“You people” and “I will pray for you.”


This came up in the comments under another post, but I think these two phrases are important red flags to identify toxic people,  so I’m going to copy what I said in the comments here.

Language is a powerful tool.   It can be used to control, abuse or even destroy others, even whole nations.  The children’s rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” couldn’t be more wrong.   Sometimes the language abusers use isn’t straight up name-calling or unjustified and cruel criticism.  Sometimes the language used to hurt or demean others can actually seem “nice.”     This gives the speaker an easy excuse later on to say, “I never said anything wrong.  I was only trying to help!”

“You people.”

“You people” is used both on- and offline by people, usually narcissists or other toxic types of people, who consider you part of a group they can’t identify with or may outright despise.   It’s often used by racists to separate “us” from “them.”    It’s a form of splitting, and is an insidious way of dehumanizing a group of “others” who the speaker regards as inferior or different from them (in a bad way).   By dehumanizing people by making them the “other,” that justifies hatred or even abuse of “those people.”

“You people” seems innocuous enough, but it’s damaging because it implies that “you” are not like “me,” meaning “I” am better. The judgment and condescension are implied but are very clear.


“I will pray for you.”

A similar thing can be seen with certain religious types who say in a simpering, patronizing voice, “I will pray for you.” On the surface, the message SEEMS charitable enough, but when said in that condescending way, it implies that they believe you have some moral or other failing that led to your situation, and the implication is that they are “better” and therefore you are inferior to them.

I don’t want any prayers from people like that.

Both “You people…” and “I will pray for you” (said in a sickly sweet, condescending way, sometimes with an insincere “dear” or “honey” tacked on) are favorite phrases among narcissists intended to belittle you. You can bet the minute you’re out of earshot, they will be stabbing you in the back and definitely NOT praying for you.

11 thoughts on ““You people” and “I will pray for you.”

  1. How about “are you okay?” And, “I’m worried about you.”

    These are favorites of my mother’s. Or behind my back, she will tell everyone how “worried” she is about me.

    My brother, the Golden Child has started adapting this kind of language towards and about me as well. In his eyes I am not “okay” because I have set healthy boundaries against toxic people in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, definitely those too! I want to punch a wall whenever anyone says “are you okay?” in that patronizing way, like they’re implying you’re crazy. “I’m worried about you” is definitely another one — it reminds me of “I’ll pray for you.” Fake “concern” — I call people who use these phrases concern trolls.


      • Or how about this one, the situation where you really need to verbally unpack or formulate a plan of defensive action against ongoing abusive or manipulative behavior, and “friends” respond by preaching to you about your need to “forgive” and “move on”, as if having a continually abusive relative or ex is your choice, something one invites by not being “forgiving” or proactive enough.

        This to me is one of the most hurtful attitudes people can have, almost as bad as the abuse itself. It’s like saying “Help! help! My ex broke into my home and punched me in the eye” and getting a response: “I don’t want to choose sides or be bothered. I don’t have these problems because I’m much more forgiving than you.”

        I don’t believe chosen, comfortable ignorance is benign. I think it’s a hurtful cop out that leaves victims more abandoned than ever.

        Liked by 1 person

    • It depends how it’s said and the context. If real empathy is shown and there isn’t disguised judgement, then I’m all for it. But if the tone is condescending and at the same time no prayer was requested, then it’s disguised narcissism. I pray for others often but I try to do it with love and without judging or making the other person feel somehow so morally inferior that they “need” my prayers.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The “you people” tactic is frequently used by a malignant narcissist/psychopath and another narcissist I have the misfortune of sharing blood with.

    Above everything else, it is a manifestation of the extreme hatred and contempt these vessels of evil brim with


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