If you’re into the MBTI, then you’re most likely acquainted with the stereotype of the INFP personality: shy at first, then bubbly once they get to know you, but also sad about how messy the world is. Basically, the princess (or prince) who needs saving while bandaging the knight’s wound.
Is that how INFPs really are? Sad, depressed, always worrying about the future, yet positive and reassuring to their friends? Definitely not.
But if there’s one thing that’s true about the INFP “stereotype,” it’s this: this introverted personality type can struggle to connect with others and form the close relationships they desire. Trust me, as an INFP myself, I’ve been there. This can lead to INFPs feeling isolated, which, in turn, can lead to depression, anxiety, and wondering if they are good enough for anyone.
“But wait!” you might be thinking. “INFPs struggle to make friends? I thought they loved everybody!”
Absolutely. They will love everybody with their whole being — if the receiver will let them. Even if the receiver is hesitant, the INFP will trickle in what love they can, however much it may be. But that’s different from making soul friends or “bosom friends” (as INFP Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables calls her deep connections).
Of course, INFPs aren’t the only Myers-Briggs personality type that can struggle to connect with others. In fact, there’s some evidence that making friends can be hard for everyone, especially as we get older. Nevertheless, in this article, I want to focus on INFPs and explore the three biggest reasons we introverted-intuitive-feeling-perceivers might struggle to connect.
3 Reasons INFPs Struggle to Make Friends
1. It’s hard to find people who are emotionally open, available, and willing to dive deep.
INFPs are generally very understanding and empathetic to others, even people they do not understand (no matter how hard they try). However, they do not usually make deep connections with shallow or gossipy people. If there’s one thing that INFPs do hate (and this is well known), it’s small talk and surface-level subjects.
Sure, some small talk is inevitable when meeting new people, but INFPs do not like to stay on that plane for long. Polite chit-chat can be like walking behind a crowd of slow-moving people; you can’t help but hope they’ll pick up the pace!
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That’s not to say that every conversation has to be mind-blowing or deeply existential. However, if INFPs can’t escape the shallow plane quickly, they will lose interest in the relationship (even though they may continue being friendly to that person — we hate being rude). It’s hard to find people who are emotionally open, available, and willing to dive deep, hence, one big reason INFPs struggle to connect.
2. There are people who take advantage of the INFP’s kindness.
Like I said, INFPs have a lot of love to give. Optimistic and generally positive, they see the good in other people — even when others cannot. Generous with their time and affection, INFPs are the friends who will let you vent uninterrupted or give you a hug when you’re down. We value understanding and empathy, so we do our best to give them to others.
But if you’re an INFP, you know that there are people out there who will take advantage of your kindness. And there’s little INFPs detest more than one-sided relationships.
INFPs will quickly get frustrated if they are the one who is giving and giving without receiving something in return. It might be our time, effort, affection, or simply a listening ear. Don’t get me wrong, INFPs are resilient and do not mind being a “giver.” However, just like anybody else, they need balance in their relationships. It can’t always be just one person doing the work of caring; if that’s the case, INFPs will withdraw from that relationship.
3. We have big feelings, even when it’s not convenient.
If there’s one thing the INFP “stereotype” gets right, it’s that we pride ourselves on our individuality. INFPs are fluid in their thoughts and feelings, and we do not mind when someone remarks on us being different from the rest of the crowd. Standing out is just fine with us. Often, it’s because of our dreamy creative nature coupled with our strong values.
That same combination, however, means we have very big feelings — and they can come out in many ways. Sometimes, other people don’t find those feelings convenient.
For example, as much as we’re proud to stand out, many INFPs also struggle with insecurity, which can lead to anxiety. That can fuel a constant need to seek validation from others, which can be seen as annoying or even childish, especially by people who don’t understand us well. The truth is: It’s not easy being different, and we’re not always valued for our creativity. We need friends who can see and appreciate that side of us.
Likewise, our hyper-imagination is our greatest tool, but it comes with downsides, too. We easily get lost in overthinking what we said, what others said, or what someone meant… to the point where we may begin to feel like we can’t trust anybody (or even ourselves).
So yes, I’ll say it: we can be a little high maintenance at times, and we know it — but it does not make it hurt any less when we don’t have many friends around to hang out with or to talk to about the things going on in our lives. It’s for this exact reason that we cherish the friends we do have, we hold them close to our hearts, and we cultivate that precious connection to the fullest.
INFPs do love people, and we are among the most extroverted of the introverts in the MBTI. However, love and connection are just not interchangeable terms for us. Our love and understanding are given much more freely than a true sense of connection. Actual, deep connection is created on a different plane than normal friendships and acquaintanceships, and when we do feel connected to you, the result is electric.
When INFPs find a friend who provides mutual nurturing, one to whom they can unsheathe their soul and thoughts fully, there won’t be a boring or dull time from that moment on — and the INFP will be ecstatic. And even if we have differences, with that kind of friendship, we can always overcome them in the end, as long as we overcome them together.