4 Reasons INFJs Are ‘Haunted’ by Toxic People

IntrovertDear.com INFJ toxic people haunted

When INFJs are continually hurt or hurt bad enough, they slam the door on that toxic relationship. The well-known INFJ door slam isn’t about punishing the other person. It’s about protecting ourselves from more hurt.

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Even though many INFJs can seem to have a cold exterior, our hearts are soft. There’s only so much pain we can take, and when that happens, we may cut toxic people out of our lives — and it’s usually for the better.

However, sometimes no matter how hard you try to slam that door on a relationship, their foot is pushed in the gap, leaving you trapped in toxicity. I like to call it being haunted. The door is cracked just enough for their presence to get in and cause emotional aggravation. I’m usually successful when I slam an emotional door. However, I’ve been “haunted” by a former friend for a year now, and it has caused me to reflect.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation. If so, then you know how a still-open door that desperately needs to be closed can plague your mind and negatively affect your daily life. What I’ve come to realize this year is that there’s always a reason for it. The trick is to pinpoint the cause so you can resolve it one way or another.

Here are four reasons INFJs may be haunted by toxic people.

1. Unfinished Business

The situation with the former friend who haunts me falls into this category. When you see someone’s true colors and they treat you badly, the unfinished business can be that you didn’t tell them how you feel. I didn’t get to tell her how I view her as a person and as a boss. I didn’t get to tell her that I knew I couldn’t trust her, but I went against my better judgement and had to pay the consequences. I didn’t get to tell her that just because some other people don’t see who she really is and what she’s willing to do to get ahead doesn’t mean they won’t.

But the truth is I could’ve emailed her or texted her or sent her a letter and told her all of these things. However, I’m an INFJ, and that means that even when we’ve been completely crushed and betrayed, we still don’t want to hurt feelings or cause more contention. Instead, we let it swirl around inside our minds and bodies until it feels like it’s eating us alive.

That’s when the haunting starts. That’s when you know you didn’t slam that door hard enough.

So how do you fix it?

You have a few options. The first is to confront the person and get if off your chest. If it’s someone you see regularly, like a family member, this might be a good way to decide if you do want to slam that door or if you’re ready to start fresh.

If you can’t confront the person, write a letter of your raw, real feelings, but don’t send it. Sometimes the act of writing it out and giving it the space it needs is enough to free you so you can move on.

2. Necessary Interaction

Often it’s not possible or practical to cut off all contact with someone. With my former friend, there were many times I wanted to slam the door – and that I should’ve slammed the door — but I couldn’t because we worked together. Forced interaction can prolong the hurt, so for many INFJs, it’s impossible to slam that door, lock it, and throw away the key.

If you find yourself in this situation, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from further hurt:

  • Minimize contact. Avoid sitting or working near them. Don’t go out to lunch with them or strike up conversations if it’s possible. You can even ask your boss to reassign you to a different project so you don’t have to work together.
  • Manage how you react. Say no — without justifying yourself — to demands that feel unreasonable. By definition, a toxic person is someone who refuses to hear your perspective. Try “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that right now,” or “I’m busy then.” No explanation needed.
  • Strengthen ties with others. Seek out other coworkers who you trust, and who energize you, not drain you. Strengthening your relationships with uplifting people can actually help heal some of your hurt. It can also remind you that you’re not alone.

Most importantly, remember that this situation is only temporary. One day one of you will move on to something else, and then you’ll be free to recover, heal, and live your happiest life.

3. Constant Reminders

It can be near-impossible to emotionally slam the door on a relationship when you’re surrounded by constant reminders. For example, my former friend and I have many mutual friends on social media. Even though I’m no longer connected with her, her face often shows up in my newsfeed in the photos of my friends. As much as I hate being reminded of her and the pain she caused me, I know that my friends have every right to remain her friend, hang out with her, and love her.

Yes, it hurts. But I have to remember that it’s my own pain and not the pain of my friends.

Perhaps the reminders come in the form of seeing this person around the office, school, or even at family events. Sometimes you just can’t shake someone, no matter how hard you try.

Fixing this is a little harder because you don’t have control over what others post or who you’re required to see or interact with in daily life. For social media, you might have to hide your mutual friends from your feed. This will allow you to emotionally prepare yourself before venturing into their photos and updates.

As for having real-life reminders, there’s nothing to do but to ignore them or shut them out emotionally while remaining cordial and professional.

4. You’re Not Ready

You probably don’t want to hear this, but sometimes the door isn’t shut completely because you’re not ready for that relationship to be over. This can sometimes go along with the unfinished business listed above. Perhaps you have been friends with this person for many years and it hurts to throw it away, no matter how much pain they’ve caused you.

