What You Need to Know About the INFJ Door Slam

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on January 27, 2022

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.

More from this author...
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.

Comments

Jeanne Derwin (not verified) says...

This is a perfect description, Cianna, with dead-on examples!!! I would only add that when an INFJ finally door-slams someone, that person (and some "onlookers") are usually SHOCKED ... which only proves how misunderstood we INFJs really are.

Cianna Garrison says...

Thanks for commenting, Jeanne! I totally agree. People tend to take advantage of INFJs, and thus, don't see it coming because we're always so personable, even at the expense of our own feelings. 

Ciana (not verified) says...

Hi Cianna!

This is extremely relevant as I am going through this very same thing as a door slammer myself. I felt my kindness was being taken for granted recently and automatically stop talking to a person. They have been texting me for the past 2 months and I have not responded. I do this when I feel undervalued by someone when I give my all into a relationship of any kind.

Cianna Garrison says...

Hi! Thanks so much for the input, Ciana! I'm glad to hear you valued our post and identified with it. I hope this person can learn from their past mistakes going forward in their relationships, and totally understand why you'd feel this way and shut them out. The door slam is a very funny, but very protective, trait to have! All the best to you:)

Eric Moore (not verified) says...

I'm so glad to have found this article and comment section. I'm currently door slamming someone. Thank you for validating my internal struggle with knowing how much I should put up with before I've finally made my move. Thank you too for the info on why others might not understand why I'm taking so abruptly changing gears. 

Cianna Garrison says...

Hi Eric, 

I am so thrilled to hear that this article helped you out. Sometimes, shutting someone out is the best possible move, especially when you're a sensitive INFJ.

 

Take care, 

Cianna

Joshua W (not verified) says...

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for writing this. I’ve known my INFJ traits for a while but have only recently started diving in to find real understanding of certain parts of myself. The door slam in particular, hits home. About 3 years ago I excommunicated a childhood friend of 21 years. It wasn’t premeditated in the sense of I never thought of cutting ties but was indeed aware of the growing strain it was putting on my soul. I decided it and followed through instantaneously (as I have prior with girlfriends and ‘friends’ alike). For the exact reason scenario 1 describes. If I ever know he *truly* needs me, I’d show up for him, and hope I have the same silent respect from him. The relationship became entirely to one-sided with no understanding of who I am and no care to ever increasing abuse of my all-in for you because I care mind-set. I often ponder on if it had always been that way and I was blind or if it was a change that occurred somewhere down the line. Either way, we INFJs can absolutely be cold hearted in response to what has really hurt us, but (at least with me) I silently mourn the loss of our brother type of bond. It was decided out of love for who I am and this couldn’t be farther from cold hearted. This website is providing so much valuable insight in a form that I can actually relate to and seemingly I can understand all of. I’m very appreciative of it and all yours and every other contributors writings. Mental comfort is hard to find sometimes. Especially since we are always busy lending ourselves so that those we love and even strangers have all they need and hopefully at least some of what they want. You know.. it’s fascinating to me how I (we?) rarely will receive this same gift from someone else. A true rarity we must actually be. Sincerely..thank you for your insight and wisdom. It is well received, and dare I say, needed, now that I have it.

Cianna Garrison says...

Hi Joshua,

 

Thank you so much for your kind response. We all can use a little comfort in the form of understanding and compassion, even when it comes to something as uncomfortable as the "door slam" habit that us INFJs have! Truly, an INFJ devotes more to friendships and relationships than is often repaid. I hope you are doing well and have mended (somewhat) from this lost friendship. It is never easy to lose a childhood friend, even if you were the one who finally decided it was time to put the relationship to bed. 

 

Have a lovely week! 

 

Cianna

Daveboy (not verified) says...

"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.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."

So, while I do agree that I hate when things are one-sided and I feel like I'm giving the most attention to them while it's next to none from them, I absolutely disagree with there ever being too much advice for me to give.  That's what makes me feel alive, useful, and worthwhile.  What kind of a 'Counselor' (although talent development is specifically my passion) would I be if I was tired of giving advice?  I moreso get upset when my advice doesn't feel valued.  When I'm not who someone privately goes to to figure stuff out, and stuff is kept from me.  It makes zero sense to me.  I'm here for them, and I want to help carry their burdens.  Granted, the exception to that is it being a burden I want to carry.  Like I don't have the career I want yet, I'm still working to keep a roof over my head, so I couldn't care less what my work wants from me if they're just a means to an end.  I don't care about making a place I don't care about better.  I may get the temptation, or the urge to speak up or provide suggestions, but I ultimately decide it isn't worth it as where I am is only temporary.  That's less so the case when it's a specific person, because if I want to get to know you, then there isn't a limit to the help I want to provide.  

I'm also kind of confused about the being "extremely private" part.  I'm only extremely private in the sense that if you want what you say to me to be lock shut, going with me to my death, you got it.  However, I don't care if the government knows where I live, or if someone tries to get to know me.  It's less about privacy, and more about feeling that my worth is what my worth is to others, so I don't care about my feelings or thoughts being understood.  I moreso hate it when my intentions aren't trusted, or misunderstood.  I feel like a lottery ticket that gains more value the more you utilize it, but nobody wants to take the chance.  A couple have, but the trust has only gone so far since they're eggshell walkers in an industry of entertainment.  As if no matter what I say, it's my inexperience that scares people off to where what I'm offering doesn't feel genuine or valued.  Truthfully, I don't even know what the reason is, I can only guess.  It does feel like an insult, but all it takes is giving me a chance and I'll forgive them for seeing little value in me.  

Anyway, it always confuses me when INFJ are more emotional about their own personal feelings than I am as an INFJ, so just sharing my piece as to why that is.  All I ever care about is being productive for who and what I care about.  Not being valued is what slowly kills me.

EJ (not verified) says...

Oh my, I just found my door-slamming tribe!! Thank you so much for these invaluable insights Cianna.

Share your thoughts

THE FINE PRINT:

Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here.

The Five Love Languages® is a registered trademark of The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, which has no affiliation with this site. You can find more information about the five love languages here.

Latest Tweets

Get Our Newsletter