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Welcome to ChangedMind, where we dive deep into the fascinating realm of relationships, dating, and personal growth. Today, we’re going to shed light on a topic that can be quite the puzzle to unravel—covert narcissism. Specifically, we’ll explore the manipulative tactics employed by covert narcissists during arguments. By gaining insights into the phrases they commonly use, you’ll be better equipped to navigate these challenging interactions and protect your well-being.

Are you tired of feeling like you’re caught in a never-ending maze of mind games during arguments? Brace yourself, because we’re about to unveil the secrets of covert narcissists. In this article, we’ll reveal the top 10 things covert narcissists say in an argument, exposing their manipulative tactics. Get ready to decode their hidden language and regain your power!

Table of contents

Understanding Covert Narcissism

Before we delve into the intricacies of arguments with covert narcissists, let’s quickly grasp the essence of this personality type. Unlike their overt counterparts, who openly exhibit grandiose behaviors, covert narcissists operate in a more subtle and elusive manner. They possess an insatiable need for admiration and validation, but mask their true intentions behind a facade of false humility and victimhood.

The Importance of Recognizing Covert Narcissistic Behavior in Arguments

Recognizing covert narcissistic behavior in arguments is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and safeguarding your mental and emotional well-being. Covert narcissists possess a unique talent for manipulation, often leaving their victims feeling confused, invalidated, and doubting their own perceptions. By becoming aware of the common phrases they employ during arguments, you can break free from their web of deception and reclaim your power.

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s embark on our journey to uncover the ten things covert narcissists frequently say in an argument. Brace yourself, as you may find some of these phrases quite familiar.

(Continue to Section II: Setting the Stage: Understanding Covert Narcissists)

Setting the Stage: Understanding Covert Narcissists

Now that we’re diving deeper into the realm of covert narcissism, let’s lay the groundwork by understanding the key distinctions between overt and covert narcissists. This will enable us to recognize the subtle nuances of their behavior in arguments.

Differentiating between Overt and Covert Narcissists

While overt narcissists may flaunt their grandiosity and demand constant attention, covert narcissists are masters of disguise. They often appear humble, kind, and even self-deprecating, making it challenging to identify their manipulative tendencies. They thrive on covert tactics to exert control and dominance over others.

Key Traits and Behaviors of Covert Narcissists

Covert narcissists possess a unique set of characteristics that set them apart from other personality types. They often display:

  1. Inflated sense of entitlement: Despite their outward modesty, covert narcissists believe they deserve special treatment and attention.
  2. Excessive need for admiration: They crave constant validation and may fish for compliments in subtle ways.
  3. Lack of empathy: Covert narcissists struggle to genuinely understand or connect with others’ emotions.
  4. Manipulative tendencies: They excel at subtle manipulation, employing tactics such as guilt-tripping, gaslighting, and playing the victim.
  5. Fragile self-esteem: Beneath their seemingly modest exterior, covert narcissists have a fragile self-image that they desperately protect.

Exploring the Hidden Manipulation Tactics They Employ

Now, let’s delve into the intriguing world of hidden manipulation tactics employed by covert narcissists during arguments. By being aware of these tactics, you’ll be better equipped to see through their facade and protect yourself.

Remember, knowledge is power, and arming yourself with information about these tactics will give you the upper hand in dealing with covert narcissistic behavior. Stay tuned as we reveal the ten common phrases they employ to keep you tangled in their web of manipulation.

(Continue to Section III: Common Phrases Used by Covert Narcissists in Arguments)

10 Things Covert Narcissists Say in an Argument: Unveiling Manipulative Tactics

Now, let’s uncover the cunning phrases covert narcissists commonly use during arguments. By recognizing these red flags, you’ll be better prepared to navigate their manipulative tactics and protect yourself from their psychological traps. Let’s dive in!

Phrase 1: “You’re too sensitive”

1. Dismissing and invalidating emotions: When a covert narcissist says, “You’re too sensitive,” they aim to undermine your emotional experience and make you question the validity of your feelings. They try to minimize the impact of their hurtful words or actions by placing the blame on your supposed hypersensitivity.

2. Gaslighting techniques: By using this phrase, covert narcissists subtly employ gaslighting—a form of psychological manipulation that makes you doubt your own sanity or perception of reality. They twist the situation to make you feel like you’re overreacting or being unreasonable, causing you to question your own emotions and experiences.

Phrase 2: “You always make everything about yourself”

1. Projection of their own behavior: Covert narcissists often engage in self-centeredness and making situations revolve around them. However, they skillfully project their behavior onto others. By saying, “You always make everything about yourself,” they deflect attention away from their own narcissistic tendencies and place the blame on you.

2. Shifting blame onto the victim: Covert narcissists use this phrase as a tactic to shift the blame and avoid taking responsibility for their actions. They try to make you feel guilty or selfish for expressing your needs, wants, or concerns, effectively diverting the focus away from their own behavior.

