According to extensive literature, it seems that narcissists have an entirely different vocabulary of their own.
In your interactions with a narcissistic person, you may notice that the communication differs from all your other relationships.
Whether you are in a committed relationship with a narcissist, or if your friend, family member or co-worker has narcissistic tendencies, it’s vital that you understand the language and strange vocabulary often used by narcissists to allow you to prepare for such interactions.
Narcissistic personality disorder
Broadly, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder that features exaggerated feelings of self-importance and low self-esteem.
NPD gets characterized by a series of behaviours, beliefs and perceptions where the narcissist has their own narrative about the world and the people around them (usually an inaccurate one).
Fortunately, a narcissistic personality disorder is a treatable condition where people often benefit from therapy and other treatments.
Narcissistic personality disorder does not usually require lab testing or imaging and is more prevalent in 18-35-year-olds.
NPD may last for several years (or a lifetime), depending on how severely affected a person is. The condition is more common in males than females.
After the honeymoon period of a relationship has ended, narcissists very often engage in emotional abuse by adopting several strategies that seek to confuse and gaslight their victims, such as:
- Using the silent treatment
- Making their partner’s life miserable
- Engaging in personal attacks through verbal, physical and mental abuse
- Chronic gaslighting (i.e. ‘You’re crazy, I didn’t mean it in that way’, or ‘Everyone in the family hates you, but I always have your back’, and ‘it was just a joke.’
- Guilt-tripping their victims
- Overreacting and being over sensitive
- Making people doubt their own reality
- Engaging in abusive behaviour such as gaslighting, verbal and physical abuse, smear campaigns, love-bombing, idealization and devaluation and other manipulation tactics
When a narcissist begins a new relationship, the other person often feels as though they have met their soulmate; in the beginning, the narcissists’ charm, wit and excessive love and admiration for their partner can be consuming.
People are often misled by the narcissists’ initial charm, wit and attention, with many people believing they have finally met ‘the one’.
Such behaviours are typical in the initial phase of a narcissistic relationship, often referred to as love-bombing.
The above stage is where narcissists shower their partner with love, affection, compliments and profound admiration.
However, it’s not long before the mask slips and the narcissist’s true nature is revealed.
Idealize, devalue and discard
Narcissists typically follow a behaviour or relationship cycle that involves idealization, devaluation, and discarding.
In the ‘love-bombing’ phase of a relationship, a narcissist will often target their victims based on their job, status, success, wealth, popularity and attractiveness.
In the above stage, the narcissist looks for vulnerabilities that their victims may have tolerated before and retains any information by paying attention to their victims’ behaviour.
Once a narcissist decides that their victim is the ‘right target’ or holds a valuable source of ‘narcissistic supply’, they will shower them with love, grandiose gestures and compliments.
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Common phrases narcissists use in the ‘idealization’ phase:
- I knew as soon as I met you that we were soul mates.
- I always dreamed of meeting someone like you. You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
- Your exes were crazy to let you go. I will never abandon you.
- I haven’t met anyone that has ever been this good to me.
After the idealization phase ends, the narcissist devalues their partner in subtle ways. The narcissists’ victims may sense that something is wrong or experience a niggling feeling that something isn’t quite right, but it’s hard to put the finger on what the problem is.
In the devalue phase, the narcissist plays a public and private game and changes dramatically overnight. In place of the loving, affectionate person they conned their way into being, the narcissist appears cold and uncaring.
When a victim expresses their concerns about their partner’s changed behaviour, the narcissist will often accuse them of being jealous or call them ‘the crazy one’.
Common phrases nacissists use in the ‘devaluation’ phase:
- I can see why none of your previous relationships worked out. You never listen to what anyone says, and you always think you are right.
- You are an emotional mess; I can’t keep being the one to dig you out of all the mess you create.
- The more I spend time with you, the more I dislike you. My previous girl/boyfriend was much nicer, more intelligent, funnier, and more attractive than you.
- I can’t believe you had me fooled for so long – you were never good enough for me.
Research suggests that victims of narcissism often report that the ‘discard’ phase came out of the blue. It is common for people to receive a message or phone call from the narcissist, dismissing them and the entire relationship.
In the discard stage, the narcissist ramps up the emotional abuse through name-calling and false accusations. They may accuse the victim of being abusive and make them feel guilty through manipulation tactics and bad behaviour.
During a smear campaign, narcissists often employ ‘flying monkeys’ to do their dirty work for them.
All this may involve eliciting gossip about the victim, being the messenger between narcissist and victim, and instilling self-doubt in other peoples’ minds, making them second guess themselves and even question reality.
In this phase, a mental fog is likely to engulf the recipients of narcissistic abuse, where people begin to question their own sanity, perceptions and beliefs. This manipulation tactic is very effective as the narcissists’ volatile behaviour affects people, with many shutting down completely.
Common phrases narcissists use in the ‘discard’ phase:
- I am the honest one, and everyone knows it. No one will believe anything you say because you are a pathological liar.
- I never used to be like this. You made me this way because you thrive off drama and conflict, and I’m not too fond of it.
- I have never abused you or cheated on you – you are a liar and cheat, and I am no longer sticking around to get abused like this.
There are many different types of narcissists, from covert narcissists to malignant narcissists (those with narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder combined) and classical narcissists.
Although individuals with narcissistic personality disorder require compassion and understanding from those around them, that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable for you to put up with abuse in any way, shape or form.
The bad guy
Many narcissists find it challenging to be held accountable for their bad behaviour and prefer for their victims to believe that they are the bad person or ‘imagining things’.
In many instances, the gaslighting techniques used by a narcissist who elicits an abusive relationship often result in cognitive dissonance for victims, where people experience mental discomfort due to holding conflicting beliefs, attitudes, and values.
An effective way to manage an interaction with a narcissist is to downplay your reactions while in their presence.
Many researchers believe that techniques such as grey-rocking are helpful for the recipients of narcissistic abuse where people downplay their responses and act as a ‘dull as a grey rock’ when around someone with the disorder.
Such responses will eventually bore the narcissist who is always looking for attention and validation from those around them.
Grey rocking is an effective way to dilute your responses to antagonizing behaviours where the narcissist will eventually move on to their next victim.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of emotional abuse, contact one of our specialists to assist you in the first steps to recovery.