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  1. #1

    Default An INFP's Dilemma or Just Mine?

    in the thread about when and if INFs give up on people, toonia disliked my comments and searched my old posts and found what she felt were conflicts between what i was saying in that thread and what i had said at other times.

    because of this i went back and re-read all of my old posts here, and this got me to thinking about something--i would admit that i am internally conflicted a lot these days about what i think of people in general and what i think of people specifically--and from reading posts on infpgc, it seems that this may be problem of older infps in general--on the one hand i have a deep love of humanity and the idea of people, but on the other i have been treated very badly by people who meant a lot to me over my life and avoid close relationships for the most part now. to prevent cynicism and maintain my idealism, i have largely kept myself from interacting with people for the last two years.

    i don't have any ill feelings toward those people who hurt me, i've never been able to hold a grudge and i don't see them as bad people, but i do have trust and attachment issues from it, and to be honest, for the last two years i have mostly been a hermit, and i now prefer the company of people who are openly flawed in some way to people who seem to have it all together (i spent a day last week working with a mildly retarded woman and it was the most pleasant day i've had in a long time with another person, because there was no gamesmanship, no dissembling, no power-plays, it was just really honest--it made me sad to think how life could be if everyone wasn't motivated by fear and trying to convince everybody else that they aren't as screwed up as the next person and don't really suck like we all do).

    anyway, my question is this: is this something other infps here have experienced a conflict between your generalized love of humanity and the reality of how you have been treated that causes sort of a disconnect in your thinking? and if so, have you reacted like i have, to preserve the love of humanity at the expense of actually having people in your life?

    (ps: before the triumvirate of toonia, cafe, and heart jump on me with "aha!"--i didn't bail on anyone, they all bailed on me--the boys i knew left for prettier girls and the girls i knew left for husbands and kids and life got in the way with everyone else--married people are allergic to single people...and by 35 just about everyone you ever knew is now married...).
    none of us, no, not one is perfect, and were we to love none who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love

  2. #2
    heart on fire
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    I really don't have the concentration to get too deep into this one right now, but I want to say there is a BIG difference between someone who has personal issues that are hard for them to overcome and someone who is self-destructive or a user of others.

    You might find this article interesting.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meursault View Post
    [...] on the one hand i have a deep love of humanity and the idea of people, but on the other i have been treated very badly by people who meant a lot to me over my life and avoid close relationships for the most part now. to prevent cynicism and maintain my idealism, i have largely kept myself from interacting with people for the last two years.[...]

    [...] have you reacted like i have, to preserve the love of humanity at the expense of actually having people in your life? [...]
    I've addressed this issue in the past on other forums, so I'll respond. Forgive me if I put my own spin on things by spouting my own ideas about the nature of "idealism." But the two sentences quoted above seem to be at the center of the OP, and the concept of idealism seems to be at the center of the two sentences quoted above.

    I'll provide my own ideas about the nature of idealism, and then I'll answer your question: ("An INFP's Dilemma or Just Mine?")

    I don't like idealism for 4 reasons:

    1) It's kind of a fraud. What good does it do to say, "I like humanity, but I don't get along with humans," or "I like women, but I have to keep them away from me because I never get along with any of them"? It would be more honest to say "I like a fiction that I've invented in my head and that's loosely based on a real thing in life that I can't stand or that can't stand me."

    2) Like most fictions, ideals tend to be self-serving. When I had my own ideals, I noticed that they didn't match other people's ideals. They were really only about me and what would serve my needs best. But what good are ideals if they are self-serving? One person says, "I love humanity, as long as it doesn't include gays." Another person says, "I love humanity, as long as everyone is always generous and self-sacrificing and never does anything selfish." Those two people both love humanity, but their ideals are unrealistic. Both are always going to find plenty of reason to point their finger at others and find plenty of people to dislike.

    3) Ideals tend to be used as clubs for beating people over the head. The two guys mentioned in point number 2 are going to spend their lives berating people for not living up to their ideals. Meantime, people who have learned to live with humanity in its actual, flawed form are going to wonder why these two idealists and lovers of humanity exude so much discontent and spend so much time arguing with others. In a way, it's a positive feature: A lot of the hate and venom in the world is due to people wanting to improve the world and make the world to live up to an ideal. But the downside is that a lot of people are being clubbed on the head in the process.

    4) Idealists tend to be vulnerable and defensive in debates. That is, an idealist berates other people in a debate for not living up to an ideal. But then the other people in the debate notice that they are being held to an unusually high standard and they ask the idealist how he deals with certain real-life situations. And since the ideal is largely a fiction, the idealist himself can't prove he is living up to his ideal in his own real-life circumstances and he quickly ends up on the defensive. And that becomes another reason for the idealist to become venomous and club the other people over their head even harder with the ideal.

    As a result of all this, I tend not to like idealists. I've been one myself, and I didn't like the results. So I try to accept others as they are. When I meet other idealists, I try not to debate them; I write off their strong language and sideswipes at others as mere hyperbole, and in my head I retranslate their language into more moderate terms for communication purposes. But I do kind of snicker when other folks take idealists at face value and argue with them. I figure the burden is on the idealist to wise up and accept reality or face self-banishment from the thing they supposedly love so much.

    To answer your question from the OP: Yes, one sees this kind of idealism a lot among INFPs. Keirsey labels us the Idealists as a personality type, and idealists tend to run into the problem of needing to separate themselves from the thing they love so that they can remain in love with the fictional version and won't have to face up to and admit their dislike for the real thing itself (or won't have to learn to genuinely like the real thing).

