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  1. #1

    Default INFJ female, ENFP male; need input and help!

    Ok. Apologies in advance for how huge and dense this post is. It's hard to cover so much insanity.

    So, I posted a good while back about my boyfriend, back when I could not, for the life of me, type him. He's an exemplary ENFP. I'm not hardcore about adhering to the MBTI or applying it very seriously to all situations, but I'm actually finding it's been insightful in my relationship.

    The scoop: our relationship is very strange, as far as I can tell. I dreamt about him before I knew he existed (this is documented) and we seem to have a very deep connection between us. We've shared many dreams, coincidences, and experiences long distance. We're a very unlikely pair in many ways, and the way we met (outside of dreams) was an awkward forum online. We'd known each other a couple years before we got into the relationship, and that was after I realized the slew of dreams I'd been having were about him. It went on for two years mostly a nightmare. I tried to break up with him but somehow never did, we fought, it was just...generally very unhealthy, and for reasons I now understand. As crazy as it sounds, it's extremely difficult to understand personal boundaries when you're aware of a connection like ours.

    In the end, he broke up with me and started to immediately pursue other people--guys; he's a male-preference bisexual. Even during his one relationship, when we weren't talking, he was showing up in otherwise completely unrelated dreams to tell me about his life -- details I could not have known, but were true. It was devastating and debilitating at points, to not have the ability to shut him out so that I could let go. It turned out he couldn't let go; even his relationship pursuits were him trying to find me in other people. Typical, I guess, for many break-ups. Long story short, he managed one relationship that failed (through no real direct fault of his own) and we got back together.

    It takes a lot for me to swallow my logical pride and admit that he does actually feel like a 'soul mate,' and my value system used to be very closed to such ridiculous ideas. But all things considered we're drawn back to each other repeatedly, and I've never felt so connected to anyone despite all the numerous issues. It feels in some way like we've followed each other for millennia. It's not just one of those situations where you talk to someone and realize how much you click with interests either; we're very different people in our functioning lives and our external interactions have often been very awkward. The movie Mirrormask probably sums up everything about our relationship, with a few obvious differences. I was blown away by the similarities, even in the two main characters.

    It's much healthier this time around. One problem: I have BIG ISSUES with loss in my past, and a moderate case of C-PTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) from my natural sensitivity clashing with family deaths and emotional abuse. I'm alternately aggressive and flighty as a result. I have major self doubt issues and I'm generally a wreck emotionally, at least inside. This has been a problem for years, but I'm working through it slowly. His issues stem from his childhood emotional neglect and, well, being a natural ENFP, he's flighty, too. We have a constant situation between us where we're both afraid to lose each other for all of these reasons. Really, though, that seems to be the extent of it.

    Except...

    He's a mildly bipolar ENFP and I'm a traumatized INFJ. Our communication problems are not few. Tonight we argued. He told me he didn't understand me, that most of the things I say to him about our problems just go right over his head. He can "hug me," and tell me that he loves me, but that he just doesn't work like I do with talking things through or showing affection and support. I told him that because of our connection, I often mistake his unconscious depths for what will be consciously projected.

    He is endlessly entertaining. I want to emphasize 'endlessly,' because there really isn't a break until he drops into his depression, where he becomes very quiet and withdrawn for a while. There isn't much of a chance to explore his depths, or to carry on a serious or profound conversation. There are times when he can flip a switch and become very mature and focused, his "seasoned psychotherapist" vs. "college humour comedian". Don't get me wrong, I love his bizarre, hyperactive attributes because they can bring me out of my shell. Too many will send me into hiding again, though. I often feel he's terribly insecure and hides under his jocular veil. He's very sensitive to criticism and whether I accept him or not. I can't really deeply reassure him that I do.

    In the end, we have a lot of intense history together and I love him very much, cherish him to no end, and want to promote compatibility on the outside as well as the inside. I feel like the huge issues we've been through have taught me so much that I've changed like never before in my life. He, too, has grown from it. All things considered, that's quite the feat, especially for me. These are a few of the issues we face, and probably the biggest ones right now. I'm wondering if any of you can offer words of advice, or comforting back pats. Any insight is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    mountain surfing nomadic's Avatar
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    my gf is infj. we used to be childhood friends, and didn't see each other for 25 years until recently.

    we're doing long distance now, but its crazy what you are saying about the sharing dreams stuff before you met. im not sure if i can help bc it does seem like a lot of things are different about him and me. for one, im not a male preferencing bisexual. lolz and our relationship history is a lot shorter than yours.

