9 phrases a narcissist might say if you try to break up with them

Ending a relationship is hard enough without having to deal with manipulative behavior. When your partner is a narcissist, breaking up can feel like an endless maze of mind games.

You see, narcissists have a knack for making everything about them. So when you work up the courage to leave, they won’t take it well. You can expect resistance, guilt-tripping, and attempts to hoover you back in. 

They’ll say whatever it takes to keep their grip on you.

Today, we explore nine common phrases narcissists may use when facing a breakup.

Knowing these won’t make it easy, but they can help you stand firm in your decision and avoid getting sucked back into the dysfunction.

Let’s dive in.

1) “You’ll never find anyone better than me”

When you finally work up the courage to break things off with a narcissist, don’t be surprised if they try to undermine your decision by claiming you’ll never find a better partner.

By suggesting you’re making a mistake and no one could possibly compare to them, they’re trying to plant seeds of self-doubt. After all, if you’ve been with them for a while, chances are they’ve already chipped away at your self-esteem.

As well as this, they are trying to make themselves feel better. As psychotherapist Chelsey Cole explains, Narcissists “actually do have feelings. They have very big feelings. They just have feelings for themselves and not for you.”

But here’s the truth: Not only can you do better, but you deserve better. A healthy relationship is built on mutual care, compassion, and compromise, not veiled insults and power plays.

Trust your instincts that it’s time to move on. 

Resist the urge to get sucked back into the dysfunction, despite their claims that the grass isn’t greener. It may feel daunting at first, but once you’ve broken free, you’ll rediscover your self-worth.

2) “You’re abandoning me”

Another go-to manipulation tactic is to make you feel guilty for “abandoning” them. 

By framing the breakup as you cruelly deserting them, they hope to keep you tethered to the relationship. After all, no one wants to think of themselves as heartless or irresponsible.

However, ending an unhealthy dynamic does not equate to abandonment. You have every right to walk away from a treatment that chips away at your self-worth. Putting your well-being first is not a crime.

Their wounded victim act is intended to make you doubt your decision. But remember, a relationship is a two-way street. You are not responsible for their emotions or behavior.

Stay firm in your resolve, even when they try to spin the narrative that you’re at fault. Prioritizing your happiness and peace of mind is the opposite of abandonment – it’s an act of self-care.

3) “I was just about to break up with you”

Phrases like “I was just about to end things” or “I’m glad you did it first because I was going to” are bait to make you question your decision.

Don’t take the bait. 

This tactic preys on our fear of rejection and desire to retain some control. By asserting they were about to dump you, they plant seeds of self-doubt, making you wonder if you were right to end things.

But this is simply a tactic to diminish your confidence in choosing to move on. Regardless of who technically initiated it, you made the healthy choice to remove yourself from a dysfunctional dynamic.

Stay grounded in that, not their fictional narrative that they were about to leave you first. Their ego may be bruised, but your sense of inner peace and agency will only grow.

4) “I can change; just give me another chance”

On trying to leave a narcissistic relationship, pleas of “I can change, please don’t go!” are also common. 

Promises to improve or seek counseling may even seem sincere, but more often than not, they are nothing more than empty words used to reel you back in. As noted by marriage therapist Nicole Arzt, “At times, they may even show some effort in making changes, although these efforts are rarely sustainable”

Genuine change requires self-awareness, accountability, and consistent effort over an extended period. Narcissists may scramble to make superficial, short-term fixes, but their deeper patterns are ingrained.

Don’t let declarations about changing lure you into giving them yet another chance. Chances are high they will revert back to their old ways once the threat of losing you passes.

Stay strong in your knowledge that you deserve more than lip service and half-hearted efforts. 

Beginning anew will be an adjustment, but you’re walking towards something better. Their proposed metamorphosis is an illusion – your metamorphosis into greater self-love is real.

5) “You’ll regret this”

pic2278 1 9 phrases a narcissist might say if you try to break up with them

This one is a classic narcissist phrase. 

Essentially, they’re attempting to make you question your decision in hopes that you’ll change your mind. 

And sometimes it can work. Rarely is ending a relationship, especially a longer-term one, a black-and-white decision; there are often doubts in the back of our minds. It’s these doubts clever narcissists attempt to play on to get their way. 

But here’s the reality – ending an unhealthy relationship that’s eroding your self-esteem is something you should feel proud of, not regretful about.

The only thing you may regret is not choosing to walk away sooner.

Have confidence that despite their attempts to make you feel otherwise, you’re making the right call to prioritize your happiness and end the mind games. The manipulation stops here.

6) “I can’t live without you”

At face value, this seems like an expression of intense devotion. But it’s actually a form of emotional blackmail.

By suggesting they can’t go on without you, a narcissist is preying on your empathy and compassion. But the intention is to burden you with an impossible responsibility – their life and happiness.

You might also hear more extreme statements like “I’ll die if you leave me” or “You’re all I have”; these are purposeful exaggerations meant to instill guilt and fear. 

But you are not responsible for someone else’s choices or entire emotional well-being.

As difficult as it feels in the moment, remain grounded in your decision to leave. Their threatened inability to live without you may not be sincere but simply a dramatic ploy to regain control.

Choose your own health and inner peace over baseless threats. You have the right to walk away – their life is ultimately their own responsibility, not yours.

7) “I thought you loved me”

As also noted by Licensed marriage therapist Nicole Arzt, often, narcissists will try to put the blame on you. 

One of the most emotionally charged phrases you may hear is, “I thought you loved me.” This blatant attempt at guilt-tripping aims to call your care and commitment into question.

But love alone is not enough to sustain a healthy relationship – it also requires mutual respect, compassion, and emotional safety. Remaining in a dysfunctional dynamic out of obligation, guilt, or convenience is not love; it’s enabling.

Trust that walking away takes courage and is ultimately an act of self-love. You deserve so much more than manipulative words disguised as devotion. 

Their perception of love may be skewed, but your inner guidance to move on comes from a place of truth.

8) “I thought we had something special”

This is often said in an attempt to romanticize the past as a way to maintain control of the present.

But the truth is, dysfunction should never be mistaken for or romanticized as “special.” Real connections are built on mutual care and respect, not mind games and power grabs under the guise of “passion.”

Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated into believing this dynamic was uniquely meant to be. Chances are, the “spark” was actually the adrenaline that comes from being continually off-balance and chasing validation.

Stay strong in your knowledge that you deserve so much better. The most worthwhile relationships bring out the best in us, not diminish our light.

Leave this misguided notion of “specialness” in the past where it belongs. Your future holds something genuinely special built on emotional safety and support.

9) “You’re making a huge mistake”

In a last-ditch effort to make you doubt yourself, a narcissist may insist that leaving them is a foolish move you’ll come to regret. 

But again, trust your instincts – removing yourself from an unhealthy and harmful situation is always the right call. Their claims that you’re erring are simply a reflection of their bruised ego and loss of control.

Stay strong in your conviction, even if they bombard you with reasons the relationship could have worked or try to highlight your flaws. You know in your heart this breakup is the healthy choice.

The only mistake would be remaining entangled against your better judgment. Have faith in yourself.

The bottom line

When trying to exit a relationship with a narcissist, their manipulation tactics can be relentless, making it crucial to recognize these subtle phrases for what they are – attempts to control.

But ultimately, you get to choose which voices you listen to – your inner wisdom or their disapproving narrative. 

Honor what you know to be right and healthy.

Until next time. 

Mal James

Mal James

Mal James Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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