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  1. #1
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Default Cold ENFJ (now with illustrations)

    So I have a situation with my close ENFJ friend that is confusing me, and I would appreciate any opinions on what might be going on.

    I met my friend, probably an ENFJ 3w4 so/sp, at the beginning of college, when we lived near one another, and bonded over whining about campus life. We were best friends throughout college after that, and now it's been a few years, but we still keep in fairly close contact. She lives in another part of the state. She tends to be somewhat distant unless pressured, but we've been close for long enough that she tends to share her deeper feelings with me, including her recent new dating situation (an ex-boyfriend is "courting" her, but she hasn't agreed to a relationship with him yet).



    Recently, we attended a mutual event. She gave me a present upon meeting up with me, then we travelled together, during which told me about her school and love life. My longterm boyfriend came and met us later, which had been planned from the beginning - he loves the place we were going, and my friend and boyfriend had both expressed the desire for them to meet. I offered to include the guy she's seeing, too, but she declined to invite him. We all stayed at the same place, my boyfriend in I in one room and my friend in another. I paid for her expenses the first night, since I was the hostess, and I tried my hardest throughout the trip to not make her feel like a 3rd wheel, nor to make my boyfriend feel excluded in a place where he hardly knew anyone. We had another close friend hanging out with us 90% of the time, so I didn't feel like my ENFJ friend was in an awkward position. However, she was very aloof with my boyfriend. He was his usual polite but open, friendly self, asking her amiable, neutral questions which she would answer with barely a handful of words. I know that she can turn on the social charm, so I was disappointed, but thought maybe she was genuinely shy at first. However, as the trip continued, she continued acting aloof with him, and was a bit passive-aggressive with me.

    Honestly, I'm very discouraged and even somewhat embarrassed that she barely made any effort to engage with my boyfriend, and during the trip, I was frustrated by her apparent lack of desire to really engage in the activities that were the goal of us going. At least, she was odd about it - she was very enthusiastic about a handful of core things, but really didn't seem to want to interact with anyone outside a very few chosen people. She's usually a bit like that, but not to quite that extent. It ended up preventing us from catching up with as many people as I would have liked to, and it made it a struggle to foster organic interaction. She also played some bizarre game at one point of saying she didn't care where we went, but then shooting down ideas for where to go, and complaining when I made a choice (which turned out to be good). Mostly she kept saying she didn't care and didn't want a say. I was very torn between trying to cater to her, since we have always been close and we planned the trip together, and just doing my own thing, because she was being distant and uncooperative. Unfortunately there was little time in our schedule to stop and try to break it down emotionally with her.



    Regardless, I did my best to keep everything positive and keep everyone together. I kept thinking, she's just on the brink of being welcoming, just a little push more. It's been about two weeks since then, and she's barely messaged me at all, a huge drop in amount of contact since prior to the college event. I've messaged her a few times, and she's given normal replies, but without any further conversational engagement. She hasn't initiated with me at all. I messaged her tonight pointing out that she was aloof at the event and quiet for the last couple weeks, and that I was wondering if anything was upsetting her. She replied no - she was just busy.

    I'm not really sure what to do at this point. I'm not really interested in blowing it up, but I'm upset that she acted that way towards my boyfriend, who was nothing but friendly and generous to her (he even paid for her at one point), and I'm upset that she acted that way towards me when I was with him. I thought mentioning her distance might encourage her to reveal some unspoken feelings, but she said there were none. I don't know which is worse - her genuinely not thinking there was a problem with her behavior, or lying to me about why she behaved as she did. She has historically been somewhat cold (which fascinated me at the beginning and was part of why I became interested in becoming friends with her), but that guard is generally lowered with me. My mom suggested that perhaps she's jealous of my boyfriend and I, which I suppose is a possibility, but even then, she could share those feelings, and it still doesn't really excuse her from treating him like a ficus.



