Things Covert Narcissists Say: 7 Toxic Phrases (Should Know)

Covert narcissists are known for their subtle manipulation and toxic behavior, often making it difficult to recognize the signs of their narcissism. But what are things covert narcissists say in a relationship?

They may use a variety of phrases and statements to control and gaslight those around them, leaving their victims feeling confused and invalidated. In this article, we will explore the seven toxic phrases that covert narcissists commonly use, shedding light on the subtle ways they can emotionally abuse their victims.

Understanding these gaslighting phrases is crucial for identifying and protecting oneself from the harmful effects of covert narcissism. By recognizing these toxic statements, individuals can begin to reclaim their power and set boundaries with manipulative individuals.

From love bombing to gaslighting, covert narcissists employ a multitude of tactics to maintain their control over others, and being aware of the language they use is the first step towards breaking free from their toxic influence. 

Join us as we delve into the world of covert narcissism and uncover the phrases that can serve as red flags for their destructive behavior. 

What is Covert narcissism?

Covert narcissism, also known as vulnerable narcissism, is a subtype of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Unlike overt narcissists, who exhibit an inflated sense of self-importance and grandiose behaviors, covert narcissists have an inward-focused type of narcissism characterized by low self-esteem, sensitivity to criticism, and a strong need for validation from others.

Signs of Covert Narcissism

While covert narcissists may not exhibit the same public displays of grandiosity as overt narcissists, they often manifest their narcissistic traits in subtler ways, such as:

  1. Hypersensitivity to criticism: Covert narcissists are deeply sensitive to criticism, often taking even minor feedback as a personal attack. They may lash out defensively or withdraw emotionally in response to perceived criticism.
  2. Passive-aggressive behavior: Instead of direct confrontation, covert narcissists may employ passive-aggressive tactics to express their resentment or anger. This may include sulking, withholding affection, or sabotaging others’ plans.
  3. Self-deprecation: Covert narcissists may engage in self-deprecating humor or comments as a way to seek attention and validation. They may also downplay their accomplishments or talents, making others feel the need to reassure them.
  4. Envy and jealousy: Covert narcissists often harbor feelings of envy and jealousy towards others whom they perceive as having more success or positive qualities. This can lead to resentment and a sense of inferiority.
  5. Lack of empathy: Despite their sensitivity to criticism, covert narcissists often lack empathy for others. They may dismiss others’ feelings and needs, prioritizing their concerns above all else.

Causes of Covert Narcissism

The exact causes of covert narcissism are not fully understood, but it is believed to stem from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Early childhood experiences, such as neglect or emotional abuse, may play a role in developing feelings of low self-worth and a need for external validation.

How to Deal with Covert Narcissists?

Navigating relationships with covert narcissists can be challenging due to their tendency to manipulate and control others. Here are some tips for managing interactions with covert narcissists:

  1. Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries and communicate your needs assertively. Don’t be afraid to distance yourself from the narcissist if they violate your boundaries.
  2. Avoid engaging in power struggles: Avoid getting drawn into their arguments or trying to change their behavior. It’s unlikely to be successful and may only worsen the situation.
  3. Don’t take their behavior personally: Recognize that their actions often stem from their own insecurities and lack of self-worth. Don’t let their negativity affect your self-esteem.
  4. Seek support: If you are struggling to cope with a covert narcissist in your life, seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Talking about your experiences can help you gain perspective and develop coping strategies.

Remember, you are not responsible for changing or fixing a covert narcissist. Focus on protecting your well-being and seeking healthy relationships that nurture your self-esteem.

Examples of covert narcissism

Unlike overt narcissists, who tend to be grandiose and attention-seeking, covert narcissists are often shy or withdrawn and may appear self-deprecating.

However, they share the same underlying sense of grandiosity and entitlement as overt narcissists, and they may use more subtle tactics to manipulate and control others.

Here are some examples of covert narcissistic behavior and things vulnerable narcissists say:

  • Hypersensitivity to criticism: Covert narcissists are extremely sensitive to criticism, even mild or constructive feedback. They may become angry, defensive, or even vindictive when criticized. This is because covert narcissists have a fragile sense of self-esteem, and they rely on the approval of others to feel good about themselves. No matter how well-intentioned, criticism is seen as a threat to their self-worth.
  • Chronic envy or jealousy: Covert narcissists are often envious of others’ successes and possessions. They may resent others they perceive as more attractive, intelligent, or successful than themselves. This envy can manifest itself in various ways, such as gossiping about others, trying to sabotage their successes, or putting them down.
  • Passive aggression: Covert narcissists are often passive-aggressive, meaning that they express their anger or frustration indirectly. They may do this by sulking, refusing to cooperate, or making snide remarks. This can be very frustrating for others to deal with, as it can be challenging to pin down the source of the conflict.
  • A tendency to put themselves down: Covert narcissists may seem self-deprecating, but this is often a ploy to get attention and sympathy from others. They may exaggerate their shortcomings or make themselves victims of others’ actions. This is a way of manipulating others into feeling sorry for them and offering them praise and reassurance.
  • Grandiose fantasies: Covert narcissists may have grandiose fantasies about their importance and abilities. They may imagine themselves as being incredibly successful, talented, or admired. These fantasies can help them to cope with their feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.
  • A lack of empathy: Covert narcissists may have difficulty understanding or acknowledging the feelings of others. They may dismiss others’ problems or concerns and not feel bad when they hurt others. This is because covert narcissists are primarily focused on their own needs and desires.

