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INFJ and Friendship

topic posted Wed, July 13, 2005 - 10:34 PM by  Unsubscribed
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WHAT ABOUT FRIENDSHIP?

An INFJ introvert starts a very interesting discussion ...
source: www.theintrovertzcoach.com/frie....html
A INFJ reader wrote:
... I have spent the greater part of my life trying to please and help everyone around me and find there is no one to help me when I need it. I have become very resentful and tend to keep to myself more and more...I find that I have a very hard time making friends. My husband says that I scare people because I always know what they are thinking or what they really feel. I am also unable to hide how I feel and that causes conflict with friends... Lately people look at me like I am from another planet when I talk which makes me feel bad and want to withdraw to my little corner of the world all the more...I would like some suggestions for making new friends.


DAVID answers:

Friendship is difficult for INFJ for several reasons, the first being that we are Introverts and live inside our heads. Most people are Extroverts who live in the outside world of people, places and things. Most of these Extroverts are also Sensing people, which means they can only relate to that which they can see or feel.

This is the exact opposite of INFJs, who first relate to what is happening in their inner world. As Introverted Intuitive, they "know" things by their Intuition, not thru what they see in front of them. This makes communication very difficult because we can't easily explain what we feel or know to people that only understand what they see...One minute we are sharing praise or comforting people and the next minute we are critical. We are usually very honest in projecting our Feelings, but this confuses and often scares Sensing types. Holding our tongues doesn't always help because we just can't hide how we feel...People always take what an INFJ says personally.

INFJ's usually see and often vocalize both sides of every issue. They may be conservative on one issue and liberal on another. This confuses people who like to know what others are thinking, but can't (since only INFJ's and INFP's can do this and they are very rare)... We are so used to others (especially Extroverts) draining us that (because of our strong Feeling function and because we are Introverted) we could never see ourselves draining others. People just get used to taking and not giving....Unfortunately, this constant disappointment with people makes us withdraw even more. We need to be careful that we don't take on other personality traits as a means to escape into a better world. For an INFJ, this usually means becoming our "shadow" personality, an ESTP. As one who went this route for a long time, I only have one thing to say - DON'T GO THERE. It doesn't work. Life will only get worse.

So what can you do?...The easiest way to do this is to RELAX. Don't take everything so seriously....Works for me.....

David

Anyone else relate to this article? I do, especially the part about how taking on ESTP traits.
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  • Hi, yes, I relate to this article. I've had trouble making friends for a long, long time. I withdrew from people for several years and went into a 5-year depression. I've since then learned to choose my friends carefully and not be around people who can't appreciate or at least tolerate the way I am. I do often feel like I'm from another planet when I try to explain things to people.

    I'm currently dating someone who I think is an ESTP and I have to ground myself and assert my boundaries everytime I'm with him because as you mentioned, it's so easy to take this personality type on. Sure makes life fun and interesting being with an ESTP, but I do realize (and thanks for the reminder) that I need to be myself. And I'm finally happy just accepting that this is the way I am :-)
  • It's interesting to hear someone else bring up taking on our "shadow" persona (ESTP). I find myself doing exactly that in some social situations, particularly when I'm around a bunch of S types who just don't "get" the N types, because it seems to make people more comfortable around me, since it's something they're more familliar with (the rowdy fun-loving biker vs. the thoughtful introspective sage).

    I've always had a tough time making friends as well, but the friends that I do make (mostly INFP's and other INFJ's, because we "grok" one another) tend to be very close friends and we stay in contact even though most of them have moved far, far away now. Since most of my close local friends have vanished (career, family, military, etc) I've been trying to figure out ways to meet other NF's in my local area. Tricky.
    • Unsu...
       
      <it seems to make people more comfortable around me, since it's something they're more familliar with (the rowdy fun-loving biker vs. the thoughtful introspective sage>

      Yeah, sometimes I feel like I'm so aware of my inner landscape in social situations that I'm concerned I'll withdraw so I try to shock myself out of it by being impulsive and thrillseeking which is very ESTP.
  • Yes, I can relate to the article; especially to the originial inquiry. The response is somewhat-on/somewhat-off to me; "David" makes some good points, but also misses the mark a bit. In another tribe we had a discussion about persona, and the "masks" we wear, and I feel that one of the things that often troubles INFJs when it comes to friendships is that we tend to be empathic, and thus we tend to take on the mainstream paradigm of "we must be popular/appealing to ALL people." Unfortunately, that can become rather self-destructive.... after all, we're only 1% of the population. And knowing that, isn't it almost *arrogant* to assume that we "should" get along with everyone?

