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Covert Narcissist?

ResilientSoul posted 12/14/2020 09:27 AM

I'm not really sure why I even care but I suppose this is part of my grieving process or my process in trying to just make sense of things. They say if you can name it, you can tame it. So maybe this is my way of being able to move on. I'm three days into my WS asking for a divorce with absolutely no remorse. Only fake "I know it was wrong to cheat but my therapist said I cheated for a reason" and I can understand that, but there was no remorse or sadness for putting me through what he has put me through and what he is currently putting me through and will put me through. He's been so cold since April's DDay and I honestly have yet to receive an honest and sincere apology. I believe he only fake apologized to me because his parents made him, but of course, the mask soon came off. The more I do my research on how my once loving spouse could be so cold and emotionless, the more I am seeing that he falls under the covert narcissist trait. He can fall out of love with me, I can swallow that hard pill, but the fact that there is no real sadness about how things ended or how he text me wanting to divorce just boggles my mind. Even his friend who also cheated on his wife and left for the AP told me that he felt devastated when she found out and even though he didn't want to remain married, he was crying so hard for days in front of her and by himself because he was so sad about what he did. I think it's scary that my WS has not ever really cried or shown any real deep sorrow for what he has put me through. He was so caring, and so nice, and so wonderful as a husband. The one that everyone would say I'm so jealous you have a husband like that who cooks and cleans for you. But now I'm thinking it was all for show. He was never mean to me during the relationship. He started being more mean and critical when he was in the affair, and I found out two months into his affair, where he turned into a complete asshole! The one thing he says he's so mad at me about is the fact that I told all our close family and friends the day I found out, which again, ruined his "reputation" with his job and his family and friends. He wasn't mad that he did what he did, he was just more worried about the fact that his reputation was ruined. Could it be that I was blind to all of this for 13 years? Did I just stop serving his needs when I had a baby and he discarded me? I was no longer fulfilling his needs? He was just using me for a benefit? and now he discarded me with no remorse? It's so scary

fareast posted 12/14/2020 09:46 AM

Sorry you are being treated so cruelly. It has nothing to do with you not meeting his needs. Check out “narcissist discard “. He seems to fit the bill. He only loves himself. Everyone else exists just to be used and then discarded. That is why you see no regret or remorse. Take care of you and your baby. The best thing you did was to expose him to family and friends. He only cares about his image. Too bad. Strength to you moving forward.

[This message edited by fareast at 10:11 AM, December 14th (Monday)]

crazyblindsided posted 12/14/2020 11:34 AM

Yep that’s how you know when there is no remorse. My STBX is still cold to this day and continues to blame me for everything. They are severely broken and disordered people.

ResilientSoul posted 12/14/2020 11:38 AM

I keep trying to do research to see if he is a covert narcissist. It's just hard to imagine that he was putting on a show for so many years, but from what I've seen on the website, it seems that it's a common thing. How do I know this is covert narcissism or the affair fog or just his selfish ass behaviors? I guess it doesn't matter, but I do feel some sense of relief if I know what it is so I know what I'm dealing with. I just find that it's SO SCARY that I was fooled for so long but again, I can also look back and see how I was providing something positive because I didn't have a baby yet and I was fun and energetic. It's sad that I was just discarded without a care. OR is it that he was really unhappy and this is his way out and he's not a narcissist? When I think about it like that, I feel like I start blaming myself like I wasn't nice or I didn't listen to him enough. Even though I can own my part in this marriage failing, I still don't believe it was worth him cheating on me and divorcing and getting discarded. We all make mistakes and we're not perfect people, I know this isn't my fault and I was trying the best I could being a full time mom/wife, full time worker, and full time student. Maybe I didn't listen as intently or got defensive at times, but I never intentionally meant to hurt him. I know in time, I will learn to understand that this is HIS problem, not mine, but there is a constant redirecting that I have to keep working on. What are some strategies you guys did to help you get past the self blame? or the replaying of what you could have done differently?

[This message edited by ResilientSoul at 7:04 PM, December 14th (Monday)]

barcher144 posted 12/14/2020 13:00 PM

The book that I recommend reading is The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist. It was one of those books that I had trouble NOT READING after I started it. I think that I literally stayed up until 2am reading it because it explained so much about my STBXW.

It's definitely a lot to unpack because if you are a normal person... you almost are compelled to ask: what did I do wrong?

However, the truth is what crazyblindsided said:

They are severely broken and disordered people.

