What is it Like to Be an INFP Male?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 10, 2022
Category: INFP

For the INFP male, life is a fascinating and challenging journey, filled with learning experiences that promote greater self-understanding and enhance their process of personal development. The INFP male takes life seriously and strives to keep looking below the surface, seeking meaning and purpose in the world and in everything they do.

If you’ve been curious about what it's like to be an INFP male, here are a few things you should know about this rare personality type:

INFPs are so sensitive that it hurts

Most people are sensitive to the feelings and emotions of others and can take them on as their own, at least to some extent.  But the INFP male is a true emotional chameleon who takes this phenomenon to the next level. They are so finely tuned to the surrounding environment, and so interconnected with the living creatures that inhabit it, that their moods will constantly change to match those of their companions.

The INFP male would not trade this profound sensitivity for anything. They recognize it as one of their finest qualities. Nevertheless, there are times when their capacity for empathy can feel like a tremendous burden, something that threatens to overwhelm them and leave them emotionally drained or distraught.

Driven by their natural empathy and compassion, INFPs will support the causes they believe in with deep passion and an unshakeable commitment. But they will inexplicably disappear from the scene at times, suddenly not available to attend events or meetings or contact friends who support the same charities or nonprofit institutions.

Some of this grows out of the INFP male’s introversion. Periodically, they need time to relax and recharge their emotional batteries. As a consequence, they must occasionally withdraw from social spaces as a stress management strategy, and that is especially true if those spaces have been making intense demands on their time and energy.

But more than anything, the INFP male will need to step away from their humanitarian work on occasion to avoid becoming completely subsumed by the empathic connection they feel with those who are in physical or emotional pain. If they don’t take some time for themselves, they can drown in depression or anxiety, feeling so helpless and overwhelmed that functioning in daily life can be next to impossible.

The good thing about the compassionate INFP male is that as long as they do what is necessary to protect themselves and manage their emotions, they will gain great feelings of satisfaction from their charitable or humanitarian work. Their commitment to serving and helping others brings authenticity and happiness to their lives, making it an essential part of themselves that they can’t afford to neglect or abandon for long.

INFP males can be shockingly spontaneous

Because of their introversion, an INFP male who indulges a sudden inspiration can catch others by surprise. People tend to see the INFP male as cautious, reserved, and risk-averse. As a result, they may be truly flabbergasted when their INFP friend or family member announces they’ve signed up for a course to learn how to skydive or ride a motorcycle, or have decided to quit their job and dedicate themselves to their artwork or writing. 

The reserved and thoughtful appearance of the INFP male can hide their spontaneous side, which emerges from their perceiving (P) function. The typical INFP man will sometimes feel threatened or imprisoned by their habits and routines, which they will compensate for by trying something radically different. They do this not on a whim, but because they fear becoming boring and predictable.

This willingness to change directions or try new things has both an upside and a downside. The upside is that it can help INFP men stretch their boundaries and build their self-confidence, as they take on fresh challenges and achieve goals that had once seemed out of their reach. The downside is that an INFP male who is determined to be spontaneous will sometimes make ill-advised choices on the spur of the moment, courting disaster and disappointment in the process.

This happens when they stray outside their normal patterns without thinking it through first. It can also happen if their choices are not well-researched or involve self-denial or wishful thinking.  If they have a serious fear of heights, for example, they aren’t likely to enjoy skydiving or rock climbing if they don’t seek help for their acrophobia beforehand.

It is to the INFP man’s credit that they aren’t afraid to be bold and to experiment. But that attitude will only become a reliable asset if they can learn to temper their spontaneity with sincere and thoughtful reflection, as the most high-achieving INFP men do. A colossally bad choice or two is usually enough to help them see the light, and to realize that their spontaneity must be counterbalanced with just the right amount of caution.

INFP men are conflict-averse to a fault

An INFP male is uncomfortable with divisiveness.

If they perceive a potential for conflict, they will try to talk it out as calmly as possible, seeking a way to reach consensus and avoid turning misunderstandings into irreconcilable differences. If the people they care about are having disagreements, they can be highly effective mediators, offering a thoughtful and empathetic perspective that takes all sides into account while working hard to find a resolution that is satisfactory to everyone involved in the dispute.

Unfortunately, there are times in life when an aversion to conflict can prevent a person from standing up for themselves or offering honest feedback to others who really need to hear it. A fear of conflict can leave the introverted and peace-loving INFP male ill-equipped to deal with people who are only looking out for themselves and are willing to take advantage of others to get what they want. It can also put prized relationships at risk, fostering lingering resentment by stopping important interpersonal issues from being resolved or even discussed.

Because they are so smart and observant, most INFP men eventually learn that they can’t always convert lemons into lemonade, no matter how hard they try. From then on, when they encounter situations where compromise is impossible and a line in the sand must be drawn, they will do what is necessary to protect themselves and those they care about. They will do it even though it may make them feel incredibly uncomfortable at the time, and guilty about their words or actions for days afterward.

No matter how enlightened and self-aware an INFP male becomes, however, they will always retain their preference for the negotiated and mutually satisfactory solution.

INFP men have strong beliefs, but they evolve over time

INFP men are principled and conscientious. They are socially, environmentally, and culturally aware, and put a lot of effort into educating themselves about the issues that are closest to their hearts. In debates and discussions the INFP male can be quite eloquent and even opinionated, which might cause some raised eyebrows in those who know them as even-tempered and calm in almost all circumstances.

