An Open Letter to INFJs Who Have Lost Close Friendships

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.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.)

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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    • aeroldy99 says:

      I appreciate your story here, my life has been one with similar issues re: friends. But then, I am an INFJ/INFP, HSP, Intuitive and Empath. All of that makes for a unique perspective and I’ve been told I ‘have higher standards than most’, know how things SHOULD be done and have greater expectations due to all of that. So I now give my few friends a very long leash but when it is clear I’m last on their list, I let go. This includes family too, they are all young souls and after a lifetime of being ignored due to insecurities or jealousy, I’ve accepted them for who they are and am moving on. Not an easy task but really necessary for survival. As one counselor told me, be yourself and if people don’t like who you are for whatever reason, find your own tribe and live your life in an authentic way. People pleasing gets us nowhere, it can be very defeating. You deserve better.

      • Maleri Sevier says:

        I agree that it can be very hard not to idealize how things SHOULD be. In some way, I view it as recognizing the full potential of those around us — because we know they have it in themselves to live up to that potential. Where I struggle is in forgiving people for not always living up to that expectation 100% of the time; expecting 100% perfection is just unrealistic and I need to learn to be more accepting of that. I also agree that there are times when we need to walk away and live our lives in an authentic way — that is great advice!

    • Grace says:

      So relatable! I would say that my biggest struggle in friendships as an INFJ is that I feel like I’m always the one chasing. I the one who texts or writes first, initiates getting together, rearranges my schedule to accommodate, etc. And just as you said, it definitely breeds resentment because I feel like I’m not a priority to them and they only hang out with me because I’m practically forcing them to. I know it’s an exaggeration, but it feels like if it were left up to them, I’d probably never see them again. I do have one friend who regularly asks to make plans with me, and I appreciate and value her so much because of that.

      • Maleri Sevier says:

        It can be so frustrating when the relationship feels one-sided! I’m working to recognize that a lot of times this lack of reaching out is nothing personal; people just tend to be wrapped up in their own things — which is completely understandable! And props to those friends with whom we’re on the same page — it really allows for a sense of comfort.

    • Sher says:

      Oh it seems that so many people now just want someone to listen to them, but when you need a listening ear, they are ‘busy.’ I have dropped a couple of friends because it was one sided, or because they lied about me, which is something that is not acceptable. If you cannot trust the person, then how can you have a relationship?
      I even find it hard to make new friends because there will be a Meetup group – and the next thing you know the group has already dissolved! Are people really that busy? Would they rather gorge on TV shows than make a new friend?

    • Ania says:

      And yet again I thought that there was something wrong with me! Thank you Maleri! (Now I have 2 choices, to think that there are more of us with such experience and it’s been finally “legitimized” or that there’s something wrong with both of us 😉

      • Samantha says:

        Woah seriously. It finally makes sense. I too, have lost two good friendships and one of them was because someone I trusted told me they support Donald Trump. Needless to say I will never trust them with anything personal again.

    • Esther sassoon says:

      Woah Maleri, thanks so much for that amazing article! This has been so true for me all my life!

      I am an INFJ/HSP and when it comes to friendships I feel like I am the one always putting myself out and giving to the other person. For a while, I thought that this is just how friendships go because I never experienced anything different. I had one close friend in high school but she kind of dumped me after we graduated and I have never gotten over it….its been years. I finally made another friend and we became really close – she is the closest I ever got with another person. Throughout the relationship I was always there for her and I gave her literally everything: my time, emotional energy, …my life! Recently, we have kind of grown distant and I am resentful of that though I do not know how to tell her. I love her to peices and always will, but I think, as you said, my expectations are way too high.

      I think another big issue for INFJ’s is loneliness. Now especially for me, and even before when I was closer with my friends, a small part of me always felt lost and lonely no matter what. Now, sometimes it is overwhelming. It breeds sadness and isolation, which keeps the vicious cycle of no friends, sadness and isolation going and going and going….

      Thanks for your great article and practical advice!

    • M says:

      I’m an INFJ and I’ve felt my entire life that there was some kind of problem with me because I’ve had trouble making friends. Not making hangout friends and acquaintances, those come easily, but real friends. Almost all of the real friends I’ve had have betrayed me and it may have been me being overbearing and insisting that friends are supposed to respect each other and their wishes but you know. I feel like as INFJs we sign ourselves up for a lot of emotional gymnastics and we expect to be treated right by other people because we treat other people right and then become upset when that is not the case. They got to experience the INFJ Doorslam firsthand, haha.
      I’ve found its a lot easier connecting with my friends and becoming closer with them online; not just because two of my real friends are long-distance (I knew them before they moved away) but because the platform can allow for a deeper conversation.

      Anyway, it’s just good to know that it isn’t just me dealing with this stuff.

      • Island says:

        INFJ Doorslam… I tend to do that. And burn the bridge. Because at this point the door and the bridge leads nowhere. The friendship they led to doesn’t exist anymore.
        And it is strange that after slamming the door on friends we are considered to be ‘THE MEAN ONE’, because we slammed the door, and nobody asks why. And if the story (your friendship break-up) gets viral in your circles, everybody will blame you for being ‘too hard’ on the other party and you get even more isolated – if losing your bestie was not more than enough to being with.

    • M says:

      I’d also like to add to my previous comment that my best friend is supposedly an INFJ and we get each other and are like sisters even though we have very different opinions on some things. We can also go without seeing each other/talking for months at a time and when we meet up it’s like nothing changed. I guess I’m suggesting that every INFJ should make friends with an INFJ.

