Why Do INFJs Attract Narcissists? (10 Alarming Reasons)

Dec 13, 2023

In the intricate dance of human connections, certain personality types find themselves unwittingly entangled in relationships that seem destined to unravel.

One such dynamic involves the INFJ, a compassionate and intuitive personality, with a high risk of drawing in individuals with narcissistic tendencies.

The INFJ is one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, making up roughly 1-2 percent of the population.

“INFJ” is an acronym which stands for Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F) and Judging (J).

These four core characteristics describe the cognitive functions INFJs use the most to navigate through life.

Sadly, as an INFJ male I can say I had a number of narcissistic people in my life.

Although narcissism is a spectrum, and not all narcissism is necessarily bad, it’s best for INFJs to be conscious of what attracts people with a high level of narcissism to us.

This peculiar attraction unfolds morbidly, leaving us to question: Why do INFJs attract narcissists so often? Let’s take a bold look!

10 Alarming Reasons Why INFJs Attract Narcissists

INFJs, or Advocates, are empathetic and intuitive individuals known for their deep understanding of emotions and their genuine desire to help others.

On the flip side, Narcissism is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, an insatiable need for excessive admiration and the belief that one is unique and deserving of special treatment.

Now, here are some intricate reasons why INFJs might find themselves attracting narcissists:

1. Empathetic Nature

INFJs are natural empaths, often prioritizing the feelings and needs of others over their own.

This selfless quality can be appealing to narcissists seeking constant validation.

It has been proposed that highly empathic people of this sort (like most INFJs) are “inverted narcissists”, due to being the complete opposite of what a (pathological) narcissist is.

The empath only gives while the narcissist only takes. On paper it sounds both are compatible for this dynamic as both parties compliment each other in doing what they both naturally tend to do well.

However, before long this dynamic turns toxic and empaths trapped in this bind will find that their assigned responsibility as pleasers of the narcissist is a draining Sisyphean task.

2. Listening Skills

INFJs are exceptional listeners, creating a space where others feel heard and understood.

Narcissists who crave attention may be drawn to this attentive quality as it puts them continuously in the spotlight which feeds their excessive need for attention.

3. Idealistic Vision

INFJs (especially inexperienced INFJs) tend to see the potential for good in everyone, even those with narcissistic tendencies.

This optimistic outlook can close their eyes to red flags, making them more susceptible to attracting narcissists.

4. Desire to Heal

INFJs have a strong desire to heal and help others overcome their challenges.

Pathological narcissists typically have emotional wounds and unresolved trauma which most likely contributed significantly to the development of their unhealthy narcissism in the first place. 

Consciously or subconsciously, they may be drawn to this potential for validation, support, soothing and nurturing as they are often emotionally wounded and in need of care.

Unfortunately, no amount of attention from the INFJ is likely to heal the deep wounds of a (pathological) narcissist.

5. Avoidance of Conflict

INFJs often avoid confrontation and conflict, and excessively seek harmony in relationships, due to being highly sensitive to emotions.

Narcissists, who may exploit this avoidance, find it advantageous in maintaining control and dominance in the relationship, because they’ll get almost no push back.

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6. Forgiving Nature

INFJs are forgiving by nature, sometimes to a fault. Narcissists may exploit this forgiving quality, taking advantage of the INFJ’s willingness to give multiple chances despite the narcissist’s selfish and bad behavior.

Where someone else would’ve been long gone after serious boundary violations of the narcissist, the INFJ tends to forgive a lot, due to overgrown patience, empathy, guilt and shame.

7. Intuitive Understanding

INFJs possess a deep understanding of others’ emotions, making them adept at uncovering the root causes behind narcissistic behavior.

This insight may initially make INFJs believe they can change or help the narcissist.

8. Strong Sense of Responsibility

INFJs feel a strong sense of duty toward helping others, even at the expense of their own well-being.

Narcissists, attuned to exploiting vulnerabilities, may use this sense of responsibility to manipulate INFJs by guilt tripping or shaming the INFJ while making them responsible for the narcissist’s emotions.

9. Desire for Deep Connections

INFJs seek deep, meaningful connections in relationships. Narcissists, especially in the initial stages, may mimic this desire, selling them a pipe dream while drawing INFJs in before revealing their true self-centered nature.

As INFJs are typically very generous when it comes to attention and love, narcissists can sense that they will get a lot of attention if they end up in a relationship with an INFJ.

10. Poor Boundaries

Because INFJs have a lot of empathy, and are naturally focussed on the well-being of others in a social setting, they may find it challenging to put up firm boundaries and say no to behavior that violates those boundaries, especially when they perceive someone in distress.

Narcissists, skilled at leveraging others’ weaknesses, can exploit this difficulty, establishing a dynamic where they encroach on the INFJ continuously until they give in, break or are depleted.

In summary, the unique combination of the INFJ’s empathetic nature, romantic vision, and strong desire to heal, coupled with the narcissist’s insatiable hunger for unearned validation, and the ability to exploit the INFJ's good qualities, creates a dynamic where INFJs may unknowingly attract and be entangled with selfish individuals in a one-sided relationship.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial for INFJs to establish healthier relationships and boundaries.

