INFJ in Relationships
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What is an INFJ?
INFJ stands for:
INFJs are known for their contradictory personality, their values and actions often difficult to understand by other types – and their desire to understand and enhance the human experience. They don’t look for the surface-level – they want depth and understanding in everything they do. This all-or-nothing type is happiest when having a deep, abstract conversation, or diving into the arts. They tend to enjoy psychology and genuinely want to help people and the world, but being the rarest type (less than 3% of the population) and so slow to open up, they can often be faced with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
As introverts, they enjoy time alone and prefer a smaller circle of friends. Their intuitive trait means they focus on gut feelings and patterns. They are feelers who value and understand emotions, and judgers who enjoy structure and organisation.
INFJ Common Traits
- Craves deep connections and strong relationships
- Colorful inner world (sometimes seen as living in a fantasy)
- Often feels lonely, misunderstood, and/or lacks self-worth
- Dislikes small talk
- Needs a higher purpose
- Tends to be honest and wise
- Ambitious when they aren’t distracted (needs to come back to reality from their abstract ideas)
Along with their four-letter description, each MBTI type has a ‘function stack’, which goes into more detail about how their personality specifically works. The INFJ function stack includes Ni-Fe-Ti-Se.
Introverted Intuition (Ni), the INFJ’s dominant function, concerns not what is, but what could be. INFJs are good problem-solvers and often can see issues coming before they arise. They consider everything deeply before diving into a situation, preferring to get something right on the first try instead of using trial-and-error. Ni is almost like a sixth sense to the INFJ – they tend to see the bigger picture while also reading between the lines, wanting to understand the meaning behind everything, and always looking for deeper symbolism. If something doesn’t feel important to an INFJ, meeting their values and goals or helping the world, they’ll find it difficult to be interested. Ni causes the INFJ to prefer imagining possibilities more than actually seeing those possibilities come to life. They can be disappointed in themselves when they can’t make their dreams a reality as easily as they hoped. Ni is also how the INFJ stores information, all the data collated in a more abstract way they can pull on for solutions and answers (often subconsciously).
Extroverted Feeling (Fe), the INFJ’s auxiliary function, is used most when dealing with other people – being focused outward, it’s the function others typically see. INFJs are empathetic and warm, and genuinely love people. They study them and want to know how they feel and think. What makes them work, and how can the INFJ help them? Fe can make INFJs appear like extroverts, but don’t be fooled – socialization exhausts them, and they need alone time to think, reflect, and recharge. Always being attuned to others’ emotions and taking so much care to make others comfortable and happy can be exhausting. Fe, mixed with the bigger-picture-thinking Ni, is empathetic and longs to do good in the world, but is less likely to donate to charities or help people than they are to want to simply get to the root of the problem and fix it. On the negative side, Fe can cause INFJs to be caught up in concerns about being judged or disliked, and they can struggle to express their own needs and feelings.
Introverted Thinking (Ti), the INFJ’s tertiary function, is the INFJ’s more grounded, logical side. When Ni and Fe go too far into the abstract and emotional, Ti brings them back to reality. It’s not the preferred function to use for the INFJ, but it kicks in when necessary, for example if the INFJ is giving too much energy to something that they believe is the right thing to do, but really isn’t serving them. It reminds INFJs to stop people-pleasing and helps them to avoid conflict. It can mean the INFJ is often confused, because they get stuck between their head and their heart, emotions and logic, which is another reason they’re known to have a contradictory personality. INFJs should be cautious of the Ni-Ti loop, which occurs when the INFJ retreats from the outside world (often due to stress or sadness) and dives into their introverted functions as a coping mechanism, skipping over Fe. In this state they can be aloof and depressed, but can return to healthy functioning by engaging in Fe activities like spending time with friends/family.
Extroverted Sensing (Se), the INFJ’s inferior function, is their use of the five senses. They live in their inner worlds and often have their heads in the clouds, so their Se tends to be underdeveloped. Working on strengthening this final function can be very healthy, bringing the INFJ back to reality. The negative side to Se is the potential of ‘grip stress’, which can occur when the INFJ is under extreme stress or after a traumatic event. The INFJ skips their other functions and indulges only Se as a coping mechanism, becoming less empathetic, logical and intuitive. Learning to express Se healthily can help the INFJ avoid such a situation. Because Se is weaker, INFJs can be overwhelmed by too much external stimulus and need rest, but a balance of Se relieves stress and helps the INFJ see the beauty in the physical world.
