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  1. #1
    Senior Member ZiL's Avatar
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    Default Question for ENFPs (dudes especially)

    I'm pretty sure my boyfriend is an ENFP. Our relationship has been rather unusual though, in that I have held a lot of myself back from him over a period of time because I've felt I have to come to understand some things about him before I can truly open up any vulnerability. My friends have also noticed these things and they're really not sure if I should trust him or not.

    I was wondering if any ENFPs might be able to give any insight on some his characteristics that have confused me and made me and others slow to give full trust to him.

    I guess my main questions are:

    - Have any of you created a tough outer shell to avoid vulnerability that runs almost in direct opposite to your natural personality? Do any of you hide your true self behind multiple layers of other personas? If so, are there any specific events in your life that provoked that? What does it take to get those barriers down?

    My bf can give off these strong confident/macho/narcissistic vibes a lot (and I don't like it - I can't be myself around that at all because something feels so inauthentic and off about it), but as I get to know him, I see more and more indications that that may not be such a great reflection of how he is on the inside. He mentioned once that he started trying to act more confident when he moved to a new school where he didn't know anyone, and he alludes periodically to having gotten beat up by other kids as a child. He talks like he isn't an emotional person, and maybe he is generally happy, but when he is disappointed or unhappy, he carries himself in a way where you can't look past it.

    More and more often when we are together, I notice him dropping all swagger and just seeming normal. He gets goofy, and optimistic and light-hearted. He's also far more romantic than I am. I feel like he's a sensitive person who has picked up the habit of burying his sensitivity deep behind these other personas. That's what my intuition is telling me at the moment, but I sometimes can't help but wonder if he isn't as narcissistic as he can sometimes come off. Is such talk just for show, or is it a mask, or is it a mixture of both?

    I guess I should also mention that I knew him when he was 7 or 8 years old, and I don't remember him carrying himself with such overconfidence. People change, but that at least shows to me that he must've picked up these behaviors at a later date.

    I need to figure this out. Right now my friends don't trust him and think I'm wasting my time. They think he's narcissistic, doesn't listen, and that I waste too much energy trying to figure him out. Earlier on I didn't really trust him either, but something has kept me around, and I've noticed changes for the better - I feel like he's dropping some barriers and I'm getting glimpses of a true self that is much more in line with what I want in a significant other. But I also worry I'm reading too much into it. If he is in fact a sensitive soul hiding behind barriers, I don't want to judge him wrongly.


    What do you all think? I've never had such a difficult time reading someone in my life. You'd think I could just ask him these things - I intend to now - but I've had such a hard time figuring out how to approach him about it. I've never been in a situation like this before.
    ALL AROUND THE WORLD PEOPLE EATIN' GUMBO

  2. #2
    Retired Member Wonkavision's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZiL View Post

    - Have any of you created a tough outer shell to avoid vulnerability that runs almost in direct opposite to your natural personality?
    Yes. This is a big problem for me. It protects, but it also limits.

    I'm too open sometimes, and like an impenetrable wall at other times.

    I'm in counseling for this, and establishing firm but flexible boundaries seems to be the solution.


    Do any of you hide your true self behind multiple layers of other personas?
    Sometimes. But the personas are not completely false. They are just exaggerations of real qualities.

    If so, are there any specific events in your life that provoked that?
    Yes. In my case, it would be poor boundaries and abuse in childhood.

    Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Co-dependent behaviors modeled by my parents.

    A feeling that my life was so fucked up and I was so unloved that living in a deluded, self-aggrandizing fantasy was preferable to being depressed.


    What does it take to get those barriers down?
    It may take a lot, or a little. It depends.

    But people, in general, respond to the three A's:

    Acknowledgement, Appreciation, and Acceptance.

    I feel like he's a sensitive person who has picked up the habit of burying his sensitivity deep behind these other personas. That's what my intuition is telling me at the moment, but I sometimes can't help but wonder if he isn't as narcissistic as he can sometimes come off. Is such talk just for show, or is it a mask, or is it a mixture of both?
    I think your intuition is probably right.

    He may have narcissistic tendencies.

    His big talk may be a mixture of unstable self-esteem (extreme highs and lows), or feelings of entitlement, or insecurity about the relationship, or fear of commitment, or an avoidance of any other pain or personal issues he's uncomfortable with.

    I doubt that its just for show, though it could be an over-reaching attempt to entertain, which is really about a need for affirmation( not the same as "attention", by the way, as some might assume).

    He may be codependent (not the same as "dependent"), and in need of healthier boundaries.

