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Vulnerable Narcissist Traits


Vulnerable narcissist traits 1

Vulnerable narcissist traits also known as covert narcissist traits are not easily identified in narcissists because they are more occupied with making you believe that they are untouchable. Oftentimes, they wish to be loved, cherished, or adored but mask it under a facade of selfishness and indifference.

They are usually the ones trying too hard to impress and seek validation.

It is estimated that around 1% of the population suffers from a narcissist personality disorder(NPD). However, many people who have NPD do not seek treatment and therefore are never diagnosed. Studies show that men are more likely to be narcissistic.

Roughly 75% of the individuals diagnosed with NPD are men. Although almost everyone has some self-centered or narcissistic traits, most people do not meet the criteria for having a personality disorder.

There is, however, a growing portion of the population that is displaying a greater number of toxic, narcissistic traits, which are hurting their lives and the lives of people close to them, even if they do not meet the clinical diagnosis of NPD.

Forming attachments to individuals who exhibit these negative traits often causes similar distress as a diagnosable narcissistic relationship.

You can identify a narcissist by the following characteristics;

  • They are selfish and egocentric
  • They disregard/play down your feelings and they never apologize for hurting or disrespecting you
  • Arrogant and manipulative
  • They are very needy and dependent
  • Condescending and have an immeasurable sense of entitlement
  • They are exploitative and most often bullies

There are two types of narcissism; covert narcissism and overt narcissism,

Overt narcissists are extroverted while covert narcissists are introverted. Covert narcissists or vulnerable narcissists are very manipulative because their partners fall for their weakness instead of seeing them for what they are

What is vulnerable narcissism?

What is vulnerable narcissism 1

What is vulnerable narcissism? From research, vulnerable narcissism also referred to as covert narcissism is a disorder that could be mistaken for bipolar disorder because they have very similar behavior and display similar antics but in hindsight, they are very different.

A vulnerable narcissist will never take responsibility for things they did wrong, they will find a way to blame everyone but themselves. They hurt people because they are hurt. They do not want to see you happy when they feel down and they are easily depressed.

It is also important to note at this point that vulnerable narcissist traits have been proven to be inherent in people who grew up with parents that place so much value on work and achievements. As kids, they received very little affection from their parents and such attitude rubbed off on them.

In addition, vulnerable narcissists tend to abandon themselves to feel accepted by others. Depression-type emotions such as withdrawal and fear of abandonment along with feelings of low self-worth are also common with vulnerable narcissism.

Due to the high emotional volatility, vulnerable narcissists can display great bouts of anger and hostility, and default to blaming others in every situation. Many narcissists are unable to accept themselves and others as integrated whole selves, complete with both good and bad qualities.

In addition, narcissists tend to judge others as either perfect or flawed, based on the treatment they are receiving. These traits manifest themselves in three fairly predictable patterns:

  1. Idealizing phase: For many, loving a narcissist is quite easy at the onset of the relationship. People with NPD can be charming in the courtship stage, largely due to their romanticized idea of the “perfect relationship.” For you, this may feel like the typical honeymoon phase that many couples experience early on. For narcissists, however, this phase is much more extreme. It involves living out romantic fantasies, showing you and the rest of the world all their good parts without revealing any vulnerability.
  2. Waning phase: Overtime—or sometimes, overnight—the honeymoon phase comes to an end. Instead of growing closer in authenticity, this is a time when a narcissists’ resistance to vulnerability starts to come through. Your partner begins to notice your less-than-perfect qualities and may make frequent comments about necessary improvements.

If you reject these suggestions, your partner feels insulted. Because narcissists view any slight to themselves as a flaw in others’ behavior, they may begin distancing themselves at this point.

  1. Discarding phase: Many relationships with narcissists end in disregard for the other partner. Even if they look back on the relationship with fondness, narcissists typically will not accept any of the blame for how things turned out. If there is abuse involved, sometimes the partner will be the one to end the relationship.

While many relationships with narcissists follow this pattern, it is still possible to support your loved one on the path to healing.

For example; Daniel, as a little boy was scared of poor grades because his dad was very invested in his education, and failure, was out of the question. Anytime he gets a bad result his dad yells and berates him. He calls him a failure and his mother stands by and does nothing.

This makes Daniel always eager to please and seek admiration only when he passed his exams. Gradually Daniel grows to be invested in getting praise and validation from people, he now gets easily hurt when corrected. In his relationship, he’s emotionally negligent but highly opinionated. Daniel is now a vulnerable narcissist.

There are a lot more instances that lead to someone exhibiting vulnerable narcissistic traits. If you are in a relationship with a vulnerable narcissistic person, it is important to be informed on how to handle them so that they don’t spiral out of control or fall into depression. Also, remember you have yourself to protect against abuse from them in order not to end up like them

Now the question ofWhat is vulnerable narcissism? is out of the picture, how do you live with a vulnerable narcissist?

