10 Secrets of the INFJ, the World’s Rarest Personality Type

an INFJ personality type

Both introverted and people-oriented, emotional and rational, thoughtful yet spontaneous, INFJs can feel like walking contradictions.

The INFJ is thought to be the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type, making up only 1-2 percent of the population. “INFJ” stands for Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), and Judging (J), which describes the INFJ’s core characteristics.

Both introverted and people-oriented, emotional and rational, thoughtful yet at times spontaneous, INFJs can feel like walking contradictions. They read others well and easily “see behind the mask” that people unconsciously wear; ironically, however, INFJs may struggle to understand themselves.

The INFJ personality contains many layers and is indeed a trove of secrets. Private and mysterious, INFJs will reveal those layers slowly — if ever at all! Let’s explore some of the “secrets” of the rarest personality type in the world.

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Secrets of the INFJ Personality Type

1. They’re on a different wavelength.

INFJs may feel like perpetual outsiders. That’s because most people aren’t on their wavelength, explain Antonia Dodge and Joel Mark Witt of Personality Hacker. The INFJ’s dominant function is Introverted Intuition. (A type’s “dominant function” is the main way that type processes information and interacts with the world.) Introverted Intuition subconsciously notices patterns; INFJs, specifically, notice patterns related to human nature, because their secondary function is Extroverted Feeling, which orients them toward people.

Although not a magic power or a psychic ability, their intuition can sometimes feel like it because it works subconsciously. INFJs might experience hunches or gut feelings they can’t easily explain. They may know something without quite being able to put their finger on why or how they know it.

INFJs tend to be highly sensitive people who look deeper and pick up on details that others might miss. They spend a lot of time thinking about these things, often without even knowing they’re doing it. It’s like the INFJ is an archaeologist studying an old site in great detail, while most other people would just take a quick glance like a tourist and then move on.

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

This intuitive “sixth sense” can be challenging to explain to others, so INFJs may stop trying. This can leave them feeling isolated and misunderstood.

2. They see the truth behind the mask.

Being an INFJ often means having a strong ability to read and understand others. Their sensitivity and intuition help them see what might be going on inside someone’s mind or why they do the things they do. They can often tell when someone isn’t being totally honest, even if that person can successfully conceal their dishonesty from others.

However, INFJs might notice that it’s harder for others to understand them in the same way. As the saying goes, “INFJs are made to understand but not be understood.” INFJs often long for someone who can see and understand them just as deeply.

3. They don’t just empathize with others’ emotions, they absorb those emotions.

As sensitive introverts, INFJs often absorb other people’s emotions. This goes beyond mere empathy; they may experience others’ emotions in their own bodies. While everyone experiences emotional contagion to some degree, as Jenn Granneman explains in her book Sensitive, sensitive people are more attuned to their surroundings. This includes picking up on others’ emotions and processing them deeply.

Antonia Dodge points out that INFJs exhibit this trait more distinctly than most other personality types. Some INFJs even absorb the emotions of people they don’t know. For instance, an INFJ might feel grumpy out of the blue, only to realize that someone looking grumpy has entered the room. The likelihood of absorbing emotions increases with emotional closeness, such as with a spouse or best friend.

It can be tough to feel not only your own emotions but also those of others. But INFJs can use this skill to help and comfort people. Dodge says that being able to pick up on others’ feelings without much to go on is almost like having a superpower. “INFJs have the ability to get inside the suffering of others and tell them it’s going to be okay,” she tells me.

4. They can predict the future.

At times, INFJs might feel like prophets or psychics, as what they predicted comes true. But INFJs don’t have a crystal ball. Instead, their sensitivity and intuition enable them to see the big picture, notice patterns, and make predictions based on these observed patterns. They envision potential outcomes — not necessarily what will happen with absolute certainty.

Nevertheless, mature INFJs have honed their forecasting abilities well. For example, they might predict the outcome of a friend’s relationship based on observing their interactions and understanding the underlying dynamics, perhaps foreseeing issues before they become clear to others.

