A lot has been written and said on the topic of narcissism through countless videos, blogs, even news sources. One might say that the term itself is slightly overused, or at least not understood sufficiently, so before we start listing the top 10 most common things narcissists say and the underlying thought processes behind their words, it is important to establish several things.
Firstly, narcissism is not always a disorder – it’s a personality trait that is present in all people, with some being more narcissistic than others. In other words, narcissism is better understood when viewed as a spectrum than a category. Everyone lies somewhere on the bell curve that represents different levels of narcissism. At the one extreme tail end of that distribution are the people with excessive narcissism that usually impairs their mental health and everyday functioning, including their highly dysfunctional relationships with other people and inability to maintain healthy ones. That kind of person might be afflicted by a condition called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Secondly, narcissism is often equated with one of its types, and that’s the over-the-top, explicitly self-aggrandizing type, which is termed “grandiose or overt narcissism”. The other less talked about variant is the so-called “vulnerable or covert narcissism” – these are the kind of people who project a sense of victimhood, even if they are not one themselves, are prone to guilt and shame, and are more interested in taking than giving since they believe they have been wronged by the world, so they must deserve everything.
Be sure to check out our video on the 4 types of narcissism you need to know for more details.
Thirdly, any relationship with a narcissist follows a predictable trajectory usually encompassing the processes of idealization, devaluation or de-idealization and discarding, which is frequently followed by something called “hovering” – the process narcissists use to manipulate the other person to remain their source of admiration they crave after they’ve discarded that person. These processes happen in every type of human interaction and relationship – in romantic relationships, families, friendships, and workplace settings, most often. It is through the lens of these circular processes that we are going to be analyzing the ten most common things narcissists say.
So, let’s start with number 1.
1. “I love you even though I just met you / Fate brought us together / We were meant for each other”.
These kinds of statements usually occur during the idealization phase in romantic relationships, but the same can happen in families, friendships, and workplaces. Usually said very early on, before the narcissist has had the chance to get to know a person, it usually reflects the narcissist’s need for a “perfect union” at an incredibly rapid pace and is followed by extremely intense words and grand gestures. The need to idealize another person for a narcissist is, in fact, a need to idealize themselves to help them get rid of their deeply seated insecurity and lack of healthy self-love.
2. “You are special/perfect/unique”; “I’ve never met anyone like you”; “You are incredible in every way”
These statements can indeed come from a genuine place and be sincere if a healthy individual has had enough time to get to know the person they are saying them to. However, from a narcissistic point of view, these lavish compliments given freely very early on after meeting the other person can point to a narcissist’s desire for the other person to be “special” and “unique” so that they could feel as if they were special or unique themselves. Again, it’s a part of the idealization phase and reflects the narcissist’s need to only form relationships with people whom they perceive to be “special”, just as they, at least outwardly, believe they are, but are afraid that they might not be. These statements play into one of the defining characteristics of both overt and covert narcissists – the need for grandiosity.
3. “I know we just met, but I think we should take this relationship to the next level and not waste any time”
Excessive and prematurely lavished praise the narcissist has showered the other person with previously now needs to be turned into actionable grandiosity. These over-the-top statements are meant to impress the other person and convince them that the beautiful words will materialize in real life, and keep the narcissist excited about the prospect of this “perfect relationship”. However, if the other person is overly vulnerable and doesn’t recognize that these incredibly fast proclamations of adoration and excessive gestures are a little out of place, since the relationship is in its early phases, chances are they are going to get hurt.
4.” I’m bored”/”Can’t you do something interesting from time to time?”
Statements like these are indicators that, after realizing that the other person is a flawed human, just like everyone else, the narcissist is deeply disappointed that their “soulmate” is anything less than perfect, so they devalue the person by plainly demonstrating boredom and disinterest in other person’s needs.
5. “I’m sorry you feel that way”.
Still part of the devaluation phase, this insincere quasi-apology is actually often a response to the other person’s reaction to the sudden shift in the narcissist’s words and demeanor. They become cold, distant, and disinterested in a very short period of time after incredibly intense proclamations of eternal affection and endless praise, which leaves the other person confused as to what’s changed. The thought process underlying this statement is: “I am not actually sorry, I am just angry that you called me out on my erratic and confusing behavior – maybe you should be feeling sorry for doing that”.
6. “You’re being irrational/oversensitive”/ “Are you crazy”/ “You are ruining everything”.
This is a logical continuation within the devaluation phase in the eternal narcissistic dysfunctional cycle. Now the implicit contempt for the other person turns into explicit insults and invalidation, as well as diminishing the importance of their own dysregulated behavior and shifting the blame to the other person. This is when minimization, gaslighting, rationalization, and severe projections start to become very obvious in the narcissist’s behavior.
Gaslighting is also done by sociopaths to manipulate you which we covered in our video 7 Psychological Tricks Sociopaths Use to Manipulate You. Be sure to check that out.
7. “You’re being selfish” / ”Why is everything about you?” / “Why can’t you just let me do what I want to do?”.
At this point, the narcissist minimizes the non-narcissistic person’s justified confusion and frustration with the constant push-pull dynamics by calling the non-narcissist selfish and self-centered, instead of recognizing themselves as the source of the problem. This is where the very clear projection comes in – their own selfishness and single-minded focus on their own needs, which they assume should come first, is ascribed to the other person.
8. “It’s obvious this isn’t working because of you” / “Maybe we should remain just friends” / “I need time apart from you”.
These sentences are a signal the narcissist is bored, completely uninterested in the person or their feelings at that point, and are preparing a way for the discarding phase. The very framing of these statements indicates that the narcissist considers the narcissistic supply – emotional reactions from the other person that keep the narcissist excited within the endless emotional rollercoasters – have become stale for the narcissist. That means they need a fresh source of supply that would help them maintain their fragile belief system of who they are – the unique, special person who deserves special treatment. However, there is a potential danger that the other person or persons are less likely to put up with their behavior and not give them what they need – that is why the first person is supposed to remain somewhere in proximity in case the narcissist decides that the first person is the best option for delivering narcissistic supply.
9. “No one would believe you” / “Nobody really cares about your opinion” / “People believe me because they are aware I’m always right”.
The previous statements have started to escalate into outright threats and insults. Since the person who was enduring the narcissist’s behavior has probably become anxious, depressed, socially isolated, and less equipped with adequate coping mechanisms, the narcissist takes advantage of their vulnerability to a) directly or indirectly threaten them to smear their reputation, so other people wouldn’t believe them if they decided to expose the narcissist; b) assert their dominance and supposed superiority to the other person; c) make sure to try to establish their unsupported claims that they are better, smarter, superior to other people.
10. “I deserve better than you” / “You will never be able to find anyone like me”.
Just before the narcissist decides to discard the person, they make sure to add one final blow – assert that the other person is of lesser value than them, just like other people, that they are easily replaceable and that the narcissist always deserves special treatment, including “special” people to associate with. Here, the unsupported sense of grandiosity rears its head once again.
It’s important to know that this list is, by no means, the full repertoire of their statements – these might just be the most representative of their general thought processes, emotional dysregulation, intellectual dishonesty, and inflated sense of self-worth. We should all try not to overuse the term “narcissist”, though, because we would be trivializing the real damage narcissism can cause. We hope we’ve managed to clear up some of the background noise about this subject.