11 Common Things A Narcissist Says (And What They Really Mean)

How to understand the hidden meaning behind what they say.

Last updated on Jun 26, 2024

Woman knows how to deal with a narcissist by translating to their language. Maggieway, Nzewi Confidence | Canva

Narcissistic people use words as tools or weapons more than as communication. That is one reason why dealing with narcissists can be so frustrating and confusing. How to deal with a narcissist is by deciphering their language. The following examples of common phrases used by narcissists, along with a translation, can help you recognize what a narcissistic person in your life may really be saying beneath his or her words.


Here are 11 common things a narcissist says, and what they really mean:

1. "You’re crazy"

Translation: "I don’t take you seriously or respect you. If I can make you doubt yourself, you will be easier to control."

RELATED: How A Narcissist Thinks (Warning: It's Pretty Messed Up)


2. "You are completely wrong"

Translation: "I have no idea whether what you said has any merit but I don’t care. It’s too much work to listen."

3. "Stop psychoanalyzing me"

Translation: "I have no idea what you are talking about but it makes me uncomfortable. Introspection terrifies me. Either tell me something great about me or shut up."

4. "I never said that"

Translation: "I very well may have said that but I don’t like the way it makes me sound. If I stonewall, maybe you will back off or get confused."

RELATED: The Biggest Tell Of A Narcissist, According To Research

5. "I think of you as an equal"

Translation: "I hope you believe this because you won’t see how little I think of you and then I can use you more."


6. "We’ve gone over this a million times before"

Translation: "I won’t listen this time either."

7. "I’m sorry you got upset"

Translation: "I am not apologizing. It’s your fault you got upset, not mine. Maybe this will sound enough like an apology that you will forget it and get back to your real job, which is gratifying me."

8. "You’re too needy"

Translation: "Your needs are bothersome to me. Don’t expect me to do anything about them. Your job is to attend to my needs, not vice-versa."

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RELATED: 8 Specific Things A Narcissist Will Do To Avoid Answering Your Questions


9. "You only think about yourself"

Translation: "Stop trying to steal my spotlight. Everything is about me. You don’t deserve attention."

10. "You are too sensitive"

Translation: "Your feelings are inconvenient for me. I don’t know how to have empathy. Even if I did, I’d have no interest in empathizing with you. Maybe if I shame you, you’ll stop bothering me with your feelings."

11. "You can trust me"

Translation: "You’d be a fool to trust me, but if I can get you to believe this lie then I can keep using you. Plus, even if it’s not true, it makes me feel good to say it about myself." Recognizing the true meaning behind a narcissist’s words may bring up many feelings: grief, anger, relief, sadness, freedom, shock, and more. As feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem said: "The truth will set you free, but first it will tick you off." Translating a narcissistic person's words is important because narcissists live in reverse.

Feeling empty, they compensate with a persona of bigger and better. To avoid appearing flawed, they must be the best. To avoid appearing ignorant, they must be certain. To avoid feeling weak, they act all-powerful. Their words reflect this endless shell game. If you've been taking a narcissist literally, you may have exhausted yourself trying to make sense of it all. If you have tried to change your behavior in response to a narcissist’s criticisms, you may have found that the criticism continued anyway. Freedom around narcissists comes from paying attention to the "man behind the curtain" and from seeing that "the emperor has no clothes."


If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Identify A Covert Narcissist (It's Easier Than You Think)

Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., has more than 25 years of experience in private practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist. He is the author of Secrets You Keep From Yourself: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness.