Last Updated on March 3, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester
Reading texts from a narcissist can sometimes feel like you’re reading a foreign language! They often aren’t logical or sensical, and it’s easy to lose yourself trying to figure out what it all means. However, learning to decode their texting habits can help you feel more prepared.
Let’s dive into some examples of Narcissist text messages and the best ways how to respond to them.
The Narcissist Text Habits
Gaslighting. Ghosting. Constant bombardment. Strange emojis and weird pictures. Does this sound like a familiar pattern to you?
When the narcissist texts you, do you feel like you’re just playing games and engaged in a strange form of alternative reality? You’re onto something, and you’re definitely not imagining things!
As you have probably realized, texting with a narcissist feels much different from texting others. You might find yourself feeling anxious, frustrated, or annoyed every time you see that you have a new message from them. You may also feel tempted to block them from time to time.
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That’s because the narcissistic texting style tends to be very manipulative and contrived. The narcissist often crafts their words carefully, and they use this form of communication to give themselves a temporary ego boost.
Talking with a narcissist is already challenging. But texting creates another layer of complications. Because they have time to think about how they want to respond, narcissist texting habits tend to make other people feel gaslit. You might start questioning your reality or sanity- you may wonder if you’re the only one who finds talking to them so difficult.
In addition, texts from a narcissist can often feel disjointed, confusing, and overly emotional. Of course, you want their approval, but you also may find yourself feeling anxious when waiting for them to respond. And when you get caught in the insidious narcissist text games, you may even feel like you’re totally walking on eggshells.
We’ll get into some specific examples below.
11 Examples of Narcissist Text Messages
As you know, texts from a narcissist differ greatly from ordinary texts. For example, their communication style may not follow any sort of logic or pattern. The texts may come at strange hours or without any warning. And, narcissists love to jump from topic to topic, thinking about only their needs.
While every narcissist is different, you will notice a few common behavioral patterns. In general, narcissists typically text to:
- Reaffirm their love and appreciation for you (common during the love-bombing stage).
- Gaslight your reality.
- Bring back in your attention when they sense you’re being distant.
- Guilt you into doing something for them.
- Confirm that you are still loyal to the relationship.
In this section, we’ll overview some common gaslighting examples of narcissist text messages. These kinds of texts are designed to make you question yourself and your reality. They also keep you inevitably hooked in the drama of the relationship.
We’ll also discuss some common hoovering strategies of narcissist text messages. Hoovering is a common narcissistic tactic designed to lure people back into their world despite solid attempts to set boundaries or leave altogether.
#1 Total Bombardment Texts
Maybe you were only in a meeting for an hour. You check your phone after the meeting ends, only to discover that you have 10+ unread text messages from the narcissist. In more extreme cases, you’ll also find several missed phone calls and voicemails.
This isn’t a one-time thing or indicative of an actual emergency. Total bombardment comes when the narcissist feels desperate for attention. And they tend to feel most desperate when they know you’re the most unavailable.
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This pattern is a key sign that they feel deprived of their narcissistic supply. They want your attention and validation to restore a sense of control in their lives. And they will likely keep bothering you until they receive that.
You can expect to feel bombarded when:
- You are busy (and the narcissist is resenting why you are busy at that moment).
- The narcissist feels worried or threatened about your relationship.
- You are in a fight, and the narcissist wants to resolve the issue quickly.
- The narcissist wants to sabotoge whatever you’re currently doing.
The overload is meant to send a strong message that screams, pay attention to me! I won’t stop until you do! It’s just like how toddlers throw tantrums until the parent eventually gives them what they want. And the more you give in (by responding), the more attention they receive.
#2 Intense Proclamations of Love
Nobody in this world understands me as you do.
I would seriously die without you.
I just love you so damn much!
We all like feeling special, but narcissists use love bombing as a weapon to make their partners feel like they’re the most important person in the world. At first glance, this may seem harmless. It may also seem flattering and exciting, especially when you’re in the initial whirlwind of falling in love.
But think about how you often feel when you receive these texts. Do they come across as a bit inauthentic? Dramatic or over-the-top? Embarrassing? And how would you feel if someone else read them?
