Taylor kind of sort of shits on INTJs and then brings it all back to perspective. Huge fan of this guy. Love him.
“I feel like rescuing you even though you’re not asking me to.”
Sound familiar? I’ve heard these things all my life. Apparently, I have “damsel in distress” or “helpless” written across my forehead. In this post, I wanted to delve into an INFP subtype which I don’t think is terribly common (or it is and these people are mistyped). I could be wrong but this INFP trope is generally a female INFP or in the very least, embodies an unmistakable feminine energy as to not preclude biological male INFPs.
This subtype sometimes doesn’t present as an INFP because of the notable lack of quirkiness which is present in almost all INFP subtypes, especially enneagram type 4s. Even then, (I’m a type 4) the quirks are not presented outwardly, making the INFP look as basic vanilla/cookie cutter, Disney On Ice as any ISFJ female would.
This subtype, which I dubbed “The Benevolent Princess Archetype” is surprisingly mainstream and often idealized as a standard by which young girls aspire to be. These quintessential little girls grow up to be quintessential women (think Lana Del Rey). They couldn’t hide the abundance of yin energy through any amount of masking or borrowing of other people’s quirks and personalities. I know this because I’ve tried. It’s no wonder then that so many styles and methods of being look contrived, clumsy, and unnatural on me. Trying to “fit in” doesn’t exactly work for someone who is born to sit at a separate table from everyone else. Being a princess is lonely business, even if everyone tries to get close to you; even if everyone tries to rescue you.Not Necessarily A Narcissist
There’s a negative stigma to being a Princess thanks to the Uggs wearing basic bitches of today’s society with their pumpkin spice lattes, their leggings as pants, and their fucking nose rings. They like to try to own the title of Princess but what they really mean is “I take a lot of selfies for Instagram and expect other people to take care of me despite my histrionics”. You can tell who I mean because they idolize Marilyn Monroe even though Marilyn Monroe had more issues than the Middle East.
I digress. If you claim to be a Princess and you’re a self-absorbed, entitled, spoiled brat…then you’re doing it wrong. That’s not what being a princess is about, as any INFP would tell you. Being a princess is actually a great deal of responsibility. A Princess is an Ambassador of good will. She is morally obligated to maintain humility (easy for an INFP), dedicate herself to good works, serve her people, and lead by example. A Princess is “on” 24/7. People are always watching her so she is not permitted to be selfish, hostile, immature, sleazy, or in any way, a bad role model. As a Princess, your job is to be perfect. If you are not perfect, then you’re without identity and therefore non-existent and that is the worst fate known in the universe.
A Never Ending Identity Crisis
The threat of non-existence looms over this type of INFP for the entire duration of her life. This is true for all Princesses, though their reasons vary. Moral perfectionism is the most stated reason for feeling threatened followed very closely by innate co-dependency in varying levels of severity. INFPs of this type are prone to Borderline Personality Disorder and co-dependency with the textbook co-dependent tendency to form attachments to Narcissistic personalities and Sociopathic personalities. Not always but often enough to be worth noting.
The reason can be explained by an over dependence on the Fi-Si loop, similar to the Ni-Ti loop of INFJs. Fi assigns feeling values to everything that it takes in while Si remembers what has happened in the past and wants to stick with what is known, familiar, and comfortable while avoiding things unknown that could potentially hurt. A Fi-Si loop skips right over Aux Ne, which would normally be open to new possibilities and taking risks. Without the balance of Ne possibilities, an INFP could find herself perpetually infantilized by parents and partners alike. There’s very little risk and energy expenditure in not doing your own thinking or coming up with your own ideas.
INFPs of this variety “borrow” other people’s personalities in lieu of developing their own. Everything from careers, hobbies, quirks, and even style can be temporarily borrowed from the people whom the INFP has a close relationship with. The result is an underdeveloped Id function, making the Princess a hollow vessel for transient qualities and ideas to temporarily take up residence. For this reason, the Princess is constantly threatened by representations of her identity (such as a job) from being taken away and being left with nothing to identify with (non-existence). She mistakes ego attachments to material possessions, jobs, and hobbies which are supposed to be a ‘part of’ her as representations of the true self, which are innate. Losing a job, for example, threatens her very existence because she can’t fathom what she is without the job title. Using Ne would help her understand that being transient and experimental is an innate quality in and of itself.
Everyone Wants To Be A Hero
It is a given that Princesses attract knights in shining armor. Though knights are usually lovers and spouses, they also come in the form of parents, friends, bosses, and colleagues. The princess has an endearing “lost” quality about her which makes those around her want to help her and relieve her of her eternal suffering. Sometimes the princess sees qualities she likes and encourages this, though the attention will come whether she actively encourages it or not.Knights are everywhere and they all have their own ideas about how to save someone, which may not align with what a Princess thinks is good for her, creating inadvertent tension between herself and others. “I didn’t ask for your help” is a line I’ve delivered to so many unsolicited, well intentioned heroes of all kinds over the years. One of the biggest problems with being a Princess entails all the resentment and misunderstandings from unsolicited help and advice, which comes off as condescension and control. Princesses tend to foster a magnanimous spirit from decent, good hearted people and also become targets for those looking to exploit her for ego purposes.
But Why Is It a Benevolent Archetype?
In interviews, Princess Di used to talk about what her position in life meant to her. She saw her existence as a kind of duty (Si) of service to mankind. Rather than being served or rescued herself, Diana sought to serve others and rescue others. It didn’t happen overnight. Her evolution took years of being a quiet victim to her circumstances. She was disillusioned by the romanticism of being courted by and married to a prince when his affair was discovered and further humiliated when it became public. The press hounded her non-stop as she struggled with hard pregnancies, migraines, depression, and an eating disorder. Diana recalled in detail hating herself during that time. She found solace in gaining her independence, giving up her title, and devoting her life to humanitarian causes, even at the risk of her own safety and well being. In other words, she became a princess in the true sense that she ruled in the hearts of the people.In many fairy tales, storybooks and legends, the Princess is a passive protagonist with a tragic motif. Her tragedy is that she is beautiful and kind and her kindness and beauty serve no other purpose other than to make her destruction all the more tragic and the villains all the more villainous and the story all the more compelling. But there is another side to the Princess archetype; one that portrays her as an Ambassador who conducts acts of political diplomacy and reassures the people that benevolence is a royal decree and that the kingdom will enjoy times of peace and prosperity. Though she is a member of the elite, her compassion transcends even the most deeply ingrained disparity between peasants and their lords. She bridges the gap between the rich and the poor, the fortunate from the disgruntled, the loved from the unwanted. She’s not afraid to mingle among commoners. She feels at home with them.
As I explain how I developed into such a creature, I think it’s important to remember that people aren’t inherently good or bad. It’s more complicated than that. The archetype of Princess could be taken to either extremes depending on your view of what it means to be a Princess (or how big of a Disney fan you are). This post is particularly interesting to me because for once, I get to speak from personal experience. I don’t want to sugar coat it or distort the reality of my personality type and I will be honest, even if it doesn’t put me in the best light.
There was a time when I literally believed myself to be a princess. In my defense, I was five years old. I lived with two older brothers, eight and ten years my senior, making me the baby of the family by quite a few years. My mother worked seasonally at a costume shop in upstate New York so I was able to indulge in period costumes and princess dresses nearly every day of the week. Everyone more or less doted on me and why not? It seemed safe to do so since I had always been painfully shy, conscientious, and nearly unwaveringly sweet. Nevertheless, our household was chaotic, hostile, and generally not a safe place to be from what I’m told. My brothers, in their adolescent state of mind and with good intentions, went above and beyond to protect me from it all. They even shielded me from normal, every day disappointments and failures. For example, my brother Randy often relented and did my math homework for me and my brother Jared was so popular in school that I rode his coattails for some time.