How to live with a vulnerable narcissist?

How to live with a vulnerable narcissist 1

How to live with a vulnerable narcissist? Vulnerable narcissists are different from self-confidence. They will always look to you for reassurance and will try to shy away from social gatherings or avoid public confrontation regardless of their emotionally negligent nature.

It is also very important to empathize with them to understand and relate to them properly. Overlooking their shortcomings is the first step to successfully dealing with a vulnerable narcissist.

So, how to live with a vulnerable narcissist? is always something you will need help and guidance to navigate as it is not easy to do. These are tips on how to live with a vulnerable narcissist;

Healthy distance

You may be overwhelmed by the attitude and antics of a vulnerable narcissist sometimes because they are a lot to handle. In such situations, or any similar to it, distancing yourself is important. Apart from the adverse effect, it will have on your mental health and self-esteem, it can also impact you negatively and you find yourself exhibiting such behavior and having these vulnerable narcissist traits

Create and maintain boundaries

It is important to set boundaries when in a relationship with a vulnerable narcissist so as not to always get into heated arguments with them which for them is a trigger. These boundaries will help maintain a healthy balance and help both of you apply and implement rules. Sometimes you may need to be assertive because they will try to break your rules and breach your boundaries.

For example, if you have a family member who frequently jabs at you with petty insults, calmly and clearly communicate that you will not allow this to go on: “If you’re going to speak to me like that, I’m going to have to end this conversation and talk when you’re ready to be respectful. It isn’t good for either of us for you to talk to me that way.”.

Stand Up For Yourself

A narcissist naturally has a grand sense of self-importance, and they may be incredibly self-absorbed. It may be easy to begin to lose your sense of self or your purpose when your partner is always taking center stage.

It’s important to acknowledge your partner’s feelings and remember you also need to make yourself and your feelings a priority. When dating a vulnerable narcissist, put yourself first, stand up for yourself, and let yourself be heard.

Correct with love

A vulnerable narcissist is emotionally fragile and easily ashamed. So whenever they upset you or do something that requires them to be corrected, such should be done with love and understanding of their nature.

See a therapist

Getting professional help while in a relationship with a covert narcissist is nothing to be ashamed of. These therapists will guide you in your relationship with such people. They will teach them how to manage their self-absorbed nature and build healthy relationships and friendships.

What not do with a vulnerable narcissist

There are certain things that may trigger problems with a narcissist, so it’s best to avoid them

Don’t argue or confront. It’s best not to confront a narcissist directly. As difficult as it may be to constantly tiptoe around them, it can be better to manage their need to feel in charge.

Don’t try to direct them. Narcissists like to have control and often fear losing it.

Don’t expect them to see your point of view. Narcissists don’t like to admit when they’re wrong or that they’re unlovable, so trying to make them see things your way could backfire.

Don’t expect deep, meaningful communication. Narcissist communication often doesn’t get through and can even create an angry outburst or shutdown response from them.

Don’t go over past issues. Don’t try to make them see a long line of behavior dating back years — or how they’re just like their father, for example, Perlin says. Instead, stay in the present when you express requests or hurt feelings.

People with narcissistic personality disorder usually don’t change, so keep that in mind. Even if you learn to manage your relationship better, it probably won’t ever be a healthy relationship.

How to help a vulnerable narcissist?

How to help a vulnerable narcissist 1

How to help a vulnerable narcissist? Do narcissists know what they are? That is the first question to be asked before proceeding to help them. They have to admit to having vulnerable narcissist traits to seek help. A vulnerable narcissist will need support from close friends and family to encourage them.

Remember it is not in their nature to reach out to friends and they need to be motivated to want change. Healing such personality disorder is usually slow and always seem like a long shot but doing the following will hasten the process and How to help a vulnerable narcissist? will be a thing of the past;


You give someone what they don’t have/need, not the other way round. Such applies to empathy with a vulnerable narcissist. They lack empathy and showing them empathy is a way to gradually reduce their defense and get them to trust you as a partner.

Always remember vulnerability is a defense mechanism due to their emotional weakness. Although, this act should not be exhibited too often in order to restrain them from feeling entitled.

Don’t use derogatory words

The use of derogatory words on a person can be damaging not to say the least. When you argue with a vulnerable narcissist, avoid calling them names, especially calling them a narcissist. The use of such words only hurts them and makes them defensive which will only oppose your effort.

Use humor

As effective as this ploy could be, it can be just as damaging if done wrongly because these vulnerable narcissists are very sensitive. There is a thin line between a good and bad joke and steering clear of that line would be best and they’ll eventually come around.

Set boundaries

This is the first step in protecting yourself from the negativity that comes from a vulnerable narcissist who won’t change because we have to be honest, not all of them really want to change. You also shouldn’t put up with their harmful behavior before making the decision to set boundaries because they may not relent. This will also help protect your mental health as it will be beneficial for your relationship with them.

