Narcissists are tricky because they seem charming at first and flip a switch when you least expect it. They cause you to question yourself, making you think you’re the issue in your relationship. A manipulator wants to control you and ensure they continue getting what they want out of you.
Narcissists use love bombing, gaslighting, and manipulation to get what they want and keep you around. Sometimes it’s easy to identify the narcissism, but other times it’s more covert, meaning they are quieter about it. There are many common phrases manipulators use to undermine your well-being without having you pick up on it.
There’s no complete list of phrases narcissists will use to manipulate others, but this list is a place to start. Any variation of these phrases is a red flag, so don’t dismiss anything that doesn’t feel right to you. However, before learning these statements, you must understand what a narcissist is.
What are Narcissists?
Anyone who thinks they are better and more deserving than others might have a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). This disorder means they engage in grandiose thinking, lack empathy, want to be admired, and have an inflated ego.
These negative behaviors are how they cover personal insecurities and fears, although they’d never admit it. They enjoy manipulating others and love when a plan works out for them.
Narcissists use language differently than other people. Rather than using it to communicate, they use words to manipulate and get what they want or need. They’ll say what they can to keep you around, despite the detriment to your well-being.
These people have a high sense of entitlement and do whatever they can to bring others down. They terrorize you psychologically, and it worsens the longer it goes on. A narcissist often sounds normal and uses words to send mixed messages with a negative subtext.
These people are often arrogant and thoughtless. They only think of themselves, so their actions are generally selfish. A manipulator will only do kind things for others when they can get something out of it or use it against them later.
Twelve Phrases Narcissists Use to Manipulate Others
You might not realize these phrases are manipulative at first, but question them later. This situation happens to you because a narcissist is good at saying something without coming right out and insulting you.
Other times they’ll be more direct, but they often try to make their harmful comment seem helpful. Anytime someone says something that undermines your success or makes you question yourself, it’s manipulative.
1. I’m the only person who likes you, and everyone else is just pretending.
A narcissist says this for a few reasons. First, they want you to feel bad about yourself. It will make you feel worthless and like they are better than you are.
They also want you to feel like they’re doing you a favor by spending time with you. If they’re the only one that likes you, they’ll expect gratitude.
That’s not all, though, because they also want to isolate you from others. If you think people don’t like you and say bad things about you, you won’t want to be around them. This method is one of the many ways a manipulator will get you to themselves.
2. No one will believe you if you tell them.
A manipulator will say this phrase for a few reasons, too. They might have isolated you to the point where you have no one to turn to.
Or, it might indicate they’ve already talked badly about you to others ahead of time. They’ll want to do it first so that everyone in your life will be on their side and believe their lies.
Either way, this phrase prevents you from telling people about the situation. You’ll feel alienated and alone, and it convinces you to stay without speaking up.
3. I don’t know why you’re so jealous and insecure.
Someone who uses this phrase usually knows the reason you’re upset or feeling insecure. This person goes out of their way to make you feel this way, making them feel desirable and powerful.
Narcissists will do things to upset you and then make you feel bad for being upset. They do this because they feel threatened when you confront them and don’t want to hear your thoughts.
These people often want you to take the abuse without saying a word. They don’t want to say you’re right because that would require them to consider how their actions affect others.
4. I love you so much–I can’t be without you.
When someone hurts you and uses this phrase, it’s a sign of a manipulator. They often love-bomb you after hurting you, and it’s a subtle method of gaining control.
However, they love that you trust them and continue to care for them despite the mistreatment. It keeps you in a cycle of abuse because you keep forgiving and continuing the relationship.
5. If you leave me, you’ll never find someone as good.
Narcissistic behavior usually comes from underlying insecurities; this phrase is an example. They are afraid that you’ll find someone who treats you well.
Because of that fear, they want you to believe you’ll regret it. This person doesn’t want you to find someone who will bring joy to your life or allow you to recognize your true worth.
6. You’re crazy, just like my exes.
If you date a narcissist, they’ll frequently compare you to people from their past. Rather than recognizing that their behavior is the issue, they’ll blame everyone in their lives. They’ll appreciate the reaction this statement will get from you, so they do the same things that worked in the past.
7. I don’t know why you’re upset. It’s your fault anyway.
No matter what happens, a narcissist will blame you. They will never take responsibility for a situation or outcome and blame others. These people won’t even take partial responsibility, and they’ll find every reason that they aren’t to blame.
If they did something to hurt you, this person tells you their behavior was their fault, too. They’d say they wouldn’t have hurt you if you had done what they wanted.
A narcissist will use this phrase when confronted or when you stand up for yourself. They don’t enjoy confrontation, so a manipulator will flip the situation around immediately.
8. I’m sorry that’s how you feel, but you’re wrong.
When this person says they’re sorry about how you feel, they want you to think they’re being kind. However, following up by telling you you’re wrong is a red flag. They want to end the argument, but only if you let the issue go.
This phrase clarifies that this person is not sorry for what they did. They’re only sorry that you spoke up about the problem.
9. Life isn’t all about you, so let it go.
A narcissist will use this phrase when they want to refer back to themselves. They won’t discuss your needs because it means they won’t get what they want. These people only want to project their selfishness, and they’ll make you feel guilty or ashamed so that they can achieve it.
10. They’re just a friend; stop imagining things.
Dating a narcissist is hard because they’ll betray your trust and then tell you that you imagine it. They’ll keep close friends they flirt with throughout your relationship. However, when you mention it, this manipulator will make it seem like they did nothing wrong.
11. You’re getting upset over nothing and need to toughen up.
When you express your emotions, a narcissist might use a phrase like this. They don’t want to show compassion, so they try to shut your expression down quickly.
Parents frequently say this to children, thinking it’s helping them overcome emotions. However, this phrase invalidates feelings whether it is said to an adult or child. It’s not a good situation; no one should feel they must suppress their emotions.
12. Stop overreacting, I was just joking.
It’s not a good sign when someone tells you that you’re overreacting and that they were joking. A narcissist will say this when you react naturally to a situation. They don’t want you to catch onto their negative behavior, so they want you to think it’s not a big deal.
This person gaslights and invalidates you so that you second-guess yourself. It sets you up for becoming compliant and minimizing the abuse. This phrase devalues your emotion and causes you to lose trust in yourself.
Eleven Signs of Narcissists
You can often look for the eleven signs of a narcissist to help you identify them in your life. There is much more to watch for than listening to what they say. Some of the other signs of a manipulator include:
- having a large circle of friends but being unable to sustain a deep connection
- exhibiting attention-seeking behavior
- asking for things from others without ever contributing
- hurting people’s feelings and not taking responsibility
- causing problems within a group and blaming others for how they behaved
- not caring about the emotions of others
- relying on others to help them through their negative emotions but never being there for their loved ones
- walking away from friendships and relationships when they no longer feed their self-esteem
- spending time with people only when it benefits them
- constantly criticizing others, openly or behind their back
- applying higher standards to others than they do to themselves
Final Thoughts on Phrases Narcissists Use to Manipulate Others
Dealing with a narcissist can seem impossible, but the first step is identifying it. If you tend to feel bad after spending time with specific people, reflect on what they say to you. These phrases are detrimental to your well-being and intend to manipulate you.
When you know a narcissist’s true intentions, you can protect yourself from their negative behavior. Remember that this isn’t a complete list; any variation of these phrases is toxic. Go with your gut and admit to yourself when something doesn’t make you feel good.