How Covert Narcissist Deceives Covert Borderline And He Loves It ( 2nd In Odd Couples Series)

Uploaded 10/14/2023, approx. 42 minute read

Okay, Svanpani, today we are going to discuss covert borderline with covert narcissist in a couple, in a friendship, in the workplace, but especially in an intimate relationship, interpersonal relationship.

How do they cope together? How do they fit? How do they conflict? What is the outcome? How do they come together? Why do they come together?

Etc, etc.

This is the second video in my series on odd couples.

The first video you'll find a link in the description and the description is under the video, not above the video, under the video. There's a link to the first one in the series odd couples.

In that video I discussed two narcissists, borderline narcissist and so on and so forth.

And today the whole second episode is dedicated to covert borderline versus covert narcissist.

Now just to make clear for disclaimer sake and full disclosure, covert borderline is not an official diagnosis. You cannot find it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It is a diagnosis that I've suggested, I came up with a few years ago.

Another diagnosis that I came up with many, many decades ago is inverted narcissist.

So covert borderline is my second born diagnosis.

Covert borderline is simply a hybrid, a hybrid between borderline and narcissist, but it's not a comorbidity. Comorbidity is a situation where we diagnose the same person with two or more personality disorders or other mental health issues.

A covert borderline is an integrated structure. It's a system which borrows elements from narcissistic personality disorder and elements from borderline personality disorder, puts them together in a coherent, cohesive, self-maintaining, self-sustaining and self-reinforcing system. So it's a hybrid, not a comorbidity.

And there is no way to treat the narcissistic part of covert borderline separately to the borderline part of the covert borderline because the covert borderline is a vertical and horizontal integration of aspects of narcissism, pathological narcissism, with aspects of classical borderline.

Now, both types act out, but in very different ways.

I mean, both the covert borderline and the overt, normal, classical borderline, they act out, but in very, very different ways.

And their internal landscape, their psychology, psychodynamics are very, very different.

That's why there was a clear need to invent or to come up with the covert borderline diagnosis because in clinical practice, this is something every therapist would tell you exists.

It is just that academe took many decades to catch up with reality as it usually does.

So my name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited. I'm also a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced and Professional Studies.

And the video you're about to watch is based mostly on the work of Cooper, the late Arnold Cooper and Akhtar, Salman Akhtar, starting in 1989 when they were the first to describe the covert or fragile or shy narcissist.

So let us delve right in and use the scheme of Akhtar and Cooper applied to the covert borderline and then try to see how the elements of covert borderline would interact with the elements of a covert narcissist and what would it bring, what would it create, what kind of hurricane maelstrom it will create.

Start with the fact that the covert borderline is slightly antisocial, not full fledged, not criminal, but definitely defiant, conscientious, resentful or rejecting of authority and to some extent reckless.

So these are the antisocial dimensions of covert borderline, the ones that are captured with Robert Hare's PCLR type one, factor one.

So there is some factor one psychopathy involved in the covert borderline diagnosis.

The covert borderline, exactly like the covert narcissist, has a false sense of grandiosity, a false self.

It perceives, the covert borderline perceives himself and the majority of covert borderline I think are men.

The covert borderline perceives himself as this inflated, fantastic, all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect being, maybe not godlike, like the classic narcissist, but not far from it, let's say, an authority figure, a guru, a teacher, a leader, a guide, a healer, a rescuer, savior, the most intelligent, superior, intellectually or in some other way, etc.

So there's a strong element of grandiosity in the covert borderline.

Similarly, there's a strong element of grandiosity in the covert narcissist.

But in the covert narcissist, the grandiosity is compensatory.

The covert narcissist has a core of shame, a sense of inferiority and inadequacy, lack of worth, and we call this a bad object.

So while the covert narcissist has a bad object, a constellation of introjects, a constellation of voices that keep informing the covert narcissist that he's not good enough, that he's a failure, that he's a loser, that he's going nowhere, that he's inadequate, the covert borderline doesn't have such a constellation of voices.

The covert borderline, in other words, does not have a dominant bad object.

And that is because the covert borderline succeeded to overcome the bad object.

The covert borderline succeeded through, for example, accomplishments in life to supplant the bad object, to suppress it somehow, to convert it into essentially a good object.

The covert borderline's bad object emanates from childhood.

These are introjects of important people in the covert borderline's life.

For example, parental figures, mother, peers, and so on.

So the covert borderline starts off with a bad object, but then dedicates his life to falsifying the bad object, proving to the bad object that the bad object is wrong.

So ultimately, the covert borderline ends up with a good object.

And in this sense, the covert borderline is very, very similar to the overt narcissist.

Now, we today are reconceiving of overt grandiose narcissism as a form of psychopathy.

So the covert borderline might also be considered or conceived of as another variant of psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder, definitely in distance.

So here we are.

There's a covert borderline with an essentially good object.

It's a self-invented good object.

It's a self-created good object.

It's grandiose.

It's fantastic.

It's counterfactual in many cases.

