, and work to create boundaries to support them”.
2- Speak up
Silence is a way to control someone which is why narcissists try to manipulate others into silence. If you’re dealing with a narcissist it is likely that you have not been speaking up for yourself and you need to start doing it.
“When advocating for yourself, the narcissist gets a chance to meet the part of you that is aware and knowledgeable of their tactics, making it less appealing for them to keep trying those things with you”, says VeryWell Mind.
3- Healthy distancing
One of the best ways to avoid falling into the narcissist’s trap is to keep them at arm’s length. The less time you spend with them, the less opportunity the narcissist has to weave you into their web of lies and deceit.
If you have a narcissistic person around, try slowly distancing yourself from them.
4- Get Help
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, there are some resources and therapists available that deal specifically with narcissistic abuse. Find a mental health provider or support group near you that deals with this topic if you feel like you need it.
Have you ever interacted with a narcissist before? Let us know how you dealt with that situation in the comments. Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for more on psychology and thanks for reading.
Clarke, J. (2021, October 20). How to Recognize Someone With Covert Narcissism. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-the-covert-narcissist-4584587
Lester, T. (2021, October 22). How to Manage Dealing with a “Kind” Narcissist. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/staying-sane-inside-insanity/202110/how-manage-dealing-kind-narcissist?utm_source=FacebookPost&utm_medium=FBPost&utm_campaign=FBPost&fbclid=IwAR2Wf9l5uilInuY-TCVXSO4uJqwaOncjxmlm4LL4UvjMF2JiWh_Do1v5Dk4