10 Contradictory Things About INFPs 

The INFP personality type can feel like a walking paradox. Why is this? Well, it’s because the INFP’s cognitive functions often contradict each other. For instance, although INFPs are Perceivers (which means they prefer an adaptable lifestyle), they lead with a Judging function, Introverted Feeling (which is concerned with establishing order). Likewise, it’s not uncommon for INFPs to have strong beliefs and opinions and yet be indecisive when it comes to making everyday choices. Here are 10 more contradicting things about INFPs.

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1. INFPs want to help others yet they resist human contact. INFPs are true idealists who want to make the world a better and more compassionate place. They are highly empathetic individuals who have the capacity for deep caring. Although they are very interested in helping others, they can also be extremely reserved and private. As introverts, they need a lot of alone time to recharge, as social interactions can be draining.

2.  They’re both curious and shy. INFPs have a strong Extroverted Intuition (Ne) function which makes them enjoy exploring new ideas and possibilities. They are very curious when it comes to learning about the world, including learning about human nature and different cultures. However, at the same time, they can be shy and hesitant to open themselves up to people who they aren’t familiar with. This is because INFPs are conscientious, need time to reflect, and do not like to engage in shallow conversations. They take their encounters quite personally and are highly sensitive, so they may be wary about letting just anyone into their lives.

3.  INFPs can be extremely determined or apathetic. INFPs seem to run on an on-off switch. They can either be extremely obsessive about something or completely indifferent. That’s because Fi is their primary driver, so they are motivated by what feels right. So, if an INFP comes across something that excites them, they can become extremely passionate, even neglecting basic needs such as sleep in their pursuit. Conversely, it can be very difficult for INFPs to find any motivation to finish a task or partake in a discussion if it doesn’t spark their interest.

4. They can be easygoing or stubborn. INFPs are generally easygoing and flexible, especially when it comes to making everyday decisions. They also like to entertain different ideas and possibilities, thanks to their auxiliary Ne function, and are open to looking at things from many perspectives. However, INFPs have strong personal values due to their Fi and are reluctant to compromise them. They stand their ground and do not easily surrender in the face of adversity. For instance, INFPs believe in staying true to themselves so they resist giving up their individuality and values in order to conform, be part of a clique, and/or please others. They might get bullied for choosing to be a square peg in a round hole, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

5. INFPs are perfectionists but can also be negligent. INFPs have high standards for themselves and their work, and they can become perfectionists. For instance, they might reread an email several times before hitting send. At the same time, as Intuitives, INFPs prefer to focus on the big picture rather than spend time working out the details of something. Likewise, sometimes they get lost in their own idealism and neglect more practical matters.

6.  They’re unconventional and quirky, but also traditional. INFPs are highly individualistic people who break free from the status quo. They choose their own unique pathway rather than doing what society expects of them. At the same time, INFPs can be traditional due to their strong values and sense of nostalgia. They are extremely loyal and have clear beliefs about right and wrong. They also attach meaning to things from the past because of their Introverted Sensing (Si) function, so it’s not unusual for INFPs to hold on to childhood toys, treasured collections, or family memorabilia.

7. INFPs want to be autonomous and free, but also have stability and order. INFPs value autonomy and prefer to do things freely without any impediments. They like to be creative, expressive, and explore new things without being burdened by repetitive tasks and strict orders. However, at the same time, they are drawn to their inferior Extroverted Thinking (Te) function and desire some sort of stability and structure in their lives—or else things may get a little too chaotic. INFPs may find their life to be quite disorganized when they are being carried away by their imagination; they need something to ground them in reality.

8. They feel happy and sad at the same time. INFPs feel deeply and experience a wide breadth of emotions. They can vividly recreate experiences and feelings through their imagination. They may even experience several emotions simultaneously, such as feeling both pleasant and melancholy.

9.  INFPs want the ideal partner, but may find themselves drawn to toxic relationships. When it comes to relationships, INFPs may find themselves falling into one of two traps: they struggle to find their princess or prince charming, or end up in a toxic relationship. Because they are highly idealistic, INFPs may have unrealistic expectations when it comes to dating. At the same time, they are crusaders who want to save others. In doing so, INFPs may end up in an unhealthy relationship, attracting narcissists and other toxic individuals who take advantage of their unconditional empathy.