    For an ENFP, that basically means developing Fi--learning to set priorities, establishing a clear personal value system, and focus on living out their personal ideals rather than feeling better about themselves by focusing on the imperfections of others.

    In terms of Enneagram, he may be a type 7, which includes some narcissistic tendencies, unstable self-esteem, resistance to acknowleding personal pain, and an exaggerated need to always be confident, active, and upbeat.


    Unfortunately, if he has these issues and something doesn't change, you may need to take care of your own needs by getting out of the relationship.

    But I wouldn't give up hope right away.

    You could talk to him about it, and see what happens.


    You'd think I could just ask him these things - I intend to now - but I've had such a hard time figuring out how to approach him about it.
    Yeah, I don't think this is easy.

    It's gonna be very important to not come off like you're judging him.

    And though you may need to lay on the affirmations extra thick for an ENFP---again, he would probably respond to the same things as anyone else:

    Acknowledgement, Appreciation, and Acceptance.


    There is more on this subject in a very great book called "Communication Miracles for Couples." Amazon.com: Communication Miracles for Couples: Easy and Effective Tools to Create More Love and Less Conflict (9781573244176): Jonathan Robinson: Books

    It's a pretty short read (176 pages, in big type), and very,very good.


    I hope you find all this helpful and encouraging.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member LunaIndigo's Avatar
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    Well, I'm a girl, but I think I can shed some light. Like what Shrek said, we're like onions and have many layers. Some ENFP's have a hard time showing their true personality and self and put on this protective layer to shield themselves. It can take a lot for that layer to be peeled off. This protective layer can look like many things and it can come across as narcissistic and overly tough. I know because I've done this many times with people I don't know. Even in relationships it can be hard for me to truly be myself, despite how much I like the person.

    I was a sensitive kid and I didn't really shield myself that much until I got into high school (and subsequently started dating my ENTP boyfriend ). I seemed to have a two-sided personality. To some of my closest friends I was this upbeat, goofy person and to others I was cold and tough.

    More than likely this goofy side of his that you speak of is probably the real him. It just takes some extra effort to bring this out. How do you do this? Perhaps when he's in his goofy/romantic mood make a point to say that you enjoy it when he's like this. Or, you love how romantic he can be. Positive reinforcement is key with ENFP's. Once we know we have your approval in certain aspects, we love to give you that tenfold just to make you happy.
    ENFP 4w5

  4. #4
    Retired Member Wonkavision's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LunaIndigo View Post
    Positive reinforcement is key with ENFP's. Once we know we have your approval in certain aspects, we love to give you that tenfold just to make you happy.
    Yes. This is crucial to understand.
    __________________


    I'M OUTTA HERE.

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    TAKE CARE.

    PEACE OUT!!!


  5. #5
    Senior Member Nillerz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZiL View Post
    I'm pretty sure my boyfriend is an ENFP. Our relationship has been rather unusual though, in that I have held a lot of myself back from him over a period of time because I've felt I have to come to understand some things about him before I can truly open up any vulnerability. My friends have also noticed these things and they're really not sure if I should trust him or not.

    I was wondering if any ENFPs might be able to give any insight on some his characteristics that have confused me and made me and others slow to give full trust to him.

    I guess my main questions are:

    - Have any of you created a tough outer shell to avoid vulnerability that runs almost in direct opposite to your natural personality? Do any of you hide your true self behind multiple layers of other personas? If so, are there any specific events in your life that provoked that? What does it take to get those barriers down?

    My bf can give off these strong confident/macho/narcissistic vibes a lot (and I don't like it - I can't be myself around that at all because something feels so inauthentic and off about it), but as I get to know him, I see more and more indications that that may not be such a great reflection of how he is on the inside. He mentioned once that he started trying to act more confident when he moved to a new school where he didn't know anyone, and he alludes periodically to having gotten beat up by other kids as a child. He talks like he isn't an emotional person, and maybe he is generally happy, but when he is disappointed or unhappy, he carries himself in a way where you can't look past it.

    More and more often when we are together, I notice him dropping all swagger and just seeming normal. He gets goofy, and optimistic and light-hearted. He's also far more romantic than I am. I feel like he's a sensitive person who has picked up the habit of burying his sensitivity deep behind these other personas. That's what my intuition is telling me at the moment, but I sometimes can't help but wonder if he isn't as narcissistic as he can sometimes come off. Is such talk just for show, or is it a mask, or is it a mixture of both?

    I guess I should also mention that I knew him when he was 7 or 8 years old, and I don't remember him carrying himself with such overconfidence. People change, but that at least shows to me that he must've picked up these behaviors at a later date.