  3. #3

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    It's hard to know where to start. But since you two have known each other for half a century, I've no doubt there are nuggets of INFJ+ENFP wisdom to be gleaned, just in terms of the very basics. What are your problems with communication, for instance?

    Yeah, the connection is a little nuts. I wish I could understand it, why it happens, and what to do with it. For now I just ignore it, or even try to accept it as a mundane detail. I'm sure it's a once in a lifetime event.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ZiL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hotherym View Post
    There isn't much of a chance to explore his depths, or to carry on a serious or profound conversation. There are times when he can flip a switch and become very mature and focused, his "seasoned psychotherapist" vs. "college humour comedian". Don't get me wrong, I love his bizarre, hyperactive attributes because they can bring me out of my shell. Too many will send me into hiding again, though. I often feel he's terribly insecure and hides under his jocular veil. He's very sensitive to criticism and whether I accept him or not. I can't really deeply reassure him that I do.

    I am dating an ENFP whom I have known since childhood (met in elementary, he moved away, came back in high school, now dating him in college). This description here rings a thousand times true for me as well, though I'm not an INFJ. One of the most vital things for me in a relationship has always been that we can have profound conversation and explore each others minds and feelings both through conversation and through living together. There are times when my ENFP will start serious conversation, but it isn't nearly as much as I'd wish, and I'm always disappointed by how distant this can leave me feeling from him. I feel like we have so much potential for interpersonal exploration together, and yet with him putting on his "veil" like he often does, that gets stunted. It's horribly frustrating to me.

    The guy I am dating is also highly sensitive to criticism, but based on the way he acts on the outside, you might not realize it at first. He'll switch to the "comedian" vibe before you can figure things out. My problem is, I don't act the way a lot of girls do around guys they like. I show a lot of affection by joking and making fun, but I never mean any harm. I didn't realize until much later on in our relationship that he actually took a lot of what I said seriously.... Now I'm always afraid of hurting him without meaning to. I'm also slower to vocalize direct affection than he is - to say "I love you" - that's just who I am. I explain it all to him, but sometimes I still think he doesn't fully believe me when I DO say it to him. I worry we have trust issues that really aren't necessary but exist anyway because of strange miscommunications.

    I don't know how any of this might help you, but I just wanted to say that I can definitely recognize some of these descriptions in my boyfriend.
    ALL AROUND THE WORLD PEOPLE EATIN' GUMBO

  5. #5
    Senior Member toast's Avatar
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    Well, I'm an ENFJ with an ISTP & while I don't have the same dynamics in my communication issues with him, I can empathize with a lot of this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hotherym View Post
    There isn't much of a chance to explore his depths, or to carry on a serious or profound conversation. There are times when he can flip a switch and become very mature and focused, his "seasoned psychotherapist" vs. "college humour comedian". Don't get me wrong, I love his bizarre, hyperactive attributes because they can bring me out of my shell. Too many will send me into hiding again, though. I often feel he's terribly insecure and hides under his jocular veil. He's very sensitive to criticism and whether I accept him or not. I can't really deeply reassure him that I do.
    I completely understand the desperation for "meaningful" conversation. I am completely aware that so much goes on in his head but completely at a loss as to how to get it out of him. I kind of gave up on searching for the "profound" or intellectual/spiritual connection a while ago. He may start talking about something mildly stimulating or revealing, but he will end it way too quickly when I begin to talk back. It was very difficult to "get" how someone could be "in love" with me but never get past small talk. I can also somewhat empathize with these dreams of yours, (though I can't possibly understand the extent of what you're going through if they are so pervading) because for the longest time I had dreams about my ISTP giving me all the things he wouldn't give of himself in the daytime and often woke up pretty devastated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hotherym View Post
    In the end, we have a lot of intense history together and I love him very much, cherish him to no end, and want to promote compatibility on the outside as well as the inside. I feel like the huge issues we've been through have taught me so much that I've changed like never before in my life. He, too, has grown from it. All things considered, that's quite the feat, especially for me. These are a few of the issues we face, and probably the biggest ones right now. I'm wondering if any of you can offer words of advice, or comforting back pats. Any insight is greatly appreciated.
    I also relate to this. To be honest with you, as I persist in my relationship & keep jumping these hurdles that come with being with a conflicting type, I am becoming more & more convinced that patience & persistence can really make it work. Whether or not you choose to deal with all the crap you wade through to get there is another story... but I think it really can be done. My ISTP does things now that I seriously couldn't believe he was capable of. He is teaching me a new way to love and it is hard because I seldom understand it. But I get it eventually, bit by bit. He moves so very very slow... but so do I. It is about compromising "wants" while trying to make your values compliment each other and simultaneously keeping a focus on why you are in love in the first place (only way you survive all the back-bends). I feel so much more aware of the world & myself, so much stronger, because I have kept trying. And I can't say that we will be able to make it work because I have almost given up several times. But I am aware of how much we have accomplished to get to where we are now. The impact of that isn't going anywhere.

