Why the INFJ Is Attracted to Narcissists

I’ve been wanting to write this article for awhile but have been avoiding it simply because it’s such a heavy topic and I don’t want to mess it up. I don’t take my articles about being an INFJ lightly because (and this may sound silly to people who aren’t Myers Briggs obsessed) finding out I was an INFJ was life-changing for me!

I’d always felt different and misunderstood, so when I casually took the Myers Briggs test, reading the results was a surprisingly remarkable (and definitely not casual) experience for me. It was as if I’d stumbled upon a narrative of the inner workings of my brain- one that I hadn’t known existed, and one that brought me so much comfort and joy. I finally felt understood.

If you’re an INFJ, you most likely had the same momentous experience of finally feeling understood. I hope my articles offer more “ah ha” moments that help you feel less alone. Although we’re all unique, it’s extraordinary that this test has made like-minded people aware of others like themselves with some of the same unique characteristics.

(Artwork by the incredible Mari Andrew. You can find more of her relatable artwork on Instagram at @bymariandrew or by clicking on the picture above.)

Why I’m Writing About This

So, without further ado, I just want to explain why I’m writing this particular article! I’ve had several people comment on my posts and email me asking me to write about why the INFJ is attracted to narcissists. So, here’s the deal. When a group of people with similar qualities and characteristics are prone to putting themselves in unhealthy situations, I think it’s important to figure out why that is so that it can be prevented.

I’m not a therapist or anything but I am curious about why people do certain things and I have a genuine interest in the welfare of others. So, that my friends, is why I’ve decided to do some research and then share what I’ve learned and also try to convey my own thoughts about what I find.


“Narcissist” is a pretty heavy word, so I’m going to define it so we don’t go around calling everyone narcissists. Also, I want to mention that I don’t feel totally comfortable giving people negative labels. I think everyone has the capability to change and I think it’s incredibly important to give people the benefit of the doubt and to believe that they can improve, but I think it’s even more important to get out of dangerous situations where your dignity, confidence, happiness, and wellbeing are in danger.

When you’re repeatedly being hurt by someone with narcissistic traits, it’s incredibly important to get out of the situation as soon as possible. They may change eventually but you SHOULD NOT wait around until they do. Your emotional wellbeing should be your first priority (yes, even above your love for other people), so please, please, please get yourself out of situations where you’re being hurt and being taken advantage of. You deserve so much more.

You can love someone and believe in their eventual improvement, without sticking around to be a punching bag for them. They’re currently emotionally unintelligent and incapable of treating you the way you deserve to be treated, so they don’t deserve your patience or commitment to them (the same goes for family relationships).

But what defines a narcissist? A narcissist is someone with an actual personality disorder. This personality disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, simply put, is “a disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance.”

Narcissism can manifest itself in various ways. Below are just a few.

A narcissist is someone:

  • who rarely ever takes the blame for their hurtful actions
  • who avoids emotions and accountability
  • who behaves in a childish manner when they don’t get their way
  • who always talks about how much they’ve done for you but rarely mentions what you’ve done for them
  • who is critical of others behind their backs (so you can bet they’re critical about you- and they most likely openly critique you as well)
  • who has a superior attitude (often talks to you in a condescending or patronizing way)
  • who lacks empathy
  • who provokes people and then blames them for the argument
  • who is only emotionally available when they want something from you
  • who will often shut people out during conflict (provokes, then blames you, then stonewalls using the silent treatment)
  • who instills doubt in their victims
  • who cares more about impressing strangers than they do about treating their only family members kindly
  • who openly states their opinions without regard to people’s feelings
  • who acts charming and persuasive in order to get their way

My Dabbles With the “Narcissist”

I’ve dated quite a few “losers” in my day, but I think I, myself, could have been considered a “loseress” in some of those relationships as well. A lot of our immature behavior was probably the result of being young and not knowing how to handle such intense emotions, as well as our lack of compatibility as a couple.

BUT, a couple of my ex-boyfriends definitely had prominent narcissistic traits that can’t be excused by their youth or immaturity. They were, at the time (and I have no clue how they are now- they may have changed), simply self-centered ***holes.

