8 Subtle Signs of a Covert Introvert Narcissist [plus tips to deal with one]

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When often talking about narcissism, we envision a loud and brash person who is extremely full of themselves. And while this may be true for overt narcissists, there is another type of narcissist that is far more insidious and can be difficult to spot: the covert introvert narcissist.

what is a covert narcissist?

According to Jodi Clacks: ‘A covert narcissist is someone who craves admiration and importance as well as lacks empathy toward others but can act in a different way than an overt narcissist.’

Covert narcissism, also known as closet narcissism or vulnerable narcissism is more about image than anything.

Because while an overt narcissist or an extroverted narcissist may be more classically defined as someone who has an overblown sense of self and a desire to show it off, the covert narcissist is all about hiding their true selves.

What is a covert introverted narcissist?

Covert introvert narcissists are people who appear to be shy and withdrawn but harbor a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or narcissistic personality traits.

They are hypersensitive and defensive, often taking everything personally.

They have a fragile ego and are very insecure, yet they will go to great lengths to hide it.

Because of their extreme shyness and lack of self-confidence, they will often disguise their narcissism as modesty or even humility. But there are certain signs that you can look out for to see if someone is a covert introverted narcissist.

8 Subtle Signs of a covert introvert narcissist

1. Apparent sense of inferiority

Covert introverted narcissists are always looking for validation, but they are never quite sure of themselves.

They often have a sense of inferiority and will constantly compare themselves to others.

This feeling of inferiority will often lead them to seek out the approval of others. But once they feel they have true validation, it can lead to extreme feelings of entitlement, superiority, and arrogance, especially after an achievement.

2. Hypersensitivity

While overt narcissists are not exactly known for their emotional intelligence, covert narcissists take hypersensitivity (and self-pity) to a whole new level.

Everything is a personal attack and they often take things too seriously. They have thin skin and are easily hurt, both emotionally and physically. They will often nurse grudges for a long time and can be very vindictive.

3. Display of fake empathy

Introverted narcissists often fake empathy and concern when it is socially convenient, but they will also use other people’s emotions for their own personal gain.

Sometimes they do feel empathy but instead of just feeling it they will try to show it in order to get something from that person.

They can often be found telling people how sorry they are or saying things like ‘I feel your pain.’ They say these things in order to get the other person to do what they want.

4. Adapting the victim mentality

Even though covert introvert narcissists are often charming, likable people (when they want something), they will also constantly play up the role of the victim in order to get attention.

You’ll find them often complaining about how hard life is and blaming others for their problems.

an introverted person with NPD will often feel like a victim in life and seek validation of this feeling.

They have an overblown sense of self-importance and entitlement, so they feel that everyone owes them something, even if it’s just a shoulder to cry on.

5. Passive aggressiveness

Covert introvert narcissists are usually very indecisive but will often use passive aggressiveness to do what they want.

They won’t outright say ‘no,’ but they will make it difficult for you to get what you want or they will agree to something but not follow through.

They also like to use guilt trips as a way to manipulate people.

6. Judgmental observations

One of the ways that covert introverted narcissists try to build up their self-image is by judging others.

They will often be thinking to themselves how stupid or useless other people are, but they won’t say this directly because they don’t want to seem rude.

Instead, you might start noticing that they have a lot of judgmental observations about the world and society in general.

7. Having Grandiose fantasies

Covert introverted narcissists often have a lot of fantasies that they won’t necessarily share but you can detect them by the way they talk about themselves.

They often have an exaggerated sense of their own importance and will often brag about their accomplishments, whether real or not.

These fantasies give them a sense of superiority and power over others.

8. Subtly Seeking out admiration

Just like overt narcissists, covert introverted narcissists love to be admired.

But because they are not as obvious about it, they often do it in a more subtle way.

For example, they might act like they’re doing you a favor by listening to your problems or lending you a hand.

Protect Yourself From an Introverted Narcissist

NPD is a mental health disorder and should be treated by a professional. If you think you are in a relationship with an introverted narcissist, it is important to protect yourself.

Don’t take their behavior personally

Remember that the narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health disorder and not something that the person can help. Don’t feel bad or guilty because you can’t change them.

Set boundaries

Narcissists need to be in control of everything and they will often try to control you. It is important to set boundaries with them and let them know what you will and won’t put up with.

Don’t give them attention

One of the main things that narcissists crave is attention, so if you stop giving them attention they will be less likely to bother you.


What is an introverted narcissist?

An introverted narcissist is someone who is externally shy and withdrawn but has a grandiose, inflated self-image and internally craves attention and admiration just like grandiose narcissists. Even if they’re sometimes unaware of it.

What are the signs of a covert introverted narcissist?

Some signs of a covert introverted narcissist include hypersensitivity, a display of fake empathy, adapting the victim mentality, passive-aggressiveness, judgmental observations, and having grandiose fantasies.

Can Introverts have NPD?

Yes. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder is a narcissist, period, whether they’re introverted or not.

It’s important to point out though that a lot of the introverted traits can be misdiagnosed as covert NPD because some introverts can be genuine people pleasers and have a strong need for approval.

So it’s important to get a professional diagnosis if you’re suspicious or you think you might be in a relationship with an introverted narcissist.


If you’re going through a tough time with an introverted narcissist, know that you’re not alone. There are ways to protect yourself and get the help you need.

Remember that this is a mental health disorder and it’s not your fault. You can’t change them, but you can change how you interact with them.

I hope this article was helpful, if you find it so, please share it and give some feedback in the comments below. Thank you for reading!

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Sarra is a behavioral science student and HS science teacher ( also a cat mom! ) who obsesses over typing people but can't seem to type her own self. Let's just say that for the time being, she's a cross between an INFJ and INFP!

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