The INFJ and the Narcissist – Part 2

The infj and the narcissist 2Those INFJ traits make for a tenacious individual when it comes to working on relationships.  She would never run out of the desire to try.  She’d contort herself into whatever shape he needed in order to make this work.

If he wanted an outdoorsy woman, she’d happily put on hiking boots.

If he wanted a woman who only had time for him, she’d quit returning the calls from friends and family.

If he wanted a companion who followed his dreams, she’d tuck her dreams away in a box on a shelf in the closet.


She was on a mission – to have a healthy relationship – even if her instincts told her that he wasn’t exactly healthy.  When those doubts about whether they were a good fit crept into her thoughts, she’d quiet them.  She’d change herself more.  She was quick to see her own faults and slow to acknowledge any of his.

If there were rough spots, she’d file herself down.

If there were communication issues, she’d ramp up her attempts at being a better, more understanding communicator.

She expected that if something needed to be changed, she should be the one who needed changing.

He had told her –  in so many words – that because of his age, he was wiser.  He’d had more experience.  He knew what was required to make a relationship work.  He was prepared to do what was necessary.  He was already doing that.   He asked her, “Are you prepared to make this work?  Will you make the necessary changes.  Will you – can you – be who I need?”

Could she admit that she wasn’t sure?

Could she suggest that maybe she wasn’t the right woman for him?

Was it in her to walk away and have the world think that she wasn’t good enough for a man of his caliber?



She had to try.  That’s who she was.  INFJs invest everything in their relationships – sometimes even at the cost of their own health.


She did the work.  She braced herself to ask for what she needed to ask.  She would go out on that limb and risk rejection because that was trying.  She was working at creating a fine relationship.  She would do it for both of them if she had to.


She agreed to see him again.  She wanted to see him again.

He picked her up that afternoon and they headed to the river to walk in the fall leaves.  They talked of the colors of the leaves and the approach of ski season.  He talked of his work.  When she brought up something about her work, he commented in a way that made her feel dismissed – that her work couldn’t be as important because of the position she held.  The conversation went back to his work.

She grabbed his hand as they walked.  She liked the feel of his hand, even though sometimes he’d hang on too tightly.  She wanted closeness.

She swallowed hard and told herself, “Ask for what you want.  You can do this.  He will see you, you just need to help him.   He can’t read your mind.  Help him.  Tell him what you need.”

She stopped on the path, and turned to look at him.  “I need to say this.  I need something from you.  I need you to hear me.  I want you to listen to me when I talk about my day.   It feels awkward to ask you this, but if we are going to make this work, I need to know that I will be heard.”

The look in his eyes changed.

He dropped her hand.

He started to walk down the path without her.

He looked over his shoulder and said, “Are you coming?  Let’s hear what you’ve got to say.  We’ll have to head back soon, so you better start talking.”


She felt her stomach tighten.  She felt her eyes tear up.

This wasn’t the reaction she had hoped for.

But…  at least he said he’d listen.

She wiped a tear from her eye as she walked up to join him.  She grabbed his hand and started to tell the abbreviated version of her day.

Maybe she could keep his attention if she didn’t expect to have it for too long.


To be continued …

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  1. I read something along a similar vein a number of months ago that really made everything click for me: the following post on “world creation”, manipulators, and unrealistic cooperators.

    Essentially, the manipulator always expects people to rip him/her off, so acts accordingly. The unrealistic cooperator thinks that if he/she just tries harder, the manipulator will start cooperating.

    It really blew me away. Here’s the full post:

  2. M,

    Thanks for sending that.

    It was painful to read: “… he has a great victim when he comes across someone who is willing to keep letting themselves get shafted.”

    I had gotten very used to that role – the one getting shafted.

  3. “His own behavior actually created the exact world he predicted: one where everyone in the long run is always out for themselves, no matter how they may pretend otherwise in the beginning, therefore others aren’t to be trusted. He then uses this to justify his “get them before they get you” worldview.”

