It’s quite fitting that as an INFJ, so fixated on self-growth and discovery, I often find myself down the rabbit hole of further exploring my own MBTI personality type. Especially when in a liminal time period, where I’m transforming and adapting to a new environment, it’s helpful to better understand myself and retain self-compassion whilst also keeping weaknesses at bay.
Occasionally, I stumble across a new article that punches me in the gut with truth. So – as I navigate the waters of a new atmosphere and blossoming relationships, I couldn’t help reflecting as I read this article, “How Can an INFJ Be in a Happy, Satisfying Relationship?”
Bear with me as I over-analyze my ability to over-analyze. #INFJprobs
What Do INFJs Want in a Relationship?
INFJs look for deep and meaningful relationships. We aren’t always looking for emotional connection though. Sometimes, it’s intellectual. We just need people who are patient, open, and understanding enough to listen when we share our insights and thoughts.
I tend to collect a friend or two from each phase of my life. While they are all unique individuals, one trait they share is the ability to connect on a deeper level. As an intuitive type, it’s easier for me to get to know someone else than vice versa. I have struggled, at times, with opening myself up, revealing my authentic self, for fear of feeling misunderstood (which is the norm for us INFJs – we’re very weird). It’s a rough contradiction – the desire to avoid superficiality while also naturally building walls to keep people out. The friends who have traveled through the years with me each had the patience to remove the bricks until they saw me face-to-face. But – it’s a trait I’m working on as I self-reflect – opening myself up, being more accessible. People shouldn’t have to deconstruct a wall to become my friend, and I recognize that.
On the flip side, we want our friends and partner to share their innermost thoughts and be genuine with us too. We find it difficult to build a relationship with someone who is fake, deceitful, or constantly putting up a front.
If we’re honest, it’s hard for anyone, regardless of personality type, to remain completely authentic all the time. For me, it’s a goal. I want to be me and be accepted for being me. But – as an innate people-pleaser, there is a careful balance to be maintained for an INFJ: the need to stand firm in your convictions while also battling the inherent desire to do or act however necessary to make the person you’re with feel comfortable. #empathprobs. However, occasionally people’s inauthenticity goes beyond the bounds of meeting in the middle for the sake of relating to others and transforms into something more sinister. There is nothing more reprehensible to me than someone who is inauthentic for self-gain. Ever the optimist, I want to believe everyone is good if I can just see behind the surface. With some, however, I have tried to peel back the layers, only to find a rotten core. Sometimes people will say whatever, do whatever, step on whomever to climb towards their own goals, which is the antithesis of my INFJ sentimentality: I want to hold your hand while we ascend together.
Betrayal is probably one of the things that hurt INFJs the most. For INFJs to feel safe with someone, we must trust the person. We see how trustworthy a person is by looking at how they deal with other people’s secrets and sometimes, we based on our gut feelings. If we don’t trust someone, we won’t share as much and hence, no deep connection.
There is nothing that comes close to the feeling of having a confidant you can trust with everything. Those within my collection of quality over quantity I can trust and be trusted with anything. When you know that someone cares to understand you and won’t misrepresent you to others, that is where the aforementioned “deep connection” emerges. To understand and be understood is the foundation of a true, transparent, authentic relationship (notice how inter-connected these tenets are, in reality). As aforementioned, trusting someone with your innermost thoughts and insights, especially for an INFJ, is scary but necessary in forming true relationships. If they don’t value your insights, that doesn’t make your insights wrong; it makes them an incompatible friend.
INFJs don’t like to be bossed around. We don’t like people to tell us what to do even though we are accommodating. At the same time, if we are the only one maintaining and giving in the relationship, we would soon grow tired of it.
Although accommodating, I refuse to be a doormat. When someone has a giving nature, it’s tempting for others to try and make them subservient. If a relationship is not reciprocal, it is subject to the good ole’ INFJ door slam. For me, it takes a lot to get to this point, but, ultimately, we teach people how to treat us. They say the “door slam” comes from an INFJ’s need for closure – if we can’t find closure from others, we will create it ourselves. There have been times where I neared the point of indifference, only for the other person to realize they need to do their part and step up to the plate. If this happens, and it doesn’t become a revolving door of will they? won’t they? – I am forgiving. Self respect breeds mutual respect. Conversely, there have also been times where the door was slammed, never to be re-opened. Sometimes, the pieces just don’t fit, and it’s important to realize that before you lose autonomy.
INFJs want someone who is willing to grow with us. This one might not be obvious. But think about it. Most INFJs are into personal growth and constantly looking for ways to be a better person. If an INFJ keeps growing, but the other person remains stagnant, what would happen to the relationship eventually?
This one is particularly challenging – wanting to give everyone the same autonomy you expect, but also truly desiring the best for those you love. It has, at times, been a hindrance to my friendships because I can’t keep my mouth shut if I think a friend is making a mistake. If you come to me for advice, I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear; I’m going to tell you how to best fix your problem and grow. Understandably, that can lead to resentment from the other side. No one likes to feel condescended to, but that’s never my intention. My advice comes from a pure, judgement-free place – a place of love. Admittedly, though, I need to relax and let others figure their own problems out (I mean, look how much I over-analyze my own life. Don’t I have enough to be thinking about?) I’m working on it.
Don’t lose the ME in the WE.
it’s easy for us to focus on the other person and forget ourselves in the process. We enjoy pleasing people but when we do too much of this, we forsake our introverted intuition (Ni) function which is a function that we are more connect to and give us a sense of self. When INFJs realize that we are disappearing in a relationship, we start to withdraw and reconnect with our introverted functions. This leaves our partner or friends (especially the extroverted ones) feeling puzzled because we appear to be hot and cold. They might think that we have lost interests in the relationship when we are just trying to recharge and regain our sense of self.
I have a bad habit of retreating into myself out of the blue. Although it’s not personal, it’s easy to take personally when I’m usually rather involved and social. To be an outwardly-extroverted introvert is emotionally taxing when we forget to fill up until the tank is on E, and we run out of gas on the side of the road. At that point, I hole up for a while and plug into my hermit-self until I feel ready to come out of my shell. That being said, I’m thankful for my friends who understand I might disappear for a while, but – don’t worry, I’ll always be back (excluding the door-slam situations, but if you’re a symbiotic friend, you have nothing to worry about). I may be an introvert, but I thrive on maintaining deep relationships with those I care about (sometimes to a fault).
Conflicts don’t have to be confrontational.
We can still be empathetic and calm while we express our views and opinions. When someone shares an opinion that opposes yours, you can listen first. Then, say something like, “I get what you mean. But I feel that…” and give your opinions. It’s not about defending or imposing your point of views on others, it’s about sharing your stands. Other people don’t have to agree with what we said and we are not forcing them to accept our views when we express them.
The bane of my existence is conflict. In a relationship of any kind, I’m a communicator – overly so. If I’m not happy with something you’re doing or saying, I will let you know in a productive way. Being sensitive to criticism myself, I try to carefully express my feelings, while not being provocative. Sometimes, though, conflict arises from the best of intentions, and I have found myself in situations that left me reeling, being a non-confrontational person. Perhaps what I value most in any relationship is the ability to politely disagree and acknowledge one another’s feelings. To feel listened to is to feel cared about.
Self reflection is the catalyst for growth. Learning about your personality type and taking a careful look at what you want want out of life – in this case, relationships – allows you to filter through the murk. It’s not only about what you want, however, it’s also about learning how to balance who you need to become to grow while still remaining authentic. You can become a better version of yourself without losing yourself in the process.
Want to learn more about yourself? Welcome to the rabbit hole.