Clients and victims of narcissists that I have spoken with all seem to have the same experience of being called names by their narcissistic abuse. Whether cute pet names or profoundly abusive insults, name-calling fit right into a narcissist’s mode of operating. Here is why narcissists ts call you names.
Narcissists will call you names either as a means of attack or as a means of endearment. They often resort to name-calling because they are trying to lock you into the role they made for you in their fantasy. It is important to reject these names to avoid falling into their narcissism trap.
See below for different types of name-calling that you are likely to experience from a narcissist, and details on how to deal with it.
Narcissistic Pet Names
In Intimate Relationships
Narcissists very commonly call their significant other “babe” or some other term of endearment. This primary serves as a means of escalating the intimacy in the relationship while building up your dependency on their adoration to be used in later phases of abuse.
One telling sign of a narcissist early in a relationship is how quickly they will start calling you by a pet name. Some victims say they were being called “babe” as early as the second date. Narcissists tend to move from relationship to relationship and know-how to move quickly with new love interests.
What to do. If you detect narcissistic name-calling or love bombing early in a relationship, the best thing to do is take a step back and reevaluate your association with the narcissist. In general, I recommend you do not continue the relationship. But if you choose to continue, try to be as indifferent to the name as possible to train the narcissist that pet names don’t work on you.
For more detail on what it is like early in a relationship with a narcissist, during the “honeymoon phase,” see “Narcissism in Relationships | What it Means to Love a Narcissist”.
In Platonic Relationships
Pet names is also a tactic used by narcissists in non-romantic relationships. Buddy, friend, big guy, boss man, and situation-specific names are commonly used by narcissists to endear themselves with coworkers, bosses, friends, fellow churchgoers, etc.
Narcissists are experts at using psychology against their victims, and they knew that pet names are powerful subconscious weapons that they can deploy to snare their next target. We can’t help but feel a tingle whenever they use that name. And they train us to respond positively to it by love-bombing us early on.
Love bombing is a technique where narcissists flood victims with praise, positive emotions, interest, and gifts to make us happy to see them and eventually addicted to their approval. More details on love bombing in the following article —
What to do. In a platonic relationship, the best way to counter name-calling is to ignore it altogether. Don’t mirror their behavior, instead use their full name or title as appropriate.
Guard your reactions and be wary of emitting subtle signals of happiness on your part, such as eye dilating, slight flushing, or changes in breathing. Narcissists are adept at picking up subtle clues that their manipulations are working. If they notice you are trying to rebuff their advances, the narcissist will likely double down on pet names rather than backing off.
When a Narcissist Intentionally Mispronounces or Forgets Your Name
Some victims have had experiences where the narcissist refuses to call them by their proper name. The narcissist either forgets your name, calls you by the wrong name, or intentionally mispronounces your name even after being corrected.
The narcissist uses this form of name-calling to establish dominance over you, and communicate to onlookers that the narcissist is above you in status.
What to do. The most important thing is not to get mad or angry. This is what the narcissist wants. If possible, ignore what they are doing. If you can’t ignore it without looking weak, laugh it off as if they are silly or stupid.
If you can make the narcissist look bad, they will stop doing it. But, be careful not to appear to be attacking them or putting them down when you do it, as this will cause more problems.
Name Calling and Verbal Abuse from a Narcissist
Narcissists will use vulgar or insulting names to attack in later stages of romantic relationships or in platonic relationships where they have identified you as an enemy.
They like to call names because it casts you as a particular character. Like mean kids on a playground, the narcissist is hoping that if they say “you stink” enough times, then everyone else will believe it. It doesn’t matter if what they say is true, or even if they are accusing you of doing exactly what they do to you. See: “Why All Narcissists are Hypocrites”
Some examples of names that narcissists call their victims —
- Black Hole
- Fucked Up
- Out of touch
Narcissists are highly creative and will probably find even more inventive names to call you if given the opportunity.
What to do. In this stage of aggressive abuse, the only thing to do is get out of the situation as quickly as possible. While causing as little aggravation as possible to avoid further narcissistic snap back.
For additional help or opportunities for one-on-one coaching, see:
Why does a narcissist call you such awful names and be so mean?
Narcissists call you names to cast you as the villain role that they made for you in their head. Narcs live in a fantasy world where everyone is either an admirer of theirs or an oppressor. They hope by calling your names, their accusations will stick, and everyone else will see you as they do.
Is it common for a narcissist not to call you by your name?
It is common for narcissists to call you either by pet names or abusive names, depending on the relationship’s status. Some victims say their narcissist never used their real name, except when they mad at them to highlight their anger. Like when a mother uses her child’s full name to show her displeasure.