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  1. #1
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    Default INFJ-INFP relationships: share and discuss tools/insights that actually *work* for us

    Hi everyone,

    I'm starting this thread to have a place for people to post about tools and insights from your experience that have helped to create and/or maintain healthy INFP-INFJ relationships.

    Here are some parameters for the thread:

    1. Based on actual relationships between INFPs and INFJs as friends and/or couples.

    2. The tools/insights don't require either the INFP or the INFJ to change or adapt away from our (self-defined) normal cognitive processes.

    3. Blinding glimpses of the obvious are just fine, as are less obvious tools/insights.

    4. This thread is NOT a place to hash out frustrations or difficulties with each other. Plenty of other places to do that. This one is for what works/feels right, grounded in actual relationships where we care about each other.


    -------------------------

    So I'll start. I'm an INFJ in a 4-year relationship with an INFP and we recently realized something huge (for us). I'm pulling this writing from another thread where this topic was a tangent.

    It's ok to go our separate ways in the "middle process"

    My INFP partner and I have long noticed that we very often end up in the same place but come from opposite directions. Recently, we had an interesting discussion about a pretty big-deal real life logistical issue requiring our attention and action over time.

    She brought up the difference between process and goal in a way I find really useful. She said: look, we share the same goal here, but our processes for understanding how to get there are very different. She suggested that we focus on the fact that we share the goal and not try to share the process. The metaphor she used was walking through the woods with a destination in mind. We start together at the beginning of the trail, and we know we'll meet up at the end (our shared goal). But we each go our own way through the woods (our different processes to get there).

    This made/makes a lot of sense to me. We know from experience that we very very often wind up in the same places, share the same goals. We know also that our ways of getting there are very different. We've run into trouble when we've tried to do that middle part - the process of getting there - together. When we try to do that, one or the other or (all too often) both of us feel steamrolled.

    I feel like at some level, I've worried that if we can't move well together through the middle process, then something is very wrong in our communication and interaction. The problem has been - we haven't been able to find a way fix that problem. It's felt impossible, and yet necessary, which has led me to have a "banging my head diligently against a wall" feeling in our ongoing efforts to try to make it work.

    It's just such a relief to me to consider that what we actually need to do is step away from the wall entirely and just give each other space during that middle process. And trust that our shared goals and different processes will most likely yield the solutions we need for whatever we're trying to accomplish. *deep relieved breath* This makes so much more sense than what we've tried to do before.

    -------------------------

    INFJs and INFPs with tools and insights that fit in this thread - would you share them?

    (Note: @Coriolis, given our dialogue in that other thread, I was tempted to try to find a place where we could discuss this as INxJ-INxP. Decided in the end to post in the NF sub-forum, but if you and/or other INTxs want to post here as well about tools/insights for INTP-INTJ relationships, I think it could be interesting as well.)

  2. #2
    Member March's Avatar
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    I have two.

    From my (INFJ) relationship with INFP mother. Of course, that's different than the relationship between partners or friends or colleagues, but maybe it'll help someone somewhere.

    Include cinematic details when telling a story

    When talking to my INFP about the things I've been doing, I used to leave out details I didn't consider relevant. I'd say "I went to the cinema and out for dinner with friends" instead of "I saw movie W at theater X with friends A, B, and C and afterwards we had Y meal at Z restaurant." I'm not personally very interested in which movies or meals people consume, and I don't care about knowing the names of people I've never met - in fact, one of my annoyances with my mother is that she talks about HER friends like I'm supposed to know them, even though I've never seen them before - so it didn't occur to me that she would be.

    Result: She'd go off on a Ne wild goose chase, both about my friends and my taste in entertainment AND about what the nefarious reasons might be that I was HIDING my friends and taste in entertainment from her. I'd go on the defensive telling her how wrong she was and that I don't appreciate people thinking the worst of me (because when have I ever given you reason to doubt my motives?) and that I also don't like people assuming things about me that make no sense, given my history and motives, which I'd never ever ever given you reason to doubt! Raised hackles all around.

    And then we figured out that she wants to be able to make a little movie of my stories in her head when I talk to her. Even if I give just the barebone script, her brain is going to fill out the details. She can't help it - a movie without visuals isn't a movie. And she can't help being WRONG either if I don't give her enough to work with. (Part of me still thinks she should know me well enough to not be so egregiously out-of-left-field wrong, but apparently it doesn't work like that.)

    So now I provide her with more Si data than I'd ever want to hear, and she's stopped making horribly misguided guesses about what's going on in my life. She feels closer to me, I feel closer to her, the end.

    Don't dive deeply into values

    Both my mother and I are somewhat passionate about education and kids being given the chances they need to acquire the skills they need. My passion is more theoretical, since I don't currently work in education, and hers is very feet-on-the-ground - she's a teacher who works to set up remedial classes for underserved kids in her school.

