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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default How do I flag up self-centeredness to my INFJ friend?

    Ok, I realise that’s a bit of a nasty and possibly conceited headline. But bear with me.

    One of my best friends is another INFJ (she is a textbook e4 INFJ, while I am either 6 or 9, but definitely not 4 – that explains some of our differences.) We’ve known each other for several years and she really is one of the best friends I’ve had. We have similar values and we see eye to eye on many things, and we’ve been there for each other through some tough times. We also like the same type of music, etc and sometimes go to gigs together and that sort of thing.

    The thing is – she has a profound fascination with the Middle East, Arabic and the Arab world. I also love travelling and learning about other cultures and we might even be going to Egypt together later this year. But I honestly think that she doesn’t get that not everyone is as fascinated by that culture as she is (and may even have some real issues with aspects of the culture). It just seems like EVERY time we get together, we may have personal hopes/fears type conversations and that’s all good (though we get a bit emo sometimes!!), but otherwise we talk about Arab/Arabic stuff ALL THE TIME.

    It’s not entirely surprising as she does some volunteer work which involves speaking the language (which she is quite good at now), she has travelled in the region a lot, etc. But if I start telling her about one of my trips in Europe, or about one of my Western literary fascinations, etc…it’s not that she won’t at least listen politely, because she does, but it will only go so far (not very) and then she’ll say something like “yeah, you know, I was just never really that interested in Jane Austen [or Germany, or Nordic legends, or whatever the case may be!]” It won’t be outright rude, but it is kind of dismissive, at least. And then, hey ho, we’ll get back into some Arab world thing.

    It may be partly my fault as I have taken quite an interest in this whole area…but perhaps she doesn’t understand that in large part I have taken an interest because she is one of my best friends. And I don’t think she realises how self-centered it can come across. If we were having an equal exchange on this kind of level, we would be spending as much time talking about my trips, my literary interests, etc etc as we do about hers. And it just doesn’t work out this way. Her brother, who I also know, once said to me "she can be incredibly self-centered and loves to talk about herself all the time," and I'm afraid he has a point.

    I feel like I’d like to draw this to her attention, as I am starting to get somewhat frustrated by the whole thing. But she can be pretty sensitive…and I have no desire to hurt her feelings…I wonder if any of you have suggestions on how I might approach this.
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  2. #2
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    Discuss it with her. No matter how you'll serve it, it will hurt her feelings because any kind of personal criticism does that to some extent. It might be something she's never realized herself, she might get defensive, maybe even feel ashamed. But if you want things to change, you'll have to point it out to her and voice your feelings, opinions and understandings. It might not only be beneficial to you but to her as well and your friendship could become even more stronger.

    Hmmm. But my approaches always seem to be too rash and blunt. I'm sure you can find a way that suits you and your friend to resolve this. Good luck.

  3. #3
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    There's no need to say she's self-centred, just tell her you'd like to talk about other topics sometimes besides the middle east. Although, if that's her passion and she isn't interested in any other topics, you might actually need to go elsewhere for interesting conversation.
    -end of thread-

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    There's no need to say she's self-centred, just tell her you'd like to talk about other topics sometimes besides the middle east. Although, if that's her passion and she isn't interested in any other topics, you might actually need to go elsewhere for interesting conversation.
    + 100000
    I would definitely not call it "self-centered", just "really passionate" and "engrossed" If she was self-centered, EVERYTHING would come back to her.

    Something like "I know you really like the Middle East and I find it interesting but can we change up the topics".

  5. #5
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    I have mixed thoughts on this, but initial thought is that she seems quite comfortable telling you that she's not that interested in Jane Austen/Europe/whatever, and let's you know where she stands on that, BUT you don't let her know where you stand on your lack of interest (after a while) in what she's interested in! So it's uneven right there. She's being direct/clear, you're being indirect at best; she basically would have no way of knowing your thoughts or feelings on any of this.

    Are you upset that you are patient and listen to what she likes to talk about, even though it's not of interest to you, and that she doesn't return the favor? If that's the case...I don't know....I mean, you're making the conscious choice to listen/tolerate her talking about it at length, every time you meet up, and maybe being resentful of that, and she's making the choice not to listen to something she's not super into.