    Keirsey says that INFJs "have the most trouble with relationships" of all the types. Moreso, even, than INTPs (who just generally avoid them)-- perhaps our frustrations stem from the contradiction of so desperately *wanting* connectiong, and the great difficulty in *finding* it. For me, better friendships has been about a re-evaluation of where I stand, and what I want. Along with that, a simple acceptance that I am simply not GOING to "get along" with very many people-- so I need to stop beating myself up everytime something falls by the wayside. I'm LUCKY if 1-in-25 people I meet is "compatible" (as a friend, OR "more"). I've stopped deluding myself (with the ensuing disappointment) that it's "easy" to make friends. Maybe it's easy to make an acquaintance, but finding a friend is hard. And I have become VERY picky. Of the half-dozen or so people I have met in the last 10 years and still get along with, and maintain contact with.... guess what? All but ONE are INFJs!

    It takes one to "get" one, I guess. I suppose it could be argued that I am "limiting" myself by choosing people who are very similar. So be it. I find the whole "opposites attract" thing rather BO-ring, these days-- or maybe just "too much work." Which brings me to another aspect of INFJ friendships-- at least as I experience them-- which is that I suspect our (generally) non-confrontational demeanor can be limiting, in terms of who makes a suitable friend. A lot of people don't do well in relationships/friendships, absent a certain amount of conflict/drama to (as they say) "spice things up." Traits which, generally, are reasons for me to pack it in and go. Maybe that's not true of all INFJs, but it seems to hold true of those I know.

    Just my $0.02 worth,
    --Peter
    • Unsu...
       
      "And I have become VERY picky."

      Oh, I prefer the terms "discriminating" or "selective". <grin> It has taken me years to realize that my difficulty in making close friends (somewhat redundant, as I don't use the word "friend" to describe someone who *isn't* close -- well, except on this website!) doesn't mean that there is something wrong with *me*.

      I have been at my temp job for 2-1/2 months now, which is longer than I have held some "permanent" jobs. I can get through the entire day without speaking to anyone. This isn't to say that this is my *preferred* environment, but I just can't abide idle chit-chat, and that's all that surrounds me ("...full of sound and fury..."). And tomorrow's Friday, which means that by the end of the day, I will have involuntarily overheard everyone else's social plans for the weekend.

      The closeness of my friendships seems to be inversely proportional to how far away they all are. Oh, but when I experience that magic moment of connection and supreme closeness, I know that it was worth the wait and that I couldn't settle for anything less.

      Denise
      • I hold the belief that our relationships with other people are mirrors of our relationship with ourselves.

        When we are picky about who we will be around, we are not choosing it because of that other person, but because of our own opinions and judgements about certain qualities of ourselves that the other person reflects to us.

        Myself for example: I choose not to be around people who talk incessantly about physical things (i.e. other people, clothing, etc). If I did not limit myself in this fashion, I could give to these people a more expanded state of awareness, but I choose to escape from my own feelings of impatience and irritation (and possible rejection) by disengaging myself from their proximity.

        I believe this whole business has a great deal to do with our introverted intuition and extraverted feeling. Joe Butt explains that while we are very aware of our minds and the vast realm of possibilities that exist in interaction, we find ourselves "caught between:
        [1.] the desire to express [our] wealth of feelings and moral conclusions about the actions and attitudes of others
        and
        [2.] the awareness of the consequences of unbridled candor."

        Here's our picky pickle, INFJs... how can we lovingly express our impressions to those around us?

        The Yogis and Yoginis among us may have studied the Yamas, one of which is called Satya. Gandhi is a master of Satya, and this concept is one we could all learn from. It says that honesty can be used as a weapon, so we must be careful to have compassion. Truth without love is not truth at all.

        When we find ourselves judging others, let's try something different -- an experiment, if you will. Compassion is the tool we can use to direct our perceptions to create the world as we wish it to be while also being the people that we want to be. Ask questions that you have, but not in such a way that it would make you feel defensive if they had asked the same questions of you.

        I dedicate to doing this as well :-) Let's see what we can learn!

        Love and Light,

        Soul
        • Unsu...
           