INFJs are idealistic, and we know deep down that people can be better humans if they choose to be. It’s hard to give up hope that one day they’ll want to be better.

If you’re not ready to shut the door yet, that’s okay. Listen to your gut and remember that sometimes INFJs protect themselves so much from potential pain that we eliminate the possibility of developing deeper relationships. Sometimes setting better boundaries and talking through the issue with the offending person is enough to release your pain — then there’s no need for a door slam.

Also remember that reopening that door doesn’t mean you’re weak, and the same goes for deciding to keep the door shut. That’s strength. You’ll soon see that you need strength to understand and accept yourself and your needs while coexisting with those who have hurt you the most. 

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Read this: An Open Letter to INFJs in the Aftermath of a Door Slam

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Image credit: @lucioabbi via Twenty20


  • Nicola says:

    Really powerful post. As a fellow INFJ, I feel your pain. Even though I haven’t been in a situation this tough (not as toxic, at least), I can totally understand your point of view. Your suggestions also make sense, A LOT, actually. This part really hit home for me; “we know deep down that people can be better humans if they choose to be. It’s hard to give up hope that one day they’ll want to be better.” The difficulty is to know when to give up hope and when to hold out a little longer, isn’t it? Knowing when to quit or when to continue trying out of love and compassion. Always a tough one. I hope you can find the way out that you need – whether through slamming the door or making amends

    • Charlene Jimenez says:

      Thank you for your comment, Nicola. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!

      It is such a tough situation, for sure. That’s the trick, isn’t it, knowing when to slam that door or when to start over. For this particular situation in the article, I know I need to slam the door on her, and writing this article has actually help me shut it a little more. There’s something to be said about being about to write out emotions and how that can help you heal just a little bit.

      • Nicola says:

        I agree, writing also helps me a lot, things are processed differently when it’s actually out there. Also getting other people’s perspectives and hearing different ideas (even just different words), has also helped me in the past. Best of luck!

  • Avi says:

    Mine haunts my dreams. So freaking annoying. Go away! Door was slammed!

    • Charlene Jimenez says:

      Hi, Avi.

      That has happened to me, too. So annoying, for sure! It’s like they want to sneak their way back in through our dreams.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Charlene Jimenez says:

    Yes! Isn’t it awful?

  • Charlene Jimenez says:

    Thanks for your comment, Flora.

    It’s the worst when you still have to see them during your daily life.

    Glad you’re not haunted anymore! And it’s said but true. A toxic friend will most likely remain toxic.

  • Keren Kroczyk says:

    The more I read about it, the better I understand my whole life and experiences. It is such a relief to find people who share this journey.
    I know the door slam need very well, and have learned how to make sure I give enough chances and warnings before I do it, so that there will be no remnants afterwards to haunt me. I’m just coming out of a very toxic relationship, and the other side is doing its best to put his leg in the door and try to find the cracks. I keep filling them in, and feel that I’m getting stronger with each time I do.
    Thank you for this.

    • Charlene Jimenez says:

      Those little cracks are killer, aren’t they? Some people can find the smallest crack or even make the crack themselves.

      Thank you for reading the article and commenting! I appreciate it very much!

      • Keren Kroczyk says:

        Yes, indeed they are. Never thought there were so many different media types that could be blocked

  • Val Woodhouse says:

    Having mutual friends on social media is certainly a minefield. Person A, who I’m very supportive of, raves about person B, who I used to like and now can’t stand. As much as I wish he could see what I see, I take the line that everyone needs to make up their own minds about people. If ever I were to be personally dragged into that relationship then it would be time for the tactful direct message. Even then I would have to restrain myself to the pertinent facts why I can’t support their friendship. “I can’t believe you like that person when I’ve worked out this about him” just isn’t my style!

    • Charlene Jimenez says:

      I’m the same way, Val. I have to allow my friends to be friends with the toxic person. Everyone has to make their own decision about people. It’s hard when you know she has hurt them in the past, too, and she’ll keep doing it. Sometimes you just have to step back and let go.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment! Best of luck to you!

  • telac says:

    When I was in college i door slammed 2 of my classmates because I was deeply upset with them. The other one wants to talk to me so we talked and there was a feelings of relief i think but i can’t talk to her like the old times and I still ignore her sometimes becoz it all comes back to me what happened in the past.

    • Charlene Jimenez says:

      Sometimes things can never be the same, even after the relief of talking again. I understand that completely.

      Thank you for your comment!

