infj and isfj-- subtle conflicts?

topic posted Sat, March 4, 2006 - 7:22 PM by  hint
hi, i've been reading some of the posts in this tribe, i really appreciate some of the raw honesty and invaluable insight in some of the posts. the posts on infj's emotional depth/ difficulties in concealing & controlling emotional intensity/ perpetual loneliness & feelings of disconnectedness resonate really so well with me. perhaps some of you could shed light on an unpleasantry i experienced with a friend. i've always had tremendous difficulty fully connecting with another person in the sense that i've always felt that is an assymetry in mutual understanding: in most of my friendships, i don't find myself having a tough time intuiting the other person's thoughts and deciphering his/her intentions. but at the same time, it is extremely rare when i feel that my true self is being understood. i felt incredibly fortunate in finding such a level of mutual understanding and acceptance from this isfj friend of mine.
recently, i went on a trip with my friend. the first half of the trip was sensational, filled with deep, dark, heavy, soul-baring discussions of childhood, broken relationships, lost hopes etc. i felt that we were really able to be honest with each other. but towards the second half of the trip, i found my friend to be increasingly pensive and seemingly uneasy. the deep conversations ensued, because for the most part, i think my friend enjoys engaging, probing conversations too. but during one of our conversations, my friend abruptly changed the subject because he felt that the discussion was growing increasingly heavy. this unexpected abruptness really dampened my spirit for the rest of the trip, i could feel myself growing increasingly withdrawn and disappointed. in a sense, it's realizing that people really are limited in how much depth and heaviness they could handle. while i (seem) to be a bottomless well or super sponge when it comes to introspecting and expressing heavy, deep, dark issues, most people have a much lower threshold and really embrace some levity at least half of the time. maybe i am overreacting to a seemingly trivial incident, but to me, it felt like a form of's like, "gee, if even a close friend of mine cannot really accept the sheer intensity that is very much part of my essence, how can i expect the rest of the world to react?"
well, let me know if i am overreacting. or if there are certain subtleties to the isfj folks that i haven't fully grasped? perhaps they have a lower tolerance for heaviness? any tips on how to attain closeness in interpersonal relationships without draining others with too much intensity?
posted by:
New York City
  • Hmmm. Tough questions to answer.

    I think the "problem" is the differences between being an S type and an N type, and the things that energize and drain us, and the only way I can think of to explain my point is through analogies and putting the shoe on the pther foot.

    Generally S types are not as interested in talking about abstract concepts and emotional depth as N types are. At the same time, we're a little less interested in purely physical sensory pleasures.

    While you were thoroughly enjoying talking about childhood hopes and lost dreams (and most of here probably would be, too), your friend probably found that kind of discussion to be very draining, and had to escape from it to recharge after a while. On the other hand, you friend might have enjoyed discussing sports teams or what Paris Hilton said to Brad Pitt the entire trip and you would have likely been bored out of your skull and ready to run away screaming by the end.

    Don't think of it as you friend cannot acept the intensity of who you are. You just have to rememver that sometimes what energizes you may drain someone else, and when you sense that your friend is becoming a little drained from your discussions, change the subject to something light and fluffy or go do some kind of non-mental activity like watch TV or drink beer at a bar and check outn attractive people together. You'll probably find that a bit draining yourself, but your friend's batteries will be recharged and next you can do something that you enjoy. It's sort of a matter of give and take.

    I dunno if that helped or not. That's just how I look at it. Eventually you'll come across someone more like yourself (an INFP or another INFJ) and you'll be amazed at the connection you can make. However, eventually you'll overwhelm each other from the depth and intnesity of that connection and you'll need to take a break from it yourself. That's nothing to worry about either. Once you're both recharged, you can just jump right back in.
    • I am an INFJ and live with mum and sister who are both ESTP's. I often find when probing my mother on sometimes deep and meaningful issues , such as her past family life she will initially open up and be quite expressive, as I question her more however I have found her to become suddenly defensive , close up and then try to change the subject. You are actually quite right , there is an limit as to the depth of expression these S types will go to.
      I can count of numerous occasions where a stimulating conversation with her has turned abruptly into full scale conflict.
      • deepnes is not just deepness. infj are deeply abstract, isfj are deeply connected

        isfj live in the past. they are connected to memory. they can't make automatic abstraktions from what happened to a "what it is good for in the end" perspective, like infj do, whenever they talk about past. actually infj talking about past are not "deep" but superficial, because they do not automatically connect to just that past and just that pain. infj may be able to connect, but never in the way isfj have to. isfj are in a constant state of flash backt, somehow. therefore they have a extremely low threshhold. isfj tend to protect themselfes from past pain, by having straight values toward what happened. you can say to an infj: "you may hate your father, but its not his fault, he did the best he could, just as you". the infj may answer out of his head and reason: "sure, your 're probably right". the isfj will be connected straight to the feelings of guilt and rejection and all that. there is a kind of deepnes in Si that infj cant match and that would scare the hell out of us, if we would have to live with it. Si is our verry last function.

        i am infj (from germany by the way), my mom is isfj and my father is istj, so both are Si-types. when they are traumatized, you can not break them up. the will block completly. its just a nature law.
  • hello there,

    i have had a similar experience with an ISFJ (i apologize for phrasing it this way, but i am just doing it for convenience!). here is my idea (i'm an INFJ too).

    i would suggest that your friend is perhaps not reacting to you, personally, or trying to take a position -- or convey a message -- that demonstrates your friend's unhappiness with you. That is something that, perhaps, a fellow-INFJ would do :) -- communicate in the nuance and the abstract.

    Rather, your friend may be closing up inside because a painful thought form (a memory, an idea, anything) is creeping through, and so they needed to shut off the taps. And, being a Guardian (SJ) and not a Diplomat (NF), they did so in a manner that made complete sense to them -- they just shut it off, clean, practical, decisive, and honest.

    You (and I :) would likely have handled it very differently, but not necessarily in a way that would have made any more sense to your friend than his/her actions did for you. In fact, if you had gone into Diplomatic-mode, your friend might have been very...curious as to what you were *really* up to (and might have gone into some ISFJ bulletin board and posted about a friend who they felt wasn't telling them the truth!)

    i can truly understand you feeling hurt, and i would have felt the same -- i am not suggesting otherwise. but perhaps before you come to the wrong conclusion about your friendship, you may want to speculate that the reaction had nothing to do with you personally -- it may just be a self-defense mechanism with a history of its own. If that is the case, then the best friend you can be is just to accept it and accept that part of them.

    The absolute best piece of advice I have ever read, in my life, is this: the things about others that drive us crazy are often the things that are keeping them sane.

    maybe your friend simply needed to react that way -- to preserve the integrity of the friendship. so instead of seeing it something bad, you may want to go in for some hard core INFJ fun :) and see it as something quite amazing about human personality.

    i have lost a lot of friends because i didn't follow this advice. i hope that doesn't make me seem like a hypocrite. i wish someone had given it to me (not that i would have taken it, of course...but i can still wish, right?)