INFPs are idealists. We’re feelers and we’re lovers. This sentimental side is a beautiful thing and can lead to some phenomenal friendships and relationships.
That said, these connections don’t come without some significant challenges. Although these struggles aren’t exclusive to this introverted Myers-Briggs personality type, my fellow INFPs will no doubt feel them deeply. So, here are four of them. INFP, can you relate?
Friendship Struggles of the INFP
1. The strange disconnect of mixing your friend groups
As an INFP, you have a unique and individual relationship with each of your friends. That’s not to say you aren’t genuine with them, because for INFPs, authenticity is paramount. But what this does mean is you tailor your communication styles to appease the folks you’re with.
Here’s an example. As an INFP myself, I have VERY different friends. One fella is a class-act farm boy who loves the simple things in life. We get on well, and will spend hours down by the river chewin’ tobacco, having a beer, and just chatting about life. With him, my “country side” comes to the surface, and even though we’re very different people, we relate to one another incredibly well.
I think our friendship works because we INFPs are so in-tune with feelings that we can easily gauge how people receive us. Naturally, we want to grow those relationships and empower the people around us.
Another extremely close friend of mine is a well-put-together, “proper” gal. She has her head on straight and is very responsible and mature. With her, the tobacco never comes out, and we relate to each other on a totally different level. We have meaningful and deep conversations, but rather than my “county side,” a more “proper” side of me gets channeled.
My ability to read her well helps develop our relationship as I connect and build her trust in me, and vice versa. These different sides of me are both authentic, but they come to light in different scenarios or settings.
The challenge comes when both of these friends are in the same setting. As an INFP, having contradictory sides to my personality is fairly normal, but to most people, it makes little sense.
So how do you appease both friends and be genuine with them at the same time? Well, frankly, you can’t, but you work to find a middle ground, probably feeling some internal conflict in the process. In other words, allow both sides of you to show, but dial back the extremes. As an INFP, this is exhausting, because you no longer feel authentic, which is one of your central guiding forces.
But you will make it through the night, and you’ll build all your relationships as you find a more authentic middle ground over time. Make sure to schedule some downtime the next day to be alone and recharge.
2. When you doubt your friends’ intentions
After straddling the aforementioned middle ground, a new challenge may arise: As you begin questioning your own authenticity, you likely withdraw. This will inevitably lead to you feeling alone amongst your friends. If they don’t reach out or try to understand what’s going on, you may spiral into doubting their intentions.
And the problem is, they probably won’t reach out in the ways you would want them to, because as an INFP, you have an idealistic and feelings-based approach that most others do not understand. This can be a challenge to INFPs and even cause serious damage to their relationships.
At one point, I started doubting the intentions of the “put-together” gal I mentioned earlier. I pulled back from her for about three months, and because she’s more logical than perceptive, no fruitful conversations came from this. It strained our friendship and took a lot of time spent alone on my end to understand why I was having such a hard time with our friendship. To remedy this, I had to lay it all on the line.
It can be very hard for INFPs to let people past their inner walls; we are introverts, after all. But if the friend is close enough to you, the only way to preserve that relationship is to show them that vulnerability. If they are true friends, they will hear and listen to what you have to say. They may not completely understand where you’re coming from, but a real friend will support it. This was exactly what happened to me and my close friend.
3. Feeling incredibly vulnerable
Now that’s great, you’ve reached a new level of connection with those who are closest to you, and you overcame the hurdles of mixing your friend groups. But beware, INFP, there are still some challenging obstacles to overcome.
Once you invite people into the most vulnerable parts of yourself, you will be walking a fine line. INFPs are deep, deep feelers. This means you may start to feel insecure about the friendship once you reach this level of trust. Although INFPs are generally quite independent, it is very easy for them to confuse vulnerability with dependency.
With my particular friend, because I had let her into my inner world, she knew my deepest insecurities and worries. As a supportive friend, she encouraged me to keep her in the loop with my troubles, and talk about my life. I thought that’s how a deep friendship was supposed to work.
In reality, it weighed heavily on me. I lost sight of my own coping mechanisms because I kept hearing “it’s important to talk,” and started feeling dependent on her. Now don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely important to talk, but for introverts, it’s a balancing act — you also need time on your own to recharge and independently sort through your thoughts.
At this point, it’s critical to recognize it’s okay to use both methods. You are not being dependent on your friend by talking to them about your thoughts, feelings, and INFP musings. Instead you are growing in your relationship.
You also need your space, and if you’re firm about it, your friends will grow to respect it. Explain to them the ways you recharge, and understand you don’t have to always tell those close to you everything. Be proud of yourself for putting yourself out there, but respect your own boundaries and needs.
4. Deciding if you want or need them
The last struggle you may deal with is deciding if you want your friends in your life at all. It may sound harsh, but maybe part of you gets it. It’s not that you don’t value or really love the people in your life; rather, it comes down to you being an idealist. INFPs have a dreamer’s view of the world, which is truly beautiful.
The problem, however, can come when we hold others to that ideal. Most people aren’t deep feelers like us, and they have different priorities in life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when we expect them to behave in accordance with our idealistic views, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
This disappointment, given enough time to fester, can grow into a feeling of isolation, and at least for me, has made me question if I want anyone in my life at all. Of course, even the most introverted among us needs a person or two in their lives to be happy. The trick is to come back to channeling different aspects of our personality for different relationships. No friend or individual will hold up to all your ideals — it’s just not humanly possible! And, if you’re like me, some of those views even contradict themselves!
Instead, take a look at which of your ideals or viewpoints are absolute musts for you, and build relationships around them.
For instance, look at my buddy I mentioned previously. Do I expect him to come over and chat about our insecurities in life? Of course not, because that’s not how we relate. Instead, we spark fires in one another talking about life’s values and family. He shares those ideals with me, so I channel some aspects of my understanding of life and build a very deep connection with him. If I expected it all from him, I would be left feeling no mutual understanding and would withdraw into isolation.
INFPs are unique and hold unique views of life, relationships, and the world. This can cause us to struggle with relationships, but we need to remember this: Just like we are unique, so is everyone else. To navigate these differences, we must live with empathy and humility.