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The Crazy Things Covert Narcissists Say

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC

We all say some pretty crazy things at times.  But we tend to realize it and adjust accordingly or apologize as needed.  Not so with covert narcissists, or regular narcissists for that matter.  We’ll tackle that on another day, though.  For now, I would just like to talk about the crazy things covert narcissists say.

Covert narcissists will say the craziest things but not realize how crazy they sound.  One of the biggest things they will say is that there is something really wrong with YOU.  That is one of their favorite methods of blame-shifting.  They say crazy things in an argument just to stay on top and crush their opponent. And they say all kinds of passive aggressive things just to keep themselves on top of everyone else.  As a general rule, covert narcissists will say anything that makes them look good while making you look and feel bad.

Now that you have the quick answer, let’s take a deeper look at the different circumstances that make covert narcissists say the crazy things they do.

Things Covert Narcissists Say in an Argument

Overt narcissists don’t care who sees their manipulation and bullying.  In fact, they will use it to show everyone else not to mess with them.  Covert narcissists, on the other hand, are secretive and shy about their narcissism.  They manipulate people in a way that makes them look helpful and kind while keeping their devious undertones under wraps.

That being said, when you are alone with a covert narcissist, the overt comes out in an argument.  They don’t need their victims to necessarily see them as nice.  They need victims to see them as large and in charge.  Here are some of the things they say in arguments.

Things Covert Narcissists Say in Public Arguments

In public, covert narcissists are playing a two-sided game.  On the one hand, they need to impress all those around him with caring, kind, responsible words.  But, on the other hand, they need to make sure you know your place in relation to them.  So they say loaded things that have different meanings for both you and the others in the vicinity.  Things like, “I am really concerned for you,” will indicate to others his loving concern and to you how lacking you are in his shadow.

Here are some of the specific things covert narcissists say in public arguments:

  • “I’m praying for (insert name here) to be able to (insert activity here) better.”
  • “I’m sorry you feel that way, but…”
  • “It’s not my fault.  You ________.”
  • “You aren’t making any sense.  This is the way you should be thinking.”
  • “I was just kidding.”
  • “You know I would never…”

Things Covert Narcissists Say in Arguments Behind Closed Doors

The way a covert narcissist argues behind closed doors is vastly different than how he fights when there are other people around.  The gloves come out.  He is ready to fight to the death.  And he has no intention of losing.

Here are some of the things covert narcissists say in arguments behind closed doors:

  • “There is something really wrong with you.”
  • “Stop being so sensitive.”
  • “You always do this to me.”
  • “Why do you always have to win the argument?”
  • “You’re the one that has the problem.  It isn’t me!”
  • “This is all your fault.  If you wouldn’t have _____, then I wouldn’t have ______.”
  • “Why are you always hounding me?”
  • “You can’t say anything to me unless it is a good thing.”
  • “You aren’t allowed to complain about anything I do.”
  • “Can’t you just pretend everything is okay?”

At the end of the day, you need to realize that covert narcissists, or overt for that matter, are not arguing with you to find common ground.  They are looking to win an argument at all costs.  And honestly, it just isn’t worth the energy you would exert.

While I would never engage in argument with a narcissist because it isn’t worth it, there are things you can say to your narcissist.  Check out my article that has dozens of phrases to disarm a narcissist safely.

Arguing Tactics Covert Narcissists Use

Narcissists, from an early age, study the arguments that they have with others to find what works best for them.  In the case of my narcissistic ex-husband, tying everything back to religion and “how God expects us to behave” was his go-to.  Who can argue against God Himself?  It was very effective in stopping arguments dead until we realized what he was doing and learned ways to combat it.  But in the case of public arguments or him recounting arguments to others, it made him look like a super devout follower of Christ who only looked out for the best in people–the exact opposite of what he was really doing.  And there were some people that fell for it.

Here are some other tactics covert narcissists use when arguing with others:

  • They make light of your struggle or grief.  In reality, they don’t care what you are experiencing.  They only care about how you are providing for their perceived needs and desires.
  • They gaslight you.  That means they say and do things that challenge your reality until you no longer trust your own judgment.   This is usually done by saying things that are mostly true but changing little facts about the subject each time they revisit the subject.  Over time, their new reality imposed on you doesn’t even remotely resemble the actual reality.  And the whole time they will remind you that your perceptions are off and there is something “really wrong with you.”
  • Distracting you from the argument.  They will bring up random things out of the blue in response to something you are trying to work through with them.  For example, say you would like to talk to him about the lack of time he is spending with the kids.  His response will be something like, I made sure you had money for groceries.  That way he can be seen as being a good person and doing good things.  Even if he isn’t doing what he is supposed to in other areas of life.
  • Ridiculing your issues.  The covert narcissist will compliment to you Heaven when you are around other people.  But when you are behind closed doors, they can’t let you be right, smart, or thoughtful.  You must take the fall for everything.  If you bring up issues with them, they will tell you that you are making a big deal out of nothing.  You are blowing things waaaay out of proportion.  You are so unreasonable.  On the flip side, when they actually do make a big deal out of nothing when attacking you (this is called projection), they get even angrier that you would say that about them.  And they insist that what they are complaining about really is a huge deal.
  • Covert narcissists will blame shift onto you.  If they fail to meet a deadline, it will be because you caused them to forget by making them do something else.  Or you didn’t remind them like you were supposed to.  Or you distracted them by directing their attention elsewhere.  In this case, they will literally make up any excuse to keep themselves from having to take the blame for their own lack of attention.

