8 Strange and Peculiar Traits of the INFJ

an INFJ personality type

Could it be that we INFJs are inherently wired to do things “with passion or not at all”?

Following my article 10 Contradictory Things About the Elusive INFJ Male, I want to delve deeper into some of the unique and somewhat peculiar traits of the INFJ personality and how they impact us in both life and work.

While I’m not certain these traits apply to all INFJs, they certainly resonate with me. If you’re an INFJ, I’m eager to know if you can relate to these experiences and would love to hear your story. Please leave a comment below.

(Are you an INFJ? Here are 16 signs that you’re an INFJ, the world’s rarest personality type.)

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Peculiar INFJ Traits

1. All-or-nothing syndrome

This affliction has plagued me for as long as I can remember and will likely continue to do so until I shuffle off this mortal coil. It’s a pattern of loving fiercely or not at all; exercising relentlessly and eating well, or lounging on the sofa and indulging in junk food; working 20 hours a day for days on end, or sitting and procrastinating all weekend as if it’s no one’s business. I can’t seem to find a middle ground, at least not for any significant length of time. I’m not sure why.

Could it be that we INFJs are inherently wired to do things “with passion or not at all,” as Rosa Nochette Carey writes? Maybe the middle of the road seems like a stagnant approach to life? It appears bland, uneventful, and uninspiring, lacking room for development or opportunities to stray off the beaten path in pursuit of our own. This mindset deprives us of the highs and lows necessary to experience life’s full spectrum.

However, if I’m being honest, I worry that constantly shifting from one extreme to the other might indicate that I’m on the wrong path, aimlessly searching for the right one.

2. The inability to settle

This is closely related to point #1. INFJs are often in search of “the one,” not necessarily in a romantic context (though that still applies) but more in terms of finding a life mission. INFJs appear to be on a never-ending quest to discover a career or project that feels meaningful, one that contributes to the greater good, helps others, and creates a legacy. I often feel “burdened with glorious purpose,” to borrow a phrase from Loki, but I’m at a loss about what that purpose is or how to find it.

Therefore, when I settle into a job or project and don’t feel connected to it, I inevitably move on. I’d rather escape and seek something else rather than stick with something that fails to evoke any passion in me or, worse, limits my capacity for personal and spiritual growth.

However, this approach has its own problems — irregular income, for one. I like to think of this as a manifestation of my entrepreneurial spirit, but I’m not sure. The difficulty in seeing through something I’ve started is becoming exhausting. I’d suggest it seems more like a Perceiver trait than a Judging trait, but maybe it’s P for perfectionism?

3. Perfectionism

Speaking of perfectionism…

In my entrepreneurial endeavors, if something doesn’t go as planned, or if people disappoint me, my initial passion for the project diminishes. People or companies often fail to meet my admittedly high expectations, leading to inevitable disappointment. And, as a result, I move on to the next project or relationship.

As this pattern repeats, I worry that it reflects poorly on me. I hop from project to project, vision to vision, but seem unable to realize these visions, which in turn makes it a struggle to earn a living. It’s either the wrong people or the wrong time.

Or could the issue be with how I conduct business or approach relationships? I admit, I can be too trusting and naive (always seeing the best in people), setting myself up for disappointment. However, I’ve made a promise to myself to never become overly negative. Instead, I try to focus on the positive lessons to be learned from these experiences.

4. Solitude vs. friendship

I can count the number of close friendships I have on the fingers of… well, one finger. I’m referring to in-real-life friendships here, not online ones. Considering the INFJ’s reputation as extroverted introverts, this seems somewhat contradictory. I feel a strong need to develop intimate ties; I yearn for deep, meaningful relationships that inspire, motivate, and foster mutual growth.

However, achieving such closeness requires a significant amount of time and energy. And that’s where the challenge lies. If I have a friend or partner, I want to fully commit to them, so those outside my small circle often end up being just acquaintances. If I can’t give my best to each individual, I’d rather not engage at all. This tendency is likely why many INFJs have only a few close friends.

(Does this sound like you? Here are 10 signs that you’re an extroverted introvert.)

5. Full of contradiction

Again, this relates to several of my previous points. I often swing from one end of the spectrum to the other based on a gut feeling, guided by my intuition. This is often incomprehensible to others. To them, I seem contradictory, mysterious, enigmatic, and more often than not, incredibly frustrating (for both parties).

As sensitive and empathetic individuals, INFJs excel at mirroring and adapting to various environments and people. Consequently, I often appear very different in different contexts. I can be the life of the party among those who understand me (which is rare), but I may seem painfully shy, solitary, and quiet to others (which is more common). I can fit in when I choose to, but more often than not, I find myself rebelling fiercely.

Interestingly, this rebellious streak emerged later in my life, when I started to embrace my INFJ identity more fully — when I decided to drop the facade and live true to my beliefs, even when they clash with societal norms. The shift from being a people-pleaser to caring less about causing conflict was confusing for those around me, especially for those who have known me for a long time.

Now that I have a stronger sense of self, I don’t feel the need to conform, and I suspect this might seem a bit abrupt to some. These days, I am more selective about how I use my energy and love, and I am less afraid to distance myself from those who don’t fit my values (for example, people who don’t respect my boundaries or those who have a pessimistic view of life).

(Are you a sensitive person? Here are 27 “strange” things highly sensitive people do.)

6. Writers not talkers

Although I’ve yet to meet an INFJ in real life (that I know of), I’ve often heard it said: Being introverts, we INFJs have difficulty speaking on the spot, on the phone, and sometimes in person.

However, when it comes to writing, we can produce masterpieces. It’s no wonder there are a disproportionate number of INFJ writers. We may mumble, stutter, and stumble (well, that might just be me) or be completely mute. But in writing, our ideas often flow effortlessly, although I have to reread several times and make adjustments before I’m satisfied with my writing.

What might be the reason for this? I think it comes down to time. We have the ability to envision many different possibilities, outcomes, and nuances in any given scenario. Our intuition also means we often live inside our heads. So, we likely have several conversations going on at once, even arguments. All this internal noise creates a bottleneck, which we may struggle to verbalize.

Sometimes it spills out in such a random manner that it makes no sense, even to us. Yet, when writing, we have time to sit down, process the influx of ideas, and refine them until they are eloquent and succinct. Our writing brings order to our mind’s chaos and allows others a glimpse into our inner world.

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.

7. Seeing both the big picture and the details

This can be beneficial for INFJs if we maintain balance. However, considering the INFJ’s contradictory nature, it can pose an ongoing challenge.

As visionaries, INFJs envision the big picture and develop scenarios to their logical conclusions. We also possess the ability to delve into the details of a project, aiding in realizing that vision. The issue arises when we remain at one extreme or the other, hindering the project’s progression.

For example, an INFJ might spend a lot of time dreaming up a perfect community event, imagining how everything will look and feel, but then struggle to handle the small, practical tasks like booking a venue. On the other hand, they could get so focused on tiny details, like picking the right color for decorations, that they forget to think about the big picture, like what the event is actually about or its main goal.

8. Compassionate visionaries and doers

For all the challenges that INFJs face, I believe we have one really great thing going for us: We’re compassionate visionaries and doers. We may not complete every project or realize our “perfect” vision for it, but we almost always give it a try. When we’re passionate about an idea, and we know it will help and serve others, then we strive to accomplish it — even if it makes a difference for just one person.

The INFJ is considered the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type, perhaps comprising only 1-2 percent of the population. And that’s a shame, because the world needs more people like us.

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