Some of the things narcissists say can raise eyebrows, and they might come in packages of grand verbal speeches or in bite-sized pieces that seem out of place. Either way, you might recognize that something seems off, but not always know why.
Often what they say has another meaning because they have ulterior motives or they’re attempting to manipulate behind the scenes.
My ex-boyfriend loved to “monologue.”
We had our designated spots where this often took place–him standing next to the bed and me sitting on it, leaning against the headboard. I listened to him at length, watching him wave his arms excitedly as he got into his stories about his life as a child–the sporting events he’d dominated, the trouble he’d gotten into (and gotten out of), and all of the current family drama in his life–falling more deeply in love with him as he talked.
I’d talk for a few minutes about things that were going on in my life, or I’d even sometimes get on a kick where I’d want to share something from my past. After a few minutes, he’d often interrupt with a laugh, “You are so talkative today.”
Sometimes he’d start fidgeting. “You ready to watch a movie?”
These statements in and of themselves meant, “I’m tired of listening to you.” Yet even at the time, I hadn’t really noticed the imbalance in the amount of time I’d spent talking at the time.
Looking at other content in his words, there were many other phrases and sentences that had special meanings as well.
How Narcissists Use Language to Control Their Partners
Below are some of the highlights of the things that my ex-boyfriend said. This selection of things he said was particularly relevant in my relationship, either because he said them often or because I can see in retrospect how they were designed to elicit specific emotions or actions from me– and usually did. Under them, I’ve included what he really meant when he said them.
Things Narcissists Say During the Love-Bombing Phase
“Tell me what I can do to show you how much I love you.”
Tell me how I can make you fall in love with me so then you’ll do whatever I want you to do.
“We have a special connection. No couple out there loves each other as much as we do.”
I want you to believe that you’ll never find anyone else who loves you like I do so you’ll never leave and I can keep getting what I want and need from you while not having to abide by the expectations of a normal relationship.
“I’ve never loved anyone like this before. You’re the love of my life.”
Even though I’ve told this to multiple women in my life, and at least two other women while we were together, I have to make you believe I really mean it when I say it to you so I’m going to keep repeating it because I want you to think you’re special.
“All my exes cheated on me.”
I need you to feel sorry for me and think I’ve been victimized in my past relationships so you’ll try really hard to prove you’re different. I’ll need you to jump through hoops for me and be understanding when I invade your privacy. I’ll also need you to forgive me when you find out all of the horrible things I’ve done to you because I tell you how much I don’t trust anyone. You’ll give more and more as I give less and less.
“Most girls today are just whores.”
I have sexist attitudes about women and think pretty much anything they do makes them whores. You’ll let me get away with it because I already told you how hurt I am over all my exes cheating on me and you’ll “show me” it doesn’t have to be that way. Saying this is a way I can control you later on so that you keep trying to demonstrate your faithfulness when I give you what will turn out to be unreasonable and inappropriate requests and expectations, down to what I think you should wear and who I think you should be friends with (What is Coercive Control?).
“My ex-girlfriend is obsessed with me. She’s crazy.”
She was perfectly fine when we met, but I did the same thing to her that I’ll eventually do to you and then I’ll call you crazy too. This is how I explain away inconsistencies in my interactions with women to the girl who is currently my #1–and how I get her to feel sorry for me.
When Narcissists Use Intermittent Reinforcement and Alternate Between Mean and Sweet
After I had discovered the multiple lives that the narcissist I was with was living, he began alternating between two types of responses: love-bombing me and trying to make me forget about it as if the things I had discovered had never happened and devaluing me for finding out, having natural emotions of sadness and anger about it, and for losing trust in him.
Finally, the relationship mercifully ended. Even at the end, there were puzzling comments with meanings that made no sense in the context of what had taken place.
“Let’s start a new relationship.”
I want you to immediately stop talking about all of the bad things I’ve done to you as if they never happened, but at the same time I want all of the trust back you used to give me without having to earn it back.
“I just told her what she wants to hear.” [her = one of many women revealed to also be in his life]
I just told her what she wants to hear… just as I do with you. That’s what I do with whichever one of you I am interacting with at the moment to get what it is I want.
“I don’t know why but I keep coming back to you.”
As long as you keep giving me attention, love, adoration, sex, affection, acceptance, and anything else I want and need, I’ll keep coming around and I’ll never let you move on.
“We’ll be together again someday. I know God will make this happen.”
I want you to believe we will be together even though I married someone else so you will continue to see me and give me whatever I want or need. And who knows–I do what I want, so I’m not above marrying two people at once, which I’ve made clear by proposing after my marriage to my current wife. You say no way, but I know for a fact you’ll do whatever I want, so give it time.
“That’s not what happened. [x] is lying. Ask [y].”
I’m lying to you and that’s exactly what happened, but I know you won’t really ask about it. If you do, I’ll create a huge distraction by blowing up, calling you crazy and paranoid for checking up on me and accusing you of not trusting me or giving me a chance. [x] will back me up since you bothered him/her for asking about me and we’ll gang up on you. If you persist on discussing it, I’ll break up with you or give you a silent treatment, and by the time I come back, you’ll be desperate to sweep my lie (and what I lied about) under the rug. Don’t forget–you have no voice and no rights in this relationship. I do what I want.
“I’ve changed for you. I did more for you than I ever did for any other girlfriend.”
I went two weeks without talking to any other girls and you still don’t trust me again yet? I also brought you gifts and dinner. I’ve never done that for any other girl and you’re so ungrateful. It’s always all about you. You don’t do anything for me. What a waste– I should have just spent that two weeks talking to girls anyway since you don’t appreciate me. In fact, I’m going to start right now.