    I need to figure this out. Right now my friends don't trust him and think I'm wasting my time. They think he's narcissistic, doesn't listen, and that I waste too much energy trying to figure him out. Earlier on I didn't really trust him either, but something has kept me around, and I've noticed changes for the better - I feel like he's dropping some barriers and I'm getting glimpses of a true self that is much more in line with what I want in a significant other. But I also worry I'm reading too much into it. If he is in fact a sensitive soul hiding behind barriers, I don't want to judge him wrongly.


    What do you all think? I've never had such a difficult time reading someone in my life. You'd think I could just ask him these things - I intend to now - but I've had such a hard time figuring out how to approach him about it. I've never been in a situation like this before.
    I can relate to him more than you can imagine, it's like you're describing me. I became an arrogant cockhead when I started going to a new school. It helped me alot socially, but underneath my fun exterior and my champion appeal, I'm an INFP, scared of the world, scared of people, scared of people judging me and scared of myself.

    I like what I've become since I was young, and there have been threads about this before, it's a weird thing but don't mess with it. Part of being "the champion" involves fighting on even when your heart isn't really into it. So, yes, he's probably not like that all the time, and it probably isn't his true personality, but for the sake of himself and everyone around him, he's adopted it for the better and he's probably happier now.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Clonester's Avatar
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    Hmm... tough question. I do act differently around some people. With some I'm serious and quiet. With others I let loose and go crazy. It depends how they react to typical ENFP behavior. Personally I don't hide behind a shell. I just don't act the same all the time. If your ENFP is acting strong and confident, then hey, maybe he is actually strong and confident. Other times he is crazy because, well, he is crazy (as an ENFP typically is). If he's all romantic, it's because he's feeling romantic. Different sides show at different times.
    ENFP Male: E-74% N-95% F-58% P-84% 3w2
    "I feel there are two people inside me - me and my intuition. If I go against her, she'll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely." -Kim Basinger

  7. #7
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    I was wondering why you think he's ENFP and how sure you are of it? Also, how old are you both now?
    “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde

    "I'm outtie 5000" ― Romulux

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  8. #8
    Nickle Iron Silicone Charmed Justice's Avatar
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    I think Wonka gave a great response, and I can relate to what he and Luna said.

    I was a very sensitive child growing up and remember being moved to tears when someone was hurting or in need(or I heard of it). That fact would likely shock most of the people who know me because I can really come off as stone cold. I rarely cry anymore(in front of others). In private though, I am very emotional, and used to write things down in a journal that impacted me deeply and cry in the comfort of my own presence. I don't like to feel like I'm a personal burden to people(emotionally), so I will often hold back until I feel like I've found someone strong enough(or stable enough), to handle me. I am usually the one people go to for emotional support, so I try to hold things together emotionally.

    I was also pretty quirky in middle school, and then my parents transferred me to a large public school in a city where it seemed like virtually everyone dressed the same(brand wise), and listened to the same type of music. I was always popular(in the other school), but I realized that I was a laughing stock at the new place and I did things to ensure that wouldn't be the case for long. I became very socially ambitious and competitive, and it worked for my popularity, but as a result, few people from high school ever really knew the other side of me: goofy, offbeat, off color, and as my husband says, "dorky".

    So yes, things happen to people and they hide parts of themselves. The older you get, the more difficult it becomes to bring out those buried parts of self.

  9. #9
    Senior Member LunaIndigo's Avatar
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    I was a very sensitive child growing up and remember being moved to tears when someone was hurting or in need(or I heard of it). That fact would likely shock most of the people who know me because I can really come off as stone cold. I rarely cry anymore(in front of others). In private though, I am very emotional, and used to write things down in a journal that impacted me deeply and cry in the comfort of my own presence. I don't like to feel like I'm a personal burden to people(emotionally), so I will often hold back until I feel like I've found someone strong enough(or stable enough), to handle me. I am usually the one people go to for emotional support, so I try to hold things together emotionally.
    This, +1.
    ENFP 4w5

  10. #10
    Retired Member Wonkavision's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnFpFer View Post
    I am usually the one people go to for emotional support, so I try to hold things together emotionally.
    This used to be the case for me, but it was completely draining.

    At some point, I simply put up a wall, and retired from the emotional support business.

    I'm working on replacing the wall with healthy boundaries, but its going to take some time.
    __________________


    I'M OUTTA HERE.

    IT'S BEEN FUN.

    TAKE CARE.

    PEACE OUT!!!


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