    We can work towards the same ends together just fine. She often asks me to help write things/brainstorm things for her school projects. But if we get into the details of what the 'best' way of helping this cause would be, we get into trouble.

    Invariably, her approach is more 'pure' than mine. She's more extreme in the lengths she wants to go to and less tolerant of excuses. Invariably, my approach is more 'practical' than hers. I'm more extreme in wanting to make sure this plan is financially and ecologically viable and more tolerant of conflicting yet valid priorities.

    Example: we got into a fight once over whether a school should assign 50% of its budget to 5% of its students, even though the school budget was already strained. She thought that was fair if those students needed it the most and would suffer disproportionally if they didn't get that attention; I though it would be unsustainable. She called me evil for considering the context; I called her stupid for NOT considering the context. But if we don't wrangle about that, we get more done AND feel less annoyed with each other. We need people like her to keep the shining goal in mind. We need people like me to make sure budgets get accepted in meetings with everyone feeling like they have gained something valuable. Lesson learned.

  3. #3
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    Believe what they say
    Because the INFJ/INFP thought processes are so different, there is no use trying to wildly guess what or why the other person is thinking/feeling. The rationalizing is so different and foreign your conclusions will most likely be wrong, and no amount of explaining can make you understand. So, assume that they are not trying to conceal anything or lying to you. Ask "How can we make this better?", and believe them.


    Quickly move on from conflicts
    Learn to move on from conflicts and bad feelings as soon as possible. Lingering on them will most likely lead to more and more conflict. When we fight we usually have to choose to just 'not fight', or 'fight all the way' until we are both weary of fighting. If there is a conflict, both of you should apologize, then try to move on and use your experience to inform future interactions. Assume the best interest. Agree to disagree without feeling hurt or rejected.
    4w5 sp/sx EII

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    Quote Originally Posted by March View Post
    Include cinematic details when telling a story
    You know, when I first began reading this one, I didn't get it at first, and wondered if part of this is specific to a parent-child interaction. HOWEVER, when I got to this part (quoted below), it began to make sense to me given my own lived experiences:

    her brain is going to fill out the details. ...And she can't help being WRONG either if I don't give her enough to work with. (Part of me still thinks she should know me well enough to not be so egregiously out-of-left-field wrong, but apparently it doesn't work like that.)
    When we were first getting to know each other as friends, my INFP flat-out told me that she has a tendency to (her words) "fill in the blanks" when she lacks information. As I understand it now, in her it's at least partly use of the Si database to process information more efficiently/quickly. (eta: though the Ne possibilities thing also plays a role, the more I think about it). Anyway. I need to think more about this, but I've never considered deliberately sharing details as a way to assist communication and the building of that Si database in relation to me in useful ways. In my case, it's less likely to be about things like where I've been etc and more about .... I don't know, something about other kinds of details. She has told me she sometimes feels like I start talking partway into whatever I'm trying to communicate rather than at the beginning. This detail thing is really interesting. Need to think more about it. Thank you so much!

    Don't dive deeply into values
    Excellent advice IMO! Totally resonates with my experience as well.

    My current challenge is that sometimes I don't consciously realize we're talking about values until it's too late. Like, in my mind, we could be discussing data/description of something and comparing notes, but for my INFP, it's linked to values. I'm learning that there's a particular "feel" to her energy when we're talking about values - a certain kind of uncomfortable/unpleasant (for me) vibrating resonance that I don't organically understand. I recently realized I need to act more quickly to adjust my participation when I feel that - even if I don't consciously and anlytically understand how the discussion is about values and/or what those values are.

    Both my mother and I are somewhat passionate about education and kids being given the chances they need to acquire the skills they need. My passion is more theoretical, since I don't currently work in education, and hers is very feet-on-the-ground - she's a teacher who works to set up remedial classes for underserved kids in her school.

    We can work towards the same ends together just fine. She often asks me to help write things/brainstorm things for her school projects. But if we get into the details of what the 'best' way of helping this cause would be, we get into trouble.

    Invariably, her approach is more 'pure' than mine. She's more extreme in the lengths she wants to go to and less tolerant of excuses. Invariably, my approach is more 'practical' than hers. I'm more extreme in wanting to make sure this plan is financially and ecologically viable and more tolerant of conflicting yet valid priorities.
    My partner and seem to fall along similar lines - her approach to values is more pure than mine, and I'm bringing up practical stuff and conflicting priorities. It pretty much never goes well when we go head to head from those two opposite approaches

    Example: we got into a fight once over whether a school should assign 50% of its budget to 5% of its students, even though the school budget was already strained. She thought that was fair if those students needed it the most and would suffer disproportionally if they didn't get that attention; I though it would be unsustainable. She called me evil for considering the context; I called her stupid for NOT considering the context. But if we don't wrangle about that, we get more done AND feel less annoyed with each other. We need people like her to keep the shining goal in mind. We need people like me to make sure budgets get accepted in meetings with everyone feeling like they have gained something valuable. Lesson learned.
    This brings me back to the shared goals/different processes think I wrote about. Seems to me that the wrangling part is in the middle process I mentioned in my post, rather than trusting each other that we do share goals but have different ways of getting there.