    If you don't mind me asking, what are the issues that you have trouble communicating on?

  6. #6
    mountain surfing nomadic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hotherym View Post
    It's hard to know where to start. But since you two have known each other for half a century, I've no doubt there are nuggets of INFJ+ENFP wisdom to be gleaned, just in terms of the very basics. What are your problems with communication, for instance?

    Yeah, the connection is a little nuts. I wish I could understand it, why it happens, and what to do with it. For now I just ignore it, or even try to accept it as a mundane detail. I'm sure it's a once in a lifetime event.
    well, in those 25 years, we had no contact with each other until like 3-4 months ago. its just more familiarity having been childhood friends than some communication "insight" IMO.

    we don't really have any communication problems, i think? we both know what each other is thinking. if we don't, we ask. but thats how most relationships are right??? we're both pretty honest what we are thinking about our relationship and and expectations...

    sometimes, i am a little afraid of talking about politics, because im more on the liberal side, she's more conservative. but from my perspective, its not that big of a deal? she kind of sometimes doesn't know how to be like "ahh just let him think what he wants" and thinks having different political viewpoints is a potential major point of "disharmony". she gets mad if I am not aware of her schedule and ask about something new she might be doing... but i dunno, thats about it i think??? but yeah, its only been like 3 months we been bf/gf, 2 months of it long distance.

  7. #7

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    Oh my god, guys, thanks so much for the responses. It's helped me realize certain things and flesh out others. Woo!

    Quote Originally Posted by ZiL View Post
    I am dating an ENFP whom I have known since childhood (met in elementary, he moved away, came back in high school, now dating him in college). This description here rings a thousand times true for me as well, though I'm not an INFJ. One of the most vital things for me in a relationship has always been that we can have profound conversation and explore each others minds and feelings both through conversation and through living together. There are times when my ENFP will start serious conversation, but it isn't nearly as much as I'd wish, and I'm always disappointed by how distant this can leave me feeling from him. I feel like we have so much potential for interpersonal exploration together, and yet with him putting on his "veil" like he often does, that gets stunted. It's horribly frustrating to me.
    Oh god, yes. Yes and yes. It's both refreshing and disheartening to hear, of course. It's funny, because I think by ENTP best friend (girl) had similar issues with him right off the bat. She and I have known each other since we were 10, so we're a lot more like sisters. She doesn't like his constant, specific need for attention, or his insecurities. It was hard to keep him from feeling bad about himself when we were all hanging out together.

    If I ask him to help me and to drop that veil, he basically freaks out, either internally or externally. He tells me to accept him for who he is. This sometimes occurs when I'm breaking down crying, and he can turn very cold. This, I fear, will probably cause another break up. And it's mostly due to his being...

    The guy I am dating is also highly sensitive to criticism, but based on the way he acts on the outside, you might not realize it at first. He'll switch to the "comedian" vibe before you can figure things out. My problem is, I don't act the way a lot of girls do around guys they like. I show a lot of affection by joking and making fun, but I never mean any harm. I didn't realize until much later on in our relationship that he actually took a lot of what I said seriously.... Now I'm always afraid of hurting him without meaning to. I'm also slower to vocalize direct affection than he is - to say "I love you" - that's just who I am. I explain it all to him, but sometimes I still think he doesn't fully believe me when I DO say it to him. I worry we have trust issues that really aren't necessary but exist anyway because of strange miscommunications.
    What's weird is that he has a way of saying things me means seriously in a joking fashion. It literally took me two years to figure out that when he said "I love you," he meant it and wasn't just being sarcastic or jovial. I think a lot of clashes when it's come to communication have created trust issues. And again, when he met my ENTP friend, he got hurt with her jokes, which, if taken seriously, really could be viewed more as personal attacks. He told me he'd never been around anyone who did that. I had to explain that it was her way of showing affection, and between her and I, it's always been a perfect combination. For him, it was confusing and caused him more insecurity. He's always concerned if someone likes him or not. Drives me nuts.

