13 phrases narcissists use to control their partner in a relationship

If you’ve ever known a narcissist, you’ve also known how difficult they can be to live with.

By their very nature, narcissists think that the world revolves around them, which means that as their partner, you’ve drawn the short straw. They’ll act as though you’re there to serve them. The word “partner” isn’t true to how they actually see you.

As part of that, they’ll also use their powers of persuasion to manipulate their partner and to make them more subservient. But what exactly do they say?

Let’s take a little look, shall we?

1) “Stop being so sensitive.”

This is the one that upsets me the most. Their partner is being sensitive because the narcissist is being abusive.

It’s like looking at someone who’s screaming because they’re on fire and saying, “Be quiet.”

Narcissists take a perverse pleasure in causing pain and upset and then claiming that their partner is making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s a form of gaslighting and is all about controlling their partner’s emotions.

If someone tells you to stop being so sensitive, tell them why you feel sensitive in the first place. You’ll learn a lot from their reaction.

2) “You’re overreacting.”

This phrase is an unusual one in that people use it for a variety of different reasons.

Sure, it can be used in the same way as “stop being so sensitive” to gaslight someone into thinking that their own emotions are inappropriate, but that’s not all.

Often, narcissists will use this phrase when they know that they’ve done something that’s deeply upset you. By accusing you of overreacting, they’re able to pre-emptively dodge any criticism for their actions by implying that you’re the one at fault.

3) “I’m only trying to help you.”

This is another classic phrase that narcissists use when they’re trying to gaslight you into thinking that they’re just doing what’s best for you.

Remember that the defining feature of a narcissist is that they’re self-obsessed and that they always put themselves first. They’re not “only trying to help you” because the only person they’re trying to help is themselves.

The typical narcissist will try to come across like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings when he’s taking the ring from Bilbo and saying, “I’m not trying to rob you. I’m trying to help you.”

The problem is that they’re more like Boromir when he tried to take the ring for himself.

4) “You’re too emotional.”

This is another form of gaslighting, and by now, you’re probably starting to notice a theme here.

When a narcissist accuses you of being too emotional, it’s because you’re reacting to their bad behavior. Whereas most of us would see that our partner’s emotions were driven by the fact that we’d messed up, the narcissist thinks that they’re incapable of making mistakes.

And so instead of looking inwards and admitting that they’ve made a misstake, they’ll lash out at their partner and accuse them of being too emotional. Don’t listen to them.

5) “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

You’re not making a mountain of a molehill. You’re calling them out on their BS.

As we said earlier, narcissists take pleasure in causing pain and then blaming their victim for having a negative response to it. And they’ll use this phrase while they’re gaslighting you.

No one gets to tell you that your feelings are invalid, and only you can decide on the size of the issue that you’re dealing with. If it’s a mountain then it’s a mountain.

6) “You’re imagining things.”

Ah yes, another classic in the gaslighter’s toolbox.

Narcissists use this one when you call them out on something like staring at another woman or avoiding your calls. They’ll know that you caught them out, and that’s one of the most annoying things that can happen to a narcissist.

Remember that narcissists inherently think that they’re better, smarter, and more important than anyone else. If they’re trying to sneak something past you and you catch them out, it shouldn’t be a surprise if they react negatively.

7) “You always do this.”

pic1721 13 phrases narcissists use to control their partner in a relationship

First of all, let’s be honest – unless the “this” in question is breathing, then you don’t always do it.

But even if you do something often, that doesn’t mean you deserve to be called out on it, unless that something is that you’re a narcissist who uses phrases like these to control your partner.

Most of us have behaviors that we regularly turn to, and not all of them are positive. In my case, I often have panic attacks when I’m surrounded by a lot of people.

Fortunately for me, my partner isn’t a narcissist and she supports me through them instead of trying to control me.

8) “You need to trust me.”

I’ve always found this one to be particularly laughable, because if someone’s worth trusting, they’ll have already earned your trust.

And so if anyone ever tells you that you need to trust them, you need to ask yourself why. What do they need your trust for, and what have they done to earn that trust from you in the first place?

With narcissists, this one usually comes up when their partner’s friends and family have staged an intervention or talked to them about how they’re worried about how the narcissist is treating them.

They’ll pull this phrase out of their narcissistic toolkit to gaslight you into thinking you need to ignore the people who love you and pick them instead.

9) “You’re the one who’s abusive.”

When all else fails, the narcissist in your life might try to turn the tables on you by claiming that you’re the one who’s abusive.

Assuming that you’re not sinking to their level and meeting abuse with abuse, this is just a transparent attempt at making it seem as though you’re the one who’s in the wrong.

Trust me, you’re not.

In fact, if you’re worried that you might be abusive, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re not. If you really were abusive, you wouldn’t be worried. You would have found a way to justify it to yourself.

10) “You’re lucky to have me.”

This is another flat out lie that’s designed to make the narcissist’s partner think that they’re a bad person to ever question whether they might be better off without them.

The truth, of course, is that getting into a relationship with a narcissist might well be the unluckiest thing you ever do in your life. And while there may occasionally be happy moments in the relationship, they’re typically far outweighed by the negatives.

In other words, you’re not lucky to have the narcissist in your life – but you are lucky to have friends and family who love you and who don’t try to control you.

11) “If you really loved me, you’d do what I ask.”

This is probably the most annoying phrase of all, and it’s an easy one to disprove.

All you have to do is ask yourself that classic question of, “If they told me to jump off a cliff, would I?”

If your answer to that is yes then you have bigger problems than your narcissistic partner.

You’ll need to look inwards and figure out why you love someone else more than you love yourself – especially when they’re a narcissist, because that means that they already love themselves enough for two.

Try turning this around and saying, “If you really loved me, you wouldn’t ask it of me.”

12) “You’re so ungrateful.”

Ungrateful for what? For how hard they’re working to control you?

Narcissists who say this remind me of a story I once heard about someone who borrowed $50 from a friend to get them a birthday present, then accused them of being ungrateful when they were given a $10 book voucher.

And of course, they never even paid them back.

13) “Stop playing the victim.”

The thing to remember here is that you are a victim.

Because of that, when a narcissist tells someone to stop playing the victim, it reminds me of when I’m having a panic attack and someone tells me to stop being anxious. It’s not that easy, and it’s also not helpful even when someone has your best intentions at heart.

And unfortunately for us, narcissists don’t have their partner’s best interests at heart. They’re too busy focusing on their own interests.


Now that you know the phrases that narcissists use to control their partners, you know what to look out for to make sure that you’re not falling victim to their shenanigans.

Now, I should point out here that not all narcissists are controlling, and it’s perfectly possible for a narcissist to have a healthy, functioning relationship.

Everyone is different, and that’s also true for narcissists. Just make sure that you know the signs to look out for so that if the worst does come to the worst and your partner tries to control you, you can call them out on it.

Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain is a published author, freelance writer and (occasional) poet and musician with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not working on his next release, he can be found reading and reviewing books while trying not to be distracted by Wikipedia.

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