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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adasta View Post
    This is my first post - messageboard etiquette dictates that I tell you immediately lest you all begin to cluck your tongues at my lack of "board knowledge"! Apologies for any faux pas.
    Welcome. I've noticed your "Prisoner bicycle" avatar around the message board, and your input always seems good. Hope you stick around and post more.

    Anyway, I've got some questions for you all. As the title of this thread suggests, I am an INFP. My girlfriend is an ENFJ. Although we get on really well, there are inevitable problems from time-to-time. Could any ENFJ ladies - or other suitably knowledgeable folk - give me some advice?
    I don't have any particular experience with ENFJs. I'll just give typical married-guy advice, based on where I see some obvious holes in your exposition or easy fixes for a given problem.

    I am forgetful. She can tell me something three or four times and I won't remember. This is because, to me, it's unimportant. For example, she'll often tell me that she's going out with her friends on a certain day of the week; I inevitably forget and call her to see where she is on that day. She gets annoyed, somewhat justifaiably, since she is telling me the same thing over and over and yet I still forget. However, she can't understand that I don't mind if she goes out; if I ring her all she has to say is "I'm out this evening". I won't mind. I have other things to do!

    How do I best negotiate this? I honestly cannot make myself remember what she tells me because it's so inconsequential that it doesn't even register to me.
    Pretty much what the others have said. Women aren't going to like you blowing off dates of which they've repeatedly reminded you. It reeks of your showing disrespect or low regard, whether you deliberately mean it that way or not.

    My wife and I have various calendar systems to organize our lives. But the most important calendar for me is a big glossy paper calendar hung on the wall in the living room, where we'll both see it a couple times a day at least. On that calendar I note only the most important items, the ones that absolutely must be remembered. I note the items in big pen scrawls that can be seen across the room. In particular, I note there any items that my wife wants me to remember. That performs two important functions: 1) It tells my wife that her dates are important to me, because they get included on the most important calendar in the house; and 2) it ensures that I actually do in fact remember the dates in question. :-)

    So here's an easy fix for you: Set up a calendar system in such an obvious and in-your-face way that you're assured of actually utilizing it: recording and seeing and remembering the dates that your girlfriend gives you. And then either record her dates or ask her to record them as they come up. Just the simple act of setting up the calendar and recording dates on it will help bring peace to the house by showing that you esteem her appointments enough to give them a place of honor in the house and keep them in front of you on a regular basis: It will address the "respect" issue.

    I am messy, but in an "unconvential" way. In fact, I am very neat in general and like things to be "in their place". However, when I look for something, my method could be described as being "frantic". I tend to search for something, find it (in a drawer, for example) and then leave the draw open with everything strewn about and go off to use the thing I was so fervently searching for. This drives her crazy.
    I don't have this problem myself. You sound more like my wife than me on this one. :-)

    Off the top of my head, I would explain to your girlfriend that she can string together and balance multiple ideas in her head at the same time (ENFJ use of Ni), but INFPs tend to focus on one idea (Fi). So INFPs tend to not want to interrupt our train of thought at key times. Presumably stopping and picking up things during a big search would interrupt your train of thought. So ask your girlfriend to give you a grace period of one hour (or something along that line) before she starts yelling at you to pick up stuff. That way you can maintain your train of thought, and then pick up things after you've found and utilized whatever you're looking for.

    Personally, I just scatter scratch pads all around the house so that I can jot down notes, preserve trains of thought, and be otherwise be interruptible. That comes from my work habits, where I had to indulge lots of interruptions. So I'm not as single-minded as you or my wife with respect to trains of thoughts. I pick up and clean up after myself as I search. I even stop and do other chores as I go, noting down on scratch pads whatever other concurrent tasks (like a search) are still ongoing so that I won't forget them in the meantime.

    So the idea of the 1-hour deadline isn't something I've used myself. But the idea is that if you show her a little respect for her concerns (i.e., honor the one-hour deadline for picking up), perhaps she'll show some respect for your search procedures. Again, it addresses the "respect" issue, though this time with more give-and-take.

    She worries about everything. Her worries, however, seem trivial to me because they are so...banal? She doesn't believe I worry at all; in fact, she laments the fact that I seem so "laid-back". She's wrong, of course! My worries are almost always wide-ranging. For example, she'll be worrying about how much we should spend in the first week in the month just in case it impacts on our ability to pay the rent in the fourth week of the month! Or she'll worry about how actions now might affect her life in 5 years time (career, for example). On the other hand, I'm busy worrying about existential matters...What is truth, what is justice, what do I actually want from life, why is it structured in this way, why is everything back-to-front! I don't know how to reconcile this.
    This is kind of a big one. If you can't respect how each other's minds work, you have troubles ahead.

    I would say that first off you need to deal with the issue of emotional reactivity: Your girlfriend's an extrovert, and if she's worried about something then she's probably giving off signals of stress and anxiety. That's going to tend to get you worked up in turn (since INFPs have poor personal boundaries). IOW, due to emotional reactivity, you get upset in turn.