In my case, I really looked at the parts of our past relationship that had nothing to do with the infidelity (before D-day... before her affair... when things were going "well"). I have also looked at her post-separation life and noted that the same behaviors continued (she's definitely cheated on her current BF, I have zero doubt about that).

All of this analysis led me to the obvious conclusion: I had nothing to do with what she did. She has no moral compass and she does not care about the swath of destruction that she has left behind. As our marriage counselor noted, she either has toxic shame (i.e., she hates herself) or no shame at all.

AboveAverage7913 posted 12/14/2020 13:49 PM

@ResiliantSoul - This is a case of "it's not you, it's him" and it may be one of the exceptions to the idea "if you can name it, you can tame it" - NPD doesn't work that way.

Many/most WSs have some degree of narcissism, but it sounds like yours has a pronounced lack of empathy - and self awareness.

@Barcher144 offered some good advice, I hope you can gather some confidence from reading that book.

The interesting thing about narcs - best advice is typically to go NC (with or without an affair). Read up on all of it - grey stone, etc., etc.

Stop feeding the supply. Avoid rage. Don't share anything - it will only be used against you. Move forward.

I didn't connect the dots with my WS until many months post DD. She's been a covert narc all along.

You might find some additional support at bpdfamily.com - the focus is BPD, but there are great resources for NPD there as well, as the B Cluster disorders overlap quite a bit.

Good luck.

[This message edited by AboveAverage7913 at 1:51 PM, December 14th (Monday)]

hcsv posted 12/14/2020 16:27 PM

I was blind to my suspected covert narcissist for 40 years. About a month before DDay, it was like a switch was tripped. He was one way and then, just like that, he was emotionless and there was no light in his eyes. His voice became a quiet monotone.

If I didn't live it, I would never have believed it.

barcher144 posted 12/14/2020 20:39 PM

Something that AboveAverage7913 wrote has been bothering me and so I came back to comment again. Also, hcsv's comment is also consistent with my experience.

Generally speaking, most people recommend that you go "grey rock" on your narcissistic ex. Basically, you do not allow anything that they do or say to trigger any emotion in you.

If you do this, as recommended by AboveAverage7913, me, and just about everyone else, then you need to be prepared for some blowback. In many ways, the absolute meanest, cruelest thing that you could ever do to a narcissist is to go grey rock. True narcissists truly don't care if you hate them or love them, as long as you are not indifferent about them.

My STBXW went completely off the rails when I went grey rock on her. I stopped talking to her about anything going on in my life and after awhile... this really started to bother her. By the time that we made our way to mediation, she had become obsessed with my life and what I was doing. She was very much concerned that I was seeing someone else (I was), even though she was seeing at least three guys at that moment in time (and I strongly suspect that she was seeing a fourth guy -- although I cannot confirm that).

The other thing that you will learn if you read the book that I recommend is that narcissists somehow have an amazing ability to hire similarly narcissistic lawyers. I don't understand that, but that's certainly the case in my divorce. I had to fire two different attorneys before I found someone who could handle the atrocious behavior of hers. And, needless to say, I'll be filing an ethical complaint against her attorney once the judge makes his ruling in my case.

skeetermooch posted 12/14/2020 21:06 PM

Resilient,
My husband was that guy every women wished she was married to - good-looking, doting/adoring, couldn't do enough for me, etc. etc. Once he got caught he turned into a raging, blaming, unrepentant asshole. It was easy to keep the mask on when he was getting what he wanted - a breezy, easy life with me. But as soon as he was found out and I had emotions, wanted answers, wouldn't rug sweep and let him resume duping me - the real person emerged.

It is sociopathic to say the least to feel no empathy or remorse when you see someone you loved and committed to in abject torment, that you caused. They aren't normal and it's not a fog. It's who he is - whatever you want to call it - he's not safe.

J707 posted 12/15/2020 09:22 AM

The book that I recommend reading is The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist.

Excellent recommendation! This book gave me chills and was spot on with my ex. It helped me understand who and what I was dealing with in the early days.

There are also tons of YouTube videos out there. These types of disordered people won't change. There view of the world is almost psychosis. Very delusional, always the victim, no remorse and its everyone else that is to blame.

GotTheShaft posted 12/16/2020 15:02 PM

My exWW was an Overt (look at me!) narcissist. I was careful not to fall for that again when I met my recent exGF. I dated the exGF for the past 2-1/2 years, and then a little over 3 months ago, she broke up with me over the phone, with little explanation, and didn't want to discuss it. She's ghosted me ever since, and a month and a half ago, I discovered information that points to her also cheating on me. She was so different than my exWW, because she wasn't an Overt Narcissist. I'm learning she is a Covert Narcissist. I just downloaded the book barcher144 recommended. I'm hoping that will help my healing this time around.