I remember one of my most narcissistic boyfriend’s parents even warning me that he was extremely selfish and that he wasn’t who everyone thought he was. This guy came off as the most charming, well-liked, popular guy I’d ever laid eyes on, so to hear his own parents say that at the beginning of our courtship was surprising, to say the least. (And I’m pretty good at reading people, but this boyfriend was a master at putting on a facade.)

You might be wondering if I ran for the hills after his parents gave me this little (actually huge) insight into their sons character. Nope! I kept dating the jerk for 3 whole years until I finally cut things off with him (with A LOT of help from my college roommates- thanks you guys…no, like, seriously…you guys are life savers!)

But why was I so drawn to these self-centered, emotionally draining, (and I could probably even say abusive) men that brought out the worst in me? And why do other INFJ’s regularly find themselves attached to these same types of characters?

Why the INFJ is Attracted to Narcissists

After doing some research, I’ve concluded that there are 4 main reasons why.

Please read each of these reasons carefully, and more importantly, take my advice for how to avoid narcissists. Once I finally decided that I would NEVER date a jerk again, I stopped settling and was able to free myself up enough to make it possible for me to find my sweet husband (who isn’t perfect but who definitely has NOTHING narcissistic about him.) 

1. INFJ’s have a strong desire to “save” and “fix” people.

(Artwork again by Mari Andrew- you can find her other artwork on Instagram at @bymariandrew)

After my ex-boyfriend’s parent’s told me he was a selfish jerk, do you want to know what I thought? I didn’t think, “Oh, I should probably break things off with him if his own parents are telling me this.” No, instead, I thought, “Well, I can change that.” 

And I tried my very best to do so, to no avail.

But that’s what the INFJ wants to do. They want to treat their partner as if they’re a patient in their therapy clinic when that’s not possible. Why won’t that work? Because the way their partner behaves has a direct effect on them- every day, all day. They can’t approach their partner in an unbiased manner when there’s feelings, attachments, and relational expectations in the mix.

And besides that point, nobody has the ability to completely change someone’s entire character- no matter how hard they try. The person the INFJ wants to change has had a lifetime to nurture these unhealthy and manipulative characteristics. These characteristics have become an innate part of who they are, and it will take much more than a few months or years to change them.

What the INFJ Needs to Remember:

As stated above, you can’t change these traits that are deeply ingrained in the narcissist, so don’t try to. Instead, find someone who’s emotionally mature and capable of loving you and treating you the way you deserve to be loved and treated!

2. Although the INFJ has an impeccable ability to see past impure motives and facades, they let their idealism get in the way when they’re romantically interested in someone.

INFJ’s feel everything intensely- including romantic connections. When, on rare occasion, they feel they’ve connected at a deep level with someone, they don’t want to let that connection slip away. This often leads them to giving people the benefit of the doubt or trying to “save” or “change” someone, even when they know that the person isn’t a good fit for them (as mentioned above).

If they’ve felt that strong connection, they’ve most likely already spent a lot of time envisioning what the relationship could look like and how strong it could potentially be. To give up this unique connection (that’s hard for them to find) is very difficult for them.

INFJ’s are introverted, which means that they often turn inward to protect themselves from the overwhelm of the outside world. This in turn, can lead the INFJ to have pent-up energy that lands on one person or one thing, which is why many INFJ’s become “obsessed” with a love interest, a passion, a place, or an idea. This obsession can be considered almost an “addiction” and can be a tough one to break. Because INFJ’s become somewhat “addicted” to a love interest, it can seem almost impossible for them to break off an attachment that’s already been formed intensely- even if they know it’s an unhealthy attachment to have.

The INFJ’s idealism, intense feelings, and desire to latch onto deep connections are a few of the reasons why the INFJ is attracted to narcissists, but there’s still two more!

But First, What the INFJ Needs to Remember When It Comes to Idealism:

Things aren’t always going to be perfect in a relationship, but your vision of a pretty “ideal” happy relationship is possible, so don’t settle for something less. Don’t idealize a relationship with a narcissist, because it’s not going to get better. It’s only going to get worse.

Make sure that you vent to a trusted confidant or to your journal regularly so that you keep track of and process your feelings as they’re happening instead of bottling them up to explode later. If you’re noticing a pattern of being unhappy in your relationship or of narcissistic traits in your partner, terminate the relationship instead of continuing a cycle of “keeping the peace,” then blowing up, then “keeping the peace,” then blowing up. You’re worth far more than that kind of unsatisfactory relationship!

