I found out that I am an INFJ personality type many years ago and have since developed a very close affinity to the label. Not that I like being boxed into a category, but more that it made me feel less self-conscious about the way I am and the way I view the world — especially having gone through life feeling a little odd and different from others. This made even more sense after finding out that the INFJ male is the rarest of the personality types, coming in at 0.5 to 1 percent of the population.
Originally I put down my differences to my hearing loss. I didn’t want to socialize in noisy or busy environments, because I have trouble following conversations. But I always thought there must be something else, because I don’t fit the traditional male role. I’m a teetotaler, not into team sports or football, and I enjoy the quiet home life. All seemed counter to what my male friends were like. As a result, school was a quiet, lonely affair, and I ended up focusing solely on my studies and work.
Many INFJ men have traits that are contrary to the male stereotype, and many have learned to hide those values under a bushel of shame, therefore being untrue to themselves. This in turn leads to feeling trapped, disingenuous, and often unhappy. However, once they learn to embrace those traits and ignore what society expects of them, they can start to shine.
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In my experience, INFJ males can be an enigma of sorts, living a life of contradictions. Here are just ten of the many contradictions of the INFJ man (although I do realize that many of them are not gender specific):
1. We’re not materialistic, yet we have a strong desire to surround ourselves with quality. This isn’t to prove we have the best stuff or to show off, but rather that we find value in being surrounded by beauty. We rarely desire things, but when we do, we’d rather have the best of it or go without.
2. We want to be noticed but not the center of attention. As introverts, we don’t like being the center of attention, and you will often find us gravitating toward the walls of any party or get-together — that’s if you can get us there in the first place! That said, we still crave an emotional connection and in-depth conversations with others, and in order to experience that, we need to meet new people. However, our quiet, reserved nature means we rarely approach others. So in order to prompt others to make the first contact, we need to be noticed.
3. We care about how we look, but we don’t like superficiality. This goes along with the aforementioned traits. We know we live in a predominantly materialistic, superficial, extroverted world, which is in direct opposition to our true nature. But in order to be noticed or get ahead in life, INFJs understand that we have to accept and embrace some societal ideals. However, once we get past thinking we need to fit in, we delve into the deeper and emotional side of things. This is another reason why you might see INFJs who are into health, fitness, and fashion but also philosophical and idealistic.
4. We may come across as moody and cold, but we are actually very sensitive and emotional. We are very much in our own heads and forever thinking about anything and everything. As a result, INFJ males can be distracted from the outside world and the people in it. This complex and constant internal dialogue we experience, along with the disassociation from the outside world, can result in the appearance of a moody and cold demeanor. But our depth of thought comes from a deep, sensitive, emotional place; unfortunately, only those who get close to an INFJ man see and experience this side of us. Society beats men down for being empathetic, emotional, and sensitive, so we may keep this part of ourselves hidden for fear of ridicule.
5. We’re all or nothing, rarely in between. This is a result of our traits of perfectionism and idealism. We’d rather do things well or not at all. And I rather think that this applies to most aspects of the INFJ male’s life. We love completely or not at all. We get the best products or we don’t bother. We train hard and eat healthily or you can find us on the sofa eating Ben & Jerry’s, chocolate, and pizza (okay, that last one is just me but I suspect many of us have similar idiosyncrasies). We rarely do consistent or middle of the road for long periods of time. Although we think we want things to be organized, planned, and steady, we also have a thirst for learning and discovering new things — and that requires constant change. This is another reason why we might confuse others, as we can go from one extreme to the other in a split second, seemingly without any reason.
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6. We’re understanding and empathetic, yet incredibly stubborn. The INFJ personality type is often referred to as “The Counselor” or ‘The Confidant” because of our empathic, intuitive nature. That said, our strong intuitive capabilities mean we trust our instincts above all else, and this may result in a stubbornness and a tendency to ignore other people’s opinions. We believe that we’re right, and we usually know it!
7. We rebel, but we also want to be accepted. We rebel against a society that promotes the very things our moral compass goes against (rules, extroversion, freedom, materialism, superficiality). Yet we strive to be accepted, understood, and welcomed by others. We have a tendency to be solitary, which often results in an unfulfilled need for deep, trusting relationships.
8. “They’re wonderful and frustrating at the same time.” This is what our friends, family, and partners say about us.
9. We’re feminine yet masculine. Especially once we’ve embraced our emotional nature, INFJ males can encompass both stereotypical feminine and masculine qualities, depending on the situation. This is why INFJs are sometimes referred to as social chameleons. I recall family Sunday dinners: I’d be the one who would help out with the cooking, washing up, etc., while the other men in my family would be busy watching football.
Another contradiction is that INFJ males often relate to women better than most men, but we have difficulty developing romantic relationships. This is due to our perfectionistic and idealistic nature, as well as the decision to never settle for a relationship that doesn’t meet our high standards. It’s also fed by our introverted nature and a fear of rejection.
10. We’re hopeless romantics with a dirty mind. As Michael Dibdin once wrote, “He certainly seemed to have the quality of a gentleman but the interesting kind who knows exactly when to stop behaving like one.”
A version of this article was originally published on Misterp.ink.
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