14 phrases narcissists use to manipulate people around them

Not all manipulation is consciously malicious. Some people might not realize they’re being manipulative. 

Others might use these tactics out of habit or as a defensive mechanism. 

But if this is the case, the manipulator will at least try to understand what they’re doing wrong and want to change for the better. 

Narcissistic manipulation is different. 

When a narcissist manipulates, they know exactly what they’re doing. And they’ll see nothing wrong with it. 

Being trapped in a relationship, friendship, or co-working situation with a narcissist can feel like a literal hell. It will drain you. 

But not from the start. 

When you first meet one, they’ll love-bomb you. No matter what interest they have in you. 

Love-bombing refers to extravagant displays that create an alluring vision of the future. 

Sometimes in the form of words. 

If someone uses these phrases within weeks, or even days of knowing you, it’s a potential red flag and sign that they’re a narcissist:

1) “I can’t imagine my life without you.”

It’s natural and cute to say this to someone who means a lot to you. 

But if you hear it within a few days of knowing someone, it can signal that they’re trying to quickly establish a deep emotional connection. 

A love-bombing narcissist may use this phrase to create dependency and fast-track emotional intimacy.

They can also say this to make you feel responsible for their emotional well-being. It could pressure you to stay in an unhappy relationship or not make time for any of your other friends. 

A healthy alternative to this phrase is “You mean a lot to me.” or “I enjoy the time we spend together.” 

2) “I’ve never felt this way before.”

Narcissists will often paint a picture of their bond with you as something extraordinary and unique. This way, they can make you feel like you’re experiencing a never-before connection.

Phrases like this rush relationships forward without giving them time to develop organically

It can also make you feel obligated to reciprocate these feelings. 

Someone who likes the way they feel around you, but isn’t trying to manipulate you, might say something like this instead:

“I like the way it feels when we’re together.”

3) “I’ve been waiting for you my whole life.”

Many love-bombers like to create the illusion that you’re the missing piece in their life. 

And while this can make you feel special, it also paves the way for manipulation and control

Subconsciously, it can create guilt for not having the same level of commitment. 

An emotionally intelligent person might say something like this instead:

“I’m glad I found you.”

4) “You’re my soulmate!”

Over-the-top claims of cosmic compatibility are never a good sign. 

It might sound romantic or make you feel like you’ve found true friendship, but it can also be a way to manipulate your perception of the relationship.

If you hear this early on – run!

A narcissist might exploit a phrase like this to rush you into forming a bond with them. 

If you’re constantly bombarded with the idea that you have a spiritual connection with someone, it can be harder to consider ending the relationship.

A less-manipulative phrase someone could use instead is something like:

“I’m glad we share this bond!”

5) “You’re the only one who understands me.”

warning signs youre dealing with a deeply insecure person 14 phrases narcissists use to manipulate people around them

Isolating you emotionally from other people is a common tactic in love-bombing. If your new partner or co-worker makes you feel like you’re the only one who gets them, they might be narcissistic. 

This phrase can make you turn away from other support or perspectives if they do something you don’t necessarily agree with. 

A more emotionally-balanced phrase could be:

“I really like our conversations and the way we understand each other.”

If it feels like your friend or partner consistently says these kinds of things with a sole focus on their needs, it’s a potential red flag

Now, I’m not saying you should leave. But if you stay and are dealing with a narcissist, they’ll see this as a win. 

And the honeymoon phase will soon be over. 

Once you’re hooked, you’ll start hearing phrases like:

6) “You’re too sensitive.”

When someone uses this phrase, they totally dismiss how you’re feeling. 

It’s a form of gaslighting and can make you doubt your own emotions. It will also discourage you from expressing how you truly feel. 

In short, a narcissistic partner, friend, or co-worker will use this phrase when trying to control the narrative and avoid responsibility for their actions. 

If someone really thinks your reaction is invalid or exaggerated, and they have good intentions, they’d rather say something like:

“I get how you feel. I just think this situation affects us differently. Can we talk about what we’re both feeling?”

Saying that you’re too sensitive is similar to saying…

7) “You’re overreacting.”

This phrase also belittles your feelings or reaction by trying to suggest that it’s excessive. It’s usually said in an attempt to make you doubt your own judgment.

Next time, you might suppress your emotions, even though you have genuine concerns. 

This can make you end up feeling really isolated. 

A healthier alternative to this phrase is something like:

“I see that you’re upset. Can we talk about what happened so I understand better?”