What resulted was a general inability to make decisions and a lack of personal accountability. I was never arrogant since Fi-Ne authenticity would never allow it. I was, however, spineless and heavily impressionable. Uncomfortable thinking for myself, I always managed to jump from person to person; borrowing their preferences, stealing their ideas, and placing someone, often undeservingly, up on a pedestal. When there was nothing of value around me to borrow, I escaped into fantasy and borrowed from there. I tried on so many personas and experimented with so many things that it’s fair to say that anyone who knew me between 1995 and 2010 really didn’t know me at all. What they saw when they looked at me was merely their own reflection. I inspired a lot of obsessive love and a lot of abiding hatred from people who hated weakness in me because they hated weakness in themselves. I was often a hollow character, like Bella from Twilight, who didn’t take an active role even in her own life. Like Bella, my life seemed to happen to me rather than me making things happen in life…or in the very least, demonstrating cognitive dissonance about how my choices led to the circumstances that seemed to lead me by the nose.
Becoming Someone Worth Being
Ironically, the only way to defeat weakness is by embracing it. Fi Doms always find strength in introspection. Shakespeare (an INFP) said it best: “Know thyself”. When you stop comparing yourself to others, everything that seems so comparably superior about them is all relative and doesn’t even necessarily apply to you. Before MBTI, I envied everyone across the board for their wide range of skills and their natural state of being. Understanding that there’s different types of people relieved the pressure off me to be like them and instead, just appreciate them for being so different. There is more of a sense of boundaries (This is me and that is you. We’re separate.) which helps me distinguish the ideas and the traits which are mine and those that belong to other people.
Instead of borrowing personalities now, I merely study them. It gives me more of a scholarly presence, increases my capacity for empathy, and makes me a better friend and partner. People can come to me and I can give them insight into themselves if that’s what they’re looking for. Helping them gives my true self a boost of confidence where I am the source of knowledge and wisdom rather than the child in need of help.
I’ve been criticized in the past for not really having any hobbies. In fairness, I do but they’re just not very exciting hobbies. They’re mostly kinesthetic, repetitive, detail oriented things like cross stitch embroidery and paper craft (cutting patterns out with a razor blade and gluing them into 3D figurines and structures). Of course, I also write for a living and for fun. When someone criticized me for not having any hobbies (not having a life, really) they meant that I’m imbalanced because I have an overwhelmingly introverted lifestyle where the fun primarily takes place in my head. By contrast, other people have more exciting hobbies like sports, boating, camping/hiking/fishing, music, photography, dance, skiing, etc. In other words, it would be hard for me to show someone what I do and take them into my world as a introduction of who I am and be immersed into it as a visitor. That’s easy for other people to do because they can take you hiking or to a hockey game or invite you to see their concert. If you want to experience my world, you’re going to have to read one of my novels.
But if you want to be truly balanced (and not alone with your 26 cats forever), it is important to have a Se hobby that you can share. Once upon a time I was a cheerleader so dance isn’t a terribly big stretch for me though it doesn’t seem like something I would do. I try not to have hobbies, material possessions, or jobs that are meant to be a true reflection of who I am because if there’s some reason I can’t do them anymore or have them, then I don’t want to end up losing a part of me. Writing is the only thing that is a true reflection of who I am and even if I ended up in a wheelchair, unable to speak or even swallow food without the assistance of a tube, I could still manage to express myself through writing…and study other people like bugs. ❤
I have yet to do a good piece on INFPs. Mostly, I’ve just mocked them in some kind of Freudian display of self-loathing (in my ‘Types of INFPs’ article). In all seriousness, INFPs are great and get a pretty bad rap for various reasons, notwithstanding, the general perception that INFPs are tender, ineffectual crybabies who have little grasp on reality. This isn’t necessarily true, though and I’ll get into why it isn’t true later. First, let’s talk about how INFPs function. I want to do this in a unique way which draws attention to the unexpected features of one of MBTI’s most mysterious types. The truth may surprise you.
INFPs are the true ‘Judging’ Types
More so than any other type, INFPs know how they feel, what they value, and what they find useful, absurd, joyful, joyless, moral, evil, destructive, constructive, beautiful, ugly, you name the adjective. INFPs are opinionated, especially initially, about virtually everything under the sun (like the religious fervor of the most famous INFP, Joan of Arc). The opinionated nature of the INFP is sufficient to give any INTJ a run for their money, though INFPs are opinionated for entirely different reasons than INTJs are.
Introverted Feeling (Fi) is the Dominant mainstay of the INFP psyche. It is never confused about how it feels. In fact, Fi, despite how strongly opinionated it is, gets taken for granted by the INFP who genuinely doesn’t know that there are other ways to be. INFPs immediately come to a Feeling based judgment or a conclusion about the value of something (or lack thereof) as naturally as breathing. You name it, INFPs have some kind of strong feeling about it. INFPs appear laid back, soft, insecure, confused, and passive on the outside but don’t let that fool you. There is ALWAYS an opinion there; he/she is just not expressing it to you.
In fact, INFPs are the true Judging type in their thinking process, which makes things very confusing when trying to type one. Fi in actuality, is a JUDGING function and since INFPs lead with a judging function, that makes the proverbial “children of the MBTI world”, in reality, some of the most decisive people and dedicated martyrs on the planet. While INFJs get credit for being Judging types, its really only because they’re likely to follow through on a plan while deciding how they feel is, in actuality, very open. INFPs, on the other hand, know immediately how they feel and only struggle to know what to do about it, resulting in being officially categorized by Isabella Meyer as a Perceiving type. Confused yet? I know I was.
Paradoxically, INFPs don’t believe in Judging
Talk about Co-Pilot functions being a contradictory bitch, nothing takes the cake quite like a Fi/Ne (Extroverted Intuition) mix. While Fi infuses an INFP’s soul with immediate decision about how one feels, Ne demands that one must be open to multiple possibilities. After all, despite all the opining courtesy of Fi, INFPs are also paradoxically the second most self-conscious and insecure type, next to ISFPs.
Why? Because as a general rule, INFPs are fucking smart. They’re so smart, that they can easily go through an entire list of possibilities, both realistic and fantastical, in just a moment of rumination. Thanks to the magical power of Intuition, INFPs get to live through the incessant torture of being intuitively right..but always doubting and second guessing themselves. That alone makes the true Judging type a rather indecisive type who is not willing to express judgment, confront, lead, or make decisions. INFPs are the very epitome of having a razor sharp intuition, but rarely listening to it. After all, how can you when all the voices in your head are equally loud and saying different, often contradictory things? INFPs frequently struggle with the idiosyncrasies of both having a strong value system..and wanting to be understanding and respectful of the individual choices of others. After all, if an INFP thinks about it, almost anything is understandable on a personal experience level.
INFPs are virtually incorruptible
You’d be hard pressed to find an INFP whose values you can buy off with material goods, money, fame, glory, or even the most seductive of all, power. INFPs simply aren’t motivated by any of these things, making them the most virtuous type, even if by accident, and even if in a misguided way. Even INFJs, who have the highest moral standards in the land, cannot compare to the monk-like nature of an INFP, who quite naturally doesn’t need earthly ‘things’. INFPs are genuinely unimpressed and unsatisfied with the temptations of mere mortals. In fact, giving INFPs money, power, status, etc has quite the opposite effect that you would think it would have, making the INFP feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. I’ve heard the notion that famous INFPs are “embarrassed by success” and will often seek the comfort of solitude and modest living. This is perhaps the biggest reason why you can’t buy an INFP using standard means of bribery, extortion, quid pro quos, or promises of power. The second biggest reason being that every INFP seems to instinctively understand from birth that none of these things equals true happiness.
Humility also plays a big factor into why you can’t corrupt an INFP. For reasons not quite known (at least not by me), INFPs have an internal ego-checker, which serves to cap the ego-meter at a low maximum level, preventing the INFP from ever getting too confident or too big for her britches. That’s not to say that INFPs don’t ever get cocky..but it is rare and when it does happen, the INFP, horrified with him/herself, will find him/herself backpedaling, self depreciating, apologizing awkwardly, and reminding him/herself to be more humble in the future. INFPs don’t want to be caught dead claiming to be something they are not or seeming too egotistical/full of oneself. All of this culminates into what I consider the INFP’s greatest superpower, which is a natural impervious defense against corruption.
