Introverted and Intuitive? Let's Talk About Loneliness

We like to be alone, us introverts.

Somewhere we can close the door on the people around us – the crowds, the chatter, the spectacle of it all – and immerse ourselves in our deepest thoughts.

We need this time to recharge. A little alone-time; a little contemplation is how we connect with our innermost wisdom. Solitude is oxygen for the soul.

But to feel lonely?

That's not part of the story.

The fine line between aloneness and loneliness

For a long time, introversion received a bad rap. Outsiders (read: Extraverts) often confused our desire for solitude with loneliness – the act of being shut off from the outside world. And we all know that loneliness is a VERY BAD THING. In terms of physical harm, loneliness has been linked to sleep problems, dementia, heart disease and even premature death. It's as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Recently, there's been an attitude change. People are waking up to the fact that Introverts value their alone time more than almost anything else. Like anyone else, we need human contact to feel purposeful. But the strength to enjoy human contact requires phases of being alone. So, for Introverts, solitude is a pleasing experience. Aloneness is positively charged.

Loneliness, by contrast, is negatively charged. In lonely times, we feel sad, isolated and powerless. We yearn for an attachment that just isn't there. It's like a beast scratching at our hearts.

There seems to be a tipping point when aloneness feels more like loneliness than rejuvenation. It's a slippery concept since loneliness means different things to different people. Some Extraverts may feel lonely after spending one evening alone; some Introverts can go months with only minimal interaction and feel perfectly fine. Others may be surrounded by friends who care for them but still feel lonely. What we're looking for is the Goldilocks sweet spot – enough aloneness so we're properly rested, but not so much that we become trapped in a chronic state of alienation.

Loneliness is not a cry for people

For Introverts, loneliness is a hard emotion to spot. We tend to know when we're feeling angry, or anxious, or guilty, or overwhelmed, because those emotions are attached to something that has happened. These emotions are precipitated by some past or future event.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is an absence of something important in the present. It's much harder to spot something that's missing than it is to see what's there. And it's even harder to spot when the thing that you're lacking – people and human relationships – is the same thing that had you running for solitude in the first place.

I can't claim to understand Extraverts. However, I imagine they find it much easier to scratch that in-built itch for human connection. Extraverts get energy from people. They seem happy to cast the net wide socially, so any place that's filled with sound and fury will probably give them the opportunity to interact and gain some level of social support. For them, it's a numbers game.

Introverts are different.

When we admit that we're lonely, that isn't an invitation to drag us off to the nearest loud bar to make small talk with strangers. That might scratch the itch for a short while, but it's a poor substitute for what we're looking for.  

What we're actually looking for, is a specific person or a specific type of person who understands us and connects with us. For an Introvert, loneliness is not a cry for people, it's a cry for intimacy. It's that aching feeling you get when you lack a true understanding with someone who just gets it; someone who is fine to sit in contemplative silence with you and to listen without intruding. When we find someone who fulfills this need, it's like coming home.

Sadly, these people are few and far between. You might meet only half a dozen of them your whole life. And if your relationship with someone doesn't have that element of closeness, you may end up feeling even more disconnected than just being alone.

Throw Intuition into the mix and....we're going to have a problem here.

Intuition adds another dimension

Intuitives are a special breed. Unlike Sensors who are practical people, Intuitives read between the lines. They see the big picture, they see possibilities, they think about what could be. They are dreamers and ideators. When they think, it tends to be based on patterns or associations they've built  up over a lifetime.

When it comes to loneliness, this makes a difference.

Let's pause for a moment and think about the professional interventions for defeating loneliness. Broadly speaking, these focus on two areas: giving opportunities to meet people through organized group activities, and improving social skills so you can engage in conversation and communicate in positive ways. It strikes me that both approaches are challenging for introverts, but Sensing is an ameliorating factor.

Introverted Sensors are at their best when there's an established way for them to bond with others. Sweeping generalizations aside, they are (mostly) happy to join established work groups, sports teams, organized social gatherings, religious groups and community service organizations, all of which give opportunities for comfort and camaraderie. More importantly, Sensors live in the moment and react to things as they come. So, when they do meet someone with whom they feel that easy spark of connection, they are much better placed to fan the flames.

Intuitives are more, for want of a better word, existential.

What we need most is the freedom and space to question, explore and tinker with ideas. We're hell bent on the quest for real meaning – seeing things others cannot see. We want to self-define and live life on our own terms. We want to have influence on the world. 

