10 Signs Your Husband is a Covert Narcissist

by Ryan Hart | Updated on October 5, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Do you ever feel like your husband is emotionally disengaged and passionless towards you? Does he seem perfect in every way but has lost interest in your relationship?

You may be married to a covert narcissist husband.

Covert narcissists are individuals who exhibit narcissistic traits but in a more subtle and secretive manner. They tend to be emotionally disconnected and lack empathy towards their partners' needs and feelings.

Living with a covert narcissist husband can be challenging and emotionally draining. It is important to recognize the signs of this personality disorder and understand how to respond healthily.

In this article, we will explore the signs of a covert narcissist husband, the causes of this disorder, and how to respond to their behavior.

Man looking in a mirror

What is Covert Narcissism?

Covert narcissism is a subtype of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) that is marked by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, and an inability to feel sympathy for others.

However, unlike a grandiose or overt narcissist, a covert narcissist may appear to be shy, humble, or even self-deprecating on the surface.

Covert narcissists tend to have fragile self-esteem and are highly sensitive to criticism or perceived slights. They may also have a sense of entitlement and believe that they deserve special treatment or privileges.

However, they may not openly express these beliefs or behaviors and instead may manipulate or exploit others more subtly.

One of the critical features of covert narcissism is the need for narcissistic supply, which refers to the attention, admiration, or validation that a narcissist seeks from others.

Covert narcissists may seek out relationships with people who they perceive as being vulnerable or in need of their help and may use this dynamic to gain control or power over the other person.

If you are in a relationship with a covert narcissist, it’s important to recognize the signs and take steps to protect yourself. Some common signs of covert narcissism include:

  • A tendency to play the victim or use guilt to manipulate others
  • Insensitivity to others' feelings or lack of empathy
  • A preoccupation with one’s own needs or desires
  • A tendency to be critical or judgmental of others
  • A sense of superiority or entitlement
  • A need for admiration or attention from others

It’s important to remember that covert narcissism is a personality disorder and that it can be difficult to change or treat. If you suspect that your husband may be a covert narcissist, it may be helpful to seek the help of a therapist or counselor who can guide you through the challenges of this type of relationship.

Signs You Married a Covert Narcissist

If you suspect your husband may be a covert narcissist, it is essential to understand the characteristics of this personality disorder. Here are some of the common characteristics of a covert narcissist husband:

Subtle Manipulation

Covert narcissists are masters of manipulation. They tend to use subtle tactics to control their partners, such as guilt-tripping, emotional blackmail, and passive-aggressive behavior. They may also use their partner’s weaknesses and insecurities to manipulate them.

Passive Aggression

Covert narcissists often use passive-aggressive behavior as a way to express their anger or frustration. They may give their partner the silent treatment, make snide comments, or use sarcasm to belittle them. This behavior is a way for them to maintain control over their partner without being overtly aggressive.

Gaslighting

As a form of emotional abuse, gaslighting involves manipulating their partner into questioning their own sanity. Covert narcissists are experts at gaslighting and can use it to make their partner doubt their own perceptions of reality.

They may deny things that they said or did or twist their partner’s words to make them seem irrational or crazy.

Checklist of Characteristics

Here is a checklist of some of the characteristics of a covert narcissist husband:

  • Avoids emotional closeness
  • Lacks empathy
  • Blames others for their mistakes
  • Criticizes their partner
  • Lies to avoid taking responsibility
  • Has a fragile sense of self
  • Displays a pattern of manipulative behavior
  • May have a history of overt narcissism
  • Has a tendency towards anger
  • Requires constant validation
  • Displays jealousy and insecurity
  • Uses subtle manipulation to control their partner
  • Gives the silent treatment
  • Uses passive-aggressive behavior
  • Devalues their partner
  • Blames their partner for their own mistakes
  • May have experienced trauma in their past
  • Uses insults and put-downs to attack their partner
  • Can be paranoid and suspicious of others
  • Is condescending and judgmental towards others

If you recognize any of these characteristics in your husband, it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional.

Dealing with a Covert Narcissist Husband

Here are some strategies that can help you deal with your covert narcissist husband:

Therapy

Seeing a therapist can be an excellent way to cope with the emotional trauma caused by a covert narcissistic husband. A therapist can help you identify and understand the manipulative behavior of your husband.

They can also help you devise strategies to cope with the situation, set boundaries, and improve your self-esteem. Therapy can also help you deal with any trauma caused by the relationship.

Self-Care

Being self-aware is crucial when coping with a covert narcissist husband. You need to prioritize self-care activities that help you relax and recharge.

