Anyone can be the target of a narcissistic, toxic person. Yet INFJs, touted to be the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type, tend to be surprisingly overrepresented among victims of narcissists. This might seem startling at first when one considers that the INFJ is a very authentic personality type who should not (at least on the surface) be compatible with someone who wears a false mask and exploits others.
Yet upon taking a closer look, it actually makes a lot of sense. Narcissists love to surround themselves with “unique and special” people (in fact, it’s part of their diagnostic criteria). The INFJ is definitely one of a kind – and there are many qualities, traits and resources that an INFJ usually has that make them ideal prey for these predators.
Here are three major reasons why INFJs tend to fall prey to narcissists – and why narcissists gravitate towards them.
1. INFJs are always looking for the ideal romance and a narcissist’s love-bombing initially looks like everything they’ve ever dreamed of.
As INFJs, we tend to be highly perfectionistic and idealistic. We do not settle for just anyone – we want someone who fulfills us emotionally, sexually, spiritually, and intellectually. Unfortunately, the INFJ’s high standards can become their downfall when it comes to meeting a highly manipulative predator.
Narcissists are masters of love-bombing us and mirroring our deepest needs and desires – down to the every last detail. They excel in creating an alluring, false persona based on what they think we want in a partner. At the onset, they are talented wordsmiths, swoon-inducing smooth-talkers and faux poets who declare their so-called everlasting devotion to us. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t long before they’re fast-forwarding us into a fantasy relationship.
Since INFJs tend to be heavily oriented towards communication and words of affirmation, we find ourselves trapped by the emotional bait – hook, line, and sinker. It doesn’t help that we also tend to have highly active imaginations that can spin even the crumbs that a narcissist gives us into the potential for paradise.
So it’s no wonder that when we encounter someone who seems to match every criteria on our “ideal partner” list, we fall for them easily – and we fall hard. Meanwhile, the narcissist rejoices that he or she has found a shiny new object, a target willing to believe in and invest in the fantasy of their false self.
As INFJs, it’s important that we slow down when meeting new people and resist the urge to project our own level of integrity or empathy onto people. Not everyone is looking out for our best interest. We can make a far better use of our creativity and imagination by using them to create the life of our dreams, rather than to concoct a fairytale out of a nightmare.
2. Narcissists are always looking for empathic partners – people with compassion, integrity and conscientiousness – to exploit. INFJs have all of these qualities in spades.
Manipulators don’t usually target those without empathy, talents or resources. They exploit people with strengths that they can use for their own advantage. They “feed” upon those who are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and who are willing to see their perspective (however toxic it may be). INFJs are notorious for their warmth and love for helping others, even to the point of trying to “fix” them. They are highly visible in their generosity and concern for others. As a result, they are a bright light that often attracts the darkness of the narcissist.
The narcissist benefits immensely from this because all they have to do is pretend to be the “broken” person who just needs some love and good old fixing to morph back into the person they pretended to be initially. They know they can get away with toxic behavior because you’ll try to “heal” them. They’ll dangle the hope of giving you the relationship you want by giving you false promises of changing.
Unfortunately for toxic narcissists, INFJs do eventually stop trying once they’ve seen the contempt behind the narcissist’s mask far too many times. INFJs, after all, are known for the infamous “door slam” on people who emotionally overwhelm them.
The feistiness of an INFJ can come in handy when detaching from a toxic partner, even though it may take some time to finally cut the cord. As an INFJ, don’t be afraid to use the power of your emotions to help you detox from a toxic narcissist. Get back in touch with your authentic outrage and use it to leave anyone who disrespects you continually. When the cord is finally cut, INFJs who stand in their full power have a remarkable ability to never look back.
3. An INFJ’s intuition is sharp and discerning, but their sensitivity can and will be used against them.
Since INFJs tend to be highly intuitive and sensitive, they pick up on micro-signals of danger pretty quickly. They can sense when someone is inauthentic. They may even know on a subconscious level that the person they’re with is toxic. However, because they’ve been gaslighted by society into believing that they’re too sensitive, they are prone to second-guessing themselves. And because they tend to be quite faithful and devout partners, they usually prioritize the relationship over their own safety or sanity.
The irony is that while they tend to be very intuitive people, an INFJ who has not fully owned their gifts may rationalize or minimize red flags, deny their gut instincts or silence their inner voice at the expense of their own welfare. They are so devoted and loyal to the relationship that they become disloyal to themselves and what they know deep down to be true.
The key for any INFJ afraid of becoming entangled with another narcissist is to reconnect to their inner voice and guidance system – and to learn to own their power without apologies. The good news is, INFJs can use the same strengths that narcissists used against them to help detach from, rather than become overly invested in toxic people. They can use their intuition to flee a toxic relationship in the early stages – and they can use their fierce devotion to justice to cut ties with a person treating them unjustly – before it’s too late.
Shahida is the author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse and the poetry book She Who Destroys the Light. She is a staff writer at Thought Catalog.
If you are interested in finding out your personality type here is a link to the Myers Briggs test called 16 personalities.
INFJ is an acronym used in the publications of the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator to refer to one of the sixteen personality types. The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl Jung in his book Psychological Types. Wikipedia
Stands for: Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), Judgment (J)