Phrase 3: “I was only joking, can’t you take a joke?”

1. Using humor to mask hurtful comments: Covert narcissists often employ this phrase to cloak their hurtful remarks under the guise of humor. They hope that by framing their hurtful words as a joke, they can avoid accountability and brush off the impact of their words on your emotions.

2. Diminishing the victim’s feelings: By dismissing your reaction to their hurtful comments as an inability to “take a joke,” covert narcissists undermine the legitimacy of your emotions. They attempt to downplay the impact of their words and make you question your sensitivity, leaving you feeling invalidated.

Phrase 4: “You’re overreacting”

1. Minimizing the impact of their actions: Covert narcissists use this phrase to downplay the significance of their behavior and make it seem like your response is exaggerated or unwarranted. By framing your reaction as an overreaction, they avoid taking responsibility for their actions and maintain control over the narrative.

2. Undermining the victim’s perspective: Covert narcissists aim to invalidate your perspective and make you question the legitimacy of your emotions. They want you to doubt your own perceptions, making it easier for them to manipulate the situation in their favor.

Phrase 5: “You’re just trying to start an argument”

1. Shifting the focus away from their behavior: Covert narcissists employ this phrase to divert attention from their own behavior and shift the blame onto you. By accusing you of trying to start an argument, they manipulate the narrative and make it seem like you’re the one causing the conflict.

2. Discrediting the victim’s intentions: Covert narcissists undermine your credibility by questioning your intentions. They attempt to portray themselves as innocent bystanders, while implying that you have malicious motives for bringing up valid concerns or expressing your feelings.

Phrase 6: “You’re too paranoid, you need help”

1. Gaslighting and undermining the victim’s mental well-being: Covert narcissists use this phrase to manipulate and control your perception of reality. By labeling your concerns as paranoia, they dismiss the validity of your thoughts and emotions. This gaslighting technique aims to undermine your confidence and make you doubt your own sanity.

2. Dismissing valid concerns: By suggesting that you need help, covert narcissists attempt to discredit your genuine concerns. They want to diminish the importance of the issues you raise, making it easier for them to avoid accountability for their actions.

Phrase 7: “You’re being irrational”

1. Invalidating the victim’s emotions and thoughts: Covert narcissists employ this phrase to belittle and dismiss your feelings and thoughts. By labeling you as irrational, they undermine the legitimacy of your emotional and logical responses. They want to control the narrative and make you doubt your own judgment.

2. Manipulating the narrative to favor themselves: By painting you as irrational, covert narcissists aim to shift the blame onto you and maintain control of the argument. They twist the situation to make it seem like you are the one at fault, deflecting attention from their own manipulative behaviors.

Phrase 8: “You’re too sensitive, just toughen up”

1. Downplaying the victim’s emotions: Covert narcissists employ this phrase to dismiss and diminish the significance of your emotions. By labeling you as too sensitive, they attempt to invalidate your feelings, making it easier for them to continue their manipulative behaviors without consequence.

2. Imposing their own standards and expectations: Covert narcissists want you to conform to their preferred emotional standards. By telling you to toughen up, they impose their own expectations onto you, disregarding your individuality and unique emotional experiences.

Phrase 9: “You misunderstood me, that’s not what I meant”

1. Rewriting history and twisting words: Covert narcissists use this phrase as a way to rewrite the narrative and manipulate the truth. By claiming that you misunderstood them, they twist their words to absolve themselves of responsibility for their hurtful actions or comments.

2. Shifting blame and evading responsibility: Covert narcissists deflect accountability by making it seem like the misinterpretation is solely your fault. By doing so, they avoid taking responsibility for their behavior and place the burden of misunderstanding on you.

Phrase 10: “You’re crazy, nobody else sees it that way”

1. Isolating the victim by questioning their sanity: Covert narcissists use this phrase to undermine your credibility and isolate you from others. By questioning your sanity, they manipulate your perception of reality and make you doubt yourself, leaving you feeling alone and confused.

2. Discrediting the victim’s perceptions and experiences: Covert narcissists aim to undermine your perspective by suggesting that nobody else sees things the way you do. They use this tactic to make you question the validity of your own perceptions and experiences, further eroding your confidence.

By familiarizing yourself with these manipulative phrases, you are better equipped to recognize and respond to covert narcissistic behavior. Remember, you have the power to protect yourself and maintain healthy boundaries in relationships.

(Continue to Section IV: Strategies for Dealing with Covert Narcissists in Arguments)

Strategies for Dealing with Covert Narcissists in Arguments

Now that we have uncovered the common phrases used by covert narcissists in arguments, it’s time to equip ourselves with effective strategies for navigating these challenging interactions. By implementing these strategies, you can regain control and maintain your emotional well-being.

