Word Salad — How a Narcissist Confuses You and Keeps You Engaged

Word Salad — How a Narcissist Confuses You and Keeps You Engaged word salad — how a narcissist confuses you and keeps you engaged
Photo by Duy Thanh Nguyen on Unsplash

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, one thing they cannot stand is boredom. They enjoy the thrill at the expense of your own mental health. One thing they normally do is engage in what’s called word salad in a quest to keep you occupied. Word salad is a communication style which involves a continual flow of words and phrases that often lack coherence, veering off-topic, repeating or conflicting with each other.

It makes you confused because you can’t really understand the true intentions of the conversation or keep track of their chain of thought. A narcissist may also use word salad to just deflect uncomfortable conversations or to just make you feel inferior. In this article, I am going to share with you some warning signs of word salad so that you can disengage and avoid engaging in meaningless but draining conversation.

1. Circular Conversations

This is where the conversation goes round and round in circles without really get any clear resolution or progress towards the final solution. The narc may repeat some phrases or argue the same points over and over or just beat around the bush without driving their point home.

Every time you bring up the same issue, it’s like you’ve never discussed about it in the past and they will still take you on a spin without really getting anywhere. You find yourself feeling so frustrated, tired and stuck that you just decide to either drop the conversation or you start thinking that you are not a good communicator.

2. Bringing up your Past wrongdoings & Switching Topics

When you raise a concern like them flirting or cheating on you, they will mention something totally unrelated with the issue at hand. They will mention your past wrongdoings (for example, the day you got drunk at a work party) so as to deflect your attention from the concerns you’ve raised.

You will now find yourself overexplaining or even apologizing for that past wrongdoing which you thought you’d already made your amends on. By focusing on your past mistakes, you will never really reach a resolution for the issue you’d raised before and you’ll even ignore it. They switch topics when they don’t like where the conversation is going.

3. You Begin Explaining Basic Human Emotions

You may also find yourself in a situation where you are explaining basic concepts like empathy, feelings, and kindness to a person who seems incapable or unwilling to understand them. This can be very frustrating, as these are generally understood as basic values in life.

The trap is you might be tempted to believe that if you can just make them understand that their behavior is hurtful, they will stop doing it and start treating you better. You also need to understand that during the idealization phase or when they were luring you in, they tried kindness but they could not hold it much longer.


4. Countless Excuses and Playing Victim

A narcissist will also keep you occupied by having excuses for every single thing they’ve done. You may raise a genuine concern but they will throw in excuse after excuse. They will never fully take responsibility or be accountable for their actions.

They may have the same excuse for the same thing which will just leave you confused at what else you need to do. The other kind of excuse which will really catch you off guard is using their past experiences as crutches for their current doings. When they play victim, you’ll feel sorry for them and you’ll even let them off the hook.

5. The conversation leaves your head spinning

Another warning sign of word salad is that when you walk away from the conversation, you feel so confused and you feel that it was just a waste of time. You feel drained, frustrated yet you accomplished nothing in that conversation. You find yourself replaying the conversations in your head trying to find ways you should have said it better. The conversation led to countless questions instead of the answers you were seeking.

6. The Conversation is a Condescending

You just can’t have a ‘normal’ conversation with them and it’s more of a superiority battle instead. They don’t want to understand you and they will just look at you as this inferior being when you’re explaining yourself or trying to reach a resolution with them. They may show this calm demeanor in the entire conversation but their facial expression feel like they’re mocking you or just assessing your emotional reaction. The whole point it to make you emotionally unstable or feel inferior or feel like you don’t even know what you’re talking about.

7. Multiple personas

The last thing about the word salad is you will experience a display of various personas when you’re having the conversation. The narc will show up with a different kind of mask when you’re having a conversation with them just so that they can regain control of you.

They may display the good cop or bad cop depending on the direction they want the conversation to go. For example, when you’re threatening to leave, they may lure you back with promises of change or faked future. If that doesn’t work, they may threaten you by preying on your deep fears. It’s also about trying different things with the main aim being reestablishing their control over you.


It’s very difficult to have a sober kind of conversation with a narc and you will always feel that there’s something wrong with that conversation. It is not even a conversation at all as every interaction with them leaves you confused and feeling bad about yourself. When you find yourself engaging in this kind of word salad, the best thing to do is not to let them get into your head.

See them as meaningless conversations aimed at making you feel inferior. You can never really reach a common ground and the only common ground you can reach is you accepting that it’s pointless to understand them and it’s just draining your mental health. You don’t really need to prove a point to them and the best place for you is far away from them as much as possible.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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