Try Not To Take It Personally

When dating a vulnerable narcissist, it may seem difficult to not take their behavior personally, especially if you are on the receiving end of their manipulation, deception, or lack of empathy. However, it’s important to remember; their behavior doesn’t have anything to do with you. Hold them accountable for how they are treating you. If you take their behavior to heart, they may realize that they have control over you.

Walk away

This is the next option you should consider when faced with constant abuse from them. Vulnerable narcissists are usually too proud to admit what they are, not to talk of seeking the help they need. Breaking up with them or filing for a divorce is a healthy alternative.

Staying back to feed their ego in the name of love is not an option. They might rub off their influence on you by just being in a relationship with them. This is one of the ways vulnerable narcissism begins, enduring abusive relationships

Make Everything a Two-Way Street

The narcissists’ biggest weakness is a narrow self-focused perspective, which comes across as selfishness. Narcissists take care of their own needs first and have a hard time perceiving the needs of others. The best quick fix for making your partner feel left out is to simply include them in everything.

The trick? Always remember to adjust for their preferences.

When you want a drink, offer to grab your partner a drink of their choice. When you’re cold, offer your partner a sweater or if they want to snuggle under a blanket.

If you’re bored, try asking your partner if they want to blow the scene with you. Extend your bubble of self-care to include your partner and they will feel your love. Even if it’s clumsy at first

Offer to Do Things for Your Partner

Partners of narcissists often find themselves giving way to your relentless self-focus, but that’s not actually how you want the relationship to go. If you are energetic, offer to do things for your partner like bring them food and drink, clean up, take them on a date, or just give them a sexy back rub at home.

The biggest complaint of narcissist partners is that they don’t get enough out of the relationship. Doing things for your partner can be very enjoyable for both of you and even the emotional balance.

When your partner is working on something nearby, offer to join them and help what they’re doing. Chop something with them in the kitchen, fold half the load of laundry, or start handing them tools. This is a great way to be supportive.

Ask About Feelings

Being a narcissist is a lot like missing any other sense. People have emotions, you just don’t’ detect them passively. Never forget that your partner has a full range of their own emotions that also respond to every statement or event.

The best way to compensate for narcissism is simply to ask how your partner is feeling on a regular basis. Make it a habit to check in with them emotionally all the time, and with each conversation topic.

The key here is to insist that you want to know. People aren’t used to openly expressing their emotions, but this is an important communication for any couple with or without narcissism. Show your honest interest in your partner’s emotions and encourage them to open up so that you can know how they feel and consider their feelings when you act

How to not be a vulnerable narcissist?

How to not be a vulnerable narcissist 1

How to not be a vulnerable narcissist? No one wants to be referred to as a narcissist, not even a vulnerable one. But we must all face our truth and run a self-check for vulnerable narcissist traits. Vulnerable narcissists are usually not motivated to change except they are humbled by one experience or another.

It could be the end of a relationship, loss of a job, or public humiliation To help check covert narcissism in our society today, ask yourself the following questions and give an honest answer if you wish to be better.

  • Do you neglect other people’s emotions and opinions? Why do you do so?
  • Do you find yourself always seeking attention from people?
  • Do you itch for complements and validation?
  • Do you get into relationships just to boost your self-esteem or to satisfy your selfish goals?
  • Do constructive criticism trigger shame and self-defense?
  • Do you cut your partner off for correcting you or not showing attention?

Once you are able to answer the above questions honestly, you are a step closer to healing and you will bother less on How to not be a vulnerable narcissist?

Try to make comfortable changes no matter how slow you are about it. Also, remind yourself of the following and you will be just fine

  • Do not think that apologizing for being wrong will make you inferior to your partner or peers
  • Accept that you are not perfect and may never be
  • Don’t be too proud to check on your friends
  • Don’t be ashamed to seek help for your personal struggles
  • Avoid setting high standards for yourself just because you want to impress people
  • Speak more often about how you feel without being defensive
  • Practice self-reliance and reduce the urge to seek admiration from your peers

How to treat vulnerable narcissism?

How to treat a vulnerable narcissist 1

How to treat vulnerable narcissism? Vulnerable narcissist traits once found are treatable, as this is a disorder and not an ailment. He/she should be willing to be involved in this process as therapy is part of the effective treatment for this disorder.

Psychotherapy is the most common treatment approach to treating a covert narcissist. This involves group and individual therapy with friends and family.

