The Hidden Covert Narcissist

“I met him online and on our 1st date he was all smiles, outgoing, and swept me off my feet. He pushed for a quick involvement – it all seemed so romantic and flattering. He then pushed for a commitment; within weeks he was talking about living together. At 8 weeks he proposed. I know now that those were all red flags.

In the early days he’d say he was afraid of our first fight. I didn’t understand; it’s normal to have arguments. But he was really worried; I now believe he was afraid I’d see through him and call it all off (wish I had).

When we did have a fight, I was now set up to minimize it – to alleviate his concerns! I was already taking care of him, his needs, and putting mine aside. And the fights were weird – he’d become enraged because at a dinner party some male friend paid too much attention to me – a totally innocent platonic friend. Or he couldn’t stand another friend of mine because she spoke “so rudely” to him when I saw nothing of the kind! If I didn’t agree with him, or tried to explain what the friend really meant, he said I wasn’t being supportive.

I thought he was just insecure, and that I could help him with that; I thought in time he’d relax. We married 1 1/2 years later and now 6 years after that, I’m in the middle of a horrendous divorce.

I’ve learned that he is an extreme case of a covert narcissist. It’s especially dangerous because they’re not so easy to spot if you don’t know the signs! He fits all the traits to a T. Somehow I had never been “picked up” by a narc before (which is a miracle; I was the perfect target: Very empathetic, accommodating, nurturing).

I now believe that if I had not owned real estate when we met, he wouldn’t have married me (he owned nothing). I had a ranch inherited from my parents, plus the house I’d raised my son in for 13 years at that point. He started hinting early on to put him on the deed of my house. I never did, but I did sell it at his urging, sharing the $ with him.

He pushed for us to move away as soon as my son graduated high school. We moved from CA to Hawaii 1 month after graduation (okay, that part’s not so rough). By then I’d seen very controlling behavior, plus he’d done his best to push away or reject most of my many friends. I lived a life on eggshells, wondering when I’d say something with the wrong tone of voice or raised eyebrows and he’d start in on me, badgering me about how “rudely” I spoke to him (it was a theme). The man could go on for 2 days, chastising, wearing me down. He’d tell me what I was thinking (“admit you were angry when you asked me to get the camera!”). If I held my ground and said “no, I know what was in my head and I really wasn’t angry,” then he’d continue. I had become afraid of him, a shadow of my former, feisty fun-loving self.

I finally listened to all the friends telling me it was abusive and that he was a narc. (How could he be a narc? He’s not grandiose; he doesn’t brag; he’s quiet & reserved! Yeah, well… we need to tell the world – there’s this other kind. The covert, introvert type.)

I made my plan to get out. I had started to stand up to him, and he didn’t seem to know what to do about it. Or maybe he was just realizing I wasn’t going to work out and keep serving his unending need for servitude, as his emotional punching bag. (One of the last nights, he actually yelled at me for talking to his friend “after he stood up.” I kid you not. I could explain it, but then I’d be doing THAT again – making excuses for him.)

10 days after I had stomach surgery for a tumor, he basically kicked me out – 6 months ago. He wound up locking me out of OUR house (I’m on the deed; MY $ bought the house), and just taking over. We’d agreed to separate and he yelled “I’m not moving!” And that was it. I went from owning 2 nice houses to owning 1/2 of 1, and having to move out & rent a room in a house like I did when I was in my 20’s (I’m 59).

I am fighting him and I am determined not to let him get away with this. There are days I want to give up – he’s started the smear campaign, making up lies about me. It’s humiliating and so hurtful, but I am standing up to this bully one last time. I want to win in court and get my fair share, and then live as an example to other survivors and say “I did it and so can you.”

I’ve talked to too many who give it all away, just to GET away.

It’s the loss of a dream – I really loved him. I lost all my assets (so far; but we will see!) I really thought I’d finally found the love of my life. We were so aligned and compatible when he was in his “healthy” mind. But there is no cure for this. Narcissism, as they say, is a disorder where everyone around them gets treated and they never do.

Thank you for all you do and giving us this forum!”

– Jen