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  1. #1
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    Default INFJ idealism...why does it always feel like I'm settling in a relationship?

    Hi all,

    This is my first post in this forum and I'm sort of new to this whole typology business, so please excuse any naive questions and improper use of terminology. What drove me this forum and to post is this current problem I'm having with my ISTJ boyfriend, which I'm beginning to realize is a disguised version of the same problem I've always had in serious, long-term relationships. That is, at some point (survey says 1.5 years into the relationship) I start to question whether I can see myself with this guy for the long haul. I start to see notice "missing qualities"...qualities I would love to have in a guy/relationship. For this particular ISTJ guy, it's a lack of creative passion and romance. (For the previous guy, it was a lack of ambition to make the world a better place, but that's a different story).

    Now, part of me realizes it's ridiculous to think that any guy could have ALL the qualities I'm looking for. But another part of apparently me won't accept that. Is this the INFJ idealism kicking in? I'm terrified that there's always going to be some "missing quality" and I'm always going to feel like I'm settling and thusly never be completely happy.

    I'm an engineering grad student (pretty bizarre path for an INFJ I suppose) so most of the people I've been talking to have been rational types, and they keep talking about how I have to (in a very rational manner) decide which qualities I have to have and which qualities I can afford to let go. Afford to let go? This is the big L we're talking about here! This is forever! Why do they make this sound like buying a car?

    So I'm curious to hear opinions from other NF idealists. How do you avoid the feeling of "settling" for something less than ideal?

  2. #2
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    I guess it can help to prioritize your expectations in some way. I don't think it's realistic to expect one person to be all things to you. It's not like you can be all things to another person and fulfill their every need and want. There are some things that are important to have in a partner and some things you can find in friends and some things that just aren't a huge deal.

    For me, a virtuous, conscientious character was pretty high up on my list of important partner stuff. If I had been able to custom order somebody, I would have probably chosen someone that likes to go camping and fishing a couple of times a year, but in the great scheme of things, it's just not that big a deal. I can do those things with other people and it turns out I can even take 4+ kids camping all by myself because I'm just that awesome (though unloading all the camping stuff once I get back home can take a little extra motivation). But character -- it's hard to have a good relationship with somebody you can't trust and rely on.

    My partner is physically attractive to me. He is a person that I can respect and trust and he treats me with respect. He's intelligent. He can make me laugh and is a lot of fun to talk to. He's a hard-worker. He doesn't stare at other women when we are out together. He isn't controlling or dominating and he doesn't try to change me.

    He is probably never going to make a lot of money, help a lot around the house, be very on top of home maintenance, go out of his way to socialize with non-family. He's extremely stubborn and has a few annoying habits.

    I suppose if I was looking for perfection, I would be settling, but then again so would he. I don't feel like I settled. I feel very lucky to be with a good man who also melts my butter.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  3. #3
    Senior Member Phoenix_400's Avatar
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    First: I open with a joke:
    A store that sells husbands has just opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates. You may visit the store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends the flights. There is, however, a catch . .. you may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

    Floor 1 - These men have jobs and love the Lord.

    The second floor sign reads:

    Floor 2 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids.

    The third floor sign reads:

    Floor 3 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking.

    "Wow," she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going. She goes to the fourth floor and sign reads:

    Floor 4 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead good looking and help with the housework.

    "Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!"

    Still, she goes to the fifth floor and sign reads:

    Floor 5 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak. She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor and the sign reads:

    Floor 6 - You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please.

    Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day!
    Then, I do something I never thought I'd do:
    I'd recommend picking up a copy of "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough" -by Lori Gottlieb. I thought as I was gonna despise that book, but it really surprised me. Highly recommend to anyone in your situation, man or woman.
    Amazon.com: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough (9780525951513): Lori Gottlieb: Books

    Finally, I throw in my own 2 cents:
    1st- Cafe, you know what the hell yer talkin' about.

    We live in an age of instant gratification and 'have it your way'. I was raised by my grandparents and its given me a much more practical viewpoint on relationships. When they got married back in the 50's, things were much different. You got out of high-school, got married, and went straight into the workforce. Most people around their age in my neck of the woods didn't have big weddings, they just went to the courthouse and got married. Now love was a big factor for them, but they also had to have a good, supportive, working relationship. For as fast as the world moves today, we've got a lot more time to make our choices and more choices available to us than back then. That's not necessarily a good thing in all cases, in my opinion anyway.

    If you're looking at a long term relationship, there's gonna be times when the passion's just not there. When you really have to work at it. And its important to have your own social circles because you really can't spend 24/7 around each other. You'd have nothing to talk about and get sick of each other. The important thing is that your core values coincide with one another and the support and loyalty are there. Your core values are what keep you together, your differences are what keeps the relationship interesting.

