Narcissists Never Mean What They Say

How to interpret the truth behind the narcissist’s words

Christine Schoenwald


Photo by Doğukan Şahin on Unsplash

For narcissists, it’s difficult to speak from the heart or to tell the truth. Many narcissists feel misunderstood — this could be because they never say anything without a hidden agenda.

Dan Neuharth Ph.D., MFT writes in a “Psychology Today” article, “Narcissists are mortally afraid of feeling humiliated or being seen as flawed, inferior, weak, or [as] a loser. Their words reflect an endless shell game that attempts to hide these insecurities.”

Narcissists carefully construct their words to get a specific reaction. The more you buy what the narcissist is telling you, the more they’ll manipulate you, so it’s important to be able to see behind what they say for their true meaning.

Translating narcissist-speak is complicated and can make you feel many different emotions. As Dr. Neuharth says, “Decoding the true meaning behind a narcissist’s words may spark grief, anger, relief, freedom, and more.”

Translating narcissist speak

Narcissists do a lot of double talk and say things that may seem simple enough on the surface but are meant to throw you off and make you doubt yourself. If you’re disorientated, you won’t have the clarity to see who they are behind their facade.

I know you’d want me to be honest

I’m looking for any excuse to cut you down to size, weaken your resolve, and hurt you emotionally. You want honesty, but I’m not willing to be honest about myself, only about your flaws and how you don’t measure up.

If you’re too confident, you might leave me, and I can’t have that.

I never said that

I did say that, but I’m gaslighting you, so I’m going to deny saying those words or trying to convey that message. I have problems taking responsibility for my words and actions, so I’m going to be true to form and act as if I’m innocent in all this.

The truth is I’m lying. I tell lies all the time, but I act as if I’m dropping truth bombs. Eventually, you won’t be able to tell the difference between what’s true and what’s false.



Christine Schoenwald

Writer for The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Next Avenue, Business Insider, and Your Tango