8) “I’m just being honest.”

Honesty is important. I’m not advocating against it at all. But sometimes, people use this phrase to justify hurtful comments or criticisms. 

It could make you feel like you have to accept hurtful remarks without question. And it deflects responsibility. 

Many narcissists use this phrase to avoid accountability for how their words impact you and lead to a toxic dynamic. 

There are better ways to share opinions. Like saying:

“I’d like to share my perspective. Are you open to it?”

9) “You’re lucky to have me.”

A phrase like this creates inequality. If someone says this to you, they likely think they’re superior. 

Narcissists use this phrase to make you feel grateful for their presence. It could also make you feel indebted to them.

This is just another one of their attempts to silence you.

If someone tries to convince you that you’d never survive without them, the idea of mutual support doesn’t exist. 

And this is necessary for healthy relationships.

A better phrase to use could be:

“I like that I’m able to help you because you always help me so much!”

10) “You always do this.”

If a man does these things hes deeply insecure about himself 14 phrases narcissists use to manipulate people around them

Narcissistic people love making exaggerated accusations. They typically use a phrase like this to make someone feel guilty.

This form of generalization is meant to criticize you and assign blame. It could make you feel like there’s no room to explain your actions or defend yourself. 

People use this phrase when they’re trying to control the narrative. If there was genuine concern about a bad habit you have, they’d say something like:

“I’ve noticed a pattern, and I’d like to talk to you about it. Can we try to find a better way to handle these situations?”

Devaluing your feelings or things you do is how narcissists strip your confidence and self-worth. 

If you find yourself in this stage of a relationship or friendship, you should leave!

Because what comes next is even worse. 

Whether they plan to leave the relationship and walk away as a winner in their books or attempt to control you for the rest of your life, you might hear phrases like:

11) “No one else likes you.”

Narcissistic people like to attack someone’s self-esteem. If they can make you feel isolated and worthless, it’s a win. 

They do this hoping you’ll become emotionally dependent on them for validation. It’s also their way of controlling the relationship. 

If you have a hard time making friends, or people struggle to understand you, someone who loves you would say something like:

“You’re unique. Not everyone understands that. Just keep doing you.”

Besides saying no one likes you, a narcissist might also say…

12) “You did this to yourself.”

This phrase places all the blame on you by ignoring any external factors. It can induce guilt and shame. 

If you believe that everything negative in your life is entirely your fault, you could have a hard time overcoming it. 

Narcissists know this, which is precisely why they’ll use this phrase. Their goal is to hinder you from seeking help or improving so they can continue manipulating you. 

Sure, we’re the problem sometimes. But someone who loves you will say something like this instead:

“I know it sucks right now. But you have the power to change what happened. Let me help you.”

13) “You’ll never change.”

This is another statement a selfish person will use to discourage personal growth and possible freedom from their grasp.

When you constantly hear that you’re incapable of change, you might internalize this belief and just accept your shortcomings. 

And sometimes we have to. But most of the negative things we do or feel about ourselves can change. 

Strong, confident people rarely stay trapped. That’s why a narcissist will try to stop you from seeking growth.

If your partner or friend wants to see you become the person you’ve always wanted to be, they’ll say something like:

“I believe in you! And I can’t wait to look back in a year and see how far you’ve come.”

14) “You’re gonna end up alone.”

Narcissists rarely give up without a fight. And if they realize they’re losing their grip on you, they might spew this phrase in a last attempt to keep you captured. 

If you fear loneliness, hearing this could make you doubt your ability to form meaningful connections

You might stay in an unhealthy relationship or hold onto the toxic friendship because of this. 

Ultimately, your fear of being alone could hinder your ability to make decisions that prioritize your well-being. And this is what a narcissist will count on. 

It’s never pretty when relationships fail, and one partner still wants it to work. But someone who truly loves you will say something like this instead:

“This hurts. But you deserve happiness.”

Of course, narcissism isn’t always to blame. Some people just lack emotional maturity, and others have difficulty finding nicer ways to say things.

But, if it feels like you’re being smothered, constantly need to defend your every move, or get blamed for everything, you’re likely dealing with a narcissist. 

My advice?


Picture of Natasha Combrink

Natasha Combrink

Nats is a writer who loves creating content for purposeful brands. She enjoys spending time outdoors, crafting, and diving down rabbit holes. After rediscovering life, she wants to help others live to their full potential. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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