10 Things Covert Narcissists Say in an Argument

Covert narcissists, unlike their overt counterparts, are not so easy to pinpoint. They have a knack for flying under the radar, cloaking their narcissism behind a facade of good behavior. However, when arguments arise, their true colors often show. In this post we shall discuss 10 vicious things covert narcissists say in an argument.

10 Things Covert Narcissists Say in an Argument

Typical Phrases Used By A Covert Narcissist In An Argument

“You’re too sensitive.”

This phrase is a staple in the covert narcissist’s playbook, often used as a deflection tactic during arguments.

It serves multiple purposes, all aimed at undermining your self-confidence and distorting your perception of reality.

When covert narcissists say that you’re too sensitive, they are effectively invalidating your emotions and derailing the argument .

They’re suggesting that your feelings, reactions, or concerns are not just unwarranted but also exaggerated.

This can lead to self-doubt, making you question whether your responses to their behavior are indeed overblown.

Moreover, it’s a subtle way for them to shift the blame onto you.

By painting you as overly sensitive, they manage to divert attention away from their actions or words that may have caused hurt or upset.

Instead of acknowledging their wrongdoing, they put the onus on you to be less sensitive or more tolerant of their behavior.

Furthermore, this phrase can also serve as a preemptive strike.

By establishing early on that you’re “too sensitive,” any future complaints or objections you raise can be quickly dismissed under this label.

This allows the covert narcissist to continue their behavior unchecked, as any criticism can be deflected back onto you.

you're too sensitive

“I never said that.”

Covert narcissists often employ this phrase as a form of gaslighting, one of their most potent tools of manipulation.

By denying their previous statements or actions, they create a sense of doubt and uncertainty in your mind.

This tactic is designed to undermine your confidence in your own memory, thus destabilizing your understanding of reality.


When a covert narcissist insists, “I never said that,” they’re attempting to rewrite history, altering the narrative to fit their desired image or perspective.

This denial can be about significant matters or trivial ones, but the goal remains the same: to sow seeds of doubt in your mind and gain control over your perception of events.

This manipulation tactic can leave you feeling confused and insecure.

You may start questioning your memory or even your sanity, wondering if you’re misremembering events or misinterpreting words.

It’s a subtle way for the covert narcissist to shift blame, avoid accountability, and maintain their façade.

things covert narcissists say in an argument

“You’re overreacting.”

This phrase is another favorite in the covert narcissist’s arsenal of manipulative tactics.

By accusing you of overreacting, they aim to trivialize your feelings, deflect responsibility, and maintain control over the situation.

Moreover, by labeling your reaction as an overreaction, they cleverly shift the blame onto you.

This tactic sidesteps their own accountability for the situation or issue at hand.

Instead of acknowledging their actions or words that may have triggered your response, they focus on your ‘overblown’ reaction, thus diverting attention away from their behavior.

Additionally, this phrase also grants them a sense of control over the situation.

If they can convince you that you’re overreacting, they can manipulate the narrative to suit their needs.

It allows them to dictate the terms of the discussion, dismiss your concerns, and continue their behavior without challenge.

things covert narcissists say in an argument

“You always…” or “You never…”

Covert narcissists frequently use these sweeping generalizations as weapons of criticism and manipulation.

These phrases, loaded with absolute terms, are designed to undermine your self-confidence, distort your perception of reality, and maintain their control in the relationship.

When covert narcissists start a sentence with “You always…” or “You never…” in the middle of an argument, they’re typically painting a picture that’s unfavorable to you.

It could be something like, “You always forget important dates” or “You never listen to me”.

always never

These statements are often exaggerated or outright false, yet they’re presented as undeniable facts.

This can lead you to question your actions and behaviors, instilling doubt and guilt.

Moreover, these absolute statements leave no room for discussion or defense.

They’re definitive, shutting down any possibility of nuance or exception.

This makes it particularly difficult for you to argue against such accusations, which is precisely what the covert narcissist wants.

Furthermore, by focusing on your alleged flaws or failures, the covert narcissist effectively shifts the spotlight away from their own behavior.

This diversion tactic helps them avoid accountability for their actions or words that may have contributed to the issue at hand.


“I’m only joking.”

Disguising insults or belittlement as humor gives them an easy escape route, allowing them to inflict harm while avoiding accountability.