To achieve this, we often spend long periods of time alone absorbed in our own thoughts. Aloneness is the space we inhabit when we need to encourage our introspection, creativity and personal growth. This is why intuitive introverts don't run away from extreme periods of alone time but embrace the heck out of it.

Here's the kicker: sometimes, the only way to access this level of creativity, perception and new ways of thinking is to actively embrace loneliness. I've crossed the barrier between aloneness and loneliness many times in my life, and it's clear that I have been the most successful when I have felt the most sorely alone. Other people are an anesthetic that numb my crazy focus. Without loneliness, I find it impossible to have those deep and necessary conversations with myself.

This is where the intricacies of the "I" and the "N" combination start to become apparent. Because here we have the combination of Introvert (a person who thrives on a certain amount of solitude) meeting the Intuitive (a person who lives "beyond" the concrete world). The upshot is that all the usual loneliness interventions of getting out there and meeting people are doomed to failure, because an Intuitive Introvert will always feel disconnected and slightly "other." 

Loneliness isn't just a side effect of the IN personality. It's the elephant in the room.

Is it even loneliness?

Nobel laureate Hermann Hesse who wrote Steppenwolf and Siddhartha, and likely INXP, said, "We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being."

Unlike Hesse, I'm not especially spiritual. But his message is important, I think, because loneliness is not just about finding someone to connect with. It's also about deeply connecting with your own sense of self so you don't evaporate in the presence of others. This is especially true for INFs who have a tendency to take on others' troubles as if they were their own.

What Hesse is saying, is that the more connection we have to our innermost selves, the more we can navigate the world on our own terms, and the less likely we are to suffer from painful loneliness.

For me, this begs a final question: what do INs feel when they say they feel lonely? While I think we can be as lonely as everyone else, I do question whether we experience it as a crippling emotion. When I feel lonely, it isn't necessarily a bad feeling. I have my mind to occupy me. Plus, there's the experience that, in loneliness, there's something to be gained – a clarification or a course correction. Short periods of loneliness have never been harmful for me, but extremely formative.

Is it the same for everyone? I'm not a psychologist and loneliness is such a personal experience. But it seems reasonable to suggest that, when it comes to loneliness, motivation matters. Solitude is an integral and essential part of an IN's intuition, as well as our growth and self-understanding. Could it be that a capacity to tolerate at least some loneliness can make us even more perceptive, more individuated, and more in charge of our own reality? Could it make us a better "N".

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a freelance copywriter, business writing blogger and the blog editor here at Truity. One part word nerd, two parts skeptic, she helps writing-challenged clients discover the amazing power of words on a page. Jayne is an INTJ and lives in Yorkshire, UK with her ENTJ husband and two baffling children. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

Comments

Ninaspot (not verified) says...

Thanks for these thoughts, Jayne. I think you hit it spot on. What I - INFJ and also not a psychologist :-) - would add is that I would sometimes even feel guilty because loneliness is not such a dreading thing but something that has in the past helped me grow and feel more connected than at any other time. 

Yes, loneliness can be sad and trigger depression. But as you write, it can also be the catalyst for seeing - and feeling! - the complexities of this world and its people. And that is one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced. So no more guilt trips for me feeling lonely, really glad to have read this - thanks for sharing this text!

Nina

Tracy Garrett (not verified) says...

Nina, I’m an INFJ too and my husband frequently makes me feel guilty for needing time alone so I totally get it!!! We’ve got to embrace it and get rid of the guilt as it’s not just a want it is an essential need for our mental health and prosperity. 

Tracy Garrett (not verified) says...

Hi Jayne :)

Thank you so much! This really resonated with me. I completely get the distinction between aloneness and loneliness. Unfortunately sometimes with a husband and children it’s very hard to get to aloneness. I crave it even though I love my children with all my heart and soul there are times where if I hear Mom one more time I’m gonna either lock them in the closet or me. :p I too find that alone time is very transformative and rejuvenating. I’m also intuitive (INFJ) and take opportunities to read my tarot cards and find that to help me get in tune with my intuition in a shorter amount of time than it may normally take. Plus it allows my mind the chance to explore the possibilities and to figure out if I can get things to change. So in short thank you for sharing a piece of yourself. #blessedbe

HopeFloats72 (not verified) says...

