Covert Narcissists — You Cannot Change Them

And there is great danger in trying

Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.


Three women holding signs — “Please Stop” — “Don’t” — “No”
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

“I know a woman who possesses many of the traits you describe,” read a private note attached to my recent article Covert Narcissists — 7 Quotes to Empower Their Victims. “I know I can help her.”


Believing you can help a covert narcissist is an extremely dangerous mindset to have. Acting on that mindset

  • Almost certainly won’t make them any better
  • Is very likely to damage you even more in the process

So don’t do it. Don’t even try!

You will become trauma bonded to the covert narcissist (if you’re not already)

According to Healthline, a trauma bond between the abuser and their victim “develops out of a repeated cycle of abuse, devaluation, and positive reinforcement.” It can cause a strong emotional attachment on the part of the victim to the abuser.

I had one to the covert narcissist who was so horrible to me.

I was excited to see her when she reappeared at my local speakeasy hangout three months after she discarded me — even though she was there to talk to every other person at the bar while ignoring me.

I made excuses for her when she smeared my name, lying all over the place to any mutual friend who would listen. She even told my neighbors down the hall they needed to watch out for all my “inappropriate touching” (they knew she was a liar and they came and found me and told me what she said).

“That’s not her talking, that’s just some traumatic events from her past that she irrationally projects onto me,” I told my friends who advised me to get the hell away from her.

You may be reading this and thinking, “But you don’t understand… my situation is different…”

No. You don’t understand. You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.

Two possible outcomes of trying to help a covert narcissist

Covert narcissists portray a false self, a self that can be quite witty and charming and fun-loving. It hides their…



Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.

I write about writing, ideas, creativity, intuition, spirituality, life lessons. Ex-college teacher Twitter: @paulryburn