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Thread: having problems with an ENFJ

  1. #21
    Senior Member Array Anja's Avatar
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    May 2008


    It sounds as though your friend is very much caught up in her preferred interaction style, ladypinkington.

    With all relationships I think I need to be cautious in my evaluation of what I receive and am able to give in return.

    Balance in this area is a necessity for me. Not necessarily in the short run, but over time, I am happiest in relationships where there is equal give and take.

    It is healthy, I think to expect that. I don't do well, nor make a good friend when I am feeling needy.

    But it is with some care that I try to explore exactly what that desired person is capable of offering. And when I perceive a limitation in their ability to meet my needs I have two choices: I can drop the relationship and search for someone else who better meets my needs. Or I can continue with the friendship, recognizing that my friend may not be able to deliver what I request from her. In that case I supplement my needs through other special relationships.

    There have been times when I've been insistent about changes in others' behaviors and it hasn't worked well. They either can't and become frustrated with the relationship, they try and it feels phony to all involved or they become defensive and stonewall the friendship.

    All we are ultimately able to change is ourselves. Trying to force it in others rarely rewards us with good results.

    That recognized, I have to determine how important the friendship is to me. Is this someone that I want in my life? If so, perhaps I need to lower my expectations to continue the relationship.

    If I can't accomplish this it is best for both parties to move on with respect.

    Is this helpful?
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  2. #22
    Plumage and Moult Array proteanmix's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    I have been in situations like your ENFJ, when I don't want to hurt a person but I want to get away from them and they don't let me get away from them. It makes me feel very trapped, guilty, and like I'm disappointing them which is bad enough. I strongly identify with what this ENFJ is doing because she's trying to make boundaries in her relationship with you and when I've encountered this it feels like someone is trying to dismantle the fence I'm legitimately building. I've felt like I'm being forced to give more than I want and then made to feel guilty about what I need and what's I'm able to give. Remember this post I wrote in your blog? It sounds to me this is what your ENFJ is doing:
    When I went to college and tried valiantly to make myself available and open to every person that I thought I could befriend (basically pushing myself off on people), it took some major introspecting and asking myself did I even want to be connected with so many people. There was no discrimination, I just wanted to be around people and wanted people to be around me so I could feel like I had all these followers and I was in the know. I still slip into that now, but I'm not as bad as I used to be.

    So I find myself wondering about the same thing you wonder about: connecting with people. Should I concentrate on nurturing the connections I do have or look for more people to connect with? I played this game with my old roommates asking what kind of food you are. After doing some thinking, I realized I was a pie (key lime pie especially). I'm not infinite, I don't have limitless amounts of love, compassion, caring, whatever to spread around. And it's OK to admit your finiteness. The opposite is like finding yourself in a room full of people and hangers on and being completely alone.
    This is what happens when I'm trying to extricate myself from a person or people and why ENFJs really need to do that. We invest a lot and it's almost a demand that when we choose to disengage that we're allowed to disengage. Because I'm going to be honest, that's when the game playing begins. It sounds like to me this woman is sending out signals that the relationship will only be so deep. I know that when I've done that to people and they don't seem to get it I start breaking appointments, ignoring calls, writing sporadic emails, just being generally unresponsive because saying to someone "I don't want our relationship to be any more than it is" seems really harsh. How do you tell someone, oh you're just my shopping buddy, or you're just my movie friend, or you're just the person I have a certain type of conversations with, with or you're just a person I only care to talk to twice a year and the person doesn't feel like they're a "just?" Because being a "just" sucks!! Especially when you don't want to be one! And I guess that's what hurts so bad about this relationship because you realize you may be in that just category. I realize to some people I am just a "just" and if everything else in the relationship is cool then I'm going to accept that. I can't force myself to be more to someone than what they are willing to let me be.

    I truly understand the intimacy you crave to have with this woman. I don't know if this is a Fe thing or not but I recognize my ability to be the "Mistress of Merge" and really lose myself within another person and that is something I viciously guard against happening. Knowing how I've behaved in the past, it's very dangerous when I get wrapped up in ONE person or a very small group of people. You know all that horrible EFJ stuff that people complain about on the forum: clingy, dependent, controlling, emotionally unstable, etc? That's what happens when I put ALL my energy in ONE person. Which is why I need to diffuse myself out to a group of people of my choosing. That way, I'm not trying to make one person be everything to me as of right now in my life that seems like the best way to handle a situation like this.