    If in the end she's not wanting to listen to what you would like to talk about, then it may mean you need to re-evaluate things and/or just go to her for certain types of discussions, and have other types of discussions with other people. (Kind of like what Randomnity suggests.) *Perhaps* her dismissing what you'd like to talk about is a sign of self-centeredness, BUT honestly I don't know that I'd be that quick to jump the gun and label it that. It could very well be that you've never given her the sign/communication that you don't in fact like to discuss the middle east ad nauseum, and she's viewing your lack of protest as meaning you enjoy it as much as her. [She also may not have the same definition of 'Friend', and what that entails, as you do.]

    On a side note, I guess I don't talk about ALL things with all of my friends; I know certain ones are more interested in certain things and others more interested in other things. (And, maybe you're not this way, but... I find I have no desire whatsoever to talk about something if I know the other person isn't interested in it. I feel bad making them listen to something I know they don't care about. I just can't do it.)
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  6. #6
    Junior Member under skies's Avatar
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    Your friend sounds a bit like one of my friends from high school. (She was an INFP, but that's not entirely relevant.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    There's no need to say she's self-centred, just tell her you'd like to talk about other topics sometimes besides the middle east. Although, if that's her passion and she isn't interested in any other topics, you might actually need to go elsewhere for interesting conversation.
    I agree with this post.

  7. #7
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cascadeco View Post
    I have mixed thoughts on this, but initial thought is that she seems quite comfortable telling you that she's not that interested in Jane Austen/Europe/whatever, and let's you know where she stands on that, BUT you don't let her know where you stand on your lack of interest (after a while) in what she's interested in! So it's uneven right there. She's being direct/clear, you're being indirect at best; she basically would have no way of knowing your thoughts or feelings on any of this.

    Are you upset that you are patient and listen to what she likes to talk about, even though it's not of interest to you, and that she doesn't return the favor? If that's the case...I don't know....I mean, you're making the conscious choice to listen/tolerate her talking about it at length, every time you meet up, and maybe being resentful of that, and she's making the choice not to listen to something she's not super into.

    If in the end she's not wanting to listen to what you would like to talk about, then it may mean you need to re-evaluate things and/or just go to her for certain types of discussions, and have other types of discussions with other people. (Kind of like what Randomnity suggests.) *Perhaps* her dismissing what you'd like to talk about is a sign of self-centeredness, BUT honestly I don't know that I'd be that quick to jump the gun and label it that. It could very well be that you've never given her the sign/communication that you don't in fact like to discuss the middle east ad nauseum, and she's viewing your lack of protest as meaning you enjoy it as much as her. [She also may not have the same definition of 'Friend', and what that entails, as you do.]

    On a side note, I guess I don't talk about ALL things with all of my friends; I know certain ones are more interested in certain things and others more interested in other things. (And, maybe you're not this way, but... I find I have no desire whatsoever to talk about something if I know the other person isn't interested in it. I feel bad making them listen to something I know they don't care about. I just can't do it.)
    I like this post. In a way I relate it to something I go through (now, don't I sound self-centered!) which is: I am so emotionally there for people, yet feel resentment at them when they aren't as there for me. But part of that is rooted in me not letting them know I need them. Its not really fair for me to be upset that they can't know my mind. I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone else. I'm trying to say that its similar because: 1) we must not be afraid to ask what we really would like from people we give to 2) resentment will poison the friendship. If she doesn't want to be the one to talk about anything besides her favorite topics, maybe you will have to devote more time with someone who does. I wonder if she is one of those people who fully actualizes a concept in her own mind by teaching it, you know? Even so, she cannot monopolize you or your stimulating intellectual conversation. Best of luck!
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  8. #8
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    I agree with those of you who said I don’t need to call it self-centeredness – well, I wouldn’t go to her and say “you’re being very self-centered by talking about your fascination all the time” - I think that would hurt her feelings and be counter-productive.

    I do wish that people would be more cognizant of others’ needs without having to be prompted. But in a way this comes back to an ongoing problem that I have – and perhaps a big INFJ issue – I know that I have often wanted people to be more aware of my needs in one way or another, but I hesitate to express that because I don’t want to look demanding and pushy and, well, self-centered. So then a big wodge of resentment builds up and eventually something bad happens. Which, yes, is worse than the fairly remote possibility that I’ll look demanding, pushy etc.
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