          Nice post, Soulfire. Being heard can be the dilemma, especially when what you have to say may sound judgmental.. I can relate to these posts as well, especially as I grow older, and to this:

          >Myself for example: I choose not to be around people who talk incessantly about physical things (i.e. other people, clothing, etc). If I did not limit myself in this fashion, I could give to these people a more expanded state of awareness, but I choose to escape from my own feelings of impatience and irritation (and possible rejection) by disengaging myself from their proximity.

          What you are suggesting is that INFJs perhaps have insight into something that is important that many people don't, yet it can be pretty exhausting to try to get a word in edgewise, or to steer such conversations in a deeper manner. This is a challenge... I like that you imply the simple asking of questions (rather than proclaiming advice) may be a strategy to consider...

          >When we are picky about who we will be around, we are not choosing it because of that other person, but because of our own opinions and judgements about certain qualities of ourselves that the other person reflects to us.

          Well, I subscribe to the theory that there are two levels to affection for a person: how you feel about them, and how they make you feel about yourself. The two often overlap, but not always.

          >Truth without love is not truth at all.

          Agreed.
          • Hmm. Personally I find myself seeking and attracting extraverts more and more. Talking incessantly about *anything* is annoying, but I'm starting to discover that I have as much to learn from extraverts as I have to teach them.

            Being a social animal is part of our nature. Deep introspection is incredibly valuable, and it's one of my greatest assets. Yet as I grow older, I learn that there is great complexity and richness of experience in what I previously thought to be superficial social interaction.

            This is not to say that I will suffer fools gladly. It merely means that as I mature I find myself integrating characteristics that seem antithetical at first, but in the final analysis are actually balancing forces.
            • Unsu...
               
              > that I have as much to learn from extraverts as I have to teach them.

              not saying I don't, but they are heard more than we.. :) I enjoy the company of many extraverts too..
              • >> they are heard more than we

                The solution to this is not to be super-picky with people, but to be moderately picky and force oneself to be outgoing. Then the process of filtering and selection is more likely to yield satisfactory results, because the initial pool is larger.

                It has worked for me. In the past year or so, I've become a "gregarious introvert." I still have a way to go with the social skills, but compared to where I was, the endeavor has been an unqualified success!
          • Unsu...
             
            "What you are suggesting is that INFJs perhaps have insight into something that is important that many people don't, yet it can be pretty exhausting to try to get a word in edgewise, or to steer such conversations in a deeper manner. This is a challenge..."

            I think you have good points here...I know I've been critisized by friends for trying to touch on deeper matters only to be told to "lighten up". So, I've been conditioned to edit myself and try to go along with the crowd until I feel compelled to speak up. It is a challenge to find the balance between the "shallow" and the "deep" with dealing with others socially. I'm probably not the only INFJ to notice this.
            • >> It is a challenge to find the balance between the "shallow" and the "deep"

              Oh yeah. Sometimes I don't care, especially on the Internet. I go deep whenever I feel like it, and it pisses some people off. That's fine, life is not only about silly fun and games.
            • I think the rejection we often experience when going deeper with conversation is misinterpreted perceptions of intention. A reaction I often see when I steer a conversation deeper is participants feeling bad or wrong for being the way they are and thinking the way they do, and thus unconsciously striking out in order to neutralize the stimulus.

              I have placed myself more and more in an environment where going deep is the norm, and by having this daily practice in a "safe" environment, I am able to more readily bring out deeper truth in conversations elsewhere because I do am not dependant upon a certain type of response. In fact, negative response has begun to stimulate me to delve even deeper, seeking the source. I highly suggest this strategy for all of my beautiful INFJ family.

              Love and Light,
              Soul
              • Hmmm
                I find myself mainly interested in the interpersonal dynamics that are being presented in any given conversation/story. For example, I recently visited my brother who talked incessantly about his marketing business, and his business partner who is clearly certifiable. I kept trying to redirect the conversation back to their relationship, b/c as I saw it that was the heart of the issue (he is debating whether to stay in the business with this guy or move on).
                I think that he felt I wasn't listening to him.
                • Let my guess, your brother's an ENTJ?
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    ENTJ's are interesting people. My best friend (Chris, an INFP) is married to an ENTJ (Jessica), who totally dominates him (talk about a control freak!), but they both seem happy with that arrangement. Jessica and I get along great, but I think that if we were around one another all the time we'd probably strangle each other, probably since we're both J's, trying to impose our order on the world around us.
                • Sometimes people don't see the connections we're trying to make in conversation. Draw the lines out clearly as you're making them so that your brother knows why you are saying what you're saying. With this he will be able to see that in reality you're doing much more than just listening to him.
  • Unsu...
     
