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  1. #61
    Senior Member mochajava's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Words of Ivory View Post
    The simpliest answers are sometimes the best. Here's my take.

    - Most people really, really want to be understood.
    - People who are willing to understand you are rare.
    - People cling to those who understand them, because of this.

    Lots of these people don't seem to understand that this process comes to us like breathing comes to others. To them its something rare and magical. To an INFJ its just how people are.

    We're the ones baffled when others don't "get" it.
    WHOA. Sheer brilliance. You're incredibly right. I was trying to describe what this meant to my INTJ, and I kept stumbling onto "this is like breathing to me... how is it so hard for you to understand?"

    That being said, if you can't be understood, the next bests are being listened to and accepted completely.

  2. #62
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Just being busy and not answering the phone when you don't have it in you to hear problems is a start.

    Unbalanced relationships are typically a problem. It is especially a problem if the unloader is dismissive when you have a problem. It is also confusing when someone encourages you to open up, but they never share anything about their own life. I think that is also unbalanced. For me it comes down to taking people for whatever they offer within the context of what I have the energy to give. There isn't an ideal dynamic that is going to happen often, so you just do what you can and minimize expectations for how anything is "supposed" to turn out.
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  3. #63
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    I've had this problem, too.
    Oddly enough, I had it with an INFJ.

    Recently, I had to put the breaks a friendship I had with an INFJ in crisis. Because I'm (outwardly) flighty and positive and cheerful, I think she thought I had nothing to say to her about myself. The conversation became solely about her. Normally she is pretty attuned to herself and tends to keep the conversation that way. That's fine. I'm used to a 70 (her) - 30 (me) balance, and it's what I signed up for when I became her good friend. No resentment there.

    Over the past year, however, we've descended into some very depressing territory. I found myself taking on her feelings. We had four-hour long phone conversations five (or even more) times a week. I would wake up the next morning feeling like there was a lead weight on my chest. I couldn't do it anymore after two concentrated years of this.

    I know that I should've told her about it earlier, but I never did. I never did because I thought she would stop being friends with me if I didn't listen. I don't mean she would've cut me off, but she would have withdrawn and told no one her feelings. The problem also got worse in very tiny gradations, which meant that what I had formerly found acceptable had quickly turned into something much worse without my having realized its progression.

    When I was listening to her, I do believe I was helping. But after a while, I also felt that I was enabling the existence of a giant echo chamber in which her distress was constantly analyzed and re-analyzed.

    Like I said, this was the status quo for two years.

    My trigger moment came when I had something catastrophic happen in my life (the death of a very valued friend). Five minutes after I found out the devastating news, my INFJ called me about a boot on her car and some job related problems. I remember the numbness I felt listening to her talk and realizing that she was unaware of anything in my life up to this horrific moment I'd just experienced. And there was no way I could talk to her about those intensely personal things. I was also aware that in the vast vacuum that was our friendship, there existed no happiness. Or a break, at least, from crushing and overwhelming grief.

    I wrote her a long email telling her what I thought. (I omitted any mention of the 'trigger' moment.) I made it as nice as I could, but I told her that I'd had enough of the current trajectory of our friendship. I told her that the few times I'd made a weak attempt to tell her how I was feeling, she was immediately dismissive. I needed to say my piece in an email because I'm someone who can be easily shut down in person. I know I wrote it at an awful time for her professionally and emotionally, but I didn't see the situation stopping anytime soon. And, of course, I was still deeply distressed about my poor friend and disconnected from my life around me. I needed, in short, a friend who would listen.

    She responded a couple of days later with an apology, but asked me to acknowledge that by being passive-aggressive I, too, harmed the friendship.

    I agree that that was the case. But I also feel like this was because I had this overwhelming need to be there for her, and that after awhile my emotions became too tied to hers. I was emotionally invested in an outcome that was never going to happen. It wasn't something I could help with or deal with, and it was having actual physical effects on me. (Sleeplessness, depression, lack of appetite, etc) She said she needed a break to think on what I had to say. The conversation we had got progressively angrier, I think, but I know that there is no way she can run away from what I said.

    I'm pretty sure I'm on the other end of what they call the INFJ doorslam right now. But I have no real desire to break that doorslam. It is what it is, and I can be satisfied that the feeling between us is mutual.

    I wrote this long comment in response to the statements made by Words of Ivory.

    It's simply not true that other types are incapable of empathizing or of listening to others. And it's not true that the INFJ has to be necessarily more sympathetic or less self-absorbed. As someone who has been there I know that that's the case. Everyone is capable of behaving this way ... and such behavior has immense consequences.

