So, I wrote this out for myself because I wanted to put together a summary of what I've gathered over time and what I've learned. After I wrote it, I thought maybe it would be helpful to others so, I've decided to share it here. I hope that someone out there will find it useful. I know there are many of us out there who adore the INFJs in our lives but realize it may be challenging to understand them and to have relationships with them because they are so complex. I hope this breaks things down a bit in a way that helps others understand INFJs better so that they can cultivate more satisfying relationships with the INFJs in their lives.
By the way, my knowledge and experience comes from a combination of things. One, I am a borderline INFJ myself (INFJ/ISFJ). My mom is an INFJ. My best friend of 18 years is an INFJ. And the one and only romantic relationship I've ever had was with an INFJ. So, I guess INFJs are my thing!
Also, I'm really interested in the feedback from other INFJs and from those who have experience in relationships with INFJs. Is there anything I missed? Is anything I have here inaccurate?
It's important to understand and accept ALL that INFJs are by nature. INFJs have a tendency to exhibit very specific traits & engage in certain behaviors which can make being in a relationship with them very difficult and challenging if you do not understand & accept their INFJ nature. Those traits and behaviors include:
1) they have very high expectations for themselves and for those within their inner circle (they tend to be "idealists" and "perfectionists", expecting perfection from themselves and those closest to them)
2) they are critical of others, especially those within their inner circle because they want to help them reach their potential
3) they are hurt very easily by those within their inner circle
4) while they are open to criticism that may help them grow & learn, they are very sensitive to how it is delivered (tone, choice of words, timing, etc...)
5) they do not trust easily so once you have their trust, it's absolutely imperative that you do not do anything to betray their trust
6) they do not like conflict however, they are willing to deal with it if it means there will be progress made and result in positive change
7) conflicts build up in their psyche and it takes them an unusually long time to fully recover so, conflicts should be few and far between
8) they may appear to put up with bad behavior, relational transgressions, etc... and bounce back quickly but inside they are deeply affected and eventually will get to a point where "enough is enough"
9) they put up mini-walls and may shut down emotionally, preventing deeper connection, as a way to protect themselves when they feel hurt, shame, anger, fear, or if they feel too vulnerable
10) they will do anything and everything they can, exhausting all possible options to try and save a relationship but if they reach the point of defeat, they rely on the their last resort which is the classic "INFJ Doorslam"
So, given the above "challenges", here is how to be in a relationship with an INFJ:
1) realize that while their intentions are good, their expectations are often times unrealistic so, try not take it personally... if you're in their inner circle, trust that they love you and care about you and hold onto that!
2) realize that while they're critical of you, they really ARE just trying to "help" and they have your best interests at heart... deep down they really want the best for you! so, try not to get defensive!
3) be very gentle, sensitive, and thoughtful with them
4) when delivering criticism, choose your words & tone of voice wisely and be mindful of the timing considering their mood, what they may be feeling or thinking about or dealing with, their stress level, etc...
5) do not lie or be deceitful in any way! be totally forthright and honest! and do not do anything that will diminish their sense of self-worth (shaming, any form of abuse, belittling, talking to them condescendingly, etc...)
6) engage in conflict sparingly! they will not tolerate constant arguing or fighting! they need peace and harmony! it's absolutely vital to them! if conflict is necessary, approach the issue in a mature & solution oriented manner
7) remember that the last several conflicts are still fresh in their memory! they need a lot of time to recover so, don't assume that just because they're not talking about it, they're not still affected by it
8) do not take them for granted and do not treat them like doormats! do not get into a habit of behaving badly or engaging in relational transgressions just because they seem to "put up with it"
9) be aware of when there is a "disconnect" in the relationship and make the effort to re-connect....do what you can to try and help them bring the wall down, but be gentle and patient!
10) realize that they have a tendency to use the "INFJ Doorslam" as a last resort so, be careful to not push them to that point! do not test their boundaries or limits! set boundaries on your own behavior!
* note that obviously no one is perfect and anyone, no matter how close to perfect they may be, is bound to make mistakes and mess up every now and then! it may seem necessary to be perfect because the INFJ has perfectionistic standards, but you must remind yourself that the goal is not absolute perfection! having that expectation of yourself would be self-defeating and impossible, and would only lead to shame and a "give up" attitude, which will ultimately destroy the relationship! the only goal should be to try and follow the guidelines above as much as possible while still being human! remember that the INFJ is very forgiving by nature and is not willing to let go of the relationship very easily....so have a sense of security in that! remember that they love you and they truly want the best for you and the relationship! but know that they can only take so much! so, you can't expect to just ignore the guidelines and think they'll put up with it forever! again, just do your best to follow the guidelines above and as long as they see effort and progress on your part and as long as you don't "give up" and say "screw it, nothing I do matters anyway, I may as well not even bother trying to follow these guidelines", then the relationship should work! I can't emphasize this enough though... you really have to make sure that you don't try to be "perfect" and just do your best and learn to be ok with that!!!! they will see you making the effort and that will be enough! know that YOU ARE ENOUGH! and remember that feeling like you aren't enough leads to the "give up" attitude which ultimately leads to a total breakdown in the relationship because it spirals out...then the INFJ doesn't see anymore effort or progress and they eventually see no point in maintaining the relationship, ie. DOORSLAM!!!!!