What Happens When an INFJ Meets a Narcissist?

When an INFJ meets a narcissist, a complex and potentially tumultuous dynamic unfolds.

The initial stages often involve the narcissist being drawn to the INFJ’s empathetic and nurturing qualities, creating a seemingly harmonious connection.

However, as the relationship progresses, several key dynamics come into play:

1. Idealization Phase

The narcissist is initially captivated by the INFJ’s warmth, empathy, and deep understanding.

The INFJ may feel an intense connection and believe they’ve found someone who truly understands them.

2. Mirror Effect

The narcissist may mirror the INFJ’s values, interests, and desires to create a sense of shared identity.

The INFJ may perceive this mirroring as a sign of compatibility and connection.

3. Emotional Intimacy

The INFJ, craving emotional depth, may open up about their vulnerabilities and dreams. 

The narcissist uses this information strategically, exploiting the INFJ’s openness for later manipulation.

4. Control and Manipulation

As the relationship progresses, the narcissist begins exerting control and manipulating situations to meet their needs.

The INFJ, initially oblivious to the manipulation, may feel a sense of confusion and emotional distress.

5. Devaluation Phase

The narcissist’s admiration turns into criticism and devaluation as their true self-centered nature emerges.

The INFJ, devoted and often self-sacrificing, may struggle to comprehend the sudden shift in the relationship.

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6. Gaslighting and Confusion

The narcissist employs gaslighting tactics, causing the INFJ to doubt their perceptions and reality.

The INFJ may question their judgment, leading to increased emotional turmoil.

7. Exploitation of Empathy

The narcissist exploits the INFJ’s empathetic nature, manipulating them into meeting their needs while disregarding the INFJ’s well-being.

The INFJ may feel drained, unappreciated, and unable to establish boundaries.

8. Cycle of Idealization and Devaluation

The relationship enters a cyclic pattern of idealization and devaluation, keeping the INFJ emotionally invested and hoping for a return to the initial positive phase.

The narcissist maintains control through this unpredictable emotional rollercoaster.

9. Self-Reflection and Awakening

Over time, the INFJ may begin to reflect on the toxicity of the relationship and the toll it takes on their well-being.

There’s a gradual realization that the connection they once perceived as deep and meaningful is, in fact, one-sided.

10. Establishing Boundaries or Exiting

Armed with self-awareness, the INFJ may attempt to establish boundaries or, in more extreme cases, choose to end the relationship.

Exiting the relationship, however, may be hard due to the narcissist’s attempts to retain control and manipulate emotions.

In essence, when an INFJ encounters a narcissist, the initial attraction based on shared interests and the INFJ’s empathetic nature can evolve into a challenging dynamic characterized by manipulation, emotional distress, and a struggle for autonomy.

Awareness of these patterns is crucial for the INFJ to navigate such relationships and prioritize their well-being.

How Do INFJs React to Narcissists?

INFJs typically approach relationships with genuine warmth, empathy and poor boundaries, making them susceptible to attracting narcissists.

As the relationship progresses, however, the narcissist’s true self-centered tendencies emerge, leading to emotional manipulation, control and often verbal or physical abuse.

INFJs are often (highly) sensitive and being in a toxic relationship dynamic with a pathological narcissist most likely will mentally and emotionally damage the INFJ, perhaps to the point of trauma, despondency and bitterness.

Especially since INFJs tend to linger in unhealthy dynamics due to fear of conflict and poor boundary setting.

However, when they do get out of the unhealthy relationship, the mental, emotional and spiritual damage endured during the toxic relationship can make INFJs decide to close their hearts, become hyper-vigilant, hyper independent and relationship/intimacy avoidant, distrusting others for the rest of their lives if they don’t get professional help.

Can an INFJ Recover From Narcissistic Abuse?

Certainly! INFJs, despite the emotional toll of narcissistic abuse, can embark on a path of recovery.

Through self-reflection and acknowledging the impact of the abuse, INFJs can gain clarity. Setting firm boundaries becomes pivotal in regaining a sense of control and self-worth.

Seeking support from trusted individuals or therapy provides a crucial lifeline during the healing process.

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I trust both recommended resources are of help to you! With time, resilience, and a commitment to self-care, INFJs can gradually overcome the scars of narcissistic abuse and rebuild a healthier, more empowered life!

Conclusion

Understanding the complex connection between INFJs and narcissists is crucial for navigating relationships.

Armed with awareness, INFJs can set boundaries, recognize warning signs, and build connections that enrich their lives.

By unraveling this mystery, INFJs embark on a journey towards healthier and more fulfilling relationships!

INFJ Male

INFJ Male

As a psychologist with a Master's degree in Clinical & Health Psychology, and as an INFJ male, highly sensitive human being, the author aims to blend the objective, subjective, mind, body and spirit for a holistic view on true well-being
for INFJs, Introverts, Highly Sensitive People and Empaths!

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