3. The INFJ is prone to self-doubt.

Because INFJ’s feel misunderstood, take things very personally, and never feel as though they’re doing enough, they may put a narcissistic partner on an undeserved pedestal. In fact, the INFJ puts a majority of the people in their life on a pedestal because of their own self-doubt, insecurity, and sensitivity. They often go through life thinking that everyone is better than them, when that’s definitely not the case!

This can be extremely dangerous for the INFJ when they’re involved with someone who doesn’t deserve their love and attention, but whom they think is far better than them. The INFJ already has trouble with these feelings, so the narcissist takes full advantage of this weakness. The narcissist will end up making the INFJ feel as though they’ve won some sort of prize by being with them, when in reality they’re losing out BIG TIME and they need to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

What the INFJ Needs to Remember:

You are good enough. You are worthy of love and wonderful treatment and you will find someone who treats you well and brings out the best in you! Never ever settle! Life is short, so don’t spend it with anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself, manipulates you, or who has any of the narcissistic traits that can’t be changed (which is all of them).

4. The INFJ wants to “keep the peace” and therefore looks past terrible behavior.

INFJ’s avoid confrontation and want to keep the peace in relationships, but because they’re also aware of their own needs and are very independent, this “keeping the peace” thing doesn’t always hold up for long. Eventually, the INFJ will explode in rage and the relationship can turn into a constant battle- full of blame, arguing, and overall unhappiness.

Even though the INFJ usually knows that they’re being mistreated and may even get upset about it regularly, they’re prone to look past these behaviors because of their own self-doubt, attachment, idealism, and desire to “keep the peace.” They usually think that things will eventually get better with time. They’ll also blame themselves for the argument or for standing up for themselves and excuse the other person’s behavior, even though deep down inside (and they’ve probably been told by close friends and family), they’re the one who’s being mistreated.

They’ll go through phases where they’re a quiet punching bag that tries to keep the peace and other phases when they’re having a difficult time losing their voice and will speak up for themselves.

The INFJ should remember that a narcissist will bring out the worst in ANYONE and that they aren’t a bad person for fighting back. They should also realize that this entire situation isn’t healthy and that it’s 10000% worth it in the terminate a relationship that isn’t bringing out the best in them and that isn’t healthy, even if they’re incredibly attached to their partner and believe that things will change.

What the INFJ Needs to Remember

The reality of it is that things most likely won’t change- at least not for a long time, and you shouldn’t waste your precious time on someone who isn’t making you happy or treating you right. A relationship should make a person happier far more than it makes them sad and confused, so if this isn’t the case for your relaionship, than it needs to come to a close. It’s especially difficult to end a relationship with a narcissist and you may need the help of friends, family, or even a professional to get through the manipulation from your partner and the emotional turmoil it will indefinitely cause you.

Author: Coral Allen

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  • Thank you for this article! And Keep writing because we need more awareness in dealing with Narcissistic people. I’m Divorced now, coming up to One year, I was married for 34 years to a Fire Captain.
    We were married two years, when he cheated on me. The recovery from that was another family member accused him of molestation, and it needed in court where he was found not quilty! I’ve live with this man way to long, Ego mind d, selfish, secrets, lies, porn, gambling, health issues got worse, so did mine. It is the most unhealthy relationship I’ve ever experienced. “ I can’t change what I’ve been through, but I can change where I’m going, Forward and No Contact.

    • I am so sorry to hear that, truly. That sounds absolutely awful. I’m not a psychologist by any means, but I know that "No Contact," is key. If you haven’t read, "Getting Past Your Breakup" by Susan J. Elliot, I highly recommend it. She talks about divorce as well in her book. She does a really great job of encouraging "No Contact," and other methods that are very helpful for healing. I know this is tough, but you’re strong and capable and you’re going to get through it! Thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m so glad that I could help in some way.

  • What? I don’t know if this is an INFJ thing or just something you’ve experienced. The only thing I absolutely can’t stand is a narcissist!

