The Narcissist Code

It’s Narcissist Friday!


Narcissists, like many fearful people, speak in code.  Their words are often very different from their attitudes or actions.  Here are some examples:

When he says…                He means …

I made a mistake It was someone else’s fault
I don’t like them I think they don’t like me
I am sorry There, I did my duty, now let’s move on
Let me help Let me show how smart/strong/good I am
I care Tell me how good I am
I love you Tell me that you love me
I need you Tell me how important I am to you
I want to serve I want to show you how spiritual I am
I like you Listen to me. Notice me.
You impress me Now let me show you how good I am
I am depressed I need attention

When he…                                       He really…

Pays attention to you Thinks you will add to his image
Ignores you Has decided that you won’t add to his image
Is angry with you Worries that you might expose his secret
Uses, abuses, hurts you Has no concept of your discomfort or pain
Fails at something Is vulnerable and afraid that he is exposed


You might be able to add some code words that you have deciphered. 



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9 responses to “The Narcissist Code

  1. Sue

    I just discovered your site and am so happy to have done so!

    I have a question for you. Do you think it’s possible for a narcissist to be saved?

    Do they have the capacity to acknowledge their sin and have remorse, thus being repentant?

    • Hi Sue! Welcome!
      Simple answer? Yes. But this takes some explanation, more than I have space for here. So… guess what the next few posts will be about.
      Check back on Monday for a specific answer, with a couple more days for expanded explanation.

  2. Sue’s question sounds a lot like the one I asked recently.

    Many of these descriptions remind me of myself before Christ (mostly. Some of the tendencies are still there, but dramatically diminished). I have, though, seen some people within churches and even in positions of leadership who are characterized by this sort of behavior. I look forward to your upcoming posts, Dave.

  3. Sue

    I look forward to your answer! I have a personal reason for asking, so am very interested in your thoughts. I’ll be back tomorrow!

  4. Mary

    This list was so good, and made a lot of sense. I have seen this in practice! It helps to understand their “language” and how they reason!

    I have had more than my fair share of experiences with men with narcissistic traits (even NPD). I was married to one from 1998 – 2003 and escaped (literally) with the help of a battered women’s shelter.

    Then last year I ended a 3-year relationship with a man (a hospital chaplain, would you believe) who to my horror I slowly realised was a covert narcissist. The first two years were ok (or so I thought at the time), but when I started to question his ways, I was no longer “supply” for his N neediness (as you have written here, I became a threat). I also found myself in need of HIS support (as I lost a parent to dementia overnight) and found his empathy and emotional support sorely lacking. Well he just didn’t have that in him. How could he?

    After six months on my own, I have had the chance to soul search and with God’s help can see the part I have played in these toxic partnerships. I can recognise the enabler, the codependent part in me, and am working hard to “heal”. I am trying to reconcile with my unhappy childhood, the dysfunctional family I came from. I can also see that my own father has NPD….maybe explaining my choice of men (my comfort zone plus wanting to conquer that which I couldn’t as a child…to be seen and loved for me)

    Narcissism is an awful thing, really.

    • Yes, I believe that your narcissist would be a hospital chaplain and, yes, narcissism is awful. I hope people read your comments here because you say several important things. Very often the children of narcissists either become narcissistic themselves or end up as someone else’s supply. Makes sense, I suppose. This is how they learned life.

      But the Lord loves you. It’s true! You are acceptable to Him and accepted by Him. In fact, He is pleased with you!

      • Mary

        Thank you for understanding.
        It would be good if you could write something about Adult Children of Narcissists. I found this great film clip on YouTube. See what you think.

      • Mary, I watched the video and found it to be very good. She has both insight and compassion. “Children of the Self-absorbed” by Nina Brown, is a book I have found helpful with this. Thanks for the link and the suggestion. I will write something on this soon.

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