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These emotions suggest more nefarious intent. In genuine, loving relationships, partners genuinely validate and praise each other. It isn’t excessive, but it’s enough for both people to feel appreciated.
Narcissists, however, often rely on hollow words to manipulate someone else’s emotional state. They don’t necessarily mean what they say, but they say it because they want to make you feel a certain way. And what faster, easier way to do this than with a quick text?
#3 Vaguely Dramatic Texts
I’m not really fine right now, but we can talk about it later.
How are you doing? I feel like shit.
You probably won’t see this until later, but just letting you know I received some terrible news.
If these texts feel anxiety-provoking, keep in mind it’s intentional. Narcissists love using heightened, emotional language when text messaging with others. It’s a way they can hook you into their drama and keep you responding to them.
You may notice that they often send these texts after moments of disconnection (like after an argument or after you two have spent some time apart). This is because they want to make you feel guilty, and they also hope that you’ll try to rescue them from their current state of insecurity.
After all, even negative attention is still attention when it comes to narcissism. And so, they’ll do whatever it takes to get the attention back where they want it: on themselves.
#4 No-Nonsense, Demanding Texts
You need to change your shirt right now. It’s slutty.
Go pick us up for dinner.
I need you to call me right now.
Most people send matter-of-fact texts occasionally (especially in moments of urgency), but narcissists often come across as chronically demanding. And of course, they expect you to drop everything you’re doing and take care of their need instantly.
These texts may come out of nowhere. They might also arrive when the narcissist knows you’re busy and can’t agree to their request. When that’s the case, they will likely punish you by complaining how you never pay attention their needs later. It’s a lose-lose situation by design.
#5 Word Salad
So, I’ve been thinking about us a lot lately. I realize that I’ve made so many mistakes with you, and I’m genuinely sorry for that. I’m just not used to being with someone who is so sensitive. I’m super committed to making things work from here on and out. You know you’re the only one for me. Even though I struggle to trust you sometimes, I want to work on that. It’s hard not to be jealous when other people flirt with you! I need to do better, though. I think we can both do better. Are you willing to put in the effort with me?
When you read the above message, how do you feel? Confused? Uncertain? Uneasy? That’s because narcissists love to use lots of half-apologies and manipulative communication to overwhelm people with their seemingly “thoughtful messages.”
Word salad is a psychiatric term that describes disorganized and inconclusive speech or writing. It’s common in dementia or psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.
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But narcissists also use a refined version of word salad to send mixed messages to their loved ones. You can usually tell you’re receiving this kind of text if:
- The message feels unrelated and illogical.
- It was entirely unprompted.
- The content feels repetitive (like you’ve heard it a thousand times).
- It all seems vague or overgeneralized.
- You feel attacked or blamed (but aren’t entirely sure why).
- There’s a subtle sense of rage or competition.
#6 Feigning Crises
I’m at the hospital right now. Just thought you should know.
I know we aren’t really on speaking terms, but I really need support with something.
I really need to talk to you about something serious that happened.
It’s no secret that compassionate, empathic people end up in tumultuous relationships with narcissists. Narcissists, after all, are predatory, and they often detect generosity.
Unfortunately, they will use your kindness to take advantage of you. Feigning crises is a common hoovering technique that will pull your most sensitive heartstrings. If you’re taking a break- or you’ve ended the relationship- you can expect to receive these kinds of messages.
Keep in mind that a crisis can be anything. They might start with a more innocent request like,
Hey, I know we aren’t together anymore. But I don’t have anyone else right now. My landlord is threatening to evict me in a few days if I can’t pay the rent. It’s just really stressful. I’m not looking for money or anything, but it’d be nice to have someone to talk to.
And so, you will likely feel compelled to respond. In some cases, the crises will be entirely valid. But most of the time, the narcissist is just fabricating or exaggerating drama to get your attention.
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#7 Juicy Tidbits
I can’t wait to catch up later! So much to tell you! XO
I am so excited to see you later- you’re in for a big surprise!
Just had a conversation with my boss. Wow! You won’t believe what happened.
Narcissists are the only people who use juicy tidbits when texting. It’s a fairly common way to communicate with people. However, narcissists often rely on this strategy as a way to maintain a dying conversation.
For example, a typical conversation might go like this:
You: Having such a busy day at work. Talk later.
