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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel totally out of control of your life and you’re being manipulated and controlled by someone? It’s a terrible feeling, and unfortunately, it’s something that people with narcissistic personality disorder often do with ease to those around them. Narcissists are masters of manipulation, and victims will all agree that there are common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate you.
Narcissists are known for their inflated egos, lack of empathy, and constant need for attention and admiration. When combined with manipulative behavior, it can create disaster in personal and professional relationships.
Psychologist Perpetua Neo who works with victims of narcissistic abuse, told Insider, ‘It’s like they read from the same manual, even though nobody gives them that manual’. ‘They’re almost programmed in the same way.’
Narcissistic individuals follow a common pattern of behavior, even though there is no global summit for these dark triad people where they can discuss their tactics. So if you become aware of their behavioral patterns and the most common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate, you will be able to better protect yourself.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at common phrases that a narcissist uses to manipulate you and how to spot them.
What is a Narcissist?
Before we dive into the common phrases that a narcissist uses to manipulate you, it’s important to understand what a narcissist is.
In the United States, recent figures estimate that one in every 200 people suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder.
Narcissism is a personality disorder where:
- A person has an inflated sense of self-importance.
- A need for admiration and attention.
- A lack of empathy for others.
These traits lead to manipulative behaviors, such as gaslighting, lying, and the use of guilt and shame to control others.
Narcissists are often very charming on the surface, but underneath they are master manipulators and very controlling. Narcissistic traits include emotional abuse and the silent treatment. They use language and words to their advantage, often making you feel like you’re going crazy.
According to Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, “The abuser usually is a talented manipulator of language, twisting any problem between them into being the victim’s fault or accusing the victim of being “too sensitive” or, ironically, manipulative.”
The main phases of an emotionally abusive relationship with a narcissistic partner are:
- The love bombing and idealization phases
- The devaluation stage
- The discard stage
Simply put, you usually find two types of narcissists,
- Covert narcissists are undercover narcissists who may appear shy or anxious and may have a fragile sense of self-esteem that can be easily threatened. These individuals will use manipulation and guilt-tripping to get their needs met.
- Grandiose narcissists tend to be more extroverted and confident. They have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe that they are better than others.
The bad news is that narcissistic abusers come in all shapes and sizes and are not only found in romantic relationships. You may have had a narcissistic parent or family member, or the offending party may be in your workplace.
Tactics Narcissists Use to Manipulate
Narcissists use a variety of tactics to manipulate and control their victims, including gaslighting, lying, guilt-tripping, and using shame and fear to control people.
They may also use subtle tactics, such as ignoring or belittling you, or using flattery and compliments to make you feel better about yourself.
Narcissists may also use silence as a form of manipulation. They may ignore your attempts to communicate or threaten to withdraw if you don’t do what they want. They may also manipulate you by withholding affection or creating a sense of obligation or guilt.
Clinical psychologist Lauren Cook says, “Most narcissists will find a weapon to use against you. Typically, they will try ways or learn about your fears, so they know where to hit you where it hurts in an attempt to bring down your self-esteem and make you feel small.”
Narcissists make use of a variety of tactics to manipulate, but they all use common phrases as part of their arsenal.
Common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate you.
Idealization phase or Love Bombing phase
The love bombing phase of a narcissistic relationship is the initial stage where the narcissist showers you with love, affection, and attention. This phase is meant to make you feel special and loved and to create a strong emotional bond between the narcissist and you.
The narcissist focuses on huge gestures, gifts, and flattery to win over their target and make them feel like they’ve found their soulmate. However, this phase is often short-lived and is followed by devaluation and manipulation as the narcissist’s true self comes to light.
It’s essential to see a romantic relationship that moves very fast in the beginning as a red flag and be aware that this is a tactic that a narcissist uses during the idealization stage. When you first meet someone new, take things slowly to avoid falling prey to a narcissist’s manipulations. Listen out for the common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate.
Idealization phase: Common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate you.
- “I feel like I’ve known you all my life.” This is intended to make you feel special and unique.
- “We have a special connection.” The narcissist may try to create a sense of intimacy and closeness with you by using this phrase.
- “I can’t live without you”. This phrase is designed to make you feel like you are essential to the narcissist’s well-being and to create a sense of dependency.
- “I’ve never felt this way before”. By using this phrase, the narcissist is trying to convince you that their love is unique and special and that you are the only one who can understand them.
- “You’re perfect just the way you are”. The narcissist may use flattery and compliments to make you feel good about yourself and to create a sense of trust.
- “You’re the one I’ve been waiting for.” This phrase is meant to make you feel special and chosen by the narcissist.
- “I only want to make you happy.”
- “You are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
- “I have never wanted anyone as much as I want you.”
- “In the past, I was always involved with crazy partners…”
- “I have never felt for anyone else the way I feel for you.”
- “You are so beautiful!”
- “You complete me …”
- “There was always something missing from my life until I met you.”
- “Don’t worry about anything; I will take care of it.”