    I don't know how any of this might help you, but I just wanted to say that I can definitely recognize some of these descriptions in my boyfriend.
    Oh, it helps. I don't feel as terrible about my reactions toward him now, haha. I really appreciate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by toast View Post
    Well, I'm an ENFJ with an ISTP & while I don't have the same dynamics in my communication issues with him, I can empathize with a lot of this.

    I completely understand the desperation for "meaningful" conversation. I am completely aware that so much goes on in his head but completely at a loss as to how to get it out of him. I kind of gave up on searching for the "profound" or intellectual/spiritual connection a while ago. He may start talking about something mildly stimulating or revealing, but he will end it way too quickly when I begin to talk back. It was very difficult to "get" how someone could be "in love" with me but never get past small talk. I can also somewhat empathize with these dreams of yours, (though I can't possibly understand the extent of what you're going through if they are so pervading) because for the longest time I had dreams about my ISTP giving me all the things he wouldn't give of himself in the daytime and often woke up pretty devastated.

    I also relate to this. To be honest with you, as I persist in my relationship & keep jumping these hurdles that come with being with a conflicting type, I am becoming more & more convinced that patience & persistence can really make it work. Whether or not you choose to deal with all the crap you wade through to get there is another story... but I think it really can be done. My ISTP does things now that I seriously couldn't believe he was capable of. He is teaching me a new way to love and it is hard because I seldom understand it. But I get it eventually, bit by bit. He moves so very very slow... but so do I. It is about compromising "wants" while trying to make your values compliment each other and simultaneously keeping a focus on why you are in love in the first place (only way you survive all the back-bends). I feel so much more aware of the world & myself, so much stronger, because I have kept trying. And I can't say that we will be able to make it work because I have almost given up several times. But I am aware of how much we have accomplished to get to where we are now. The impact of that isn't going anywhere.

    If you don't mind me asking, what are the issues that you have trouble communicating on?
    That all sounds bizarrely similar. What's funny is my good ISTP (guy) friend is actually pretty good at talking about deeper things, but it's usually fleeting and completely spastic. He's stimulating to talk to, but can also be too focused on neurotic details. We've briefly mused about "what if" we were to be in a relationship together, yet confided to each other we'd never been in the slightest bit attracted to one another. I'm not even sure why that is. ISTP would definitely be a hell of a ride, though, I think.

    The dream thing made me sad; I've definitely had that same scenario. I remember waking up feeling very lonely about it.

    That's very impressive, what you say about what you've learned together. I don't hear that very often from anyone's relationships, but sometimes I think it's the absolute most valuable thing you can garner from them, even if they're meant in a biological sense to raise children. I guess sometimes they help us raise ourselves first.

    My ENFP provides me that loopy instability which pulls me out of my shell. He's inventive, brilliant and fast on his feet with almost everything. He can have dead-on insight about someone, when he feels confident enough. But a lot of these good points are botched by his overwhelming hedonism; he wants what he wants, and he wants it now. Should someone stand in the way of that, regardless of ties, they're knocked down and tossed aside to fend for themselves. It's almost narcissistic at its worst, definitely histrionic at its most intense. This makes me extremely, and I'm almost in a constant state of grief, as if I'm always losing him, anyway. With his approach being "his way or the highway," at this point I'm not so sure we can grow together anymore.

    Unless he allows my grounding, focused, structured and more controlled personality to influence him and teach him something, I don't think this can last. A major issue with that is his sexuality, and I simply don't provide him the excitement his last relationship did. With his ex, the passionate firey feelings it invoked in him motivated him to do things he doesn't want to do with me. This does hurt, of course, but I keep hoping he'll realize the difference between 'real love' and blinding infatuation.

    I think those are our biggest discrepancies at this point, and I must admit I'm burning out. The dreams we'll hold us together even if we split--that'll be Hell on my INFJ need for closure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Modern Nomad View Post
    well, in those 25 years, we had no contact with each other until like 3-4 months ago. its just more familiarity having been childhood friends than some communication "insight" IMO.

    we don't really have any communication problems, i think? we both know what each other is thinking. if we don't, we ask. but thats how most relationships are right??? we're both pretty honest what we are thinking about our relationship and and expectations...

    sometimes, i am a little afraid of talking about politics, because im more on the liberal side, she's more conservative. but from my perspective, its not that big of a deal? she kind of sometimes doesn't know how to be like "ahh just let him think what he wants" and thinks having different political viewpoints is a potential major point of "disharmony". she gets mad if I am not aware of her schedule and ask about something new she might be doing... but i dunno, thats about it i think??? but yeah, its only been like 3 months we been bf/gf, 2 months of it long distance.
    I'd be really interested to hear how this pans out for you two.

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