Things Covert Narcissists Say When Gaslighting

All of the statements I quoted above regarding things covert narcissists say are pretty nasty ways to communicate with a loved one or associate.  But when gaslighting is involved, the narcissist pulls out all the stops.  Gaslighting is designed to destroy the self confidence of the victim.  The abuser will continue to chip away at the psyche of their victim until the victim has no ability to see things for what they really are anymore.  Their reality is based on the narcissist’s lies.

Here are some of the things narcissists say when they are gaslighting you in an argument.

  • “I can’t believe you would actually think that about me.  I would never…”
  • “You have no idea what you are talking about.”
  • “You are the worst _____ I have ever seen.”
  • “Why would you do such a stupid thing?”
  • “You are worthless.”
  • “I wouldn’t take you anywhere.”
  • “I am sorry if I hurt your feelings, but it was your fault.”
  • “Nobody else would ever think that.”
  • “You are the one that has the problem.”

If your narcissist is using these words against you, don’t internalize them.  And don’t even bother to respond.  He literally doesn’t care.

Things Covert Narcissists Say to Make You Feel Irrelevant

The more irrelevant a covert narcissist can make you feel, the better chance you will remain subservient to him and not try to go live your life independently.  It is all about wearing you down until you don’t see yourself anymore.  All you see is him and how you can serve him.  There are lots of things he will say to you that will keep your head down.  here are some of them:
  • “You are a worthless POS.”
  • “Why would you do such a ridiculous thing?”
  • “I don’t know what would make you behave so badly.”
  • “I don’t know why you would make such a bad decision.”
  • “You just don’t get it, do you?”
  • If you were smart, you would have _____”
  • “You are an embarrassment.”

This list will get you started and give you an idea of the ways a covert narcissist will wear you down.  I am sure you can add to the list based on your own experience.  Just know that it isn’t true.  You have great value as a person.  And you need to go where you can feel that value and support from others.  Also, check out my article on the fact that surviving and thriving from narcissism is easier than  you think!

Things Covert Narcissists Say to Make Themselves Look Like the Victim

Covert narcissists love to play the victim.  They want everyone, especially outside of their small circle, to feel sorry for them and pour attention and support on them.  All at the expense of you.  Here are some things covert narcissists say to make themselves look more like a victim than an abuser”

  • “I don’t know why you would do that to me.”
  • “What would make you treat me that way?”
  • “I really love you and I would never do that to you.”
  • “I can’t believe you think that about me!”

Don’t let a narcissist make you think that you are victimizing them!  They will always try to throw their own guilt off on you.  They know that sensitive people (empaths) will always have a soft spot for them and they will do whatever they can to garner that sympathy and make themselves look like the victim at your expense.  Don’t fall for it!

Covert Narcissists Will Use an Element of Truth in the Crazy Things They Say

One of the tricks narcissists keep in their bag is to use an element of truth in all of their lies.  It will make you take pause and try to figure out what in the world he just said.  You know it doesn’t ring true.  But you recognize the truth that he did share with you.  So you start to make excuses about why he couldn’t possibly be lying.  Maybe he just didn’t understand the facts from his perspective.  Or maybe someone told him something that affected his judgment.

Before you know it, you are excusing his lies and accepting what he says as truthful in his eyes.  Which could actually be true because narcissists like to convince themselves of their falsehoods so they can convince everyone else.  Except none of this has any basis in reality or truth.  Check out my article on understanding the mind of a narcissist to get a closer look at what you are up against!

How to Respond to the Things Covert Narcissists Say

The biggest thing you DON’T want to do when responding to a covert narcissist is react in the least bit emotionally.  The more you react, the more you provide him narcissistic supply.  If you show him you are hurt, it satisfies him that he got a reaction out of you.  If he made you made and you show it, even better.

The best thing you can do is respond with indifference, no matter how heated up you are feeling.  This is known as grey rock.  You are making yourself so boring to him that he doesn’t want to bother with you anymore.  So he will move on to an easier target.

