8 phrases a covert narcissist will use when they want a second chance, according to psychology

Dealing with a narcissist is difficult as it is, but what if I told you that some narcissists are covert – meaning, their narcissistic tendencies may be very subtle and therefore hard to tell?

Don’t get me wrong, just like an overt narcissist, a covert narcissist still craves admiration and lacks empathy. It’s just that they’re a bit more introverted, so it takes a while longer for their true character to come out.

Luckily, I have a cheat sheet for you.

Here are the 8 phrases a covert narcissist will use when they want a second chance.

1) “I can’t live without you, you’re my soulmate”

According to expert Elinor Greenberg PhD, “It is very hard for relatively normal people to actually understand how narcissists think and feel, especially in romantic relationships.”

She explains, “During the courtship, people with narcissistic personality disorder act enthralled with you. They tell you that you are perfect and everything about you is lovable and special. They may give you thoughtful gifts and hang on to your every word.”

“In essence, they do everything possible to convince you that the two of you are soulmates and that they want to spend the rest of their life making you happy.”

And why is that relevant here?

Because when a narcissist wants a second chance, they essentially try to emulate the one strategy that’s worked for them in the past: love-bombing.

All of a sudden, they put on the very same persona you fell in love with. There are gifts, there are promises, there are declarations of love that make you weak at the knees.

But don’t let yourself get fooled.

A narcissist’s lack of empathy and self-centredness make it impossible for them to genuinely want to change for you. More often than not, they find it convenient for you to stick around, and so they’ll try to manipulate you into giving them what they want.

2) “I know we’re not talking but I bought you X”

Love-bombing is characterized by excessive displays of affection that serve to gain a sense of control over you.

What many people don’t realize is that these gestures of “love” often break boundaries, be it those set down by society (e.g., it’s inappropriate to buy an engagement ring for someone who effectively broke up with you) or those explicitly communicated by you (e.g., you told them you never wanted to hear from them again, and yet they keep ringing you every day).

A narcissist will try anything to get your attention, however extreme or irrational.

And that’s because they don’t respect your wishes and decisions. When you say “no,” they hear, “Find a different way to convince me.”

Of course, this can be a very dangerous mindset to have, which is why relationships with narcissists must be handled with firmness and – most importantly – emotional detachment.

If a covert narcissist buys you something to get back in your good books, don’t accept the gift. If you do, they will believe you now owe them a second chance.

3) “I’ve talked to your sibling/parent/best friend, hopefully, they’ll help you see sense”

If love-bombing doesn’t work, a narcissist might try to use peer pressure to get you to give in – especially if they have a good relationship with your loved ones.

And *especially* if your loved ones exert a powerful influence over you.

Your ex might call your older sister because they know she likes them and will try to talk to you and possibly change your mind.

Or they may message your mum, telling her how much they miss being part of the family.

Or they might come up with some sort of a lie to tell your friends so that you come out as the “crazy” one in need of help.

Whatever it is, remember that someone who empathizes with you and has your best interests at heart wouldn’t use the power of peer pressure to make you feel cornered, angry, and humiliated just to get a second chance.

They don’t love you. They just want to control you.

4) “I promise I’ve changed!”

“It is very common for the narcissist to go back into the charm phase of the relationship and to try to use promises of making a permanent change to entice you to stay,” says psychotherapist Sherry Gaba LCSW.

“This can be very effective if they are highly charismatic and know how to appeal to you and your desire to be in a relationship.”

I’ve been there, too.

I honestly can’t recall how many times I’ve heard my ex say he was “a changed man” only for all his promises to crumble two weeks later. Once he got me hooked again, his behavior slowly but surely returned to the all-too-familiar norm.

Look, I’m not saying people can’t change. They can. However, true change takes weeks, months, and sometimes years to implement.

If someone who’s hurt you says that they’ve completely turned their life around one week later…

Well, it just sounds like words to me.

5) “I’m going to get help”

On a similar note, “I’m going to get help” can also just be another technique to get you back.

Sure, some people genuinely do start going to therapy and working on themselves when they realize they don’t want to lose you.

But narcissists function differently. They only ever think in terms of their own personal gain, and so even if they do go to therapy, they might only do so because it will help them keep a hold of you.

Realistically, though, they’re not going to enter the therapist’s office at all, at least not in the near future. Once you get back together, they’ll come up with some sort of an excuse and hope it’ll all just blow over.

6) “I’ve always been there for you, don’t you think I deserve a second chance?”

When promises of change and love-bombing don’t work, a narcissist puts more drastic measures in place: guilt-tripping.

And what is guilt-tripping?

Psychologist Lynn Margolies PhD explains, “Guilt-tripping is a form of unconscious emotional blackmail whereby the guilt-tripper feels entitled and innocent of any misdeed.”

She adds, “Lack of awareness of self or others fuels the narcissistic tendency to adhere rigidly to their perceptions with ‘pathological certainty.’”

The fact that narcissists lack empathy doesn’t mean they don’t know how to manipulate yours. If they know that you care about them and their feelings, they will most likely try to make you feel guilty and ashamed, thereby increasing their chances of winning you over.

If you’re in this situation, don’t forget that no one “deserves” anything from you. Whether you want to maintain a relationship with someone or not is entirely your choice, no matter who did what for whom in the past.

7) “This is all your fault! You’ve done X and Y, you’re not perfect either!”

Here comes a more radical version of guilt-tripping – dredging up all your past mistakes, faults, and personality flaws to level out the playing field.

If both of you are to blame, surely that means you can just make up and move on, right?

But, of course, it’s not as simple as that.

In fact, the narcissist’s inability to accept your decision with grace and maturity, have a calm conversation, and part on good terms should be reason enough for you to reconsider whether re-establishing contact is a good idea.

8) “I’m the only person who will ever love you”

This one packs a punch, doesn’t it?

How very fortunate that it’s completely untrue!

Look, there are billions of people in the world. A narcissist’s manipulative “love” isn’t the best thing for you out there. Not by far.

And if they tell you that they’re the only person who will ever love you, it only proves that they don’t realize just how amazing and valuable you are.

So many people would love to be your friends or romantic partners that I can’t even count them on my fingers.

A narcissist will want you to embrace a scarcity mindset. They’ll want you to think this is the best this world has to offer.

I challenge you to think otherwise.

What if, by letting go of things and people that don’t serve you, you’re carving out space for something better to come along?

What if saying goodbye isn’t the end? 

What if it’s just the beginning?

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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