It's a piece of fiction.

In short, it's a fantasy defense, but the covert narcissist has a bad object.

And so the covert borderline would attempt to somehow appropriate the covert borderline's good object.

Covert narcissist, in other words, would try to somehow merge or fuse or even take over the covert borderline.

Open the covert borderline.

Manipulate the covert borderline.

Threaten the covert borderline.

Blackmail the covert borderline into a situation where the covert borderline would become an extension of the covert narcissist.

Because remember, all types of narcissists, whether grandiose and overt, whether covert and fragile and shy, all narcissists are incapable of perceiving other people as external objects.

They internalize other people, introject them, incorporate them, and convert them into internal objects.

And they continue to interact only with the internal objects.

So when the covert narcissist comes across a covert borderline, the covert narcissist automatically and immediately snapshots the covert borderline, converts the covert borderline into an internal object.

And the covert narcissist continues to interact with this internal object.

But in the case of the covert borderline, there's an added reason to the snapshotting and later to the coercive snapshotting, an added reason.

And that added reason is that the covert borderline wants, desires to take over, to leverage, to access the covert borderline's good object.

It's as if the covert narcissist is saying, "I don't have a good object of my own.

I want the covert borderline's good object.

It's going to become my good object, and I will heal. I will heal."

So the relationship between the covert narcissist and the covert borderline is a typical Karpman triangle where the covert narcissist pedestalizes the covert borderline, idolizes and idealizes the covert borderline, at least initially, but not in order to somehow create a relationship with the covert borderline, but in order to abscond with the covert borderline's good object, to be able to say, "I own the covert borderline. Therefore, I own the covert borderline's essential goodness, superiority, and perfection."

Don't forget that narcissists of all kinds and all types envy people.

Now, they don't only envy people. They envy a potential good object inside themselves and outside themselves.

When the narcissist comes across a good object in someone else, and even when the narcissist comes across a good object inside himself, his envy is triggered.

That's why, shockingly, narcissists envy themselves sometimes.

And this is not an observation by Sam Vaknin. That's an observation by Melanie Klein.

So the initial reaction of the covert narcissist when she comes across a covert borderline, and again, with covert narcissists, he, she are interchangeable.

When she comes across a covert borderline, her initial reaction is double, one, envy, extreme envy, which is transformed into aggression.

And second reaction is, "I want him. I want the good object inside this covert borderline. I want to own this covert borderline."

So it's covetousness coupled with envy in order to compensate somehow for the innate, in fiority, the morose self-doubts, egodystonic envy, discrepancy, egodystonic discrepancy, the wrongness of being a covert narcissist, and the kind of defenses that are triggered by this constant sense of shame.

The covert narcissist is a failure. It's a form of permanent collapse. It's not only the inability to obtain narcissistic supply. It's not only the failure, the real life failure, and trying to make a mark or to be remembered or to leave a legacy. It's also the inability to cope with a bad object. It's also the failure to somehow self-regulate and self-control.

Because the covert narcissism is just another name for someone, a narcissist, who got in touch with his or her shame, primordial shame, atavistic shame, childhood shame. And this shame dysregulates the covert narcissist. This shame actually drives the covert narcissist to the point of a borderline personality organization.

And here comes the covert borderline.

It can take away the shame, or at least it can isolate the covert narcissist from the covert narcissist's shame. It can create a firewall, a partition, a fence between the covert narcissist and this reservoir of humiliation, negation, and breach of boundaries, an inability to separate and individuate, an inability to become. The covert borderline provides, in short, protection.

And it is the antisocial element or psychopathic element in the covert borderline that most appeals to the covert narcissist.

Remember my theory of self-states, where the psychopathic self-state is a protector. And this is like an external psychopathic self-state, the covert borderline.

The borderline is an outside psychopath who can protect me. This appeals a lot to the covert narcissist.

So she forms a relationship which is essentially a kind of dependency. But it's a dependency with nefarious and pernicious intentions, however unconscious. It's a dependency between predator and prey, let's say, in an ecosystem.

The covert narcissist is the predator, not the covert borderline. Covert borderlines, as you will see momentarily, are very much into love, into relationships. They love their children, for example, really. Not like the narcissist. They really love the children. And so on. We'll come to that.

The covert narcissist is on the hunt. The covert narcissist is hunting for a source of narcissistic supply, however by proxy and vicariously on the one hand.

And on the other hand, self-regulation, external self-regulation.

In this sense, of course, the covert narcissist is very much like a borderline.

But at that point, the covert borderline has to hand over control to the covert borderline.

If you are regulated from the outside, it becomes an external locus of control, which sits well with alloplastic defenses.

The covert narcissist gradually would begin to blame the covert borderline for anything that goes wrong.

Mood lability, emotional durability, emotional dysregulation, mistakes, failures, defeats. Everything is the covert borderline's fault. It will become acrimonious.

The alloplastic defenses of the covert narcissist, because of the external locus of control, these defenses are triggered massively and recurrently, repeatedly.

