Never in a million years could anyone have convinced me I’d fall for a narcissist. His smile was captivating, his sense of humor was charming, and the southern gentleman appeal was the icing on the cake.

Boy, did I fall for the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Here are some facts from I wish I had in my repertoire pre-relationship:

They are Covert

I did not immediately recognize my beau as a narcissist. Now in my head, I’d think, “how pompous of you to say that”, or, “how self-absorbed can you be?” Still, I didn’t have the insight to deem him a narcissist. But, after a couple of years of fake laughing, because he didn’t know when to stop with the jokes and my growing weary of every single conversation somehow segueing into _(not inserting his name here), the mini-series, I started verbally expressing the aforementioned thoughts.

As I got more of a glimpse into his backstory, I found myself pitying him, especially after hearing he had a son for a few years until he found out – through DNA testing – that the child was not his. He was so gentle while telling that story and of course appeared quite vulnerable.

Then, I watched how loyal and dedicated he was to his religion but his actions, responses, lies, aggression, judgemental mentality, and selfish antics were the antithesis of everything he dedicated his life to.

Be aware: a covert narcissist is difficult to recognize and are much more difficult to expose. They appear wounded and innocent, vulnerable, gentle, humble, and even child-like. They love to appear as if there is a higher calling to their life and they’re on a mission of altruism.

Mine portrayed himself as faithful to the path of “knowledge” via religion, health, education, and fitness. He reeled me in with a standard pity ploy but my suspicions were derailed by his lack of overt arrogance. He epitomized a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

They Choose Good People With An Empathetic Heart To Victimize

Narcissists know when someone puts their trust in them and then violates that trust without batting an eye. While you’re investing your time, loyalty, energy, and emotions, a narcissist will pretend to mirror the same. They are master deceivers. Once you discover the truth and expose them for who they are, the manipulation and devaluation will only escalate.

They Are Not Effective Listeners

I used to hate trying to have normal, day-to-day and deep conversations with my beau because they typically went left very quickly as he took every moment to insert himself into the discussion and somehow make the entire conversation about him…an experience he had, something somebody said to him, how it did or didn’t align with the Qu’ran, and so on and so one.

He made every attempt to try and dominate the discussion, proving to be an inept listener. He only heard certain parts of what I said, formed judgments about me before I was finished speaking, and crafted the skill of pretending to listen while simultaneously thinking of what to say next. He was preoccupied with himself and his own thoughts, tuning out my words that were uninteresting or hard to understand, all while he casually scrolled through Facebook.

My words were always reconstructed in accordance with his beliefs or needs. He missed much of what I was trying to say and half the time I was too exhausted to meticulously repeat myself.

An effective listening occurs when your partner listens carefully, empathetically, and with an open mind, trying to put himself in your shoes. He should give you his full attention and never interrupt while you are conveying your thoughts and emotions.

Their Survival Resets On Their Skill Of Fooling Those Willing To Believe

A covert narcissist thrives on being something they are not. Patient. Altruistic. Self-less. Kind. Empathetic. Wise. Connected. They have not a problem getting what they need in life so long as they continue to re-create this false self. This facade works for them and they get what they want. Being able to fool and deceive serves as fuel for the fire.

If the world knows who they really are there’s no way a narcissist can get what they want.

I wanted to believe that his kindness was true, his empathy was real, not BS.

They Are Not In Relationships For Love

A narcissist is on a mission when they enter into or stay in a relationship; that mission is not love.

My narcissist suggested marriage very early in our relationship but he couldn’t keep up with the charade very long until he started telling me all the reasons why I didn’t already have a ring on my finger.

Five years of dating wasn’t enough. The conception of our son wasn’t enough. The birth of our son clearly wasn’t enough because he stormed out of the hospital room the day we were to be released because I did not choose the Muslim name he wanted to give our son.

He didn’t resurface until one month later.

So there you have it. They seek relationships to get what they need, what they want, then they’re gone.

They Are Psychologically Abusive

Make no mistake, abuse isn’t solely physical. It is verbal, emotional, psychological, and mental.

A narcissist is skilled at subtly abusing you. In fact, you probably won’t fully understand you were in an abusive relationship until long after it’s over. This is my reality. Not only did it take months for me to fully grasp that I was abused, but others in my tribe also pointed out the not so obvious and still, it didn’t fully register with me.

Once they’ve gotten their fill with you and then pompously walk away, a narcissist will attempt to and can successfully erode your identity. Be aware. The smear campaigns will begin and this, too, is a form of abuse.

From the outside looking in, people will believe you are the one who’s lost it, you’re out of control, you’re a liar, you’re bitter, you’re hostile and antagonistic. Meanwhile, the narcissist will calmly walk away completely unscathed.

Support services are always available to help you cope, recover, walk away, whatever you need. Make an appointment or reach out to a trusted friend or family member. It can make all the difference.