Narcissist: Ok love you
Narcissist: Wow, just got the strangest phone call
Narcissist: Sorry, it’s just really on my mind. We can talk about it later though
At first glance, it may seem like the narcissist is genuinely just replaying a specific event. But in reality, they’re manipulating the situation to solicit your time and energy. Even if they act like they don’t care if you respond, you can certainly assume they’re betting that you will!
#8 Middle-Of-The-Night Drama
Hey, are you awake?
Have you ever received that text just as you were about to fall asleep? It’s a hard one, isn’t it! But chances are, you feel pressured to respond. After all, the question seems innocent (but intriguing enough) that you probably want to hear what they have to say.
Unfortunately, narcissists love playing games with others. So, even if nothing is happening, they want to know that you will give them the attention they want. Every time you respond to one of these late-night “innocent” questions, you reinforce the narcissistic text games.
#9 Controversial Links/Pictures
Because narcissists often enjoy stirring the pot, they have no problem sending strange links, websites, pictures, or attachments just to see how you respond. It’s important to remember that they may not care at all about the content itself- they’re just interested in your reaction.
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For example, if they know you’re passionate about animal welfare, they might send you a video clip of a pet owner abusing their dog. Or, if they know you loathe a particular celebrity, they may send you an article talking about their upcoming movie.
It may seem strange that someone intentionally wants to aggravate you. But keep in mind that the goal isn’t pissing you off. The goal is simply sustaining conversation and feeling like they have a sense of power over you.
#10 Random Ghosting Patterns
One minute, you’re texting back and forth and having an engaged conversation. And then it’s radio silence. This silence may last several hours, days, or even weeks.
This ghosting pattern may feel random to you, but it’s entirely intentional. The narcissist just wants to make you feel anxious. Maybe they’re feeling annoyed or embarrassed that they’re putting more effort than they’d like into the relationship. Maybe they want to test your loyalty to assure that you still care about them.
The narcissist wants you to express their worry to them. They want to hear you say, Is everything okay or Did I do something wrong? I haven’t heard from you in awhile.
Most of the time, they will gaslight you with a generic text like, Yeah, everything is fine. I just got busy with things, or Nothing’s wrong. Sorry. What’s up with you?
Sometimes, they might respond with their infamous vaguely dramatic text like, I’m just thinking about things or I’m not doing great, but I’ll be okay. Of course, they know this response will likely make you feel more anxious and uncertain. They’re hoping those feelings will prompt you to keep checking in on them.
#11 ‘Oops, Wrong Person’ Texts
Have you ever received a strange, seductive, or overly personal text from the narcissist only for them to say you weren’t the intended recipient?
Mistakes can happen, but if this has happened to you more than once or twice, it probably isn’t a mistake. It’s just the narcissist playing cruel games with you.
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For example, they might be testing different ways to communicate. They might want you to know how “important they are” to be texting other people. They may even want to make you feel jealous, especially if they reveal something they haven’t told you yet directly.
How to Respond to a Narcissist Text Message?
Knowing what to text a narcissist or how to respond to a narcissistic text message isn’t always straightforward. You don’t want to engage in toxic communication habits, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to respond just to boost someone else’s self-esteem. Here are some helpful pointers.
#1 State Your Limits
You do not need to respond to every message that the narcissist sends you. You also don’t need to respond within moments of receiving their text.
It’s perfectly reasonable to have boundaries around your technology use- and this applies even if you don’t have a narcissist in your life. Some good limits may include:
- Only using your phone at designated hours during the day.
- Requesting that people call instead of text in the event of actual emergencies.
- Turning your phone off or on silent at bedtime.
- Not using your phone on holidays or vacations.
Keep in mind that narcissists often expect to be the exceptions in people’s lives. They don’t want to follow rules. And so, you can expect them to attempt to push your limits or disregard them altogether. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to take a firm stance.
#2 Respond to One Message at a Time
Don’t reinforce the word salad or nonstop bombardment. If and when you do respond, it’s perfectly reasonable to send a simple response.
And don’t feel the need to answer every single question they throw at you. The more you try to “match their level,” the more they assume their “level” is the only acceptable level.