    In fact, all of my guilty keep-the-peace mentality goes out the freaking window the second I realize they are disengenious, hurtful, and irresponsible, because being sincere, helping others, and taking responsibility for my actions are some of my highest values as an INFJ. I have shut narcissists out of my life happily, with almost zero hesitation at the conflict it may bring.

    Maybe, as you said, it’s a maturity thing, but even at my youngest/stupidest I didn’t waste time on people who only cared about themselves. And frankly I’m surprised you feel this is an INFJ issue, because the bullshit meter on INFJs is finely tuned. Sure, I occasionally will overlook minor flaws in human beings, but not at the price of crossing my values. Pretty standard INFJ thing to be flexible until values are challenged. Damn.

    • That’s so amazing that you have 0 tolerance for narcissists! You sound like a really strong person! I’ve had several people email me and comment on other posts asking me to write about this, so it may be an "INFJ" thing or just a "human" thing that those particular people had struggled with, although I can see how some of the typical INFJ traits would lend to being attracted to narcissists even when they know better- because of the idealism and other aspects that I mentioned. I wish I’d had the strength you have, though! That’s amazing! I want to teach my kids to have that same type of strength someday so they don’t waste their time with jerks 🙂

  • Thank you for this article, it’s well written. Having grown up in a setting with one narcissistic parent and one extremely manipulative and enabling parent, I find it much more difficult to even read when people are narcissists on early acquaintance. I think I leaned heavily on my idealism, and my peace making to make it through childhood, and it carried on through most of my life, which has been detrimental. Even now, having finally realized that I need to remove my parents from my life, I feel such tremendous guilt for creating those boundaries, and have trouble sticking to them. Thank you for the kind words in your article, it was just what I needed.

    • I’m so sorry that you grew up in such a difficult situation. That can cause a lot of harm to someone throughout their life, but it sounds like you’re trying your best to be strong and do what you know is best for you. I really admire that! Without going into much detail (perhaps I’ll send you an email), I know exactly how you feel about the guilt thing. I feel so much guilt for setting boundaries as well, but we both need to learn to not feel so much guilt for doing what’s best for us. I should probably write a blog post on INFJ guilt & shame since it seems to be pretty prevalent among my readers and in myself.

  • I haven’t read the article in full yet. I don’t have the time, so I’ve skimmed and read the bold.

    The article title got me. You seem to have felt the same way I did. I too felt my life change knowing I wasn’t the only one who felt that way after taking the Myer-Briggs test.

    I found this article because I’m interested in stuff like that. Google recommended your article via Google Now.

    I’m interested in this because I find myself liking narcissists and I’m familiar that it’s a loose term, like sociopath and psychopath. I’m also aware of the DSM. I think it’s the DSM-5 now.

    I’ll read the article in full later, but do know you’re not alone with this idea. I to, an INFJ, find myself being attracted to narcissists.

    The bold points helped a lot. I gotta focus.

    A quick read tells me I need to read this in full!!

    Keep up the work!! I haven’t read it in full and I’m liking it!! Your work must be good!! Can’t wait to finish it!!

    This article is in my bookmarks. I just had to say all this because I didn’t want to forget and I’m sure my view won’t change. I mean I skimmed. I just need to sit down and read.

    • Thank you for letting me know that you’re going to read my post! I appreciate that and appreciate you letting me know that my post was suggested by Google Now. I had no clue about that! That’s exciting to me! Thank you again!

  • It means a lot to have someone write about this and share it to the world. I’ve been devastated ever since my ex-boyfriend broke up with me three months ago. Sometimes I think it sucks to be an INFJ. You feel like no one can understand you in the first place then heartbreaks come in and it just got worse. I am still healing, brooding in ways you can’t imagine. I can do this, right? Thank you for INFJ articles.

  • I am in a 17 year relationship with a narcissist & have recently (within the past 2 yrs) determined that it is NOT me with the issues. (I am wife #5 & STILL he thinks he’s not to blame for anything). I’m thinking it me take me 1-2 years to get out of this situation. But at least I have a goal now. Thank you for your article. Everything I can read on the subject helps me grow stronger. It sometimes is hard to be an INFJ, feeling things so deeply, but also I am aware those same deep feelings will make me stronger in the long run. Thank you again.

