Why Do INFJs Struggle to Find Meaningful Relationships?

INFJs are sensitive, compassionate Introverts who value quiet time to themselves. But these thoughtful folks also care deeply about people and long for meaningful relationships with someone who shares their passion for in-depth conversations. So why is it so hard for these caring personalities to actually find those meaningful INFJ relationships? 

There are many positive qualities about an INFJ that actually make it harder for them to meet people and find the kinds of friendships and romantic attachments they’re looking for. But those qualities are also the ones that will bring them exactly the kinds of connections they really need. 

If you’re an INFJ and you’re trying to find your tribe, your new best mate, or your life partner, here’s a few of the characteristics that can make finding those significant INFJ relationships challenging, but definitely worth the wait.

1. INFJs are Introverts, so INFJ relationships must value our alone time

They say that finding the right person is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find someone who’s right for you. It’s a game that’s easy for the majority of the population to play because most of them are Extraverts. But for the Introverts of the world, like the INFJ, the rules become a little more complicated.

  •  We like spending time alone. Introverts recharge their energy by spending time alone or with one close friend, so any time we spend meeting new people is tiring. Joining groups or clubs is a great way to meet people, but it can also be exhausting for Introverts because the conversation, at least initially, is usually based on common interests, often leaving us with a lot of small talk and superficial chatter, and nothing is more draining to an INFJ. We don’t want to be alone all the time, but we want real connections with other people. When it comes to INFJ relationships, we value quality over quantity.
  • We value authenticity. Many people are perfectly happy, and in fact, prefer to be part of a group where the conversation is light and they don’t have to reveal too much of themselves. But being authentic is exactly what the INFJ is looking for. We pride ourselves on our authenticity and value people who are genuine because we want people to know who we really are, and we want to know them. So it can be hard to find someone who wants to talk about the kind of subjects we are interested in, to the same kind of depth and with the level of openness and honesty we value.
  • We need time to open up. INFJs don’t like to open up to others right away. We need time to feel comfortable with someone and feel that connection before we start to share our innermost thoughts and feelings, so we can appear somewhat aloof or cold to strangers who don’t realise we’re just waiting for someone to ask. All too often, the fun-loving types who join groups and clubs find the INFJ desire for close connection and intimacy a little too intense and serious. 
  • We prefer to listen. Because INFJs care so much about people, we prefer not to barge into conversations until we can first hear others and understand how they feel and what they think. We’re very good listeners, so when we meet new people, we can easily slip into the role of therapist, listening compassionately to others’ problems while keeping our own opinions, desires, and challenges under wraps. 

2. INFJs are sensitive, so INFJ relationships can be overwhelming

Studies show that most INFJs are also highly sensitive people. This means that we absorb more information into our subconscious minds and we are more aware of our surroundings. Consequently, we can quickly become overwhelmed by too much stimulation, whether that’s a chaotic environment, too many people or too much to do.

  • We don’t like noise. Feeling overwhelmed is one of the reasons why INFJs need a lot of down time. We need that time to process all that information and make sense of it, but this means we spend less time getting out and meeting new people, especially if that involves large groups, crowds or lots of noise. It’s not that INFJs don’t want to have a good time, but we just feel that sometimes it’s too much. A friendly talk with one other person in a quiet environment is all we need. Generally, we prefer lots of mental stimulation with minimal sensory excitement. A walk in the woods, a stroll by the sea, or an intimate conversation by the fire is INFJ bliss.
  • We are aware of people’s feelings. For INFJs, being highly sensitive means that we’re highly aware of other people’s feelings. And because we care about how people feel, we naturally tend to focus on making them feel better. This can happen without us even realising it, as we become concerned with the well-being and struggles of other people before we even think about our own.
  • We are rare. INFJs are a rare personality type, comprising only about 1 percent of the population. But it’s easy for us to forget that not everyone is as sensitive as we are. We are highly attuned to other people’s emotions and energy, and we can pick up on subtle cues in their body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. But it’s hard for INFJs to understand that not everyone has this special ability and it’s much harder for others to recognize our thoughts and feelings just by our nonverbal communication. We may think we’re sending messages loud and clear, but others may not be hearing us. Consequently, other types may see INFJs as reserved, while we believe they are uninterested.
  • We dislike conflict. What many people see as an engaging conversation about politics, sports or work can feel like an angry debate to an INFJ. We heartily dislike any kind of conflict so we tend to avoid the kinds of conversations that others might find stimulating. Even if it’s meant to be friendly, it can feel combative and even hostile to an INFJ, who prefers conversations that focus on sharing ideas and developing mutual understanding rather than confrontation.

3. INFJs are intuitive, so INFJ relationships must be deep and creative

Introverted Intuition is the dominant function of INFJs. This means we are focused inwards, on the internal world of thoughts and ideas. We are less interested in the outside world of cars and cruises, shoes and satellites, unless we’re thinking about how these things are connected and can create some meaning.