    Would it be less hurtful if she explicitly said I don't want our relationship to be more than what I've already shown that I'm willing to input into it? If so, why don't you bring it up to her? Don't make her feel guilty about how she said she would do this and that for you. Say something like you notice she's a mother figure to many people and that was one of the traits in her that you and your husband found attractive. You don't want to be a great burden to her or make her feel like she has to let you into her life. You're interested in moving your relationship past the superficial and is there a place for you all in her life. You realize that she has many people that she has a history with and if she ever feels like she needs to get away or a place where she doesn't feel needed that you're willing to be that for her. Don't make yourself another weight that she needs to carry or another person she needs to take care of.

    I'm very sorry you feel hurt over this situation. It does sound to me that your friend oversold herself and she's realizing that she can't fulfill what she thought she could. It seems like you've tried to talk to her about this, but she's reneged on you when you've tried. Please take this as a sign. If you want to continue the relationship with her and if you feel like it's worth saving, just give it a little time and distance. If nothing emerges out of it, please don't be bitter against her if you realize her intentions. Hopefully you all will be able to negotiate the nature of your relationship and it will be satisfying to all parties involved.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  3. #23
    Senior Member Array sciski's Avatar
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    Jan 2008


    It really does sound as if your ENFJ needs some support or help. I think making demands on her at this stage could be counterproductive and merely make her feel more guilt for not being able to offer what you want from her. It's an unfortunate situation though, as you do sound very hurt and lost yourself... so it's hard to give or be self-sacrificing in that state.

    Please, if you can, look after her; offer to take on some of her burden, or work with her as she goes to visit or help others. Setting a designated time/place for intimacy seems to be freaking her out as she's backing out... Really strong relationships often grow unintentionally through mutual experience where the point wasn't to be super-intimate, so my suggestion is to try to lower your expectations a little bit and just help her out and try to lighten the gravitas. It sounds as if she fears your expectations, but doesn't know how to tell you, so it's easier for her to stop growing too intimate.

    I'm not sure why your perceived place in the pecking order means so much to you? Is it because you think everyone knowing you're alpha would mean that you get to spend more time with her? Or is it the fact that she says you're alpha but doesn't act that way that's bothering you?

    Echoing Anja, if she cannot bend to meet you, could you bend a little more to meet her, or do you think you've bent a lot already and will only break at this stage? If you're at breaking point, then yes, it's time for a very frank discussion, just to allow both of you to move on.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Array Anja's Avatar
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    May 2008


    Ok, Sciski, here's a bit of mutual admiration society going.

    Sometimes we can talk a relationship to death. While I think asking for what we need is healthy and straighforwardly honest sometimes is isn't subtle enough for another person.

    What Sciski just posted makes me think of the possibility that your friend may be offering to you what she needs for herself. Bass-ackwards as heck in the communication department. An Eff minus, in fact, but worth consideration.

    By George, I think the Sciskister is onto something.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  5. #25
    Junior Member Array
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    Aug 2008


    While I've never been fortunate enough to get to know any ENFJs really well, I've had similar problems with an ESFJ. The situation was a little different though because I didn't consider her a close enough friend to be bothered by the fact that she had so many other friends. It was actually her who usually arranged for us to spend time together, but whenever I was around her I couldn't help but shake the feeling that it didn't matter to her that it was me she with hanging out with, but what mattered was that I was a human being for her to be around. She didn't seem to appreciate me, she just didn't want to be alone.

    This is apparently common for ExFJs because aloneness can cause their inferior Ti to awaken, making way for "dark thoughts" to surface. It could very well be, too, that those dark thoughts are telling them that people feel the way that they could very well feel about them; that they're superficial and/or uncaring. If this is the case then I imagine that it would open the floodgates to a vicious cycle in which they desperately go all out with their Fe, trying even harder to please too many people all at once and making themselves come off as even more superficial, giving rise to more dark thoughts, giving rise to more apparent superficiality, etc.

    In the situation I found myself in, the ESFJ came close to confiding in me with something that was bothering her. She decided against it at the last second but my Ne had been picking up signs for a little while before then that she was feeling abandoned and unloved by her "closest" friends. I couldn't help but think that she was right, and that it was because her friends felt the same way I did. So while it felt like she didn't actually care about me, I couldn't help but think that maybe she did but just didn't realize that she was making me (and possibly others) feel the way I did about her.

    I can't tell you what to do about it though because it wasn't long after that when she did something unforgivable and now we're no longer on speaking terms (that something was completely unrelated to how she came off). What I can tell you though is that even though this woman may not appear to really care about you, she's probably only acting the way she is because she wants to feel loved by you. People have a tendency to live by the worst moral code ever conceived by man, "treat others the way you want to be treated" (it should be they way they want to be treated). She wants to be told the things she's telling you, and so she tells people what she wants to hear and expects them to appreciate it to the point that she would: So much so that they return the favour.