There's no control of this.

So the covert borderline becomes a target of the covert narcissist.

And she, as usual, engages in passive aggressive behaviors. She undermines the relationship. She sabotages everything in order to take down the covert borderline, kind of, to bring the covert borderline down to her level and to inducing him her state of mind.

Of course, she fails.

This covert borderline has strong narcissistic defenses and is a bit of a psychopath.

But the power play in the mind games start almost from day one, because the very presence of the covert borderline and his psychological composition and constitution trigger the covert narcissist badly.

So why?

If she's triggered so badly, why does she seek a relationship with a covert borderline? Why not with an overt narcissist?

Well, that's because only a specific type of covert narcissist would be attracted to a covert borderline.

Some covert narcissist would be attracted to a classic narcissist, to an overt grandiose narcissist.

And this subtype of covert narcissist is known as inverted narcissist.

Other types of covert narcissist are much less submissive. They're much more agentic. They have a modicum of personal autonomy and independence. They're so sustaining and so sufficient.

This kind of covert narcissist would gravitate towards the covert borderline, because under the overt or grandiose narcissist, you're supposed to be 100% obedient. You're supposed to self negate, supposed to be totally submissive. You're supposed to fit into the shared fantasy. It's a money, an ancient Egyptian money with no life of your own, no agency, no independence, no personal autonomy.

Many covert narcissists are way beyond this. They're more high functioning.

So they would gravitate towards the covert borderline.

One of the reasons is that the covert borderline is preoccupied with fantasies of ideal and outstanding love. Love is a major driver in the covert borderline's psychology.

The covert borderline has an undue sense of uniqueness, entitlement, has alloplastic defenses.

In this sense, the borderline resembles very much a narcissist.

But what sets the covert borderline apart from the narcissist dramatically and irrevocably is that the covert borderline can and does experience positive emotions, most notably love.

The narcissist is incapable of ever experiencing positive emotions like love, ever.

Narcissist is dead inside. There's an empty, scheduled core there. It's howling winds in an abandoned corridor.

That's the narcissist.

The covert borderline is way more human, way more emotion. And in this sense, and this is why he's a borderline.

Borderlines have empathy. It's reduced, diminished empathy, by the way.

But they do have empathy and they definitely have emotions. They're overwhelmed by emotions. Their emotions are so strong that they threaten to drown them. They're dysregulated.

That's the case with the covert borderline.

And among all emotions, the covert borderline is heavily into love.

Covert borderline has a good object inside himself. It's a self-generated good object. It's partly fictitious. It's very fantastic, but it's still essentially a good object.

The bad object that the covert borderline started with in childhood is all but defunct and repressed.

So because the covert borderline has a good object, he is capable of love, and the covert borderline being a borderline is essentially able to experience emotions without being totally overwhelmed or dysregulated.

Although there is this emotional dysregulation, we'll come to it in a minute, the covert borderline dares to experience emotions, especially love, because he has a good object and he's a bit psychopathic. He's a bit more in control. He's a bit tougher, a bit more rough, usually also much more experienced in life.

So the covert borderline goes for love.

Of course, love in the covert borderline's case also fits into the narcissist shared fantasy.

Covert narcissists and overt narcissists impose a shared fantasy on their interpersonal relationships, definitely in intimate relationships.

The covert borderline's ability to respond with love fits perfectly into the covert narcissist shared fantasy.

This is by the way why grandiose and overt narcissists gravitate towards borderlines, classic borderlines, because classic borderlines can reciprocate with love.

Now the covert borderline's love is real love, even I would say healthy love, but the covert narcissist in the couple converts in her mind the covert borderline's love into a fantasy.

So the covert borderline loves the covert narcissist really, and the covert narcissist uses the covert borderline's love to augment, to buttress, and support a shared fantasy.

And so they end up, both of them end up in a shared fantasy.

Because the covert borderline loves the covert narcissist truly, he wishes to gratify and satisfy her, not submissively, not obediently. He wants her to be happy.

So he says to himself, if fantasy, if the shared fantasy is her thing, I'm going to give her a shared fantasy because it would make her happy.

It's like, you know, if she wants a car, I'll buy her a car.

If the shared fantasy involves money, by the way, material goods or a lifestyle, luxurious lifestyle, the covert borderline, if he can afford it, would provide it. The covert borderline would do anything to make his covert narcissist happy.

And that's why he often finds himself entrapped in the covert narcissist shared fantasy.

It's the same to some extent with the classical borderline.

Classical borderline requires external regulation. She needs an intimate partner to regulate her emotions, stabilize her labor and moods and so on.

So when the narcissist offers the borderline, I will do all this for you. I will regulate you, I'll stabilize you, I'll be safe, but you have to fit into my shared fantasy.

The borderline, the classic borderline strikes this Faustian bargain, agrees to it.

Same with the covert borderline.

When the covert borderline says to the covert borderline, I'm going to love you, I'm going to provide you with the love that you're looking for.