  • amy362 says:

    Thank you for this.

  • M. says:

    I used the door slam a couple of years ago on two friends. It took me a while to understand how toxic they were. So much drama and talking sh*t about other people – then pretending they were their friends. Didn’t help me trust them. In the end a specific situation made me decide that I didn’t want them in my life anymore.

    I’ve never regretted my choice – not even once. They did haunt me for a year or so, mostly because I never got to tell them in person, what kind of people I found them to be and why I walked away. It still bugs me every once in a while, because sometimes being told things like this makes people reflect. You might not go back to being friends with them, but maybe the friends they make afterwards won’t go through the same as you. Some peoplem though, don’t change at all.

    If anything this situation has helped me speak up a little more when I find that people are behaving disrespectfully. It’s sort of funny, because I’ve always been scared to lose friends or respect when doing that, but people stay and they don’t hate you for speaking your mind. That’s really valuable life experience!

    • Charlene Jimenez says:

      Thanks for this comment. It’s exactly how I feel about my situation. I never got to say what I thought of her, so I was haunted. I would play pretend conversations in my mind where I told her how I felt, but that’s as far as it got.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  • Mahtiel says:

    Yes, this is totally on the spot. I have this with my family, constant hurt pouring over even though I cut down on contact and moved to another country. The worst is that I tried to tell those people how I felt, but they did not listen.

    • Charlene Jimenez says:

      I’m sorry they didn’t listen. I know that’s painful to not be heard.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  • Faith says:

    Wow, I felt like you were reading my mail here! #2 is no longer a factor for me, but #1 and #3 still make things difficult. This line was also spot on: “I didn’t get to tell her that just because some other people don’t see who she really is and what she’s willing to do to get ahead doesn’t mean they won’t.” What I also find hard with this is when it seems others (particularly mutual friends) are not seeing that person’s true colors… it can feel like that person is getting away with something unjust or even make me question my own sanity at times.

    But it’s so encouraging to know I’m not alone in this experience. Thank you for sharing your story and insight! I’m hopeful that time, combined with the things you mentioned, will heal the wounds.

  • Donny Stubbs says:

    Trust me, I can totally legitimately relate to this. All four of those reasons sums up my experiences with people, many of them my own relatives as well as some people I know from my past. I’ve been trying forever to slam the door on those people but they not only put their feet in the gap, they kick it open, making me feel like a cornered rat. I’ve suffered severe emotional and mental trauma and anguish as a result of those interactions and them trying to force themselves back into my life only prolongs the hurt and pushes me away further

  • Arturo Sánchez says:

    Can’t relate, being INFJ doesn’t mean you have to be bound bybit’s definition. If anything it helped me realize and understand the why and the how’s of tje things I do so I can transcend the bad stuff and keep the good stuff.

  • Mari D says:

    Although getting older myself now, I am still haunted by my toxic parents. There seems no way out of it other than breaking up our relationship entirely which is hard to do with elderly parents. But big part of my misery in life comes from them humiliating me over and over again for the only reason not being exactly like them and for venturing their own frustration. So much to write about it, but difficult in English to find my words.

  • Emma says:

    I’ve had to door slam my own mother. It was incredibly painful. She’s still has her foot in the door. I have to see her some. She’s beat into my head that I am selfish and uncaring. It still plagues me everyday. Truthfully, I was very emotionally sensitive and sensitive to my environment. She didn’t know how to accommodated my needs. As an adult, I took charge of my own health and found that I had undiagnosed health problems. Being unhealthy will make a kid grumpy! She never really listened to my needs. Meanwhile, my brother was cared for to the point of extreme coddling and is not a functioning adult.

  • Michele Matto says:

    I’ve gotten better at setting boundaries as I’ve gotten older, so this isn’t an issue for me now but it wud be nice, I’m sure, not to be 70 before you can recognize, early in relationships, toxicity coming up the road! 😉

  • Larissa Rossen says:

    Hi Charlene, thankyou so much for writing this article! This sums up my life so much, as an INFJ. I have struggled with toxic people in my life and treating me badly, only to go back for more abuse believing they have a good heart and one day might wake up. I have realised lately that, oftentimes, these people won’t change and I need to accept it and slam that door! It has been a difficult realisation as I truly like to believe the best in others. Thankyou for your article which has helped me realise I am not the only one! Larissa

  • Anne Barton-Veenkant says:

    I can’t believe how much this blog — and others on this sight, resonate with me as an INFJ. I didn’t even realize my personality type until the last year or so, and since doing so, it has made me realize there are others out there who function internally the same way I do. This blog is absolutely spot-on.