    Its not about settling, or giving up on your ideals. Its about learning to balance those ideals with the practicalities of real life. Start with reading that book. Its got some great info on helping figure out how to break down the 'must-haves' and 'would-be-nice-to-haves' in a relationship, as well as tons more useful information.
    "People in glass houses shouldn't use Windex when living near bird sanctuaries."- myself

    "We are never alone my friend. We are constantly in the company of victories, losses, strengths and weaknesses. Make no mistake, life is war...and war is hell. Those who fight the hardest will suffer the most...but that's what you have to do: Fight. As long as you're feeling pain, then there's hope...because only the dead do not suffer." -RD Metcalf
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  4. #4
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Hi Hybrid Rainbow. I'm not certain if what you are describing is INFJ idealism, or if that is even precisely defined. Truly, it reminds me a lot of my INTJ friend (engineering, too) who has been in a lot of relationships and always finds something lacking. As someone observing her, one could say it seems like she is desperately seeking perfection. I think in her case there is this kind of "always something better out there" suspicion. Perhaps it is a kind of idealism. There are ways people undermine ourselves: frequently whatever trait a romantic partner seems to be lacking, is the one that we deem the most important trait to have at the time. It seems tragic. Yet we can't simply will our hearts rational.

    Maybe another form of INFJ idealism is when one gets into relationships expecting to feel perfected. The kind of thinking that, "when I am with that perfect person I will feel perfect myself". It sounds so ridiculous written out in that way, such a doomed prospect. But I worry that I have this because I'm disillusioned with a relationship with a ISTJ, like I mentioned here and here, I get feeling emotionally unfulfilled in the partnership. And like you, I struggle to reconcile this in my heart and mind. If my nature is to desire emotional connection at an unattainable level, how could I expect anyone to meet it? Or am I truly deprived and the connection fundamentally mismatched?

    We aren't alone in worrying about settling, Hybrid Rainbow. I haven't been around so very long either and I've noticed a number of posts with INFJs doubting their lack of romantic feelings, struggling with the N/S divide, in cycles of wanting and disillusionment. These catch my attention so they might not be more prevalent than other types of relationship advice posts. So I can't tell you the way to avoid the worry that you are settling, but I can tell you that you are not alone.
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  5. #5
    Circus Maximus Sarcasticus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    If I had been able to custom order somebody, I would have probably chosen someone that likes to go camping and fishing a couple of times a year, but in the great scheme of things, it's just not that big a deal. I can do those things with other people and it turns out I can even take 4+ kids camping all by myself because I'm just that awesome (though unloading all the camping stuff once I get back home can take a little extra motivation).
    A girl that likes to go camping is a good catch! So rare. . .


    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix_400 View Post
    First: I open with a joke:
    Classic!

  6. #6
    Cat Wench ReadingRainbows's Avatar
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    Maybe you just haven't fallen in love with someone, or met someone you really like yet?
    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    St. Stephen took rocks and St. Sebastian took arrows. You only have to take some jerks on an internet forum. Nut up.

  7. #7
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rainbows View Post
    Maybe you just haven't fallen in love with someone, or met someone you really like yet?
    This is where I'd put my money if I was a betting woman.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  8. #8
    Senior Member the state i am in's Avatar
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    istj is a grounding force. they'll step up when they need to and DO what you need, but they aren't going to be built to offer you the kind of emotional fulfillment you may need or want.

    i think infjs are rarely going to get the complete emotional fulfillment they want, but if that's priority number 1, istj is barking up the wrong tree.

    i would de-emphasize emotional fulfillment as a kind of constant stream of romance novel gushiness, and instead ask if you can communicate fully enough to feel understood. i find that is far more important than circulating tons of emotional energy at all times, which can feel draining and even damaging.

    i would be interested to hear, as well, if there are infjs who are in relationships who are super-charged with emotional currency over the long haul.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    FWIW, I'm with an INTP and happy, but there have been times when the lack of a practical action focused person has really screwed with our lives in a major way, especially when we were younger. The way we have things arranged now is that he works like a dog at his job and I handle virtually everything else related to practical stuff.

    But with him, there is a feeling that when we are in our room, that we are still kids and we are best friends hiding out in our secret club house where nothing bad can come in.

    He can talk politics, econ, theology, current events, history, etc wonderfully and he can always make me laugh.

    IMO, every good trait comes with an opposite deficiency and you have to take both sides of the coin. It's only fair.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  10. #10
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    thanks all for the responses (keep them coming!)

    What I'm getting so far is a lot of "maybe he's not the right guy to fulfill your #1 needs" and a fair share of "when you do find a guy who fulfills your #1 needs, you should quit staring into the sky for something else" and while my young/brazen-go-get-it-won't-settle-for-less is not particularly happy with that thought, I can't say I disagree.

    As for constant super-charged emotional currency, I have met a few guys with whom I have felt passion/romance/intrigue every.single.minute of our interaction. Never got a chance to pursue anything further due to factors like distance and just plain wrong timing, but they remain good friends and I occasionally go for the weekend visit. It's great for a few days, but I do suspect that over a longer period it would be quite taxing.

    i would de-emphasize emotional fulfillment as a kind of constant stream of romance novel gushiness, and instead ask if you can communicate fully enough to feel understood.
    I'm not sure if I've ever found somebody with whom I can communicate enough to feel fully understood. Maybe I need to find another INFJ? But they are oh-so-rare. Especially when you work in science.

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