But my condition is that we do it in a fantastic setting, in a paracosm, in a virtual reality, the covert borderline goes for it and says yes.

Now because the covert borderline is a borderline, mind you, it has mood ability, it is emotionally dysregulated and so on and so forth.

But the difference between the covert borderline and the classical borderline is rationalization.

The covert borderline uses his intellect, he intellectualizes, he uses his intellect to control, justify, explain, predict his emotional dysregulation.

When the covert borderline experiences ups and downs, mood swings, when he experiences emotional dysregulation, he immediately refers to his intelligence, to his intellect and he uses his intellect, his brain, he uses it to somehow make sense of the dysregulation and the liability and that way get them under control and get rid of it in effect.

So while the classical borderline simply falls apart and disintegrates and runs away, something known as approach, avoidance, repetition, compulsion, she experiences an engulfment anxiety and she runs away.

While the classical borderline simply reaches the point of psychosis in effect, the covert borderline is much more rational, intellectual, cold, detached, able to observe himself and what's happening to him from the outside is a bit like a scientist, an observer.

And so he is much more in control of his own internal situation.

The reactance of the covert borderline, defiance, contumaciousness, even recklessness, serve to control and counteract dysregulation and mood liability because the covert borderline can self-medicate with, for example, risky situations, adventures, intellectual stimulus and so on.

Much more in control.

Now this appeals very much to the covert narcissist because the covert borderline is able to regulate her seething envy, rage, sense of injustice and what have you. She's able to regulate all these via the mechanisms of the covert borderline.

So while the covert narcissist always feels ashamed, sometimes guilty, definitely always fragile, always vulnerable, always anxious, passive-aggressive, full of pent-up rage and shame and humiliated all the time, she can then resort to the covert borderline and with this overpowering, overriding intellect, he can calm the covert narcissist down, can regulate her and stabilize her.

By the way, he would have the same effect on a borderline, on a classic borderline.

So the covert borderline is in a relentless search for safety and for completion.

She wants to be whole. She can do it with a classic narcissist if she's inverted, but she can do it also with a covert borderline if she's much more independent and so on.

The covert borderline is sensitive to criticism, hypervigilant and realistic setbacks which everyone takes in stride can demolish, devastate the covert narcissist.

But it is the covert borderline that is there like a rock, always safe, always stable, always with a solution, always with an explanation, makes sense of the covert narcissist's life, imbues it with meaning, purpose and direction, an external regulator, a goal, a guide, a guru, a teacher.

She loves it initially.


The covert borderline's problem in a relationship with the covert narcissist is that exactly like a psychopath.

The covert borderline is a very low threshold of boredom.

He doesn't tolerate boredom. He gets bored very easily.

And the covert narcissist is very boring.

Unlike the grandiose overt narcissist, the covert narcissist has a constricted life, very limited life usually.

And when she does have an adventurous, interesting life, it is so out there off the charts and crazy that it is actually threatening rather than interesting.

So the covert borderline is unable to provide the covert borderline with the intellectual and existential stimuli that he requires to keep him interested, to keep him on his toes, except in extremely rare cases.

Also the covert borderline has an impaired reality testing and difficulty in reading other people's social and other cues.

She has alexithymia. She's a bit autistic. So she doesn't really pick up on the signals of the covert borderline.

She fails to read him properly and therefore she cannot provide him with what he needs in a timely fashion, in real time.

So that creates a lot of frustration and a lot of aggression in the covert borderline, which in turn terrifies the covert narcissist or provokes in her extreme passive aggression because it triggers her shame.

She again has failed in a relationship, for example.

So this issue of stimulation, boredom and so on and so forth is very critical actually in the relationships between covert borderline and covert narcissist.

The covert borderline often drives the covert narcissist into depression and anxiety with his constant scrutiny, analysis, criticism and kind of dissatisfaction, disappointment, disillusionment, disenchantment, covert narcissist, this enhances the covert narcissist's sense of failure and defeat, which taps into her infinite reservoir of shame, inadequacy and inferiority.

While the covert borderline, covert borderline's initial reactions are always externalized, covert borderline for example, is very honest, very open, very direct, often abrasive, externalizes frustration and aggression and only then comes down and internalizes things, the covert narcissist is exactly the opposite.

She internalizes and internalizes and internalizes until the rage or the envy or the negative affectivity reach some critical point and then she explodes or implodes, something bad happens. It's like a nuclear chain reaction. Now suicidal ideation is rare in covert borderlines and relatively rare in covert narcissist.

So, there is no problem here. There is no fear that the covert borderline might drive the covert narcissist to suicide or to aggression that would be self-directed and dangerous. This danger is low.

But the covert narcissist can trigger the covert borderline to aggress against third parties.

In a variety of ways, she's very Machiavellian. She can lie to him, tell him stories, mislead him, etc.

Very often, she uses these deceptive powers to drive the covert borderline to conflict with third parties that the covert narcissist considers as a threat, a strength or that the covert narcissist feels have humiliated her or shamed her or criticized her.