Charity411 posted 12/17/2020 15:03 PM

In my own experience, what I came to realize that naming it didn't really tame it. My EXH was a proud narcissist. There was nothing that was going to tame that. He had to be the center of attention no matter what. He was in his glory when more than one woman was fighting for him.

When I stopped fighting for him I became public enemy #1. Naming it didn't change it. It just meant that now I had a name for it. So what. His cruelty during our divorce was the stuff of legends. It was going to be what it was with or without a name.

The only thing that helped me heal fast was NOT CARING. I don't just mean pretending not to care by grey rocking or whatever. I had to work at simply not caring. He had made his choice and I made mine when I filed for divorce.

I had to remind myself that wondering about why, looking for things I missed, replaying the past or looking to place blame just continued to feed his need to be thought about. Even negative attention feeds that type of person. I had to learn to not care because I liked myself and it made me feel better.

Don't second guess yourself. No one who deals with this type of person sees it right off the bat, because they are so good at playing the perfect partner. They choose a spouse not based on how they feel about that person, but how that person makes them see themselves. So if someone else comes along that makes them feel even better, like those mirrors in dressing rooms that make you look skinnier than you are, they go for it. It's easy, because it was never about how they felt about you. There is nothing you could have done.

But now you know what to look for.

ResilientSoul posted 12/17/2020 18:27 PM

Wow, thank you so much for the feedback. After reading everyone’s response, it does make me realize not to be so hard on myself for not realizing or seeing him for what he truly was. I have a LOT of work to do in therapy to find how I attracted someone like him and why I keep blaming myself. I know with time I will understand that there is nothing that I could or couldn’t have done. This is HIS problem, and I will continue to work on that. I am so thankful for this forum to help me through the tough days and there are definitely some tough days but I am much stronger than I was when I first found out. It’s sad and scary to think people can live their whole lives wearing masks.

DevastatedDee posted 12/17/2020 20:55 PM

No, definitely don't blame yourself. I don't know what you'd diagnose my XWH with, though he fits a lot of the covert narcissist stuff from reading that book mentioned above. I do know that he presented as a very different person than he turned out to be. Even with years of intimacy and time together, he kept that mask up. I didn't marry anyone like who he actually was. I am not codependent. I'm intelligent, independent and self-sufficient. I met him when I was perfectly fine being on my own. Unfortunately for me, he is very skilled at mirroring and became exactly who I wanted without me noticing. There weren't any signs that could have shown me the depth of his issues. There was no way I could have forseen it. The couple of signs I had would have been ignored by anyone but a paranoid raging lunatic and are really only signs in retrospect. I've forgiven myself for choosing him and that's going to be another step of healing for you too. No matter how well we think we know another person, we only get to know what they show us.

Diagnose them however we will, the bottom line is that they are just fucked up people. No healthy person can lie and fake so convincingly and successfully for years. There is absolutely something wrong with them. Once we reach this subforum, whatever that is is no longer our problem.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 8:57 PM, December 17th (Thursday)]

ResilientSoul posted 12/18/2020 12:50 PM

@DevastatedDee I really needed to hear that. I felt the same way and still do, I need to work on forgiving myself for choosing him, like you said. It is definitely a sad thing that people can be so cruel and put a mask on for so many years. I even have a child with him, which means I can never really remove him from my life but I hope that one day, I can understand that this was NEVER my problem and I can see him and face him with a true understanding of how BROKEN he is. Without feeling any anger towards myself or towards him, just truly understanding that he is BROKEN. I'll know when I can do that, that I've reached a good place. It's not my job (or our jobs as a spouse) to rehabilitate broken people.

betrayed 35 posted 12/18/2020 14:18 PM

They choose a spouse not based on how they feel about that person, but how that person makes them see themselves. So if someone else comes along that makes them feel even better, like those mirrors in dressing rooms that make you look skinnier than you are, they go for it. It's easy, because it was never about how they felt about you. There is nothing you could have done.

Man this is sooo true. Such a good way to look at it! Things were always decent between us but when he met and started his affairs, he became a different person. This is exactly why. He became very mean to us and I could do no right. It's because he thought he found someone who treated him better than his family did. His AP made him feel his was the perfect man in the world.

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