    Does anyone have any advice in terms of what may have happened, or what I'm missing here, or how to proceed?
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    Last edited by skylights; 03-12-2013 at 03:54 PM. Reason: clarification

  2. #2
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    My mom suggested that perhaps she's jealous of my boyfriend and I, which I suppose is a possibility,
    Could be. Seems she started behaving weird right after your boyfriend entered the picture. Unhealthy E3s need people primarily to make them feel better about themselves, and you weren't fulfilling this need.
    but even then, she could share those feelings,
    E3s would rather die than confessing envy, specially a ''cold'' E3.
    and it still doesn't really excuse her from treating him like a ficus.
    Indeed.


    ps: awsm illustrations
    -----------------

    A man builds. A parasite asks 'Where is my share?'
    A man creates. A parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?'
    A man invents. A parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God... '


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  3. #3
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post
    ps: awsm illustrations
    Thank you Rasofy

    Could be. Seems she started behaving weird right after your boyfriend entered the picture.
    Exactly. Things were normal and great up until this point. I didn't even fully realize it until I thought about it later. Like I said, I was wondering if she was just hesitant - she does tend to hang back and observe - and I kept thinking that she would eventually gain enough information, and fully re-engage with us.

    E3s would rather die than confessing envy, specially a ''cold'' E3.
    You're right. It's strange to me, though, because she has a boyfriend waiting for her if she would only take him up on it. And they were together for a year and a half in the past, so they would basically be on par with my boyfriend and I in terms of length of dating. I guess it's possible that she sees the emotional comfort and intimacy shared between my boyfriend and I, and resents that we share that, since it's something that neither he nor I particularly struggle with, while I suspect she always has, and I know there are issues surrounding emotional sharing in her family (that being one of the root causes of her own parents' divorce, as well as several other divorces in her family). Or maybe it's simpler than that, and she just is envious of us being together and happy. The thing I don't understand, though, is why would that be a reason to distance yourself? I've always enjoyed interacting with happy couples, and I've been predominantly single for 22 years - because their positive energy seems to spill outwards, free for the taking.

    It's a good point about the possible jealousy, because she and I have historically been competitive in a friendly way. She's generally been on "top", though - and I suppose she could be feeling more insecure seeing me in more of a stable position in a happy relationship, being a leader at work, and having a generally happy family. Still, it's not like everything is amazing with me. I'm still struggling with my career options, while she's blazing her path, and I've always been on the less affluent side of our friendship - my family, my boyfriend, and myself all veer towards humanitarian jobs, so we're not destined to be rolling in it.

    Unhealthy E3s need people primarily to make them feel better about themselves, and you weren't fulfilling this need.
    I just hope it won't come to her needing me to be inferior for her to feel happy. I would like to see us both bloom in our different directions. She seemed to show some degree of this, too, during school, when she was clearly proud of me for certain accomplishments of mine. I suppose she wants a happy relationship, too, though, and I've "beaten" her to it.

  4. #4
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    From the sounds of things, you have done everything to make the time go smoothly that you could for everyone involved, as well as to address the problem proactively. Her behaviour is odd. I think there is probably something in back of it, but she is probably not even ready to talk to herself about it, let alone you.

    All I can say is that I have had several occasions (although usually with guys who were my friends or whom I was dating) where two people I'm close to met and suddenly the easy-going, host with the most, pleasant person whom I knew turned aloof, rude, drew negative attention to themselves and treated the other person I care about quite inexplicably, despite the other person being nothing but nice to them. Often, it seemed that they were okay as long as we were meeting in their natural environment, but as soon as they were removed from where they felt most comfortable, they felt unsure and it came out as rudeness to force me to pick them and give them the emotional support they needed. I have also observed this with several friends when they brought boyfriends to meet our family/husband spending time with the family.

    The first time this happened in my life, I was completely baffled by the behaviour and had no explanation for it, as I had been long time friends with the person and they had come up to visit me at their suggestion in my home and then proceeded to treat my family and all around them terribly. It got talked out a bit (was their own issues) and the visit took a turn for the better after it was all laid out on the table. However, after seeing this a couple more times in milder forms, I've found that the common thread is insecurity and feelings of somehow competing for my affections. It's like if someone else is around whom I also care for and value, then the person needs to force a situation where they think I will have to choose one or the other in some way.

    I don't think I would have come to realize this had my sister not married a man who was so extreme in this regard that she eventually quit seeing all of her friends and family for 20 years. Now, I have very little patience for the behaviour. Although I care for the people involved, I cannot allow them to have that kind of negative power in my life, not just for my sake, but for their sake too.

