Narcissists have a terrible reputation.
They’re known to be manipulative, controlling, and emotionally abusive.
Now, not all narcissists are evil monsters. All of us have narcissistic traits to a greater or lesser degree.
People diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder lack empathy, humility, and a secure sense of self, making them incredibly challenging to deal with.
They are skilled manipulators and can easily make you feel like you’re losing your mind.
In this article, we’ll offer the best tips and advice on how to respond to a narcissist text.
Before determining the best responses, let’s look at some examples of narcissist text messages.
Examples of narcissist text messages
To the narcissist, almost everything is a transaction.
In their typical conversation with you, they perceive loss and gain attention, respect, and admiration.
They orient their behavior, speech, or texts around that perception.
They strive to gain the above and apply manipulative tactics when they sense loss.
Narcissists apply a few manipulative tactics through text when they want to control you. Narcissist texting habits include:
Love bombing is the act of bombarding someone with messages and sentiments of love and affection. Narcissist send thoughtful messages that may sound sweet, but often this love bombing comes out of nowhere or is inappropriate. Examples of love-bombing narcissistic texts include:
I don’t know what I would do without you. You’re everything to me.
You’re the only person who gets me.
I love you more than anything else in the world. I want to be with only you, nobody else.
Again, at first glance, these seem like nice, thoughtful messages. However, their intention is not so sweet.
Such messages may be sent between non-narcissists and be harmless proclamations of requited love. However, the narcissist shares these sentiments to draw you in closer.
They want to possess you, and love-bombing is a tool they use.
Gaslighting is planting a seed of doubt in the victim’s mind to make them second guess themselves. It serves the narcissist by helping them avoid taking responsibility for the issue.
I think you’re being too sensitive.
You took that the wrong way.
I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of this. Calm down.
Once again, there may be times when your sensitivity is high during arguments. You may take things the wrong way, and maybe you make a bigger deal than necessary about a situation.
Still, the texts above are not sent for pure logic. They intend to disarm you from your power—the power to see through the narcissist playing games with your feelings.
3. Crave attention
Most narcissistic texts are sent with a desire for attention and an ego boost.
Seeking attention is one of the main narcissistic traits and drives narcissists into behaviors that make us see them as self-centered, obnoxious, or overwhelming.
The following are some typical examples of attention-seeking narcissistic text messages.
I’m at the hospital, not good. Let’s chat later.
Hey, how are you? I feel terrible.
Do you love me?
I need to talk to you.
The texts above can be anxiety-inducing, especially since they’re pretty vague.
A more compassionate way to text the above info will be to add some context or elaboration to put the reader at ease.
The narcissist knows that these texts put you on high alert and make you more likely to reply.
It can be hard to ignore these texts since they seem so important.
4. Hot and cold
Narcissists use manipulative tactics like love-bombing, gaslighting, and attention-seeking because they help them cope with feelings they struggle with, such as fear of rejection and abandonment, judgment, and insecurity.
Another common tactic that serves this purpose is ghosting.
Ghosting is the act of suddenly disappearing from someone’s life without an explanation. You may have been hanging out with or dating this person, and they suddenly go cold.
They don’t text or call anymore, and you don’t know exactly why.
Sometime after they’ve disappeared, a narcissist is likely to reappear. Out of the blue, they’ll send you a ‘hey’ or ‘can we talk?’
They won’t explain their disappearance but instead act normal. They want to see if they still have your attention.
Ghosting is immature and disrespectful. Being a victim of ghosting may affect your sense of self worth and make you feel anxious about how others see you.
Even though it often happens as a preventative measure against rejection or abandonment, one must still approach situations more respectfully.
An admission of uncertainty or discomfort will suffice in taking a break from being with someone.
The problem with narcissists is that such a mature and honest approach is threatening. Narcissists fear vulnerability as it threatens to compromise their self-image.
How to respond to a narcissist text message
There is no standard, perfect response to a narcissist’s text.
The best reply will depend on the content of the message and your relationship with the narcissist.
For example, if the narcissist is someone with whom you have children, you have a shared responsibility with this person and may very well need to reply.
However, if this is an ex to whom you have no ties with, you are not under any obligation to reply.
1. Use ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers
One of the reasons why texting a narcissist is so hard is because, as an empathic, compassionate person, you don’t want to appear rude.
You naturally want to help when someone asks for it because that’s how humans are wired.
However, that’s how narcissists get you. They play on your emotions and natural goodness to gain attention.
So, instead of replying to a vague, attention-seeking narcissistic text with questions about what’s going on and a sense of urgency, keep the conversation brief by using one word replies such as ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Stop yourself from engaging in a serious conversation.
This will show that you’re willing and ready to help (or not) but not pour your full attention into the situation.
Texting a narcissist means you have to choose your words carefully. They will pick apart each detail of your reply and may use it against you through their own personal account of the conversation. That’s why simple yes or no answers are often all you need.
