This past week I read The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist by Debbie Mirza, a life coach and author in Colorado. I have a significant amount of experience with covert narcissism and feel that this work is a solid exploration of how this mental health disorder looks in relationships.
Covert: not openly shown
Passive Aggressive: displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive, passive way
Mirza states “the covert narcissist hides their dark attributes because they want people to like them.” In overt narcissism the assumption is often already made that others like, admire, or feel jealous of them.
Some additional important differences are:
- while not empathic, covert narcissists can appear this way as they have learned how to act empathically
- they often appear to be humble, kind, or generous (as with other types, image is very important to them)
- while they tend to lack long-lasting friendships, they are rarely without a partner
- they give you subtle messages that cause you to question yourself – over time this leads to a tremendous amount of self-doubt as you learn to ignore your own intuition
The Three Phases of Relationship with a covert passive aggressive narcissist are also explored in depth, and she provides a lot of clear examples of what these relationships look like, sound like and can feel like through each phase.
A few additional take-aways for me were the tendency for the covert-PA narcissist to project their own issues onto others, instead of taking ownership and accountability for themselves, and the fact that they “have no interest in making this a great relationship” as exemplified by their inaction when conflict arises.
Gaslighting, flying monkeys, hoovering, intermittent reinforcement, deflection, blame, minimization and other control and manipulation tactics are also well defined in this book. Control and manipulation are the names of the game with a covert passive-aggressive narcissist.
In her last chapter she offers a few suggestions on how to heal after such a relationship and she stresses the importance of boundaries, getting support, and coming home to the wisdom of your own being. This is often a process, considering that these relationships tend to cause a significant amount of self-doubt and uncertainty about trusting oneself.
I highly recommend this book.
If you have been in a relationship with a covert passive aggressive narcissist or think you might be in one, reach out for support today. These individuals can cause a significant amount of psychological, emotional and physical suffering in their victims.