    I wonder if this isn't specifically about boyfriend envy, but rather a more specific kind of jealousy. If you have managed to get into your friend's inner emotional world, it's possible that she's worried that the bond that you have with your boyfriend will eventually mean that you will become serious enough that she will no longer be able to have the same kind of role in your life. She probably realizes that sounds stupid when you say it aloud, but it still is a scary thought to her, especially if her family aren't open communicators whom she can feel close with and you have been in her life for a long time. I don't know if this is it, but I'm just throwing it out there as a possibility.

    I've learned over time that often you are just missing a piece of information when other people's behaviour doesn't make sense, and with it, everything falls into place. I've also learned that it is rarely really about you or the situation at hand, but rather is the other person's way of dealing with awakened fears rooted in an entirely different situation that had nothing to do at you. Sometimes you can allay those fears, sometimes you can't. Sometimes they are just bad coping mechanisms in an attempt to get needs met and the person needs to learn new ways of making their needs apparent. Some people are willing to go through the steps it takes to do that, and for some it is too difficult or scary to face, so they won't.

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    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    The other thought I had just now about why she might distance herself just because she could be jealous of seeing you happy - when you feel insecure, everything is a competition. It's not enough to appreciate good where you see it. Your level of happiness and what you have is ranked and compared with others all the time. I'm not sure if this is the issue with her or not, but I thought I'd throw it out there to see if it fits.

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    Senior Member Santosha's Avatar
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    I'm just throwing this out there, you'd know your friend well enough to know if this is in her charactor... but could she have been nervous about being "too-affectoinate" or engaging with your boyfriend, thus upsetting you? Have you guys ever had any previous hurt feelings or run-ins over guys? Again, this is probably a long shot.. if she is an E3 I would imagine that seeing first hand an intense emotional connection between the two of you, if she is struggling in this area herself, could have been difficult. She may have not known what role to play. Theres also the possibility that she is honest about nothing being up, and she could have just been distracted with her own issues but if feels like a responce from the two of you from your perspective. Regardless, it does seem like you've done everything you can. As an E6 I think we can be hyper-vigilant (not saying you are in this case, my own experience) about knowing everything or controlling what goes on in our support networks, when we'd be better off to just let things go sometimes.. trust in the universe and quit believing that we must proactively respond and control everything to maintain our support. Whether E3 does have some issue about it that she doesn't want to discuss, or she really is distracted, or even if she has just decided that she doesn't want to be close any longer, it is now on her shoulders because you've done what you can. It hurts, but sometimes we just have to let things go.
    Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun - Watts

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    As an ENFJ, I can say it may be a bit of possessiveness of you.

  8. #8
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    From the sounds of things, you have done everything to make the time go smoothly that you could for everyone involved, as well as to address the problem proactively. Her behaviour is odd. I think there is probably something in back of it, but she is probably not even ready to talk to herself about it, let alone you.

    All I can say is that I have had several occasions (although usually with guys who were my friends or whom I was dating) where two people I'm close to met and suddenly the easy-going, host with the most, pleasant person whom I knew turned aloof, rude, drew negative attention to themselves and treated the other person I care about quite inexplicably, despite the other person being nothing but nice to them. Often, it seemed that they were okay as long as we were meeting in their natural environment, but as soon as they were removed from where they felt most comfortable, they felt unsure and it came out as rudeness to force me to pick them and give them the emotional support they needed. I have also observed this with several friends when they brought boyfriends to meet our family/husband spending time with the family.

    The first time this happened in my life, I was completely baffled by the behaviour and had no explanation for it, as I had been long time friends with the person and they had come up to visit me at their suggestion in my home and then proceeded to treat my family and all around them terribly. It got talked out a bit (was their own issues) and the visit took a turn for the better after it was all laid out on the table. However, after seeing this a couple more times in milder forms, I've found that the common thread is insecurity and feelings of somehow competing for my affections. It's like if someone else is around whom I also care for and value, then the person needs to force a situation where they think I will have to choose one or the other in some way.

    I don't think I would have come to realize this had my sister not married a man who was so extreme in this regard that she eventually quit seeing all of her friends and family for 20 years. Now, I have very little patience for the behaviour. Although I care for the people involved, I cannot allow them to have that kind of negative power in my life, not just for my sake, but for their sake too.

    I wonder if this isn't specifically about boyfriend envy, but rather a more specific kind of jealousy. If you have managed to get into your friend's inner emotional world, it's possible that she's worried that the bond that you have with your boyfriend will eventually mean that you will become serious enough that she will no longer be able to have the same kind of role in your life. She probably realizes that sounds stupid when you say it aloud, but it still is a scary thought to her, especially if her family aren't open communicators whom she can feel close with and you have been in her life for a long time. I don't know if this is it, but I'm just throwing it out there as a possibility.