He needs you to react.  And when you don’t, he feels that he has failed.  He may try harder to get a reaction out of you.  Don’t fall for it.  But also don’t stick around to be the target of more of his narcissistic abuse.  The less you react, the angrier you may make him.  And things can get very bad very quickly.

If you feel that you are in an unsafe position, you need to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).  Or you can visit online at


Much of this list of crazy things covert narcissists say came from my own personal experience with my ex-narcissist of 35 years.  Well, actually it has now been 36 years because we are in a coparenting situation.  Until my son decides he has had enough and the courts let him be done for good.

I hope that if you have heard the same things from your covert narcissist, you realize that it isn’t you.  You are fine.  Or at least you will be when you get the help you need and set healthy boundaries to get you back on your feet.  Check out this article for more information on how to safely leave your narcissist for good.

If you aren’t sure where to go next, I would love to recommend to you the two books that helped me more than any of the 30+ I have bought on the subject.  The first one is The Emotionally Destructive Marriage (or The Emotionally Destructive Relationship if your relationship with  your narcissist is not a marriage).  This book starts out with a test to help you discover whether your marriage (or relationship) is destructive or difficult.

Then, Leslie Vernick goes on to help you figure out whether you should try to continue to heal the relationship or if it is wiser and safer to get out.  She does not insert herself into your situation, but instead gives you the strength and knowledge to do what you will know to be right after reading her book.  Both of thee books were  incredibly life-changing  for me.  I am sure they will be for you too, and for your friends and family that may be going through similar circumstances.  Click on them to get more information.

The other book that was life-changing for me was Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  After the narcissist in your life has decimated your boundaries, if you ever had any to start with, it is very difficult trying to set and keep new boundaries that will help you to get yourself back on your feet.  After the books above, this may be the most important book you buy.

Check it out here:

And finally, if you are still looking for some of the best resources on narcissism, click here for my best recommendations.  They are all books I have read and used to help me heal.  I continue to use them as references even now!

So what has been your experience with the crazy things covert narcissists say to you or your loved ones?  How did you respond?  If you had it to do again, would you respond in the same way?  What has been your biggest takeaway regarding how to handle what your narcissist says to you?  I would love to hear your story.  Feel free to share your story below or if you don’t feel safe commenting in a public forum, feel free to contact me here.


Blessings and hugs,


If you found this article valuable, I think you will also find the following articles valuable:

What is the Narcissist Divorce Rate?

Who Does a Narcissist Marry?

How Many Times Does a Narcissist Marry?

Narcissists and Marriage:  The Complete Picture

How Does a Narcissist Stay Married for so Long?

Does Narcissism Worsen With Age?

Does a Narcissist Realize What They’ve Lost?

Do Narcissists End up Alone?

Can a Narcissist be a Good Father?

Can a Narcissist be a Good Mother?

Will a Narcissist Hurt Their Child?

Can Narcissists be Good Parents?

Can Narcissists Love Their Children?

How Can You Tell if Someone is a Religious Narcissist?

Can Two Narcissists be in Relationship With Each Other?

Understanding the Tactics of a Religious Narcissistic Father 

Dealing With the Trauma of a Religious Narcissistic Mother

When Narcissism Becomes Pathological

Will God Punish a Narcissist?

What to do When Your Narcissist Threatens You

The Bible Used as a Weapon Against You:  You Can Overcome! 

What Does the Bible Say About Abusive Husbands?

The Link Between Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism

Why Narcissists Want to Apear Godly

What Healing From a Narcissist Looks Like

Why Narcissists Love Going to Church 

How Religious Narcissists Think

Are Narcissists Evil?

Narcissistic Behavior:  What to Look Out For

Praying for Your Narcissistic Husband

Are Spiritual Narcissists Overt or Covert? 

Religious Trauma Syndrome:  How to Preserve Your Spiritual Journey

How to Navigate Religious Narcissistic Parents

What Happens to the Soul of a Narcissist?

How to Heal From a Spiritual Narcissist

Can You Maintain a Relationship With a Spiritual Narcissist? 

Can Narcissists Have a Spiritual Awakening?

How Will God Judge a Narcissist?

When the Church Says to Move Back in With Your Narcissist

What Can we Say to a Christian Friend Who’s Divorcing?

Why Does God Hate Divorce? 

12 Ways the Church Helps Narcissists Abuse Their Victims

When Your Church Believes the Narcissist’s Lies

23 Reasons Why Narcissists are Drawn to the Church

What Does the Spiritual Narcissist do When You try to Leave?

When the Church Doesn’t Recognize Narcissistic Abuse

Will the Church Support Divorcing a Narcissist?

Are Narcissists Demon Possessed?

What Does the Bible say About Narcissism?

Can a Narcissist be a Christian?

Can a Spiritual Narcissist Heal?

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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