  4. #64
    facettes de la petite mor Words of Ivory's Avatar
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    If she was entirely dismissive of your feelings and not even able to pick up on them, she doesn't really sound like an INFJ at all to me. That, or she was just a terribly bad example.

    INFJs can be complete bastards and bitches when you don't understand their feelings (the doorslam), but they're usually at least willing to return the favour. By the sounds of it, she didn't take much interest in anyone but herself.

    Regarding your last remark, I never said that other types are incapable of it. Sorry if that's how it came across. My point is that there are certain types where the kind of approach we take to feelings and emotions is rarely considered or given the amount of focus we give to them... INTPs, for example.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    "Life calls out the meaning of pure jubilance,
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    ~ Words of Ivory ~

  5. #65
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    She tested an INFJ many times and I believe that she was. She has a lot of the strong INFJ traits -- she is extremely empathetic and devoted to social causes. She's excellent at what she does (which is very people-oriented). She's incredibly intuitive and is very good at getting the truth out of other people in situations. She's also (usually) an excellent judge of character.

    I also know that INFJs under stress can be quite self-absorbed because they constantly look within themselves to solve crises. They self-analyze a lot, using their considerable emotive energies to process the crap that's taking place in the world around them.

    I should add that these were not surface problems she had. These were very real external issues. I can't go into them, but she deals with constant heartache. She was often at an utter loss as to how to cope with her deep feelings, hence the constant analysis.

    I think she had let her guard down with me so much that I was a steward for her deepest emotions. And, as you know, INFJs have an almost-bottomless capacity to feel emotion. I would say that the emotional stress of taking on such a significant burden is tremendous. I have no idea how I managed it for as long as I did.

  6. #66
    facettes de la petite mor Words of Ivory's Avatar
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    Simple. You were willing to listen.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    "Life calls out the meaning of pure jubilance,
    if you'll only take the time to hear it."
    ~ Words of Ivory ~

  7. #67
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    I'm just very sad that my willingness cost me so much. I hope that as she goes forward she'll have friends who are healthier for her and can be there for her in a way that I couldn't be.

  8. #68
    Senior Member mochajava's Avatar
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    Duck, I don't think your lack of bottomless support was the problem. I don't think her extreme pain was the problem. I think that you were both stuck in an untenable situation. She wasn't getting better -- life is sort of debilitated if you're spending ~5 hours a week feeling awful to the point that you're on the phone talking about it. And, for you, for any of us -- providing that much support is just difficult. People who are therapists do that, but they're trained, paid, and the whole feeling supported / staying okay thing is built into their lives. So I don't think either of us is wrong or did anything wrong. The situation just didn't make sense for either of you. Does that make sense? And sorry if this carries a know-it-all tone; please know that this is just one person's viewpoint from reading one post you wrote.

  9. #69
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mochajava View Post
    Duck, I don't think your lack of bottomless support was the problem. I don't think her extreme pain was the problem. I think that you were both stuck in an untenable situation. She wasn't getting better -- life is sort of debilitated if you're spending ~5 hours a week feeling awful to the point that you're on the phone talking about it. And, for you, for any of us -- providing that much support is just difficult. People who are therapists do that, but they're trained, paid, and the whole feeling supported / staying okay thing is built into their lives. So I don't think either of us is wrong or did anything wrong. The situation just didn't make sense for either of you. Does that make sense? And sorry if this carries a know-it-all tone; please know that this is just one person's viewpoint from reading one post you wrote.
    Yeah, I totally agree with all this. Despite the annoying and rather painful situation I've described, and a few other situations I've had in my life, I have never been in a friendship/relationship where the person was unburdening themselves for hours at a time several times a week... How exhausting and debilitating would that be? Surely people must understand that something like therapy is the best option at that point? "untenable situation"...exactly.
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  10. #70
    Senior Member mochajava's Avatar
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    And, just to add, I'm coming around to the idea that "therapy" doesn't mean something's wrong with you or that you're screwed up -- it might just mean you need someone who will deal with your problems, has the right internal and external resources to do so, is impartial, will "critique" and know what's unhealthy, and has the right knowledge/connections to hook you up to something better. If they're good, that is... but that being said, some mutual give and take / talking about problems is good too. If you're really close to someone, but not doing that in your relationships at all, then it's like an area is blocked. Not necessarily bad, maybe it's blocked for a reason, but in balance this can be a really nice thing.

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