    I've learned over time that often you are just missing a piece of information when other people's behaviour doesn't make sense, and with it, everything falls into place. I've also learned that it is rarely really about you or the situation at hand, but rather is the other person's way of dealing with awakened fears rooted in an entirely different situation that had nothing to do at you. Sometimes you can allay those fears, sometimes you can't. Sometimes they are just bad coping mechanisms in an attempt to get needs met and the person needs to learn new ways of making their needs apparent. Some people are willing to go through the steps it takes to do that, and for some it is too difficult or scary to face, so they won't.
    Thank you so much for this explanation, fidelia. It's both enlightening and comforting that this isn't an isolated phenomenon. I'm sorry about the circumstances with your sister, though, that sounds like a painful situation. What you described in your final paragraph is a pattern that often occurs with her - one piece of information and the puzzle suddenly snaps together.

    What you described about the specific jealousy seems to fit the situation well. She is a very emotionally distant person, but I got closer than almost anyone else. When college ended, I was pretty torn up about us separating (she was moving far from me), but she displayed little concern towards me, to the point of not really saying goodbye until I tracked her down. I was somewhat hurt by this because she had some gushy goodbyes with others, though I know to some extent that was more show than genuine, and she probably was clamping down on those real emotions pretty hard. She and I kept in touch fairly well, but of course our relationship became more distanced. By the time my now-boyfriend began flirting with me - about a year later - I was very ready to have another emotionally-close relationship again (I have had these sorts of intense pair-bond relationships all my life, as has he), and he and I were lucky to click quickly. What you suggested about my bond with him has already come to pass - she is no longer one of my top priorities (though I did try to make her one during the trip).

    I have conflicted feelings about this - on one hand, we have been friends for a long time, and it's not her fault that I chose to prioritize her preferences for a long period of time. I still really appreciate her intelligence and perspective. On the other hand, becoming more distant has enabled me to see how one-sided the friendship could be at times - perhaps she was putting her all into it, but it was still somewhat destructive for me to almost always have to meet her where she was. It may even be this newfound self-angency that she's feeling more than anything to do with my boyfriend - I'm more independent, more decisive, more willing to swim upstream - and less willing to hurt myself to please her. I can only imagine that would be slightly jarring for her, when for 5 years she was met with little resistance from me. Honestly, at this point, I am trying to figure out how to still be a good friend and confidante, but how to be that without being a pushover and while retaining my own preferences and identity.

    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    The other thought I had just now about why she might distance herself just because she could be jealous of seeing you happy - when you feel insecure, everything is a competition. It's not enough to appreciate good where you see it. Your level of happiness and what you have is ranked and compared with others all the time. I'm not sure if this is the issue with her or not, but I thought I'd throw it out there to see if it fits.
    Yes, our friendship was often somewhat of a friendly competition, and while she was usually "on top" socially, this puts me a ways ahead of her in the "love life" category. I've gained a lot more self-confidence over the past two years between my job and my relationship, and feel less insecure than I used to, whereas I think she is at a more vulnerable point emotionally, even though there's not much "objectively" better about my situation right now. Still, I'm surprised that she didn't display this earlier, like when I talked her ear off about him. I don't know. Maybe she was expecting there to be some major flaw with him, but there really aren't any.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    I'm just throwing this out there, you'd know your friend well enough to know if this is in her charactor... but could she have been nervous about being "too-affectoinate" or engaging with your boyfriend, thus upsetting you? Have you guys ever had any previous hurt feelings or run-ins over guys? Again, this is probably a long shot.. if she is an E3 I would imagine that seeing first hand an intense emotional connection between the two of you, if she is struggling in this area herself, could have been difficult. She may have not known what role to play. Theres also the possibility that she is honest about nothing being up, and she could have just been distracted with her own issues but if feels like a responce from the two of you from your perspective. Regardless, it does seem like you've done everything you can. As an E6 I think we can be hyper-vigilant (not saying you are in this case, my own experience) about knowing everything or controlling what goes on in our support networks, when we'd be better off to just let things go sometimes.. trust in the universe and quit believing that we must proactively respond and control everything to maintain our support. Whether E3 does have some issue about it that she doesn't want to discuss, or she really is distracted, or even if she has just decided that she doesn't want to be close any longer, it is now on her shoulders because you've done what you can. It hurts, but sometimes we just have to let things go.
    Yeah, I totally agree, I'm hyper vigilant and there have certainly been times where I called something that was essentially negligible. That's part of why I brought this to the forum. I suppose it's possible that she was afraid of crossing boundary lines, but we haven't really had any history of that, and she's not my boyfriend's type at all. I do think you're right about the difficulty of watching an emotionally close relationship, though, for sure. I'm actually not entirely put off by the idea of not being so close anymore, because of the way she treated me in the past and treats me in general. I sort of feel like I'm coming out of an abusive relationship where I was an enabler. So on one hand I feel like this was partially my fault, and I know she endured some challenging life experiences; on the other, she's proud and removed, and can treat others very poorly, even longtime friends. Thanks for the input :]