Wow, I have to quote you here because this sentence really jumped off the page as I read.  "Other people are an anesthetic that numb my crazy focus."  I smiled as I read, because this is truth, as far as I am concerned.  I revel in my alone time, and have even luxuriated in my loneliness at times, simply because in those times there is some sort of 'purge' that happens inside me, in my psyche.  My most creative times (I fancy myself a writer, although only for my own pleasure and consumption) have been in those desert-times where I am to myself, hyperfocused on my own feelings, thoughts, perceptions and opinions.  This sounds horribly selfish and self-serving to some people, but for me it's nothing less than a soul makeover.  That's really the only way I know how to phrase it.  I need those times.  I won't go so far as to say I crave them or seek them out, but when they come I am not jarred by the thought that I may be on my own for awhile.  Instead, I start formulating all the things I could possibly accomplish and discover without the distraction (the anesthesia) of other feelings, thoughts, perceptions and opinions.  Those times can be very enriching and enlightening for me.  My SO is ESFJ, and here's the contrast:  I lived on my own for nearly 4 years with just my dog and my son whom I share custody with my ex-husband.  Some months I would only see him for a weekend.  It never, ever bothered me.  I have a very small group of close friends and we might get together for a few hours a couple of times a week.  When I began dating my SO, he was stunned that I didn't have an issue with spending so much time alone.  For him, that would be torture.  We dated for about 4 months, living 45 minutes apart from one another.  We work together, so I saw him daily and that was perfectly acceptable to me.  It drove him crazy that we weren't together every night.  After the fifth month, he told me plainly, "I'm tired of being alone in my house all the time.  Please move in with me."  I loved him and I knew he was in for the long haul so after yet another month of me mulling it over and knowing how much he detested being alone in his home most evenings (we had a set 'date night' schedule during the week and spent weekends at each other's homes) I knew that for him, this was something he really did need.  His personality doesn't lend itself to being loosely connected (mine does, and I have to constantly adjust myself because I know he needs a lot more one on one interaction than I do).  I moved in and for seven months straight we were together every day.  I recently had a conference to attend for work and had to spend the night away.  You would have thought I'd gone to the other side of the moon!  I was literally 3 hours away, but for someone wired like he is, this was a tough time.  I tell that story only to contrast what it's like for an Extrovert who absolutely THRIVES on interaction, action and what I consider controlled chaos (hah!).  He is that person.  He warned me when we started getting serious that I might start to think he's clingy and needy.  The fact is, compared to me, he is clingy and needy.  But for another ESFJ, he's perfectly normal.  Knowing these things about him (I sussed him out for months trying to figure out if I could be happy in a long-term relationship with him, and he's a wonderful guy, despite his need for what I consider a frenetic level of activity and socialization) I have embraced him as he is, but admit that it's much harder for him to understand why I do some things I do.  I'm not one to consult him when I have to make what I consider everyday decisions.  That's probably more because I have spent so much of my adult life making decisions independently and without the input of others.  At times he thinks I act selfishly, not considering his ideas or plans, and I would have to admit to being somewhat guilty of that.  As an ESFJ, he is always thinking about how what he does impacts the people he loves and is closest to...I'm  INFP...I care about the people I'm closest to, but if something works for me and not necessarily for them, that doesn't mean the idea or plan I'm formulating gets scrapped automatically.  I try to find ways to make things work for everyone, but if that's not possible...well, sometimes things get scrapped and sometimes I move forward anyway.  It's usually going to boil down to the level of conflict I'm willing to endure for those decisions (which is usually a very low bar-I hate conflict).  I have to tell him when I need to recharge, and to his credit, he's gotten much better at recognizing when I need to be alone than he was.  We've been together for over a year, and he knows there are times when I just won't be talking and laughing and carrying on-he knows the signs and doesn't take that personally any more.  I'm grateful for that.  I'm thankful for that.  It can be tough being an INXX, but if you find someone who takes the time to understand why you do the things you do (which can seem foreign and totally weird to them sometimes) hang on to those people.  They're truly a gift.

Cardinal0969 (not verified) says...

 

Hopefloats72,

Your initial comments could not have been more perfectly stated and your story about your experience with your extroverted SO could not have been more perfectly timed.  Thank you for writing. :)

Mary38112 (not verified) says...

