I've read many of them, and perhaps this is the only which I can relate to the most.
Yours truly is an INFJ – Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Judging. The skinny is that time alone energizes me, my thinking is big-picture and gut-feeling dominated, my interpersonal interactions are emotionally driven, and I prefer order and closure to spontaneity in my decisionmaking. My type hasn’t changed since I took my first full-length Myers-Briggs test in middle school (though entering the working world has strengthened my J). INFJs make up about 1% of the total population, making it the rarest of the personality types. To everyone who thought I was a weird kid, yeah, you were right on the money. Because of the rarity of this temperment, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about publicizing it with some educational rambling.
For better or worse, we live in a world dominated by Extroverts and Sensors, as 75% of people are Es and 75% are Ss. It’s the main reason why formative years are tough on INs. They’re almost never the popular kids growing up but often find their niche later in life once they mature and hone their social skills. Not to say that life gets all that much easier after school – common adjectives used to describe INFJs include “complex,” “reserved,” “brooding,” and other emo-sounding words. Those words, sadly, are rarely off the mark.
In the dating world, for example, INFJs tend to fall into one of two categories: reclusive non-daters or serial monogamists. They often have difficulty connecting with people or fall too hard for the wrong people, leading many of them to give up on trying to actively date. On the other hand, the NF’s desire to form deep bonds with people, combined with the J’s tendency to seek definition and/or direction in relationships, means that INFJs usually can’t enjoy random hookups or casual dating nearly as much as most other personality types can. Sleeping with strangers can make for good stories or prompt high-fives from friends, but a given tryst will ultimately leave the average INFJ feeling either empty and dissatisfied with the meaninglessness of the encounter or, conversely, clingy and emotionally invested in a usually disproportionate way. INFJs also value sincerity foremost when seeking a mate, so they feel turned off by the facade that most within the young-and-single crowd project. Trendy clothes, cheesy come-ons, and flaunted banter just don’t do it for them.
The upside is that once an INFJ finds someone with whom he shares attraction and compatibility, he usually makes a damn good partner. INFJs have nearly endless ability to connect deeply with others, use their keen intuition to see that their partners’ needs are met, and prove fiercely loyal. Interestingly, INFJs pair well with a wide variety of other temperments, but with one important caveat: no Ss. We can gain levelheadedness from INTJs, enjoy the warm sponteneity of ENFPs, and even match wits with ENTJs, but the cardinal rule seems to be that INFJs avoid Sensors like the plague. It’s probably no accident that I’ve never had a relationship with an S. I’ve taken plenty on dates, only to end up agitated and bored before the drinks even arrive. Those whose N is weak can probably make exceptions, but for us strong Ns, anything long-term with an S is almost out of the question. We need companions with the kind of see-the-whole-forest thinking that only strong Ns usually display.
INFJs usually keep several friends, and that’s all they require. The good news is that we don’t need a large social circle to feel satisfied with our interpersonal lives. The bad news is if we don’t have that little circle, contrary to what appearances convey, it can be agonizing. We’re sometimes mistaken for aloof, but we’re anything but. Introvertedness makes us reserved and less willing to express fondness for others, but the F factor reflects our need to have at least a few sincere folks in our lives who truly get us and the desire to make others happy, and when that need goes unmet for long enough, INFJs become prone to antisocial behavior and even depression. We tend to be picky about the company we keep, which complicates the friend-making process. Get us running with the right crowd, though, and we can be as jovial and fun-loving as the most outgoing extroverts.
With vivid memories of schoolyard awkwardness and failed romances, many INFJs (myself especially) learn to mimic other personality types or, at the very least, take lessons from those other types. One of my first girlfriends, on our disastrous first date, accused me of “stealing her personality.” She was probably right. In middle school, I developed my social skills by observing others and then acting like them. It wasn’t until late in college when I finally got comfortable letting my true colors show upon meeting someone new. I’m still somewhat cautious around new folks, but I’m always aware when I’m holding back, and I do it purposefully instead of involuntarily. There was also a time when I suffered from hopeless romantic tendencies. Yup, I was that kid: bad poetry, flowers during class, countless declarations of affection, and oversensitivity to rejection. To be fair, I still have those tendencies. Probably always will. But I’ve grown thicker skin and learned not to act on those impulses unless doing so won’t make me look crazy.
That’s the story about how we lowly INFJs get along in social contexts. I promise that we’re worth getting to know – we do loved to be pulled out of our shells.