All personality types have their own ways of cutting people out of their lives. For an INFJ, it’s called a “door slam”.
Unlike what the name suggests though, an INFJ door slam isn’t forceful, aggressive or loud at all.
In fact, INFJs often disappear silently from someone’s life. Seldom do we tell the other person we are leaving.
But once we leave, we leave for good.
You don’t get to see us again. We won’t open the door for you even if you apologize or make amendments. The door is shut forever. Even in rare cases that we do open the door, the relationship will never be the same again. Hence, people called this the “INFJ door slam”. It’s quiet yet firm.
To other personality types, the INFJ door slam might seem harsh. But this is how the INFJ personality type operates. From the INFJ’s point of view, the door slam is absolutely necessary for self-preservation. We only use it as a last resort after much contemplation. We actually don’t enjoy shutting people off.
What Is an INFJ Door Slam and Why We Do It?
Some people cut others out of their life because of anger or pride. Others do it because they are passive-aggressive. They are hurt and want an apology from the other party but they do not want to tell the other person directly. Or they want to take revenge so they act cold towards the other party.
An INFJ might do the above too, but that is not what an INFJ door slam is.
INFJs usually only cut someone from our lives if they are toxic or narcissistic when we have reached our limits with them. If you are a friend with an INFJ, you will know that INFJs are often accommodating and forgiving. It’s very difficult to cross our lines. If you are late, we are quick to brush it off. When you have a bad day, we don’t blame you for having a bad mood. We accept your flaws and don’t judge you for being different.
INFJs don’t slam the door in rage or in anger.
We only cut people off when they are causing us too much pain.
To make an INFJ activate a door slam, the other person must have repeatedly:
- abused the INFJ emotionally, verbally or even physically,
- stepped over the INFJ’s personal boundaries,
- complained about their lives and the world to the INFJ,
- created a lot of unnecessary drama or conflicts,
- manipulated, betrayed or broken the INFJ’s trust in them, or
- taken advantage of their kindness or their Extraverted Feeling (Fe).
If you only do it one time or even a few times, an INFJ will typically forgive you and let it go. But if you do it multiple times, that’s when we withdraw our Extraverted Feeling (Fe) and activates our Introverted Thinking (Ti). It’s part of our defense mechanism.
Withdraw Extraverted Feeling (Fe), Activate Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is the second function (aka the auxiliary function) and Introverted Thinking (Ti) is the third function (aka the tertiary function) for an INFJ. This means that the INFJ prefers to use their Extraverted Feeling more than their Introverted Thinking. The feeling function being extroverted also means that the INFJ cares about social harmony and the well-being of others.
(If you are unsure what the top four cognitive functions of an INFJ are and what they mean, please read this post.)
This is true until someone abuses our kindness and we burn out. We then withdraw our Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function completely from the other person and start using our Introverted Thinking (Ti) on them. We begin to analyze everything about our relationship with the other person:
- Does it make sense to stick around?
- Will this person ever change his or her behavior?
- Is this person worth having in our lives?
- Will this person keep hurting me?
- Will I be able to handle this person and stay at peace?
This is basically what the INFJ door slam is in terms of the cognitive functions — we shut our Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function on certain people. Our Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function still exist for the rest of the people. We still have hope for humanity as a whole. But for the person in question, it’s mostly hard, cold analysis. We don’t trust the person anymore and lose hope in him or her.
And finally, when we conclude that the person is not worth having around, it’s a done deal. The person is dead to us. The door has slammed. Nothing will change our minds.
INFJ Door Slam Recovery: Why the Door Doesn’t Reopen?
I’m a tutor for almost two years now and I’ve cut five students from my life so far. Mostly because I think they will be better off without tuition or with another tutor.
But when one of the students knew that I’m not coming back next week to teach him, he kept asking me to cool down and be less angry. He thought that I was angry with his misbehavior in that one particular lesson, so I didn’t want to teach him anymore. In reality, I had stated my boundaries repeatedly and had given him a lot of chances. I even explicitly told him that I would leave if he kept crossing my line, but he thought I won’t because I needed the money.
The day when I left, I wasn’t really angry with him. It’s more like apathy. I was just waiting for myself to lose all my hope (Ni) and compassion (Fe) for him so that I can move on with my life.
The offenders who tried to get the INFJ to reopen their door often failed because they thought that the INFJ was making an emotional decision. They thought that when our moods get better, we would forgive them again and change our minds. Little are they aware that:
The INFJ door slam is a logical, non-emotional decision.
Yes, it’s true that we feel hurt, pain and even angry when the other person breached our trust at first. Emotion is the trigger, but the decision process is logical. When we decide to use our Introverted Thinking (Ti), we don’t involve our emotions in the decision-making process anymore. Our Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is deemed to have failed us up to this point and we cast it aside.
I can’t stress enough how much INFJ values peace. People don’t understand that I felt so peaceful after cutting certain people out of my life. No more drama. No more conflicts. No more resentment. It’s not about feeling angry; it’s about not wanting to feel angry. When we door slam, a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have to think about the person any more or how I could help him or her. It’s such a huge relief!
Furthermore, the INFJ’s dominant cognitive function is Introvert Intuition (Ni). We think about the future a lot and we base our decisions to slam the door on long-term consequences. If we see that having you in our lives will cause our future to be unpeaceful, there is no reason to keep you around. Even if you are a blood, family member, friend, significant other or coworker, we are not going to sacrifice our future for you.
That’s why you can’t convince us to reopen the doors unless you show us that you have changed. A verbal commitment will not work because we trust our insights more than we trust your words. Therefore, most door slam recovery doesn’t work because the offender just wants to open the door hastily. They didn’t take the time to transform themselves.
