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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default My friend's scary inability to commit to anything

    I’ve known him since he was 26. He’s now 30 – we’re about the same age. His inability to commit to anything is actually frightening me.

    He is definitely an enneagram type 7 and I think probably an ESFP. Definitely ExxP. We’ve been quite close friends since I’ve known him, four years, with some rough spots. I had feelings for him for a long time, not entirely resolved, though events in the last year or so have encouraged me to apply logic to the idea of us ever being together :S

    He’s always vented to me about his frustrations. Being an INFJ I guess I am a sucker for that. It makes me feel close to people and needed. It has become an unhealthy pattern for us though and I have realised that it has done no one any good. He just bounces one idea or frustration after another off me, but the next time I see or talk to him, whether that’s a day or three weeks later, he could be saying something completely different. I think him venting to me just relieves the pressure but it doesn’t actually seem to help him work anything out. And it has resulted in me feeling frustrated and emotionally exhausted.

    He is obsessed with keeping his options open. The first couple of years I knew him, he often seemed happy but he was very restless. He was always travelling and seemed happiest when on a trip or planning a trip. We belong to the same church and when we’d speak he seemed alternately happy and confident about where he was with friends, etc, or frustrated and conflicted. There were times when I felt lonely and would tell him about it and he’d either sympathize or be a bit dismissive and say “well you have friends, don’t you” or whatever. Or – he’d tell me that the group he socialized with felt superficial, he was tired of parties etc and wanted people in his life from the church who were more interested in the spiritual practice. He could have found them in the church, by the way, but he always gravitated more towards the ones who seemed to be there mainly for their rather superficial social life. (I seemed to be one of the exceptions as a more serious friend.)

    What has ultimately left me frustrated and emotionally exhausted is that he has constantly vented to me about various things but then done the opposite. He’d complain about how superficial the parties were and the people he met at them, but he went to all of them anyway. He told me that he didn’t have many friends (both of us are ex-pats) which I always found really bizarre because the guy is so charming and most people like him right away. But his problem is the opposite to mine – he can form connections quickly and easily, but doesn’t develop them. I don’t form connections easily but am quite good at developing friendships. He told me that only I and one of his flatmates had always been there for him the last few years. I asked him gently if he thought he could have done more to develop his friendships. He said “yes – probably.” But he doesn’t…

    He went to Africa for six months to do volunteer work and seemed to have a great time. But I almost wonder if it was partly because he knew it wasn’t a long-term commitment. Since he came back he seems more confused than ever. I’ve been through these times in my life too when I wake up every morning and have a different idea for what I should do. But it passes and it hasn’t happened to me in a big way since I was about 25. He seems to be permanently stuck in this mode and it’s getting worse. He made some changes which I thought were quite commendable and would be good for him and now he is actively reversing them all. When I wanted to know why (and got kind of emotional and upset, which created tension between us) he basically just said he wanted to keep his options open because he’s not sure how long he’s going to stay in this city – etc. He is basically going back to all kinds of unhealthy situations he said he had left behind. It seems he found that some of the changes he recently made were more difficult than he expected. He won’t stick with anything difficult, at least not if it implies anything more than the tiniest amount of commitment.

    I actually fear for him and I am also fed up. He doesn’t understand why I got upset about this. He doesn’t have enough imagination to understand why I would take it at all “personally”. He’s been bouncing things off me for years, saying one thing and doing another – I told him I’m not just a sounding board and he didn’t seem to get that. He has trouble looking outside of himself. He doesn’t really understand how his actions affect others or why someone who cares about him would feel exhausted and upset by his issues and the way he unloads them on me. He doesn’t seem happy, there is always a negative reason for the decisions he takes.

    I wish I could help him but I feel like I can’t any more. I feel like I just have to say “sorry you feel that way – hope it works out” and not go any further, the next time he wants to vent to me. It is a bit worrying that he is 30 and has this degree of commitment-phobia and is this addicted to keeping his options open. Even if he moves somewhere he’s happier or whatever, it will never last if he has this fundamental problem. And he’ll never be able to sustain a long-term relationship, which I think he would like to eventually.

    Sorry this is so long. I just don’t know what to do any more about this relationship in my life. I seriously think the guy might need professional help.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Sounds like a normal ESFP. I'm not going to say unhealthy, because I've never met one who isn't somewhat like that.