    what are characteristics of ESTP?
    • Unsu...
       
      keirsey.com/personality/spet.html

      I think of Don King as the typical ESTP. Energetic, center of attention, life of the party types who seem to pull you right into their world. I think what happens to a INFJ under stress is that they invert and suddenly all that reserve and intuition and insight usually kept under wraps explodes outward; sometimes very entertaining but sometimes too on target, inappropriate and biting with wit and it makes others uncomfortable.
      • I *heart* me some ENFPs
        • I *heart* me an ENTP :)
          • I can identify with many of the others who have posted here, especially all those who've mentioned being 'picky' [or 'discerning' if you like] in their choice of friends. However, I think the term 'gregarious introvert' is a good one, rather applicable; I can take a good dose of socialising, but it has to be at the right time, and I have to be a willing part of it. Participants matter a good deal as well. I also find it very difficult to hide my feelings, especially when I'm having a bad time or feeling upset at something that's been said to me, for example. This has sometimes been a problem in social situations.

            It's funny that INFJs supposedly have the most trouble with relationships. I've had several friendships come to an end because my so-called 'principles' couldn't take being friends with that person anymore--couldn't bring myself to really *like* the person after seeing them behave wrongly to others, or use me for some purpose without my consent. Then I'm accused of being 'uptight', when really it's just that I feel really wrong about the whole thing and can't continue. If that's being 'principled', then I can take it...maybe that's the introspective part of me talking.
            • Unsu...
               
              "Then I'm accused of being 'uptight', when really it's just that I feel really wrong about the whole thing and can't continue. "

              I know what you're talking about there...I like to call it "The Elephant in the Living Room Syndrome". Some people call you uptight when you can't pretend there isn't an elephant in the living room of the party like everyone else. I think INFJs are vulnerable to that kind of thing.
              • >> It's funny that INFJs supposedly have the most trouble with relationships.

                Huh. Well. I thought my INFJ side was the one that was good at relationships, and my INTJ side was the dysfunctional one.

                Hmmm.... food for thought!
              • I'm not sure if it's that we *can't* pretend that there isn't an elephant in the living room as much as it is that we *won't* pretend that there isn't an elephant in the living room. We tend to have very strong sets of values and principles and while we don't always necessarily expect others to live up to our standards, we refuse to lower our own. But yes, some people call us uptight for it.
              • Unsu...
                 
                >> It's funny that INFJs supposedly have the most trouble with relationships.

                I don't think I resemble that remark.

                I have a hard time tolerating unhealthy relationships in my friends/social group/family - and I work double hard to ensure that I do not have them.

                I have had a few problems with friendships becoming unhealthy for me. In which case it's usually remedied by withdrawing my involvement from that person or situation.

                I feel like the intuitive and counselling part of INFJ is really used well in relationship. I don't fall victim to a lot of relationship traps/blunders that dont' seem as glaringly apparent to other people I know. ( not like I'm perfect) heh
                • "I have a hard time tolerating unhealthy relationships in my friends/social group/family - and I work double hard to ensure that I do not have them."

                  I feel the same way, and could relate strongly to your comment about withdrawing from people/situations that become unhealthy. That was my experience; I have felt hurt, disappointed that I could not address what I wanted to (see that comment about "the elephant in the living room"), or that if I did I would be judged unfairly (see "uptight"). In the end, withdrawing felt more appropriate, because I felt that if a person willing and able to behave in certain ways without feeling that there was anything wrong with it, then I could not have a healthy relationship with that person. Still, this feels like "relationship trouble" to me! I think it depends on how you define "trouble".

                  I never saw myself as a person with strong values/principles, though when I look back over the past several years I can see that this could be something that has influenced my friendships, in good ways and in ways that made some friendships impossible to maintain. My good friendships, however, are *good*, they are close, and I tend them carefully: maybe the intuition helps with that. I'm told I'm a good communicator,that I really listen, and this has probably helped me to avoid more interpersonal disasters than I'm aware of.

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