INFPs aren’t just the best writers, they’re also natural risk takers
Unlike the careful deliberation of INFJs, INFPs tend to live (like ENFPs) quite by accident. In their younger years, this can be a really bad thing, leading the INFP into bad decisions and consequently to the dark precipices of depression and anxiety. Later on in life, if accepted and channeled in a healthy way, INFPs are much healthier leading a life of relative risk and adventure as opposed to stability and predictability. INFPs more or less insist on living on the edge. Whether that means traveling the globe without a plan for months or years on end, delving into a competitive ‘starving artist’ type of career, fighting to get published, running a business, dedicating oneself to overseas humanitarian works, is really dependent on the INFP but all of these pursuits are multiple sides of the same…hexagonal coin.
I had a conversation while shopping with a visiting INFJ friend and we were talking about different forms of birth control. She uses an IUD, which is an interesting choice. I said “but that means an accident will never happen” and she said “exactly” which perplexed me, considering my friend is married and stable there’s no immediately recognizable need to prevent babies from happening. Personally, I never chose the IUD or really any form of birth control for that matter because family planning for me meant no planning at all..a hallmark move for the risk taking nature of the INFP. I didn’t want to think about it because thinking about it would only muddle the issue and force me into a decision. Better to risk it. Better to run a business rather than have a ‘stable’ job. Better to not know precisely what’s going to happen in the future. The INFP’s cross to bear is that he/she will never know what the right choice to make is before he/she has made it. Indecision can paralyze an INFP and a paralyzed INFP is a depressed INFP. This is why it paramount for INFPs to take a leap of faith into their heart’s desires. It is the only way for the Authenticator to truly be authentic to oneself. 🙂
Writing about INTJs is something of a challenge when you aren’t one, yourself. Nevertheless, they remain among the rarest and most interesting human beings in the world worth evaluating and writing about.
An INTJ is likely someone you knew at one point or another in your life. She is the friend who warned you not to make a drunken, impulsive decision shortly before you made it, anyway. He is the guy at work who cannot abide your slow, inefficient methodologies so he completely restructures your work flow so that it’s faster and less repetitive. She is the (somewhat cynical) realist who readily points out holes in your logic your friend’s logic, your boss’s logic, and your neighbor Fred’s logic. This friend or aquaintance wasn’t someone to turn to for emotional affirmation or pointless banter. This is someone you turn to when you really want or need to get things done. INTJs, being among the most intelligent demographic aren’t just thinkers, they are also doers. They are smart, reliable, honest, efficient, and creative in a way that is refreshing on many levels for many other types.
Fiercely loyal, serious in tone, direct in communication style, INTJs are a hard win but a solid win. Once you’ve won them, they are the best ally you could possibly ever have but getting to that point can be a painful, laborious process. That’s because INTJs have really high standards for themselves and for others close to them. They do not wish to see themselves as mediocre in quality nor do they wish to be sorrounded by hoards of riffraff. INTJs value quality over quantity, preferring perfection or something very close to it.
Like the NFs I love to write about, INTJs are highly dynamic in their thinking processes, almost to the point of being paradoxical. It lends them a depth and complexity that is unusual for rational types. I affectionately call INTJs “The Pragmatic Idealists” because their pragmatism isnt your garden variety practicality but rather a work of deep conviction and creativity. INTJs don’t just ask the question “Does it work?” They also ask how it works and why it should work? They sift and filter through mountains of information, gladly tossing out the erroneous and extraneous and solidly integrating reliable information into their mental construct. If an INTP’s mental construct is made of pure electrical energy, making random lightening connections, then an INTJ’s mental construct is electrical energy protected and guided by fiber optics or copper wiring in a structured way. There are no random connections. Every connection serves a purpose and every memory or lesson learned is neatly filed away for future reference.
Another metaphor would be to say that INTJs build a solid foundation for their house (mental processes). They are less distracted and less easily influenced or swayed than other types. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage for INTJs, making nature’s proverbial compromise that they must sacrifice a bit of flexibility for a bit of strength and conviction. This also helps make INTJ the most independent type on the MBTI spectrum. Not only are INTJs decisive but they are independently so. Their decisions are not guided by social pressures, pathos, or the unsubstantiated opinion of others. INTJs make independent, critical thinking decisions which solely honors the principles of practical logic and objective truth. INTJs don’t care about popular opinion, their own personal biases, or even about being right. INTJs happily prove themselves wrong again and again through rigorous testing of the truth. Once they reach a conclusion, they can be confident that they possess truth in the purest form.
This should not imply that INTJs aren’t emotional creatures. That depth I was eluding to earlier is a somewhat mysterious driving force for INTJ convictions. They are fumbling children when it comes to emotions, particularly strong emotions but are often remarkably genuine when it comes to their moral values. Unlike many ENTJs, INTPs, and ENTPs, INTJs in particular seem to be guided by a moral compass. There is a serious undertone to the INTJ’s main persona, which gives the impression that life is not a joke to them. INTJs do have a goofy, playful side but it is typically more innocent and childlike than the derisive humor of NTP types. INTJs do express themselves with sarcasm but it looks, sounds, and feels different than the derisive style preferred by NTPs. INTJs summon their inner child to alleviate boredom, stress, and tension. They regularly slip into carefree personas, often preferring to use puns and play on words to satiate Ni and Fi at the same time.
INTJs also alleviate stress by engaging in sensory activities. INTJ hobbies (unlike their work) are usually highly engaging for eyesight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. They’ll get into dancing, car racing, outdoor activities, sports, music, cooking, etc. INTJs rarely pursue intellectual/cerebral hobbies as a way of relieving stress, rather finding it to be either pointless or even counterproductive to that end. They do, however pursue knowledge out of curiosity and practical purpose as well as genuine excitement but those motives seem to be independent of stress relief. INTJs are excitable when not stressed, transitioning either into hyper focus or ‘big picture’ structuring by quickly running through a list of to-dos. Once dedicated to a project, an INTJ will see it through to the end, often going back to improve the end result even further.
But there’s more to being an INTJ than just being hyper-efficient and strategic. INTJs are also lazy.
The irony is that INTJs will often put a ton of work in at first just to make sure they don’t have to put in a ton of work later. The less repitive work, the better. Easily bored, they will replicate a process only a few times before they decide to dwindle down the steps to even fewer. Lazy shits, they are but brilliantly so.
INTJs are also sensitive.
You heard me right. I said they’re sensitive. (Are you Rationals rolling your eyes at me, yet?) Unlike INTPs, their TJ cousins cannot necessarily let criticisms and rejections roll off their backs. The reason is Tertiary Fi, which is an introspective function that evaluates its own self. INTJs, like all Fi users, tend to internalize things rather than experiencing feelings externally like Fe users. The result is that INTJs can take things far more personally than another rational type would. INTJs tend to experience social anxiety more frequently than other rational types and tend to ruminate on interactions with others more. INTJs are also intuitive in a way similar to INFJs. Though they prefer (and often demand) direct, honest communication, many INTJs are also sensitive to lies and subtle differences in behavior. Being devoted and loyal by nature, relationships are high cost/high investment endeavors and INTJs invest their emotions fully, making them hyper aware of any changes which might alert them to high risk situations where great loss is probable. INTJs handle pain in a variety ways however my observations have been that they either fight harder or they use the INFJ door slam method of pain mitigation. INTJs sulk in private until they’ve decided how they feel or at least how to proceed.
Many INTJs have described to me many times the general feeling of disassociation they have from what they care about versus what the rest of the world cares about. There is great discrepancy there leading the INTJ to feel very much like an alien visiting earth and trying to human along with all the other human earthlings. This means figuring out what appropriate emotion to have in any given situation. INTJs have feelings for sure but they are often not what the rest of the world would or should feel. This is how the INTJ sees it, anyway as they have to watch TV and movies, post on Internet forums, and ask real life people “How should I feel about this?”. They might have an inkling like “I should be mad about this.” But then they must decide if the event is worth having the emotion, using Te to ask others for their grand expertise on the subject (someone who knows how normal people act).
In this way, INTJs are essentially lifelong actors playing the role of a normal human being with normal feelings and reactions. If they were Fi-dominant Authenticators (like INFPs), they might feel weird about this too but they’re not and they don’t. They’re so used to it that many are scarcely even cognizant of it by age 30. Perhaps they’ve fully integrated with humans by that age or perhaps they’ve just developed lightening fast, memorized responses. I’m inclined to say it’s the second one.