#3 Avoid Serious Conversations Over Text
That sounds like a lot. Let’s talk about this in person.
I’m sorry you’re going through that. We’ll discuss it on the phone tomorrow.
You don’t have to engage in the drama over texting. Many times, narcissists are braver behind their screens than they are in person. But if they want to have a serious conversation with you, you can put the ball in their court by requesting that you discuss these matters in person.
#4 Ignore Gaslighting or Games
Disengaging entirely is often the best strategy for responding to the narcissist’s text message. Instead of arguing or trying to “show them” why they’re wrong, aim to take a more neutral approach by saying nothing at all.
This neutral approach is beneficial if you’re seeking to have a low-contact relationship. With these kinds of relationships, you want to limit or avoid feeding into narcissistic drama (as hard as that might be).
#5 Blocking Them
Remember that you have every right to choose who you want to be in your life. If you feel ready to put a real stop to narcissistic abuse, you may need to block the narcissist.
Blocking puts an end to all the chaos. It also gives you time to reflect on how you want to proceed with your relationship. And remember that blocking doesn’t need to be permanent- even if you feel ambivalent, it can be a helpful strategy for simply pausing and reflecting.
What Happens When You Don’t Respond to a Narcissist Text?
What happens when you don’t reply to a narcissist? And when you start ignoring a narcissist text, how should you prepare yourself for what lies next? Here’s what you can expect.
#1 Increased Bombarding
Hey, I haven’t heard from you. What’s going on?
Babe, is everything okay? Why aren’t you responding?
I’m getting worried. I’m going to come over right now.
If you thought their rapid series of texting was exhausting, you might be in for some rocky news. If a narcissist senses you’re ignoring them, they may become unhinged. Losing power and control is one of their greatest fears, and cutting their access to you (even if it’s temporary) will make them feel threatened.
You’re never here for me when I need you.
You’re so busy all the time- it’s like I don’t even matter to you.
I’m hurt it’s taken you so long to respond. I know you’ve seen my message.
Narcissists start devaluing their loved ones when they feel rejected. Sometimes, the rejection seems inconsequential. For example, you may have been legitimately busy for most of the day. But they perceived your inattentiveness as a sign that you don’t care about them.
And so, the devaluing comes as a way to punish you for hurting their ego. Over time, devaluing can cause them to discard you altogether.
The discard happens when you no longer meet their needs. They essentially develop a tolerance for controlling you. Eventually, they must move on to someone new to feel that “rush” again.
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Keep in mind that this phase may persist for several months or years. If they do commit to the relationship, they might not reach the discard phase, but they will certainly alternate between love bombing and devaluing (often known as ‘hot and cold’) to keep you on your toes.
#3 Using Other Forms of Communication
Some narcissists will just transition into another way of contacting you if you don’t respond to their text messages. They may call, email, message you on social media, or even show up at your home or work (this is a common response if they know you’ve blocked them).
If you confront them on this behavior, they will often rationalize the situation with a comment like, I just wanted to make sure you were okay. In some cases, they will answer defensively and state, I care about you, and I was worried something happened! Do you want me to just not care anymore because I can do that!
This is why you should consider blocking as an all-or-nothing measure. It probably isn’t enough to just block them from texting or calling you. You also need to delete them from social media and make it known to friends, family members, and colleagues that they are no longer welcome in your life.
#4 Using Other People
For whatever reason, you haven’t responded to the narcissist. Maybe you’re busy at work. Perhaps you need a few moments to collect your thoughts and think about how you want to respond.
Rather than give you space, some narcissists will immediately jump to external reinforcements. They will contact friends and family to ensure that everything is okay.
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How does this play out for you? You’ll probably receive a concerning message along the lines of, Hey, so-and-so just reached out and says they haven’t heard from you in a while. Is everything okay?
If narcissistic texting feels draining, confusing, or frustrating to you, remember that you’re not alone. Most people in relationships with narcissists feel this way.
But you don’t need to spend your life constantly decoding their hidden messages. Instead, you should reevaluate your relationship and your own needs. How can you limit or avoid giving into the chaos? How can you set healthy limits to protect your well-being?
Narcissistic abuse isn’t your fault. However, recognizing the problem and taking strides towards improving the situation can significantly affect how you recover.
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