Q&A: Are INFJs Prone to Narcissism?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 0 Comments A+ a-

Your Question:

(Note: This young INFJ lady had a harrowing experience with online dating. She met a male INFJ, exchanged a few e-mails, and felt they had an authentic connection. Her intuition nagged at her a little, though, and she joked with her roommate, "watch this guy end up being a narcissist."

She wasn't too far off the mark. As the relationship progressed, her online date began to reveal some rather disturbing behavior. Turns out, he wasn't the modest, genuine INFJ his dating profile made him out to be. His personality went from nice and unassuming to cocky, insensitive, and lewd. Then, with his ego in full swing, he became callous and manipulative. He bragged about his intellect and showed little compassion for her problems. After their first phone conversation, he told her outright that he preferred the witty, roguish side she'd presented in her e-mails over the quiet, churchy side she'd shown on the phone. And at one point--after they discussed meeting in person--he actually suggested she show up wearing the pirate costume she said she'd worn for Halloween, claiming it would "back up" the roguish image he'd built of her inside his head.

Outraged and justifiably offended, she wrote him back and called him out on his behavior. He did apologize; however, she ended the relationship immediately and blocked him on the dating site and all social media. But the experience left her a little shaken. She had, after all, been betrayed by her own kind. Not only did she question this guy's behavior, but she did what all INFJs do--question her own behavior and her potential for turning into someone just like him.

ACK, right? You wouldn't believe how I felt reading her e-mail, which included a lot of personal information that I'm excluding. So I'll just give you her last paragraph.)

"ALL that to say (if you don't read this, I totally understand; it's helped just writing this out, I think)--- Are INFJ's prone to narcissism? My personal sense of pride is hurt at the thought that an INFJ would be so callous, narcissistic, and self-absorbed, and I want so badly to think that he wasn't an INFJ at all. It's really a matter of me not wanting to be identified with someone like him. Though, to be brutally honest, I recognize the potentiality for narcissistic/manipulative behaviors in myself, and do my darndest to beat them down when they appear, but... I guess if he really is an INFJ, I'm scared of becoming like him; and the existence of a narcissistic INFJ means it's possible for me to become one, too."

My Answer:

Thanks for the message! I’m sooo glad to hear that the Cafe has been helpful to you, and that you’re finding value in the posts. That’s why I started it. I really want to encourage INFJs in their journey. It’s not easy being us!

That being said, your e-mail kind of floored me. Seriously, my jaw hit the ground. My first reaction was heartfelt sympathy for you having to endure such a horrific and awkward experience. My second was extreme irritation that this INFJ-unicorn-wannabe treated you with that level of disrespect. And my third was a jolt of pain that his behavior would cause you to fear the possibility of falling into similar behavior.

So, those emotions are driving me to respond right away. I literally can’t ignore them, lol. Let me try to organize my thoughts here.

First off, I don’t have any experience with online dating. But I do have experience with online feedback, both on the Cafe and through book reviews. I also have a daughter who went through high school with a cell phone. So I can tell you straight up that people will say things online that they would never, ever say to your face. They’re emboldened by the fact that they don’t have to deal with your physical reactions, and so they’re perfectly fine with engaging in behaviors that are indecent, immoral, and downright shameless. You are in no way responsible for their behavior. But by interacting with people in an online dating arena, you’re definitely going to be exposed to them. I’d advise an extra layer of caution to keep from being manipulated, bullied, shamed, and—as you feared with this guy—stalked.

Okay, now that my internal Mother Hen is done fussing over your safety…I’m not 100 percent confident that your potential unicorn was an INFJ. I mean, in the MBTI world, the INFJ is something a lot of people say they “want” to be. Which I find amusing, because being an INFJ isn’t a magical picnic of bliss. Far from it, actually. But just because someone claims to be an INFJ, doesn’t mean that’s true. My dad used to say “actions speak louder than words” and I've found that to be accurate. So, I don’t put much stock in what people say. It’s what they DO that tells the real story.

But let’s assume that he really is an INFJ. I happen to know three male INFJs…one in person and two online. I’ve known them for several years, and while I’m not total besties with any of them, they are three of the nicest people I know. Granted, they are Christian men and hold themselves accountable to a certain standard in their behavior. I’m pretty sure, though, that wouldn’t be able to hide narcissistic facets of themselves from me for very long. I’ve been in relationships with narcissistic people and have a sharp radar for their crap. No matter how outwardly charming someone is, I end up digging through those pretty, fluffy layers and finding the icky stuff. It usually emerges in odd patterns…the same kind that you detected right away in your Unicorn (we’ll just call him that for fun). Your intuition threw out some red flags, and for good reason. Never ignore that. It’ll help ward off people who aren’t good for you.

So really, my experience with INFJs (male, female, online, in person) is that they are good, decent people that don’t typically slide into narcissistic behavior. However…I must add that not all INFJs end up being the warm, fuzzy, compassionate folks you read about online. All INFJs are vulnerable to their Dark Side (for more on this, read my Dark Side series posts). We’re also raised in different cultures, with different kinds of family situations that contribute to the development of our ego and personality. My belief is that an INFJ can fall just about anywhere on the spectrum, with the incredibly mature and experienced ones being like Yoda, and the horribly immature and inexperienced ones ending up like Darth Vader. The Vaders are typically those who don’t know they’re INFJs; they’re operating without an owner’s manual, and can easily end up as textbook INFJs-gone-wrong. Other Vaders are those who haven’t learned enough about their MBTI type to know the pitfalls; they like their unicorn label, wave it around to show how special they are, and use it for their own personal gain. They may look all dreamy, like Anakin, but they unknowingly fall into Dark Side behaviors and end up being—how do I put this?—kind of douchey.

It’s hard to say where your Unicorn dude falls on that spectrum. And quite honestly, it doesn’t matter. He’s his own person and has to live with himself. If he goes around giving INFJs a bad name, well, he wouldn’t be the first. Every INFJ website out there has, at some point, highlighted the INFJ-gone-wrong scenario, so we’re all very much aware of the bad examples. But that doesn’t mean YOU are one of them. Just the fact that you’re questioning it tells me that you’re someone who cares very much about other people and how you want to treat them (and them to treat you). You found the Unicorn’s behavior offensive, which shows that it’s not behavior you would ever use with others. And I’m glad you called him out on it. It’s probably one step he needed to learn more about himself. Still, this isn’t about him. It’s about you, sweetheart, and I think you’re a sincere, caring individual who just wants to find a genuine partner who will appreciate you and treat you the way you deserve.

So, please don’t worry about being “identified” with a less-than-stellar INFJ. Anyone who really wants a relationship with you will look deeper than the INFJ label, and all that will matter to them is the cool, multifaceted superhero you truly are. :)

Wow, I’ve written a lot here! Let me sum up by encouraging you not to fear your Dark Side. Knowing your potential for it is actually the best way to avoid going down that path. And INFJs are always evolving, always striving to improve. So keep learning and investigating yourself. Arm yourself with knowledge. Recognize the icky stuff (like you’re already doing) and deal with it. Choose your path. If you want Yoda, aim for Yoda. You’re an INFJ, and no power in the ‘verse can stop you from being whoever you want to be. <3

(Cafe Readers: For more on immature, underdeveloped-INFJ behavior, see Dark Side: Knocked Off the Unicorn)

Image Credit: CanStockPhoto