I think what I’m about to describe separates covert narcissists from people with Avoidant Personality Disorder, Aspergers syndrome, or Social Anxiety Disorder (which can all seem very similar on the surface to Covert Narcissism). It’s this preoccupation with being recognized and validated, even if what we want to be recognized and validated for is something we don’t want or deserve. It ties in closely with entitlement and envy and is in fact a form of entitled thinking, which is unique to narcissism.
So many times throughout my life I’ve felt “entitled” to something I didn’t even really want and would not have pursued on my own anyway. This has happened to me at work most often, probably because for me the workplace is usually an environment I don’t feel at home in because it requires things of me I simply don’t have (the ability to play the “game,” kiss up to higher ups for recognition and promotions, be highly social, etc. I feel like in the workplace, I’m invisible, like I don’t exist. I feel offended when recognition is offered to others and not me, even if I don’t want what’s being offered. It’s always the “principle of the thing.”
At my last job, it made me angry that promotions were being offered to the younger people at the company and not older ones like myself. But it was more than just feeling discriminated against, which would be a normal reaction. I was hypervigilant about who was getting asked or recruited for the “coach track” (supervisory track) and obsessed and ruminated about it. I was envious of those who were being recruited and felt “singled out” that they didn’t ask me–even though I didn’t even want to be on the stupid coach track and might have even said no had they asked! It triggered my envy.
Stupid, right? But that’s the sort of thing a cNPD is always dealing with. This sense of entitlement even when we don’t want the thing others are being recognized for. We want the recognition because it validates us as people; it proves that we exist, gives us a dose of supply. Normal people wouldn’t care if they were overlooked for something they didn’t really want or hadn’t pursued or worked for. But covert narcissists feel injured.
I get this way about social events too, like parties and other get-togethers after work. Who’s friends with who, who is being left out. I obsess over it. I always feel slighted and incensed when I’m left out of things even though I don’t want these people as friends and would never spend time with them outside of work anyway. If invited to join them, I would probably say no. But I still want them to include me even though I want no part of it.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think people with Avoidant PD, Social Anxiety, or Aspergers experience this, even though they often feel slighted too at being left out of things and want to be included. I don’t think they experience this same sense of entitlement over things they don’t want or haven’t worked for. I don’t think they expect to be asked to be part of something they haven’t actively pursued on their own or really want.