6 Toxic Phrases Commonly Used By Narcissists, According To A Psychologist

Dating someone with narcissistic personality traits can be soul-destroying. You want to find a partner who’s your equal, who wants to love you and grow with you throughout your lives. Instead, you get someone who’s cold, disconnected, and who cares more about themself than they do about you. If you’ve ever been in a relationship like this, you know the feelings it leaves you with all too well. Plus, you’ve probably heard one or all of these common phrases used by narcissists on more than one occasion.

  1. “I’m sorry you feel that way.” There’s nothing a narcissist loves to say more than this sentence. When you confront them over something they did wrong or express something you want or need that they’re not giving you, their response is always “I’m sorry you feel that way.” It’s their way of completely shrugging off responsibility. It’s not their fault you feel that way — that’s all down to you. They’re not sorry for what they’ve done/are doing, but they are sorry you’re upset about it. Sucks to be you!
  2. “I don’t have time for this.” Because narcissists believe the world revolves around them, anything that interrupts or inconveniences their schedules is seen as a major problem. They also use this as a way to avoid having a conversation or dealing with something that matters to someone else but about which they couldn’t care less. It’s important to take this as a sign that they’re never going to care about you. “These relationships are often the equivalent of going to an empty well for water, so do what you can to foster support independent of the narcissist,” suggests psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula.
  3. “You don’t know who you’re messing with.” This is a phrase often used by narcissists when confronted by someone who challenges their power. They see themselves as smarter, stronger, and more important than others. So, when they come up against someone who’s not buying it, they resort to threats. Claiming that they have some kind of secret weapon with which they can destroy another person’s life is common, but always complete BS.
  4. “That’s not fair.” Anything that’s contrary to what the narcissist wants is “not fair.” Because they assume the world should bend to their every desire, when it doesn’t, they feel personally attacked. They also believe they shouldn’t have to play by the same set of rules and boundaries as the rest of the world because they’re in some way special or different. When it becomes clear they’re not, they rebel. Dr. Durvasula warns against placating them, advising, “Don’t try to be a person who tries to make life “fair” for them by making unreasonable personal sacrifices.”
  5. “Why are you doing this to me?” Again, don’t fall prey to the narcissist’s self-victimization. Unable to accept that life isn’t always going to go their way, they martyr themselves the minute things don’t work out the way they wanted or hoped they would. It’s a way to guilt you out of standing up for yourself or calling out unacceptable behavior. They want to make it your fault because they sure as hell won’t accept that it’s theirs.
  6. “I don’t want to make this about me, but…” But they do, really. Narcissists say this a lot to make it seem as though they’re self-aware and that they’re not totally selfish. In reality, they want to make it about them because they believe everything should be. If someone says this to you, you can take it as a cue to begin talking about yourself rather than letting them shift the conversation back to themself. Or, you could just look elsewhere for a good conversation, because you’re sure as hell not going to find it with them.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill