45 phrases narcissists use to manipulate and control you

They say that whilst sticks and stones may break your bones, words can never hurt you. But we all know that’s not strictly true.

The reality is that words can be incredibly painful.

They also act like spells that in some circumstances weave an all too manipulative web.

Narcissists know this.

Let’s look at some of the common phrases narcissists will use to control you

Beware, manipulation comes in many forms!

A word of warning before we dive in.

When you meet a narcissist, it’s not always obvious at first.

That’s because an emotionally abusive relationship doesn’t usually start with cruel jibes and comments.

In fact, you will probably pass through different stages. As you do so, a narcissist will use different tactics to try to keep you exactly where they want you.

  1. Excessive praising and love bombing
  2. Stripping away at you (and your sanity!)
  3. Discarding and dismissing you

Their words can be either honey or vinegar — but they are still designed to hold power over you.

Love bombing is a common tactic in the beginning

A close friend of mine recently got out of an abusive marriage with a narcissist.

When I finally learned about all the horrible details of what had gone on, I was shocked.

She is such a confident and self-assured person, so perhaps I didn’t think it could happen to her.

Little did I know that narcissists are actually attracted to strong characters because it feeds their sense of grandiosity and arrogance.

Being able to snare otherwise happy and self-assured people is a testament to the clever and sneaky tactics used by narcissists to get their hooks into you.

Because in my friend’s case, her ex used a tried and tested method:

He presented himself as Prince Charming.

In the early days, he was every woman’s dream:

  • Attentive
  • Flattering
  • Deeply committed
  • …and oh so loving

It’s only with hindsight that she saw he was TOO loving.

Because yes, kindness can also be manipulation. Particularly when it is over the top and too much too soon.

That’s why you should be cautious of the following types of phrases coming from someone’s mouth when you are still getting to know them:

  1. “You are the love of my life”
  2. “I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost you”
  3. “Nobody gets me like you do”
  4. “You’re my world”
  5. “Meeting you was my destiny”
  6. “You are the only person I need”
  7. “You are so beautiful, kind, funny, clever…you’re perfect”
  8. “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before”
  9. “We’re perfect for one another”
  10. “I know it’s only been a few days/a week/ a month, but I think I’m falling in love with you”
  11. “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you”
  12. “I feel like the luckiest person alive”

As the relationship progresses, the victimhood, twisted words, and gaslighting starts

Once they’ve lured you in, that’s when a narcissist starts to show you their true colors.

The problem is that they do this in a very underhand way, so you still may not spot their manipulative ways.

Because the next tool they will use is to try to turn things around.

So that:

  • You become the bad guy
  • You feel guilty, wrong, or ashamed
  • You question your perspective of events
  • They get to be the victim

It could come as quite a shock when the criticisms start flying.

What happened to the angel that could do no wrong?!

You no longer feel special. All of a sudden you are questioning your self-worth.

According to psychotherapist Elisa Martinez:

“The intent of gaslighting really is to cause confusion and sow the seeds of doubt. It can be a very coercive and controlling tactic.”

Certain phrases are designed to undermine you and let the narcissist’s clear superiority shine through.

  1. “Are you trying to destroy us? Is that what you want?”
  2. “I don’t know why you’re so insecure”
  3. “You’re being so sensitive”
  4. “I can’t talk to you when you’re being like this”
  5. “I’m only messing around with you, why can’t you take a joke?”
  6. “Why do you have to make such a big deal out of it?”
  7. “You always overreact”
  8. “That’s not what happened, you’re twisting things”
  9. “What do you want from me?”
  10. “You’re being crazy”
  11. “This is all in your head”
  12. “You have some serious issues that you need to deal with”
  13. “My friends say I should just leave you, but I always defend you”
  14. “Why won’t you just admit that you’re in the wrong?”
  15. “Can’t you just drop it so we can move on?”
  16. “You use to be fun!”
  17. “You’re such a drama queen”
  18. “Nobody else thinks that except for you”
  19. “No wonder you drive everyone away”
  20. “It’s not my fault”
  21. “I really don’t need this right now”
  22. “That’s so unfair”
  23. Why do you put everyone else in front of me?

The criticisms and control reach new levels

In the final stage of the narcissistic cycle, once-loving words turn to poisonous phrases, cruel comments, and threats.

They will seek to justify their words and actions and make excuses whenever they are called out.

All the while their devaluation of you continues.

Their words are aimed at isolating you, wearing you down, and trying to make you see things from their twisted point of view.

You can expect a mix of manipulative comments that help them to do all this.

  1. “I’m the only person left who even likes you”
  2. “You’re not a nice person”
  3. “Good luck finding anyone like me ever again”
  4. “Don’t try my patience, you won’t like what will happen”
  5. “You’re pathetic”
  6. “Believe me, nobody else will have you”
  7. “After everything I’ve done for you, you should be grateful”
  8. “I don’t know how I put up with you”
  9. “You disgust me “
  10. “What you’re wearing makes you look like a slut”
  11. “Don’t blame me, you did this to yourself”

Protecting yourself from the grips of a narcissist

When you realize that a narcissist is near there’s only one thing to do:

Get away as fast as you can.

The only real way you can protect yourself from the spell of their manipulative words is not to be around to hear them.

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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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