So, now you know what an INFJ is, how does this relate to their relationships?
INFJ Relationships: Communication Style
One of the INFJ’s most conflicting personality traits is their blend of introversion and extroversion. They need a lot of time alone and often despair at the negative aspects of humanity, but also crave strong connection, enjoy conversation, and are in awe of the good side of people. They study people deeply and try to learn what they’re thinking and feeling – they can spend hours thinking about an offhand comment, wondering what someone really meant.
In conversation, INFJs are always working to ensure others are comfortable. They can be great listeners, empathetic and attentive. INFJs often feel as if they could be friends with anyone – though they don’t choose to be. Despite having an extensive network, their inner circle tends to stay small. Most people like them, and they like most people. They’re well-known for using their Ni and Fe to provide advice and wisdom. Still, this doesn’t change their need for alone time. They can sometimes be quiet in conversation, or reserved with their own feelings, because they need to process things alone before they can talk about them.
Successful conversation with an INFJ gives them time to ponder subjects without pressuring them to give answers/talk, and is of a more abstract nature or an emotional one, speaking on deep topics. INFJs struggle with small talk, logical discussions, business talk, and people who are loud and pushy. Being perfectionistic, they don’t like to share their thoughts and opinions until they believe they’re fully-formed.
They greatly prefer an in-depth one-on-one conversation to a surface-level group discussion. They dislike stubborn people or those who are bad at listening, and will often avoid them. Introversion can cause INFJs to struggle to form relationships, especially since the INFJ wants their relationships (friend or romantic) to have great depth. INFJs can be all or nothing – totally loyal and devoted, or not seeing you as friends at all. They value this deep connection and authenticity, but their introversion makes them need time alone, and they take a long time to open up, so it can take a lot to form a relationship with one.
With a predisposition to writing, INFJs are good with words, and love using language in innovative and creative ways – whether it’s creative writing, humor or conversation. They’ll often use metaphors, symbols and storytelling in conversation. One of the best ways for INFJs to communicate is to put their intuition and deep thought into a creative outlet such as writing or art. They’re better with this than verbal communication, finding art to be a better way to articulate their inner world.
Be cautious with giving an INFJ criticism. They’re motivated by encouragement, and conversely, even the most well-meant criticism can hurt them (though they’ll likely try to hide it). Trying to be as positive as possible, and not just focusing on the negatives, is a good way to avoid upsetting them. They can also struggle with being presented with too much factual information – make sure they’re given time to process and think, and when trying to explain something, give a more emotional/abstract analogy.
Beware the INFJ ‘door slam’. This type is empathetic and warm, and will do all they can to make a relationship they care about work. They’ll often ignore their own needs to make someone else happy. Even if someone treats them poorly, they’ll tirelessly hope they change, attempting eventually to set boundaries. INFJs can spend years analysing someone and being hurt by them before they give up on them. But when the INFJ is certain someone is incapable of change, and they don’t want them in their life anymore, the door is slammed at once. The INFJ can almost entirely cut themselves off from the person, effectively forgetting them.
With an expectation that others share their intuition and empathy INFJs can become frustrated when people can’t ‘read their minds’. While the INFJ is very attuned to unsaid emotions by paying attention to things like tone of voice and body language, they forget others aren’t. They may think they’re communicating something clearly, when really they are not. INFJs can improve communication by learning to share their feelings better, setting clear boundaries with others, and letting them know when they’re upset. INFJs must learn to stand up for themselves, accepting that conflict might be sometimes necessary for their own sake.
INFJ Dating and Compatibility
INFJs don’t tend to enjoy dating – they’re looking for their soulmate, and a lifelong commitment. They struggle with the small-talk stage and want to know a person deeply and be able to have deep conversations with them – while simultaneously being guarded and needing time to trust people. They’re also very independent while wanting strong commitment. This means it’s difficult for them to get anywhere with relationships, because no one meets their expectations. They have a keen eye for red flags and will mentally refuse a person upon their first impression. Getting to know a potential partner first, for example by being friends before any consideration of dating, helps the INFJ gain the strong connection and trust they’re looking for.