    So I agree with sciski in that there is more to this than meets the eye and that she's in need of some guidance. You say she adopted you and your husband. Well, "the students have become the teachers" so to speak, and maybe it's time you did the same for her. If you try to help things and she responds in a way that makes things worse though then I'm not sure there's anything that can be done about it, and it will have been her own fault.

  6. #26
    Rubber Nipple Salesperson Array ladypinkington's Avatar
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    Jul 2007


    I appreciate very much everything everyone has shared here

    I have read everything over and over and it is helping

    It is funny because I probably come across as very needy- but the ironic thing is that the problem is that I am not letting myself need her- that is what I feel is hurting her and confusing me

    she is wanting me to need her and I let myself at times and a lot of times not all but a lot of times I get let down

    she wants to be a mother to me- a complete mother to me- 24/7
    a permanament child and tells me that my husband and I are the only ones she feels this way toward- everyone else is just playing house- she sees herself as a pitstop for them

    why does it bother me that I don't know my place? That I don't feell like my place is shown to others?

    because when I try to visit her- when there are others around I have to fight to get face time with her- I feel like I have to ask permission to sit next to her

    I get dirty looks if I try to assert any kind of one on one time- any kind of seeking intimacy that doesn't involve the rest of the world- but I am not interested in the rest of the world and the few times I do get to see her yes I desire to try to get to know her better- those are my only opportunities as I don't get alone time so I have to try to pull her aside which just makes me look like an a-hole I am sure to the rest of the crowd and probably guilt riddens her as she doesn't want anyone to feel bad or left out

    I am a private person I don't like sharing with the rest of the world my thoughts- I feel like I can't show any closeness or interest in her because it feels like it ends up throwing it in people's faces how uninvolved I am in them- like a person eating in front of a starving person so I just end up just sitting there afraid to do anything else that would progress a meaningful relationship

    if I am supposed to be a real daughter then why do I have to go through all that- why is access to her so hard and guilt ridden

    another thing that is going on that I realize is that it has taken me 25 years to have a father- her husband feels closest to me and I am like the daughter he always wanted and he is like the dad I always wanted so one day he decided hey- why can't a person adopt a child no matter their age-supposedly she felt the same way int hat I was the daughter she always wanted but more so my husband is the son she always wanted

    and since she is the driving force for their moving- it is like she is taking my dad away after I just found him
    I am closer to him and I still have my bio mother but I don't have another dad- he's the only I have ever had

    I think that a lot of anger and hurt is driven by that

    she is pretty much the whole driving force in everything
    he wishes it was just the four of us way more too but he goes along with whatever she wants and does, he's an INFP

    I am getting over and am realizing what things are and am adjusting my expectations
    I am also adjusting what to take seriously from her
    I am just in so much mourning
    I am in mourning for the dreams that are bursted
    I am in mourning for the things that are
    and will soon be gone as they will be leaving in a few months

    I am forgiving her in my heart and am in the process of moving on
    I really needed to just get out everything I was feeling
    there are many many good things to
    it is just the hurt and the negative are harder to deal with and needed to be aired out

    thank you everyone for your perspectives and helping me undertsand things from another perspective
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  7. #27
    Junior Member Array
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    I understand this post completely. My ENFJ friend did something similar, where the lines were so blurred as to our connection. On one hand there was this massive level of love and trust but on the other hand her inconsistency was confusing for me. One moment I'd know where we stood but then the next moment there would be a disconnect. I am not normally needy AT ALL but I felt myself becoming so because I was so confused...I couldn't define the intensity of the friendship. This is not an issue I have ever encountered before in my life. As I got to talking to mutual friends, I realise this is something (many) people around her have felt at some point or another. It's not that anyone thinks she is being false, but rather she spreads herself so thin it's hard to trust you can rely on her. I think ENFJ's should really assess themselves (maybe by asking those around them) in this regard, as it can cause some confusion and pain to others which I know an ENFJ would never want to do. They may have to consider regulating how many people they have in their lives at any particular moment? Or at least regulate the intensity of their love being poured out toward others as there are many different kinds of people in this world, some starving for love, and if you open them up to receiving love in their life but spread yourself so thin that you can't maintain the intensity, it feels like (not that it is) a lie and can leaves the person feeling emptier then before - all this from personal experience ( as well as those conversations with mutual friends).

  8. #28
    Halloweenie Array theforsaken's Avatar
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    Nov 2015
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    Fe-doms of certain enneagram types can appear fake to other people but that is only because they desire social harmony and getting along with everybody that they come across. I would venture that ENFJs with a more analytical or 'authentic'-driven enneagram are more likely to be honest with whom they like and dislike out loud.

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