The INFJ and the Narcissist – Part 3

snow in the shadeShe’d filed herself down so much, she hardly recognized herself, but then not seeing herself made it easier to focus on him and his needs.

He needed the house to look perfect.  He needed the car to stay clean.  He needed the lawn to be mowed in a certain pattern.  He needed their weekends to be full of the kinds of activities that fit the image he was trying to portray.

She would cook meals that met with his approval.  She kept a list of his suggestions as to how she could better prepare his favorites.

She’d fold the towels just so as they watched his favorite shows on TV.

If she tried to read a magazine while the TV was on, he’d make fun of her taste in magazines.  Mostly she sat quietly on the other end of the couch and watched shows she couldn’t care less about.

She spent the weekends following him on his outdoor adventures.  She was slow to wonder why he never hiked or rafted or skied with friends.


It didn’t occur to her that her spark was being snuffed out.

She’d long since forgotten to think of herself.


If doubts bubbled to the surface – the ones that said, “This doesn’t feel good.  There should be room for you in this relationship.  Speak up.” – she’d rationalize.  She’d remind herself that his house was warm.  She had company in the evenings after work, someone to have a meal with, someone to check with before making plans.  Not that she made any plans.  That was his domain.

She stayed because she’d grown accustomed to this version of a life.  She’d gotten used to orbiting around him – around his demands.

She was a supporting actress in his movie – his life.   The pay sucked, but she didn’t have the time to consider starring in her own movie.


If someone dared point out his controlling nature, she would have defended him.  She’d say, “He has specific tastes.  Things run more smoothly around here when we do things his way.  When he’s happy, I’m happy.”  But they wouldn’t comment on his controlling nature because they didn’t see him as controlling.  They saw him as charming and ingratiating.  She’d been told that they made the perfect couple.  They looked like they belonged together.  He said as much.

She was the only one who saw who he was at home.  If she was the only one to see his controlling side, maybe there was something in her that brought out his need to control.  And because she was an INFJ, she naturally worked harder at being what he needed in the hope that he would be that charming person at home.


It wasn’t all bad.

She got positive reinforcement, hugs and appreciation from him.  When there was an audience, he’d put his arm around her and point out how lucky he was to have her.  When the house looked perfect, he’d grin and tell her she was the best.  When she hiked the scary trails, he’d tell her how proud he was.

She was slow to see that he liked her most when she was being who he wanted her to be.  She didn’t get those hugs or grins when she’d slip up and be herself, but since that happened less and less, it wasn’t a problem.


Complacency wears a disguise that looks a lot like comfort and security.  Seemingly comfortable months slip into years and the inevitable discussions of marriage ensue.

There was no need for him to propose.

Demonstrations of love were wasted when there wasn’t an audience.

And so she planned a wedding.



To be continued…

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  1. woooooow. I feel like I could have written this about my friend. I didn’t question, I pushed my feelings down for so many years…. it was ALWAYS about her needs, and that was for me I’m talking about. For me I was always so worried about what she wanted that I pushed down not only my own needs that I had but those of my family. I tried to become this “perfect” friend, and in doing so, I’m ashamed to say-pushed even my little boys needs down as well as my own self-esteem. After I ended things, a mutual friend mentioned that in every photo she’d seen of me and my “friend” together that I always had my arm around her, never the other way… and you know she was right? In going through photos, even some they were DECADES old, it was the same in every one, my arm around her, never the reverse…. Chills reading this, Jesse.

  2. NM,

    Don’t photos blow you away like that?

    Sometimes, when I have the courage, I compare recent photos of my kids with photos from when we lived with their dad. My reactions go between – “How did I stay as long as I did?” to “Thank God we got out when we did.”

    After your experience, don’t you have a better understanding of the cult mentality? Scary…

  3. and aren’t you so much stronger for that one act of courage? Very proud of you, that had to be the hardest thing….. when it’s right, it’s right. I honestly remember thinking, back in the early days right after I ended things, that I was losing strength, and that if I didn’t do it then, I never would. Because I felt I was so weak. 3 years later, I can tell you, I’m not weak at all. I’m not a weak person. But my spirit and strength were so drained from so many years of abuse. I could sense that I was losing the ability to face what I knew would be a long and difficult battle with harassment. Now my only regret is not doing it sooner.

  4. I have read this post many times. It’s just too relevant and sits too close to home. When recently dealing with a bout of antenatal depression, my husband was described by my councellor as “the strongest case of narcissism” she had seen in a very long time. My parents are constantly worried about me. They wonder what has happened to their outgoing, confident and lively daughter. I wonder what could have been as I see the effect their narc father has had on our always growing beautiful daughters. I mourn the loss of a simple dream, to have a life partner who loves and cares for you. Im not sure where I am going with this post, I just thank you for the hope your blog provides me.

  5. Hello, Sarah.


    I’m glad your parents are worried about you. That means that they see that your situation isn’t a healthy one. I hope they (and you) see that their outgoing, confident and lively daughter is still there. She’s hiding herself because that’s where she feels safest.

    I mourn those lost dreams with you, but trust me when I say that there are new, very good dreams to imagine and cling to. Those dreams – and new realities – may be very different than what you had hoped for, but they are still wonderful. I know.

    Take good care.

  6. Sarah, you and your girls are in my thoughts and prayers…. Hugs to you.

  7. Just discovered this blog today and slowly working my way through it…so much of what you say rings a bell. The thing is that I just , last year, 13 years into marriage, realised I was married to a narcissist. I tried so hard before that to get him to understand my needs and how I felt, but realised it never ever got to him. In the early years, because he was critical of everything about me , I tried to change myself – be more subservient, speak less in front of others, dress more fancily, etc . Of couse I could not stop asking myself ” Wouldn’t a man who truly loved me accept me for who I am?”. The total lack of empathy, walking on eggshells, unpredictable outbursts…they continue until today…I don’t know how to get out.

  8. AM,

    If I could, I’d grab your arm and pull you to this side of narcissism.

    My advice, if you want it… keep learning about narcissism, keep talking to someone who will listen, and find supportive friends/family. In that, you will find your strong self again.

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