  3. #3
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    Sounds like a normal ESFP. I'm not going to say unhealthy, because I've never met one who isn't somewhat like that.
    I used to think he was ESTP but I'm pretty sure he's too emotional.

    Is it really normal? It just seems like it's so extreme and like he hasn't actually grown up at all between 26 and 30. Maybe it would seem more normal if he were 19...?

    I think I've expressed before that ESFPs generally drive me crazy. or at least those who act like stereotypical ESFPs. He doesn't seem stereotypical, though. Just frustrated and unable to commit.

    Maybe it just seems extreme/scary to me because he might well be the only ESFP I've ever been close to, if that is indeed his type.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Well, 30 is a bit old.. you're right. Uh, I'm sure there are others who are different.. just seems to be normal, in my experience.

    When is it that he opens up anyways? At random, or when he's lonely? I know an ESFP who might do that when he has nothing else going on, but the minute things change, it's a completely different ballgame. We still are good friends, but I don't take any of the sentimental talk seriously anymore, unfortunately. He's just a friend though..I'm not upset.. it's not the same situation as yours.

  5. #5
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post

    When is it that he opens up anyways? At random, or when he's lonely? I know an ESFP who might do that when he has nothing else going on, but the minute things change, it's a completely different ballgame. We still are good friends, but I don't take any of the sentimental talk seriously anymore, unfortunately. He's just a friend though..I'm not upset.. it's not the same situation as yours.
    Ah, you make a very good point there though. That's something I've wondered about too, particularly at various times when I've been thinking more about maybe him liking me as more than a friend. Yes, he does open up to me when he's lonely, but it's also rather random, if that makes sense. He seems to become lonely at unexpected times. This is a guy who could easily be out socializing non-stop if he wanted. Like even one time when he met me at a party with some mutual acquaintances and said how glad he was to see me because he'd already been to another party (and had way too much to drink) and there was no one there that he could talk to. I think sometimes he has been sentimental with me because he's drinking or lonely or just feeding me a bit of a line. It's hard to tell.

    But sometimes recently for instance, he'd tell me he had an invite to a BBQ but wasn't in the mood but he'd be happy if I came round and had a drink with him and watched the soccer game. And instead we wouldn't even watch the game but would just talk. That sort of thing. He can become quite withdrawn even when he has opportunities to be out socializing. He has been like that a lot lately. And then he complains about people who are supposedly his friends and situations which he should be enjoying.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    That's funny that you mention drinking, because I kinda treat the guy above basically like a drunk if he opens up. Sad, eh? There was an ESFP girl similar to him a few years back as well, but she was actually a drunk, so whatever.

    Anyways, maybe give this dude a few more chances though.. Sounds like he's uber-confused, and actually is trying to get in touch with what he wants. Maybe if it matters, you might want to kick his butt.....? Just a thought. A small ultimatum maybe. Just take care of yourself, don't get too down if it doesn't work out.

  7. #7
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    That's funny that you mention drinking, because I kinda treat the guy above basically like a drunk if he opens up. Sad, eh?

    Maybe give this dude a few more chances though.. Sounds like he's uber-confused, and actually is trying to get in touch with what he wants. Maybe if it matters, you might want to kick his butt.....? Just a thought. A small ultimatum maybe. Just take care of yourself, don't get too down if it doesn't work out.


    Thanks

    I've kind of written off the idea of us being together. But not entirely. It's all rather unhealthy really. But even setting that aside, yeah, there is no doubt that he's uber-confused. I just feel bad for him and also frustrated on my own behalf because I seem to be the honorary sounding board. I know it's a compliment in a way but sometimes I also feel used.

    The butt-kicking is a good suggestion really The trouble was that most recently I got emotional on him and he came back with "I don't know why you're taking this personally, why are we having all this drama?" Maybe if I was less emotional and more straightforward: "You have serious issues with committing to anything. You keep running away. You're self-centered." Etc. It kind of scares me to do that. Or I could be non-harsh but just say "Your venting to me is stressing me out and upsetting me and it actually doesn't seem to be doing you any good either. So, I'm sorry, but I can't serve that purpose for you any more. Let me know how it all works out."

    EDIT: Also, it doesn't seem normal for an ESFP to be this down and this moody for so long. I always thought that was usually pretty brief with ESFPs and then they'd bounce up again. There have been times when he's been more like that...but at the same time he was making a lot of bad decisions around then! I wonder if I've got his type wrong but then again I don't know what else he could be. Neither ESTP nor ENFP seem quite right.
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