If you have an INFP in your life, you might sometimes view them as an exotic, high-strung horse that you don’t quite understand or know how to deal with.
First, remember that we’re not animals, or children, so please don’t try to manage us, humor us, or endeavor to bend us to your will.
What you can do is learn about what makes us tick and become a partner who helps us manage our weaknesses and utilize our strengths. We have a great deal to offer, if you give us the chance to do it in our way.
So, here’s a list of do’s and don’ts for bringing out the best in your INFP friend or partner. When you help bring out our best qualities, the results can be highly satisfying for both of us.
1. Don’t try to manage (or handle) us
The difference between being, say, a horse whisperer and an “INFP whisperer,” is that we’re independent, intelligent human beings. The goal should be to optimize our relationship in mutually beneficial ways, not try to control or dominate us.
Like most other self-respecting adults, INFPs don’t appreciate being controlled, directed, or condescended to. If you try to push us into acting or thinking in ways you would prefer, we’ll likely shut down around you, feeling it isn’t safe to trust you.
What you can do instead is collaborate with us. Since INFPs have some very different strong points than other types, chances are we bring something to the relationship that you need, and vice versa.
2. Don’t try to change us
Along the same lines, we don’t appreciate someone trying to force us to be less like ourselves and more like everyone else. If you don’t value what makes us stand out, why do you want us in your life?
For example, instead of saying that we’re too sensitive, try to see our sensitivity as the strength that it can be. Instead of saying we live too much in our imaginations, let us share our beautiful world with you and help you develop that side of yourself. And instead of viewing us as stubborn because we’re firm in our values, remember that this means we’re loyal and you can count on us when it counts.
We hear enough from people in general that there’s something wrong with us or that we’re not good enough as we are. We don’t need more of that. We need to know that you see all the good things we have to offer, and that you accept and cherish us as we are.
In short, we’re not broken, so please don’t try to fix us. Instead, enjoy what we bring to the relationship, which can be a lot when you take a closer look.
3. Don’t overwhelm us
As with other Introverts, we can easily become overstimulated. And we need plenty of time to think, process information, and give room for our well-developed imagination.
So, while you may encourage us to expand what we’re able to do and sometimes try something new, if you try to push us to constantly interact or to do things too far out of our comfort zone, that won’t be helpful.
If we feel like you’re constantly asking us to work against our "INFP-ness," we’ll feel devalued and get burned out.
4. Do help us turn our dreams into action
INFPs are good at seeing what could be, and often have big dreams for what they can be and accomplish. If we have a goal that aligns well with our personal values, we can be steadfast in pursuing it.
However, since we spend a lot of time living in our heads and hearts, we sometimes need help in figuring out what our next step is, and support for putting it into action.
If your personality type makes you more adept at that kind of action in the world, you can help us by lending your support, partnership, and gentle guidance, after really listening to what we want to accomplish.
5. Do ask us what we need from you
This is short, sweet and simple. Rather than assuming, just ask us what we need to feel supported and appreciated, and to be at our best.
Whether that’s more time alone, practical help or simply listening to us, we can tell you what we need and how you can help without intruding. If you give us this space to be ourselves, we’ll likely draw closer to you and both of us will enjoy the relationship more.
6. Do ask for what you need from us (being realistic about what we can give)
INFPs want to help and please the people we care about. We know that we take some extra patience or assistance at times, and we’re happy to give back how we can. Rather than asking us to be something we’re not, you can benefit by drawing on our unique qualities.
So, ask us to help you develop and work toward your own dreams; brainstorm novel solutions; understand multiple viewpoints; tune in as empathetic listeners; or whatever “your” INFP is especially good at.
If we can use our talents to make your life – and our relationship – better, we’ll be thrilled to do it. But please don’t ask us to be like everyone else, or to take on things we can’t (such as too much stimulation; too many practical, Extraverted tasks; etc.)
If you make good use of what we can give, that will make both of us happier, and keep our relationship from feeling unbalanced. And we’ll feel appreciated for the sometimes undervalued assets we bring to the relationship.
7. Do fill in our gaps with your own strengths
If you’re an Extravert, your social skills can help us engage with people when necessary. Or you can be our "interface" with the world, so we don’t always have to use up our energy in that way.
If you’re good with the sensory world, which is not our forte, you can help us manage that part of life more easily.
And if you’re comfortable with the facts and practical aspects of life, you'll be a valuable partner to your less-grounded INFP companion.
To help the INFP in your life shine, work with their type instead of against it, collaborate with them as true partners, and let them guide you in how to help them be their best selves. We may sometimes feel like a lot of work, but not only will your efforts help us feel loved and valued, but we can enrich your life and our relationship in ways you might not have foreseen.
In short, if we’re the right fit for you, we’re worth the effort. And our caring nature means that we’ll put in at least as much effort to build a thriving, beautiful relationship. If you invest a little extra energy and understanding into drawing out the best from our unique qualities, we’ll both reap rewards. Think of working together with an INFP as mining for treasure. The deeper you dig (very gently) the more gems you’ll discover.