    To address that, you need to set up some emotional boundaries. Just because she's upset about something doesn't mean you have to be upset too. Instead, just respect that she has her own concerns and ask what you can do to help her--i.e., move the discussion forward toward tangible ways to address the problem. And then if her solution doesn't involve a big sacrifice, you help her out. Or--If the solution does involve a big sacrifice, work on a compromise with her--give something to get something. Or--if there are no immediate or obvious solutions at all, then tell her that you're there for her whenever she needs help with it, and then forget about it. Boundaries = not having to share her worries. (And she doesn't have to share yours.)

    Just to break that process down into more detail, here are some notes I took from a book*:

    --Emotional speakers make listeners anxious; their tone of voice is emphatic and provoking, making the listener feel backed into a corner. The listener becomes anxious at being blamed or pressured to change or proven wrong. It's the way difficult things get said that determines whether or not they get heard.
    --Good boundaries and differentiation helps people not get pulled into each other's emotionality and lead to calmness on the part of one or both people. Conversely, people who are poorly differentiated emotionally and/or have poor boundaries feel threatened by protests and disagreement; anxiety becomes infectious and the partners overreact to each other.
    --When boundaries are blurred, individuals become emotionally fused and almost any agitation from the speaker will make a listener overreact. Poorly differentiated and highly reactive people tend to come across as either emotionally demanding or avoidant.
    --An "independent" husband may be aware of his "dependent" wife's emotional reactivity but blind to his own. What he doesn't see is how dependent he is on her feeling positively toward him so much that he's unable to hear her complaints as an expression of her feelings. He hears what she says only as a threat to himself and a constraint on what he wants to do. So he goes off and broods in self-righteous resentment about his wife's inability to respond to him without reacting emotionally.
    --Thus, the best way to be heard is to tone down your emotionality. Listeners may feel attacked if you express yourself in an anxious or pressured manner. The listener may routinely disagree or point out the opposite because they are reacting to your anxiety rather than your statement. Instead of getting through to them, you become something to brace against. If you want to be heard, consider how much emotionality and anxiety you have, or how much will get churned up by a subject. Listeners react to that emotion.

    To sum up: Pay attention to how much trouble emotional interaction ("emotional reactivity") causes the two of you, and try to damp that down. Show respect for each other's concerns so that you don't put each other on the defensive about your respective "worries." But understand that if you have good boundaries, then it's not up to you to solve all your girlfriend's problems or even become stressed just because she's stressed. Instead, try to move quickly past the emotions and get to the problem-solving phase, i.e., come up with tangible things you can do for each other--compromises, favors, etc.

    She always has to have the last word and always contorts the situation to misrepresent me! This is frustrating. Even if I have a legitimate point against her she'll whine and complain and make out like I'm being horribly unjust. Honestly, it's how I'd imagine a corrupt ruler would behave at his/her own impeachment!
    Same thing as above--pay attention to issues of emotional reactivity. Just because she gets stressed out and calls you a poopyhead and misrepresents your argument doesn't mean you have to get stressed out and start defending the legitimacy of your point. Instead, drop the point, drop the emotion, and try to work out what tangible problem-solving steps the two of you will take to legitimately address each other's concerns. If emotions are running too high for that, then take a break and try later.

    Also, in general, don't rely on "points" to win an argument. People prioritize their values differently--that's one of the big ideas of MBTI and personality theory. So even if your girlfriend understood your point in its entirety, she probably isn't going to accord it the same gravity you would. (Much as you yourself consider her concerns "banal.")

    So instead of trying to win points or even explain why something is particularly important to you, you should try to work out some simple code words for each other: "Dear, you may not understand why this is important to me, but I assure you that it really is important to me. Can you work with me on it, or at least compromise with me on it?"

    And then start trying to trust each other more, i.e., show respect for the things that are important to your girlfriend, even if you personally don't consider them important (and vice versa). Assume that if she says that something is important to her, then it should be important to you to help her out on it, and trust her not to abuse that understanding by having you jump through hoops just to see you do it.

    Oh well, that's it for me. Good luck!

    * "The Lost Art of Listening" (subtitled: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships), by Michael P. Nichols, PhD.

  2. #22
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Set up a calendar system in such an obvious and in-your-face way that you're assured of actually utilizing it: recording and seeing and remembering the dates that your girlfriend gives you. And then either record her dates or ask her to record them as they come up. Just the simple act of setting up the calendar and recording dates on it will help bring peace to the house by showing that you esteem her appointments enough to give them a place of honor in the house and keep them in front of you on a regular basis: It will address the "respect" issue.
    This is a good idea. It will also be a great way for my SO to express her organisation skills in a structured way rather than saying (to me), for example, 'you should be more organised.'

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Just because she's upset about something doesn't mean you have to be upset too.
    This is something I have pointed out to her before. However, now I realise that she is going to "act out" her feelings regardless of how I feel about it, which is fine. I've found that saying 'I don't worry about things in the same way as you do' allows her to recognise/remind her that we think about things differently. Now that this occurse, we can usually agree about our "ways of worrying" and there is consequently little fall-out.

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Same thing as above--pay attention to issues of emotional reactivity. Just because she gets stressed out and calls you a poopyhead and misrepresents your argument doesn't mean you have to get stressed out and start defending the legitimacy of your point.


    Some good advice there and which I think can apply to almost everyone, regardless of type.
    That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
    Were axioms to him, who'd never heard
    Of any world where promises were kept,
    Or one could weep because another wept.

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