21 Phrases That Prove Someone Is A Narcissist In Denial

21 Phrases That Prove Someone Is A Narcissist In Denial Shutterstock

Spotting a narcissist isn’t always easy, especially when they’re in denial about their behavior.

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These phrases might seem normal at first, but when used consistently, they can reveal a pattern of narcissistic thinking. We all have moments of self-centeredness, but it’s the persistent pattern that’s concerning.

1. “I’m just brutally honest.”

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Honesty is great, but there’s nothing brave about being cruel. This phrase often excuses tactless, hurtful comments. Real honesty comes with empathy. If someone’s always “telling it like it is” without regard for anyone else’s feelings, they might be using honesty as a shield for their narcissism.

2. “You’re too sensitive.”

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This classic narcissist line shifts blame to the person they’ve hurt. It’s a way of avoiding responsibility for their actions and invalidating people’s feelings. Everyone has different sensitivities, and that’s okay. A non-narcissist would try to understand, not dismiss.

3. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

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This isn’t really an apology. It’s a subtle way of saying, “Your feelings are the problem, not my actions.” A genuine apology acknowledges wrongdoing. This phrase just pays lip service to the idea of apologizing without taking any responsibility.

4. “You owe me.”

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According to Psych Central, narcissists often keep a mental tally of favors, using them as leverage. Healthy relationships involve give and take without constant score-keeping. If someone’s always reminding you of what you “owe” them, they might see relationships as transactional rather than genuine connections.

5. “I’m just more intelligent/talented/attractive than most people.”

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While confidence is healthy, constant self-aggrandizement is a red flag. Truly talented people often recognize the talents in other people too. If someone’s always talking about how superior they are, they might be compensating for deep-seated insecurities.

6. “You’re lucky to have me.”

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This phrase reeks of entitlement. It suggests that the speaker is doing you a favor by being in your life. Healthy relationships are built on mutual appreciation, not one-sided gratitude.

7. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

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Narcissists struggle with admitting fault. Even when confronted with clear evidence, they’ll often deny any wrongdoing. This inability to accept responsibility can be incredibly frustrating for those around them.

8. “You’re just jealous.”

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This is a go-to for narcissists when faced with criticism. It deflects any legitimate concerns by framing them as envy. It’s a way of avoiding self-reflection and maintaining their inflated self-image.

9. “I’m not like other people.”

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While everyone is unique, narcissists take this to an extreme. They often see themselves as special or exceptional in ways that set them apart from (and above) everyone. This belief in their own uniqueness can lead to a sense of entitlement.

10. “You made me do it.”

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Blame-shifting is a classic narcissistic move. By making people feel responsible for their actions, they avoid facing their own behavior. It’s a manipulative tactic that can leave people feeling guilty for things that aren’t their fault.

11. “I’m just confident, not arrogant.”

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There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and narcissists often cross it while denying they have. True confidence doesn’t need to put people down or constantly self-promote. If someone’s “confidence” regularly offends or alienates people, it might be something else.

12. “You’re overreacting.”

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This dismissive phrase invalidates people’s feelings and experiences. It’s often used when a narcissist’s behavior is called out, allowing them to avoid addressing the real issue. It can be a form of gaslighting, making people doubt their own perceptions.

13. “I’m just misunderstood.”

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While we all feel misunderstood sometimes, narcissists use this as a blanket defense. It shifts responsibility onto others for not understanding them, rather than examining how their own behavior might be problematic.

14. “I deserve special treatment.”

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Entitlement is a hallmark of narcissism, Mark Manson explains. If someone frequently expects rules to be bent for them or demands preferential treatment, they might have narcissistic tendencies. Everyone deserves respect, but no one deserves to be treated as inherently superior.

15. “You’re nothing without me.”

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This manipulative phrase is designed to undermine someone’s self-worth and create dependence. It’s a toxic attempt to control people by attacking their sense of self. Healthy relationships build each other up, not tear each other down.

16. “I’m just speaking my truth.”

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Similar to “brutal honesty,” this phrase often precedes or follows hurtful comments. It’s a way of avoiding responsibility for the impact of their words. Everyone has their perspective, but that doesn’t give license to be unkind or disrespectful.

17. “You’re crazy/delusional.”

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Gaslighting at its finest. This phrase makes people question their own sanity or perception of reality. It’s a way for narcissists to avoid accountability by making people doubt themselves.

18. “I’m a perfectionist.”

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While perfectionism isn’t inherently narcissistic, it’s often used as an excuse for controlling or critical behavior. True perfectionists are usually hardest on themselves, while narcissists use “high standards” to judge and belittle people.

19. “You should be grateful.”

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This phrase implies that the speaker’s actions or presence is a gift, regardless of how they actually treat people. It’s a way of demanding appreciation without earning it through genuine kindness or consideration.

20. “I’m just being honest for your own good.”

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Unsolicited criticism isn’t helpful; it’s often just mean. This phrase disguises put-downs as concern. If someone’s constantly offering “honest” feedback you didn’t ask for, they might be more interested in feeling important than in your well-being.

21. “No one understands me like you do.”

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While this might sound romantic, it can be a manipulative tactic. It’s often used to create a sense of exclusive intimacy, isolating the person from other perspectives that might challenge the narcissist’s behavior.

Sinitta Weston grew up in Edinburgh but moved to Sydney, Australia to for college and never came back. She works as a chemical engineer during the day and at night, she writes articles about love and relationships. She's her friends' go-to for dating advice (though she struggles to take the same advice herself). Her INFJ personality makes her extra sensitive to others' feelings and this allows her to help people through tough times with ease. Hopefully, her articles can do that for you.