5. They are both emotional and rational.

Although sensitive and emotional, INFJs are sometimes mistaken for INTJs, their “Thinking” counterparts. This confusion arises because INFJs possess a balance between their Feeling and Thinking functions, allowing them to be both emotional and analytical, as well as scientific. Consequently, they may thrive in careers spanning from the humanities and arts to education, as well as in fields like technology, sciences, and research.

However, INFJs might not display their emotions as openly as other feeling-oriented personality types, such as ENFJs or ESFPs. There’s a saying that INFJs can be “too emotional for Thinkers but too logical for Feelers.” This duality contributes to their well-rounded nature, equipping them with a practical blend of emotional depth and logical reasoning.

6. They’re capable of deep emotional intimacy.

In the presence of strangers or casual acquaintances, they might seem quiet and a bit shy. However, INFJs are inherently relational; it just takes a bit of time for them to show this side of themselves.

Their capacity to deeply feel other people’s pain and joy enables them to genuinely empathize, effectively putting themselves in another person’s shoes. This skill at understanding others’ feelings helps them create close and meaningful relationships, which is arguably one of the greatest strengths of the INFJ personality type.

7. Yet they are true introverts.

INFJs are sometimes referred to as extroverted introverts because they can be passionate, enthusiastic, and talkative when they are with someone they feel comfortable around. Similarly, when they are advocating for a cause they believe in — such as encouraging people to sign a petition to end animal abuse — they may seem like extroverts.

However, INFJs are genuine introverts who favor having a small group of close friends rather than a large network of casual acquaintances. As introverts, they need plenty of alone time to recharge their energy.

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

8. They are very sensitive to conflict.

INFJs, like other sensitive personalities, have a strong need for harmony in their relationships. They consistently strive to establish rapport with others and appreciate those who reciprocate this effort. When conflict arises, particularly in close relationships, INFJs may experience significant distress. This can manifest as trouble sleeping or concentrating, and they might even feel the physical effects of stress, such as headaches, muscle aches, or an upset stomach.

This does not imply that INFJs should avoid conflict entirely. Instead, INFJs can develop skills to set healthy boundaries and assert their needs. With their natural warmth and understanding, they are often able to address conflicts in a diplomatic manner, perhaps more effectively than many other personality types.

(Speaking of boundaries, here’s how peace-loving introverts can set better boundaries.)

9. They might end up in one-sided relationships.

Many INFJs are excellent listeners because they truly care about others, and as introverts, they usually don’t feel the need to dominate conversations. They also enjoy helping others understand their emotions and personal growth. This aptitude has earned them the nickname “the counselor personality.”

While these abilities allow INFJs to create a level of emotional intimacy in their relationships that few other types can match, it also means they are prone to getting caught in one-sided relationships.

One-sided relationships happen when one person benefits more than the other. For INFJs, this might look like someone frequently confiding in them without giving them a chance to share and vent in return. Or someone taking advantage of the INFJ’s helpful nature, as a narcissist might do. Or they might find themselves in a codependent relationship where they are often the ones going out of their way to please and accommodate their partner.

In such situations, INFJs may continue the relationship to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings. Unfortunately, this can lead to emotional exhaustion for the INFJ. Therefore, it’s crucial for INFJs to learn to seek balanced relationships that fulfill them.

(Are you in a codependent relationship? Here are five signs that you are.)

10. They are looking for their soulmates.

INFJs crave deep connections with others; shallow, one-sided relationships won’t do. Also, since they are introverts, they don’t have a lot of energy for socializing, and they don’t consider everyone their friend. So, INFJs are on a lifelong quest to find friends or a partner who really understands them and can share deep, real conversations and connections.

However, INFJs often face challenges in forming the types of relationships they yearn for. When they do find someone they really connect with, it can feel like a miracle.

Want to learn more about being a sensitive person? Check out Introvert, Dear founder Jenn Granneman’s book, Sensitive. It was named an Amazon Best Book of 2023 and a Greater Good Science Center Favorite Book of the Year. Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet, says, “This important book reframes the way we think about sensitivity and shines a light on the great power of being highly attuned to the world.” Click here to buy it on Amazon.

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