What Is the INFJ Door Slam, and Why Do INFJs Do It?

INFJ door slam

One of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, INFJ stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judgment. The INFJ is believed to be the rarest of all types, making up only 1-2 percent of the U.S. population — which explains why this personality type frequently feels isolated and misunderstood. Known for their visionary thinking, creativity, and depth of caring for others, INFJs at their best fight for those who are vulnerable and start social movements that change the world. For example, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela are believed to have been INFJs, among many others.

(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)

But there’s something else this rare personality is known for. Something far more controversial. This thing seems to completely contradict the INFJ’s gentle, caring nature. It surprises — and confuses — even those closest to them.

That thing is the INFJ door slam.

What is the INFJ door slam, and why do INFJs do it? And once the door is slammed, can it ever be opened again? Let’s take a closer look.

What the INFJ Door Slam Is

The INFJ door slam occurs when an INFJ personality cuts someone out of their life. The INFJ isn’t the only personality type to cut people out. Other personality types do this to some extent, too, but for INFJs, it tends to be more frequent and intense.

In some cases, the INFJ will continue to have contact with the person they’ve door-slammed. This happens when circumstances make it impossible for the INFJ to completely cut someone out, for example, a coworker the INFJ sees every day at work or a family member who attends family events.

In this instance, the INFJ may do an “emotional” door slam. They may politely tolerate the other person’s presence but minimize their interaction with them. They revoke access to their personal thoughts, feelings, and authentic inner world — in other words, they stop being vulnerable around this person in order to protect themselves from further hurt. The other person may not even be aware that the INFJ has slammed the door.

In other cases, the door slam is more dramatic. Take, for example, the break-up of a romantic relationship or a falling out with a good friend. When the INFJ slams the door under these circumstances, they may cut off all contact with the other person, unfollowing them on social media and no longer spending any time with them. It’s said that when you deeply wound an INFJ, they don’t hate you, they nothing you.

INFJs may try to wipe every trace of the other person from their life. For example, when I broke up with my first boyfriend, I buried a box in my backyard of trinkets and notes he had given me. Getting rid of everything that reminded me of him was part of my door-slam process.

To the outsider, slamming the door on someone who was once close to you may seem like a drastic measure. It may seem like it came out of nowhere. However, for most INFJs, that’s rarely the case. Things had been building to the door slam for a long time. Usually there is one fight or event that pushes the INFJ over the edge, causing them to finally shut the door.

Why INFJs Slam the Door

INFJs slam the door when they have been deeply wounded. They slam the door when they can no longer tolerate a person’s toxicity. They do it to protect themselves from further hurt.

If the door has been slammed on you, it’s because the INFJ saw no other way of stopping the emotional pain you were causing them. You may not have meant to cause the pain, but nevertheless, it’s there. People of the INFJ personality are generally quite sensitive to the words and actions of others. More so than some other personality types, they need harmony, strong emotional support, and a healthy give-and-take in their relationships to thrive.

They tend to be patient and forgiving of others’ shortcomings, but even INFJs have their breaking point. When an unhealthy relationship becomes draining and damaging, the INFJ must remove it to save their sanity. Usually the door is slammed only as a last resort.

Can the Door Ever Be Opened Again?

Sometimes the door can be opened again but sometimes not. Let’s look at what determines these two different outcomes.

In order for the door to be re-opened, the INFJ must feel that the other person will no longer hurt them. They must believe the other person is sorry for the pain they caused — and they understand why their actions were damaging. Most important, the other person must commit to changing the way they treat the INFJ. If these conditions are met, healing can begin.

INFJs aren’t perfect. Sometimes an INFJ will slam the door too quickly. Sometimes people of this personality type bottle up their feelings, and rather than dealing with issues head-on when they’re small, they let them snowball. The other person may feel blindsided and unsure of what they did wrong, because the INFJ didn’t let on that they were hurting. This is when it’s crucial that INFJs openly communicate about the problem, consider how they might be contributing to the conflict, and set better boundaries.

However, sometimes the hurt is so great that the INFJ will not want to re-open the door — nor should they. INFJs, like other sensitive introverts, sometimes attract toxic, narcissistic, or emotionally needy people.

Why? Because INFJs want to help others. They see what others can be, and how to get there. Lovers of self-development and growth, they’re drawn to helping people work through their personal and emotional issues — and ultimately live their best life. Sometimes an INFJ will even date or befriend someone in order to “save” them, without even consciously realizing what they’re doing.

The door should absolutely remain closed if:

  • the relationship was emotionally or physically abusive
  • being around the person was extremely fatiguing or distressing
  • the person deceived you, cheated you, or took advantage of you

How to Prevent an INFJ Door Slam

The words you speak to an INFJ really matter. And the way you treat them really matters, too. INFJs need to feel like their emotions are heard and respected. They need fairness and balance in their relationships, and they greatly value understanding and emotional intelligence. Treat an INFJ personality with respect and kindness, and the door will never be slammed. 

More INFJ Resources

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Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. She also cohosts The Introvert, Dear Podcast and blogs for Psychology Today. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways. She writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did.