8 phrases narcissists use to keep you dependent on them, according to psychology

Ever found yourself in a relationship where you constantly had to walk on eggshells?

Your partner seemed like a dream come true at first, only to morph into an actual nightmare.

By then, you became so caught up in their orbit that extricating yourself proved difficult, to say the least.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you probably dated a narcissist.

They excel at weaseling their way into your life by using flattery and charm.

Then, they employ various manipulation tactics to maintain control and keep you coming back for more.

Stop falling for their devious schemes.

Here are 8 phrases narcissists use to keep you dependent on them, according to psychology.

Don’t ignore the red flags.

1) “I’ve never met anyone like you.”

Being on the receiving end of an avalanche of affection makes you feel like the center of the universe.

When that affection is coming from someone with nefarious intentions, however, it doesn’t lead to anything good.

According to psychology, love bombing is a manipulation tactic often associated with narcissism.

It involves showering someone with adoration – praise, compliments, gifts – in order to establish an emotional connection quickly and make you dependent on them from the get-go.

They do this by singling you out, telling you how wonderful you are, and acting smitten.

Besides insisting they’ve never met anyone like you before, they might call you their soulmate, marvel at your beauty, and be in contact with you 24/7.

There’s nothing wrong with being overly infatuated at the beginning of a relationship. It’s called the honeymoon phase for a reason.

But if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I’m in my mid-thirties. If I go out with a guy and he tells me he never felt like this before, I seriously question them.

Babe, you’ve been around for a while. I’m sure other girls gave you butterflies.

It takes time to build an actual connection and figure out whether someone is right for you.

Being sure you’ve found your soulmate after spending a mere two hours with them?

That’s the stuff of unrealistic rom-coms and anxious attachment.

2) “We’ll be together forever.”

Another popular tactic used by narcissists to lure you in is faking a future, according to psychology.

In other words, they paint a rosy picture of what lies ahead to win you over quickly.

You’ve only been on a couple of dates, but they already:

  • Tell you they want to spend the rest of their life with you
  • Talk about moving in together
  • Imagine how your wedding would look like
  • Wax poetic about all the exciting trips you’ll take together
  • Claim that their family would love you

The problem?

They don’t have any real intention of following through.

I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble or preach my cynical ways, but this courtship strategy doesn’t bode well for your romantic future.

The initial stages of dating should be all about getting to know each other and seeing how well you mesh.

If you’re already talking wedding venues, your significant other might only be looking for a quick validation fix.

3) “Nobody else will love you like I do.”

Once a narcissist lures you in, the devaluation stage begins, according to psychology.

The narcissist’s behavior shifts from praise and adoration to more negative patterns.

A common one is to exploit your insecurities about being unlovable, trapping you in a cycle of dependency fueled by fear.

They might also bring up your past trauma to use it against you.

Let’s say you told them how you’ve been hurt in the past.

If you get into a fight or you threaten to leave, they use that information as ammunition:

  • Remember how your ex hurt you?
  • Don’t you think the next person you meet will treat you worse?
  • At least I’m not as bad as your ex was.
  • You will never meet anyone who loves you as much as I do.

Your worth isn’t determined by anyone else’s approval.

Keep that in mind.

4) “You’re so lucky to have me.”

Another thing a narcissist might do to keep you around once you start to uncover their true colors is to chip away at your self-esteem, making you hungry for their validation.

They do this by subtly criticizing your appearance, intelligence, or personality, suggesting that no one else would put up with your shortcomings.

You’re lucky they’re willing to stick around.

Psychologists argue that a big sign you’re in a relationship with a narcissist is that you feel inadequate.

In a healthy relationship, your partner lifts you up.

They offer constructive criticism, sure, but their occasional negative feedback is meant to push you to fulfill your potential.

If your boo constantly puts you down, you need to jump ship ASAP.

5) “You need me.”

someone psychological manipulate you 8 phrases narcissists use to keep you dependent on them, according to psychology

On a similar note, narcissists may use your insecurities to keep you dependent on them, according to psychology.

Let’s say you’re not financially savvy and you’ve made some money mistakes in the past.

Your partner knows this, so they offer to help you come up with a budget and manage your finances.

You find their input helpful at first. With time, though, they start to lord it over you.

They insist that you wouldn’t be able to handle your money on your own and you would keep making the same mistakes you had before.

Hence, you need them.   

Since you’re still insecure about your financial past, you’re tempted to believe them.


6) “I’m doing this for your own good.”

Whenever a narcissist does something that seems fishy or not in your best interests, they’ll frame it as doing it “for your own good.”

For instance, let’s say you want to try for a promotion at work.

You share this with your partner, who at this point should cheer you on.

However, narcissists feel threatened by others’ accomplishments, according to psychology.  

Instead of offering encouragement, they undermine you.

They say you’re not skilled enough to pull it off and proclaim they do it because they don’t want to see you fail.

They don’t want you to grow because this would make you more confident and independent.

The exact opposite of what they’re aiming for.

7) “You’re overreacting.”

Another tactic narcissists use to keep you in their orbit is to accuse you of being too sensitive or of overeating whenever you bring up a concern.

According to psychology, a narcissist goes on the offensive even if they are the ones in the wrong, in an effort to trivialize your anxieties.

The tactic is so effective that you might question the validity of your emotions and feel like a crybaby for complaining about a certain issue.

Narcissists are adept at framing you as the problem, absolving themselves of any responsibility.

With time, they gaslight you into doubting your own reality, so you rely on them to make sense of what’s going on.

Otherwise put, you become dependent on them without even realizing it.

8) “Don’t you see that your loved ones don’t value you?”

Psychologists emphasize that narcissists frequently attempt to isolate you from your support network, leaving you increasingly reliant on them for companionship and emotional support.

A girl I was friendly with a few years ago became distant after she started dating a new guy.

Whenever I asked her out for lunch, she would politely refuse, saying she already had plans or she was hanging out with her boyfriend.

I didn’t give this much thought at the time because everyone gets busy.

Plus, it’s natural to want to spend more time with a new boo as you get to know them.

Fast-forward a few months, though, and we finally hung out.

That’s when she opened up about the fact that her partner led a persistent campaign to isolate her from her friends and family from early on.

He did this by insisting that her friends don’t appreciate her and that her relatives only use her for their own interests.

Her boyfriend was so smooth she believed him. She was grateful that he “opened her eyes” and slowly but steadily distanced herself from other people in her life.

Eventually, he took things too far and the spell was broken.  

Luckily, it wasn’t too late for her to mend fences and reclaim her life.

Others are less fortunate.

Final thoughts

Recognizing these phrases is the first step toward breaking free from a narcissist’s grip.

Your needs are just as important as your partner’s.

Don’t let them convince you otherwise.

Picture of Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Pleșa is a freelance writer obsessed with television, self-development, and thriller books. Former journalist, current pop culture junkie. Follow her on Twitter: @alexandraplesa

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.