It’s been requested and since I aim to please, here it is. While it’s exceedingly easy to parody one’s own type, it’s a bit more difficult to make fun of INFJs. In fact, I’d rather not even try. For one, they’re a lot smarter than I am…and they know all my secrets so I have to be gentle here. Secondly, they’re mysterious social chameleons who live among us like agents in the Matrix. They are everyone and they are no one (not the first geek reference and it won’t be the last so just get used to it) so how do you go about pointing out their shameless stereotypes? I’d have a much easier time if this was a post about ESFPs.
I almost always initially mistake this guy (and I say guy because they’re usually men) for an INTP. In my defense, it’s an easy mistake to make. INFJ includes Introverted Thinking (Ti) in the stack of functions; the function an INFJ uses for Thinking versus Feeling. It also happens to be the Dominant function of INTP. INFJs of this caliber like to pick careers heavily populated by Rationals and other Thinking types: Scientists, Engineers, Networking and IT, Doctors, etc. Some of them even opt for positions of leadership in the brutal, dog-eat-dog world of business and financial investments.
Unlike other NFs, INFJs can actually manage to pull this off with relatively minor collateral damage to their psyche and personal well being. How? Well, first of all, they’re hardwired to multi-task a series of tasks which collectively form the ‘big picture’. INFJs are ‘visionary’ people who aren’t terrible with the details, either. They can compute math in their heads without getting a migraine, are driven to answer philosophical questions using the tools of hard science (and money helps, too), and have excellent communication skills. They may not able be remember their own name in the process..or what day of the week it is but they sure as hell will solve the world’s energy crisis or the problem of world hunger.
The thing that makes INFJs of this type so much more interesting than all the other smarty pants of other types is that INFJs do it for completely different reasons. It’s usually not so much for the wealth, fame, glory or power. Primarily, it’s the pure altruistic passion for it. A great analogy would be how Professor Xavier from X-Men (also an INFJ) feels its his calling to use his superpower of telepathy and his genius to unite mutants and the rest of mankind. It’s less about ego and more about doing the right thing. That’s why you see INFJs of this sub-type shy away from positions of leadership despite being perfectly qualified for the job. Not only that, they also naturally garner loyalty from a fellowship of wannabe apprentices, whom they invariably treat like equals. Followers of this type don’t just love the work the INFJ does, they also sincerely love the INFJ; a phenomenon rarely seen with geniuses of other types. This sub-type loves their work but possesses neither the self-bravado nor feels the need to trample others under their oxford, suede leather, highly tasteful shoes.
The only problem with the INTP Wannabe sub-type is that they’re easily sidetracked by Extraverted Feeling (Fe) so throwing them off their game is as easy as complaining to them about your personal problems. Unlike an INTJ who really doesn’t give a shit what your boyfriend said about your weight that made you feel insecure..the INFJ actually heard you, understands how you feel, and wants to help you. He just can’t do that and save the world at the same time. Something’s gotta give and it’s either gonna be the world..or your feelings. That’s why INFJs who don’t work specifically as therapists try not to wear the therapist’s hat at work. That’ll just have to wait until 6 PM…but not before the obligatory hour/hour and a half of drinking alone at the pub across the street from the lab/office.
The Philosophical ArtistInitially, I didn’t believe it when this website claimed that Marilyn Manson was an INFJ so I did some research (for science, of course). With the assistance of elongated baths, copious amounts of wine, and an iphone streaming youtube, I proceeded to watch hours of Manson interviews where the shock rocker was permitted to speak candidly and I could analyze every nuance of what he chose to focus on, how he said it, and what it could tell me about his use of cognitive functions. Surprisingly, the INFJ guess wasn’t too far off base. It wasn’t just his signature gentle candor which convinced me. It was the conceptual ‘vision’ Manson seems to demonstrate time after time which suggests that there is more to this man’s prerogative than the thrill of controversy or the art of entertainment.
More than once, Manson described his career as a ‘mission’ for humanity; a way of holding up a ‘mirror’ to society and reflecting back to them the depravity and perverseness. That, my friends, is what I call philosophy, comparable to anything produced by the likes of Rousseau or Tolstoy. The thing about INFJ actors, musicians, writers, and artists is that each sees his/her own art seriously as something profound and more than just a form of escapism.
INFJs, like all NFs, naturally take to the arts like a duck to water but the difference is in the motive and the source of inspiration. XNFPs produce art through various mediums in order to showcase the fantastic sounds/imagery encased in their minds. It’s kind of an over-glorified form of sharing. INFJs, on the other hand, want to open the world’s mind to new ideas. Those ideas originate from the truth-seeking function, Introverted Intuition (Ni) so it’s more like teaching than sharing. By contrast, XNFPs derive inspiration from the fiction-creating function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). That’s not to say that other NF art isn’t philosophical. It’s just tends to be much more so when its source is the mind of a Ni-Dom.
If you’ve spent any significant amount of time with INFJs online like I have, you find out pretty quickly that as a whole, they’re obsessed with sex. This is shocking, considering that we typically view INFJs as the (seemingly) sanctimonious do-gooders of the MBTI world. There is nary an INFJ forum, group, or website out there that isn’t positively laden with posts about sexual connection and links to articles on fetishes/tricks and otherwise sexual debauchery. The very same type which claims Jesus Christ and Mahatma Ghandi as one of their own also delves shamelessly into every aspect of human mating habits. In fact, they are experts at it…sexperts.
I bring this sub-type up because it stands in stark contrast to XNFPs, who rarely broach the subject and when they do, it’s usually just to say something like “It’s nice if you have a real connection with someone.” and they leave it at that. INFJs, on the other hand, possess a notable preoccupation with sex. Interestingly enough, however, they make it very clear that they don’t engage in casual sex. They insist that they don’t go to bars and wake up in a stranger’s bed, wearing a strap-on and someone else’s t-shirt. They tell me the Swingers lifestyle of promiscuity is for Sensor types. Sex without emotional connection is the ultimate (and only) taboo of the INFJ ilk. But if you happen to be an INFJ’s chosen soul mate, prepare yourself to be amazed, they tell me. I don’t know if they study anatomy textbooks, watch a lot of instructional porn, or just have a natural knack for sensuality but if you have a Loveline type of question, there’s an INFJ with an answer.
So is this an actual subset of INFJs or this some kind of secret side to all INFJs that we just don’t get to normally see at work or in casual friendships? For science, I purchased and read the erotic series of a very well known INFJ author, Anne Rice. Her Sleeping Beauty series under the pen name Anne Rampling as well as her 1985 erotica novel Exit To Eden are so gratuitously laden with fetish fantasy that they make 50 Shades looks like children’s novels.
Pre-dating 50 Shades by 20 years, most of it entails the same dominant/submissive theme with bondage and mind games. The writing itself is far superior and it’s characters are more fluid with their sexual orientation; intermittently engaging in sexual activities with the same sex without stigma or pretense. What’s even more interesting is the mixture of pain and pleasure, teasing through humiliation, and the switching of roles from dominant to submissive and vice versa. Of course, the main characters also become emotionally attached to each other, which serves as the true climax of the story. You see, for INFJs, sex and emotional attachment are irrevocably intertwined so these stories really couldn’t go any other way. Just when you think INFJs are the most perverted human beings out there, they introduce a true romance element to it; the converging of two souls, if you will, making the world of kink palatable for the rest of us.
I’ve mentioned before that throughout history, INFJs have served as oracles, prophets, shamans, and chiefs of human tribes. I suspect this goes back as far as there have been humans. Even when we were hunter/gatherers, someone had to lead the spiritual journey and tell the old stories of the ancestors. That someone was the INFJ.
INFJs make the ideal spiritual leader because A: they seem to know everything and B: they are gentle, confident, and reassuring. Before we had things like physics, geology, math, psychology, and western medical science, we needed some explanation for the phenomenons of the natural world. Ni would have looked like magic to people who didn’t have any other explanation for pattern recognition capabilities. It’s been said many times before that INFJs seem wise beyond their years. As children, INFJs are the shy, calm ones who precociously develop bonds with adults and encourage their peers to come to mature, diplomatic understanding between each other.