So whenever there's narcissistic injury, let alone narcissistic mortification, the covert narcissist would attempt to use the covert borderline to punish those who caused her the injury and the mortification.

Of course, the covert borderline often narcissistically injures the covert narcissist, sometimes causes her mortification, in which case she would try to induce in him self-directed aggression. She would make his life hell, try to distort his reality, a form of gaslighting, if you wish, ruin the fantasy or change the fantasy into a phantasmagoric nightmare so that he would be driven to suicide.

She rarely succeeds, luckily because covert borderlines are not prone to suicide, self-mutilation, and so on and so forth. They do have some addictive behaviors, so the covert narcissist can drive the covert borderline to abuse substances.

Now both the covert narcissist and the covert borderline are prone to dissociation. They have dissociative self-states, they have selective attention, they confabulate, both of them, confabulate in order to bridge memory gaps. They engage in massive repression and denial. They have a primary psychopathic protector, as I said.

The covert narcissist has extreme amnesia, this is less the case with the covert borderline.

But ultimately both of them depersonalize or derealize. So they're both in dissociative states.

On the one hand, this fact is protective of the relationship because they can forget things, they can lose over things, ignore things, conflicts, and move on.

On the other hand, this creates a lot of friction, misunderstandings, debates, arguments. You did this, I didn't do this, you did do it, I have proof, I don't have proof, it's a mess.

So the relationship becomes adversarial, as if they were in a court of law arguing all the time over some complicated case, adversarial and acrimonious.

The covert borderline is prone to paranoid ideation and is very hypervigilant.

Similarly the covert narcissist is unable to genuinely depend on other people, to trust other people and is equally hypervigilant.

You can imagine two paranoid personalities together, can imagine what's happening. There's a lot of mutual suspicion, distrust, cross checking, spying on each other, trying to analyze each other as a way to gain a modicum of ability to predict future behavior and so on and so forth.

There's a lot of walking on eggshells and frankly a sense of looming nebulous fuzzy threat in the air, not knowing exactly what might happen.

Now the covert borderline is capable of long term very deep relationships and then transitions to numerous but very shallow relationships and then transitions again to stable relationships.

In this sense the covert borderline is different to the narcissist, it is much more comparable to the classic borderline.

The covert narcissist is a narcissist so her intimacy is either instant similar to the histrionic or fake.

So she could engage in casual sex for example and misinterpret the situation believing that it would become an intimate relationship or she can be in a relationship and fake the intimacy.

So this is a bad fit, this is incompatible with the borderline because the borderline is a covert borderline, I'm sorry, it's incompatible with the covert borderline because the covert borderline has an intense need for love from other people.

He's in many ways a people pleaser. When he is in a primary psychopathic phase, when his antisocial aspects or dimensions come to the fore and manifest, he is not empathic but usually is actually empathic and he values his children. Actually he values his children over his spouse, he would place his children above his own relationship with his spouse. He values them, he loves them, he takes care of them, he's a good father or mother, the covert borderline.

Not so of the covert narcissist, she's fake, she's hesitant when it comes to intimacy, she dreads intimacy actually. She has abandonment anxiety and imposter syndrome and then she has engulfment anxiety exactly like the classic borderline and fear of intimacy. She has rejection sensitivity, she is a control freak and so on.

So why does the covert borderline team up with the covert narcissist?

He is capable of real love, she is not.

Why would he team up with her?

Because she is deceptive.

Simply put, the covert narcissist is extremely deceptive, much more than the overt or grandiose narcissist.

So the covert borderline is in love with love, he is in search of the ideal fantastic love.

He wants to be deceived, he renders himself gullible, he wants to fit into the covert narcissist fantasy because his love is fantastic.

He cannot conceive of love, the covert borderline cannot conceive of a love that is not a fantasy, that is not ideal, that is less than perfect, all engulfing, all consuming.

His desire is like a fire, he is self-combusting when he's in love.

So the covert narcissist knows how to push his love buttons to deceive him, to mislead him into believing that she is the ideal partner because she is also into fantasy exactly like him and is capable to provide him with the perfection, an ideal form of love that he is searching for.

But in reality, she is chronically envious of the covert borderline's talents, possessions, capacity for deep object relations. She hates him.

There is ambivalence there.

Even when the covert narcissist professes to love the covert borderline, she actually hates him. There is hate there.

And so she becomes passive aggressive, sullen, surly, self-denying, other denying, cunning, premeditated and very often malevolent.

She begins to target the covert borderline with intermittent reinforcement, disregard for his time, for his limitations, obligations and resources, trying to undermine and sabotage his life, his professional life and career included.

The intermittent reinforcement, hot and cold, I love you, I hate you, resembles very much a borderline.

But it's intended to ruin the covert borderline.

She's on a mission of disintegrating the covert borderline.

And she's very unpredictable. She's very explosive, very impulsive, sometimes even reckless.

The situation for the covert borderline becomes untenable, intolerable, unacceptable, unbearable.