  • I’m an INFJ and so much of what you’ve described here sounds like how I felt in my last relationship. My ex blindsided me when he broke up with me seven weeks ago. He doesn’t hit all the qualifications for a narcissist, but he definitely hits some. It still hurts for sure. Thank you for writing this. It helps me feel validated and less alone.

    • I’m so sorry that you’re going through such a painful time! If he had any of these traits, I think it’s good you didn’t end up with him, even though I know it’s so painful! I’m glad I could help you at least a little bit. I’m here for you if you ever want to talk! 😊

  • Well this was a great read. Such a well written a detailed post and something a lot of us can relate too. I think a lot of people are attracted to the ones we shouldnt be and might not realize it. Sometimes you realize it but ignore it anyways. Love is blind as they say. Glad you have the blinders off mnow though 👍

    • Thank you so much for saying it was a good read! I really appreciate that! And you’re so right…it’s definitely easy to ignore it. That’s what I did for a long time. Thanks for stopping by my blog! 😊

  • I am so extremely greatful to have stumbled across this well thought out, crafted and composed article! Just in the nick of time I’d like to add…whew!
    I recently ended an extremely destructive "soul mate" relationship with a narcissist I deeply love(d). You’re spot on as to how painful and seemingly impossible this is and can be! I ache over him quite a bit, still.
    In my severe state of vulnerability I have been internally struggling (albeit successfull and self begrudgingly) with full "no contact" for a few months now. The savior pardigim has been crushing me to the point of searching for any appropriate contact to "help" my disenchanted narcissist. I gave up so much of myself and compromised my values more than I would ever openly admit; until now.
    I needed the reminder that NO type of contact or ammount of hoping and wishing can reach a malignant narcissist. He knows my innermost workings and has weaponized empathy against me through continued exploitation and crafty manipulation.
    After two years and our demise he "grew up" and took responsibility for all his hurtful actions with only one fatal flaw in his final pathetic twistes manipulation. I caught it, naturally, but did not dismiss the behavior the last time we interacted.
    Secrets keep me sick and don’t allow for any healing. The action of typing this and putting it out there for criticism has given me renewed power over this situation. Again, thank you!
    I truly was on the precipice of reinitiating contact in the form of a letter already begun in my head.
    The struggle is very real. Your insights, so well articulated, hit the nail(s) squarely on the head! My eyes are wide open to the extreme dangers I was all too ready to put myself back into by contacting this toxic man!
    In sharing of yourself you have helped me save myself from the perpetuated tormented cycle of addiction to the narcissist who I will no longer allow to possesses me!
    I look forward to reading and keeping up with your blog. What a wonderful gift you’ve given!
    Gratitude runs deep.

    • I’m so sorry that you’re going through this! Heartbreak is the absolute worst and can be especially tricky after a breakup from a narcissist who had you convinced that he was perfect for you. It sounds like you’re quite aware of what was wrong with the relationship and that you know what you need to do to heal. The hard part is actually implementing the things you know you should do. I hope you’ll realize that you have the strength to not contact him. You sound like a great person and I hope you’ll reach out to me if you need any help! I’m so glad I could help you at least a bit. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  • Thank you so much for this post. I’m in the (long) process of extricating myself from a relationship with a narcisisst and this was very helpful insight into why that’s been so hard & even more importantly, why I need to stay on this path if ending it.

    • I’m so glad this article could help you. It’ll be so worth it to end things with him. You’ll be in pain for awhile after but then your life can start again and you’ll be free. So just think of it as a few months of pain for a lifetime of happiness. I’m sorry you’re going through that, though! That’s so tough.

  • Thank you so much for this! It has encouraged me beyond belief. I have been in an off and on abusive relationship with a narcissist for almost four years now. He leaves me cyclically and then comes back after a few months to "check" on me. Every time he leaves it’s because I’ve blown up on him and he calls me "crazy" and says he’ll see me when I’m better. When he’s gone, I tell myself I won’t take him back. Then the minute he shows up again, even if it takes a few weeks, I’m back where I started.
    This article has helped cement that I can’t let him back in, even if I feel I want to.
    But every time I date someone else, they turn out to be awful as well. Which is usually when he shows up to help me get away from the other problem.
    I really don’t know how to get away from this type of guy it seems. I just don’t want this cycle to stop. But emotionally speaking, I just feel like I can’t connect with anyone else because hes always at the back of my mind. Even though I know that’s not the case with him.
    Hoping this time, I can hold him off.