As they grow older, this knack for harmony develops even stronger and takes on a more esoteric quality. By the time they’re old, INFJs seem positively ancient, like the very trees they meditate under. People naturally gravitate towards INFJs for exceptionally wise advice and for good reason. If you come to an INFJ with a problem, they already know what you’re going to ask and have already analyzed all the possible outcomes and seen the consequences of your actions. What they advise you to do will be the most reasonable and morally righteous course of action which will spare the most suffering and preserve the good karma of your soul, invariably. Very few who have taken the advice of an INFJ to heart have regretted it and for this reason, INFJs are everyday prophets.
While all INFJs have some proclivity for being sage, some are more prophet-like than others. Throughout history, there have been a few notable INFJs of this variety, including the one we define time itself by his birth and death: Jesus Christ. The Son of God was most definitely an INFJ, which raises the question of whether or not he really was the Son of God (or God Himself) or if he was just an especially influential Ni-User (I’m open to both possibilities). Jesus walked, talked, and prophesied like an INFJ duck. Most telling, his style of leadership shows us what kind of person he really was. He’s described as washing the feet of his followers, breaking bread with them (which he miraculously produced out of thin air), fishing with them, and even working as a damn lowly carpenter. What kind of extremely important, self-proclaimed King of Heaven with mystical, God-like powers and tons of influence makes furniture for a living? An INFJ, that’s who. Because although they are rare and extremely important people, they still have the attitude of a servant and a penchant for DIY projects.
Which brings me to my next point about this sub-type. With the exception of Jesus and Buddha, they are rarely, if ever, rich or famous. They usually work behind the scenes and are greatly under-appreciated. Today, the Prophet typically works in the field of Psychology or as a Life Coach. Some don’t even do that but they are a prophet in their own, small way in their tight circle of friends and family. Wealth, fame, and glory fall decidedly low on the priority list of true Prophet sub-types since they have the humility to live moderately and quietly as equals among their people. So even though they are far superior to others in terms of intelligence, talent, and spiritual understanding, they go too often uncelebrated and go without the endowment of society’s fame and fortune. They do, however, win the “Employee Of the Month” certificate and have primo parking spaces.
The Creme de la Femme
Years ago, I walked into an office for a job interview and noticed a young woman behind the front desk with her tits practically popping out of her bright yellow blouse. “How do you get away with that?” I asked her out of curiosity, hoping she wouldn’t take offense to my frank question. As someone with a Journalist’s personality, I tend to throw people off by digging for answers from total strangers with borderline rude questions.
“Actually, my boss likes me so she doesn’t care.” She replied, thankfully haven taken no offense (and apparently having read my mind). “She?” I parroted.”Your boss is a woman and she doesn’t care?” I was extremely curious. How did she manage to not offend a female boss with obvious cleavage in the workplace? The answer, I found out over the years, was that this young woman, (we’ll call her Chelsea) could get away with such things because A: it’s part of her charm and B: she’s such a likable person that even the most insecure, jealous, catty women out there find her disarming. That young woman started as a receptionist making $17.50 an hour and climbed her way up into Operations, running grant programs and helping kick-start manufacturing facilities in less than five years. She’s organized, she’s helpful, she’s calm under duress, she’s charming..she’s an INFJ. She’s also a friend of mine.
Chelsea is a sub-type of female INFJ I like to call “Creme de la Femme”. She is by far the most feminine woman I’ve ever met in my life. She’s owned and embraced her gender and embodies it with purpose. The tight dresses and high heels are more than just about personal enjoyment; they’re a source of power. If you were born a woman in a man’s world, according to her philosophy, then you might as well use it to your advantage.
And she does..with some gusto. It’s earned her work connections, promotions, the love and trust of everyone around her and positive male attention. Luckily for me, she gave me a few pointers on being female that I’ve taken to heart which is good because at the time, I dressed more like a ten-year-old boy.
So here’s some tips as taught to me by my friend Chelsea:
- Grow your hair out long: and keep it down. Spend the requisite hour/hour and a half every morning to curl it, straighten it, whatever. I don’t always do this because my hair is pretty damn awesome even without all that. The thing about this is that it’s like leveling your feminine prowess from 5 to 25 at least. Men like long hair. It’s a fact. They don’t mind your cute pixie cut but long hair is a readily recognizable statement of femininity.
- Wear dresses: preferably tight and curve hugging with lots of cleavage, though sundresses will also do the trick. Women don’t wear dresses anymore and that’s a shame because it’s the dresses which help empower us.
- Wear heels: this is a tough one for me because I can almost never justify buying another pair of shoes to myself but it’s a must. Keep it simple: 3 inch heels in tan, black, and red. One pair of wedge sandals and a couple of pairs of ballet flats to give your poor feetsies a break. Ballet flats are also great for making sure you’re not taller than the short men around you. Being taller is a no-go unless the image you want to present is that of intimidation.
- Smell nice: I fuck this one up all the time, either by overdoing it or not doing it at all. The key is a light scent which can be picked up if someone within 6-8 inches of you..not when they’re two hallways down from your office.
- Enjoy the girly things: go ahead and wear florals and pinks and other pastels. I prefer green myself simply because it goes well with my hair. Plan a gorgeous decorating scheme for each of the rooms of your house, inspired by a favorite antique. Go shopping. Get your nails done and have the Korean ladies do some fun little design with an airbrush and tiny plastic gems. Watch youtube videos on how to create a ‘smokey’ eye look and let your friends marvel at your flawless blending technique. Be shamelessly feminine in lots of other small ways as well. My friend Chelsea doesn’t simply write with a black ballpoint pen..she writes with a pink pen with plastic flowers taped to it. Combined with a bunch of pens, they make a pretty bouquet of flower pens in a little vase on her desk. She’s also an avid Disney and Sailor Moon fan. No apologies.
- Smile: I know it sounds stupid simple and perhaps even a bit contrived but smiling at people tends make them like you a bit more. This is coming straight from the Fe-User horse’s mouth, no pun intended. Extraverted Feelers know how to make other people happy so I’m going to take their word for it.
- Be assertive..but only when you have to be: believe me when I say Chelsea has no problem being assertive when she has to be but for the most part, she’s pretty easy going and non-judgmental about most things. Learn to pick your battles and when you do decide to pick one, make sure it’s important enough to be battling over. This is essential, especially for dealing with men. Men tend be nicer, treat you with more respect, and want to do things for you when you’re not constantly trying to challenge them. Imagine that. It’s the lost art of being a woman. You’re more powerful when you’re mostly kind but also willing to stick up for yourself.
INFPs are generally described in key buzz words which are supposed to somehow encapsulate the broad spectrum of idiosyncrocies. Words like “Dreamer” and “Idealist” come to mind. If you googled INFP, the first thing Personalitypage.com will tell you is that INFPs have a rich inner world and care more about people than the average folk. It also says that we have trouble dealing with reality and logic. While all these things are true in the abstract, I just want to make it clear that our stack of cognitive functions operate so paradoxically that what churns up tends to manifest in different people differently, making for a bunch of interesting types of INFPs who are a product of their environment and their particular habits. Here are the different types of INFPs (as I see them). Yes, they are somewhat caricaturized but that’s generally how all my posts about people play out so just take it all in stride. If you are an INFP, you may find yourself fitting neatly into one of these categories or you may find pieces of yourself, all sides of the same coin (if the coin is basically a hexagon).
The Fish Out of Water INFP
We all know this guy (or girl). He’s the INFP friend who has no idea that he is an INFP or that he’s not supposed to be like other people. He’s always super awkward and out of place, as though he were an alien transplanted into a world of gregarious, every day humans and is trying desperately to emulate those around him and fit in. What ensues is absolute hilarity, since INFPs, when uncomfortable in social situations, tend to act inappropriately or comically. INFPs are so full of depth and hidden meaning that they just don’t know how to cope with their own feelings about the world around them.