10. They are both children and old souls. INFPs can sometimes seem childlike because they tend to be optimistic and can see life through rose-colored glasses. In spite of their whimsical and free-spirited nature, INFPs are also old souls; they experience emotions intensely, have high levels of empathy, and can see many possibilities in a given situation. With these gifts come incredible insight, depth, and wisdom.

To learn more about being an INFP, check out my book.

The INFP Book

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Read this: 5 Things to Know About Being Friends With an INFP


  • As a fellow INFP, I can safely say that you have got this spot on. So I speak on behalf of other INFPs I know, who would also agree, to say thank you for this summation of our personality and character! We are a wonderful contradiction in terms!

  • M. says:

    This is me! All me! My life in a nutshell, really! 😀

  • Spot on for me, and for me this list of contradictions keeps on going. I’m almost always aware of the advantages and disadvantages of both sides of most anything. This makes decision making a pain as there are no clearly advantageous solutions..

  • Very accurate. Thank you for the article 🙂

  • Kat says:

    A big THANK YOU! I have only one complaint about your article: I wish I could read it earlier, it would spare me years of suffering, believing that my “self-contradiction” means that I am a psycho..

  • Susan says:

    These are all so true for me!

  • Stella says:

    Seriously. SPOT ON.

  • Barbara says:

    I can relate. I especially agree with #4. When I think back on my school years, it seems the most trouble I had with my friends or teachers was because I would never 100% conform to the group.

  • Catherine says:

    No problem! I’m glad you guys can relate to this. 😀

  • jean daquila says:

    I took the MBs years ago when my kids were in grade school. I was an INFJ then. Now, I am an INFP, I’m sure, because of life events and evolving and aging . . .and this describes exactly how I am. Wow! So interesting!

  • You captured it! Great work. Signed, an INTJ who thinks INFPs are awesome.

  • Tara C says:

    Good article but the repetitive motion .gifs were very annoying and made the article hard to read, please don’t use those.

  • Mike Collins says:

    Probably the best article I’ve seen yet on being an INFP! Even after several years of studying this, I found new things to relate to. Thank you!

  • Catherine says:

    Thank you! I’m happy to hear this. 😀

  • I suffer from all those all too much.

  • Lerato Kgatle says:

    Superb article! Aint it wonderful to identify as an INFP? I love it!

  • Citra Maulidia R. P. says:

    Whoaa. This is beautiful. Your words are really nice. And yeah, as an INFP, I can say that this is a spot on.

  • Liz says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I am such a contradiction and sometimes wish I weren’t. But I have started to embrace it as very few people I know are like me.

  • Ryan Riley says:

    Love it ❤️
    Great piece!

  • #8 is so true! I’m naturally a fairly happy person, but I’m also slightly sad a lot of the time. I’ve noticed that as soon as I become aware I’m happy, I start feeling sad, too. Which means I feel bittersweet about 85% of the time. Sigh.
    Also, I’m curious–do any other INFP’s out there have this problem–you are great at understanding others most of the time, but when it comes to yourself you have no idea wtf is going on? And you spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you’re like but still don’t really have any idea?

  • Catherine says:

    @Hermionously. It depends on what you mean by understanding. If you look at the INFP’s function, our dominant function is Introverted Feeling. This entails that we’re very attuned with our emotions — we know how we’re feeling all the time. However, when it comes to our aspirations and trying to define who we are, we have a hard time figuring where we fit for two reasons: 1) Because of our Extroverted Intuition, we can see lots of possibilities and can imagine ourselves living different lives. As a result, we feel quite scattered and can’t sort out the pieces in a linear fashion. 2) Introverted Feeling is also very individuating and makes us feel detached from other people and the rest of the world.

  • Jeanette Griebel says:

    It makes me feel a little less lost in the sea of people. I am a little less of an odd duck. But part of a flock 🙂

  • I think I probably agree with a lot of these but had a difficult time getting past all the animated GIFs. Does nobody else find them terribly distracting?

  • Kylee says:

    Yes! I always say I feel constantly conflicted. These make perfect sense to me!

  • INFP♂ says:

    Terrifyingly familiar matches. People say from time to time that I would contradict myself. I think it’s a hackneyed saying.

  • Jim says:

    Yep. Good article.