    I used to post on INFP-GC and ran into a lot of idealists with your problem to one degree or another. Like I said, I tried to deal with them by reinterpreting their language as hyperbole. But it wore on me, and I increasingly wanted to throttle them and yell, "But what about real life!?!" I got tired of responding to posts about hypothetical situations and saying, "Well in real life, here's what happens..."

    Like I said, this is my own spin on idealism. I admit that it's pretty cynical; and I've oversimplified things a bit for brevity's sake. But that's how I see things. It's a personal opinion; take it with a grain of salt. I'm not looking to debate with you or put your back against the wall on this or any other issue. It's just that I've responded to other questions about the nature of INFP idealism in the past and I have this nice neat response worked out as a result.

    If you don't like it, then ignore it and move on. It's a personal observation about the nature of idealism and INFPs in general, not an attack against you personally or a negative reaction to anything you've said and done here.

  4. #4
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    I know NF's who do social work and their outlook is essentially similar: Original idealism and love of people that turns to dissapointment. They are also more comfortable being with people who are somewhat "flawed" as you suggest than people who have it all together. This is because they have trust issues and feel more at ease with someone that would/could not try to harm them. They also feel that they can bring something to someone "flawed" whereas they cannot do anything for someone who has it all together.

    I think this is the danger of high idealism. When your expectations and beliefs of people are too high, you can only go downhill to dissapointment.

  5. #5
    Mamma said knock you out Mempy's Avatar
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    It may comfort you to know that everyone is flawed, whether openly or not. Do you hold it against those who want to hide their flaws? I'm pretty sure a lot of people do that, unless they're really unselfconscious.

    It's weird that you say you like openly flawed people but also say that it's flawed people in the past who have hurt you. I'm not sure how you can like flawed people, in that case, and only let those kinds of people into your life, when logically speaking the people who hurt you would have to be flawed, too.

    FineLine and Maverick have points. The highest price of idealism is bitter disappointment, and if you set the bar too high, who's ever going to meet it? But the paradox here is that you seem to like flaws - which everyone has - but not like humanity. If you like flaws, you should LOVE humanity, hehe. I mean, what better place to find them?

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    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    I went to insta-reply and realized that I will have to give this one some more thought. I have a few opinions to offer, but I suspect they are more convenient than true.

  7. #7
    Wait, what? Varelse's Avatar
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    I've certainly seen cases where an NF's idealism wound up causing problems, generally because they expected things to go ideally, and then got hurt and angry when things didn't.
    We are not poets
    We have no right to make amendments

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    To answer your question from the OP: Yes, one sees this kind of idealism a lot among INFPs. Keirsey labels us the Idealists as a personality type, and idealists tend to run into the problem of needing to separate themselves from the thing they love so that they can remain in love with the fictional version and won't have to face up to and admit their dislike for the real thing itself (or won't have to learn to genuinely like the real thing).


    So true! I'm getting over that. I'm turning a bit cynical, but I like it.


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    Meursault -When you are isolated it's very easy for you to live up to your ideals and blame other people for being so flawed, there is nobody challenging your patience and you don't have to confront your demons, therefore you don't have to adjust your views to reality. (Not sure I'm being clear enough)

    I find it has been more rewarding to adjust my views and live among people. Isolation caused me a lot of harm.

  9. #9
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    Reading this, I realized that I do not really understand this sort of idealism. I have noticed it in my INFP friend I meet weekly too. For a long time, he seemed to take someone's humanity (i.e., their weaknesses and failures) personally.

    The difference especially came out when a mutual friend lied to everyone for months about the nature of a relationship of his and eventually left his wife/family for this other woman. I suspected all along he was cheating because his story did not "make sense" to me... but I did not take it as a personal affront to me, although obviously he was lying to me directly at times. I just took it as a sign of his particular issues. I could see what he COULD be if he changed in positive ways and wished he could; but I also accepted his humanity and saw the realistic parts and did not hold them against them.

    But my INFP friend felt so betrayed by the lies that he could not talk to this person even when they tried to reestablish a relationship later, whereas I might have still judged the adulterer's behavior as "wrong" to me but I could still relate to him normally. My friend is one of the kindest, outwardly non-judgmental people I've ever known; but he took this action very very personally, like a slur against his idealism.

    My friend and I both "love humanity" (oh, I think I've made that joke forever -- "I love humanity, it's people I hate"), but he has the same protective devices up, the same hard judgments. And these are the only times I really get a glimpse of him "angry" -- on those rare occasions he has opened up and shared how BADLY he was hurt by someone behaving a certain way, violating his ideals for them.

    I wish I could understand it better than I do.

    I do agree with FineLine's assessment and would have grown frustrated having to keep dragging the conversation back to "real life." Idealistically, people COULD be "here"... but realistically, they are never there, they are always a bit lower on the ladder. So why is their failure to meet the ideal such a personal affront? It's unrealistic. Shouldn't the ideal just be the goal, and a very real wish for someone, but not a burden for them to suffer under as they can never really meet it?

    (And realistically, a relationship is not what exists in your head, it is what actually exists between you and the other person. I don't think it's very possible to "love humanity" if one can't deal with people. It's more like one is actually in love with their personal vision [for humanity], just in love with a part of themselves... and not really in love with actual people. Reading a poet like EA Robinson, who managed to somehow convey love and affection for individual people who were very flawed and letting others down -- to me that is real love of humanity.)

    I don't know. I just wish I could understand it better.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  10. #10
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    If a friend will lie to his wife and family about an affair, he will someday lie too YOU.

    I would never trust this person again. I would always know when dealing with them what they proven to me themselves they were capable of.

    That's just common sense self protection and nothing there about pie in the sky idealism.

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