11 Ways Covert Narcissists Are Evolving (+ Free Bonus With 5 Strategies To Leave One)

By Ike Kalson, December 2021

So you’ve heard about narcissism.

Now-a-days, narcissism is all the rage. Some even say we are living in a narcissism epidemic.

People are pumping out content and resources like nobody’s business.

11 Ways Covert Narcissists Are Evolving (And What To Do If You’re Stuck With One)

But many people are missing a key issue: covert narcissists are evolving.

That’s right; they’re on the move.

And even if you know about traditional narcissists, you still may get fooled if you’re not cognizant of their newest tactics.

To clear everything up, we’ve put together a list that you can use to identify a self-aware narcissist before you get stuck with one.

(And stick around to the end, because we’ve put together a guide with FIVE strategies showing exactly what to do if you’re stuck with one!)

Let’s dive in!

11 Ways Covert Narcissists Are Upping Their Game

1) They're Becoming Self-Aware

As more content is produced (and as narcissism gets picked up by mainstream media), narcissists have had the opportunity to learn more about themselves.

While narcissists won’t change for you, they can change for themselves.

Self-aware narcissists realize they have blind spots (such as a lack of empathy), so they learn to fake their way around these roadblocks without getting caught.

Getting to the point of self-realization is difficult for most narcissists, but if they do, they can con innocent people like never before.

2) They're Infiltrating Support Groups

With support groups popping up, narcissists are seeing an amazing opportunity to gain the latest and greatest knowledge on spirituality and empathy.

In my personal experience running over 50 support meetings, I’ve seen this first hand.

A narcissist will join, pretend to be a victim, and carefully listen to everyone. As people share their stories, the narcissist tries to make sense of holes they can exploit (whether that be manipulating counselors, civil society, or institutions).


Narcissists may even join groups that are focused on teaching empathy to exploit it. They’re like a chess player learning every possible move to lock in their next opponent.

3) They're Preemptively Preventing Exposure

Once the narcissist is educated on themselves and other victims, they make their next move.

Upon meeting a potential victim, the narcissist will say all the right things to identify themselves as a trustworthy empath.

They use their understanding of empaths to comprehensively and completely entrap the victim.

The potential victim, who may be aware about narcissists (or previously suffered from narcissistic abuse), is convinced that there is nothing to worry about.

This kind of shafting completely brainwashes the victim. It will take a long time before they realize what’s happened.

4) They're Pretending To Be A Victim

Maybe they are a victim. As you may know, many believe narcissism stems from childhood trauma.

But in this case, they are trying to exploit your trust. They may talk about previous partners, abusive parents, or tragic life experiences.

And once they have your trust, they hijack your emotions, planting the seeds of C-PTSD.

Narcissists hijack your emotions.

An empath (especially one who’s experienced a narcissist), would naturally feel empathy for this person. That’s what this kind of narcissist is looking for. They want the keys to your feelings.

Tread cautiously and be wary of ulterior motives. You could be speaking to a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

5) They're Using Spirituality To Be Toxic

We’ve seen it. A cover narcissist will pretend to be highly spiritual or emotional, when it’s all a sham.

In some cases, this person may extensively read books or learn about empathy, self-growth, or influencing people. While narcissists never will learn for others, they will learn for their own benefit.

It is likely that they are educating themselves so that they can better manipulate the empaths around them.

The layers of manipulation are unfathomable. A seemingly spiritual and empathetic person may just be trying to learn a way with words.

6) They're Projecting, But On A Whole New Level

It’s no secret that narcissists relentlessly project their issues onto others.

However, with the next-gen narcissist, the projections can be much more extreme.

Take it from personal experience:

“Everyone around me is a narcissist. My mom, my dad, and my child’s dad.”

Because they establish themselves as an empath to begin with, you may let your guard down as they smear everyone else in their life.

Look out for projections when people call themselves empaths. You may have stumbled upon a next-gen narcissist.

7) They're Embracing Technology For More Secrecy

With the advent of new privacy technologies and mediums of communication, narcissists are being given more tools to conduct their operation in secrecy.

Remember, narcissists live double lives, and they try to compartmentalize these separate lives as much as possible. This could mean different phone numbers, social media profiles, or bank accounts.

With new tech increasing privacy, how can we trace untraceable transactions or get documentation of something that’s been deleted? (To be clear, I’m not advocating against advancements in privacy, but they do raise important questions)

It’s becoming more difficult to document and exposure narcissists as they turn to more secure platforms that anonymize and shield them.

8) They're Unbelievably Difficult To Fathom

This applies to traditional narcissism but is exaggerated with the self-aware narcissist.

Nobody can comprehend the narcissist’s brazen level of disfunction and audacity. Most people expect other human beings to have some basic sense of human decency.

Not the self-aware narcissist. They acknowledge that they lack any sense of morality and use it to their advantage.

Most people would never consider joining something in total opposition to all their values, but narcissists don’t have this moral grounding. The next-gen narcissist will happily infiltrate support groups and safe-spaces for empaths.

When a relationship breaks down and the narcissist has extracted all the supply they need, they rinse and repeat, moving onto the next victim with grandiosity.

The victim is often shocked that the narcissist can move on without a single bit of remorse. Narcissists simply do not have any shame.

9) They're Controlling You With Intellectualism

There’s no doubt that narcissists are extremely focused on maintaining control, but the self-aware narcissist exerts control under the guise of intellectualism.

They’ll start by creating a frame and story that positions themselves as a sophisticated person, whether that be extensively reading philosophy, engaging with the arts and music, or attending events.

Then, the narcissist will smear your thoughts. Want to hang out with a friend? Nope – they are unsophisticated and unconnected. Want to do something fun? Nope – stay home and have a “meaningful” conversation.

They’ll pretend to be a sophisticated person, but at the end of the day, they just want to control you without you getting suspicious.

10) They're Quick To "Constructively" Critisize

The next-gen narcissist wants you to think that they help you grow. They’ll often pick on things you do in an effort to help you “improve.”

In reality, the narcissist just wants to take over your life and turn you into someone you’re not. The context of “helping you grow” is made to con you into falling for the tricks.

A quick way to tell if it’s a ploy is to criticize the narcissist back. They’ll often blow up or entirely change into a different person as they try to hide the narcissist injury.

Yes, in a healthy relationship, both parties grow. But closely observe if their “constructive criticism” is really just turning you into someone you’re not.

If they’re truly trying to support you, they will be able to take criticism back. The next-gen narcissist is happy to dish it but not take it.

11) They're Treading Patiently

Next-gen narcissists are consciously choosing empaths to con. They know that many will be aware of (or have personal experiences with) narcissism.

So, they are patient. When they join support groups, they will often start as the quietest (and most unsuspecting) person in the room. This is all a ploy.

Once they know others are comfortable and trusting of them, they’ll flip the switch and move fast. All of a sudden, they’ve gone from introverted to extroverted (covert to overt).

At this point, they may go from barely knowing you to hanging out all the time (or even trying to move in). They think they’re safe, so they try to lock in narcissistic supply while they can.

Watch for sudden changes in behavior. It could be a narcissist undergoing a metamorphosis and making a move.

What If I'm Stuck With A Self-Aware Narcissist (Or Want To Avoid One)?

Now comes the part where you’re thinking “Ike, that’s great, but what can I do if I’m stuck with one of these (or want to avoid one)?”

Breaking free from a next-gen narcissist is possible, but it requires a specific and intentional action plan. Luckily, we’re here to help.

We’ve put together a guide with The Top 5 Strategies To Deal With A Next-Gen Narcissist. Fill out the form below to receive it!

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