INFPs that face failure in the real world tend to get down on themselves, living in a state of paralysis and self-concious inadequacy. Annie from Bridesmaids seems to be one of these INFPs who has failed so hardcore in her life that she accepts less than nice treatment from partners and roommates, feels insecure in her friendships, and absolutely HATES her job. She can’t even get the tail light in her car fixed. A failed Idealist is ultimately a failed human in every aspect. Luckily for Annie, she’s also a pretty nice and accepting person and the people in her life who care about her end up pulling through for her. In a way, the story of Annie is the story of all INFPs; a story about finding meaning in one’s own life and being able to reach out to those around you for help in finding that meaning.
Fringe of Society INFPs
There’s a lot of variations of this type depending on what specific books, comic books, movies, games, counterculture, art, music, and shows they’re into. One thing they all have in common is that they all live in a colorful fantasy world from which they refuse to emerge, even for practical reasons. A lot of these people don’t have jobs and if they do, they’re not normal jobs that will cover living expenses. As a result, most of these types tend to be teenagers who live with their parents or young adults living with several roommates. Some are college students without jobs that require their hair to be a normal color and others work as tattoo artists, hairstylists, and other such careers that allow them to look like a cartoon.
The interesting thing about this type is their pure dedication to fantasy. You see these people on shows like Taboo, talking about what it means to be a real life human cat or live in the forest and eat fruit out of people’s garbages. Their disconnection from reality is rather extreme but admirable in a way. While some INFPs fret about savings accounts, careers, and other pragmatic things, these INFPs have learned to stop giving a fuck about what society wants and they just go for it. Of course, it doesn’t earn any brownie points from society when you go out in public with a purple tail and launch campaigns to save the unicorns but if it’s your thing, who cares what anyone else thinks?
The IT/Gamer INFP
Here’s a subtype that is commonly mistaken for their Rational friends, INTP and INTJ. This type is a unique type of INFP because they’re largely influenced by Thinkers and as such, have adapted a proclivity for all things IT, mechanical, electrical, and RPG. What’s more is that they tend to see themselves as “Intellectuals” rather than humanitarians or architects of fantasy. While this INFP walks, talks, and acts like a Rational duck, they’re still not a duck primarily because their motivations are still centered around personal values and people. What’s more is that these particular INFPs have more of a sense of aesthetics than an INTP or INTJ typically would, which generally manifests as some kind of high tech art. If INTPs and INTJs are the gaming programmers creating maps and aggro algorithims, INFPs are the conceptual designers and artists creating the characters and storylines. This type of INFP also has a sentimentality towards technology which Rationals generally don’t have. One described his soul as “being one with the computer”, citing that he feels most centered and at home in the server room. While Rationals love their machines, they don’t generally think in those terms. They are more about the puzzle and the challenge, not so much about the human..er..machine experience.
The Lazy Writer
Some of the smartest and most gifted INFPs, this is one that also can’t be bothered with ambition or consistency in anything. They are deep, well-intentioned, and can hold eternally interesting conversations about anything, impressing you with their expansive knowledge and wordy and pretentious vernacular. This is the type of INFP to go off about the particulars of integration of Asocism and Egalitarianism in the modern Atheist paradigm. They’re like intellectual hipsters, arguing why the mainstream interpretation of Austrian economics is so passe’ and they’ve evolved their stance to exclude many of the writings of Milton Friedman in order to preserve its ideological integrity (don’t ask me how I know this). They’ve developed excellent debate skills, when they can manage to keep their emotions under control, partially because they’re obsessive INFPs and partially because they’re good at confusing ordinary people.
The problem with this type is that even though they have good ideas..no, they have great ideas..they’re still not really going anywhere with their lives. All they can do is write prose and get themselves worked up, without ever having published anything or done anything in any real sense. Somehow, they just float through life, living on caffeine, cigarettes, and xanax, waxing poetically and feeling intellectually and ideologically superior to everyone else. The few that manage to actually do something become legends (usually posthumously) and the rest…well, they have blogs. *pulls up scarf to obscure face*
Joan of Arc INFPs
The most noble of INFPs, these ones can be described as having something of a Joan of Arc complex. They are humanitarian minded and self-sacrificial. Some might even say that they’re martyrs in a sense. Joan of Arc INFPs (or JOAs for short) just care so much and so badly want to help others, to the point in which they’re willing to sacrifice their own comfort, material posessions, safety, and well being for their cause. They’re usually very idealistic about their goals, even if they don’t make sense “I want to feed every starving child on earth”. While that all sounds wonderful, this type rarely considers exentuating factors which might undermine their goals, you know, like logic, political and environmental influences or even..I don’t know…personal choices. But none of that matters because it’s not even the goal per se which matters but the efforts which are extended to meet those goals. Every little bit counts, right?
You can tell a JOA because they’re shy and soft-spoken nurturer types like ISFJs, except globally minded as opposed to being purely family-oriented. They’re usually members of the Peace Corp. or the Red Cross and if they’re not building schools in Guatemala, feeding children in Calcutta, or serving as a Peace Ambassador in Benghazi, they’re doing something else humanitarian like counseling/therapy or saving animals or the environment. They’re the sweetest and most likable of INFPs, with an open mind and just a touch of quiet self-loathing and neurosis in order to be interesting. They’re loyal and supportive in their personal relationships and passionate, sometimes even subversive in their public persona. Because JOAs are so popular, this can introduce a dynamic to the INFP personality which most INFPs don’t ever have to deal with in their lifetimes. They have to thwart affection from others while at the same time, embrace it. JOAs are forced to establish boundaries between themselves and other people in order to restore balance and preserve their precious privacy without being cold and violating the humanitarian principle. Matters become ten times worse when the INFP is also physically attractive. This can make for a particularly stressed, frazzled INFP that ends up relying on the under-developed structure of Te and becoming internally conflicted as a result. Heavy hangs the head which wears the humanitarian crown.
Metaphysical INFPs are the close cousin of JOAs in that they utterly ignore practical logic for idealistic reasons. These INFPs are into everything Rationals typically find ridiculous: religion, spirituality, astrology, numerology, chinese astrology, MBTI typeology, enneagram, fortune cards, palm readings, crystals, chi energy, law of attraction, yoga, meditation, you name it. This INFP is into it. Why are some INFPs into this stuff? Because they’re all compelling tools to use for a harmony and balance, something INFPs hold sacred. Think of this way, the Jedi of Star Wars relies on a duality of light and dark forces to guide their way through life and develop their powers. Such is the way for INFPs, who utilize symbols and belief systems to do the same.
While INFPs are rarely religious fundamentalists, I think its fair to say that most are instrinsically spiritual. In fact, they tend to prefer the metaphysical and humanitarian spiritualism over religious fundamentalism. Why? Because religious ferver in major religions like Islam and Christianity are more SJ territory in that they are clearly defined by a set of rules and principles, powered by unwavering obedience without question. This tends to offend INFP sensibilities because it doesn’t make case-by-case allowances for the rejected, the unsavory, or the disenfranchised. The black and white dichotomy which emphasizes one or the other, instead of the balance of yin and yang works contrary to the inner strive for balance which is present in virtually all INFPs. Religious fundamentalism is an open-shut case without room for other possibilities. Even when INFPs are religious, they still like to keep their options open.
Which brings me to crystals and palm readings all that other crap. While INFPs pick and choose what they want to believe in or reject, some are just more inclined to it than others. This is where you get the yogis and the variation of JOAs who travel to Buddhist temples and surrender their lives to the discipline of achieving Nirvana. Among the INFJs, I could see an INFP resigning themselves to long periods of fasting and meditation to achieve the ultimate spiritual enlightenment. It would be a very INFP thing to do, which is why I’ve included this subtype in this blog.
This is pretty much what everyone thinks of when they think of INFPs. They picture someone wearing black and feverishly writing dark poetry with a pistol in their other hand or musicians writing a soulful piece before slicing their wrists open. We tend to think of INFPs as being talented and deep but whiny and self-destructive. Not that there isn’t some truth to the stereotype but its a little more complicated than that. INFPs which dedicate themselves to the arts, be it music, art, or writing, tend to be self-indulgently dark, yes, this is true. But I’ve known some INFP artists and they’re actually quite optimistic but that optimism is notably tempered with conflict. What do I mean by that?
