Anyone can fall prey to toxic people such as a malignant narcissist or sociopath, someone who has very little empathy combined with an excessive sense of entitlement, false sense of superiority and a tendency to be interpersonally exploitative for their own gain. The dynamic between empaths and narcissists have been explored in numerous articles, but what about the INFJ and narcissist?
It may seem quite bizarre that one of the most “authentic” personality types could end up with someone who tends to be very inauthentic and superficially charming, but there are reasons why they may (initially) gravitate towards each other.
Let’s talk more about how the traits of an INFJ empath interact with the traits of a narcissist – and how, like any other personality type, we can be both vulnerable to narcissists as well as empowered by what we’ve learned from our experiences with them.
1. As natural perfectionists, INFJs often seek the “ultimate relationship.”
INFJs are idealists; they place a high value on the few people they invite into their more closeted inner worlds. When INFJs seek the ultimate relationship, their heart is in the right place – they only want what they know deep down they deserve – a person who respects and honours them as they are.
To an INFJ, the toxic narcissist’s love-bombing (a period of excessive idealization and “grooming” that a narcissist subjects a victim to) may initially represent the ultimate high of a perfect relationship – of the affection, adoration and attention they may not have received from the external world.
As lovers of communication, INFJs may initially mistake a narcissist’s abilities as a cunning wordsmith as their ability to express their deep desire for the INFJ. Once an INFJ has learned all the tricks and tools of such charlatans, they are able to differentiate between authentic interest and an inauthentic agenda, but like any other personality type, they can be susceptible to the toxic person’s “false mask” of seeming vulnerability and innocent admiration.
There are many ways to evolve from this as an INFJ. One of them might mean still holding true to yourself and your expectations for a good relationship, without expecting that everyone who initially seems to be the ideal may, in fact, be the ideal. In many cases, compassionate love builds slowly, like a friendship, and the sudden spark of chemistry and fast-forwarding does not necessarily represent the authenticity of a long-term romance.
As an INFJ, one of our biggest challenges is learning to honour ourselves and our instincts above the appearance of the ideal, in order to achieve the real thing.
2. INFJs tend to be healers and natural counselors
Due to their high degree of empathy, INFJs tend to be healers and natural counselors – which means they may have a tendency to want to “fix” others.
The compassion and empathy of an INFJ empath is an enormous strength for this sensitive personality type. Yet sometimes INFJs can run the risk of going beyond just helping someone and serving as a catalyst for their growth and into wanting to “fix” an unhealed, toxic person who doesn’t take accountability for their own healing.
If you are an INFJ who has been raised by narcissistic parents or who have had toxic partners, please know that it is not your fault for being abused, whether it was in childhood or adulthood. Your sensitivity and empathy may have been exploited and taken an advantage of by a toxic person but that doesn’t mean that these are not some of your greatest gifts in this world. It simply means that we can use our empathy in a more discerning way, towards the people who won’t use it for their own agenda.
Know that there are genuine people out there who won’t take advantage of your empathy and will be grateful for your support. You don’t have to break your own boundaries to meet the excessive needs and expectations of toxic people.