  • We’re big picture thinkers. Although INFJs fall into the Feeling category, we are also thinkers and we love to spend time contemplating ideas and formulating our own theories about how the world works and what it all means. It’s the big picture we’re concerned about and how ideas might affect people. But not everyone likes to talk about ideas, so it can be a struggle to fit into more everyday conversations.
  • We’re creative. As intuitive types, INFJs spend a lot of time thinking and processing all the information we absorb, both consciously and unconsciously. But we need to do more than just contemplate the meaning of life. We need to do something with all those thoughts and ideas. We need a creative outlet for our considerable energies and as a way of making sense of the world around us. When it comes to finding satisfying INFJ relationships, we need more than just a laugh and good night out. We need time to be creative, as writers, painters, poets, actors, gardeners or cooks and that can take time away from our relationships.
  • We like deep and meaningful conversations. For many people, small talk and a bit of witty banter is enough to start a new relationship. But INFJs want someone to talk to about our insights and ideas and we want them to do the same. When INFJs aren’t reading, learning, thinking or creating, we love sharing our thoughts, ideas and feelings with someone who is equally passionate about meanings. While other types might enjoy clubbing, shopping or an afternoon playing golf, nothing is better for an INFJ than a deep and meaningful one-on-one conversation.

4. INFJs are a Feeling type, so INFJ relationships will always put others first

People who have a Feeling function in their personality stack aren’t necessarily more compassionate than other people, but they make decisions based on how the outcome will affect other people. When it comes to INFJs, however, we care deeply about other people and sometimes that can get us into trouble.

  • We put other people first. Our focus on the feelings of others means we tend to put other people’s needs before our own. Consequently, most people see INFJs as caring and thoughtful people who have genuine concern for others. Unfortunately there are also individuals who will take advantage of the kind INFJ nature and it can become very easy for INFJs to spend our time and energy on people who take the INFJ’s kindness and compassion and don’t give anything back, leaving us drained and exhausted.
  • We’re scared to make the first move. INFJs are so concerned about the feelings of others that we often hold ourselves back. We can be reluctant to open up or make the first move in a relationship because we’re not sure if the other person really wants to listen to us or really cares about the issues and ideas that are so precious to us.

5. INFJs are Idealists, so INFJ relationships must include a soul mate

According to Keirsey’s Temperament Sorter, INFJs are part of the Idealist group, one of four temperaments identified by psychologist David Keirsey.  Idealists are abstract thinkers and compassionate individuals.

  • We care about personal growth. As Idealists, INFJs are concerned with becoming the best possible version of ourselves. We want to reach our full potential and we want to help others develop themselves as well. Identity is very important to Idealists and we want to be with someone who also wants to learn about themselves and grow as a person, but we may care more about figuring out who we are than other people do.
  • We want a soul mate. While other types may be seeking someone who is a playmate or a helpmate, Idealists want to find their one true love. For INFJs, that means someone we can really connect with and be authentic with on an intellectual, emotional and soul level.
  • We are romantics. Idealists are true romantics, which means that we tend to have an idealised idea of love. Idealists are enthusiastic about relationships and all the possibilities they may hold for the future. But we run the risk of putting someone on a pedestal and not seeing the relationship the way it truly is. We care deeply about people and we feel deeply ourselves, so it can become difficult to step back and look at the relationship objectively, which means we can’t always see when it’s not working or we’re not getting what we need to be happy.

Putting it together

So what’s an introverted, sensitive, intuitive, feeling, idealistic type to do? In a world that values extraversion over introversion and rewards action over reflection, it’s no wonder that finding meaningful INFJ relationships can be a struggle for so many if us. 

But you don’t have to be like everyone else! 

Remember, you don’t need lots of friends or social media likes or party invitations. Even if it’s everyone else’s idea of feeling loved, being around people all the time won’t make you happy. If you have just a few close friends you can have deep and meaningful conversations with, and where you can be yourself, that’s all you need.

And when you know who you are, what you want and what you need, it’s easier to let go of whatever isn’t right for you and find the ones who will really make you happy. 

Deborah Ward

Deborah Ward is a writer and an INFJ. She has a passion for writing articles, blog posts and books that inspire, motivate and encourage people to build self-confidence and live up to their potential. She has written two books on mindfulness, Overcoming Low Self-Esteem with Mindfulness and Overcoming Fear with Mindfulness. Her latest book, Sense and Sensitivity, is based on her Psychology Today blog of the same name. It's about highly sensitive people and is due out in Feb 2020. Deborah lives in Hampshire, England, where she enjoys watching documentaries, running and taking long walks in the country, especially ones that finish at a cosy pub.

Comments

Elan (not verified) says...

What a beautifully written article. I feel like emailing it to all my family and friends so they truly understand me. For now I’m left feeling deeply nourished and understood... thank you 🙏

Tamika G (not verified) says...

Wow, this article really hits home for me. Will certainly share with my other INFJ friends.

Joanne (not verified) says...

Makes me feel less flawed. 

Never understood why I keep giving even when I feel so unseen.

Thank you 🙏💙

Meagan64 (not verified) says...

Wow, this is crazy accurate. As an INFJ, I've always found it hard for others to understand me, especially since I was never sure I really understood myself. I notice that I'm often being taken advantage of, but since I choose to see the best in everyone and try to avoid confrontation, I usually let it happen and bear the burden by myself. I'm honestly surprised and amazed there are other like me. Is this why I've never had a real relationship and fear I never will?

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