I have often said that I never feel lonely and that I'm never bored.  I spend an adequate amount of time 'alone', I don't watch television because I like to think, read, feel, ponder life's mysteries.  People are appalled and ask how I can live without a television, don't I get bored.  I honestly never feel alone.  I entertain myself with my thoughts...and I really like this...like that I do not need external stimulation to feel satisfied.  Thank you for giving me the words to more adequately explain why I never feel lonely or bored.  

John Crawford (not verified) says...

I'm in the same boat and well stated...  I am a mid-30s INFP single/never married male, and I too don't own a television.  I was reared in a household where the word "bored" was no different than other foul and crude language.  Regardless, I've never known boredom either because my mind does not desist in its thoughts and processing of emotions.  As far as loneliness goes, Jayne nailed it when she said it's a cry for intimacy.  That couldn't be more true.  I'd take it a couple steps further to say loneliness isn't a cry for people, relationships, or even marriage.  There's a myth in our culture that claims marriage and romantic relationships yield contentment and fulfill intimacy.  Contentment is a spiritual discipline that is learned over the course of an entire life, and it's never achieved.  Some of the loneliest people I know are misunderstood individuals bound by the covenant vows of marriage.  They crave intimacy, but intimacy is agnostic to marital status.  There are many ways to get intimacy, but it always takes intentional effort to seek those individuals... but people of any degree can easily encroach and compromise our needed recharge times!

zeinab (not verified) says...

the call for intimacy or the cry for it is exactly what i was searching a definition for it
as you mention some missunderstod it by getting 
  married and others do more stupid things by not triying to undrstand their selfs and shut off their N  
    

Joanna49 (not verified) says...

Wow, I feel just the same about television.  I find it to be too loud, too fast, too many thought points to absorb in too short period of time.  I love reading and writing because I take it in at my own pace and assimilate it into my own life and understanding of the world.  Thank you so much for your thoughts.  I'm so glad to hear there is someone else out there like me 

JGuardo (not verified) says...

Wow!  This is totally something I would say word for word.  I'm an INTP and totally agree.  

JessicaBee (not verified) says...

Great article!  A quick read but you covered some major ground.  Thanks for clarifying that introverted intuiters will always feel a bit left out and do not fit well into 'anti-loneliness' activities.  I'm an INTJ and I absolutely love to be alone, but I do get lonely, and you're so right...I'm craving a sense of intimacy and feeling understood, not a group of near strangers to make small talk and go on excursions with.  Thanks also for saying there may be just a handful of these type of people in a lifetime.  It helps me know that the absence of these people in my life doesn't make me a failure, it's just so rare that it's more likely I'll spend large times of my life without those connections rather than with them.

Jara (not verified) says...

"What we're actually looking for, is a specific person or a specific type of person who understands us and connects with us. For an Introvert, loneliness is not a cry for people, it's a cry for intimacy."

- Jayne Thompson

"Faithful"

In my solitude
I renew my passport
To revisit you
I tell you my dreams
While you smile
When I share my plans
You just laugh
And say "we'll see"
I love how you make me feel
I am greedy for you

Throughout our story,
You helped me
Come to some conclusions...
The best version of me
In work, in love, in life
Is as half of a tight team
Denial wastes my time

Still, I wished it not true
For so long, I lived solo
In truth, I learn more with you
You challenge me and I grow
Our imaginations travel
While we remain at home
You stimulate my mind
My heart never roams

But I keep you a secret...

Some ask what I see in you
Like what we have isn't real
Because I reject labels for us

Envious others try to drown you out
With their voices instead
Sometimes I listen...
But they don't be making any sense

So I always return to you
And my loyalty motivates you
To reveal yourself to me
Piece by piece
Slowly. Too slowly...

I'm not blind
I had my questions
I see you with others
They claim to know you
You know...in a biblical way
What's up with that?
You know I investigate
Interrogate them about details
When did they first meet you?
How close are you?
What's my point?
I'm trying to figure out if
What we share is unique
Or if you're just prostituting yourself
I mean, you seem to be everywhere
With everyone
At all times
You demand my fidelity
But play your cards from your chest
Held so tightly
Sometimes when I call
You just let it ring, ring, ring...

And go to voicemail.

I know you have Caller ID. 

Sometimes when we're together
I can still feel your distance
As if you're preoccupied
And then you take calls from others...

I understand I must share you but damn
Do you have to keep taking calls
During our quality time together?
And in the other room too?!
Okay, I admit it
I get jealous
When I see you
Making others happy
Especially when I feel
That I need you more
Are you paying me back
For ignoring you?
I accept the bumps and bruises
Of my experimentation
You're teaching me reciprocity
What I give is what I will receive. 