How and When to Cut People Out of Our Lives
Even though it’s necessary for us to cut toxic people out of our lives, it’s a struggle for us. Not only does It taints our idealistic view on people, it usually took us weeks going back and forth between our two functions (Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Thinking) before we make the decision to door slam.
Plus, if our Introverted Thinking (Ti) wasn’t that developed, we might have a tough time coming to a conclusion or feel guilty about cutting people out of our lives and withdrawing our compassion from them.
So here’s a guide to make our door slam process easier.
1. Center the pendulum.
Even though the door slam protects us from feeling hurt, we can’t just keep slamming the door on everyone we meet. Before we slam the door on someone again, perhaps we can reflect on why we have to keep cutting people out of our lives.
INFJs have this tendency to go all out with helping people. Helping people is good, but if we do it too intensively, we will burn ourselves out. Upon reflection, I realized that whenever I had a new student, I spent too much time and effort outside of the lessons to come out with exercises and games to aid the student. I even researched a lot about the learning disorders that some of my students have. But I was disappointed when the students were unappreciative and didn’t want to do what I had prepared for them. I felt like I wasted my time and effort.
These days, I don’t do that much for my students, especially right at the beginning. I will only create a resource if it benefits more than one student.
Stop the pendulum from swing between two extremes.
Here’s a piece of wisdom from The Untethered Soul, “If you pull a pendulum out one way, it will swing back just that far the other way.” The thing for most INFJs is we went too extreme with our Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function. When people abuse our kindness, we swing into the opposite extreme which is our Introverted Thinking (Ti) and give them the door slam. Instead of having this “all-or-nothing” attitude, why not center the pendulum instead? Why not be in the middle?
Finding a balance is crucial. INFJs need to learn not to be too overly-compassionate right at the start. Even though INFJs carefully select the people we let in, but once we let others in, we give too much. Ease into it instead. It’s better to let our love drips slowly than to open the floodgate. Allow our Introverted Thinking (Ti) to analyze if we can help the person or not. In this way, there will be less of a need to slam the door on others.
2. Always voice our boundaries first.
Before cutting people off, we have to ask ourselves, “Have we communicated our boundaries clearly to the other person?” We cannot assume that other people know what we like or dislike. We also cannot assume that they know that we value peace and harmony. The other party might need repetition to understand our boundaries.
If the person is someone who doesn’t know how to respect other people’s boundaries, then it’s easy. Just slam the door on them. There’s no need for us to help them. It’s not because they don’t deserve our help. It’s because we can’t. They will only learn when they see it for themselves or get into serious trouble. It’s beyond our abilities.
Make the limit as concrete as possible.
Being an INFJ myself, I’m first to admit that not only am I not clear of what my boundaries are, I’m also not sure what my limits are. I often surprised myself with how forgiving I could be. Usually, I wait for others to push me to a point of beyond repair before I give them the door slam.
However, now I’m thinking instead of taking a passive role in this, perhaps I need to be more active and make my limits more concrete. Maybe if I’ve blacklisted a student three times, I’ll just end the engagement right there. It’s better than spending weeks of agonizing whether I should cut them off or not. It creates excessive conflicts between the Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Thinking functions.
So come out with a number limit, time limit or criteria to cut the people off before they mess up our inner peace or break our tender hearts.
3. Don’t expect the person to change.
I used to think that if I cut someone out of my life, they will eventually learn their lessons and change. And one day, we can continue our relationships again. I was wrong. Most people resist change. They don’t want to change. Their physical appearances might have changed after thirty years, but internally they are still the same.
Of course, not everyone is like this. But don’t expect others to change just because we cut them off. Having these expectations will only keep us attached to the other person and get our hopes high. We will continue to check if the person has transformed or not. This is not a door slam by the way. We are still very emotionally involved with the other person and trying to save him or her.
If we want to do a door slam, we have to do a clean cut.
Delete their phone number, disconnect their social media profiles from ours and get rid of all possible contact with them. Stop thinking about them anymore. If this is impossible for us, then we have to reflect on to change ourselves instead. Perhaps distancing ourselves from them or be less helpful will be sufficient; a door slam is unnecessary. Or maybe we need to accept their behaviors as they are and learn not to let them affect us.
The bottom line is someone has to change. If it’s not them, then it’s us. And most of the times, it’s much easier to change ourselves than others.
4. Don’t feel bad about it.
In my family, I was jokingly known to be the most heartless. Even though I’m generally warmth and helpful, my family members know that if I perceive something have negative consequences in the long term, I’m not going to budge. No matter how much others plead me, I’ll not be affected. I’m not afraid to cut people out of my life.
However, occasionally I would feel bad about it. I might think, “What if they feel hurt or shocked that I left so suddenly? What if they can’t handle it? What if this affects the rest of their lives?” It’s not as though I would change my decision, but I would still think of the impact the door slam has on the other party.
We are allowed to cut people out of our lives.
It’s important to give ourselves the permission to cut people out of our lives. Yes, our door slams might have some impact on the other person. But everyone is ultimately responsible for their own lives. We can’t stop the other party from getting upset with us or taking it negatively. We can only stop ourselves from feeling miserable by removing them from our lives. This is being responsible for our own lives.
If we have already communicated properly to the other person our boundaries and they don’t respect them, then that’s nothing else we can do. We don’t owe them an explanation after we slammed our doors. Even if we explain, it would just be a rehash of how they cross our boundaries and empty promises. It doesn’t help the situation at all.
We have to learn not to feel bad about giving someone a door slam. The door slam isn’t one of INFJ dark sides. We have to direct empathy to ourselves too. Don’t you agree?
Featured Photo Credit: Door / Dorte