When my partner and I started dating, he used to consistently point out the issues he had with my social skills, or lack thereof. It has taken me a good amount of time to make him understand that the INFJ, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, can be a little more complex when it comes to relationships — and it’s not for a lack of trying.
I sometimes wish we INFJs came with instruction manuals to make it easier for potential partners, and even new friends, to figure out our often complicated way of doing things. If I had my way, I would have handed one to my partner early on and saved both of us the trouble!
My version of an INFJ manual would highlight these five important points. INFJs, can you relate?
5 Things You Should Know About Dating INFJs
1. Respect our need for space and downtime.
For INFJs, socializing can often become quite draining, because despite how social we may appear, we are introverts. This doesn’t only apply to being around big groups of people, but even to family, close friends, and our partner, so this really isn’t something to be taken personally. If you find your INFJ partner wanting to spend some time alone, let them. For introverts, not getting enough alone time can cause frustration, resentment, and fatigue. As much as we want to spend time with you, we need to spend time with ourselves too.
2. Big groups of people overwhelm us.
When my partner started introducing me to his friends, he did so with groups of people at a time. How utterly uncomfortable it was for me, sitting there and being my usual observant self, gauging each individual person, thinking about what I was going to say and deciding if it was appropriate before opening my mouth. By then, the topic of conversation had changed, as they do quickly in large groups of people.
At one point, he was starting to think I wasn’t making any effort to make friends with his friends and was getting irritated with me. I quickly pointed out to him that I have indeed become very close with one of his friends, who I’ve taken to yoga classes and regular lunch dates, as well as recruited to join my sports team — this friend being someone I got to know at my own pace and comfort level.
Although INFJs often come across as warm and friendly, mingling with new people isn’t always easy for us, especially with the added pressure that these are people their new partner considers important. So if you’re planning to introduce your INFJ partner to friends and family, remember to start small. Like most introverts, INFJs feel more comfortable interacting one-on-one.
3. We don’t necessarily want to be friends with all your friends.
INFJs are picky when it comes to who they let in their lives. You may hear us talk about how we only have a handful of close friends. These would be people we can share intellectual and intuitive conversations with, or simply sit together in comfortable silence. We value these particular relationships with an intensity and intimacy that can surpass shallow bonds and resonate on an almost soulful level.
This is not to say that we can’t have a pleasant and friendly acquaintance with your friends. However, it is worth noting that INFJs are keen observers and can smell shallow and manipulative charmers miles away. Cold, blunt, and unempathetic people turn us off, and we will avoid them at all costs.
And because INFJs are natural empaths, the last thing we need is to be surrounded by negative and toxic people. If you see us keeping our distance from certain friends of yours, it is likely for this reason.
4. We are likely to retreat rather than retaliate during conflict.
Conflict avoidance is a common problem with INFJs, because they greatly value harmony in their relationships. I say “problem” because quite often, avoiding conflict tends to make things worse. When conflict is not dealt with early on, it will only escalate into something bigger and more difficult to resolve.
I admit I really struggled with this for a long time. After a couple of instances that involved me having a massive go at my partner for something hurtful he said or did that I just kept to myself for days, we both agreed something had to be done. Now, when we have a disagreement, he is to give me space to process my thoughts and emotions rather than demand I open up right away. In turn, I have to layout whatever it is that’s bothering me, no matter how uncomfortable the conversation gets.
Over time, he did begin to appreciate the fact that I can bring up difficult conversations with a calm demeanor after having had the time to think things through. And I, on the other hand, feel that I have been given a safe space to speak up without being threatened that by doing so, I could cause disharmony in our relationship.
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5. We tend to overthink.
Like many introverts, INFJs have quite an imagination. We like to think, analyze, rationalize, hypothesize, deduct, fantasize… you name it. Although it’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes overthinking borders on obsession and can sabotage relationships.
For example, I once had a fight with my partner, and for that one week we were avoiding each other, I kept going on in my mind about how our recent conversation went, what I said, and what I should have said. I’d already imagined countless times how I was going to deliver my spiel the day we were supposed to talk. I remember it sounded very much like something you might have seen in a Dawson’s Creek episode.
My overthinking tendency is not something I expect my partner to fix for me, but I appreciate that he acknowledges it. It’s not uncommon for me to suddenly go on a lengthy monologue about a realization I just had, and even when he doesn’t have any input, just having someone listen is usually more than enough. Some days, he takes me for a walk in the park when he sees I am getting too far off the deep end of overthinking, and more often than not, I end up getting clarity afterward; spending time in nature has been shown to cure overthinking.
It may seem like initiating a relationship with an INFJ is quite challenging, and in some ways, I have to admit that it is. However, if you’re lucky enough to have an INFJ in your life, know that, with their capacity to connect with others with unparalleled depth, you can expect nothing more than love so fierce and passionate that you can’t help but say this is all worth it.
INFJs, what would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.