But...I really hate double standards
I must be faithful to you
While you're intimate with others?
You know how I am...

Always needing to understand
The Master Plan
But you remain silent.
So I lashed out...

Remember when I tried
To hide from you?
But you still found me
Waiting in my hiding places.

Know it all.

Remember when we broke up the first time?
I didn't handle it maturely, I admit
I even talked a little shh...
About how you did me wrong
After we parted, I soon found out
That the grass isn't greener...over there
I got what I wanted - new relationships
With people that I didn't have to share
Trust me, no one was envious of me
I wasn't my best with them
Their agendas weren't the same as mine
When they pushed me to commit to them
I resisted because...

I knew what I was missing.
So once again, I returned to you
But this time with vows anew
I'm working on my patience
In letting you reveal yourself to me
When you're ready...

When I'm ready
I'm working on my jealousy
I understand your purpose
Isn't to be with just me
That would dilute you
Hopefully, you understand
Why I don't talk you up to others...

I believe they should discover you on their own
In their own time...when they're ready
So I just want to thank you
For allowing me to be human
Without judging me too harshly.

I'm growing...

You always knew I'd come around
Didn't you?
I'm working on stepping out on faith
Knowing you'll reward me if it's the right path
Knowing you'll catch me if I should fall.

- inspired by God and written by an INFP on Thursday, © November 5, 2009

 

JESUS: “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven." (Matthew 10:32‭-‬33 NLT) 
 

Psalms 18:24‭-‬26 NLT

The Lord rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.

Romans 12:6 NLT

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

2 Timothy 2:7‭-‬26 NLT

Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained.

So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus. They have left the path of truth, claiming that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; in this way, they have turned some people away from the faith.

But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use.

If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

Marcia Reisz (not verified) says...

Wonderful article. All I can add is that when lonliness slips into depression, as it does for me, it becomes destructive. The mind latches onto a few sad ideas and goes round and round. I feel locked into these ideas and aloneness does not help. But beoing around people helps even less. I feel even more alone and depressed around people because my differentness (if that's a word) makes me feel alienated besides being depressed. Avoiding these cycles is the most important thing. Different things work for different people. 

JGuardo (not verified) says...

I agree with you.  When loneliness goes on for too long, it can slip into depression.  I just need someone like minded to talk to and I find that getting older and losing people in my life has left me with very few people I connect with.  Then it gets really hard to find new people, because the last thing I want to do is have superficial conversations and go through the real work it takes to find a likeminded person.  Losing the ones that you connect with is totally devistating.  I absolutely love my solitude.  I never feel lonely or bored, but I do feel alone sometimes.  I think being around people I relate to is more important than being around people in general.  I can't just join a group and be happy.  I feel depressed, alienated and different when I am around people that I do not understand and that do not understand me.  

Charis Murrey (not verified) says...

To be honest, I write the best when I am the most miserable. I found this out from reading my journals. I am rarely lonely. This is partly because I am almost never alone. Now, when I am lonely, it is usually when I am in a crowd or a group. In middle school, I went through a particularly lonely time. I didn't really connect with anyone on the bus and I felt like a complete alien. I tried to listen to conversations but I soon started having my own conversations in my head because the other kids' conversations were so shallow and gossipy that I couldn't retain an interest in them. I talked to God a lot during the lonely time, so I wasn't really alone. Plus, the best conversations I have are usually reading books or in my head. I find books can sometimes make me feel less lonely than people do. The good thing is I am usually with my mom and we have good conversations and understand each other, so I usually don't get lonely. One person who understands me or is a good conversationalist is enough for me. I always have lonely times though. I have time and time again got this strange feeling that I can not explain, I've seemed to have it since I was a child. I feel like a phantom haunting the earth. I see and understand other people's lives, but am not really a part of them. They see through me as if I am not there. I had a strange dream once ( I have many strange dreams) that I was a sort of phantom and would travel through and watch other people's lives. Then one day in my dream, I met a girl who I mistakenly interferred with and she saw me. I cared for the girl a lot. Then, at the end of the dream, I discovered the living girl was myself. Then I woke up. I know this is no representation of a spiritual world, but an odd demonstration of my feelings. To be honest, going to bed is my recharging time. I know most people think of sleep as a time of rest, but for me it is wild and alive. My brain is flooded with millions of dreams and thoughts that lull me to sleep and it feels as if I am entering another dimension. My mother doesn't quite understand my dreams. She thinks they are unimportant and that I should give them little thought. I can not help ,however, thinking about and analyzing my dreams sometimes. They tend to be so vivid and real. I know they are not always good and I do not take them too literally, but I can not help being fascinated by them sometimes.

