11 phrases narcissists use to maintain the upper hand in relationships

We’ve all had those conversations that leave us feeling a bit off, right? But we can’t quite pinpoint why. Well, you might have been talking to a narcissist.

Narcissists have a knack for saying certain things to keep themselves in control. It’s like they have their own secret language.

Let’s dive into 11 phrases that narcissists use to keep the upper hand in relationships.

You might just discover a pattern you’ve been missing!

1. “I’m not being selfish; I just know what’s best.”

Narcissists love to play the expert. They’ll convince you that they’re only looking out for your best interests when in reality, they’re asserting their control.

This phrase is a classic example of how they twist things around. It makes it seem like they’re doing you a favor, but really, they’re just focusing on what they want.

Remember, in a healthy relationship, both sides get to have a say. So, if you hear this phrase often, take it as a red flag. You deserve to have your opinions heard and valued too. 

2. “You’re too sensitive.”

Ever been told you’re overreacting or being overly emotional?

That’s another favorite phrase narcissists use. It’s a way for them to dismiss your feelings and make you question your own reactions.

Instead of addressing the issue, they shift the blame onto you, making it seem like you’re the problem, not their behavior.

Your feelings are valid, and it’s okay to express them. If someone consistently tells you that you’re too sensitive, it might be time to reevaluate that relationship.

3. “You’re just misunderstanding me.”

This is another phrase they love to use. I remember a time in my own life when a close friend would often say this to me.

Every time we had a disagreement, instead of trying to understand my point of view, they’d dismiss everything with, “You’re just misunderstanding me.”

It’s a clever tactic. It made me question my own judgement. I found myself constantly trying to see things from their perspective and dismissing my own feelings as a ‘misunderstanding.’

It took me a while to realize that this was their way of avoiding accountability.

So, if you’ve got someone in your life who’s always claiming you’re misunderstanding them, take a step back and ask yourself: is it really a misunderstanding, or are they deflecting the issue?

4. “No one else has ever complained.”

This phrase is a manipulative tactic that narcissists use to isolate you and make you feel like you’re the problem.

It’s a way of invalidating your concerns by implying that everyone else in their life is perfectly content with their behavior.

People who frequently use phrases like this tend to display higher levels of narcissistic characteristics.

These types of phrases are designed to create self-doubt and undermine your confidence.

Remember, if something feels wrong to you, it’s okay to speak up about it. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your concerns are irrelevant.

5. “I did that because I love you.”

This phrase appears sweet on the surface, but it’s sometimes used by narcissists to justify their controlling or harmful behavior.

They make it seem like their actions were rooted in love when in reality, they were about maintaining control.

I want you to remember something: Love is about respect, understanding, and kindness. It’s not about control or justification for hurtful behavior.

If someone consistently uses this phrase to explain their actions that upset you, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.

Never let anyone use the word ‘love’ as a disguise for manipulation. You deserve authentic love, not control disguised as care.

6. “If you really loved me, you’d do this.”

This phrase hit home for me because I’ve experienced it firsthand.

A person I was close to frequently used this line to manipulate me into doing things their way.

It was a clever strategy; they made me feel guilty for not meeting their expectations and painted it as a lack of love on my part.

Over time, I realized this was a form of emotional blackmail. Love should never be used as a bargaining chip to get someone to bend to your will.

So, if there’s someone in your life who tries to manipulate your love for them in this way, remember my story. Love is about respect and understanding, not manipulation and control.

7. “You’re just jealous.”

This is a phrase that stings. It’s a low blow, one narcissists use to downplay your concerns or feelings by making you seem petty or insecure. Instead of addressing your issues, they turn it into a character flaw on your part.

It’s a cheap shot and an easy way out for them. It shifts the focus from their actions to your alleged jealousy.

But here’s the truth: your feelings and concerns are valid. Don’t let anyone brush them off as jealousy or any other negative trait. You have the right to express yourself without being labeled.

8. “You’ll never find someone like me.”

Narcissists love to make you believe that they’re the best thing that ever happened to you. They use phrases like this to make you feel like you’re lucky to be with them and that no one else could possibly match their greatness.

Narcissists often exhibit a trait known as ‘grandiosity,’ which is an inflated sense of their own importance or attractiveness. This phrase is a classic example of narcissistic grandiosity.

But remember, no one should make you feel like you’re lucky to be treated poorly. You deserve respect and kindness, not intimidation and fear.

9. “Why can’t you be more like them?”

I remember hearing this from a past relationship, and trust me, it hurts.

This phrase is another way narcissists keep you on your toes, constantly comparing you to others to make you feel like you’re never good enough.

In my case, they’d compare me to their exes, friends, even fictional characters, making me feel like I was always falling short, always needing to change or improve.

But here’s what I learned: You are enough just as you are. You should never have to change who you are to meet someone else’s unrealistic expectations.

Stay strong and remember: You are unique and irreplaceable. 

10. “I’m the victim here.”

This is a phrase narcissists use to flip the script when they’re caught in a wrongdoing. Instead of owning up to their actions, they play the victim card, making you feel like the bad guy for calling them out.

It’s a cunning move. They get to dodge responsibility and make you feel guilty at the same time. But don’t fall for it. Everyone should be accountable for their actions, and no one should use guilt as a tool to escape that.

11. “You owe me.”

Narcissists often keep score in relationships, reminding you of what they’ve done for you every time they want something in return. It’s their way of maintaining control and keeping you under their thumb.

But listen closely: A relationship isn’t a transaction. You don’t owe someone for being treated with basic respect and kindness. That’s expected, not an added bonus.

That wraps up our list of phrases. Remember, these are red flags, not normalities in a healthy relationship.

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Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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