    Quote Originally Posted by girlinthePNW View Post
    As an ENFJ, I can say it may be a bit of possessiveness of you.
    Interesting. She is rather controlling, so I can imagine that it would be displeasing to suddenly discover how out of the grasp of her control that I am. Thank you!

    I'm going to use all this info and construct a brief note to her.

  9. #9
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    My ENFJ mum can be much more micromanagey and directive when she is under emotional stress. It sounds to me like your friend probably has had plenty of that in her life.

    I don't know about ENFJs generally, but I have found with my mum (who I think is an example of a pretty healthy ENFJ), she is so focussed on meeting other people's needs that she sometimes isn't aware of her own, or is very private about sharing them. She finds it very difficult to surrender control (I think this is an E_ _ J thing), even when someone wants to do something nice for her.

    On the other hand, the lack of trust that one's needs will be provided for (which comes along with insecurity) can often make a person rather controlling as well. You will need time to re-establish the boundaries of your relationship and you will probably encounter some resistance to change. In the long run though, it is kinder to her, as it allows you to be equals and have a sustainable friendship without resentment.

    As you have found, balance in your life is essential to maintaining healthy relationships and to maintaining objectivity. As you become more objective, you may even feel really bamboozled at how you could have allowed things to get so skewed, even if at the time, it didn't seem like such a big deal. I think it's really easy at that stage to beat up on yourself for not seeing things as they really were, but it is something that happens so gradually, that it is sometimes hard at the time to decide whether you are just making a big deal out of something, or if it is a legitimate feeling.

    When people feel insecure, they will feel threatened by anyone or anything that could be important to you and compete for your affections (eg your boyfriend, your new life elsewhere). The person will feel the need to try to get you to shrink your world so they can maintain a more important role in it and it is easy for that to happen gradually, until their wishes taking on unreasonable weight and significance for you. Then you over invest and will do whatever it takes to make things work, without considering the imbalance. I've also found in these cases that often the people who wish to exert the most control in the friendship also are the ones shouldering the least responsibility. They invest less or are less willing to compromise.

    It would be simple if there weren't also very attractive qualities that obscure or offset the negative behaviours. No one is all bad, and sometimes it takes some time even to notice whether an incident is part of a pattern of behaviour, or if it is just an isolated event. Often the person has conflicting behaviours that can keep you guessing which is the real them and which keep you invested in the relationship. I don't think those behaviours are consciously thought out, but rather are an instinctive response to very strong fears. However, the behaviours do do damage.

    For me, I have been most susceptible to allowing someone undue influence in my life when I have some emotional need that the other person steps in and seems to meet. If I am far away from a support system of my usual people, or feel isolated, etc, I am more likely to be willing to over-accommodate someone who occupies an important role in my life and also to have insufficient other people and interests to help maintain a better perspective.

    Widening your scope of people and pursuits has a way of putting things back into perspective and allowing you to better decide what kind of role you want the person to have in your life.

    Sounds to me like this is where you are at now.

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    An ENFJ 3w4 so/sp? Those people are easy.

    To the extent that she's mature and actually close to you, she ought to be able to tell you what feelings she had that drove her actions. She's got a wall up, and that issue's much more on her than it is on you.

    If you're gonna pursue this one further, I'd let the whole "boyfriend" incident go (that is, not expressly call her out on that issue alone) and instead focus on the underlying motivations.

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