‘True love’ doesn’t have to mean love at first sight – relationships need to be built. In fact, an INFJ often feels as if they’re searching for things that don’t exist (an ideal place, person, object, etc) and therefore searching instead for potential can be helpful. A partner who is willing to grow is often better than a partner who appears to be ‘perfect’. INFJs like to help their partner meet their goals, committed to growing together. Having a good foundation with each other in openness, shared values and commitment is the best scenario.
Communication is important and they want a partner who will have long discussions together about each others’ ideas and insights. INFJs will find themselves unfulfilled and drained with a non-talkative partner, or one with poor listening skills. They want someone who is on their intellectual, emotional and empathetic level, who is genuine and honest, caring and patient. They are looking for someone they can be their authentic self with, and want someone to be authentic with them in return.
INFJs will tend to put their partner first, so it’s important they don’t let someone take advantage of them. Their commitment and romantic tendencies can cause them to put their partner on a pedestal, ignoring their flaws. They would rather attempt to change the person than admit there’s something wrong. They need a relationship with equality and compatibility, where both partners are putting in the effort.
Because of their tendency to bottle up emotions rather than communicate them – due to an aversion to conflict – it’s important for their partner to be open and trustworthy, making the INFJ feel comfortable enough to share when they feel something is wrong. With a partner who has strong communication skills and empathy, they can talk through issues and improve their relationship, rather than let problems get worse.
INFJ Top Romantic Matches
All Myers-Briggs types can establish a good romantic relationship with maturity and good communication, but some types are more likely to be drawn to each other based on compatible traits.
Because of their empathetic nature and need for deep conversation and understanding, the INFJ will find it most difficult to form a strong relationship with types like the individualistic and non-talkative ISTP. They may also struggle with ESTJs or ESTPs, who could be considered their opposite; they can drain each other easily.
INFJs are known to match best with EN types, most commonly the ENTP. They also rely on intuition as their dominant function, but theirs being extraverted helps to balance the INFJ nicely. They’ll find they relate to each other in many ways and can meet each others’ needs, while also having enough differences to challenge each other in healthy ways.
Some other good matches:
- ENFP – supportive and enthusiastic, with similar traits and values to INFJ
- INFP – a creative and empathetic type with enough similarities to INFJs for great compatibility
- INFJ – the level of understanding with another of this rare type can be very fulfilling, but caution should always be taken when dating someone with too many similarities
INFJ Relationships: Parents & Children
INFJ parents are extremely caring and empathetic to their children, being great listeners as well as being protective, supportive and making sure they spend plenty of quality time together. They use their Ni and Fe with their children the way they do with everyone – being finely attuned to their needs and emotions, all the time. They care deeply for their children and want the best for them, hating to see them hurt. Their empathy towards their children’s emotions can be very overwhelming; they feel all of their pain.
While they can place high expectations on their children – as they do with all people, as it’s a reflection of the expectations they place on themselves – their most important objective is ensuring their child is happy. They encourage their children to be their authentic selves and chase their dreams, even if the INFJ parent doesn’t entirely agree with them.
It’s important for them to remember when to step back and not be overly pushy, or too involved or protective. Parenting is a big job and INFJs will put their children first always, meaning they can become exhausted easily when not giving themselves any alone-time or rest to recharge. When they do allow themselves rest, they can feel guilty.
The INFJ child can feel like an outsider, their rare personality type causing them to struggle to understand why they aren’t like everyone else. They tend to be wise beyond their years, excitedly sharing their insights with their parents, while also spending a lot of time observing the world quietly, being shy and sensitive to those they don’t know well. They engage in arts and love stories that can take them out of their world, like fantasy books and movies. A parent to an INFJ child should allow them to stay authentic and encourage their creativitiy, listening to them while also knowing when to gently bring them back to reality.
See our list of books for the INFJ Personality Type that can help you with relationships and other life aspects.
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