When a covert narcissist says, “I’m only joking,” they’re trying to mask a hurtful comment or criticism.

The ‘joke’ often targets your insecurities, weaknesses, or mistakes, making you the butt of their humor.

This can be especially damaging because it not only undermines your self-esteem but does so in a way that’s difficult to challenge without appearing overly sensitive or lacking a sense of humor.

10 Things Covert Narcissists Say in an Argument

Moreover, this tactic allows the covert narcissist to maintain an image of innocence.

If you react negatively or express hurt, they can quickly deflect by pointing out that they were merely joking.

This cleverly shifts the blame onto you, suggesting that the problem lies in your inability to take a joke rather than their inappropriate comment.

It’s a classic example of gaslighting, where they manipulate you into doubting your feelings and perceptions.

Furthermore, by framing their insults as jokes, covert narcissists can maintain control over the social dynamic.

They can set the tone of the conversation, deciding when to inject ‘humor’ and when to dial it back.

This enables them to keep you off balance, unsure of when the next ‘joke’ will come.

10 Things Covert Narcissists Say in an Argument

“Why can’t you be more like…?”

Comparisons are one of the things covert narcissists say in an argument to belittle you and make you feel inadequate, keeping you in a constant state of striving for their approval.

This tactic serves to undermine your self-esteem and self-worth.

By constantly comparing you to others, the covert narcissist gradually erodes your confidence, making you more susceptible to their control and manipulation.

You may find yourself continually trying to prove your worth, only to have the goalposts moved again and again.

Additionally, comparisons create a power dynamic where the narcissist sets the standards and judges your performance.

They position themselves as the arbiter of value, deciding who and what is worthy of praise. This reinforces their control over you and the relationship.

things covert narcissists say in an argument

“I’m the victim here.”

Covert narcissists are masters of manipulation, and one of their favored strategies is playing the victim.

No matter the circumstance, they skillfully manipulate the narrative to present themselves as the aggrieved party.

This tactic serves multiple purposes, including deflecting attention from their actions, generating sympathy, and maintaining control.

When a covert narcissist declares, “I’m the victim here,” they’re trying to shift the blame for any conflict or issue onto others.

They twist facts, ignore context, and exploit emotions to paint themselves as the innocent party suffering at the hands of others.

This allows them to avoid accountability for their actions and behaviors that may have contributed to the problem.

playing the victim

Moreover, by positioning themselves as the victim, they elicit sympathy and support from third parties.

They exploit people’s natural tendency to empathize with those who appear to be in distress or treated unfairly.

This not only validates their victim narrative but also provides them with the attention and validation they crave.

Furthermore, playing the victim puts the covert narcissist at the center of the narrative, dictating the terms of the conversation and manipulating people’s perceptions and responses.

This keeps you on the defensive, too busy justifying your actions or trying to fix the situation to question their role in it.

things covert narcissists say in an argument 3

“Nobody else thinks that.”

When a covert narcissist trots out the phrase “Nobody else thinks that” in an argument, they’re attempting to devalue your opinions and experiences by implying they’re out of step with the norm.

This can make you feel alone and misunderstood, which can lead to self-doubt and confusion.

You may start to question the validity of your thoughts and feelings, wondering if you’re overreacting or misinterpreting the situation.

Moreover, this statement serves to isolate you socially and emotionally.

It suggests that others, presumably people whose opinions you value, do not share your perspective.

This can make you feel alienated and unsupported, reinforcing the narcissist’s control over you.

In addition, by positioning themselves as the conduit for ‘everyone else’s’ opinions, the covert narcissist establishes a power dynamic where they hold the authority on what is ‘normal’ or ‘correct.’

This allows them to manipulate your perceptions and responses to suit their needs.

things covert narcissists say in an argument

“If you loved me, you would…”

“If you loved me, you would…”

Covert narcissists often weaponize love, conditioning you to link your actions with proof of your affection for them, and using it as a ploy to win an argument and bend you to their will.

When a covert narcissist says, “If you loved me, you would…”, they’re attempting to control your behavior by leveraging your feelings for them.

They imply that your love should compel you to fulfill their demands, regardless of your own needs or boundaries.

