The INFJ and the Narcissist – Part 7

the incredible shrinking womanThe Incredible Shrinking Woman

She’d grown accustomed to being invisible.  Invisibility was normal.  She learned that in childhood.  In her marriage, she was invisible to her partner, so she thought that was normal, too.



Most INFJs enjoy being  invisible.  INFJs are comfortable staying in the background.

Their intensity often unnerves and overwhelms people.

Their desire for time to be introspective and their need for solitude is perceived as aloofness.  Aloofness makes folks uncomfortable, so they avoid the seemingly aloof INFJ.

The cycle continues.

INFJs wrote the book on not fitting in.  That dog-eared book sits by their bed waiting to be read every night before the INFJ falls asleep and dreams about not fitting in.


The Narcissist

Narcissists crave the spot light.  They need to be the center of attention.

What better partner for a narcissist than a person who hates to be the center of attention?  The narcissist isn’t even aware that the INFJ needs to be seen.  Lack of empathy makes it impossible for the narcissist to notice anything but himself.

It’s a match made in hell.



When her narcissistic husband walks in the door after a day’s work, he is content to fill her in on his comings and goings.  And because he is a narcissist, it doesn’t occur to him to ask of her day.  She’s used to that.

The one-sidedness of their relationship continues in this way.

He talks of his things.

She listens.

He is seen.

She is not.


But the INFJ is human, after all.  She can only exist invisibly for so long before she starts to crave connection.  She needs to be seen the way an infant needs to be held.  She will wither and die if ignored for too long, but the narcissist does not notice her withering.  He does not see that she shrinks.  He has not seen that she takes up less space in his life.

He does, however, notice the byproducts of her existence.  He sees her projects because, on occasion, they take up space in his home.  Disarray is created by her passing through a room and laying a magazine in his space.  When she dares – even unintentionally – to lay an object in his path, she opens herself up for ridicule.  He can’t help but say, “What are you reading that for?  That’s a waste of time.  You should be reading this.”

She begins hiding her magazines and books, rather than jump to the defense of her reading preferences.  It’s so much easier to hide her things – and herself.



Weeks pass and she remembers what she thought marriage would be.

Her marriage is not a union of two souls growing together.  Her marriage is more like a junior high biology experiment:

“What happens when you take two young plants and observe their growth patterns when one is placed in a sunny window and watered regularly…

… and the other is placed in a dark corner and forgotten?

Watch what happens to the two plants.

Will they both thrive?”


She notices that her hands begin to shake toward the end of the day – just before he is due home from work.  She finds a deck of cards and plays endless games of solitaire to keep her hands busy and her mind quiet.  She plays facing the dining room window so that she’ll be able to see his car pull into the drive.  When she sees his car, even if she’s in the middle of a game, she’ll gather the cards together, wrap them with a rubber band, and hide them in the drawer.

One evening, after she finished the dishes and listened to his critique of dinner, she felt herself shrinking even more.  She folded her legs under herself in an attempt to hide in the corner of the couch.  She was exhausted.  She was tired of hiding herself, but she could do nothing else.

He walked over to the couch and grabbed the remote.  “Why do you sleep all the time?  Why don’t you have the energy you had when we were first seeing each other?  How can I go hiking or skiing when all you wanna do is fall asleep on the couch?  What’s wrong with you?”


Like the plant in the dark corner that desperately needs sunshine, the INFJ cannot continue to shrink, blending into the woodwork, so that the narcissist can shine.


To be continued …

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  1. And the INFJ is ridiculed for having no goals in life. How would he know what her goals are if he is clearly uninterested in hearing them? And they don’t evolve around him so it is not his priority to know what they are or to see her as an independent being. She rolls her eyes at his grandiose goals of self proclamation and prioritizing everything but her. It’s not selfish, it’s self preservation…

  2. Z,

    I remember when I got up the courage to suggest that I had dreams, too. Instead of asking me what they were, he told me that his dream was big enough for the two of us.

    I didn’t argue with him. Even then, before I new what narcissism was, my instincts told me not to argue – that there was not point.

  3. That’s when you start to fade…when nothing is worth arguing over. His guy friends thought I was the coolest because I was so laid back about him spending all his time outside of the house. His girl friends hypothesized that I allowed it because it was easier than dealing with him (BINGO!).

    I turned inward and to self help books that told me if I changed myself, he would respond in kind. Hahahahahaha! It only turned up the ridicule and self-righteousness. When I called the books out on the bs and could identify how it was really not about me was when I found my strength. I was no longer confused about what was happening or what I needed to do.

    That is when the arguing started. He ‘diagnosed’ me with BPD and co-dependency (and had all his friends convinced it is true). I can understand how he would be confused by my new assertiveness. After all, he thought I had “no proof” of my allegations and I probably was acting a little crazy to him as I dared to consider my feelings as valid.

    When I told him that he had NPD, he said there was nothing wrong with loving yourself and I should try it sometime. After explaining that NPD was about not loving yourself, I told him that loving myself meant I had to leave him.

  4. Z,

    Thank you for this.

    In a nutshell, you articulately described life with a narcissist.

    There is NO WAY to survive WITH them.

  5. This made me cry! Great order to detail about the true feelings of an INFJ!

  6. Hi Maxine,

    Thanks for writing. I should put a warning on that post – “May necessitate the use of tissues.”

    Be well.

  7. Thank you for writing this! “The INFJ and the narcissist- A series” is a perfect description of how it’s like to “live” with a predator. Having been through this situation myself, it feels so comforting to realise that I’m not the only one that has suffered from this. Knowledge is power and power is freedom.

  8. Kris,

    Hello! Thanks for being here. So glad you found some comfort.

    I like how you put live in quotation marks. It’s no kind of life, that’s for sure.

    Here’s to freedom!!

  9. I discovered your blog today and thought I was reading something I had written and forgotten about. We have lived the same exact marriage. I was looking for advice on how to cope with him dating a woman who is everything he belittled me for in our marriage. Reading part 1 really helped me let go of the anger a little. The new woman has just stepped in naive as I once was and that is no fault of mine nor is it a judgement on me. Thank you for continuing to write and let us know we are not alone.

  10. Margie,

    I must apologize for not having seen this comment until today. I’m not keeping up as well as I’d like. Thanks so much for writing.

    Not sure if I can offer much comfort other than to say that I’ve seen how narcissists keep wearing down their sources and having to get new ones, and when they do, their sources can be quite similar. Even when those similarities were a point of contention. I believe the narcissist keeps targeting the individuals that they can most easily get their sourcing from, so if the new woman in some way resembles you, it’s probably because he prefers your “type.” Does that make sense?

    I do know that it is so much easier said than done, and those feelings can be so raw, but try to remember what a complete relief it is that he is not yours anymore.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks for reading on the blog, Margie. I hope you continue to find comfort there.

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