7 phrases covert narcissists use to manipulate you

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“I’ve never met anyone like you.”

“We’re soulmates.” 

When you met your partner, they were sweet, charming, and even alluring. You may have fallen in love quickly, and they idealize you, but you’re picking up on things they say that leave you confused and questioning your sanity. 

Unlike overt narcissists, who are loud attention-seekers, covert narcissists are quiet and unassuming. 

When a covert narcissist starts weaving their web, it’s incredibly hard to spot their manipulative and deceptive tactics. You don’t know that you’re being controlled or manipulated. 

But your intuition is telling you that something is off. 

One day, they make you feel like they’d give you the world, and the next, they’re pulling the rug from under your feet. 

You’re here because you want to know how to spot a covert narcissist, and you want to know whether you’re being taken advantage of in your relationship. So, let’s look at the following 7 phrases that covert narcissists use to manipulate you. 

1) “You’re way too sensitive.”

You’re crazy.” “Get over it already.” 

Have you heard this before? 

A narcissist has to make you feel small and insecure to keep you under their spell. They start by targeting your confidence and saying nasty things to create self-doubt because they lack empathy

You might have experienced a situation where your partner insulted you, and when you call them out because of what they said, they retaliate with, “You’re being too sensitive,” or “Get over it already.” 

So, instead of listening to you or trying to understand your reaction, they flip the blame onto you by saying you’re too sensitive or too emotional. That way, they avoid taking responsibility for their actions while planting a seed of self-doubt. 

Maybe you are being too sensitive.  

They want you to believe that it’s all your fault. 

To make matters worse, these comments are usually followed by affectionate and loving behaviors because they still want you to believe that they’re vested in the relationship. It also makes the interaction much more confusing and hard to pinpoint. 

It’s classic manipulation

Refusing to put up with insults or emotional abuse is not a case of being too sensitive. 

2) “I’m only joking.”

Another underhanded way of creating self-doubt is by making fun of you and then telling you that they’re “joking.” 

This is a strategy that covert narcissists use to protect themselves because they don’t like to accept any blame for their actions. 

This is what happened to me…

One night, my fiance and I decided to stay home and order in. While we were discussing our food choices, he made a snide remark: “You better not order the extra cheese; those pants are looking a little tight.”

When I got visibly upset, I got the “just joking” response. 

For the remainder of the evening, he asked if I needed anything and seemed attentive and nice. 

The phrases “only joking” or “I’m just kidding” are not once-off occurrences. It happens frequently because they’re targeting your self-esteem while trying to shift the blame. 

They’re condescending, and the goal is to get you to think that you are the problem. It keeps them in control of the relationship

3) “I didn’t say that.”

A covert narcissist is very good at gaslighting, which creates a severe breakdown in mental and emotional well-being. 

When someone denies what they’ve just said, they’re trying to get away with a lie by making you second-guess yourself. 

A covert narcissist is so convincing that you no longer focus on them and question whether you misunderstood. Once you feel paranoid and stop interrogating them, they’ve achieved their goal of getting away with the lie. 

When you question your perception of reality or feel like you’re losing your mind because you’re so confused, it’s gaslighting

Gaslighting is not okay. 

It’s emotionally abusive, as it leads to anxiety and crushes your confidence. If you are affected by this type of psychological turmoil, speak to someone you trust or leave the relationship. 

If you try to talk to the narcissist about their behavior, they’ll continue to deny everything because they don’t take accountability. 

4) “If it wasn’t for me.”

“Congratulations! You got the job!” “But you know that if it wasn’t for me, you probably wouldn’t have gotten it.”

Are they happy I got the job, or should I be giving them credit? 

The ways of a covert narcissist are sneaky, and they want you to believe that you need them. So, they’ll say things to make you think that they’re in your corner, but in reality, it’s all part of their plan to create a false sense of security in a relationship.

They are very envious. 

Narcissists experience periods of jealousy, which makes them feel insecure. They will use a friendship or a relationship to feed their egos by criticizing you or by putting you down in an underhanded way, so you never know if the problem is you or if it’s them. 

They want to feel superior to you, and they can achieve this by breaking you down and then building you back up. 

If they had any part to play in your accomplishment, they’d let you know about it by taking credit. 

5) “Don’t you remember how good we were?”

While a narcissist tends to be arrogant and extroverted, a covert narcissist is difficult to detect because they are more introverted and insecure. Some might describe them as shy and sensitive. 

So, when things aren’t going well in a relationship with a covert narcissist, they become the victims of the situation. 

Instead of focusing on their shortcomings, they will deflect and blame external things or people. 

If you’re fighting about something in your relationship and threaten to leave them, you’ll probably hear phrases like, “We were good together in the beginning” or “This is the way I am because my parents were so mean growing up.” 

They might hint at you being selfish and not understanding them, or they might play the “innocent card” by telling you that they didn’t think something they did would hurt you. 

There’s always an underlying theme of feeling sorry for themselves and never accepting accountability for their part in the ordeal. 

6) “You’re making no sense.”

When someone wants to make you feel confused or insecure, they do things that leave you questioning your thoughts and opinions. 

If you confront them about what they’ve said or done, they will tell you that you don’t make sense or that everything’s in your head. 

These dismissive retorts make you think that your opinion doesn’t matter or that you don’t have a voice in your relationship. 

You question whether they respect and value you.

To get their point across, they’ll not only dismiss what you say but also cut you off while you’re talking. This usually happens when you’re having an argument with someone or confronting them about their behavior. 

In many instances, a partner who is manipulating you will try to confuse you by accusing you of being crazy, or they might simply ignore you to get what they want. 

Don’t allow someone to make you feel that your opinion doesn’t matter or that you aren’t good enough. It’s a sign of manipulation, and only you can end the cycle by identifying these traits and putting your time and effort into a healthy relationship. 

7) “You’re lucky to have me in your life.”

Oh, it’s hard to be humble! 

A covert narcissist is not boastful and doesn’t come across as self-important (at least not all of the time), but they do like to make you feel guilty. They’ll manipulate you so they can be the dominant one in the relationship. 

They’ll say that you’re lucky to be with them because they expect you to show them how special they are.

Let’s say…

You try to establish a boundary in the relationship, and when you communicate what you expect from them, they try to make you feel guilty by telling you that you don’t care or don’t love them as much as they love you. 

You end up feeling guilty and unhappy, and they get what they want.

Final thoughts

Recognizing the signs of a covert narcissist’s manipulation can help you break the cycle of lies and deception

Trying to make sense of your relationship by questioning your sanity or feeling anxious all the time is not part of a healthy relationship. You have value, and you deserve to feel secure, appreciated, and loved. 

One more thing. 

Never allow someone to manipulate and take advantage of you once you’re aware of their behavior. 

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