ENFJs… We’re devoted, loving, hard-working and loyal to a fault. What’s not to love, right? Well, for this ENFJ, love has been … a battlefield. Like many of my fellow Teacher personality types, I tend to fall into the category of “serial monogamy.” I find myself in one relationship after the next, pushing for something lasting—even when the relationship has clear problems.
The pursuit of love, ENFJ style
Part of what makes an ENFJ special is that we’re relentless in our pursuits. This trait has helped me in countless areas of my life—sports, education, my career, even art. But when it comes to romance and the quest for a life-long partner, my unyielding spirit hasn’t proven useful. At all.
The drive and passion that will get you everywhere when it comes to so many other areas of life seem to do nothing for you when it comes to the dating world. Sure, you might have better odds of finding “the one” if you search under every rock, go out on dates once a week, and “put yourself out there,” as they say. But as far as trying harder when you’re already in a going-nowhere relationship goes—there’s no amount of effort that will create a lasting relationship out of one that simply is not working.
After a two-year relationship that included moving states together, living together and discussing marriage together, I was yet again thrown into the dating world. Apparently, a cross-country career opportunity tugged at my partner’s heart strings harder than I ever could. So, there I was (again), falling into the arms of dating apps and feeling just a few swipes away from love-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.
Letting go of my ENFJ nature
I reached the point of desperation that many 20-somethings fall into at some point during their dating years: I was willing to settle for “something casual” in exchange for my naturally tenacious pursuit of “true love” (whatever that was). Exhausted, I flicked my thumb across the screen for a final swipe, and this time I messaged the man on the receiving end to say that I wasn’t, in fact, looking for love. Instead, I was excited to grab a casual drink at a local bar, where we could both relax, unwind, and try not trying for a little while.
The next night, an ENFJ and a good-looking, well-dressed, southern-mannered INTJ walked into a bar. He was interested—if not excited—about the prospect of getting into a no-strings-attached relationship with me. And, against my better judgment, the idea seemed intriguing to me, too.
Without the hovering thought of “love” over our heads, we had fun—and not just behind closed doors. We went to the movies, tried new restaurants, went hiking; the whole shebang. We were living life like it was fleeting, like it was rare, and like something this rich couldn’t possibly last forever.
Flash forward 6 months and I’m in the most stable, loving, committed and honest relationship I’ve ever been in.
In typical ENFJ fashion, my usual approach in life is to do the “right” thing with focus and drive to make a vision a reality. It had never crossed my mind that taking a casual approach to dating could lead to everything I wanted. Is there a different set of rules for love and dating than for the rest of life? Maybe logic, strategy and determination aren’t in the recipe for romance. Maybe love is just happenstance?
But if there is no goal setting or effort level that equates to finding companionship, then us ENFJs have some rethinking to do.
How does an ENFJ find love?
I don’t know the answer for everyone, but I do know that for this ENFJ, I found exactly what I needed when I walked into a bar one night with no goals, no expectations and no rules. Everyone’s experience is a little different, but here’s the advice I’d give a fellow ENFJ experiencing dating fatigue like I was:
1. Nevermind the fog
It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be against your nature. But get into a habit of exploring different kinds of people in different ways, without foresight for what the relationship could or should turn into.
Don’t look for a clear-cut, logical path to finding your person because, in my experience, the one who is everything you’re looking for is never where you’d expect them to be. Try something new without fear and without a clear goal in sight. Sometimes the most spectacular views are at the end of a long, foggy trail.
2. Take the scenic route
As an ENFJ, there’s no mistaking the fact that you’re ambitious. You may find yourself pursuing every goal in life at full speed. Sometimes though, we Teachers get so caught up in forward momentum that we forget to look at the path we’re on to decide whether it’s the best fit for us.
With love, there’s time to slow down. Take things one step at a time. Stop every so often and ask yourself if you are where you want to be, who you want to be, and going in a direction that you’re passionate about. Use your journey to fully understand your own needs and to steadily perfect the art of loving yourself. After all, the best way to show a future partner how to love you is by doing it yourself.
3. Remember to answer the door
If you’re anything like me, you might get so hung up on doing all the “right” things to find a partner that you forget to see a really great person when he/she stumbles to your door. Making an effort to see past the logical sequence of events that should lead to falling in love can help you tune into what is actually happening around you. Did that barista just smile at you? And most importantly, don’t get so burnt out while searching for “the one” that you neglect to let love in when it finally shows up at your doorstep.
No matter what your personality type is, you have everything it takes to find healthy, fulfilling relationships with time and patience. Sometimes we do ourselves an injustice by self-doubting or becoming overly anxious along the way. Instead, take a deep breath and go bravely onward with that spirit of adventure and positive energy that makes us ENFJs so lovable—even if your final destination is still a mystery.