This can include taking a break from your husband, spending time with friends, practicing meditation, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular exercise. Taking care of yourself will help you stay strong and resilient.

Support Groups

Joining a support group is a great way to connect with others going through similar experiences. You can share your feelings and experiences with others who understand what you are going through.

Support groups can provide a safe space for you to express yourself and receive emotional support. You can find support groups online or in your local community.

In this section, we will discuss two sub-sections covering the most common problems in these areas.

Money Management

One of the most significant issues you may face with a covert narcissist husband is money management. Narcissists tend to be materialistic and focus on extrinsic motivators like money and rewards.

They may be secretive about their finances, which can make it challenging to plan for the future or make important financial decisions together.

Your covert narcissist husband may also have a sense of entitlement when it comes to money. He may feel that he deserves more than you or that he is entitled to spend money on himself without consulting you. This can lead to financial strain and arguments within your relationship.

To manage this situation, it is essential to establish clear boundaries and expectations around money management.

You may want to consider setting up a joint account for shared expenses and discussing a budget together. It is also important to maintain open communication about finances and ensure that both partners have an equal say in financial decisions.

Career Interference

Another issue you may face with a covert narcissist husband is career interference. Narcissists tend to have a high need for control and may try to interfere with your career or professional goals.

This can manifest in various ways, such as discouraging you from pursuing your dreams, belittling your achievements, or trying to control your work environment.

Your covert narcissist husband may also try to undermine your confidence or sabotage your career success. This can be especially challenging if you work in the same industry or have similar career goals.

To manage this situation, it is essential to establish clear boundaries and expectations around your career.

It is also important to maintain a strong support network of friends and family who can offer encouragement and support as you pursue your professional goals.

Signs of a Cheating Covert Narcissist Husband

If you suspect that your husband is a covert narcissist, it is important to be aware of the signs of infidelity. Here are some signs that your covert narcissist husband may be cheating on you:

  • He becomes more distant: If your husband is cheating on you, he may become more distant and less affectionate towards you. He may also become more secretive and spend more time away from home.

  • He pays more attention to his appearance: A cheating covert narcissist husband may start paying more attention to his appearance. He may start working out more, buying new clothes, or getting a new haircut.

  • He becomes more jealous: A cheating covert narcissist husband may become more jealous of you. He may accuse you of cheating or become overly possessive of you.

  • He craves attention: A cheating covert narcissist husband may crave attention from other women. He may start flirting with other women or spending more time with female friends.

  • He becomes more charming: A cheating covert narcissist husband may become more charming and charismatic. He may use his charm to manipulate other women into giving him attention.

  • He becomes defensive: If you confront your husband about his infidelity, he may become defensive and try to turn the blame back on you. He may accuse you of being too controlling or not giving him enough attention.

  • He becomes more secretive: A cheating covert narcissist husband may become more secretive about his phone and computer use. He may start using passwords or deleting messages to hide

     

    his infidelity.

     

Remember, these signs do not necessarily mean that your husband is cheating on you. However, if you notice several of these signs, it may be worth investigating further.

Husband and wife

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I deal with a covert narcissist husband?

Coping with a covert narcissist husband can be challenging, but it is possible. It is important to set boundaries and communicate your needs clearly. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist who can help you navigate the situation.

What is the typical relationship cycle with a covert narcissist husband?

The typical relationship cycle with a covert narcissist husband can involve a period of idealization, followed by devaluation and discard.

They may shower you with attention and affection in the beginning, but as time goes on, they may become more critical and controlling. When you no longer serve their needs, they may discard you and move on to someone else.

How can I protect myself during a divorce from a covert narcissist husband?

Protecting yourself during a divorce from a covert narcissist husband can be difficult, but it is important to prioritize your safety and well-being. Seek support from a therapist or lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process.

Document any instances of abuse or manipulation and gather evidence to support your case. Set clear boundaries and communicate your needs assertively.

What are some red flags to look out for when married to a covert narcissist?

Some red flags to look out for when married to a covert narcissist include a lack of empathy, a need for control, manipulation, gaslighting, and a tendency to play the victim.

They may also have a grandiose sense of self-importance and be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, and attractiveness. Pay attention to any instances of emotional or psychological abuse.

Can a covert narcissist husband truly love their spouse?

It is unlikely that a covert narcissist husband can truly love their spouse healthily and genuinely. They may be capable of feeling love, but it is often mixed with a desire for control and admiration.

Their love may be conditional and based on what you can provide for them. It is important to recognize that their behavior is not a reflection of their worth or value as a person.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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