    Of course, the difficulty would be if we had to sit on a committee together to decide in-process on what to actually DO.

    In our case, we find that identifying clear roles/responsibilities can help a lot to avoid that when we have to make real decisions.

    eta: I don't know if this ^^ actually fits the parameters of the thread, though. Details of why behind the spoiler:



    For example, we used to have the hardest time working together in a couple of little shared businesses we have - to the point where I backed away from one almost entirely for a time, and didn't want to do any more projects in the other. But then a great project came up. She decided that for that one, I would be the project manager and told me I didn't need to check with her on certain things like how to communicate with the client or the overall flow of the project - and she would focus specifically on tasks related to her skill area. It worked like a charm. And more recently, with the other business, we realized that she really is the best lead for the overall business aspects of it, and that I just need to focus specifically on contributing to our mutual creative process and not worry about the other stuff.

    I have to give her tons of credit for recognizing and truly hearing that for me as an INFJ, clearly defined roles/responsibilities can help a lot. It took us a while (took me a while to articulate that in a way she could hear, and took time for her to integrate into the Si database) but it's a great resource.

    Quote Originally Posted by 21% View Post
    Believe what they sayBecause the INFJ/INFP thought processes are so different, there is no use trying to wildly guess what or why the other person is thinking/feeling. The rationalizing is so different and foreign your conclusions will most likely be wrong, and no amount of explaining can make you understand. So, assume that they are not trying to conceal anything or lying to you. Ask "How can we make this better?", and believe them.
    This makes a lot of sense to me. While I will not do this for any random INFP who comes along, in a personal, relationship such a basic level of trust can be useful IMO.

    Quickly move on from conflictsLearn to move on from conflicts and bad feelings as soon as possible. Lingering on them will most likely lead to more and more conflict. When we fight we usually have to choose to just 'not fight', or 'fight all the way' until we are both weary of fighting. If there is a conflict, both of you should apologize, then try to move on and use your experience to inform future interactions. Assume the best interest. Agree to disagree without feeling hurt or rejected.
    I agree with this. One challenge I have with this one from the INFJ side is that under at least some circumstances, others' words can resonate inside of me for a long time after they're said. It's almost an automatic near-physical thing, like there's some sort of physical echo bouncing around in me. It would be internally harmful for me to try to suppress that, but I've found it's way more useful for me to process it internally myself, rather than trying to deal with it in interaction with her.

    One challenge she has is that (if I understand correctly) it takes a while for her Si database to extend. So sometimes even when she moves on from the conflict/feeling aspect, she's still left with pattern-matching from Si database experiences with other people/in other contexts, which seldom is accurate to where I was coming from. I think I've wished for her to integrate material into that database more quickly or in a different way than she's able to do - but stepping back to give her the space to extend the database in her own way (again, rather than trying to resolve certain things in dialogue) is really useful IMO.
    Last edited by Werebudgie; 02-11-2014 at 05:06 PM.

  5. #5
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    I hope it's okay with @21% for me to post a slightly edited (by me) version of a comment from another thread here in this one:

    Quote Originally Posted by 21%
    Tips for [INFJs]:... The thing to keep in mind is, Fi gives you a lot of room to breathe, and you can be a little quirky with your requirements and be off the hook without having to explain anything. To put it tactlessly, "That's how I am. Deal with it" is a pretty acceptable answer.
    and my reply:

    Quote Originally Posted by Werebudgie
    This is quite true in my lived experience with my INFP. It's been quite a revelation for me! It wouldn't have occurred to me to do this at first - I was always looking around to see if there was agreement for using "how I am" in mutual decisions with her. That just annoyed her. The clearer and stronger I am on "That's how I am. Deal with it," the better things are between us. In our case, it seems to be a seriously mutually beneficial way to interact - she seems to like it way better when I do this, and knowing I can do this helps me get centered in Ni-Se percception as I very much need to do in my own trajectory. I had to learn this through experience over time, though. I wish someone had told me about this years ago!

    However, this is key for me: I have to be able and willing to say it and mean it. This means that on my end, I have to know the "how I am" information, be relatively centered in my own ways of perceiving and doing, and be able and willing step up and say it clearly without needing her permission or agreement.

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