And so he reacts with a combination of scorn, criticism, mockery, analysis, intellectualising and rationalising the situation, trying sometimes to justify the covert narcissist and sometimes to self-justify.

So pendulating, vacillating, oscillating between auto-plastic defenses and alloplastic defenses, sometimes blaming the covert narcissist, sometimes blaming himself for what's happening.

And this generates what is known as pseudo-humility.

The covert borderline would develop a form of humbleness and modesty that is intended to disguise his growing unease, frustration and anger with the covert narcissist for what she's doing to him.

At some point, the covert borderline would seek to escape, to somehow evade the situation because it's extremely painful, extremely hurtful.

The covert borderline is capable of experiencing deep hurt and deep pain grounded in a love gone awry or eye, a love gone bad.

Covert narcissist is incapable of any of this.

So the covert borderline is really hurt, is bleeding.

And so he begins, he defaults to a narcissistic, to his narcissistic side.

He becomes a strionic, attention-seeking, invested in narcissistic supply in some way. He becomes sometimes reckless. He begins to hurt other people or affect other people adversely.

This is all unintentional. This is his narcissistic. These are his narcissistic defenses kicking in some covert borderlines in very extreme situations become sadistic, punitive, goal-oriented, they triangulate, they cheat, they misbehave egregiously.

Now the covert narcissist reacts to all this by interpersonal triangulation coupled with people pleasing.

So she would feign and fake a response of being fawning, being submissive, obedient, listening to the covert borderline, complimenting him for his insights and amazing sagacity and wisdom and so on.

So people pleasing at the same time conspiring against him, manipulating him, triangulating and very often cheating.

This reflects the covert narcissist's approach, avoidance, repetition, compulsion and preemptive abandonment coupled with object inconstancy.

Yes, exactly like the classic borderline, covert narcissists are drama queens.

At this stage in the relationship, the covert borderline is almost completely a narcissist.

He begins to go through the idealized devalue, discard, revert or replace cycle.

So he begins to devalue his partner, attempt to discard her, replace her with someone else, exactly like a narcissist, indistinguishable clinically from a narcissist.

Now the covert borderline is subject to a sense of nagging aimlessness, no purpose, no direction, no meaning. She can't make sense of her life. She experiences social anxiety. She has a shallow vocational commitment.

Very few of them have roaring, meteoric careers because they're not committed. It's a dilettante or charlatan-like attitude. Multiple but superficial interests, chronic boredom as I mentioned and the aesthetic taste or any kind of taste is often ill-informed or imitative.

So it's like mimicry, emulation and imitation on the surface. It's a supercilious and superficial phenomenon, a surface phenomenon.

The covert borderline on the other is socially charming, charismatic, incapable of consistent hard work, which is done mainly to seek admiration and adulation and recognition, money and power. So it's a form of pseudo sublimation, but still the covert borderline often has very successful businesses, careers, vocations, famous in his field, accomplished, not so the covert narcissist.

Covert borderline has intense ambition, preoccupation with appearances, but based on substance. Covert narcissist is the exact opposite. This creates enormous friction between them because it triggers the covert narcissist's envy, destructive envy, destructive envy that she cannot, absolutely cannot control. It devours her, consumes her and she must get rid of the source of the envy, her partner, the covert borderline.

And here we come into a territory that involves unethical conduct, sometimes criminal, between the two parties. They deteriorate, their relationship degenerates into a territory that is at best amoral, but very frequently immoral and sometimes criminal.

You see the covert borderline is moral, is a moral person, but his morality is a very idiosyncratic, self-selected. It's like a buffet. He tailors his morality. He makes his own morality, his own law. He's a law unto himself, makes his own rules as it goes along.

So his morality is uneven. It involves caricature modesty or pseudo humility, some kind of activism, apparent enthusiasm for social political affairs, but it's all highly, highly individualistic.

Covert borderlines don't do belonging. They don't affiliate themselves with groups. Their allegiance is mainly to themselves.

So they have personal standards and they measure themselves compared to these personal standards.

And if they ever experienced guilt and shame, it's because they haven't matched up to their own expectations. They're inordinately relativistic when it comes to ethical issues, ethical issues, and so on and so forth. I said relativistic. I didn't say flexible.

They are not flexible, actually. They're rigid, but they're relativistic in the sense that they don't adhere to group mores or conventions. They don't conform. They're highly, highly special, unique. They have pretended contempt for material goods and money sometimes, and sometimes exactly the opposite, admiration for money and so on.

But when they hold money in contempt ostentatiously, it's because they want to attain a position of spiritual guru, leader, guide. They have an irreverence towards authority unless it is vested in them.

Now, compare this to the covert narcissist.

She shifts values to gain favor and narcissistic supply. She has almost identity diffusion or identity disturbance. She has one set of values today, another tomorrow. She is a pathological liar. She is a materialistic lifestyle very often and delinquent tendencies.

So again, it's an area of friction between the covert borderline and his covert narcissistic partner.

