INFJs are empathetic, patient listeners and loyal friends, but they may shut down when others push them too far. The Counselor personality has a cold, closed side, and it can be extremely hard to win them back as a friend when that relationship becomes strained. 

If you’re curious about what the infamous INFJ “door slam” is, read on. Here’s everything you need to know about this complex and misunderstood behavior. 

The INFJ personality in friendships and relationships.

Before understanding the INFJ door slam, you need to know more about the INFJ personality type. Consisting of Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Judging preferences, INFJs tend to sense or know things before anyone confirms them. The combination of iNtuition and Feeling in particular means the INFJ is wonderful at giving advice because they may come up with a solution to a friend’s problem before anyone else can—or at least offer some invaluable insight.

However, while the INFJ makes a loyal friend with strong empathy, they might not express how they’re feeling, even to their dearest friends. Since they’re private (almost to the extreme) and hate conflict, this personality type can go for weeks or months without addressing pain points in a relationship. 

So, although the INFJ is dubbed “The Counselor” for good reason, it isn’t uncommon for them to become overwhelmed with unresolved feelings or arguments in their life.

What is the INFJ door slam?

An INFJ door slam is what it sounds like. When you think of a slammed door, you think of someone closing you out or preventing you from passing through to the other side. So, when an INFJ you know shuts down and blocks you out of a relationship, with little to no explanation, you’ve been “door slammed.”

It’s easy to think of the INFJ’s door slam reaction as dramatic, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s because an INFJ has likely gone through months (or even years) of feeling hurt, left out, disappointed, or exhausted by the person before they decide to cut them out. 

When does an INFJ shut people out?

With such a threshold for empathy and a talent for giving themselves to others, why would this caring type suddenly shut down and block people out? The short answer is, it’s usually a tactic of self-preservation.   

Scenario #1—The INFJ feels the friendship has become too one-sided.

The first, and most common, scenario occurs when people take advantage of an INFJ’s kindness to the point of exhausting them. Once the relationship begins to feel one-sided, it takes a big toll on the sensitive INFJ, and they’ll start to pull back. The process is a slow one, but once they’ve realized the relationship isn’t adding anything positive to their life, they'll decide to distance themselves.

Scenario #2—A relationship becomes too painful. 

Because of their caring, open-minded nature, INFJs have a higher chance of attracting toxic personality types, which means they may become involved with a narcissist or an emotionally and mentally draining personality. Although you may think these toxic relationships are the same as one-sided friendships, there’s a big difference between the two. 

When an INFJ has a toxic person in their life, it isn’t just “take, take, take.” It also means that the INFJ has allowed someone into their inner circle who has a habit of gaslighting them or making them feel lesser. This hurt may be intentional if it’s a manipulative relationship, or even unintentional if the person doesn’t realize they’re exhibiting toxic behaviors. Whatever the case, because of the mind games or negative feelings present in one of these relationships, an INFJ who feels hurt by a long-term lack of concern will go into a full door slam, leaving them in the past. 

Scenario #3—An INFJ doesn’t feel understood.

Although INFJs may hold onto relationships as long as they can, there may come a time when they feel misunderstood by those they care about. When this happens, an INFJ doesn’t feel accepted for who they are, and feeling misunderstood or unaccepted is one of the worst things for an INFJ. 

As an INFJ myself, I don’t feel like anyone ever understands me entirely, but when there’s a lack of the most basic level of understanding, I find I start to cut people out and shut down without even thinking about it. For example, if someone makes a claim about my character, my values, or my competence, it’s a major red flag that begins the door slam process, unless a conversation happens to remedy the relationship.

How to prevent the INFJ door slam if you're an INFJ

Although the INFJ door slam serves a great purpose, the habit can also cause irreparable harm to relationships you might want to save. If you’re an INFJ, you may want to stop and ask yourself some essential questions before you start pulling away or shut them out for good. My personal rule is to make sure I’ve done everything I can to try to fix the situation. If I know I’ve done everything in my power, and the person still takes advantage of me in some way, it’s healthier to cut them out.

How to prevent the INFJ door slam if someone you know is an INFJ

If you aren’t an INFJ but have experienced the infamous INFJ door slam in the past, the best advice to prevent it from happening again is to check up on your INFJ friend or loved one. Make sure you give them some attention, too. Ask them about their life and interests once in a while; don’t always turn the conversation to you. And remember an INFJ goes through many days catering to other people, so while it’s great to ask their advice once in a while, it shouldn’t become a habit that defines your entire relationship with them. Because INFJs are too people-oriented to redirect the conversation even if they’re exhausted, they’ll lend an ear to you despite the growing feelings of negativity they feel each time you drain their energy.

What is the takeaway?

INFJs are some of the most patient and compassionate friends out there, but when they’re tested beyond their limits, they might cut you out of their life for good. For INFJs who want to understand the INFJ door slam better to prevent it, the answer is simple—you, and you alone, know which relationships serve you, and which ones don’t. If you know an INFJ or two, remember you can avoid the door slam as long as you remember to tend to your relationship once and a while.

Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.