If you have a friend or family member who’s an INFP, you likely know that they aren’t always the easiest person to get to know. But they’re absolutely worth knowing once they let you in.
Much of the time, an INFP may seem completely happy with their own company, almost to the point of appearing antisocial. But INFPs, though definitely Introverts, do have a greater-than-average need for meaningful human connection. If they don’t get that often enough or deeply enough, they’re likely to feel lonely, no matter how many people they see in a week. For those and other reasons, an INFP may sometimes feel lonely.
If you’re someone who cares about an INFP and wants to help, you can try some of the following strategies.
1. Ask why they’re lonely
You might think that the solution to loneliness is more people in your life, or more time with those people. But that isn't necessarily the case.
There is truth to the idea that it’s possible to be lonely in a crowd. For many Introverts, and almost all INFPs, what they need is not more time around people, but more meaningful connection with a very few special people.
So, instead of being quick to invite your INFP friend to your next party or group activity, you might want to find out what's causing them to feel lonely.
Maybe their best friend just moved away, or their nest is suddenly empty. Maybe they no longer have a partner for a meaningful activity, such as a daily companionable walk, or someone to engage in a hobby or volunteer work with.
Maybe they’re happy with their solitary life, but just want to feel a little more connected. They could also feel that they have enough friends, but don’t have enough meaningful conversation.
Some possible solutions could be a weekly zoom coffee meeting with their friend in another town, a new walking partner, or joining a club for people (especially other idealistic Introverts) with shared interests.
When you know the reason they're lonely, you'll be better able to know what you can do to help.
2. Ask what would help
Again, the answer may not be obvious. Maybe what they need is not more people, but deeper, more intimate connections. Don’t assume: ask.
Maybe they need to feel needed, or to know that someone truly cares about them. The mere fact that you're willing to listen could be a good start in helping them feel less alone.
It could be that simply arranging a phone call once a week or texting them in the evening to say goodnight is all they need. Or you could read the same book and arrange a time to talk about it later.
Sharing in some meaningful volunteer work could also meet their multiple needs for meaning, connection, and being useful, and give them the opportunity to meet like-minded friends.
Since INFPs are so values-driven, getting involved in a cause they care about can fill up some of their empty spaces. And they’re more likely to eventually warm up to people they can work side-by-side with and who share their values.
3. Suggest they put it in writing
Writing can be a way of reaching out, sharing thoughts, and feeling connected and valuable, and INFPs tend to be good at it. This could be anything from keeping a personal journal to starting a blog to exchanging letters (or emails) with an old-fashioned pen pal.
Simply putting their thoughts and feelings in writing, even just in a journal, may help your INFP feel less lonely and more fulfilled. And if they are able to share their unique perspective through a blog or other online forum, they can feel heard and be of use to others without having to reach too far out of their comfort zone.
4. Introduce them to another INFP
Although there's no guarantee that two INFPs will become friends, or even get along, there's a better-than-average chance of connection between compatible personalities, especially if they also have at least one interest (or friend) in common. Even if they don't become friends, another INFP may understand what they need and have some good suggestions.
And, by introducing your INFP friend to another potential friend, they’ll feel less dependent on you for any social needs. It gives them an opportunity to build their confidence by reaching out and making another friend or two.
5. Help them widen out
INFPs often prefer to have one or two close friends rather than a large social circle. Quality over quantity. Depth over breadth.
However, no one person can be everything to anyone. Maybe your INFP friend had only one other good friend besides you. And then that friend moved away, got married, had a baby, or otherwise directed their attention mostly elsewhere. Suddenly their social circle is drastically reduced.
By branching out to make connections with a few more people, and in a variety of settings, an INFP can feel less isolated and gain more options to select from in choosing a few more close friends.
If they can get past all-or-nothing thinking and don’t expect every person they connect with to become a BFF, even those more casual connections can give them some satisfaction.
6. Help them embrace the benefits of loneliness
While time alone is necessary for all Introverts to recharge our energy, loneliness – especially in the long term – can actually drain us and make us feel disconnected from others.
However, for Intuitive Introverts like INFPs, periods of loneliness can be beneficial in that they can lead to greater insight and creativity, innovative solutions, and deepening of personal resources.
In short, an INFP who lets themselves be lonely for a while will often either create something great or figure out their own solutions to their loneliness. This can give them a sense of satisfaction similar to that of spending time with a friend.
7. Remind them that casual connections count too
The book Consequential Strangers, by Melinda Blau and Karen L. Fingerman, brought attention to the importance of everyday acquaintances that don’t seem to matter. Think: your mail carrier; the barista at your favorite coffee place who knows your usual order; the neighbors you wave to on your daily walk; etc.
Even encounters with strangers, such as saying hello to the person in line behind you at the grocery store and making small talk with the checker can help us feel less lonely.
And though we can certainly feel lonely in a crowd, being around people in public spaces like parks, malls, and libraries while also enjoying the comforts of solitude can be a perfect combination for a lonely INFP who wants to feel close to others without getting too close.
These surface-skimming encounters alone won’t be at all enough to satisfy a meaning-hungry INFP. But they can play a part in easing the sting of feeling isolated, without the pressure of making social plans.
These light interactions can fill in the gaps between more nourishing, deep conversations with close friends the way a light snack provides some pleasure and sustenance between meals.