  • Amazingly on point. I was in a relationship for many years with a guy who I had this deep “connection” with, but he was such a terrible narcissist and hurt me over and over and over. I kept forgiving him because of the deep connection and my love for him. I finally couldn’t handle the hurt anymore, and I shut it all down. I didn’t date anyone for years. I’ve done lots of work on myself in the meantime: learning who I am, why I do things, and what I really want and need. I’ve recently met someone, and I almost can’t believe he’s real because he’s SO unlike any guy I’ve ever dated before. I’m excited and terrified, but in a good way. I think. 🙂

  • It’s very on point. I can relate pretty much to most of what you’ve written here. The worst part is when you know that it’s not right and you could be better off without that person. And then there’s some breakthrough and you think that you can still help them out somehow.

  • Oh my goodness.
    I saw this article and was like "WHAT, other INFJ’S are attracted to Narcissists?" I had no idea that was a common trait in our personalities. Thankyou for mapping it out point by point so I can better understand why I ever dated a manipulative, controlling, abusive narcissist. It is such a funny thing to have a discerning mind yet still give in to being with someone so awful. What you said about us getting "obsessed" with people, places, or things is so very true. INFJ’s are so special. I wonder if there is another personality type that immediately feels a sense of community and understanding by there fellow myers briggs.

  • I can relate to this so much…..in in a relationship now and this is 1000000% relatable….in just struggling to leave him. I tried today….but I just i can’t and I’m on my own here the only person I have is me and my boyfriend…..I just want to get out

  • Please know that narcissists DO NOT change, EVER. I was married to one for 20 years & yes I am an INFJ. You, sweet INFJ are NOT the problem and you never have been. Sadly the only solution is departure from the narcissist, there is no cure.

  • Awesome ! Your experiences parallel the last 30 years of my life. Im a Narcissists junky. I can’t seem to stay away from them because i always perceive them to be so intelligent- & that is SO appealing & sexy to me- lol

  • Had a long history of helping lost, sick and/or abused animals… still will do that. But I made the mistake of making myself available to sociopathic people thinking with all this insight and stellar empathy I could boldly walk where angels fear to tread. On some antique maps you can see a description of the area beyond the explored and known saying, “Here be dragons “. I’ve sailed off the edge of the world into dragon land more than once, even married a charming and thoroughly evil psychopath who was a true Jeckel and Hyde monster. After that experience I can detect these cretins in a nano second. But I came to dislike being a giving person although I can’t seem to help it!. Also my fundamentalist religion had left me wide open to emotional stupidity, so I ditched that too. No amount of goodness, prayer and understanding can heal these toxic and dangerous people. I wish I’d known I was an INFJ, it would have made all the difference. The traits of this type describe me to a T. Your article is absolutely right on. I hope more women get in touch with their personality type , especially the empaths who need to rein in their self destructive tendency to care too much, love too much, give too much.

  • This heightened my self awareness more than I can express in words. I was married to a narcissist, and escaped that situation. I have been dating for 3 years now and have been discouraged and feeling hopeless to realize I only feel that elusive chemistry and connection to narcissistic men.
    It only recently occurred to me. I just ended a relationship and took the time to really think about what the (very few) men I had a connection with over the past 7 years have in common. I had to finally admit they all had very distinctive narcissistic traits. It was devastating to me as I spent two years after my divorce trying to ‘fix’ whatever caused me to fall for my husband, and I believed I had.
    I have been on dozens of dates, and I rarely feel a connection, so just like what you said, when I DO feel a connection I do everything I can not to lose the person I feel connected to. Out of over 40 first dates, there are only 3 men I felt this connection with. All 3 ended up having these narcissistic traits. I am not sure how to feel a connection with a normal person. It has been a long, arduous journey for me.

    This article has been tremendously helpful and insightful. I will still have to work on how to feel attraction and chemistry with ‘normal’ men, but this has helped me understand myself a little better.

  • I love your insight and self awareness. I have a friend who is INFJ and I would like your insight into a situation he is faced with regarding relationships (Not specifically narcissism). Is there a way I can email you directly?