Narc Speak: A Language All Their Own
Written by Narcissistic Abuse Expert and Coach, Randi Fine
Author of Close Encounters of the Worst Kind Second Edition: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Comprehensive Guide to Healing and Recovery©
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
In interacting with narcissists you may notice that their methods of communication are peculiar.
Narcissists talk at people, not to them. They go on and on about what is happening in their lives, though to truly know them is to not believe any of it. If you try to share what is important to you with a narcissist, she will diminish the importance of it and steer the conversation right back to her.
If it ever appears that they care about what you are saying, I can assure you they do not. They will allow you to elaborate, only to scrutinize your words for future ammunition.
Narcissists never truly listen, because in their grandiose opinion of themselves, what others have to say is largely a waste of their time, unless it includes words of adulation and admiration. Other than that, the only thing that matters to narcissists is what they have to say. While we talk, they cleverly formulate their responses and the tone of their delivery. All responses are strategically geared to fend off attacks, avoid the truth, and evade accountability.
One form of “Narc Speak” is the frequent use of “always” and “never” statements. Narcissists use these condemning, gross exaggerations of partial truths to defend their position by deflecting or projecting blame back onto their victims.
Without saying it directly, the narcissist insinuates that the victim is selfish, thoughtless, inadequate, or inept. These are statements designed to induce sympathy or obligation. For example: “You always think you are right,” “You never loved me,” “You always forget to…” “You never do what you say.”
Narc Speak is ambiguous and non-committal. They never say what they mean or mean what they say and can never be held accountable. Harsh criticisms are heavily cloaked in consideration and concern. Words are meant to manipulate and disorient us.
Many wonder if there is a “narcissistic speak manual” and if all narcissists have read it. It is uncanny how similar the phrases they all use are. It never fails to amaze me.
These expressions must always be interpreted because what narcissists say and what they mean are very different. Not only are the phrases meant to clue us in, but the inflections and tones are as well. The better you know your narcissist the more easily you can interpret what she says. Her phrases are lost on strangers or those who have yet to catch on to her pathology.
Following are some common examples:
When narcissists say…
It really means…
“You’re my soul mate”
“Trust me with your deepest desires and darkest secrets so I know exactly how to hurt you.”
“I love you”
They have heard those words used by others and it seems to be an endearing way of manipulating you into loving them OR they feel you are pulling away and want to suck you back in OR they want you to say you love them back.
“I never said that”
They are either trying to manipulate you, throw you off balance and make you feel crazy, or that you caught them in a lie and they don’t want to admit that they said what they said. They play the role of the perpetual innocent.
“I was only joking”
“I went too far, you are calling me out on it, and you should feel bad about your reaction.”
“My ex was abusive and unfaithful”
“I want you to see me as a victim even though I was the one who was abusive and unfaithful to my ex.”
“My ex was too controlling”
“I was too controlling and my ex finally got tired of being pushed around.”
“I only want you to be happy”
“I only want me to be happy. If that means you remain miserable, so be it.”
“Your friends/family don’t care about you” OR “Your friends/family don’t like me”
“I want to isolate you and cut your off from all your support systems.”
“You are too sensitive”
You won't tiptoe on egg shells around them like they want you to, or you won’t let them assault and abuse you the way they want to.
“You never do anything for me”
Whatever you have done for them in the past doesn’t count. What have you done for them in the moment?
“You aren't remembering correctly”
They like their version of the story better than yours because their version portrays them in a better light.
“You have no respect for me"
They are angry because you have boundaries and won’t let them abuse you.
“Think about what you are doing to your family/children/parents, etc.”
“I want you to feel very guilty about what you are doing to me.”
"Look how much I have sacrificed for you"
“I want you to feel obligated to me for every crumb I have ever thrown your way.”
“Why do you always bring up the past”
They can bring up your past anytime they want to, but you have no right to call them on anything they ever did.
“Forgive me or I apologize if I did anything wrong”
“How dare you accuse me of doing anything wrong. I never do anything wrong and will never offer you a genuine apology, though I will make it sound as if I am apologizing to get you off my back.”
“What do you want from me?”
“How dare you ask me to give any part of myself to you. I could care less about your experience, feelings, and pain.”
“What about the things you put me through?”
They are deflecting the focus by dredging up the past and reminding you of the all “perceived” things you did to them. They are saying that you were far worse to them than they were to you. If anything they should be confronting you about what you did to them.
“I’m only trying to help”
“I have an agenda that is entirely self-serving.”
“You’ve never cared about me”
You have given them nothing they want today.
“So and so’s children are so wonderful to their mother”
They are shaming you and trying to make you feel guilty. They can abuse you all they want yet still expect you to worship them.
“No one will love you as much as I do”
They fear losing their supply and believe that they can manipulate you back into continuing to give your all.
“I am completely loyal to you,” OR “I would never cheat on you” OR “I think it is disgusting that so-and-so cheated on his spouse”
“I am cheating on you and I want to throw you off the scent.”
“You’re a narcissist”
She is admitting that she is one. Accusations are always confessions.
If you have ever wondered why your energy feels drained after conversing with a narcissist, now you know. Constantly having to read between the lines of what she says is exhausting.
If you have to talk to the narcissist in your life, keep the conversation short and the subject matter neutral. Avoid frustration by ignoring her manipulative statements. You will never win a verbal battle with her so don’t even try.
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Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach, and the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery Second Edition, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of the official companion workbook Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: A Comprehensive Workbook for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse. Randi Fine is the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.