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The Language of a Narcissist: Not Lost in Translation

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There were many things that he said to me over the course of our relationship that I now recognize had very special meanings.  It was quite a revelation when I realized that almost any list of things narcissists commonly say includes many of these, and nearly word-for-word.*  It’s like they all take the same class on how to be a narcissist.

Below are some of the highlights.  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.

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 like 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, and you’ll be more understanding and forgiving when you start to find out about the bad things I’ve done to you.  

“Most girls today are just whores.”

I have sexist attitudes about women and think pretty much anything they do makes them whores, and 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.

“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.

After I Found Out About His Multiple Lives

“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.”

I just told her what she wants to hear… just as I do with you.  All of you.

“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.

“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 and if you do, I’ll just call you crazy and paranoid for checking up on me and accuse you of not trusting me or giving me a chance.

“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.


“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.

“You always think you’re right.  You know everything [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 so now I’m going to punish you by doing it some more.

“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.  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. 

And a Few That Were Present Throughout, From Start to Finish

“I’m a bad person.”

I’m a bad person and you should listen to me when I tell you this.

“I love you.”

I’m not getting enough attention from you.  Tell me you love me.

“I’m the sexiest guy here.”

I’m the sexiest guy here.  

*See here and here and here for examples

Kristen Milstead

Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.


  1. So true, all of it. Mine also used to say “you always over-react to everything, just ask your mum. She agrees with me”

  2. He did say all of these things, literally each word not even less. Now I understand the meaning and it makes sense. I feel sad cause I love him too much and he will never understand, he lives in his own world.

    1. Kristen Milstead

      I am so sorry and can completely empathize. It hurts to love someone who treats you as if your love doesn’t matter.

  3. He did say all of these things, literally each word not even less. Now I understand the meaning and it makes sense. I feel sad cause I love him too much and he will never understand, he lives in his own world.

    1. Kristen Milstead

      I am so sorry and can completely empathize. It hurts to love someone who treats you as if your love doesn’t matter.

  4. I have a narcissist mother. A narcissist brother who is my biz partner until he gaslighted me and financially manipulated me into craziness and mental breakdown and pushed me out of biz because I’m “crazy”. And my first husband was a narcissist, too. My mother has been trying to “help” me but I’ve only just realized that she is a narcissist too. She had a boyfriend who lives with us from the time I was 11 to 19. I’m 52 now. Upon first meeting him he told me he has always dreamed of a mother daughter threesome. I was 11. At 13 he told me he would seduce me but he was afraid I would tell my mother. I eventually told her what he said (i didn’t even know the meaning of seduce but I know it was bad because why else would he be afriaid id tell my mom?) she then confronted him about the seduce comment (in front of me) and he denied it and screamed that I was a fucking liar. My mom tried to placate him but did not defend me at all. We were just starting a vacation to see my bro grad high schoo and so he drove to the nearest airport and flew home leaving me and mom to go on our way. When we got home the following week, he was still there and they stayed together as if nothing ever happened. Of course I was always uncomfortable around him. He always walked around in his tightywhitey underwear, which are fairly see thru btw, and he always made passes at me. I’m fact, he held me down “playing” and gave me my first hickey right in front of my mother! She thought it was funny. I was horrified! He also have me my first Negligé as an Xmas present at age 15. Again she thought it was ok. I can’t begin to tell you how many times he was inappropriate, but she says he was harmless because he never actually raped me and she dismisses my claims that her choosing him over my safety as hogwash. I was terrified of that man! I even came home from college in the middle of the night one time with the police meeting me at the door of her apt because she didn’t answer the phone all night and we had a scheduled call. She never went out and it wasn’t like her not to answer when she knew we had a scheduled call! I thought he had killed her because he was abusive and hit her and threw Things at her and hey, he was a pedophile, so he could have killed her. It was conceivable. When she answered the door, all bleary eyed in her pj’s and she realized why the police and I were there, she totally dismissed my fears as ridiculous and scoffed at me. Totally dismissed my fears and didn’t even recognize that i had been freaking out for hours out of fear for her life and drive home from college 2.5 hrs away just to check on her!
    Now 40 years later, after 11 years of abuse at the hands Of my first husband, then starting a biz with my brother who totally and completely destroyed me and any self-worth that was left, I had a nervous breakdown, and then open heart surgery. I’ve been struggling with mental illness ever since. The heart surgery brought on every bad thing that ever happened to me like A ton of bricks. Seeing a therapist is helping me deal but the extent of my abuse is coming out, I guess I blocked a lot of it. And I’ve been talking to my mom about her old boyfriend. She shows no remorse and actually is condescending and makes light of it and talks to me with disgust and contempt and disdain. She knows I’ve been extremely depressed and even suicidal but she rather turn the tables on me than show any remorse for her choosing to live with and subject me to a pedophile from age 11 on. She even started criticizing me for having so many Ken in my kids life since I divorced their father. I’ve had 2 men. One for 4 years and one I married for the last 6, who spent the first 3 years verbally abusing me while drunk. Now he’s asked for a divorce because I haven’t gotten over my mental illness fast enough. And it’s not like he offers any support. I literally beg him for affection, and he will put me off and then forget. But doesn’t matter, he’s gone now. But I’m dealing with a lifetime of abuse. I always felt like I was never good enough. I have made so many bad decisions that err good for others and bad for me. I sacrificed myself to make others happy. Over and over again. I allowed my kids to treat me bad because I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. Oh let’s not forget I had an injury early into my biz with my brother and ended Jon with 7 herniated Discs that went undiagnosed for 4 years and one was cutting into my spinal cord, so I was in constant pain while my second husband was drinking and my brother was using and abusing me. And publicly humiliated me numerous times.

    I now have no one to and am in utter despair.

    1. Hello Christine: When I read about what you have been through, my heart really goes out to you. I am so sorry you have had to go through all this. Please know there are many of us out here who understand, and please don’t blame yourself. If you can, I would recommend that you try to find a trauma therapist in your area. I found a really good one and it has been helping. Thank you for sharing your story. Don’t give up hope. You are not alone. -Kristen

  5. Hi Christine,
    Yes, please know you are NOT alone! Half the battle is won when you KNOW it’s narcissism and know what to expect so now you know what response NOT to give! You just need to keep implementing the ‘correct’ responses and make a way to get away from the narcissist!
    I, personally, have spent 13 years with my guy. I was on Pinterest and happened across a pin about narcissists…and, I kept reading and reading! It was like I had “a V8!” The light bulb went on! I now realized what he was! And, NOW I knew how NOT to respond! But, before I learned all about the “narcissist”, I was pretty much catching on. I, too, have gone thru SO much and now that I know how to deal with him, I don’t want to waste anymore time! I’ve never dealt with a person like this before, but trust me, it’s been a roller coaster! And, even though I ‘care’ about him, I know I MUST get away to keep my sanity! I’ve also been dealing with breast cancer since Feb 2nd of this year! So, you KNOW my stress level has been off the charts.

    But, now that I know, it seems like he KNOWS I know! But, please stay strong! You can do this! And, so can I! And so can the others going thru this! When you’ve made it thru this, you will feel SO much better

  6. I believe he’s a narcs. All of these things are said and done. He also constantly finds things My children do and complains of little things so much that they don’t even want to be around him. I don’t even know what to do at this point. Any and everything positive thing he’s ever done for me is thrown in my face constant but to him that’s him proving that he does care and he’s just reminding me of the things he done for our family.

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