She would not adhere to the covert borderline's morality and ethics because she doesn't adhere to any system of morality or ethics, not even her own. She doesn't have a system of morality or ethics, even her own system.

So she is immoral and then immoral.

And this really irritates and aggravates the covert borderline.

They have a lot of fights regarding these issues.

The covert borderline is capable of marital stability, capable of that.

And his phases of marital relationship or dyadic stability.

On the other hand, in between long term relationships, the covert borderline is actually an narcissist, is coldly seductive, is greedy regarding sex. He has extramarital affairs sometimes and is highly promiscuous. He has an uninhibited sexual life.

So it's like the covert borderline has a split personality, if you wish.

When he is in a long embedded in a long term relationship, usually he would be loyal, usually, although extramarital affairs are a possibility. In most cases, it would be loyal, stable and would work as a team with his partner for the common goals of the couple.

When he is not embedded in a long term relationship, he is a narcissist, the worst kind of narcissist. He is cold, he is calculated, he is seductive, he is greedy, he is uninhibited when it comes to sex.

So the only possible match between the covert borderline and the covert narcissist is when the covert borderline is not embedded in a long term relationship.

Because the covert borderline is unable to be in love, unable to experience love or to remain in love, she has an impaired capacity to view the romantic partner as a separate individual with his or her own interests, rights, values, fears, hopes, wishes, etc. She is unable to genuinely comprehend taboos, including the incest taboo, and she has occasional sexual deviant behaviors, paraphilias. So she feels the covert borderline in between his relationships.

Now, the covert borderline may of course find himself trapped in a long term relationship with a covert narcissist, but this kind of relationship will ultimately fail and fall apart. There will be a lot of breakup, a lot of heartbreak in the breakup because sexually the covert borderline and the covert narcissist are not compatible when they are inside the deep, meaningful, intimate romantic relationship.

The covert borderline truly loves, is truly committed, truly pursues the goals of the couple, is truly loyal. The covert narcissist isn't any of these things, even in a long term relationship.

Finally, there's a problem in terms of cognitive styles.

The covert borderline usually is highly intelligent and engages in intellectual pyrotechnics, is very curious, wishes to learn, is decisive, is opinionated, acquires knowledge, does knowledge acquisition, although the covert borderline uses shortcuts exactly like the narcissist.

His perception of reality is a bit skewed. He has impaired reality testing exactly like the narcissist, but he loves language and is often very articulate and impressively knowledgeable.

Decotomous thinking, black and white thinking, splitting doesn't help.

And ultimately the covert borderline usually doesn't amount to much intellectually because of these problems in cognitive distortions and cognitive biases, but it still cuts a very impressive figure intellectually.

When it comes to the covert narcissist, that is never the case.

Had the covert narcissist been successful intellectually, she would have become a cerebral grandiose narcissist, but she fails.

The root of the collapse is the covert narcissist's inability to accomplish anything.

She has, exactly like the covert borderline, she splits, she has dichotomous thinking, but she also catastrophizes. Her knowledge is often limited to trivia, we call it headline intelligence.

She is forgetful of details, anything from names to historical details. She is impaired in the capacity to learn new skills because of the bad object that keeps informing her that she is about to fail.

She has a tendency to change meanings of reality when she's faced with a threat to her sense of self-worth and self-esteem. So she wouldn't mind to lie and to falsify. It's not lying actually, it's confabulation, but she wouldn't mind to confabulate and to falsify.

Her language and speaking are used strictly for regulating her self-esteem and sense of self-worth. She's very limited.

The covert narcissist is a very limited being intellectually and has little to offer to the covert borderline.

And so the covert borderline is in a constant struggle to widen his loved ones, the covert narcissist horizons to teach her things, to educate her, to bring her to his level so that he can have partner, an intellectual partner, someone to talk to and interlock with her, but it always fails.

So now the critical question.

There are so many incompatibilities, fundamental incompatibilities, unbridgeable incompatibilities, discrepancies and abyss between the covert borderline and the covert narcissist.

How on earth do they end up being together?

The answer is twofold.

The covert borderline's wish to be deceived and the covert narcissist's will to deceive him.

The covert borderline is hungry for love. He's starved of love. He's looking for a fantastic, ideal relationship, including children. He's willing to deceive himself, to lie to himself, to falsify reality, to ignore warning signs, to suppress any doubts in order to finally find the partner that he's been looking for.

And the covert narcissist provides him with what he wants to hear with a fantasy of perfection and utter incompatibility, which he lacks. He gorges on. He can't let go of it. She renders him an addict. He becomes addicted, not to her, not to her, because soon the covert borderline wakes up to the covert narcissist's inherent deficiencies and delinquencies.

But he becomes addicted to the fantasy. He can't let go of the dream.