    As much as I have tried to figure out the narcissist, this never occurred to me. It is so true! For a while, I think when we were dating, I did think I was special. I understood him like no one else did. I liked making him feel special. I am sure it was over the top. He needed the spotlight and I was content in the shadows. (I am an INFJ after all).

    After we got married though, it was all hitting me in the face. We lived apart for 6 months prior to the wedding and so interactions were brief and happy. The first year of marriage was rough because I wasn’t silent about his criticisms and ignoring us. I told him what I needed and he obliged for the next year. So we tried for a baby. As soon as I told him I was pregnant it all changed. There was competition for my body, my attention, my love. He must have feared losing.

  4. Z,

    That’s why I think there has to be some correlation between INFJs and narcissists. We are happy little clams in the shadows, focusing our energies on harmony in relationships and in the home. [See the Greek Goddess, Hestia. Jenny pointed that out for me. :)] The narcissist has our undivided attention until we start a family.

    Even in hindsight, I can’t see that I had any clue that Mark would care so little about the day-to-day of my first pregnancy. I was incredibly hurt by his lack of interest. He had NO desire to go to appointments with me. I didn’t dare speak of the changes in my body. (He saw my body as belonging to him, and he lost interest in me once my body changed.) I was embarrassed to admit to my family and friends that he was so disinterested. I chalked it up to our age difference. I still blindly believed that I was the one who had to work harder to bridge the gap.

  5. After his initial movie role reaction of “Is it mine?”, my ex started acting like a child. Wanting cuddles and breast milk (yes, I know!). I had to tell him that I wasn’t his mother. I didn’t tell him how disgusted I was. He talked about how I was rejecting him. ummmm…I am NOT going to give you breast milk! I was selfish for wanting to have the baby before his race weekend. I was gross for having a baby. I had to give birth to a 10lb. 7oz. child and go on like nothing happened 2 days later. I tried to give him space. I tried to ease him into parenting an infant. I asked for help. Then I took on the burden of knowing that I was pretty much on my own. When he informed me that I had to give him 24 hours notice in order to pick the baby up from daycare (I was stuck in a meeting that ran late), I knew this was never going to get better and I was not having any more children. It took me another 4 years to leave.

  6. Z,

    God, that has to be a new low in the annals of narcissism stories.

    I hope these stories reach the ears that need to hear them – the folks who think they can work hard enough, be good enough, to make a relationship work with a narcissist.

  7. Honestly, I can’t believe that was my life! It seems like a nightmare not a reality because I know I wouldn’t tolerate it now. Makes me that much more thankful for leaving that mess behind.

    I had a hard time sharing that (still riddled with shame at what I put up with) so I do hope it reaches someone that can hear the message.

    I know there are worse stories than mine. It saddens me every day to know there are children suffering because of a narcissist. As my little one says, he is glad to be alive, but just wishes his dad to go away.

  8. Z,

    I always picture those in the trenches (and us, when we were in the deepest part) with heads bent, working hard, trying not to make waves, raising heads only rarely to catch a breath, but not enough to get a view of what they were putting up with.

    That’s why I am here – waving at that person who lifts her/his head enough to catch a breath. I’m waving frantically. If I catch their eye I will say, “Hey! I know how hard it is. Others know what you have been dealing with. It doesn’t have to be like that. You – your kids – deserve better!! You can get to a healthier place and be just fine.”

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing here and being another one to stand on the edges of the trench and wave with me.

  9. And boy, I am glad to be on the edge of it!

    You can rationalize it all away….others have problems in their marriages…you should fight for what you want…if I just fix myself…

    I am here with you to say…the problems are not normal, it is futile to fight for something that can never be right, and IT IS NOT YOU!

    It took me a long time to figure that out. I hope someone else can come to the same conclusions much earlier on. Thank you for having me here. xx

  10. Glad you guys liked my article. I liked this piece as well and will be looking through the rest of your blog. Nice work.

  11. T,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I’ve had your words circling in my brain for a week now. Looking forward to spending more time on your blog.

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