Some of the things narcissists say can raise eyebrows.
Those things might come in grand verbal speeches or spoken in bite-sized comments mumbled under the breath.
Either way, when heard, something seems out of place, but you might 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.
Things Narcissists Say That Give Them Away
Narcissistic people can sometimes give themselves away over time when you keep communicating with them.
It’s not just that they talk about themselves a lot, as the stereotype would suggest. It’s that there is an inability to connect with them, or they say things that indicate they aren’t processing events emotionally the way one would expect.
- They say something that doesn’t match their actions.
- Their emotions don’t match what they’re talking about. They may be full of rage about something that seems ordinary or say very dramatic things robotically.
- They say things about others or you that are highly unempathetic or cruel, and it’s hard to believe anyone would seriously say such things and mean them.
- Their responses to your questions can be diversionary and nonsensical. They change the subject, which leads conversations to go completely off the rails and you end up exhausted or forgetting what you brought up.
- They flip things around when they’re accused of something so that they are the victims, and never seem to take responsibility for anything.
What makes these tactics begin to look narcissistic is their repeated use over a long period of them.
Maybe you realize that almost every conversation you have with this person ends with the feeling that something is wrong.
It could be that there is something dishonest about your conversations with them.
Maybe they won’t let you interact with them on equal ground, or they’re not really listening to you and never take responsibility for anything.
Perhaps they’re always saying rude or gossipy things about other people and expecting you to go along with it.
Below are a series of common things narcissists say. Most of these are comments narcissists might say in romantic relationships. With each common phrase below, I’ve also included the underlying meaning.
Things Narcissists Say to Keep You Around
These phrases may seem so emotional and romantic at first. After a while, however, they may begin to seem mechanical. [Read: Can a Narcissist Love? It’s Complicated]
“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. Then 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. I’m going to keep repeating it because I want you to think you’re special.
“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 never lied to you about my love for you.”
I really did love the way you made me feel about myself. 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 was able to do those bad things to you 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.
“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.”
“I’ve changed for you. I did more for you than I ever did for any other girlfriend.”
Two weeks went by and I didn’t talk 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.
Why is it always 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.
“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 worshiped me.
“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, and I will–if it’s convenient.
I’ll get narcissistic supply out of your attention 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.
[Note: See The Ultimate Narcissistic Dictionary to review unfamiliar terms]
Things Narcissist Say in an Argument
“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 around 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.
[Y] will back me up since I’ve told them all about how dramatic you are about these things. We’ll gang up on you until you stop asking these types of questions.
If you persist in 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.
“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. Instead, I’ll try to make you doubt yourself 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. If I’m doing it, you must be doing something inappropriate too.
Also, I 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.
“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 if you would have just let it all 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.
“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, I want you to try even harder and give even more because right now you’re too focused on the wrong thing. I want you to just shut up about what I did and just adore me like you once did.
“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.
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 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.
You have no right to have expectations of me in this relationship, even of honesty, trust, fidelity, respect, human dignity, safety, privacy, boundaries, and personal freedom. You’re not entitled to those. I can’t let you be equal to me in this relationship because then you might leave me. And 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.
“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.
Things Covert Narcissist Say
Covert narcissists. believe they are superior to others and entitled to special treatment, however, they feel resentful of others because they always feel as if they are not receiving it (Rose 2002). [Read The Unlucky 13 Different Types of Narcissism]
They are also known as vulnerable narcissists because their self-esteem is fragile and they won’t overtly act on their self-entitlement. Instead, it comes out in much more subtle, passive-aggressive ways, for example, they may bring up something you’re sensitive about in front of others.
Sometimes their silence is a method of telling you that they are punishing you for perceived critical actions.
“That’s great that you finished your degree. Online courses are better than nothing.”
I’m jealous that you’ve accomplished something and want to make you feel as if it’s not that big of a deal.
“Are you going out dressed like that?”
You look really nice and I’m jealous. I want to make you feel insecure, so you’ll change your clothes or just feel bad about yourself while you’re wearing that outfit.
“I tried to find that ice cream you like, but they were all out. You could stand to lose a few pounds anyway though, right? I was just joking.”
I’m afraid you’ll realize how beautiful you are and leave me. If you call me on what I said though, I’ll just make you look like you’re overly sensitive and can’t take a joke.
“Nothing I do is ever good enough for you. You never see the good I do for you.”
Ignore the fact that I’m lying and cheating on you. You’re the one causing the problems in our relationship because all you do is focus on the negative.
I’m the victim here. If you’d just stop talking about it, everything would be fine.
“All my exes cheated on me.”
I’ve been such a victim in my past. No one appreciates me. I need you to feel sorry for me and show me how different you are.
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. That better not be you.
This is my indirect way of telling you that I’m going to punish and condition your behavior. [Read What is Coercive Control?]
Weird Things Narcissists Say
These are the things narcissists say that make us stop and think, “Who says that???” We’re never quite sure if they’re serious or why they said it.
“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.
“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.
“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 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.
“We’ll be together again someday. I know God will make this happen.”
I’m testing the waters to see if you’ll let me come back into your life for whatever I feel like taking. If I keep saying this, you’ll never have closure. It’ll never really be over.
I never really end relationships because there might be something I want from you someday. You’ll have to be the one to slam the door on me, otherwise, I’ll never leave.
“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?
“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 anything caused by what your worst enemy could ever do to you.
In fact, I am your worst enemy. Surprise!
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Rose, Paul. (2002). “The happy and unhappy faces of narcissism.” Personality and Individual Differences. 33(3): 379-391. Retrieved from: http://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/artvit/rose2002.pdf