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  1. #1
    Senior Member GirlFromMars's Avatar
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    Default Help with helping an ISFJ!

    I don't mean that in a patronizing way. But here's the thing - my boyfriend has a problem with expressing himself. When it comes to the more serious/deeper things, he keeps his feelings/thoughts inside, and has to be prodded to get them out. I have to encourage him to talk (atlough admittedly, sometimes I just get annoyed by it, and get mad) He says he has a hard time to express himself, and I can see the struggle. It makes me feel bad for him, and makes me worry, and also can cause some frustration on my part at the same time. I know he has a lot of emotions. He shows it in his face, his actions, etc. and I've seen him cry a couple of times since we've been together. He's VERY sweet, loving, etc. and shows he cares. He tells me he loves me, so that's all fine. It's just when it comes to more serious stuff, and when in conflict situations. I've NEVER seen someone so passive in conflict situations, which also worries me. :| I guess I'm just wanting to help him to express himself, and also to not be so passive, because it seriously worries me. Any insights/opinions/tips/what-have-you? All I can think to do is to encourage him, but then I feel like I'm patronizing him, and sounding like his shrink.
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  2. #2
    Geolectric teslashock's Avatar
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    What you are describing is very common among ISxJs, particularly ISFJs, and I understand why as an INFP, this might be disconcerting for you. I've noticed that most ISxJs don't care too much about justifying or elaborating on their feelings and values. They have no real desire to make sense of them to you because that doesn't really do anything to bring them closer to their goals. They just use their values as their own personal roadmap to get through life, and how others interpret them is pretty much meaningless for them.

    This can be applied to your issue with your ISFJ. Have you stopped to think that maybe your boyfriend values a measurable sense of outer peace more than an ambiguous sense of inner peace? Perhaps he reaches a feeling of "inner peace" by living in a contented outer world. Therefore, instead of surfacing any problems he might have, he lets them slide because it's genuinely more important to him, on a number of levels, to maintain an empirical sense of social harmony than it is to threaten such harmony with what he probably sees as "trivial" personal issues.

    Just remember that Fi causes you to value emotional expression and putting things in terms of emotions, but Fe values keeping others' emotions in check so as to prevent any discordance in the outer world. It's quite possible that your ISFJ isn't really bottling anything up by being what you deem "passive." He probably genuinely cares more about maintaining happiness in his relationships than about surfacing any emotional qualms he might have, and he probably has no active desire to elaborate on his values. Therefore, it's very likely that he's not actively suppressing anything; he's just not interested in bringing the types of things that you value to the surface.

    In fact, it may bother him even more to bring them to the surface than to keep them within, so asking him to do such a thing may not be for the best (even though it's probably hard for you to see it this way). As an INFP, this may come across as unhealthy to you, and if you did not bring your feelings to the surface, it probably would result in some rather unhealthy consequences, but remember that ISFJs and INFPs have totally different value systems, and you can't expect him to operate off of yours, and you should realize that yours is arbitrary and not the only way to achieve happiness.

  3. #3
    Junior Member gracefully's Avatar
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    I can definitely relate to your boyfriend--in fact during conflict situations, I can be passive and non-communicative, choosing instead to distance myself and understand the problem on my own.

    I can be seen as "moody." But the truth is, there is something on the back of my mind, I just choose not to share it with everybody.

    My advice is to be just direct and upfront to him. Ask him how he feels. Tell him you can't understand and won't know his needs if he doesn't open up.

    The other important thing is that he has to know he is safe with you, he has to trust you to a degree. Sometimes being ISFJ, we tend to hide a lot of things, because we think other people will view us as "weak". Other times its because we hate hurting other people, so we'd rather shut up about it and not share our feelings, (or worse, lie and tell you everything is okay when it's not). You have to assure him, in one way or another, that he won't be hurting you by being honest, and that you can deal with anything he dishes out.

    Hope that helps.

  4. #4
    Senior Member sticker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teslashock View Post
    What you are describing is very common among ISxJs, particularly ISFJs, and I understand why as an INFP, this might be disconcerting for you. I've noticed that most ISxJs don't care too much about justifying or elaborating on their feelings and values. They have no real desire to make sense of them to you because that doesn't really do anything to bring them closer to their goals. They just use their values as their own personal roadmap to get through life, and how others interpret them is pretty much meaningless for them.
    I can agree with this.

