Relationship. A hot topic for INFJs.
How does an INFJ have a satisfying relationship?
What is the personality type that is the most compatible with us? Who should an INFJ marry?
Are INFJs destined to be alone? Should we even be in a relationship?
These are questions frequently asked by an INFJ and I don’t have the perfect answers to the above questions. Neither am I an expert in relationships nor do I have an amazing love life.
I have always been single. But I thought I would discuss INFJ relationships and my experience from the kinship, friendship, and other perspectives instead of just the love perspective.
Learn from your existing relationships.
Even though having a cup of coffee with someone is completely different from going to a holiday with your friend or spending the rest of your life with your partner, INFJs face similar problems in all these relationships. Your other relationships will give you clues to the potential problems you might face in your love life.
As most INFJs take dating and love relationship very seriously, it’s probably wiser to learn from our existing relationships before plunging into a love relationship. I’m not promoting singlehood. But getting into a relationship might be easy; getting out of one is difficult, especially for an INFJ.
Before we discuss the potential relationship problems and compatibility, let’s see what an INFJ seeks in a relationship.
What Do INFJs Want in a Relationship?
Not all INFJs are the same.
We have different age, gender, and backgrounds. The things an INFJ female values and seek in a relationship might be slightly or totally different from an INFJ male. We are also in different stages of our lives. An INFJ who is facing a major crisis such as depression will behave very differently from an INFJ with no such problems.
But in general, there are a few things that both the INFJ men and women would want in their relationships:
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.
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. But that doesn’t mean we want to hear you rattle off everything from your head.
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.
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.
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?
INFJ Compatibility with Other Personality Types
The Limitation of Compatibility
First of all, I would like to start off by saying that compatibility guides are limiting in itself. There is no perfect match for any personality type. Just because two personality types aren’t compatible doesn’t mean that they can’t get along well with each other.
Relationships take two hands to clap.
It’s about how you relate to the other person, and how the other person relates to you. You can read all about the other personality types or I could tell you how compatible you are with the other types. But if both parties don’t make the effort to learn about each other and accept their differences, then it doesn’t matter.
Usually, you would find that the INFJ being the one who is intrigued to learn more about others and how to get along with them. However, the success of any relationship depends on the other party too. We can only do our part.
Furthermore, in essence, MBTI only tells you what your preferred cognitive functions are. So don’t write off or date someone just because the way they process information complements or opposes you. There’s more to it.
Best Match for an INFJ
Having said the above, it’s definitely easier to get along with certain personality types than the others. Usually, INFJs find it easiest to connect with other idealists (i.e. the NF personality types).
In my case, most of my closest friends and siblings are:
Idealists, Rationals, Guardian and Artisan are the four temperaments created by David Keirsey. If you want to learn more about it, you can read his book, Please Understand Me II.
Building a relationship with ENFJ and ISFJ is easy because we share the same extraverted feeling (Fe) function. Similar to us, they are accommodating and enjoy harmony. Finding a place to eat or meet up might be challenging (since we are both accommodating), but I enjoy talking to them.
For my INTJ and INTP friends, they are the ones who I can hold an intellectual conversation with and discuss concepts. You don’t really hear much about how they feel. And even if they do, they would talk about their emotions in a rational, logical manner. But strangely enough, I sense their emotions clearly. Don’t debate with them though because you can never win!
INFP and ENFP are just hilarious and fun to be around with. My elder brother is an INFP and I used to follow him around when I was young. We get each other’s humor and we love to make fun of each other.
Lastly, I would like to mention that INFJs are great with each other too. However, we so rare, I have not met an INFJ in person until last December when I went to an INFJ meetup.
Challenging Relationships for an INFJ
INFJs would find it tough to connect with sensing types in general, except for the two that I mentioned above (ISFJ and ISFP). Sometimes, they don’t get you or get what you are trying to say and you might find it frustrating or feel misunderstood. The Artisan (SP types) might be impatient with you or find you boring, while The Guardian (SJ types) might impose their traditions and views on you.
To be fair, most types (even for the intuitive types) would find it difficult to understand an INFJ. But it’s even harder for sensing types to understand you. And unfortunately for INFJs, the majority of the people are sensing types. You might feel rather lonely being in a love relationship with them.
The exception is when they make the effort to understand you.
My younger brother is an ISFP and he used to piss me off a lot when we were young. But now that we have grown up, we have a mutual understanding of each other. Even though we don’t talk to each other very much, but when we do talk, we can have a deep conversation. Sometimes, the conversations are even deeper than those with my INFP brother because my elder brother usually wants to keep the conversation light.
INFJs might also find it challenging to get along with some extroverts. It depends on how much they understand our needs to be alone and how well we are able to compromise with each other. Being friends with extroverts is easy, but living with them might be difficult.
When I was living in Malaysia, I find it tough to cope when my extrovert housemates invite friends to our house every other day. I rather lock myself up in the room most of the time instead of entertaining the guests.
5 INFJ Relationship Problems to Overcome
To have a better relationship with others, we have to overcome the following obstacles.
1. We have a tendency to idealize our partner and our relationships.
Often, even before I ask someone out, I will already have a conversation with the other person in my head. Be it friends or love interest. We INFJs tend to retreat to our inner world of fantasy. Our imagination is better than the real thing, isn’t it?