- “I don’t need anything as long as I have you …”
- “You are my soul mate or twin flame…”
- “You make me feel so good, so special …”
- “My last relationship ended because he/she was so crazy and insecure!”
These are some of the common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate you during the love bombing stage.
The devaluation phase of a narcissistic relationship begins when the narcissist starts to reveal their true colors and their behavior toward you begins to change. The love and affection that were once showered upon you during the love bombing phase are replaced with criticism, insults, and belittling.
The narcissist may start to make you feel like you are the problem in the relationship, criticizing you on a daily basis and telling you that you are not good enough.
Part of the plan is to break down your self-esteem and make you more dependent on them. You will be living in a constant state of stress.
The behavior of the devaluation phase is often not displayed in front of others and is reserved for situations behind closed doors.
It’s important to recognize the red flags of the devaluation phase and to take steps to protect yourself from further emotional harm.
Always remember that you are good enough and that you don’t have to take responsibility for someone else’s actions.
Devaluation phase: common phrases that a narcissist uses to manipulate you.
- “You’re too sensitive.” The narcissist may use this phrase to dismiss your concerns and emotions by making you feel that you are overreacting.
- “I can’t deal with your drama.” By using this phrase, the narcissist is trying to shift the blame onto you and make you feel like you are the problem in the relationship.
- “You’re crazy.” This phrase makes you doubt your own sanity and perceptions.
- “You’re not good enough.” This phrase chips away at your self-esteem and makes you more dependent on them for validation.
- “I never said/did that.” The narcissist may say this when needing to deny their own behavior and make you doubt your own memories and perceptions.
- “You’re Overreacting.” This is a way of invalidating your feelings and making you feel like you’re not entitled to your own emotions. The false idea that you are “overreacting” can make you feel like you don’t have the right to express your feelings or stand up for yourself.
- “It’s Not That Bad.” This can make you feel like you’re not entitled to your feelings or that you’re being too sensitive.
- “It’s All in Your Head.” This is a form of gaslighting and results in you feeling like you’re crazy or that your feelings don’t matter.
- “You’re Just Trying to Start an Argument.” This results in you feeling like you are in the wrong.
- “You’re Making a Big Deal Out of Nothing.”
- “I was just joking”: When a narcissist says something hurtful or offensive, they may try to brush it off as a joke to avoid taking responsibility for their words.
- “You misunderstood me”: This shifts the blame onto you for misinterpreting their words or actions so that they don’t have to take responsibility for their behavior.
These are some of the common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate you during the devaluation phase.
They are hurtful and damaging, and they are used to manipulating and maintaining control over you while avoiding taking responsibility for their own behavior.
Discard phases of the relationship
The final phase is the discard phase of a narcissistic relationship, this is when the narcissist abruptly ends the relationship, often blaming you.
But the truth of the matter is that the narcissist may discard you for a variety of reasons that you have no control over, including finding a new source of narcissistic supply or feeling you no longer serve a purpose.
The discard is often characterized by the narcissist showing little to no remorse for their actions and leaving you feeling confused, hurt, and betrayed.
They will then usually jump directly into a new relationship, as the new “victim” has already been set up.
Discard phase: common phrases that a narcissist uses to manipulate you.
- “You are so boring.”
- “I hope we can still be friends.”
- “I have found someone who treats me better.”
- “You never really understood me.”
- “Nobody else will ever love you; you’re going to end up alone.”
- “I’m the best you’ll ever have.”
- “You did this to yourself; it’s your own fault.”
These are the common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate you and end the relationship.
Other Narcissistic Red Flags
- Grandiose Self-Importance:
- A constant need to talk about their own achievements and talents.
- An exaggerated sense of superiority and entitlement.
- Lack of Empathy:
- Difficulty understanding or caring about other people’s feelings and perspectives.
- A tendency to dismiss or trivialize the emotions of others.
- Manipulative Behavior:
- A knack for manipulating people to achieve their own goals or desires.
- Frequent use of guilt-tripping, blame-shifting, or gaslighting tactics.
- An insatiable desire for attention, admiration, and validation from others.
- Becoming agitated or upset when not in the spotlight.
- Shallow Relationships:
- Superficial and transactional relationships, often using people for personal gain.
- Difficulty maintaining deep, meaningful connections.
- Sense of Entitlement:
- An expectation that others should cater to their needs or desires.
- A lack of reciprocity in relationships.
- Inability to Accept Criticism:
- Reacting defensively or with anger when criticized.
- Shifting blame or avoiding responsibility for their actions.
- Boundary Violations:
- Disregarding personal boundaries and invading others’ personal space or privacy.
- Ignoring social norms and acceptable behavior.
- Exploitative Behavior:
- A tendency to exploit others financially, emotionally, or psychologically.
- Using people as tools to achieve personal gain.
- Fragile Self-Esteem:
- A paradoxical vulnerability beneath the surface, often masked by grandiosity.
- Reacting strongly to perceived slights or criticism.
- Constant Need for Admiration:
- An insatiable desire for praise, compliments, and affirmation.
- Using flattery and charm to manipulate others.