    As for the disparity in how both of you handle feelings, I guess it is the difference between Fi and Fe, even I sometimes end up feeling the need to explain why I feel strongly about certain things.
    Everyone is unique. ...Just like everyone else.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Snow Turtle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gracefully View Post
    I can definitely relate to your boyfriend--in fact during conflict situations, I can be passive and non-communicative, choosing instead to distance myself and understand the problem on my own.

    My advice is to be just direct and upfront to him. Ask him how he feels. Tell him you can't understand and won't know his needs if he doesn't open up.

    The other important thing is that he has to know he is safe with you, he has to trust you to a degree. Sometimes being ISFJ, we tend to hide a lot of things, because we think other people will view us as "weak". Other times its because we hate hurting other people, so we'd rather shut up about it and not share our feelings, (or worse, lie and tell you everything is okay when it's not). You have to assure him, in one way or another, that he won't be hurting you by being honest, and that you can deal with anything he dishes out.

    Hope that helps.
    The bolded part. ISFJs like to address issues by themselves, and solve the internal conflict before thinking that it's necessary to bring it out into the open. The reasoning behind it all is, if a problem can be solved, then why drag out problems which will cause a negative impact on others.

    If the problem can't be solved, then an ISFJ will eventually bring it up in conversation (or bottle it up due to fear). One thing that I'd suggest not doing is pushing too much on the issue... Just let them know that you're willing to listen anytime.

    Why? Because forcing them to express themselves will eventually create a new problem with the ISFJ.

    "I can't express myself therefore I am emotionally inadaquete. I can't make him or her happy in that sense."

    You could potentially being leading him down a dangerous path with this. Give him time to do it naturally.

  6. #6
    Aspiring Troens Ridder KLessard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gracefully View Post
    The other important thing is that he has to know he is safe with you, he has to trust you to a degree. Sometimes being ISFJ, we tend to hide a lot of things, because we think other people will view us as "weak". Other times its because we hate hurting other people, so we'd rather shut up about it and not share our feelings, (or worse, lie and tell you everything is okay when it's not). You have to assure him, in one way or another, that he won't be hurting you by being honest, and that you can deal with anything he dishes out.

    Hope that helps.

    Okay!!! Now I get it. This ISFJ behaviour was so puzzling to me!

  7. #7
    Senior Member GirlFromMars's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot for the replies. I will take the advice on board. I guess the main difference is probably Fi and Fe here? I don't mean to push him, I'm just used to talking about my feelings. I feel like if I don't it's very unhealthy for me, and I've always assumed it's unhealthy for everyone. I also (almost)always want to help people with their feelings. I'm just used to listening to people, and trying to open them up so I can help them, it comes naturally to me. I sometimes feel hurt, and even insulted sometimes, when someone doesn't seem to be opening up as much as I would. I guess some people really do just prefer to work it through themselves though. It's not like my boyfriend never shows any feelings, he definitely does. But there's often times where I feel like he's holding back. Could it be my own paranoia? Very possibly. And it's a lot worse in conflict situations - he'll just get realllly quiet, that's where the main problem with him expressing himself is. As for the trust thing - I would really hope he does trust me! But I understand that can be hard sometimes even when you love someone. I know ISFJ's are sensitive souls, and I've read that they're often very scared to let on how sensitive, and attached they can get?
    INFP~ 4w5 ~ sx/sp ~ IEI ~ Libra

  8. #8
    Not Your Therapist Sinmara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teslashock View Post
    Have you stopped to think that maybe your boyfriend values a measurable sense of outer peace more than an ambiguous sense of inner peace? Perhaps he reaches a feeling of "inner peace" by living in a contented outer world. Therefore, instead of surfacing any problems he might have, he lets them slide because it's genuinely more important to him, on a number of levels, to maintain an empirical sense of social harmony than it is to threaten such harmony with what he probably sees as "trivial" personal issues.
    I've found this to be very true. An ISFJ will often sacrifice his own personal feelings for the betterment of the group. My ISFJ doesn't really see his own feelings as "big" enough to disrupt the harmony of the group and he will often let things go that bother him because he'd feel selfish for acting on every little thing. At the same time, he doesn't feel like he's repressing or suffering from doing this. If the people around him are happy, then he is happy.

    In fact, it may bother him even more to bring them to the surface than to keep them within, so asking him to do such a thing may not be for the best (even though it's probably hard for you to see it this way).
    Now, this, I am going to have to disagree with to a certain extent.

