No one likes to talk about the dark side of the INFJ personality type. INFJs are supposed to be gentle, thoughtful, and kind-hearted. Yes, we are those things, but when under stress, we may become perfectionistic and stubborn. Although we are usually reserved about our feelings, we are not immune to lashing out when we feel hurt. For our friends and loved ones, witnessing the dark side of the INFJ can be confusing.
Although not all INFJs will react the same way—it depends on the INFJ’s life experiences and maturity level–let’s take a look at some things INFJs typically struggle with.
You see that letter J at the end of our acronym? It’s responsible for our obsessive planning and future-oriented thinking. INFJs are capable of being spontaneous, but there will be times when we cannot wrap our minds around a change of plans. If we have our minds set on something, it could take several attempts to change it. It may seem like we are being inflexible, but honestly we just need time to be okay with the new plan. We’ll come around.
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2. High expectations
As much as we pretend we don’t have high expectations, they are still there. We not only hold ourselves to a brutally high standard, but we have high expectations for others as well (especially those closest to us, like our significant other, children, or best friend). If we are honest with ourselves, what we really want is the ideal romantic relationship. For example, we may feel discouraged when the intimacy and romance of a new relationship fades, so we wonder if we were right to get into the relationship in the first place. If an INFJ puts expectations on you, try to understand that it means they care about you and want you to care about them, too.
We know when to be on our best behavior, but we are prone to being swayed by how we feel in the moment. INFJs appear calm on the outside, but we are a bundle of emotions on the inside. It is usually apparent when something is bothering us, but that does not mean we will want to talk about it. INFJs can be guilty of pushing people away and throwing a pity party. We would like to have someone to confide in, but more often than not we feel that most people don’t understand us.
Sometimes INFJs can be just as confused about their moods as others are. Often INFJs need some time–alone–to sift through their emotions and understand why they are feeling the way they feel.
If an INFJ does open up to you, they will most likely apologize for talking about their feelings. We keep things to ourselves to spare you the burden. However, the best thing you can do for an INFJ is to let them talk about something if they need to. INFJs usually feel better just being able to express their feelings and concerns. Don’t judge, criticize, or offer solutions (unless the INFJ asks for your help or opinion). Just listen and try to understand their feelings. And maybe give them a hug.
4. Being too harsh
We love giving advice and we are able to see a situation from many sides. If you want to hear only what you want to hear, do not come to your INFJ friend. We give honest opinions and we try to do so gently to soften the blow. Our honesty comes from a well-intentioned place, but sometimes we come across as too blunt, judgmental, or harsh. We don’t mean to be cruel, though. Know that if your INFJ friend is telling you something you don’t want to hear, it’s because they are genuinely concerned about you and want only good things for you. INFJs may be brutally honest, but we are rarely malicious.
5. Bottling up negative emotions, then exploding
We are capable of adapting to the needs of others and love being a source of comfort. We will, however, lash out if we feel we are being wronged. It is usually after many minor hurts have piled up and our patience has been exhausted. We tend to bottle up negative emotions because we’d rather keep the peace than tell someone they’ve hurt us. However, like any other human, we can only take so much, so eventually the powder keg of frustration blows–and it’s usually nasty. INFJs can prevent this type of emotional explosion by addressing minor offenses as they happen, rather than letting the hurt simmer and grow.
Likewise, INFJs tend to express anger when sticking up for other people. INFJs are incredibly protective of the people close to them. If you want to see an INFJ’s claws come out, start by messing with someone they care about. Just don’t be surprised if you receive a verbal attack in the process. INFJs are highly perceptive and clever with their word selections. When we want to, we can throw words that cut deep. Chances are we will feel bad about it later, but our anger can get the best of us from time to time.
6. Cutting people out of our life
Have you heard of the notorious INFJ Door Slam? It’s when an INFJ cuts you out of their life because they are extremely hurt. They are not doing this because they hate you, rather it is because they have decided they can no longer deal with the pain you bring them. Remember that INFJs tend to be very sensitive.
If an INFJ slams the door on you, they may suddenly stop all communication with you. If this is not possible (because they see you every day at home, work, or school) they may simply close themselves off emotionally and refuse to allow you in. They may still talk to you when they have to, but they’ll seem cold and distant.
INFJs do not shut people out without intense contemplation. We are not exactly impulsive people. Other people can forget just how sensitive we are despite our “everything is fine” demeanor. Even the nicest people have their limits.
INFJs, if you feel yourself getting to the point of slamming the door on someone, ask yourself if you have expressed your hurt to the other person. Of course, as an INFJ, you’ll probably try to do this as diplomatically as possible, but remember to also be direct, so your message is clear (not everyone can read between the lines like INFJs can — some people need things bluntly spelled out). You may find that venting your feelings and talking through the offense is enough to repair the relationship and pull you back from the brink of door slamming.
INFJs, what do you struggle with? Let me know in the comments below or chat with me on the community forum.
Read this: An open letter to single INFJs
Intuitives see the world differently. They aren’t interested in the mundane or day-to-day. They ask, “What if?” They want to create, heal, inspire, or invent. They want to change the world. Only one in four people are intuitive. Are you one of them? Learn more about our partner Personality Hacker’s course just for intuitives.