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.