    While it is true that ISFJs don't like to rock the boat and to make them react to every little thing they feel would be very upsetting to them, there are times when you need to put your foot down and make them stand up for themselves because the way they "let go" of every little thing can create a situation where they are being walked all over and taken advantage of. Also, this can create a situation where the ISFJ hides from the things that upset them and pretend they're not there. The ISFJs I've known have had a very bad habit of living in denial of the things that upset them and things will be let go until they have snowballed to the point to where they can't be ignored anymore.

    There are times that they need to be forced outside of their comfort zone in order to learn some important lessons of self-worth and toughness. Sometimes they need someone to push them into the unhappy place so they can learn how to deal with it. An ISFJ who grows up allowing people to hurt them because they think slapping back would be too much of an uproar and they rationalize that dealing with a situation of steady, but mild unhappiness is better than the blowup that dealing with it would bring...yeah, that's a very unhappy ISFJ.

    They need ESTPs like us to give them a reality check and kick their butt with supportive love.

  9. #9
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pettycure View Post
    I've found this to be very true. An ISFJ will often sacrifice his own personal feelings for the betterment of the group. My ISFJ doesn't really see his own feelings as "big" enough to disrupt the harmony of the group and he will often let things go that bother him because he'd feel selfish for acting on every little thing. At the same time, he doesn't feel like he's repressing or suffering from doing this. If the people around him are happy, then he is happy.

    Now, this, I am going to have to disagree with to a certain extent.

    While it is true that ISFJs don't like to rock the boat and to make them react to every little thing they feel would be very upsetting to them, there are times when you need to put your foot down and make them stand up for themselves because the way they "let go" of every little thing can create a situation where they are being walked all over and taken advantage of. Also, this can create a situation where the ISFJ hides from the things that upset them and pretend they're not there. The ISFJs I've known have had a very bad habit of living in denial of the things that upset them and things will be let go until they have snowballed to the point to where they can't be ignored anymore.

    There are times that they need to be forced outside of their comfort zone in order to learn some important lessons of self-worth and toughness. Sometimes they need someone to push them into the unhappy place so they can learn how to deal with it. An ISFJ who grows up allowing people to hurt them because they think slapping back would be too much of an uproar and they rationalize that dealing with a situation of steady, but mild unhappiness is better than the blowup that dealing with it would bring...yeah, that's a very unhappy ISFJ.

    They need ESTPs like us to give them a reality check and kick their butt with supportive love.
    +10!

    See, this is why I love you ESxP's!! You guys are willing to see me for my strengths and when you see my weaknesses, you force me out to deal with it and make me a better person for it.

    Petty is right about this. ISFJ's have a VERY bad tendency of letting people walk all over us and because we don't want to rock the boat or anything we rarely stand up for ourselves, which then only lets more people walk all over us and so on and so forth until we're utterly miserable and bitter.

    I'm always so thankful for friends and loved ones who won't allow me to let myself get trampled on, will push me up on stage to deal with my problems, and then support me whatever results from it. These are the people I truly want for friends and/or lovers.
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
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  10. #10
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    My ISFJ daughter is very loving and very loyal. She is also VERY bothered by things (such as cute girls talking to her boyfriend). She knows that often her feelings are petty or "just her problem." However she has a difficult time hiding her feelings, so everyone knows she's upset, and wants to help her. This frustrates her deeply, because she already knows it's "her problem" and she doesn't want to talk through her feelings. It makes her very uncomfortable, because 1.) she's always worried she is going to say something she regrets and 2.) she hates being lectured more than ANYTHING! My daughter doesn't like to think to much about the relationship she's in, she just wants a mutual enjoyment of it.

    I would say that your need to be emotionally validated through words is going to take a beating unless you can learn to read your boyfriend's way of communicating his love to you. As long as he is spending time with you (companionship) and having fun with you and doing things for you, he's got VERY intense feelings for you and you're good. Don't push for poetry or deep insights into their feelings.

    Be careful, ISFJs I've known can have a nasty temper and *snap* when they feel they've been pushed too far. My daughter needs lots of space when she feels like she's getting close to the snapping point. If she's given space, she comes back like nothing at all happened. They are also the most forgiving people I know and they will expect you to be as forgiving of their faults as they are of yours.

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