      • Hunter Holy says:

        I agree,INFJs need each other. I recently spent time with my INFJ friend (after a year of not seeing her) and we did plein air painting together and then played songs on our guitars and sang and 8 hours went by and I felt refreshed and re-energized. We speak the same language, and as we were painting we talked about our relationships, our feelings, our insights, and gave each other advice and feedback. It was seamless, except each one of us thought the other was getting bored, or tired out, so we had to reassure each other this wasn’t the case. And in classic INFJ fashion we agreed to meet up again, time unspecified, probably next year, haha.

    • Kaustubh Bhor says:

      I think it’s a common situation we INFJs face that people don’t reply to our messages… Like even if it’s not a question, a reply feels like an acknowledgement, at least. But they just ignore it, and I don’t know what to make of it.

    • Val says:

      It’s not just existing friendships that can hurt, it’s the ones that got away too. This week I finally had to give up trying to befriend someone online who is amazingly talented and who I could have helped professionally. I was always encouraging without being pushy and made it clear my experience and contacts were at his disposal. Although he was friendly to me he ignored every single word and I couldn’t help but lose patience with him, especially as he prioritises friendships which I can blatantly tell are toxic and one sided. Then the final straw came this week when he Tweeted an opinion which I found morally repugnant. Now I have to walk off and leave his incredible talent to waste away because he won’t put the hard work in and he won’t take advice. Another time, another place, I know we could have made a great team. It’s heartbreaking that I’m not charismatic enough to have made him realise what a potential great friend he’s just lost and it’s not like I have his ear to tell him all this. Grief is the right word for it.

    • Delene says:

      Thank you for your article. I am an INFJ and about a month ago I lost both of my closest friends (ISFP, ENTP) at pretty much the same time. Although on the surface we are still friends, a certain deep, delicate connection has been severed. The strange thing is that it feels as though I have lost my deep connection to everything else too. I no longer feel a part of anything or close to anyone. It’s as though my whole inner world has shifted and morphed and I no longer recognised it. It is now populated by strangers. Even my dreams are about people I have never met.

      I don’t ruminate much, it is what it is, but I miss them both so much. I’m hoping that time will heal this, but I don’t foresee it and that is distressing. I don’t envision anything to tell you the truth, for the first time that I can remember. I don’t know how to move forward, other than to just sit and see what happens next.
      Thank you for your article.

    • Nicole says:

      I feel the same way Grace. When someone is important to me, I want to spend time with them. But if I am the only one initiating plans, I feel like I must not be important to them, and like I’m begging them to be friends with me.

    • Jeff says:

      Must be an INFJ thing. It’s been this way all my life, and now, in my mid forties, I’ve wondered, if I didn’t call anyone for awhile, would anyone check in on me? It happened at the start of the year when I found out that someone I felt and still feel strongly for and hoped to have a future with had moved on. I went inward for about 2 months not really having the capacity to do much more than work and grieve. The emotions came in waves, at first it was a flood, then as time went on they got further apart, but I still miss her. Past experience has taught me that only time will help, and it could be a couple years before I’m ready to move on myself. One of the reasons I really take my time, almost to a geological pace, at getting to know someone in a relationship; because I know what will happen if it doesn’t work out. About a month in a friend called! He seemed pissed that I hadn’t called him- I guess he had grown accustomed to me initiating every conversation.. We are who we are, this year was a mixed bag, I discovered my personality type, it wasn’t all bad! It’s been a time of clarity and a time of doing inner work. To be continued…

    • Jimbaux! says:

      I’m an INTP and an HSP, and I viscerally felt so much of what you wrote here. I can tell you that it gets better if you have the right attitude about it.

      A few years ago, a longtime friend and I were spatting ever more often. Like you, I couldn’t help but allow myself to think that I was being somehow betrayed by him.

      And then I realized something. People change. I have changed. I have become who I am. So, too, then, had he. If I can’t fault myself for evolving into who I have become, then I can’t fault him for evolving into who he had become, either.

      And then I realized something else. Had he and I just met then (instead of years before, as we had), then we would not have become friends. This revelation was both startling and reassuring, startling because it scared me for the same reasons that all of this scares you, and reassuring because I didn’t feel bad about the differences that we had and, furthermore, what I needed to do next.

      What did I need to do next? Simply walk away. And that’s what I did. There was no big blow up, no anything. I just stopped calling him. And he reciprocated.

      And both of us are better off for it, because I realized that I it was wrong for me to expect him to be who he HAD BEEN. And I realized that I had been doing both him and MYSELF a disservice to expect to expect that of him.

      It was scary, and it still IS scary, but it was the right thing to do.

    • canadaman says:

      it has nothing to do with the kind of person you are… people simply stop caring about friendships. they don’t care some people sit alone and cry every day… they go about their happy lives saying they have no time for friendships; but then they’ll be off on a weekend with their close friends. some people like me need to just accept that they’re worthless. no one understands, so no one cares.

    • Sophia Tenar Athanasiou says:

      Thank you, I really needed this!

    • MT says:

      Sometimes I feel like I’m the Elephant Man or something. I try so hard to be normal but I’ve come to learn my interests, my need for down time, my expectations from relationships are very different. I literally feel like I annoy people with my friendship and how do you not feel resentful about that especially when there is a mutual connection. I want to be loved for me… warts and all