When it comes to covert narcissists, we know that they can appear pretty articulate, charming, charismatic, knowledgeable, understanding, supportive, and caring. Conversations with them seem to be fun and interesting, at first, before they turn into mind-twisting manipulative conversations from hell and word salad if we get too far involved.
In the following, I am going to explore a number of subtle red flags of covert narcissism that often go unnoticed in the early conversations we have with them.
Quite often, narcissists boast about their big plans that somehow never seem to come to fruition. If you are dealing with a narcissistic friend, usually something got into the way that somehow prevented him/her from taking action and the next step toward his/her goal. E.g., the car broke down, so there was no money or a family member got sick, so there was no time. You would never dare to openly question these events.
If, on the other hand, you hold a partner accountable, it usually must be someone else’s fault, and he/she may as well point his/her finger at you. Your advice is not welcome, especially if you are well capable of turning your goals into reality which does nothing but feed their envy.
It can be alluring to get involved with someone who seems to have his/her path all laid out or is wanting to attain the same goals as you. Future faking is a method that supports the narcissist’s only goal, which is to capture your attention and rush yourself in a relationship with him/her. Over time, his/her delusions will come to light, leading to your dissappointment.
More often than not, a person’s true character is revealed by success in life. I am not asking you to request a hard copy of his/her résumé, but pay close attention to what the narcissist is already bringing to the table. Does he/she have a series of failed jobs or relationships for example? Does he/she put the blame on others? Does he/she have an excuse for everything? These are not good signs for how his/her big plans (or grand delusions) might play out.
During my encounters with narcissists, there was one thing I noticed in all them: dangerous half knowledge.
Articulate as most narcissists are, they have the ability to easily impress their listeners. For some reason, he/she knows everything about the coffee trade in Colombia and can give you perfect medical advice for your problem as a side note. You may even wonder how a certain subject, completely unrelated to the situation you are in, came up, if not only to impress someone.
Narcissists gather their (dangerous half) knowledge from the many random people they interact with or relationships they have had. It is when their knowledge is put to the test that their cover blows. As the old adage says, knowledge is nothing without wisdom.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are convinced that narcissists’ superficial self-confidence and use of technical terms equal experience and that is how they end up in positions of power and control with high responsibilities other people’s lives may depend on.
A way to detect dangerous half knowledge is not only the amount of subjects the narcissist seems to be knowledgable about, but their complete and utter randomness. If subjects are far from his/her personal interests and hobbies or he/she perfectly mirrors your knowledge back to you to feign common interests, it may be a red flag of many to follow.
“There is no harm in asking.”
“No strings attached.”
“Are you willing to take the risk…?”
“I’m too much to handle.”
Narcissists often tell on themselves early on. Telling you that there is no danger in getting involved with them is a red flag that should not be ignored. Usually, people let actions speak louder than words and do not need to convince others that they are trustworthy beforehand. Quite often, narcissists make these statements upon first signs of rejection and hesitation in their targets. In other words, your intuition is warning you.
“I’m an empath.”
“I’m an honest person.”
“You can trust me.”
Ask yourself the question whether you have ever had a trustworthy and/or empathetic friend who would walk around claiming these things about him/herself? You ARE empathetic, you ARE trustworthy, without saying it; doing otherwise can be a sign of arrogance.
If something is a true and essential part of your character, you are most likely very unaware of your positive traits because they just seem natural to you. Other people are more inclined to notice these things about you.
“I was involved with a narcissist, too.”
If you have already educated yourself about narcissistic abuse, ask the other person how he/she experienced it. The devil is in the lack of details.