11 Covert Narcissist Cheating Patterns and Signs


Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

Covert narcissists, unlike their overt counterparts, present themselves as humble, self-effacing, and introverted.

However, they can still engage in manipulative behaviors, including infidelity.

Here are 11 cheating patterns and signs to watch out for if you suspect you're dealing with a covert narcissist

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1. Secretive Behavior

Covert narcissists are known for their secretive behavior, which is often a key indicator of their deceptive patterns.

They tend to maintain an aura of mystery around their private lives, which they carefully guard from others, including their intimate partners.

This can manifest in various ways such as hiding their phones, deleting messages, and being deliberately vague about their whereabouts.

They may frequently change passwords, have secret social media accounts, or avoid answering direct questions about their activities.

This level of secrecy is not typical in a healthy relationship and can be a sign that the covert narcissist is engaging in dishonest behaviors, such as infidelity. 

2. Emotional Manipulation

Emotional manipulation is a common tactic used by covert narcissists to control and dominate their partners.

This could involve gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation where they make you question your own reality or sanity by denying facts or twisting the truth.

They may also guilt-trip you into doing what they want or create scenarios to incite jealousy, aiming to destabilize your emotional state.

The purpose of these manipulative tactics is to keep you in a state of confusion and self-doubt, making it easier for them to maintain control over the relationship and potentially hide their unfaithful behaviors. 

3. Lack of Empathy

A distinguishing characteristic of covert narcissists is their lack of empathy, which is a fundamental component of their personality disorder.

This absence of genuine concern for others' feelings means they often fail to feel remorse for their actions, including infidelity.

They are typically unable to comprehend the emotional damage they inflict on their partners through their cheating behavior.

This lack of guilt and the ability to disconnect from the emotional consequences of their actions allows them to engage in infidelity without the usual moral restraints that would inhibit such behavior in empathetic individuals.

4. Compulsive Lying

Compulsive lying is another characteristic commonly associated with covert narcissists.

They are adept at constructing complex narratives and fabricating stories to cover their tracks, skillfully manipulating the truth to suit their needs.

Unnecessary lying, even when there's no apparent reason to do so, is part of their modus operandi. This habitual dishonesty serves multiple purposes; it helps them maintain their secretive lifestyle, protects them from being held accountable for their actions, and assists in the manipulation and control of their partners.

The ease with which they lie can be disconcerting, further contributing to the confusion and emotional turmoil experienced by those in a relationship with a covert narcissist. 

5. Constant Need for Admiration

Covert narcissists possess an incessant need for admiration and validation that often drives them to seek attention beyond the confines of their relationship.

This constant craving for praise, adoration, and recognition is a fundamental aspect of their personality disorder.

They thrive on the validation they receive from others, using it as a form of reassurance for their inflated self-image.

This can lead them to engage in infidelity, as the attention and admiration they garner from new romantic interests serve to satisfy their relentless need for external validation. 

6. Victim Mentality

Covert narcissists frequently adopt a victim mentality as another manipulative tool to control others.

If they are confronted about their infidelity, they'll often twist the narrative in such a way that they appear to be the wronged party.

They might make baseless accusations, deflect blame, or misrepresent events to paint themselves as the victim.

This tactic is designed to elicit sympathy, divert attention from their actions, and confuse the person confronting them. 

7. Blame Shifting

Blame shifting is a classic tactic used by covert narcissists when caught in the act of infidelity.

Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they'll likely turn the tables and place the blame on their partner.

They might accuse their partner of not meeting their needs, being too controlling, or even instigating their cheating.

This strategy serves to deflect attention away from their wrongdoing and onto perceived faults in their partner.

It's a manipulative move designed to make their partner feel guilty and question their behavior, effectively diverting the spotlight from the narcissist's acts of infidelity. 

8. Fluctuating Attention

One moment, they might shower their partner with affection, attention, and compliments, only to completely withdraw the next, leaving their partner confused and emotionally off-balance.

This inconsistency in their attention can be due to them diverting their focus to an extramarital interest.

The sudden withdrawal often occurs when they are engaged in pursuing or maintaining an affair, and the lavish attention usually resurfaces when they want to keep their partner pacified or oblivious to their unfaithfulness.

This erratic pattern is a manipulative tactic to maintain control and keep their partner in a state of uncertainty.

9. Entitlement

Entitlement is a distinct trait of covert narcissists, often manifesting in their belief that they have the right to behave as they wish, irrespective of the consequences or the impact on others.

This sense of entitlement fuels their disregard for the boundaries and feelings of others, including those of their partners.

They operate on the belief that normal rules of respect, fidelity, and consideration do not apply to them.

As a result, they may cheat without remorse, rationalizing their actions with the notion that they are merely exercising their prerogative. 

10. Demeaning Attitude

 A demeaning attitude is a common trait in covert narcissists, used as a tactic to maintain control over their partners.

They may resort to belittling their partners, making snide remarks, or outright putting them down.

These actions are designed to undermine the partner's confidence and self-esteem, keeping them in a constant state of self-doubt and insecurity.

This imbalance allows the narcissist to manipulate and control the relationship dynamics more easily. 

11. History of Infidelity

If a person has cheated in the past, they will likely repeat this behavior. This is especially true for covert narcissists who often lack remorse or empathy, characteristics that enable them to repeat hurtful actions without significant guilt or regret.

It's important to note that past cheating doesn't automatically condemn a person to repeat their mistakes, but it does raise the chances, particularly if they haven't shown sincere regret or made conscious efforts to change their behavior.

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Recognizing the patterns and signs of a covert narcissist's infidelity can be crucial in understanding and navigating such a complex and emotionally challenging relationship.

These signs can range from emotional affairs, manipulation, gaslighting, and denial to changes in intimacy patterns, constant lying, and frequent flirting. It's important to remember that a history of cheating often predicts future behavior, particularly with covert narcissists who may lack remorse or empathy.

By staying vigilant and informed, one can make empowered decisions about their relationships and their future. 

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April 19th, 2024

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