Most of us believe that narcissism is a trait seen only in men due to its grandiosity and controlling aspects.
But if you check Quora (a community-driven Q&A app), you will find that half of the narcissistic abuse victims looking for answers are men.
I’m an empath who once fell in love with a covert narcissist woman.
It would be more appropriate to say that we fall in love with the fake mask they wear—the one that makes them look like a “lovable person.” Initially, it feels like the meeting of a soulmate.
Narcissists have been categorized into different types by psychologists. Based on the degrees of publicly expressed narcissistic traits, they have wisely been separated into Overt and Covert. As their titles suggest, the difference between the two is that the Overts openly show their narcissistic traits, while Coverts tend to hide their ill intentions. Coverts portray an image that is rewarded by society—a confident and kind person. (You can also check out this amazing write-up by Sheryle Cruse.)
For a few months, everything feels great. We think we’ve finally found a person who likes us more than we like ourselves. They make plans for future companionship with you, boost your confidence, and tell you that you mean everything to them. This is how they make us dependent on them—we want those good feelings to continue. Now, the manipulation has started, and you’ll see yourself pursuing them more and more. Then they’ll become distant—calling you less frequently, meeting less often, and “too busy” most of the time.
Once they’ve got you running after them madly, they take more backward steps. They’ll start to seem sad and depressed; they’ll tell us how much pain they’ve suffered from their caregivers or previous partners. They’re checking to see if we’ll assume a savior role for them. And the moment you show you’re ready to wear the cape, they’ll start asking for favors—emotional, physical, you name it. They’ll be in dire need of money, emotional support, or a place to live.
If we disagree or withhold on their demands, they force us (in a subtle way). They’ll probably say it’s because we’re the only ones they’ve got. And since we decided to be their hero, we end up giving in to their demands.
They might also start giving us silent treatment during these times, showing less to almost no affections and expressing their doubts about having a happy future. As empaths, we are conditioned to believe that we need to work harder to get love, so we let ourselves be exhausted while fulfilling their needs.
With time, the realization comes that the love of our life doesn’t seem to display any healthy qualities of a person in love, and we start doubting their words. When uncertainty is expressed, the covert will provide vague answers to keep us confused and hooked.
Unfortunately, if you figure out that they have narcissistic traits and set boundaries or tell them you don’t trust them anymore, you will have to face gaslighting, anger, and more stonewalling.
They now will discard you since you are a threat to their public image. Everything from the start is a lie.
Personally, it took me months to accept I was fooled. Healing is a slow and challenging process. One day you’re feeling great, and then the next day, you’ll want to speak to them again. You’ll be doubtful and over skeptical about anyone else who shows interest—the narcissist totally shatters your trust. No contact is the only way forward.
For me, the upside of the whole episode was that I got to know about my codependency. I practice more self-love now and no longer wait for anyone to come and make me feel alive. I know now that I need to be able to do that for myself.