It is important to note that not everyone who exhibits one or two of these behaviors is a covert narcissist. However, if someone consistently demonstrates a pattern of these behaviors, they likely have clandestine narcissism.

The 7 Things Covert Narcissists Say in an Argument

What are the things a narcissist says when gaslighting? Covert narcissists are skilled at manipulation and often use subtle strategies to undermine and control others during arguments. Here are seven things narcissists say in an argument:

“You’re overreacting.”

This is a classic example of gaslighting, which is a form of emotional abuse that involves manipulating someone into questioning their sanity. By telling you that you’re overreacting, the narcissist is trying to minimize your feelings and make you feel like you’re the one who is being unreasonable.

“I never said that.”

This is another form of gaslighting that is used to deny reality and make you doubt your memory. By denying that they said something that they did, the narcissist is trying to confuse you and make you feel like you’re crazy.

“It’s not my fault; you made me do it.”

This is a classic example of blame-shifting, which is a tactic that narcissists use to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. By blaming you for their behavior, the narcissist is trying to deflect attention away from themselves and make you feel like you’re the one who is to blame.

“You’re being so sensitive.”

This is a way of dismissing your feelings and making you feel like you’re being too emotional. By telling you that you’re being sensitive, the narcissist is trying to shut you down and prevent you from expressing your feelings.

“Can’t you take a joke?”

This is a way of deflecting criticism and making you feel like you’re being too serious. By telling you that you can’t take a joke, the narcissist is trying to make you feel like you’re the one who is being unreasonable.

“You’re always so negative.”

This is a way of making you feel like you’re always the problem. By telling you that you’re always negative, the narcissist is trying to shift the focus away from their negative behavior.

“You’re lucky to be with me.”

This is a way of making you feel like you should be grateful for them, even when they’re a covert narcissist and treating you poorly. By telling you that you’re lucky to be with them, the narcissist is trying to make you feel like you’re not worthy of them and that you should put up with their behavior.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of these phrases, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Covert narcissists are experts at manipulation and emotional abuse, and it can be challenging to recognize their tactics. However, once you know their behavior patterns, you can start taking steps to protect yourself.

What Tactics Do Narcissists Use in an Argument?

Narcissists are known for their manipulative and controlling tactics in arguments. One of the most common tactics is gaslighting, where they deny or distort reality to make the other person doubt their own experiences and perceptions.

They may also employ deflection, shifting the focus of the argument away from themselves and onto the other person to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Additionally, narcissists often use guilt-tripping, playing on the emotions of the other person to make them feel responsible for the conflict or to manipulate them into giving in to their demands. They may also resort to personal attacks and belittling to assert dominance and make others feel inferior.

Another tactic narcissists use is stonewalling, where they shut down and refuse to engage in the argument, leaving the other person feeling frustrated and powerless. Lastly, they may employ selective memory, conveniently “forgetting” past events or promises to avoid being held accountable for their behavior.

Overall, narcissists use a combination of psychological manipulation, intimidation, and emotional manipulation to maintain control and power in arguments. The other person needs to recognize these tactics and set firm boundaries to protect themselves from being emotionally manipulated and abused.

Signs of a Covert Narcissist: (Covert Narcissism Traits)

Covert narcissists are often tricky to spot because they are not as outwardly arrogant and grandiose as overt narcissists. However, they share the same underlying need for admiration and attention and often use manipulative and passive-aggressive tactics to get what they want.

Here are some of the signs of a covert narcissist:

  • They are hypersensitive to criticism. Covert narcissists are easily offended by even the slightest criticism, and they may react with anger, defensiveness, or withdrawal.
  • They are passive-aggressive. Covert narcissists are often unwilling to express their anger directly, so they may resort to passive-aggressive behaviors such as sulking, giving silent treatment, or sabotaging your efforts.
  • They have a victim mentality. Covert narcissists often see themselves as victims of circumstance or the people around them. They may play the role of the martyr, and they may use their victimhood to manipulate others into feeling sorry for them.
  • They lack empathy. Covert narcissists are not able to understand or care about the feelings of others. They may be dismissive of your problems and even blame you for their own problems.
  • They have grandiose fantasies. Covert narcissists often have grandiose fantasies about their importance and abilities. They may believe they are destined for greatness and have unrealistic expectations of themselves and others.
  • They are perfectionists. Covert narcissists often have unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. They may be perfectionists and be very critical of themselves and others.
  • They are envious of others. Covert narcissists are often jealous of the success and happiness of others. They may resent others for having things that they want, and they may even sabotage their success.