Let’s just take Kurt Cobain for instance. We all know he committed suicide. Well, some say Courtney Love conspired with assassins and anti-semites to get rid of Kurt and take his money but that’s another story. For the bulk of Kurt’s life, he wasn’t particularly known for being “dark”, at least not by the people who actually knew him. A more apt description for him would be sentimental and perfectionist. He was sentimental about life and other people and demanded of himself, complete authenticity and originality. INFPs commonly describe themselves as “perfectionists” due to their relationship with their inferior function, Te which demands perfection as Fi sees it.
Contrary to popular myth, it wasn’t Kurt’s authenticity or his demand for perfection which killed him. It was drugs, plain and simple. An INFP can be conflicted and an artist with a mission without going balls to the wall self-destructive. Drugs usually do that job. They do that by destroying your body, your mind, and your spirit. They make you vulnerable, they exaggerate every personal demon you’ve ever had and they destroyed Kurt and Edgar Allen Poe and Jim Morrison despite their natural inclination to love art and a life lived for art. Don’t mistake an INFP for the drugs that ruined them. Also, don’t blame Courtney Love…or do…as long as you have irrefutable proof.
A little known fact about William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is that it wasn’t just the greatest love story of all time. It was the love story because it was written by an INFP, about two INFPs, for INFPs. INFPs are by far the most romantic personality type on the spectrum and I don’t mean in a conventional dinner, wine and candles sort of way. I mean in a I will fucking die for you sort of way. In other words, they are intense. While some INFPs are content to write, make music, and live alone with their four cats, others are all about finding and keeping not just a partner but a soulmate, someone to connect with and “get this drift” as Alanis Morisette would say.
To a Romantic, all partners are not created equal. There is someone special out there for you and they were destined to fall into your arms and love you forever, unconditionally. But because INFPs are so reserved, you won’t necessarily know you’re dealing with a Romantic until suddenly, out pours a tidal wave of depth and emotion which is great if you feel the same way and really, really bad if you’re like most people and you approach love gradually, with cautious optimism. Though everyone loves the idea of a impassioned romance, few have the gall to be as impractical and inappropriate about it as an INFP. They can’t help it, they just have so much feeling inside them that it’s bursting to get out.
In truth, INFPs just really like to feel intensely because that means you’re alive and everyone wants to feel alive. They can derive that intensity of emotion from any source, be it a book, a song, a piece of art, a situation, or a romantic partner. It’s just that some INFPs are more inclined to be more romantic towards another person than other sources. While the INFP believes that he or she has found “the one” and is convinced that “the one” is the only option they can accept, the truth is that INFPs are far less discriminating than that. You know how many “The One”s there are out there? Probably millions, that’s how many and it can change from person to person throughout a lifetime. Still, you wouldn’t know it because an INFP will convince you that you are the most special human being on earth and the Gods themselves ordained you special. I don’t think that really makes it any less true, it’s just that the reality of relationships and reconciling differences can dim the fires of the INFP passion in a hurry. What it breaks down to is that INFPs are the firestarters and initiators of romantic relationships, bringing passion and spontaneity to them while others tend to stabilize the relationship, making it more fit for long-term success. At least, that’s probably how it should be. Can you imagine if Romeo and Juliet actually lived and got married and had to live with each other? I don’t think they could sustain on passion alone, they’d have to dig into some other INFP resources to make that one last. And as long as you know how to be considerate, warm, supportive, respectful, and communicate well and yes, feed the flames of passion, that shouldn’t be a problem.
They’ve been called a lot of things: The Unicorn, The Special Snowflake, The Oracle, The Protector, The Physic, The Counselor. But whatever you want to call the rarest 1% of the population, it’s hard to deny that they’re the most elusive type among us. In fact, it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that no one is actually an INFJ but in their own deluded, self-aggrandizing minds. MBTI buffs, particularly of the NF variety, love to self-efface from the vague descriptions online and wave the INFJ flag. That’s precisely why, whenever someone who is unfamiliar with the MBTI tool and cognitive functions takes the test in front of me and gets the INFJ result, I take astute interest in them.
Are you actually an INFP?
The thing I always want to know first is ‘Are you actually an INFP?’. Why? Because INFPs frequently mistakes themselves for an INFJ. First of all, INFJs and INFPs are really, really similar in appearance and by appearance, I mean they take on the same mannerisms, tend to behave the same ways, and reach the same conclusions. They’re also the two most frequently misunderstood NFs (Introverted Feelers). The reason why is a bit complicated and has a lot to do with how cognitive functions work. Without getting into the boring details, INFPs (understandably) mistake the fact they lead with a Judging function (Fi) with being a Judging type. This isn’t the case, however, for reasons which are even more complicated and involved and I don’t care to make your eyes cross by getting into the mumbo jumbo of how functions work together. If you really want to know what the difference is between INFJ and INFP, it’s discussed in great length here. If you’re still confused, this test will give you a better clue if you’re torn between the two.
INFJs Are Not Who You Think They Are
It’s true. They’re social chameleons, like Mystique from X-Men, they can observe and take on the shape and form (behaviors and mannerisms) of any other type. At work, INFJs may look like INTPs (laid back geniuses) and socially, they may resemble ENFPs (charismatic idealists) or ESFJs (social organizers). Actually, they can seem like any type, depending on which side of their multi-faceted, multi-layered personality they want to show you in whichever social context you happen to be in. You may even think an INFJ is your type, since they like to frequently use the social tool called ‘mirroring’, which is basically observing and copying your mannerisms in order to gain rapport with you. For this reason and a lot of others, INFJs are notoriously difficult to type. The only sure way to know is to have someone take the test and confirm that they are an INFJ. You will be surprised to find who is actually an INFJ. I like to think that I know people pretty well and I still tend to miss identifying true INFJs.
INFJs Can Predict The Future
Well…kind of. Actually, it’s that they lead with the most mysterious function, Ni (Introverted Intuition) which is able to instantly make connections; both past, present and use them to establish patterns, which will produce knowledge of the most likely outcomes. INTJs also have this ability but in a different context. For those of you who play video games, it’s kind of like this: two classes may have the same abilities (for example, close combat melee weapons) but one class masters dueling swords while the other uses a broadsword. That’s kind of how cognitive functions work for types: INFJs and INTJs both use instant connections to establish patterns and determine likely outcomes..but the INFJ is an expert in determining what people will do whereas INTJs are better at determining what logical events will happen.
If you want to know, at any given point, what a person will likely do when put into X situation, ask an INFJ. They will be right about 97% of the time. That’s because INFJs understand people almost instantly and on the deepest level you can conceive. INFJs build a multi-layered, subconscious profile on everyone that comes into contact with them. This ‘profile’ is not something consciously done or even understood by the INFJ but rather, it’s a function which operates in an automated way: kind of like your body’s circulatory, limbic, and metabolic systems. You don’t have to tell your body to breathe. It just does. So it is with INFJs and their people-related connections. They just know people, inside and out and since events are often caused by or related to human behavior in some way, INFJs often give the impression that they can predict events like an INTJ. Remove the human element from the equation however, and you’ll find that INFJs are less adept at this particular brand of foreboding. Now, this isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. I’ll use the analogy of a video game, specifically a Role Playing Game. If the task or duty at hand requires you to the desired knowledge or reaction out of other players or NPCs, then you would want to switch your character into the INFJ class. If the task or duty involves understanding non-human systems (engineering or IT comes to mind), then you’ll want to switch your character into the INTJ class. Both classes can do each other’s jobs with relative efficiency but if you want the extra advantage, you’ll want the class that specializes in one or the other.
INFJs are Psychic
Again…only kind of.There’s a good reason INFJs are frequently appointed in tribes throughout history and around the world as the Shaman or the Healer. In modern, western civilization, INFJs often work as counselors, therapists, coaches, and other occupations which serve as the go-to person for a wide variety of human problems. INFJs are basically emotional sponges.What does that mean exactly? Well, a lot of types can develop abilities which center around reading body language and listening for inflections in tone and manners in speech. NF empaths, in particular, are sensitive to the emotions of others and have the ability to cross-reference their own to correctly identify emotions (like INFPs do). INFJs, however, are by far the most natural at this. They are literally like a sponge. They absorb the emotions of others in their raw state in real time. This ability is vastly different than that of the INFP, which can only make self-effaced (albeit highly accurate) guesses. INFJs literally feel what you feel and they feel it exactly at the moment that you’re feeling it and most shockingly, sometimes even before you know you’re feeling it. The reason is a unique combination of Dominant Ni and Auxillary Fe (Extraverted Feeling). It’s the perfect storm of functions which allows INFJs to ‘take the emotional temperature’ of others and use Ni pattern recognition to correctly identify their emotional state and respond accordingly.