Therapy for vulnerable narcissism involves

  • Examining past experiences and triggers that led to narcissistic behaviors
  • Assistance in overcoming resistance to therapy
  • Acknowledging how past behavior affected your partner
  • Make a conscious effort in replacing narcissistic thoughts with realistic ones
  • Exploring new behavioral patterns and steady practice

Here are some therapy on How to treat vulnerable narcissism? in order to have a healthier relationship


This is a form of talk therapy. you’ll explore the reasons behind your feelings and behavior and why you act the way you do. It will help you understand past current behavioral patterns. This in turn helps you manage your thought and feel better. Once that phase passes you can change how you react to them and also improve your relationship.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

This therapy helps to identify and replace unhealthy behavior with healthier ones. It requires a conscious effort to learn and practice new communication skills with your partner. It is an engaging therapeutic session that will improve your relationship.

Schema therapy

Schema therapy is an integrative therapy approach. It is a combination of psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

With schema therapy, you will identify unhelpful coping mechanisms that formed from early childhood. With the help of your partner, you will find new ways to meet your emotional need without depending on them and also change your behavior toward others.

Gestalt therapy

This is a form of psychotherapy that requires you to focus on the present. Earlier life context is considered in the context of how they affect covert narcissists mentally. Therefore reflecting on the past is a trigger that must be avoided to get a good result.

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT)

This therapy works well in helping vulnerable narcissists control how they relate to people’s emotions. It will help them explore people’s intent and behavior before reacting.

Transference-focused therapy (TFP)

This therapy helps vulnerable narcissists relate how they feel about a person to their therapist. It could be your partner or family member. This will help you gain insight and control over your thoughts and feelings.

Metacognitive interpersonal therapy (MIP)

Metacognitive interpersonal therapy is a step by step treatment that helps vulnerable narcissists

  • Disconnect narcissist process by looking at problems that relate to their life
  • Encouraging change by distancing themselves from old behavior and building new adaptive partner

Vulnerable narcissist traits conclusion

How to live with a vulnerable narcissist 2


Vulnerable narcissist traits conclusion. We live in an increasingly narcissistic world. Statistics and science has proven this to be true. It is up to you to be able to identify vulnerable narcissist traits in your partner and handle it properly.

Respect boundaries to avoid abuse and inherit these narcissistic traits. The exact cause of personality disorders remains uncertain.  However, it is clear there are both biological and, psychosocial factors that influence the development of personality and personality disorders.  Do not forget to look out for these traits

  • Having a lot of friends and a large social circle but being unable to maintain close personal, romantic, or professional relationships due to their self-absorbed nature, in contrast to typical introverts, who often have a small, close circle of friends
  • Requiring a lot of attention, with these attention-seeking behaviors becoming a turn-off for others, making it difficult to maintain relationships; never giving in a relationship, only taking
  • Unable to identify or own hurting someone’s feelings, or causing issues in a group setting as a result of gaps in self-awareness, instead of blaming other people
  • Worrying so much about their self to the point where they are unable to care about the emotions of others, often needing others to soothe their own negative emotions
  • Having friends or relationships in different stages in their life is a result of only being with that friend or partner for personal gain. If they are no longer benefitting from the relationship and it’s not feeding their self-esteem, they tend to cut off those relationships and find someone else who can give them the adoration they’re looking for
  • If they’re not getting an ego-boost in every relationship, they perceive any level of criticism so harshly that it triggers feelings of intense shame
  • Even though they are introverted, they don’t apply the same rules to themselves as they do to others, and make status the ultimate priority

Vulnerable narcissist traits conclusion. One of the most difficult parts of loving narcissists is their lack of empathy, which can give you the feeling that they aren’t present even when they’re with you. Individuals with NPD struggle to understand the feelings of others and often use people to meet their own needs, including their need for constant admiration.

While this lack of empathy can seem cold and manipulative, it is a symptom of a serious mental illness and does not signify willful hatred on the part of your loved one.

Learning how to empathize with narcissists without judging them is an important step to gaining their trust, which may make seeking treatment easier. Though more research is needed on this topic, studies have been conducted that suggest it is possible to reduce narcissistic tendencies and increase empathy among narcissists

Pursuing psychotherapy can help narcissists see the effect of NPD on their relationships and eventually promote recovery. Treatment for narcissists is crucial, as those with NPD are more likely than the general population to experience substance abuse and anxiety, mood, and personality disorders.

Abuse is a real possibility for those in a relationship with a narcissist. For narcissists’ loved ones, however, it can be difficult to differentiate between acceptance of NPD and tolerance of abusive behavior.

While it is healthy to accept that your loved one is suffering from a serious mental illness and in need of compassion, it is not acceptable to endure abusive behavior. Be on the lookout for any abuse or mistreatment—whether physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial—and seek help as soon as possible.

If you are in a non-abusive relationship with a narcissist, it is still important to set firm boundaries and look after yourself first and foremost. Consider seeking out therapy for yourself, as well as the support of others in similar situations. By building up your resilience and sense of self-worth, you will be better equipped to support your partner with vulnerable narcissist traits.

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