“I will always love you and be here for you no matter what.”
Anytime you want to call me up and let me come back in and rip your heart out again, let me know–if it’s convenient. I’ll get narcissistic supply out of your contact for sure. I’ll give you some crumbs for your trouble but just know, however, that I’ll never, ever, give up my ways and give you an equal partnership–or even tell you the truth.
“I know how to make you cry.”
I know everything about you, remember? You told me all your secrets at the beginning of the relationship back when I was hammering you with the greatest love you’ve ever had. So now you’ve unmasked me. You’ve found out all my secrets. Watch what happens now! I’m going to crush you and you’re going to feel pain worse than your worst enemy could ever do to you. In fact, I am your worst enemy. Surprise!
“You were never there for me.”
Right now, I’m feeling stung by something you said to me. You won’t leave me alone about something I did to you or how you know I’m lying to you, and I just feel you’re to blame for all of this because of that. I’m the one who can’t trust you since you won’t stop talking about the past. I know you were there for me, but if I tell you this, you’ll try even harder and give even more and maybe just shut up about what I did and what I’m still going to do until I know you’re going to adore me like you once did.
“Nothing I do is ever good enough for you. You never see the good I do for you.”
Ignore the fact that I’m still lying and cheating and just focus on the flowers and candy I brought you, will you?
“Why do you always have to start an argument?”
I don’t really care about the fact that what I did hurt you and I certainly don’t want to talk about it. Therefore, when you bring it up, it’s you making everything unpleasant, not me for doing those things in the first place. I need to make you think you’re being overdramatic for talking about how you feel so I can condition you to stop talking about these things.
“Can’t you ever let the past go?”
I know that the thing that I just did hurt you, but I don’t want you to point out that there’s a pattern in my behavior. I want you to focus on one incident at a time because it makes it easier to say you’re exaggerating, and to make you and everyone else believe that I’m actually changing and that I’m not ‘like that’ anymore.
“I knew you were just like all the others.”
You were destined to fall off the pedestal no matter what you did because normal human behavior is not allowed. I can’t let you be equal in this relationship because then you might leave me and I had to cheat on you first. Your expectations for me are too high. How dare you criticize and challenge me! You don’t realize how special I truly am, or how much I give you. You don’t appreciate me. Oh well, there will always be someone else to come along, so on to the next one to try again.
“Please give me one more chance. I’ll treat you like a queen.”
Please let me come back to get more of your attention and love. I couldn’t find anyone who gave it to me as well as you in the time I was gone and I really need it. As long as you don’t talk about anything I did, we can go back to the way things used to be where you worshipped me.
“You always think you’re right. You know everything.” [said with sarcasm]
You have me figured out and I’m starting to see I can’t fool you anymore. I must quickly create more doubts because I have no intention of owning up to what I did or resolving any of this in a healthy manner so I’ll throw it back on you and pretend you don’t know what you’re talking about.
“I know what you’ve been doing.”
I’m doing something that you would think is highly inappropriate with other women, therefore, I’m going to project it onto you–you must be doing something inappropriate with other men. I also don’t want you to get suspicious so we must keep the focus on talking about you so you don’t have time to stop and think about what I might be doing.
“I didn’t cheat but I will now.”
You won’t stop talking about my cheating because your gut feeling is right and I’m gaslighting you. So now I feel justified and I’m going to punish you by doing it some more, but I’m going to make you think it’s your fault for pestering me about it.
“You don’t care about me. You’re selfish/crazy/abusive/jealous.”
You’re starting to figure out all of the bad things I did and you ask too many questions, check up on me, lose your temper when I provoke you, cry too much, etc.– all things that don’t make me feel adored by you anymore. The relationship is falling apart because you won’t just be happy and let me do whatever I want to do.
“It’s not all my fault. You ruined this relationship too.”
If you hadn’t found out about everything I did or you could have just let it go and let me have a free pass, everything would be perfect. But since you keep talking about your thoughts and feelings and getting upset when I stonewall you, I’m no more at fault than you are.
“How does it feel to be used?”
So. You found out what I did again. Why do you keep trying to unmask me? You just won’t leave well enough alone, so, you want to know the truth? Yes, I used you and I’m enjoying your pain right now. You never learn, do you?
“You don’t love me anymore.”
You don’t take care of me like you used to. You don’t let me take advantage of you like you used to. The same old lines don’t work. Also, I don’t think I love you anymore either.
“I never lied to you about my love for you.”
I really did love the way you made me feel about myself and that love you for that part of you it brought out in me. You made me feel like I was special. When you found out about all of the horrible things I did to you though, you made me feel ashamed about myself and I hate you for that. I could do those bad things to you though because it wasn’t really you that I loved so I hope you understand that. I’m sorry, but I’m just not capable of loving people for themselves. So I wasn’t lying, it just wasn’t what you thought.
Language Narcissists Use Throughout the Relationship
“I’m a bad person.”
I’m a bad person and you should listen to me when I tell you this because when I do bad things to you, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
“I’m the sexiest guy here.”
I’m the sexiest guy here, and everyone else here is inferior to me. At the same time, I need to reassure myself of that by saying it out loud and getting people to agree with me.
“I love you.”
I’m not getting enough attention from you. Tell me you love me.
Don’t forget to check out these resources:
- Taking Your Life Back After a Relationship With a Narcissist – Free Recovery Toolkit
- Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Dictionary
- The Best Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
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