Another reason INFJs seem to be psychic is that they are simply better listeners. Yes, I’m generalizing here but it’s true. INFJs are the best listeners. The reason, again, is explained by having Ni as a dominant function. Ni is a perceiving function which takes in information. It’s primarily an input system rather than an output system. Because of this, INFJs often seem passive and non-reactive. They are constantly observing and listening, generally responding with open-ended questions, reflective dialogue, and only answering questions when directly asked. Any counselor or therapist worth their salt will tell you the value of ‘reflecting’ another person’s feelings and information back to them. Conversations with INFJs are often one-sided and peppered with frequent bits of validation like “I see how you could feel that way” or “That must have been really hard for you” or the classic “Tell me more.” INFJs are focused on you and want to know more about you. You’ll learn a lot more about other people if you ask to listen and more importantly, to understand. Most types struggle to listen to truly understand. It’s a self-absorbed world out there; with everyone clamoring over each other to get a word in, talking over each other, or simply just waiting for their turn to speak. With everyone focused in on themselves, it’s little wonder why INFJs have more knowledge of what’s going on than everyone else. As far as I know, that’s not a psychic phenomenon so much as just simple logic. Not to say that INFJs couldn’t be psychic, I’m sure a lot of them are…but that’s on a whole other level.
INFJs are Nice
This leads me to the next generalization that I’m going to boldly make. INFJs are nice..generally speaking. There’s really two levels to this: individual and global idealism. On an individual level, I just explained that INFJs are basically emotional vampires who absorb the emotions of others. I can’t emphasize that enough, since it actually means that your emotions literally become their own. In other words, if an INFJ hurts you, they’re also hurting themselves…so they’re going to do everything they can to avoid hurting you. This is how INFJs got the label ‘Protectors’ since they protect the hell out of your feelings. INFJs are also highly driven by the motive to ‘help’ others, often rescuing disenfranchised souls and homeless animals. That cliche novel or movie about a perfectly well-adjusted guy bringing home a hooker to give her a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, and attempting to help her get out of the life on the streets…that’s about an INFJ.
Perhaps even more important is the concept of global idealism, which INFJs, and NFs in general, are famous for. INFJs truly do want to make the world a better place for people (and/or other living things). This global outreach entails an inner value system with its own set of rules which are prioritized from the core (most important) and taper out to lesser values (less important). An INFJ’s inner value system is a paradox to their seemingly passive, gentle, observant nature because it is rigid, adamant, and possesses the highest standards for what an individual INFJ considers ‘moral’. INFJs, generally speaking, are primarily concerned with one thing: doing the right thing. It’s their modus operandi. It’s their prime directive, if you will (Star Trek fans, anyone?). It’s the secret ingredient of the INFJ’s personality makeup and it completely explains why they lack ego, balk at superficiality, act with caution, and getting back to the subject at hand…that’s also why they’re nice.
INFJs are Assholes
This is also true. In fairness, all types are assholes and some just have a series of personal habits which create a combined sum of excessive assholerly. But allow me to clarify that I just mean that when an INFJ decides to be an asshole, this is the particular way he/she goes about it:
For the very same reason INFJs are nice, they’re also assholes. They know everything about you (with a positive inflection) and they know everything about you (negative inflection). That can be a bad thing. Imagine if everything an INFJ has on you (which is a lot) were to be used to turn the tables on you. It can happen..and it does. INFJs are plenty assertive when they need to be. The following is a list of things sure to piss off an INFJ:
- Bullying/being mean to someone they care about. – The other reason INFJs are called “protectors”. If you’re going to be cruel, thoughtless, or unfair towards someone that an INFJ really cares about, you’re going to have a bad time.
- Dishonesty – INFJs fucking hate liars. It’s really best to be honest with an INFJ..since they know the truth, anyway. In fact, if you do lie, they’ll let you keep speaking just to see how far you’re willing to go with it. Also, being vague and/or short with your responses or omitting pertinent information is tantamount to lying to an INFJ since the motive is deception.
An honorable mention is superficiality, which is really more of a pet peeve or an annoyance than an actual trigger. Aside from that, violating personal boundaries or values will put you on the shit list. But since they’re too individualistic, I’m not going to try to list them here. So what happens when you make an INFJ mad? Well, of course, there’s a spectrum of reactions which are unique to the situation and I’ll attempt to categorize them according to anecdotal information I’ve acquired from several dozen INFJs:
- The Door Close – This happens for various reasons. It could mean an offended INFJ or perhaps just an exhausted/conflicted INFJ. This is when they unceremoniously place a lot of emotional/physical/psychological distance between you and them. Also known as the ‘Door Slightly Ajar’ or the ‘Door Gently Closed’.
- The Door Slam – The infamous INFJ door slam is when you’ve been shut out completely from existence, often without explanation.
- The Button Pushing/Door Slam – Rarely used. When an INFJ becomes infuriated and spiteful and decides to draw upon their vast expanse of knowledge of all your deepest, darkest insecurities and use them against you with deadly precision. They use Tertiary Ti (Introverted Thinking) to locate the exact, right words to say and the exact, right things to do/not do which will hurt you the most. Usually followed by the door slam. Always highly regretted maneuver.
- The Quietly Judgmental Detective – Asking open-ended questions to determine if you’re lying and if so, just how bad of a lying sack of shit you are. Usually accompanied by laser death eyes and a surly, judgmental look.
- The Disappointed Mother/Father – Guaranteed to make you feel like shit. This is what happens when you disappoint the person you really like and admire. INFJs are really good at letting you know that they think just a little less of you..and that’s so much worse than anger.
INFJs Are Complicated
If you like human puzzles, INFJs are right up your alley. Remember that emotional sponge thing I mentioned earlier? Imagine having that ability and not being able to turn it off. There is no on and off switch for being absorbent. This is why warm-hearted, sincerely interested INFJs suddenly withdraw from you without explanation. For them, it can be exhausting to be around other people. The only way to truly escape inheriting the emotions of others is to get away from people entirely, which explains the beguiling push-pull behavior. INFJs are hot and cold, never seeming to approach you in the same, exact way twice. At their core, INFJs yearn to be around other people, to be understood, and appreciated. But they also shoulder the responsibility/burden of caring about all the souls they encounter and always doing the right thing. It’s the weight of the world, resulting a low-level baseline of stress that is omnipresent, only to be temporarily relieved by solitary processing or true understanding by another.
INFJs Are Deep and Sensitive
Probably my favorite thing about INFJs; they’re deep. There’s no discussion too deep for an INFJ and no judgment passed if you’d rather be discussing the meaning of life than the caloric content of your lunch. INFJs are all about emotional connection and the meaningful exchange of ideas. Most significantly, INFJs crave the deepest connection with someone that can possibly be attained. INFJs learn at a young age what most people start realizing much later on, which is that its better to have a few quality relationships in life than a large quantity of casual acquaintances and fair weather friends. Despite being naturally popular people, INFJs don’t crave or seek attention from the masses. Depth can only be established one on one and each relationship is seen as a large emotional investment to be taken seriously.
The inner world of an INFJ is sentimental, poetic, and highly idealistic, no matter how he/she appears to be from the outside. There’s a innate sense of self-preservation and secretiveness that is associated with the type, since they’re highly sensitive to mockery and rejection. INFJs don’t share unless they know for sure that you aren’t going to hurt them. Their own personal feelings, which so rarely see the light of day, are deep and intense that if they were entrusted with the wrong person, it would be devastating. I vaguely recall a quote that someone said (and I’m probably butchering this quote) “If you want to know how someone wants to be loved, observe the way they choose to love others”. I believe that to be true for INFJs as well. Somewhere, deep down inside, they wish someone would do for them the same that they constantly do for the rest of the world.