This can create a damaging dynamic where you feel obligated to constantly prove your love through actions that primarily serve the narcissist’s interests.

things covert narcissists say in an argument

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

This seemingly apologetic statement is frequently employed by covert narcissists, but in reality, it’s a non-apology.

While it may initially sound like an expression of regret, it subtly shifts the responsibility onto you, insinuating that the issue stems from your feelings and not their actions.

The covert narcissist is essentially expressing regret for your emotional response rather than acknowledging any wrongdoing on their part.

In this way the narcissist cleverly avoids a genuine apology, which would require them to admit fault and take responsibility for their actions.

Instead, they shift the focus onto your reaction, subtly suggesting that you’re the one at fault for feeling hurt or upset.

This manipulative tactic serves to invalidate your feelings and experiences while absolving them of any guilt or accountability.

Moreover, this statement implies that your feelings are misplaced or exaggerated, reinforcing the notion that you’re overly sensitive or misinterpreting the situation.

things covert narcissists say in an argument

How To React To The Things A Covert Narcissist Says In An Argument

Reacting to a covert narcissist’s manipulative tactics in an argument can be challenging.

However, with the right approach, you can maintain your emotional well-being and navigate these situations effectively.

Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Trust Your Feelings and Perceptions

One of the primary tactics used by covert narcissists is gaslighting, where they make you doubt your feelings and perceptions.

It’s essential to trust yourself when this happens. Don’t let someone else redefine your reality.

2. Stay Calm and Composed

Avoid reacting impulsively during arguments with covert narcissists. Instead, stay calm and composed.

This can prevent you from getting dragged into a cycle of emotional manipulation and help you maintain control over the situation.

narcissistic collapse anxiety

3. Set Clear Boundaries

Establish and communicate clear boundaries about what you consider acceptable behavior.

If the covert narcissist attempts to cross these boundaries during an argument, firmly remind them of your standards.

daughters of narcissistic fathers and romantic relationships

4. Avoid Getting Defensive

Covert narcissists often use criticism and blame to provoke a defensive response.

Instead of getting defensive, try to respond objectively.

Remember, their criticisms often reflect more about them than about you.

5. Practice Assertive Communication

Assertive communication is key when dealing with covert narcissists.

Clearly express your thoughts and feelings without aggression.

Let them know when their words are hurtful or unacceptable.


6. Don’t Engage in Their Comparisons

If a covert narcissist starts comparing you to others, avoid engaging in this game.

You are unique and should not be compared to anyone else.

Dismiss such comparisons as irrelevant and unhelpful.

7. Understand Their Victim Mentality

Recognize that when a covert narcissist plays the victim, it’s a manipulation tactic.

Don’t get drawn into their narrative.

Stick to the facts and hold them accountable for their actions.


8. Seek Support

Dealing with a covert narcissist can be emotionally draining.

Don’t hesitate to seek support from trusted friends, family members, or a mental health professional.

Having someone who understands and validates your experiences can be incredibly helpful.

9. Prioritize Self-Care

Remember to take care of your emotional and physical well-being.

Engaging with a covert narcissist can be stressful, so ensure you’re prioritizing self-care activities that help reduce stress and promote well-being.

self care

Final Thoughts On Things Covert Narcissists Say In An Argument

Understanding the things covert narcissists say in an argument, and why they say them, is crucial in recognizing their manipulative tactics.

By being aware of these phrases, you can better protect yourself and maintain your emotional well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissism

Frequently Asked Questions On Things Covert Narcissists Say In An Argument

How do covert narcissists argue?

Covert narcissists use manipulation tactics during arguments. They often gaslight their partners, making them question their memories or perceptions. They also frequently play the victim and use guilt-tripping to win arguments.

What is gaslighting in the context of a covert narcissist’s argument?

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic used by covert narcissists where they make you doubt your own memories, perceptions, or judgments. Phrases like “I never said that” or “Nobody else thinks that” are common forms of gaslighting.

How can I respond when a covert narcissist uses these phrases in an argument?

It’s important to recognize these manipulative tactics and not let them affect your self-perception. Stand your ground, trust your memories and feelings, and consider seeking advice from a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional.

How can I protect myself from a covert narcissist’s manipulative tactics in an argument?

Awareness is key. Recognize the common phrases and tactics used by covert narcissists. Trust your feelings and perceptions, and seek support from trusted individuals or professionals. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and prioritize your emotional well-being.

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