8 phrases narcissists use to manipulate their partner in a relationship

Let’s get real for a second.

Relationships can be tricky business, there’s no denying it. But where things get even more complicated is if you happen to be in a relationship with a narcissist—one who frequently uses their words to manipulate you.

This kind of manipulation is more common than you might think.

They usually say things that sound fine at first, but after further analysis, are actually intended to control your emotions. It’s like they’re speaking their own language in order to twist you to see things their way.

These folks often have a way of making everything seem like your fault by using words to shift blame.

In these situations, pay attention to phrases that might seem intentionally confusing or designed to make you doubt your beliefs and experience. 

Remember, don’t be fooled by the charm—sometimes, it can all be a front.

Spotting these patterns can be crucial in maintaining your sanity. To stay alert, here are eight things a narcissist might say in an intimate relationship:

1) “Why are you always so emotional?”

Imagine being in a relationship where your partner makes you feel like your emotions are a total and complete mess, while they themselves claim to have everything under control.

When a narcissist says something along the lines of: “You are always so emotional,” it’s as if they’re creating a narrative where they’re the calm and collected one, and you’re just a chaotic person.

They use this phrase to subtly control you, making you question your feelings and reality. 

It’s a way for them to paint themselves as the rational one, implying that your emotions are an issue.

This particular comment is designed to make you question yourself and give them more power in the relationship.

It’s as if they’re playing mind games, making you think your emotions are a flaw and that they’re the ones with everything figured out. 

It’s important to stay strong and aware in these situations.

2) “You’re just too much for me.”

At first glances, the phrase “You’re too much for me” might seem harmless. However, in the hands of a narcissist, it becomes a major tool for manipulation.

It’s like a subtle jab that can totally mess with your confidence. In fact, it’s a surefire way for them to shift blame and accountability away from themselves.

By saying you’re “too much,” they make it seem like you’re the one with the issues, or that you’re overbearing.

What makes this manipulation so difficult to work with is its surface-level simplicity. But underneath it all, it’s a means for the narcissist to control the narrative and get inside your head. 

Dealing with this kind of mind game requires recognizing it for what it is, and calling it out. And this is not always easy.

Remember, do not allow it to make you doubt your self-worth

3) “You’re imagining things again.”

Trust me, the sentence “You’re imagining things again” can be a huge instrument in the toolkit of a narcissist who is trying to manipulate their partner.

It operates on the premise of gaslighting, which you’ve probably heard is a manipulative tactic aimed at making the victim doubt their own perceptions and sanity.

When a narcissist fires off this phrase, they are dismissing their partner’s feelings, experiences, and concerns as mere figments of their imagination. It can feel completely discombobulating.

This not only invalidates the partner’s emotions but also places them in a position of self-doubt. 

By deploying such a tactic, the narcissist gains control over the story, steering it in a direction that serves their best interests.

It’s a form of psychological manipulation designed to undermine the partner’s confidence and independence, fostering a sense of dependency on the narcissist’s biased version of reality.

In relationships, trust and open communication are crucial. When a partner repeatedly hears the dismissive phrase “You’re imagining things again,” it truly chips away at the foundation of trust. 

The victim may become hesitant to express their feelings or concerns, fearing they will be met with disbelief or ridicule.

4) “Stop trying to make me look bad.”

When a partner says, “Stop trying to make me look bad,” it’s often a move to manipulate the situation.

It’s like a shield they throw up to avoid taking responsibility and to control how things are perceived.

People with narcissistic tendencies often use it to safeguard their image. They feel threatened by anything that might expose their weaknesses, so they quickly use this line to shift blame and remain the one in control.

The choice of words, particularly “stop”, is very much intentional. It’s straightforward to strip away any room for discussion, leaving the other person feeling confused and defensive.

In the end, this sentence isn’t just about asking someone to stop—it’s a way to dominate the narrative. It creates a one-sided view of reality that serves the narcissist’s agenda.

5) “My ex never had an issue with this. Why should you?”

enabling a narcissist to manipulate you 8 phrases narcissists use to manipulate their partner in a relationship

A narcissist often uses emotionally provocative phrases to control their partner’s feelings. Take this one: “My ex never had an issue with this. Why should you?” 

By bringing up their ex, they make it seem like they were perfect and never had a problem with their behavior. 

This immediately puts you on edge, making you feel like you’re the one with the issue because you’re not measuring up to their past lover.

And when they say, “Why should you?” it’s like they’re blaming you for having a problem. 

They’re trying to make you feel like it’s your fault and not theirs at all. 

It’s a sneaky way of messing with your confidence and making you stop believing in your own feelings.

6) “You’re the one who made me behave that way.”

When dating a narcissist, the phrase “You’re the one who made me behave that way” might come up. 

This particular sentence is a manipulative tactic to avoid taking responsibility for their problematic actions. 

Instead of admitting fault, they try to redivert the blame onto their partner, creating an overwhelming sense of guilt or doubt.

It’s a subtle move to maintain their image of superiority while undermining their partner’s self-esteem. 

In my experience, this is almost always part of a broader pattern of manipulation within the relationship. 

When confronted with these kinds of statements, it’s super important to see through the tactics and address the emotional manipulation at play.

7) “Well, it isn’t my fault you feel that way.”

By skillfully evading accountability with this phrase, the speaker aims to cast doubt on the validity of their partner’s feelings, creating a major sense of confusion. 

The calculated use of “my fault” removes blame from them. 

This not only totally invalidates the feelings expressed but also creates a sense of self-doubt within the partner. 

It is a manifestation of their need for dominance and a stark reminder of the power dynamics at play within such relationships.

8) “Can’t you be more like [this person].”

The phrase “Can’t you be more like [this person]?” is a sly tool often used by narcissists.

It essentially compares the partner to someone else, implying that they simply don’t measure up.

The narcissist picks someone they think is perfect, drops their name into the conversation, and immediately makes the partner feel inadequate.

The intention is to mess with their self-esteem and make them try desperately to meet some impossible standard. 

This tactic helps the narcissist feel superior and keeps the partner feeling like they’re always falling short.

Final thoughts

Breaking free from manipulation involves recognizing the narcissist’s tactics, including the phrases listed in this piece.

What comes next is a little harder, and involves rebuilding self-confidence, and seeking a support network in order to regain a healthier perspective on the relationship. 

Have patience and truly believe that things will get better for you once you’re free from this person.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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