Divorce with a Covert Narcissist – What to Expect

Everyone has heard of the term narcissist. However, there is more than one type of narcissist. One type of narcissist is a Covert Narcissist also known as the “stealth narcissist.” A covert narcissist is an individual whose narcissism is more subtle and less obvious than the other types of narcissism.

Covert narcissists will often exhibit a lack of self-importance, self-centeredness, and attention seeking behavior. This type of narcissist will focus on manipulation of people and situations in order to gain what they want. They may also display passive-aggressive behavior and attempt to control situations. They will likely not handle constructive criticism well and have a hard time expressing their emotions.

Below are the traits of a Covert Narcissist:

  • An imposing sense of self-importance. A covert or stealth narcissist will often feel they are superior to everyone else without being straightforward regarding them being superior.
  • Engrossment with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love. A covert narcissist will often daydream regarding these different things and may even feel that they are entitled to these things, even though they may not show or act on making them a reality.
  •  Believe they are special and only other special people understand them. This type of narcissist always feels as if they are misunderstood by the world around them. They feel as if only a few can understand them and their brilliance.
  • Exhibit a need for extreme admiration. A covert narcissist will often want and need admiration; however, they are normally too reserved or unconfident to seek out the admiration they want.
  • Often make use of others without any guilt or shame. This type of narcissist may exploit and use others without showing any type of remorse or empathy that they are using others for their benefit.

 When going through a divorce with a Covert Narcissist, they will act very defensively. This is because a covert narcissist has a hard time dealing with divorce and its processes. Since narcissists are known for manipulation, it is not uncommon that the divorce process will be difficult because the narcissistic spouse will attempt manipulating the process to their liking. The narcissist may become angry and aggressive which makes negotiating and talking with them more difficult throughout the divorce process.

Narcissists may also use gaslighting as a tactic of manipulation. Gaslighting makes a person feel as if they are going crazy. This manipulation tactic helps the covert narcissist regain control of a situation. Often gaslighting will also be paired with the narcissist being passive-aggressive or try to make their spouse feel sympathy for filing for divorce. Again, this is a tactic used to regain control.

Obviously, divorce with a covert narcissist is difficult. It can e even more difficult when there are children shared between the couple. They will utilize the tactics mentioned above. Co-parenting is normally very difficult with a covert narcissist. It may be beneficial for the non-narcissistic spouse to utilize parallel parenting which utilizes firm boundaries and communication is limited. This can be very beneficial and help the difficulties of trying to co-parent with a narcissist.

It is imperative that you recognize the signs and traits of a covert narcissist so that you can protect yourself from the abuse. This can also help a victim of a covert narcissist and thus protect yourself from future covert narcissists.

For more information, please see article “What to Expect From the Covert Narcissist During Divorce” by Cathy Meyer on

The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced attorneys who change with the times to meet the needs of their clients. Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for assistance.  Or contact our new location in Alexander City, Alabama at 800-809-9414. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates practice law throughout Southeastern Michigan primarily including Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee and Livingston counties. In Alabama Kathryn practices in primarily Lee, Tallapoosa, Macon, Chambers, Coosa and Elmore Counties.