- Difficulty in Maintaining Long-Term Relationships:
- A pattern of tumultuous, short-lived relationships.
- Discarding people when they are no longer useful or adoring.
- Projection and Deflection:
- Projecting their own flaws onto others and blaming them.
- Deflecting attention away from their own faults.
- Emotional Manipulation:
- Using emotional tactics like guilt, pity, or anger to control others.
- Playing the victim to gain sympathy and support.
- Controlling Behavior:
- Seeking to control the thoughts, actions, and decisions of others.
- Isolating their victims from friends and family.
How to Handle Narcissistic Tactics
Once you’ve identified the common phrases a narcissist uses to manipulate you, it’s important to know how to handle the situation.
Understand and be clear that you don’t have to tolerate manipulation or abuse. It’s also important to know that you don’t have to accept what they’re saying. You have the right to stand up for yourself and express your feelings.
However, I know that this is far easier said than done.
How to handle narcissistic tactics
- Recognize the Tactics: The first step in dealing with narcissistic tactics is to become aware of them. Educate yourself about narcissism and the common manipulation tactics they use so that you can identify them when they occur.
- Maintain Healthy Boundaries: Set clear and firm boundaries with the narcissist. Be consistent in enforcing these boundaries to protect yourself from their manipulation and control.
- Stay Calm and Grounded: Narcissists often try to provoke emotional reactions. Stay composed and avoid getting drawn into their drama. Respond calmly and rationally.
- Limit Engagement: Whenever possible, minimize contact with the narcissist. Limiting communication reduces the opportunities for them to use their tactics on you.
- Avoid Arguing: Narcissists thrive on conflict and will often twist arguments to their advantage. Avoid engaging in lengthy debates or arguments with them. State your position and disengage if necessary.
- Document Interactions: Keep a record of interactions with the narcissist, especially if they involve any form of abuse or manipulation. This documentation can be useful for legal purposes or if you need support from friends or professionals.
- Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for support and validation. Talking to others who understand the situation can provide emotional relief and perspective.
- Practice Self-Care: Take care of your physical and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, reduce stress, and boost your self-esteem.
- Trust Your Intuition: If something feels off or manipulative, trust your instincts. Narcissists often rely on making you doubt yourself; your intuition can be a valuable guide.
- Learn the Gray Rock Method: In situations where you can’t completely disengage, use the Gray Rock method. Be as emotionally unresponsive and uninteresting as a gray rock, making you less appealing as a target.
- Consider Professional Help: If the narcissistic tactics are causing severe distress or harm, consider seeking the guidance of a therapist or counselor experienced in dealing with narcissistic abuse.
- Exit the Relationship When Possible: In cases of a romantic or close relationship with a narcissist, evaluate whether it’s worth maintaining. Sometimes the healthiest choice is to exit the relationship to protect your well-being.
- Understand, You Can’t Change Them: Recognize that you cannot change a narcissist’s behavior or personality. Focus on managing your own responses and choices.
- Safety First: If the narcissist’s behavior becomes physically or sexually abusive, prioritize your safety and seek help immediately from law enforcement or a domestic violence shelter.
Seek out support from other trusted people who can help you recognize and understand narcissistic tactics Do not be ashamed and try to manage on your own.
From my life experience, a narcissist will never change. The relationship will not improve irrespective of any promises they make; they lie constantly just to give you hope, and you end up being like a dancing monkey, making more and more concessions.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is narcissism, and how is it characterized in speech?
Narcissism is a personality trait characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a strong need for admiration. In speech, narcissists often use phrases that are centered around themselves, diminish others, or deflect responsibility.
2. Why do narcissists use these specific phrases?
Narcissists often use certain phrases to manipulate, control, or assert dominance over others. These phrases can also serve to protect their fragile self-esteem, deflect criticism, or ensure they remain the center of attention.
3. How can one differentiate between someone using a common phrase and someone exhibiting narcissistic behavior?
Everyone might occasionally use phrases associated with narcissism, but it’s the consistent pattern of behavior and the intent behind the words that indicate narcissism. It’s important to observe the context, frequency, and overall dynamic of the relationship when evaluating such behavior.
4. Are there any proactive strategies to deal with narcissistic phrases when they are directed at you?
Absolutely. Setting boundaries, staying grounded in your own perceptions and feelings, and avoiding getting entangled in pointless arguments can be helpful. Additionally, seeking support from trusted friends, family, or professionals can offer perspective and coping strategies.
5. Can recognizing these phrases help in understanding someone’s personality, or is it just a piece of the puzzle?
Recognizing these phrases can provide insight into someone’s behavior and interactions. However, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. To fully understand someone’s personality, it’s essential to consider a wide range of behaviors, patterns, and motivations over time.
Narcissists are expert manipulators who use similar methods to take total control of you, your life, and your resources. They will plant a seed of doubt in your mind and make you feel like you’re going crazy.
Now that you are aware of the common phrases that narcissists use to manipulate, when you meet new people, alarm bells should go off, warning you of possible manipulation and possible narcissists in the house.
Knowledge is power! Take care of yourself.