The Surprising Dark Side of the INFJ

an INFJ shows their dark side

INFJs are usually gentle and kind. However, when they feel hurt, stressed, or angry, their dark side comes out.

No one likes to talk about the dark side of the INFJ, the rarest personality type in the world. Typically, INFJs are known for being gentle, thoughtful, and kind-hearted. Yes, we are those things, and so much more.

Among the Myers-Briggs types, few care as deeply about humanity on a large scale as INFJs do. They are often ideally suited for starting social movements that address injustices — iconic figures like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. are thought to have been INFJs.

However, under stress, a darker side of the INFJ personality comes out. While generally private and reserved with their feelings, INFJs are not immune to outbursts or criticism of others when they feel angry or hurt. For friends and loved ones, witnessing this dark side of the INFJ can be confusing.

(Speaking of stress, here are some more odd things INFJs do under stress.)

Let’s take a look at the dark side of the INFJ. In other words, what happens when an INFJ is stressed and at their worst? It’s important to remember that no two INFJs are exactly the same, and these “dark” INFJ traits might be present in other types, though usually not in the same way or intensity as with INFJs.

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The Dark Side of the INFJ

1. Stubbornness

You see that “J” at the end of INFJ? It’s responsible for our strong need to plan and prepare for the future. INFJs are capable of being spontaneous, but there are times when we cannot wrap our minds around a new idea. Sometimes, even a small change in the day’s plan can rattle us, like hearing, “We’re not going to the movie tonight; we’re going to hang out here instead.”

In truth, if we have our minds set on something, it might take several attempts for us to change it. This might come across as inflexibility, but in reality, we just need a bit more time to become comfortable with the new plan or idea. As long as it doesn’t go against our deeply held values, we’ll probably come around to it… eventually.

2. High expectations

Despite what we INFJs might tell ourselves, we often harbor high expectations — not only for ourselves but also for others, particularly those close to us, like our partners, best friends, or kids. Of course, the standards rise higher the closer someone gets.

We especially have high expectations when it comes to love. In a new relationship, we may feel quite discouraged when the excitement and romance inevitably start to fade. Then we start wondering if we were right to get into the relationship in the first place. If we’re honest with ourselves, what we really want is the ideal romance.

Actually, what we really want is the ideal everything.

Of course, we know that no one is perfect, and neither are we. If we set high expectations on you, it’s a sign we INFJs care about you and want you to care about us, too.

3. Moodiness

We know when to be on our best behavior, but honestly, we’re often swayed by how we feel in the moment. We may appear calm on the outside, even when inside, we INFJs are a bundle of intense emotions. It’s usually apparent when something is bothering us, but that doesn’t mean we’ll want to talk about it. INFJs, revealing the dark side of their personality, can be guilty of pushing people away and throwing a pity party. Although we’d like someone to confide in, we often feel that most people wouldn’t understand us, even if we did open up.

Sometimes, we INFJs are just as confused about our moods as others are. Like other introverted types, we need time alone to sift through our emotions and understand them. If an INFJ opens up to you, they might apologize for talking about their feelings, typical of the dark INFJ. We often keep things to ourselves to spare others the burden.

However, the best thing you can do for an INFJ is to let them talk if they need to. Like anyone else, INFJs usually feel better just being able to express their feelings and concerns. Don’t judge, criticize, or offer solutions unless asked. Listen and understand our feelings, and maybe give us a hug. Sometimes, love and encouragement are all it takes for our moodiness to pass.

4. Being too harsh

We love giving helpful advice and can see a situation from many angles. If you want only what you want to hear, your INFJ friend might not be the best choice. We give honest opinions and try to be gentle, but sometimes we come across as too blunt, judgmental, or harsh. We don’t mean to be cruel, though, and we’re sorry for the times we are. Know that if your INFJ friend is being brutally honest, it’s probably from a place of genuine concern and desire for your well-being.

5. Bottling up anger, then exploding

We’re capable of adapting to the needs of others and love being a source of comfort. However, we will lash out if we feel we are being wronged. This usually happens after many minor hurts have piled up and our patience is exhausted. We tend to bottle up negative emotions because we’d rather keep the peace than tell someone they’ve hurt us.

However, like any other human, we can only take so much. Eventually, the pent-up frustration can lead to INFJ anger or even INFJ rage, exploding in a way that’s often messy. To prevent this explosion, INFJs should strive to address minor offenses as they happen, instead of letting the hurt simmer beneath the surface and grow.

(Here are some tips from a therapist for INFJs to express their feelings when they don’t want to rock the boat.)

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6. Abruptly cutting people out of our life

Have you heard of the notorious INFJ door slam? It’s when an INFJ cuts you out of their life because they are extremely hurt. They’re not doing this because they hate you. Rather, it’s because they’ve decided they can no longer deal with the emotional pain you cause them.

Remember, INFJs are often quite sensitive and emotional. In fact, many INFJs could be considered highly sensitive people. According to Jenn Granneman, author of Sensitive, sensitive people are born with a nervous system that deeply processes all types of information, like sights, sounds, emotions, and experiences. (Here are 27 “strange” behaviors you might do if you’re a highly sensitive person.)

If an INFJ slams the door on you, they may suddenly stop all communication with you. If this is not possible, because they see you every day at home, work, or school, they may simply close themselves off emotionally and refuse to allow you in. They may still talk to you when they have to, but they’ll seem cold and distant.

INFJs do not shut people out without intense contemplation. Being “judgers,” we’re not exactly impulsive people. Others may forget just how sensitive we are despite our cool “everything is fine” demeanor. But even the nicest people have their limits, and INFJs are no exception.

Often, INFJs are right to slam the door. People who have emotionally abused, deceived, or taken advantage of the INFJ should be kept out. (You can read the truth about the INFJ door slam here.)

However, sometimes INFJs are too quick to door slam. They might let little hurts build up (see #5), then explode by shutting people out. In this case, the other person may not even know what they did wrong, as the INFJ didn’t communicate that they were hurting.

How can we prevent this? By setting healthy boundaries.

Dear INFJ, being a deeply feeling person in this harsh world isn’t easy. We may have our dark side, but we are also capable of incredible love, kindness, and empathy. And most days, that beautiful side of us wins out.

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