What It’s Like Coming Out When You’re an Introvert and INTJ

a gay pride flag representing an introvert and INTJ coming out

Where descriptors like “Libra” and “Enneagram Type 1” have failed me, INTJ depicts me with frightening accuracy. When I first learned my Myers-Briggs personality type and read that my peer group (INTJ women) was 0.5 percent, I felt a strange sense of peace: an answer to the incessant speculations of why no one around me seemed to think, act, feel, desire, or interact the way I do.

Then — as is the INTJ way — I began to think more.

My rational side makes friendships with similar “Thinking” men incredibly easy, and before I came out as a lesbian, it made being in romantic relationships with men easy, too. Feelings only came up in the form of hunger and fatigue. I was given the reigns to decide what we did, where we ate, and when we scheduled things. Like many INTJs, I’m a heavy overthinker. If I went into a self-absorbed world of my own thoughts — and consequently completely neglected my relationship — my partner was indifferent.

I knew that when I came out, my life was going to change. At the time, it was impossible to know just how much it would change and what that change would (dare I say it?) feel like.

Here’s what it was like for me, as an introvert and INTJ, to come out — and what I learned from the experience.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

Coming Out Makes Something Deeply Intimate About You Public

When I came out, my life and the way I viewed myself shifted dramatically. My former identity as a straight woman who secretly dated women was comfortable and private; I had control over the very select individuals who knew about my same-sex interests. Privacy is an INTJ trait I value immensely. Coming out was uncertain; it involved putting something deeply intimate about myself out in the open. Coming out isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, but by its very nature, it means that your sexuality is no longer secret — you’re no longer able to fly under the radar.

In Japanese society, which is more “introverted” than Western society, coming out is shameful: Not for religious or political reasons, but because it rocks the boat, it disturbs the status quo. As an introvert, I felt this; I felt discomfort at wearing my sexuality on my sleeve. Telling the world I was not the person they thought I was felt risky, incalculable.

My “judgement” alarms were going off: Predictability and control were going out the window. Every day I had to make the impulse decision whether to use the word “girlfriend” or “partner,” to decide to out myself (or not) to someone who may object to my sexuality.

I Never Planned on Coming Out

Coming out was something I actually never planned on doing, but then I met Alexandra.

I was attracted to Alexandra because she was magic. Amazing things happened to her and around her. She was so different from me; unabashed, confident, warm, extroverted, and approachable. Unlike myself, no one has ever described her as cold or robotic. I wanted to melt into her and be likable and fearless too. I threw all INTJ-ness to the wind and fell in love without analyzing and debating the logic. Before I realized it, I was now an out member of the LGBTQIA community.

My Introversion Clashed With the LGBT Scene

My new lesbian friends loved crystals, sitting around and talking about their past lives under the full moon, tarot card readings, and gossiping about other lesbians we knew. This was different for me; like other INTJs, I adore facts and logic. But I wanted to fit in with my new queer community, so I suppressed my anxiety and attended ecstatic dance nights, drank herbal concoctions, and let them fill me in on my horoscope for the week.

At gay bars, I felt like a sore thumb: nervous by the parade of suitors touching me to see if I wanted to dance, intimidated by the flamboyant exuberance, sure everyone could see how out of place I felt.

Although I love my new friends and community, my introversion clashed with the LGBT scene. Pride is about confidence, community, and socialization. I am about trying to crack the latest murder mystery I’m reading, remembering to drink my tea before it has lost all semblance of warmth, and keeping my to-do list checked off. Nothing is less low-key or low-stimulus than Pride weekend. Every year I excitedly check online for the dates and mark it on the calendar, but as the weekend approaches, my introvert reluctance kicks in. I worry I’m not “gay enough,” that my lack of brightly colored rainbows will mark me as an imposter, or that I will get to the festival looking for some proof that I’m amongst My People only (in true introvert fashion) to take a quick lap and head back home disappointed, exhausted by the crowds, and ready to withdraw.

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My ‘Weaknesses’ Felt Exposed

Since coming out, my personality type “weaknesses” have felt exposed: feelings, romance, feeling like an “amateur” lesbian… few things have been more humiliating than not understanding the jokes, lingo, stereotypes, and culture of my own LGBT community.

For example, I didn’t learn that I had been a “U-Haul lesbian” until months after Alexandra and I had impulsively moved across the country. I thought our immediate love had clouded me into making a hasty judgment, but it turns out, I was just your “average” lesbian.

Similarly, lesbian friends will ask me what L Word character I am and watch me squirm in discomfort as I admit I haven’t seen the show. My INTJ love of being knowledgeable, an expert in a little of everything, was punctured. I didn’t feel like an INTJ “Mastermind.” I didn’t know anything about being a lesbian besides being attracted to women.

How I ‘Solved’ My Disconnect

In genuine INTJ fashion, I wanted to “solve” my disconnect with my queer community. I wanted it to be a puzzle that I could see a pattern to and beat. Unfortunately, acceptance and pride in one’s sexuality is rarely so systematic.

To ease the difficulties, Alexandra and I started seeing a couples therapist. Our couples therapist is an expert in marginalized and oppressed groups. He was the first person to expose me to the truth that in the United States, introverts are a marginalized group. I didn’t need him to explain to me that homosexuals are also a marginalized group. I know that 0.5 percent of the female population is an INTJ, and roughly 3.5 percent of the population is LGBT. It’s been awhile since I took AP Statistics, but I know finding a likeliness based off of two small likelinesses makes one really small likeliness. For me, these numbers help explain why finding people who think, process, and respond like I do has been difficult — and in a way, that brings me a sense of peace.

Reclaiming myself is an ongoing process. Sifting through my true and false selves is exhausting. Separating “Who I Think I Should Be” from “Who I Want To Be” and “Who I Actually Am” is a daily challenge.

Nevertheless, I’m gradually learning to stop mentally comparing myself to my charismatic ENFP “Campaigner” girlfriend and be proud of who I am — introversion and all — even if it means no one gives me a free muffin because I’m just so cool and likable. (Yes, that kind of thing really happens to her!) I’ve had to realize that the feeling of being an outsider at Pride isn’t a reflection of my sexuality, it’s just my INTJ-ness flaring up. I remind myself that making new friends has always been a challenge, and that there are other introverted gays out there looking for me just like I’m looking for them (if only we’d get out and meet each other!).

INTJs may not be the poster children for gay culture, but we’re here, and we matter! Embracing and living my truest LGBT INTJ life has been a struggle, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s that there are few things an INTJ loves more than a good challenge.

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