One can’t blame an INFJs for fantasizing. The external world is more focused on facts, tangibles, extroversion, and being realistic. Naturally, INFJs would feel stressed and want to hide in our own fantasy where everything is wonderful.
But it’s unhealthy for an INFJs to keep idealizing our relationships. Not only are we escaping reality, we might paint an over-rosy picture of our partner and fall prey to narcissism.
INFJs see the potential in other people.
But what a person can be is not the same as what they are now.
To stop ourselves from getting into problematic relationships, we must use our extraverted sensing (Se) function more. It’s better to collect more information about our potential mate before getting into a relationship or concluding that he or she is the one. Our extraverted sensing (Se) function works in tandem with our introverted intuition (Ni) function. Without enough information, our introverted intuition (Ni) function will form a bad judgment.
We often see the best in people. This is a good trait but it also causes us to dismiss the flaws in other people easily. The ideal image you have for your partner is a projection of what you think they could be. Most of the times, we are loving what they can be (projection) instead of what they are now (reality). Don’t wait for the other person to change and meet your projection. They might never change.
2. We give too much too quickly in relationships.
Not only do INFJs see the potential in people, we want to help others reach their potential. The problem with this though is we usually burn ourselves out in the process.
Being a tutor for the last two years, I realize that I get a little too passionate and intense in helping others when I am in my extraverted feeling (Fe) mode. When I had a student with dyslexia, I would spend hours researching online and find out how I could help her. Then, when I tried to implement these new learning strategies with her and it didn’t work or she couldn’t be bothered, I got disappointed, exhausted and lost my motivation to teach her. In the end, I had to let her go.
Pace yourself. Go slow.
This cycle repeat itself when I had a student with ADHD and then a student with autism. Finally, I realized the problem lies with me, not with them. I didn’t pace myself when it comes to helping others. I went all in without realizing that some students don’t even want to grow and do well in their examinations. They have tuition lessons just for the sake of pleasing their parents.
Now, I pay more attention to what they need and meet their learning needs according to their pace. This is the same for romantic relationships, friendships, and marriage. INFJs often feel undervalued and uncared for in a relationship because it’s always one-sided. We give ourselves too much too fast, but the other party is not responding at the same level as us.
Learning to slow down and curb our enthusiasm will help us build better, long-term relationships.
3. We have a strong desire to merge with another person.
When INFJs are in love, we have a tendency to lose ourselves in the process. We are so in tune with our partner’s feelings and needs that we often forget our own or put their needs over our own.
It’s like dropping a pill into the water. We give and give and give until we dissolve ourselves into the other person. We take on our partner’s problems and integrate ourselves into their lives. On a high side, we appear to be selfless and self-sacrificing. But on a low side, our partner might feel that we are too clingy or attached to them.
Don’t lose the ME in the WE.
As our extraverted feeling (Fe) function is our second most preferred function and unlike INFPs, we don’t consciously identify with the introverted feeling (Fi) function, 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.
4. We avoid conflict when conflict is necessary.
INFJs dislike conflicts and we tend to avoid it. But sometimes, conflict is necessary, especially if you want the relationship to grow. For a relationship to be lasting, both parties need to be honest and open with how they feel about things.
Accommodating is good in keeping peace in the relationship. But if we accommodate when we don’t feel good about it, then we are not being true to ourselves and the other person. Also, when we don’t disagree, our partner or friends will assume that we are okay with it and do more of the same thing in the future.
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.
It’s much tougher to handle a situation when the other person is agitated and aggressive. They might want us to follow their views and we might be tempted to accommodate just to keep the peace. But constantly giving up our needs for the other person makes us resent ourselves and the other person. We end up being passive-aggressive which is unhealthy for the relationship.
Learn to say no even when the other person is upset with you. I know it’s difficult because we feel their emotions so deeply. But all emotions don’t last. It will go away. If we are able to sit through these uncomfortable emotions and accept them, it will be beneficial to our growth.
5. We have difficulties trusting people.
I used to have one student who told me that he had ADHD. At first, I didn’t believe him because if he had ADHD, my agent would have told me. But later, I started to believe him because he kept feeding me with lies. He told me about the pills he had to take and what color they are. He even showed me his class photos and describe how each of them has different learning disabilities.
What’s most infuriating is the parents didn’t even correct me when I messaged them about their son’s condition. For weeks, I thought the student had ADHD. It wasn’t until when I talked to his elder brother one day that I realized I was being fooled all this while.
Even though INFJs are good at detecting lies, we don’t necessarily trust our guts all the time because we are clouded by our optimism and belief that people are good in general. We readily give people the benefit of the doubt.
We are too trusting. That’s why we don’t trust people easily.
INFJs feel extremely hurt when other people abuse our trust and kindness. It’s events like mine that make INFJs lose faith in humanity. We might over-compensate and go to the other extreme of not trusting people anymore. We start to overthink and guess other people’s motivation behind their actions (using our introverted thinking function and shutting down our extraverted feeling function).
Especially in love relationship, we might be afraid to take risks and find it hard to let other people in because we don’t want to be hurt by the other person. However, this contradicts what the INFJs want in a relationship.
How do we have a deep connection with someone when we don’t trust them?
Featured Photo Credit: Love embrace / Samuel Hearn