INFJs don’t have to struggle so much with relationships if we get comfortable voicing our needs.
My parents always said that school was easy for me: going to school, getting into a routine, going to bed on time — and they never had to ask me to study. Looking back, I do feel that the learning side of school came naturally to me, and for the most part, I was one of the weirdos who actually didn’t mind going.
I feel the same way about work. I enjoy the sense of normalcy and routine of my 9-5 job. I adjust my schedule accordingly, and I like the responsibility of taking on new challenges.
But something that has always been hard for me as an INFJ, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, is romantic relationships. Being an INFJ and an Enneagram Type 1 can set up some pretty idealistic expectations for a relationship, but I don’t think idealism is the biggest blame for my struggle with finding someone I can see myself spending my life with.
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INFJs Are Not Simple Creatures
Many INFJs are not good at identifying their own feelings and asking for what they want in a relationship (at least not with practice). When you’re single and looking for a relationship, most people will ask you, “What’s your type?” Or “What are your hobbies?” And those are definitive, sensory questions that help determine characteristics most people base their romantic relationships on, i.e., appearance, humor, social status, and vibes.
However, the INFJ, the rarest of the Myers-Briggs types, is not a simple creature. We do not know what those questions mean. If we are attracted to someone’s looks, we might not be attracted to their intellect. If we find someone with a stable job, they might be boring, but stability is very important to us.
INFJs over-analyze the crap out of relationships, and within good reason, we are skilled at identifying the hidden motives of others. So we imagine 10 different scenarios with person A and 10 different scenarios with person B, only to come up with five completely unrelated scenarios with person C and no closure — and INFJs like closure.
Why INFJs Over-Analyze
So why do we over-analyze? Is it because of our perfectionistic tendencies or idealistic expectations? Maybe it’s because we are empaths, and we absorb other people’s emotions, so we don’t want to burden them with ours.
I honestly don’t think so.
I think the root of our over-analysis is we have a lot of insecurity around our own emotions. We may struggle as much as a Thinker type (like the INTJ) to verbalize what is going on in our heads. We may fail to find the perfect sentence to sum up our needs, so we resort to silence. To score keeping. To expecting the other person to consume our emotions and read them like we are a plot point in a romance novel.
Or we struggle to identify any boundaries for our relationship. We struggle with people-pleasing and relinquishing our control and saying anything that might make the other person even slightly uncomfortable.
When We Fail to Voice Our Needs
For example, I struggle to voice my own emotions so much that I was on a date with my boyfriend, and I was so thirsty I felt like I was going to pass out, but I did not once ask him for a glass of water. I did not once say I didn’t feel well. Instead, I smiled and nodded and hurried the date along so I could get back to the refuge of my car and guzzle a piping hot water bottle that had been sitting in my car for two weeks.
Why did I not simply ask for a glass of water?
I don’t know. I think I might not have wanted to inconvenience him or disrupt the flow of conversation or be needy in any way at all.
To be clear, INFJs aren’t the only personality type that sometimes fails to voice their needs and desires — but it does tend to be a big problem for us. When we INFJs fall into this trap, we wind up unfulfilled. This leads to resentment, and when we become so resentful, we resort to the infamous door slam.
For me, it’s so much easier to resort to a place of logic rather than voicing my feelings. It’s why I like my job working in the finance world. I think it’s easier to be analytical rather than emotional — except I’ll be super emotional if you tell me about your ex-boyfriend cheating on you over the Fourth of July weekend. I’ll get super excited for you when you tell me about your promotion at work. But when I do something that’s worth talking about, I turn into a Thinker and rationalize that it’s not humble to be proud of myself or nobody really wants to hear what I have to say.
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How to Check in With Your Feelings
So why does it matter?
It matters because even though INFJs are great counselors (hey, I’m writing you this self-help article!), we can suck at dissecting our own feelings. That’s because when we turn inward, we go to a place of analysis rather than feeling. When we turn outward, we present a stunning knack for picking up the temperature of the room.
So use your logic to ask yourself feeling questions like, “How does this relationship make me feel right now? Not ten years from now. Today. Am I feeling good about it today?” If the answer is yes, then you don’t need to think anymore.
If the answer is no, then you need to ask yourself why. Is it because you were unable to ask for a glass of water? Is it because your partner offended you by accident? Or is it something more serious like a lack of communication or a difference in core values?
Whatever it is, you have to verbalize it. You have to get it out of your over-analyzing mind and do something about it. But also be kind to yourself, for that skill is not built in a day. You will always have the tendency to think about an outcome before you decide to feel it.
So use your logic to your advantage. Do not simply disappear without an explanation. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Think about how you want to communicate with your partner and imagine the conversation. Be firm, but resolute.
We INFJs don’t have to struggle with relationships if we are willing to risk being vulnerable. If we can get comfortable outside our heads, if we can ask for a glass of water, the romance of the night might never end.