P.S. - I am an INFJ.

Blue Sky says...

I work in an environment where most of the day I am alone. I then go home and am alone. I don't have many friends or a partner so on the weekends I am alone too. I am alone a lot. I find that when I have hobbies and interests, it doesn't bother me,  but smost of the time I am alone so long that I lose interest in the hobbies and get depressed. My friends say I should reach out but I don't necessarily find that to be the solution either deep down. I would like a friend I feel more connected with. My (few)friends are nice, but I don't feel connected or understood by them. I have no family nearby and the family I do have overseas or far away hardly contacts me. 95% of my days I have no text messages or calls. When I get really sick as I have recently and am almost unable to move or take care of myself, it hurts, not just physically but emotionally. I get that as an INFJ and intuitive we need time alone, but I am begining to wonder how much solitude one needs. I am adjusting to not being with people more and more unfortunately. I like to talk with people time to time, and find I am even happier if I know I can talk/be with someone each day for a while. But this level of "being alone" doesn't seem good to me. I am too tired to do anything about it. I've tried hard for (20) years to socialize, do things. volunteer, engage in hobbies, etc to find a good friend or friends and nothing seeems to work. I am not sure I enjoy being an INFJ. Sometimes I love it....these days I am not sure it's so healthy. Thanks for reading. 

AndreaF (not verified) says...

I'm INTP.  None of the following is a criticism.  Provocation, maybe.

At what points in the working day would you like to connect with others?  About what?  Who needs a smile, or thanks, or even a gift of admiration?  Would you do that?  (Adding the oil of kindness to the day.)

Then you go home and you're alone.  What would you prefer?  Have you supported your Feeling self with some old-fashioned scheduling for variety?  Only have a routine if it pleases you and serves you well.  A little disruption is a blessed thing.

You've engaged on this forum.  So long as a forum is well-moderated and lively they can be good places to go and share and receive.  Most people are friendly.  Some are a bit snippy.  You could make it a mission to soften their stony hearts.  That's a good and kindly sport...  It also means that you are in control.  You can walk away and hurt no one's feelings - although, if you've been regular, people will definitely miss you.

You don't say what your hobbies are.  If they need an audience and feedback, then you have to schedule that to get your needs met.  Also for up-skilling so you improve to please yourself.  Friendly.  A bit competitive.  You may never 'make friends' yet you can have civil conversations with people who 'get' that part of you.  And you will get to see new facets of your hobby.

Do you understand your few nice friends?  What do you value about each?  Are they facets of you, at all?  How would you know you're understood?  What would they do, or say?  What do you wish they would do?  Quality time?  Inclusion?  A shield and refuge so you could go to the movies, or walking, or something else you'd love to try - yet not alone?  Which friend matches which adventure?  Do you invite them or ask them?

If you have more family than friends make a list - and YOU call, or text, or send a note.  Go through the list over and over.  Add more people.  If they can't stand to hear from you once a month or six weeks - drop them off the list.  You're simply staying in touch - not asking for a kidney!

When you get really sick you had better have a solid Plan B and you know why.  One of those Medic Alert devices is a good start.  A mutual buddy to check in with so you're not trapped in the broom cupboard for days on end.

Which people do you like to talk with?  For how long?  About what?  (I don't want to know.  You do.  Then you can go prospecting and lightly tossing out little crumbs of affable to people you already know can give you contact and practise and a top up for your store of sociability.)

Too tired to anything about it.  Hmm.  Time to bail up your medical person and ask if you're dipping a toe in depression.  Not just a bit down.  Further down.  Sometimes you need a helping hand to get out of those weeds.  If you're still coming back up after being unwell - that can be a gloomy time indeed.  Stay alert, and if the days start looking grey - get help PDQ.

Social hobbies and volunteering are for letting your extrovert side out to play.  Where you laugh and chatter and share and put out the cookies and coffee cups and greet the shy people and those who most people avoid like the plague.  Where you let your tender kind heart glow - simply because it's a part of you.