  • Angela Rengifo Adrada says:

    All of them are true for me! ☀ 😁. Thank you

  • Laura Ballard says:

    This is SO “me” that I’m going to send a link to it for friends and family, in hopes it will help them “get” me better! I’ve spent years contemplating my many inner contradictions and trying to understand them, and I identified with every word here. Philosophy major and social worker – cheers! (I’m definitely going to check out your book, too.)

  • Melinda Lindor says:

    Finally! Someone who understands me!!! Career wise, #’s 1, 4, 5 & 7 hit home! I’m a Registered Nurse and it’s definitely time for a career change! I just love how versatile I am; You never know what you’re gnna get from me, either way, I radiate absolute compassion. I’m following my dreams & starting my SpirItual Coaching & Mentoring for youth & Consulting businesses for adults! 🎉🍾

  • Nicola St Cruz says:

    This is so weird…I was just saying this about myself yesterday to two different people: “They might get bullied for choosing to be a square peg in a round hole, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.” Literally that, that I am a square peg in a world of round holes, which makes me a target, but I still wouldn’t want to be like “those people.” Uncanny.

  • Kathleen says:

    Literally the worst relationship I’ve ever had in my entire life was with an INFP. Insensitive, selfish, emotionally unstable, he was all of these things and MORE. He would literally take anyone’s side over mine, and read deeper meaning into any comment I made that WASN’T freaking there. I’m a what you see is what you get kind of person, and he would repeatedly attribute deeper meaning to anything I said, even if it was a comment about doing laundry. I happen to be an ENTP, apparently a rare personality type for a woman, but that doesn’t mean I’m an insensitive robot by any means. But Myers-Briggs would have you believe it were so. But as much as I detest personality testing I do think there is some merit to it. Having said that, I maybe a bit biased at this point by my own experience, but if a man I was interested in told me he was an INFP, I think I would metaphorically go running in the opposite direction. Because to put it bluntly living with him made my life a living hell, and I have NO wish to repeat it. And please stop telling us WHAT we’re feeling, I would rather not having you prying into my head. It’s both uncomfortable and invasive.

    • Joseph Trudeau says:

      an “infp in crisis” is one of the least tolerable sorts in a relationship. personally being one half of my life i can say i wouldn’t wish that on anyone. nothing will satisfy an emotionally unstable infp, but not all of us are turbulent.

    • Maya says:

      As an INFP female, I both laughed and cried at your comment.

    • Skarp vinkel says:

      this is kind of funny to read as an infp man. Because, what I`ve tended to not like about the girls I`ve been together with, is those things you describe about reading meaning into every comment and telling me how I really feel.. basically misunderstanding me, labeling me and putting me in a “box”. I think that`s a typical INFP-trait to hate beeing labeled and misinterpreted. as a result of that, I`ve become very careful not to do those things to others. I may have many ideas about others and privately read many interpretations into what people say, but I realize that I cannot read minds! and are very careful to not put to much trust in my Fi hunches. so I lay them out carefully, like suggestions.. not as something that I claim to know. INFPs are by nature very filosophical, so having that approach to ideas feels very natural for me..

      unlike ISFPS, INFPs have Ne so they have the ability to view their Fi hunches from a lot of different perspectives.. My guess is your ex was an unbalanced INFP with poorly developed Ne, or maybe an ISFP? they are very like, but one of the differences is that ISFPs often put their Fi into action withouth thinking to much about it. they have Se instead of Ne. Not saying all ISFPs are like that either. an ISFP ex who did that was a really sweet girl.. that was just very annoying that she just assumed she knew stuff about me she had no reason to know, and thus was wrong. I feel that is more of a thing women do in general, as well.. Like most men, I`ve arrived at the conclusion that I really don`t understand women.. but I also think they don`t understand me.. but they think they do.. and that is very annoying.. Of course not all women!

  • Fråga Ugglan says:

    So me 🙂

  • Chris Phoenix says:

    This is really only paradoxical on the surface, because each explanation has a well-rounded set of points. Nothing here is contradictory and makes sense. I like the write-up.

    Also the model in the headline looks familiar.
    Maybe I just want her to.

  • Melissa Barnes says:

    A walking paradox. Yes!

    A little paradox of my own (which I get a kick out of): I’m a fan of both the LA Dodgers and NY Yankees. 😄