If you are in a relationship with a covert narcissist, it is essential to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with the things narcissist say and protect yourself from further harm.

Healing from Narcissistic Abuse Advice (Dr. Melissa Kalt)

Healing from narcissistic abuse can be a long and challenging journey, but it is possible to recover and thrive. Here are some tips from Dr. Melissa Kalt, a clinical psychologist specializing in narcissistic abuse recovery:

  1. Acknowledge the abuse. The first step to healing is to recognize that you were in an abusive relationship. This can be difficult, as narcissists are often skilled at gaslighting and making their victims feel like they are the ones to blame. However, it is essential to remember that you are not alone and that narcissistic abuse is a natural and severe form of abuse.
  2. Seek professional help. A therapist can help you understand the dynamics of narcissistic abuse and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with a narcissist. Therapy can also help you to rebuild your self-esteem and confidence.
  3. Educate yourself about narcissistic abuse. Reading books and articles about narcissistic abuse can help you to make sense of your experiences and understand the manipulative tactics that narcissists use. This knowledge can empower you to break free from the narcissist’s control.
  4. Build a strong support system. Surround yourself with people who love and care about you and will support you as you heal. This could include friends, family members, or a support group for survivors of narcissistic abuse.
  5. Practice self-care. Make sure you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. This includes eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress, such as yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature, is important.
  6. Be patient with yourself. Healing from narcissistic abuse takes time and patience. There will be setbacks along the way, but it is important to remember that you are making progress.

Here are some additional tips from Dr. Kalt:

  • Don’t contact your ex-partner. This will only set you back in your recovery.
  • Set boundaries. You need to protect yourself from further abuse by setting clear boundaries with your ex-partner.
  • Don’t blame yourself. It is not your fault that you were abused.
  • Believe in yourself. You are strong and capable of healing.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse is possible, but it is essential to remember that it is a process. Be patient with yourself and seek professional help if you need it. With time and effort, you can heal from the abuse and rebuild a happy and fulfilling life.

What things do covert narcissists say?

What are things vulnerable narcissists say? Vulnerable narcissists, also known as covert narcissists, tend to make subtle and indirect statements that convey a sense of self-importance, vulnerability, and victimhood.

How do covert narcissists express narcissistic rage?

Covert narcissists express narcissistic rage in subtle, indirect ways, such as through passive-aggressiveness, manipulation, and emotional withdrawal.

What are things covert narcissistic mothers say?

Covert narcissistic mothers often make subtle and manipulative statements that aim to control, belittle, or guilt their children. These statements can leave children feeling confused, insecure, and emotionally drained.

What are the things narcissists say when gaslighting?

Things a narcissist will say: Phrases narcissists say like “You’re overreacting,” “You’re imagining things,” and “I never said that” to manipulate and control their victims.

Why do covert narcissists hide your personal things?

Covert narcissists hide personal things to exert control, create confusion, and manipulate their victims.

How does a covert narcissist act when confronted?

When confronted, covert narcissists often play the victim, deny any wrongdoing, and deflect blame onto others. They may also become angry, dismissive, or emotionally withdrawn.

How does a covert narcissist think?

A covert narcissist’s thinking is characterized by a deep-seated belief in superiority and a need for admiration while also experiencing a fragile sense of self-worth and a hypersensitivity to criticism.

How do covert narcissists treat their partners?

Covert narcissists often treat their partners with a mix of idealization and devaluation. They may shower their partners with affection and praise one moment and then withdraw their love and support the next. This creates a confusing and emotionally draining cycle for their partners.

How do covert narcissists talk?

Covert narcissists often talk in a way that is self-serving, manipulative, and passive-aggressive. They may make subtle digs, use guilt trips, and play the victim to get their way.

What does a covert narcissist want?

Covert narcissists crave admiration, attention, and control. They seek validation from others to maintain their fragile self-worth and dislike being ignored or criticized.

What covert narcissist doesn’t like?

Covert narcissists don’t like being criticized, ignored, or having their control challenged. Don’t be fooled into thinking they genuinely care about your feelings or opinions.


What are things narcissists say in an argument? In conclusion, being aware of the phrases covert narcissists use in arguments is crucial for protecting your emotional well-being. By recognizing these toxic patterns, you can regain control and set healthy boundaries. Remember, their manipulative tactics are designed to undermine your confidence and maintain dominance. Trust your instincts and prioritize your mental health. Surround yourself with supportive individuals who uplift and validate you. By standing up against the harmful things covert narcissists say when gaslighting, you can reclaim your power and cultivate healthier relationships. Stay informed, stay strong, and never let their words define your worth.

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