Dear fellow INFJ,
If you’re anything like me, making friends is a tenuous process. Sure, I’ve met plenty of people whom I like and enjoy as acquaintances, but pursuing deeper friendships with most of them can be awkward at best.
“I really, really like you and could see us being very close friends for the rest of our lives.”
This sort of intensity is usually a bit off-putting for most and results in an uncomfortable amount of forced smiling and backing away. Yet, as an INFJ personality type, feeling this strongly about a person is not uncommon for me.
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In those rare instances when a real friendship develops, and I feel truly understood by the other person, it is nearly impossible to let go of them. Finding someone who is willing to indulge my interests (as obscure as they sometimes are) as freely as I am willing to indulge theirs is a gift. It is rare to feel so truly accepted.
As INFJs, we hold friendships very dear to our hearts. Perhaps it is because we feel so disconnected from the world that when a real connection develops, we do everything in our power to nurture it and hold onto it.
At times, we may even covet that connection, to an extent that becomes counterproductive to the relationship. We may even fail to recognize the needs of the other person in the relationship because we are so focused on retaining the connection. I know I have been guilty of this covetousness.
The Grief of Losing Friendships
In my lifetime, I’ve lost relationships with two very close friends.
Both of these losses were experienced with a deep sense of grief. I spent many hours ruminating on how I might have handled the situations differently, shedding tears of sadness and frustration, and trying to understand the perspective of the other person. Both times, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of loss.
The first friendship I lost was with a very close friend of mine from high school. We had been acquaintances our entire lives (a small town will allow for that) and had the opportunity to grow close my last year of high school. I moved away to college, and she had another year of high school to finish. For a while we stayed in touch through texting, but after some time, my messages would go unanswered and I grew resentful. I also felt vindicated in my resent, because a close common friend of ours–who had also moved away from home–was experiencing a similar lack of communication. There was a period of a few years during which we really did not speak. I grieved our friendship and exuded a friendly, yet protected, version of myself when I would see her over the holidays.
We have since maintained this distanced friendship. Many years have passed since our falling out, yet I find that I still consider her to be a part of my family. We recently got together for a happenstance weekend trip in California, and it was amazing how easy it was to be myself with her. We may not be as close as we once were, but she still knows me better than almost anyone.
The most recent friendship I lost was one I made during graduate school. This friend was one I was surprised I had made because she was such a force in the world. She was extremely extroverted and very popular among our classmates due to her warm-hearted demeanor. For someone with such a social circle, I was surprised to even be on her radar. To my surprise, she enjoyed deep conversations, and we spent hours together studying and sharing stories. I was able to open up to her in ways I never expected. We had our ups and downs, and a lot to learn from each other, but we were always able to come to an understanding.
Once again, a graduation forced our friendship apart, and we moved to different cities. I actually moved to her home city, and on a visit home, she did not reach out to me even though she had said she would. Our last conversation was an argument where I accused her of treating me as though I was not a priority and vented about how I felt our relationship had been very one-sided. I was harsh with my words, and at times unfair in my judgements. I was desperate and grasping to hold onto the relationship.
We have not spoken since our last argument, and I worry that our circumstances will not allow for a resolution. Without shared roots, it is sometimes difficult to find a reason to try and rebuild.
For now, I am grieving the friendship, wishing things could be how they once were. I realize I am idealizing our relationship in many ways, and most likely we will never be the same. However, I have hope that we can someday feel comfortable around each other and remember the sense of ease we once felt around each other.
Advice for INFJs
Here is what I have learned, as an INFJ, about the loss of a friendship:
1. Make sure your expectations are in check. INFJs tend to have high expectations of those with whom we are close. Sometimes too high. Make sure you are communicating with your friend about what you need in a relationship. Listen to your friend if they feel your expectations are too high.
2. Seek relationships with reciprocity. Relationships require reciprocity in order for both parties to be fulfilled. If a relationship becomes too one-sided, you may begin to resent one another. Of course, we all go through waves of needing more at certain times in our lives–and these waves are a normal part of life–but if your relationship is constantly out of balance, you may not be as good of friends as you think.
3. Appreciate your other friendships. While you may not have as deep of a relationship with some of your other friends, you likely have a group of people around you who love you. Those friends who were there for me during my friendship grieving process have endeared themselves to me in ways they will never know. The sense of trust their actions have engendered have allowed me to be more open with them and to be more willing to trust them with the deeper parts of my being.
4. Don’t waste time ruminating.
I often spend hours going over the different possibilities and scenarios for how things could have gone differently. This is not at all productive. While some reflection and thought is necessary and healthy, when it gets to the point that you are draining your energy reserves, ruminating can become a problem. If you can, write down your feelings or talk about the scenario with another close friend; this sharing process will likely allow you to better process your emotions and break the rumination cycle.
Your INFJ friend,
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