While INFP men are naturally inquisitive and seek to understand why the world is the way it is, they are open and willing to be persuaded. Their convictions are heartfelt, but they remain receptive to other ideas and perspectives and are ready to alter their beliefs should world events or convincing arguments give them reason to do so.

Inside the mind of the INFP male, the process of self-examination is never-ending. They constantly question themselves and their beliefs, looking for logical flaws, unjustified assumptions, and evidence that their personal interests may be biasing their analysis in some way. As a result of this exhaustive approach, their ideas and beliefs do tend to change somewhat over time.

This is not because they are mercurial, or subject to being overly influenced by current intellectual or cultural fashions. It’s because they feel a deep and profound responsibility to try to get it right, to see all sides and to be fair to everyone, and to listen carefully to every contrary argument. INFP males are humble enough to let their ideas about truth and justice evolve, even if that evolution takes them in new and surprising directions.

An INFP will use self-doubt as a springboard for personal development

Many INFP males seem to be filled with self-doubt. They see others who exude self-confidence as they struggle to develop that level of certainty. A typical INFP male will worry that they’ve made the wrong career choice, fearing that they aren’t really suited for that activity, or aren’t doing enough in their profession to contribute to the betterment of their communities or the world. They wonder constantly if they’re doing enough as spouses, fathers, siblings, friends, or sons to help their loved ones achieve and grow.

It would be easy to misidentify this apparent self-doubt as low self-esteem. But hidden just beneath the personal insecurity is a deeply held belief, a firm and unshakeable conviction, that the INFP male will ultimately be able to figure it all out and learn how to make much better choices in the long run. INFP men know they are a work in progress, and they are okay with that because they believe the final result will be well worth the effort.

INFP men are complex; that is something that those who know and love them already understand. This complexity is a consequence of their ambitious approach to living, which places an emphasis on learning, helping, growing, and contributing.

Nathan Falde

Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


louis wachsmuth (not verified) says...

Thank you, well spoken. One problem, what then do you do during large family gatherings when all are cackling and babbling and you feel left out? As a 75 year old, I really don't fit in with my own adult children and grand kids. Since I can't interject 'clever' quips and comments, I have become invisible. During last Christmas eve, my house was full of people, but I sat alone in the corner. No one wants deep discussions, just shallow platitudes. All good, church-attending citizens, but can't relate to the 'old guy' in the corner chair. There is a cost in being a INFP.

Lopez jr (not verified) says...

I'm not 100% sure what I would do in that kind of situation, but I can definitely make an accurate guess of what I would do. I would most likely sit there silently, or if their someone, that I'm particularly fond of I would talk and hang around them more than anyone else. While we (or just in my opinion) INFPs would want to get more out there, we just funded it hard when most people want to talk about the simpler topic. I'm 14 and going to high school and I hope deep inside to make new friends, but I already know everyone is going to be drawn to their own parties of interest while I'm left out.

J.S (not verified) says...

Hi Louis,

I'm not sure of your exact situation and your relationship with the others, but I would seek to find a topic that you can speak passionately about the people you feel the closest with.  An example of this for me is to bring up bits and pieces of personality types and how it influences our actions.  If you don't want to go that route, then I find that there's always something that you can find in someone that will make them want to talk deeply about, no matter who they are.  Learn more about your children and grandchildren and their interests by asking questions, then tie in elements of your own experience and wisdom.  If this is communicated in a kind and non-confrontational way, they might appreciate the gesture.  Build rapport with someone to have a one-on-one conversation, introverts typically do better with that than speaking with large groups of people.

Another way to handle this is to simply accept the situation as it is.  If you have low energy levels and must withdraw from the conversation, it's fine to play along with the shallow platitude and excuse yourself.  As an INFP, use your Ne to think up of scenarios that you can talk with regarding your shared common interests.   

Since you are interested in the MBTI and personality types, perhaps open the discussion by making some input on how their personality types lead to those actions.  For example, from your description, it's likely that they are the "S" type personality.  I find that people are always interested in insights about themselves, their activities, or the way they are doing things as long as it's communicated in a kind and tactful (non-offensive) way.  

I'm sure there are also other activities that you could do as a family gathering.  If you can cook, try a new recipe.  If you can't, buy something  new to share with the family.  That would serve as a conversation topic and an opportunity to join together with your family.  

I suspect that there might be something deeper at play than your status as an INFP.  Are there other factors that might be preventing you from contributing to the discussion?  Identify these barriers and try to eliminate them one by one.  I hope that helps, I'm a male INFP too!




Joshua..R. (not verified) says...

I'd like to reply to you sir because I can understand. I'm 24! That's usually me at any type of gathering. I tend to leave quickly so I can go experience things. I don't care for trivial conversation or things of that nature. It's funny because I spent an enlistment in the USMC and I was able to come out of my shell a bit. I think that we have something to offer that others can't. And that's special. So maybe express yourself in a different way. Maybe write all the things you think of or want to say and keep it as a sort of legacy. That maybe you can impress upon others the things that truly are important. It wouldn't matter then that you didn't say it. You'd still have it written and then it can be heard anywhere and anytime. Hope you're well sir. Maybe you'll see this and it'll give you a smile. Take care! 

Judah, a proud infp (not verified) says...

Wherever I want to settle I will look for the intellectual people I will enjoy talking with and if I am in a temporary place or without someone with whom I have a special connection then I will use the humor that we excel at

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