Short replies are a healthier alternative to long explanations and questions about the narcissist’s meaning and intentions.
Moreover, they reduce the narcissistic supply.
2. Set clear boundaries
If a narcissist crosses a line and texts with a rude, abusive, or manipulative message, take this opportunity to set some boundaries with them.
Narcissists will continue manipulating and controlling those around them until boundaries are set.
Even when boundaries have been set, the narcissist may still behave that way, but the boundary has been created and now can be followed through.
One of the essential life skills you can learn is the ability to set boundaries.
It serves you in all areas of your life, not just when dealing with a narcissist.
Boundaries protect your time and energy from being misused by setting rules and limits around the behavior you will and will not tolerate from others.
Consider the following to set clear and firm boundaries with narcissistic texting.
- What behavior or language is not ok for you?
- What about their text demonstrates disrespect?
- Are you being made to feel guilty for immediately coming to their aid?
- Are they demanding? Do they say ‘need you right now’ at 3 am?
- Do they question your loyalty or compassion if you don’t give them attention or assistance?
Any of these behaviors are enough reason to set boundaries. The guilt and emotional abuse narcissists use is toxic to your mental health, so you must set limits.
I don’t appreciate your tone. That’s not how to reach me, so I’m not responding to that.
I need you to show me respect if you want me to help.
It’s too late at night to send me this text. If you want to reach me, try a more reasonable hour. I’ll be available at…
3. Don’t respond
You don’t have to reply to any text.
Just because a notification pings on your phone does not mean you have to check it, no matter where the message comes from.
We live in a world where we’re increasingly more easily contactable, but the fact is that you’re entitled to privacy, and you’re not obliged to be on your phone constantly.
As such, it’s perfectly fine to ignore a text.
Maintaining healthy communication with those you love is important, but if someone texts with a disrespectful, manipulative, or inappropriate message, you’re entitled not to reply.
You may worry about appearing rude, but it’s worth appearing that way if it means you protect your mental health and well-being.
4. Ask a friend before replying
Narcissists gain power through your feelings of doubt and uncertainty.
When you’re unsure what to say, typing and retyping an appropriate reply and doubting yourself the whole time, take a step back.
Ground yourself, allow yourself to feel the anxiety or frustration from the narcissist’s text messages, and breathe through it.
Then, if you can, reach out to a trusted friend or loved one. Show them the text and share your feelings. Ask for their insight and advice.
You may already know how they will respond – they love you and want to protect you – but sharing words of support and encouragement from a loved one is a powerful means of mental health maintenance.
They may also share their account of dealing with a narcissistic person to help you gain insight and broaden your understanding.
Dealing with narcissistic abuse wears down the mind and body and can lead to trauma.
This narcissist-related trauma is most apparent in children of narcissistic parents, but it can also manifest through narcissistic romantic relationships and friendships.
It’s known that having an encouraging, loving support system around when one has been through a traumatic event(s) significantly reduces the likelihood of carrying that trauma.
5. Cut contact with the narcissist
Earlier, we’ve explained that you can not reply to a narcissist if their text message bothers you. Not responding doesn’t make you a bad person, especially if the content of the message is manipulative, derogatory, or abusive.
Still, not replying also gives the narcissist more ammo to attack you.
You may ignore texts from a narcissist but the best response is to let them know that you don’t want them in your life anymore and that you want them to stop texting you. This is another boundary, and though extreme, it may well be necessary.
When you cut contact, the narcissist is likely to react poorly. You may notice that they become mean or nasty just minutes after they love-bombed you or reappeared after ghosting you.
This is an attempt to regain control.
Maintain your ground, seek the support of your friends or family members, and let this person know they don’t have access to you anymore.
Feel free to block the narcissist’s phone number and social media accounts if necessary.
Dealing with a narcissist is challenging.
It’s easy to villainize narcissists given their surface-level grandiose sense of self-esteem, overarching sense of entitlement, and constant need for attention and praise.
Still, as frustrating as narcissists are, it’s wise to have compassion for them.
Deep down, narcissists are incredibly insecure and must engage in controlling and manipulative behaviors to help cope with complicated feelings.
That doesn’t mean you need to tolerate unfair or abusive behavior, but it does help you realize that they have issues to deal with, and their behavior is not a reflection of you or your worth.
So, if you’re trying to figure out how to reply to a narcissist’s text message, the advice offered above should help.
The main point to take away from this article is that you do have the power to stand your ground against a narcissist.
You may not believe that right now if you’ve been the victim of narcissist abuse, but you’re not the first to become a narcissist’s victim, and you won’t be the last.
Do not enter the narcissist’s world and play their game.
It may be tempting, especially if they reel you with statements about your worth or insulting comments, but engagement is just what the narcissist wants.
The more you can practice patience, mindfulness, and detachment from what they say, the better off you’ll be.