For an INFP personality type, nothing is more thrilling than the prospect of falling in love. However, INFPs often find themselves in the unfortunate situation of a love that is unreciprocated. This situation can occur not just once but a number of times. INFPs may find themselves in the ugly paradox of wanting more than ever to experience the ultimate romance but feeling unable to make the necessary move for their dream to become reality. Or when they finally summon the courage to unveil their true feelings, they experience rejection.
For the INFPs of the world who have suffered from this curse, I dedicate this article to you, offering some tricks of the trade on how to deal, and providing a cheeky spell to make it all seem worthwhile. If you’re not an INFP, fear not! This may also apply to any true romantic whose heart has been savagely broken.
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Usually the tale begins like this: you’re somewhere doing something required of you, and a special someone magically catches your attention. This is a big deal because it does not occur every day. You may eagerly return to this fated place again and again on the promise of finding yourself in contact with this person. When the two of you do talk again, you experience butterflies from their subtle glances. Then you spend hours secretly analyzing your conversation, and you replay your favorite interactions—each time gaining a new delicate piece of information in the hope of unlocking their true intentions.
So you do what any person does when they’ve got a crush. Except for you, the INFP, this can easily verge on a sweet, innocent obsession. This obsession is dangerous territory. When we INFPs have crushes, we unconsciously assign so much meaning to this person, because of our dominant function, Introverted Feeling (Fi). We become too involved in all the possibilities, due to our Extroverted Intuition (Ne). We let our imaginations fill in the blanks. We can fall in love with someone we barely even know.
And how do we decide to deal with our undying l’amour for this person? Maybe we spill all the contents of our heart to them, only to receive a shaky, “No thank you.” Maybe we pine silently from afar, deciding to let destiny do all the work, only to find that your love was just not meant to be. The tale then concludes with the vicious struggle to actually get over this person. Instead of a peaceful melancholy ending, we are left at war with ourselves and what’s left of our self-confidence. We may obsess until we find a new object of infatuation.
We have the power to alleviate this cycle if we can figure out what really happened here. The “I” in INFP might as well stand for introspective, as this is the inevitable aftermath of an unrequited love. It’s so tempting to wallow on why you have been struck with such misfortune. Which is why this is where it can go horribly wrong, because this is when we can get stuck. Yes, we idealized, and yes, only afterwards did we realize this fact. Yes, maybe some self-repair is in order, but how much? While introspecting, it’s easy to become enraptured in the confusion of our idealism—how much of this was real and how much of this was made up? We relentlessly question everything about ourselves, and these questions can often be negative and purposeless. Am I destined to be alone forever? Am I too shy? Was I boring? Am I too awkward?
Without any clear reason for an actual or perceived rejection, our self-esteem plummets to the deepest lengths. Usually we try to justify the situation as a way to get over the person once and for all, which never works. Our support group of select friends and family plays a huge role in this stage, with clichéd sayings of comfort involving “more fish in the sea” and the like. These unlucky few will hear you retell and reanalyze the ordeal over and over until they can’t take it anymore. Inevitably, our negative questions reach a new low. Oh man…what is wrong with me? Why am I so obsessed with this? Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again?!
How to Prevent This From Happening Again
1. Understand the difference between a crush, limerence, and love. To put it simply: a crush is a short infatuation, while limerence is a longer, stronger state of infatuation that’s usually characterized by obsession. Love can have many interpretations, but reciprocated feelings of appreciation are an established requirement. It’s necessary to recognize the difference between these states because we often become so caught up in the excitement of romance that we quickly rush to hibernate into every fantasy our mind can create. Understandable, since it can be tough for us introverts to find someone worthy of our appreciation. But awareness is important, and a start.
2. Try to control your ability to obsess: this is a hard one, folks. Now that you’re aware that you might be crush-ing or limerence-ing someone, you can call upon the strength of self-discipline to not get super crazy obsessed. There’s no easy way to do this. Distractions help, so engage in hobbies, school, your job—anything that prevents you from daydreaming about this person all day. The easiest way to accomplish this is distance. Stay away from this person if you can, at least for a little while, preferably before you start planning your imaginary proposal.
3. Be brave. And flirt. Flirting might not be an obvious strength of ours, but we can be uniquely charming. Not communicating that you are interested is a sure fire way to end up crushed. Try to muster up the courage to do your version of flirting. Maybe smile and hold eye contact for more than a millisecond. Even better, ask them on a date. Life is short, and this will prevent you from wasting mental effort pining away for them. If you’ve flirted in the past only to end up with unrequited love, applaud yourself and never give up.
4. Believe you are worthy of being loved. Yes, it is sappy and a challenge, but self-love is critical for reciprocal love and happiness. Self-loathing is where we often end up after the dream doesn’t come true. It’s one of our biggest struggles. Everyone has flaws and imperfections, so choose not to lose faith in yourself. For every fault, find something you truly appreciate about yourself. Seek a journal, a trusted friend, or a therapist to help you with this if you find yourself continuously struggling with self-esteem.
What to Do If It Happens Again
1. Take time to heal. Sometimes we can be so disappointed that it’s almost like your whole world was obliterated. Sometimes people we confide in can make our situation out to be nothing, because to them, it resulted in nothing. Make sure that you unload to the right people, and make sure you make time for yourself to cope. Nature walks and meditation can be extremely helpful when navigating sad emotions. Sweet treats do their part too.
2. Hope is still your best friend. It’s safe to say that endless optimism is a trait of the INFP. But sometimes our hidden cynicism can win. Don’t lose faith in love. No matter how many times unrequited love may occur in your life, you will eventually find someone you love who loves you back. Be patient, and accomplish amazing things in the mean time.
3. Logic is your even better best friend. This is a prime time to learn from your situation. Though it’s not second nature, we can develop the skill of rational thinking, even when our feelings have flooded our brain. Maybe you’ll learn to not read into potential signs as much. Or how to not overanalyze. Logic can help deter you from wallowing and obsessing even more, and may also help you in getting over the person. It can be pivotal for self-improvement without blaming yourself too severely.
4. Seek to understand your relationship with vulnerability. Shame goes hand in hand when experiencing unrequited love. We can feel foolish for falling for someone who doesn’t feel the same way. Fear of rejection and of being vulnerable can often be held responsible for our struggles in communication at times. The more we aim for self-growth in this area, the more we can develop skills to properly express how we feel in order to get into a relationship and to maintain a relationship.
Lastly, I leave you with the cheeky spell I mentioned earlier:
Though we might be prone to unrequited love, take heart in knowing that you have the ability to fall so deeply in this delicious feeling. That you delight in it. It can have some unfortunate circumstances, it might not provoke the healthiest of behaviors at times, and it can lead to utter heartbreak. But there is a privilege in feeling all those addicting emotions of love. This tendency often fuels our desires and passions in life when we love other things that aren’t love itself. And even when we fall into the trap of unrequited love, it inevitably teaches us so much about ourselves—things we need to learn for success in later triumphs of romance.
“Reciprocal love, such as I envisage it, is a system of mirrors which reflects for me, under the thousand angles that the unknown can take for me, the faithful image of the one I love, always more surprising in her divining of my own desire and more gilded with life.” —André Breton, Mad Love
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