As the least common personality type, INFJs often have trouble finding their tribe. You know the ones - the people who share the same values that you do, or the same quirks and oddities. The friends you just seem to "sync" with, without you having to try too hard to be likeable. The ones who are as curious about you as you are about them, and warmly reciprocate your efforts to connect.
It's not that these people don't exist. It's just that they are probably as uncomfortable about meeting new people as you are. Here are some tips for connecting with the people who will love, accept and understand you, and hopefully will stick around for the long haul.
1. Do What you Enjoy
You stand a better chance of meeting other INFJs and kindred spirits such as INFPs, ENFJs, and ISFJs if you are active, and not passive, about finding new friends. Luckily, with social media and the Internet, it's easy to find groups that do the same things that you like to do. Possible hang outs include:
- Volunteering opportunities
- Religious groups
- Adult education classes
- Art, music or book groups
- Sports clubs
- Online forums.
Meetup.com is useful for finding local groups that match your interests, such as book circles, meditation groups and photography clubs. Many INFJs know from experience that they are better off being around people who share their specific interests, since they already have common ground to start from.
2. Peel Off the Mask
Empathetic INFJs are inclined to think that they should appeal to everyone. That attitude is self-destructive and possibly a little arrogant. Your warm and sensitive nature is certainly attractive to many, but trying to get along with everyone is like walking up an escalator moving downwards - a lot of work with zero chance of getting where you want to be.
Once you have found people that you want to connect with, be brave about who you are and how you feel. Too often you show only those parts of yourself that you think the other person wants to see, so that person will like you. Keeping up this facade is exhausting. Chances are, it will make you question why you are in a friendship in the first place, when it is clearly burning up all your energy.
So don't be afraid to show your true colors. See how people react when you peel off the mask and show your vulnerability. The ones that don't back away in those moments of raw honesty are the ones that will truly understand you. Hold onto those friendships and see if you can connect more deeply.
3. Let Go of Expectations
Because INFJs have such high expectations of others, there's often a misconception that a friend needs to reciprocate to prove that they're as invested in the friendship as you are. Many potential friends unwittingly fall at the first hurdle because they do not realize that you are waiting for them to call, organize a "date," or put in some other effort to show they value your relationship.
For future friendships, try taking things slower. Doing things for people with no expectations in return does not mean that your relationship is one-sided - it just means that your expectations are different. Don't worry about what the other person is doing (or not doing). Instead, focus on being a good friend. Get to know the person and try to figure out what they want from your friendship. Then, keep watering the seeds until they start sprouting. If there's a fit, the friendship will naturally flourish.
4. Be your Own Best Friend
As introverts, INFJs lean towards alone time and need plenty of solitude to recharge their batteries. This flies in the face of society's expectations. While the world is steadily growing more aware of the quirks of introversion, there's still a lot of pressure to hang out, be gregarious and collect friendships like baseball cards, without distinguishing between quantity and quality.
The relevance is that, for INFJs, making friends is a lot easier if you don't force it. Genuine friendships take a long time to develop. If you bow to convention and start collecting groupies, you will end up with a bunch of shallow, unsatisfying relationships that collapse because they never had a solid foundation. Be kind to yourself, do the things that you like to do and don't ever feel that you need a lot of friends, or even more than one friend, to be happy. Let things take their natural course and what will follow, will follow.