And the covert narcissist is exactly like the overt narcissist. He's a creature of dream. There's nobody there. There's only a narrative, a story. And this is a story the covert borderline wants to hear.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

How Narcissist/Psychopath Sees YOU, his Victim, and Why Borderlines Adore Them

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the inner experiences of narcissists, psychopaths, and borderlines. He explains how narcissists idealize their partners to reinforce their own grandiosity, while psychopaths manipulate and discard their partners for entertainment or personal gain. Borderlines exhibit a complex mix of traits from other personality disorders and may transition between narcissistic and psychopathic behaviors in response to frustration. Vaknin also clarifies that cheating is just one example of a behavior that can mortify a narcissist.

Covert Borderline, Classic Borderline - Psychopaths?

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the proposed new mental health diagnosis of covert borderline, which is more typical of men. He compares and contrasts the covert borderline with the classic or dysregulated borderline. Both types have mood lability and emotional dysregulation, but the classic borderline dissociates from emotions, while the covert borderline rationalizes emotions and becomes a primary psychopath. Many anti-racism activists are covert narcissists and covert borderlines who obtain indirect attention and self-gratification through their activism.

Borderline or Covert Narcissist? (7th Intl. Conference on Psychiatry & Psychological Disorders)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the differential diagnosis between borderline and covert narcissism. He explains that high-functioning borderlines can be misdiagnosed as covert narcissists due to their ability to regulate their emotions and control mood lability. However, he provides critical differences between the two disorders, including how they externalize aggression, experience separation insecurity, maintain object constancy, and view themselves. He also notes that paranoid ideation is common to both disorders but has different etiologies. Finally, he emphasizes the importance of uncovering all presenting signs and symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis.

Borderlines: No Win Relationships, BPD Enigmas Decoded

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the complex dynamics between individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in intimate relationships. He explains that people with BPD experience two types of anxiety: abandonment anxiety and engulfment anxiety. These anxieties lead to approach-avoidance behaviors, which can be disorienting and confusing for their partners. Vaknin also highlights the concept of dual mothering in narcissist-borderline relationships, where the narcissist provides unconditional love to the borderline, while the borderline becomes the narcissist's "dead mother," allowing the narcissist to attempt to heal and fix their original mother through the borderline partner. This dynamic creates a strong bond between the two, making it difficult for them to separate.

How Borderline Sees YOU ( Intimate Partner)

Professor Sam Vaknin proposes a new diagnosis called covert borderline, which better suits men as it combines borderline and narcissism. Borderlines have two anxieties: abandonment anxiety and engulfment anxiety, which lead to approach and avoidance behaviors. In the approach phase, the borderline sees their partner as their savior and regulator of emotions, while in the avoidance phase, they become paranoid and view their partner as an enemy. This creates a roller coaster of emotions and pain for both the borderline and their partner.

How Borderline, Covert Narcissist React To & Spin Rejection, Abandonment

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the fear of rejection and abandonment in individuals with borderline and covert narcissistic personality disorders. He explains how rejection is perceived as total and abandonment as irreversible, leading to extreme reactions and defense mechanisms. He also delves into the role of drama, entitlement, and the aggressive and passive-aggressive techniques used by these individuals to cope with rejection and abandonment. These techniques are often destructive and rarely lead to the desired outcome, ultimately causing further rejection and isolation.

YOU: Dead Inside or Self-sufficient?

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses how self-sufficiency is often mistaken for pathological behaviors and traits. He explains that true self-sufficiency is self-sustaining, involves firm personal boundaries, and a stable sense of self-worth. However, people often confuse self-sufficiency with behaviors exhibited by narcissists, psychopaths, and individuals with borderline personality disorder, who are actually dependent on others and exhibit counter-dependency. Vaknin emphasizes that these individuals are not self-sufficient, but rather empty and devoid of a true sense of self.

Serial idealizers, Anxious People-pleasers, Addicts: NOT Narcissists

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses four groups of people who exhibit behaviors similar to pathological narcissism but are not narcissists: serial idealizers, anxious people pleasers, addicts, and those with borderline personality disorder. Serial idealizers create fantasies to legitimize their actions and feel loved, while anxious people pleasers seek acceptance and belonging to alleviate their anxiety. Addicts share traits with narcissists and psychopaths, such as grandiosity and defiance, but use addiction to maintain an illusion of control. Lastly, those with borderline personality disorder fear both abandonment and engulfment, leading to compulsive cheating and dysregulated behavior.

Borderline Demonizes Partner, Pathologizes Narcissist (Or Herself)

The text discusses the dynamics of borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder in relationships. It delves into the borderline's paranoid ideation and the need to justify withdrawing from a partner. It also explores the concept of persecutory dynamics and the interplay between the borderline and narcissistic partner. Additionally, it touches on the narcissist's devaluation and discard phases and the impact on the internal object.

Borderline: Narcissist’s Mirror (and Avoidant Personality Disorder)

The text discusses the relationship between borderline personality disorder and narcissism, suggesting that the borderline is a mirror image of the narcissist. It delves into the behaviors and reactions of both, highlighting the differences and similarities between the two disorders. The text also explores avoidant personality disorder and its distinct characteristics.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy