Things Narcissists Say To Shut You Down When You Confront Them

Things Narcissists Say To Shut You Down When You Confront Them

Confronting a narcissist can be one of the most emotionally draining experiences you’ll face. They have a unique talent for turning conversations against you, making you doubt your own perceptions and leaving you feeling utterly defeated. If you’re preparing to have a difficult discussion with a narcissist in your life, be aware of the common tactics they use to regain control and shut down a confrontation. If you hear any of these things, they’re trying to shut you down — don’t let them!

1. “That never happened — you’re making it up.”

young couple in an argument

As Psychology Today reveals, narcissists hate being held accountable. So if you confront them about something they did, don’t be surprised if they flat-out deny it. They might say you’re imagining things or that you misunderstood. This is a classic manipulation tactic to undermine you and make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Don’t fall for it!

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2. “What about all the times you’ve hurt me?”

guy telling woman boring story on date

Narcissists never want to take the blame. When you call them out, they might turn the tables and start blaming you instead. They’ll act like the victim or bring up old stuff you did wrong. It’s a nasty trick to make you feel bad and forget why you were upset in the first place.

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3. “You’re just looking for reasons to be upset.”

Narcissists don’t care about your feelings. When you try to express yourself, they’ll make you feel stupid or crazy for even being upset. They call you “too sensitive” or say you’re making a big deal out of nothing. They do this to make you doubt yourself and to shut you up. Don’t let them win.

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4. “Maybe you’re the narcissist, not me.”

Narcissists love to play mind games. One of their favorites is to accuse you of the exact things THEY do wrong. If they’re selfish, they’ll call YOU selfish. If they lie, they’ll say YOU’RE the liar. It’s all about confusing you and making you doubt yourself. Lucky for you, you’re onto them and would never fall for this, right?

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5. “Why are you trying to start a fight?”

Narcissists can’t handle being called out. If you try to have a real talk with them, they’ll accuse YOU of being the problem. They might say you’re attacking them or being difficult just for bringing up something that bothers you. It’s a sneaky way to shut you down and make it seem like you’re the unreasonable one.

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6. “You’re just jealous of their relationship with me.”

Mature married couple fighting, blaming and accusing each other, having relationship problem at home. Middle-aged man and his wife on verge of divorce or separation, arguing indoors

Narcissists love making you feel bad about yourself. They might compare you to other people and act like you don’t measure up. Or, they might brag about their other friends to make you feel jealous and insecure. It’s a messed-up power play designed to keep you under their control.

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7. “This conversation is pointless, I’m done.”

Ever try to have a serious conversation with a narcissist, only to have them just shut down? They might get up and leave, change the subject, or ignore you completely. They do this because they can’t handle facing their flaws and want to feel like they’re always in control.

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8. “I can’t believe you’re being so mean to me.”

unhappy female friends sitting on couches

Narcissists will straight-up lie to make themselves look good, PsychCentral points out. If you call them out on their behavior, they’ll act like you’re the bad guy. They’ll play the victim and try to make you feel sorry for them. Don’t be fooled – it’s a way to avoid taking responsibility.

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9. “Nobody else would put up with you.”

couple in an argument shouting

Narcissists have a way of tearing you down to make themselves feel superior. They might use insults or belittling comments to attack your character or appearance. They may constantly point out your flaws or suggest that you’re not good enough. This cruel behavior is designed to break your spirit and leave you feeling emotionally dependent on them.

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10. “You’ll get over it, just give me some space.”

Woman apologizes to her friend after fight

When a narcissist doesn’t like what you’re saying, they’ll pretend your feelings aren’t important. They might act like you’re making a big deal out of nothing, or tell you to stop being so sensitive. They do this to silence you and keep from owning up to their bad behavior.

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11. “You’re just imagining things.”

Frustrated couple, headache and fight on sofa in divorce, disagreement or conflict in living room at home. Man and woman in toxic relationship, cheating affair or dispute on lounge couch at house

Confronting a narcissist about their behavior is a mind trip. They might say the hurtful thing never happened or tell you you’re crazy for remembering it that way. This is called gaslighting. They do this to mess with your head and make you doubt your own memory.

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12. “Why are you always attacking me?”

Couple have a conversation, while he's been ignored by his girlfriend

Ever try to hold a narcissist accountable only to end up feeling like the bad guy? That’s because they’re experts at flipping the script. They’ll whine about how unfair you are and play the victim to dodge any responsibility. Don’t get fooled by their act.

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13. “You’re just trying to make me look bad.”

When confronted with uncomfortable truths or criticisms, narcissists may deflect blame onto you by accusing you of trying to tarnish their reputation. They’ll frame your attempts to address issues as personal attacks, deflecting attention away from their behavior and onto yours. This manipulation tactic aims to shift the focus away from their actions and onto yours, leaving you feeling defensive and invalidated.

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14. “I guess I’m just a terrible person, right?”

Narcissists often use self-deprecating remarks to garner sympathy and deflect blame. By portraying themselves as the victim of their own flaws, they attempt to manipulate you into feeling sorry for them and absolving them of responsibility. This manipulation tactic is intended to guilt-trip you into backing down from your concerns, leaving you feeling guilty and responsible for their behavior.

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Harper Stanley graduated from Eugene Lang College at The New School in NYC in 2006 with a degree in Media Studies and Literature and Critical Analysis. After graduating, she worked as an editorial assistant at The Atlantic before moving to the UK to work for the London Review of Books.

When she's not waxing poetic about literature, she's writing articles about dating, relationships, and other women's lifestyle topics to help make their lives better. While shocking, she really has somehow managed to avoid joining any social media apps — a fact she's slightly smug about.