When you come across people who feel safe with your ways - look for ways to see if they are simply friends of the hobby or service - or whether you can extend into other aspects of yourself.  Know your groundrules and deal breakers.  If those people measure up - actively make ways to stay in touch, please them in the ways they love to be pleased, say what you like, too, and stay active for building the friend relationship.

Go well.

 

Holly (not verified) says...

Hi Blue Sky,
I too am an INFJ trying to figure out how friends fit into my life. Like you I have friends who are nice, but whom I don't feel connected to or totally understood by. I am fortunate to have a close family mostly nearby that adds a lot to my life. My son and his family live overseas, and we have had friends from overseas, so I've heard others talk of the alienation that comes with that. Still, I wish I had a few more and better friends.

As a Christian, most of my social connection comes through church, with mixed results. I stumbled upon a book in reading this thread called Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh, which is built on the premise that much of church caters to extroverts. That might be something I need to read. Anyway, my conflicting feelings about church aside, I have found comfort and even fellowship with God in reading the Bible, which has kept me functioning at times. Proverbs 18:24 refers to a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and that is what he's been for me.

Maybe some of these verses will resonate with you too. Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Matthew 10:29-31 talks about how God even numbers the hairs on our head. And in 1 Kings 19, God is not found in the powerful wind or earthquake or fire, but in the gentle whisper, something we introverts can appreciate.

Genesis 2 talks about how it is not good for a person to be totally alone. Even though we recharge by being alone, our schedule should include things to recharge from. It's especially nice if there is a rhythm between things that take energy and those that restore it. I've made a couple of really good friends sitting and waiting for my kids at their weekly dance lessons, not an especially fun time for me until the relationships developed. Maybe now I need something else that forces me to sit with other bored people on a weekly basis. That is about what it takes to get me connecting with others. So often my friends move away, and I don't feel like investing all the energy it takes to build new friendships.

I'm sorry you have been sick. That takes a lot of energy too. There might be a physical reason why it's hard for you to reach out at this time. Maybe a doctor could help.

Anyway, as a fellow INFJ, I relate to your sense of isolation and wish you well in finding a couple of solid relationships.

Holly (not verified) says...

Hi Blue Sky, I too am an INFJ trying to figure out how friends fit into my life. Like you I have friends who are nice, but whom I don't feel connected to or totally understood by. I am fortunate to have a close family mostly nearby that adds a lot to my life. My son and his family live overseas, and we have had friends from overseas, so I've heard others talk of the alienation that comes with that. Still, I wish I had a few more and better friends. As a Christian, most of my social connection comes through church, with mixed results. I stumbled upon a book in reading this thread called Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh, which is built on the premise that much of church caters to extroverts. That might be something I need to read. Anyway, my conflicting feelings about church aside, I have found comfort and even fellowship with God in reading the Bible, which has kept me functioning at times. Proverbs 18:24 refers to a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and that is what he's been for me. Maybe some of these verses will resonate with you too. Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Matthew 10:29-31 talks about how God even numbers the hairs on our head. And in 1 Kings 19, God is not found in the powerful wind or earthquake or fire, but in the gentle whisper, something we introverts can appreciate. Genesis 2 talks about how it is not good for a person to be totally alone. Even though we recharge by being alone, our schedule should include things to recharge from. It's especially nice if there is a rhythm between things that take energy and those that restore it. I've made a couple of really good friends sitting and waiting for my kids at their weekly dance lessons, not an especially fun time for me until the relationships developed. Maybe now I need something else that forces me to sit with other bored people on a weekly basis. That is about what it takes to get me connecting with others. So often my friends move away, and I don't feel like investing all the energy it takes to build new friendships. I'm sorry you have been sick. That takes a lot of energy too. There might be a physical reason why it's hard for you to reach out at this time. Maybe a doctor could help. Anyway, as a fellow INFJ, I relate to your sense of isolation and wish you well in finding a couple of solid relationships.

victor eliab (not verified) says...

I find this article very helpful. One thing I may add is that in moments of aloneness, the mind is allowed space and time to reflect on life's important decisions and help one make progressive decisions. An advantage of introverts over extraverts is that introverts are never easily led sway by those around them. They don't fall victims of peer influences that have negative impacts on their lives. Spending time in solitude is best when serious actions or decisions need be taken. No wonder one wise man once said that there's is wisdom in silence. Am proud to be an introvert.

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