Recognizing the Manipulative Tactics and Patterns

The first step in dealing with covert narcissists is to recognize their manipulative tactics and patterns. By familiarizing yourself with their behavior, you can identify when they are attempting to gaslight, undermine, or deflect blame. Stay vigilant and trust your instincts. Remember, you have the power to protect yourself.

Setting Boundaries and Asserting Yourself

Establishing clear boundaries is crucial when dealing with covert narcissists. Communicate your limits and assert your needs in a calm and assertive manner. Stand firm in your convictions and don’t let them manipulate or guilt-trip you into compromising your boundaries. Remember, you deserve respect and your boundaries are valid.

Seeking Support from Trusted Friends or Professionals

Navigating a relationship with a covert narcissist can be emotionally draining and overwhelming. Seek support from trusted friends or family members who understand your situation. Share your experiences and feelings with them, as their perspective can provide valuable insights and validation. If needed, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor who specializes in narcissistic abuse.

Considering the Possibility of Leaving Toxic Relationships

While every situation is unique, it’s important to evaluate whether staying in a toxic relationship with a covert narcissist is truly beneficial for your well-being. Sometimes, the best course of action is to prioritize your own mental and emotional health by considering the possibility of leaving the relationship. Remember, you deserve to be in a relationship that is built on respect, empathy, and genuine care.

By implementing these strategies, you are taking steps towards reclaiming your power and protecting yourself from the manipulative tactics of covert narcissists. Remember, you are not alone, and there is support available to help you through this journey.

(Continue to Conclusion)


Congratulations! You’ve journeyed with us through the treacherous terrain of arguments with covert narcissists. Armed with the knowledge of the common phrases they employ, you’re now equipped to navigate these interactions with greater awareness and confidence. Let’s recap the key points we’ve covered and leave you with some empowering final thoughts.

Recap of the Key Points Discussed

Throughout this blog post, we’ve explored the world of covert narcissism and the manipulative tactics they employ in arguments. We’ve uncovered ten common phrases they use, such as dismissing emotions with “You’re too sensitive,” shifting blame with “You always make everything about yourself,” and gaslighting with “I was only joking, can’t you take a joke?”

We also delved into strategies for dealing with covert narcissists, including recognizing their manipulative tactics, setting boundaries, seeking support, and considering the possibility of leaving toxic relationships. By implementing these strategies, you can protect your well-being and maintain healthy relationships.

Encouragement to Prioritize Self-Care and Well-being

Remember, your well-being should always be a top priority. Take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically. Surround yourself with supportive and understanding individuals who uplift and validate your experiences. Engage in self-care activities that bring you joy and help you recharge. You deserve to be in relationships that nurture and respect your authentic self.

Empowerment to Identify and Address Covert Narcissistic Behavior

By gaining insights into the phrases covert narcissists use in arguments, you are better equipped to identify and address their manipulative tactics. Trust your instincts and stay true to yourself. Recognize that you have the power to set boundaries, assert your needs, and choose healthy relationships. Don’t let the tactics of covert narcissists dim your light or undermine your worth.

As you move forward, remember that knowledge is power. Stay informed and continue to educate yourself about narcissism and healthy relationship dynamics. Equip yourself with tools and resources that empower you to navigate challenging situations with strength and resilience.

In conclusion, navigating arguments with covert narcissists can be a challenging endeavor. But armed with awareness, strategies, and a commitment to your well-being, you can break free from their manipulative grasp and build healthier, more fulfilling connections.

Remember, you deserve to be in relationships that are built on mutual respect, empathy, and genuine love. Trust yourself, honor your boundaries, and embrace the journey of personal growth and healing.

Stay strong, stay true, and always prioritize your own happiness and well-being.


How can I recognize covert narcissistic behavior in arguments?

Look out for phrases like “You’re too sensitive” or “You always make everything about yourself.” These dismissive and deflective statements are common tactics used by covert narcissists.

How should I respond to phrases like “You’re too sensitive” in an argument?

Recognize that it is a manipulation tactic. Trust your emotions and set boundaries. Respond by calmly asserting your feelings and maintaining your self-worth.

Are covert narcissists aware of their manipulative behavior during arguments?

While they may not fully acknowledge their manipulative tactics, covert narcissists are skilled at using these phrases to maintain control and exert power over others.

Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with a covert narcissist?

Establishing a healthy relationship with a covert narcissist is challenging due to their manipulative tendencies. It’s crucial to prioritize your well-being and consider seeking professional support.

Can covert narcissists change their behavior in arguments?

It is rare for covert narcissists to change their behavior, as they often lack self-awareness and resist accountability. Focus on protecting yourself and setting boundaries.


  1. Psychology Today – “Understanding Covert Narcissism” – Link
  2. Healthline – “Gaslighting: What Is It and How to Respond” – Link
  3. National Domestic Violence Hotline – “What Is Gaslighting?” – Link

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