Healthy relationships are grounded in honesty, reliability, authenticity, availability, and more. In contrast, narcissism is grounded in selfishness, entitlement, scheming, secrecy, and haughtiness.
Narcissists, especially of the covert variety, want to give the appearance of healthiness even though they are anything but healthy. Part of the definition of covert narcissism is the ability to portray seemingly positive traits as they disguise their inner dysfunction. They want to be in relationships, but their goal is gaining narcissistic supply.
Sly as covert narcissists may be, over time you can spot trends that reveal their real intentions. Make no mistake, they will eventually betray the integrity of the relationship with you. But as you learn to see behind the disguise, you can position yourself for you own separate independence.
They have simmering agitation that can be contained only in small increments of time. They want control, and even if their motives are initially hidden, the mask cannot be sustained. After multiple engagements you will learn that they would rather invalidate or argue than cooperate.
If you have been connected to a covert narcissist and have eventually learned you were being played, don't be too hard on yourself. You are dealing with a master manipulator. Your "problem" is that you don't think like a manipulator, meaning the covert narcissist has the upper hand…for a while.
That person is not likely to adjust to you, so the adjusting will have to begin within yourself. Over time, you can determine: "I want better, I deserve better." And with that admission, you are poised to establish relationship boundaries, giving highest priority to self-care.
~Les Carter, Ph.D.
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