I recently had my tarot cards read, and it was one of the most enlightening and therapeutic experiences of my life. The first card drawn represented safety, security, and boundaries. This has definitely been a theme in my life for a few years. Without disclosing too much about my reading, I will say I was comforted that this was the first card drawn. I have been learning how to set boundaries for a while now. Even though I’m still learning how to do this, I thought it would be good to share what I’ve learned so far, so we can have a discussion in the comments section about this topic.
I want to discuss this through an INFJ lens specifically because there are many facets of the INFJ personality type that can make us susceptible to toxic people. (What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.) These people — otherwise known as emotional vampires — can rob us of our energy or poison our lives with negativity. They can come in the form of a friend, family member, or significant other. What makes the INFJ personality so enticing to these draining people? Here are three reasons why I think emotional vampires are drawn to our personality like a moth to a flame:
1. We are people-oriented. Our Extroverted Feeling (Fe) function drives us to want to nurture people. Emotional vampires will sense this incredibly generous aspect of our personality and latch onto it. It may take a while for us to realize what’s going on, so be sure to listen to your body! If you feel exhausted after being around someone, there’s a good chance they are an emotional vampire who is sucking up your energy. We need our alone time to recharge, sure, but you’ll feel particularly exhausted/lethargic after being with these types of people.
2. We are great listeners. As introverts, we often prefer to listen rather than contribute our two cents to a conversation. Our Introverted Intuition (Ni) function, along with Introverted Thinking (Ti), allow us to absorb information from a conversation, filter that information, then come back with a thoughtful response. This process takes some time, so people assume we don’t want to talk much. We do want to respond, we just need a little more time to do so. The problem with emotional vampires is that they will take advantage of our quietness and dominate the conversation, making it all about them.
3. We aren’t nicknamed “The Counselor” for no reason. Yes, INFJs love to help and to listen. Emotional vampires will treat you like their own personal therapist. Any relationship is a two-way street. If someone is unloading all of their emotional problems onto you and not willing to listen to you in return, they are an emotional vampire. You are not responsible for managing someone else’s emotions. If you want to learn a little bit more about emotional vampires, this article breaks it down pretty well.
Not All Emotional Vampires Are Malicious
I do want to mention that not all emotional vampires are malicious people. Often, they are great people with some issues they need to sort through. That’s okay. However, there are some out there who have no qualms about bleeding us dry of our energy. No matter where the emotional vampire falls on this scale, the bottom line is that they drain us. I want to share some warning signs I’ve gathered through personal experience so that maybe you can avoid this toxicity in the future.
Many years ago, I was in a relationship that completely drained me. Granted, I was quite young and did not yet understand boundaries in relationships. I was in love and willing to do whatever it took to be with this person. I felt responsible for his emotional ups and downs. I tried to stand by him during dark moments, only to be shoved away or ignored entirely. I tried my best to be understanding, but I often blamed myself for his behaviors. I internalized the guilt and felt unworthy of love. I felt like I was never going to be good enough to receive the kind of love I was willing to give over and over again.
As they say, even the nicest people have their limits. We eventually broke up and hindsight is always 20/20. After a ton of therapy, I learned a lot about myself from that relationship — and I carry these lessons with me into every new partnership. I do not blame him, and I do not blame myself for anything that happened. I think it’s important to focus on what you can learn and how to grow from your experiences.
Move Toward the Things That Are Meant for You
Setting boundaries has been an important part of my life since then, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. I found an awesome article that explains INFJs’ dating experiences. You should definitely give it a read. I tend to break things off with someone if I begin to sense that they are trying to latch onto me in an unhealthy manner. The article talks about people feeling super connected to INFJs immediately, wanting to move too quickly, etc. I’ve experienced this myself many times. However, you should be wary of anyone who wants to move too quickly into a relationship and spend all their time with you right away. It may seem romantic, but it’s healthier when someone has their own life and gives you space. I swear, there is nothing more attractive to me than someone who respects and maybe even admires my need for solitude.
Also, I’ve learned to become more assertive with people when I know I’m not interested in a long-term relationship. It’s uncomfortable, and sometimes incredibly painful, to have those conversations, especially when you truly care about the person. But it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t have to feel responsible for someone else’s emotional problems. You do not have to be subjected to someone’s negative energy. You do not have to be someone’s ear to talk into when all they want to do is talk about themselves.
You should be with someone who wants to hear what you have to say, someone who is there for you as much as you are for them. INFJs think ahead and want to be with someone they can foresee a future with. If someone doesn’t fit into the long-term script, it’s best to be honest about it and move toward things that are meant for you. I think, as an INFJ, we need someone who respects our space, listens when we need to talk, and comforts us when the world becomes too much for our sensitive souls. We have a lot to give to the world and to the people in it, so it’s important that we find someone who admires these qualities and supports us along the way.
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