INFPs are the quintessential idealists and dreamers of the personality world. This rare type makes up only 4-5% of the U.S. population, but while only a small group, they can make a big impact! INFPs are driven to promote equal rights and a deeper understanding of human nature. They are loyal advocates and champions, deeply committed to their cause and to the people that have won their devotion.
In the world of relationships, INFPs have some very particular struggles that come with their mental wiring. Each type has a unique set of roadblocks they tend to encounter in relationships. How can INFPs avoid these roadblocks? What mistakes seem to follow them in their search for a healthy relationship? That’s what we’ll be exploring in today’s article.
Mistake #1 – Idealizing Relationships
INFPs, like all Intuitive-Feeling types, tend to romanticize and idealize their relationships and partners. This isn’t always a bad thing – after all, romance and dreaming is part of the fun of a relationship! But sometimes this idealization can lead INFPs to ignore warning signs. They may become so fixated on who they believe their partner really is or who they might be someday that they lose sight of the issues that are happening right now. Take heart, INFPs! This is very familiar territory for most NFs. We believe that people are like onions, filled with many layers. We believe that what we see on the outside is just a small fraction of who someone truly is. Therefore, when they screw up we look for underlying reasons. When things aren’t going well we assume there’s just another layer we didn’t happen to notice that would explain everything. We may have more fun fantasizing about where the relationship could go than enjoy where it is in the present moment. For many INFPs facing the reality of who their partner really is can be a hard blow.
How to Avoid This Mistake:
First, I want to tell you that you’re not alone in idealizing relationships. Everyone does this to an extent when they first fall in love. That’s why people are so passionate and intense at the beginning of a relationship when the sparks are flying and chemistry is at an all-time high. We amplify positive traits and reduce negative ones. It’s okay – there’s nothing wrong with you for doing this. In fact, during the process of infatuation, a biochemical process takes place that feels addictive. Hormones like norepinephrine and dopamine are altered and a neurotransmitter called phenylethylamine is increased, which increases excitement. Some symptoms of this state include palpitations, shivering, “butterflies in the stomach,” nervous excitement, physical need for your partner’s presence, focus on your partner, and alternating states of euphoria and depression.
Simply knowing that this is happening can help you to avoid the “crash” when this idealization process comes to a halt. Many couples split up when the infatuation phase is over. Sometimes this is a good thing because they weren’t good for each other in the first place. At other times it simply means that they are past the infatuation stage and ready for the reality of a long-term partnership.
Breaking out of idealization can be frustrating – it’s fun to be in that stage! It’s wonderful to think that your partner is really at the height of perfection. But when the infatuation stage is over, sticking it out can help you to evolve as a couple and create a long-term bond that is deeper than attraction and fantasy. Communicating your reality to each other, flaws, weaknesses and all is what builds trust and real love. Real love is about accepting someone for the “ugly duckling” inside each of them. Love is a constant stage of growth and challenge. It’s not stagnation or fantasy.
“But my partner isn’t good for me”
If you’ve idealized a relationship for a long time and then come to grips with a partner who is hurtful, cold, abusive, or simply just not right for you, then it’s probably better to put an end to that relationship. If you’re not SURE whether he or she is right for you, then take some time to analyze the relationship in an honest light. Get a pen and paper and write down all the facts you know about the relationship. What is evident, provable, and true? Then write down your feelings – what ethics are at stake? What does your heart tell you? Then look at the logic. What makes sense? What are the pros and cons of this relationship? Then address your intuition. Where do you see this relationship leading in the future? What alternatives have you considered? Simply asking yourself these questions and writing down the answers can help you to clarify where you want to go in this relationship. If you have an honest, trusted friend to confide in you can also ask for their advice.
Mistake #2 – Stifled Hurts
Conflict is extremely stressful for INFPs and they usually won’t try to face it head-on unless one of their values is on the line. They may ignore or repress small or insidious hurts for long periods of time. They want to believe the best about their partner and they don’t want to cause conflict unnecessarily. The only problem with this is that over time this can lead to resentment, frustration, and passive-aggressiveness.
How to Avoid This Mistake:
Being honest and open with your partner is extremely important because this is what builds trust in a relationship. This doesn’t mean that you should constantly nit-pick every little thing that annoys you – and you probably wouldn’t anyway. Calmly bringing up offenses and hurts in a way that isn’t accusatory, confrontational, or passive-aggressive is one of the best ways to teach a partner about your values, needs, and boundaries. This is important for both of you and for the long-term health of your relationship.
Here are a few tips for giving criticism:
- Focus on the situation, not the person. Don’t say, “You’re a slob!” Try, “Could you put your socks in the hamper in the morning?”
- Be careful with timing. Give criticism or discuss offenses when you both are calm and not directly after a stressful event.
- Be specific about your needs and concerns. Instead of making an accusation like, “You never called me after my doctor’s appointment – you clearly don’t care!” Say something like, “I was surprised that you didn’t call me after my doctor’s appointment. It really shows me that you care when you do. Is there a reason you couldn’t make that call?”
- Use “I feel” statements instead of “you” statements. “You” statements sound more accusatory and tend to put people on the defensive position.
- Listen to your partner’s reasons and defense. Encourage honest, open discussion by being honest and open about your feelings.
Mistake #3 – Being too Cryptic/Mysterious
INFPs are a very enigmatic personality type. Their inner world is rich and lush, filled with stories, fantasies, hopes, and dreams. However, they don’t always feel compelled to share this inner world. They can be very private about their feelings, especially at the beginning of the relationship. They can also hold back on speaking their mind (or heart) directly. They need a lot of space and time for processing things, and they enjoy a lot of solitude and quiet.
None of these things are negative in and of themselves. But they can cause partners to feel confused about where they stand. They might feel like the INFP doesn’t like them because they aren’t forthcoming and immediate with their responses. They may feel rejected if the INFP puts off time together for time spent in solitude. An INFP might feel like their affection is self-evident while their partner might not notice their more subtle displays of affection.
How to Avoid This Mistake:
Take some time to figure out how you like to show and receive love. Sometimes taking the 5 love languages test can help. Encourage your partner to do the same or ask them if they know what their love language is. Try to remind yourself to vocalize your feelings rather than just holding them in. It can feel risky at first because being open and vulnerable opens you up to the possibility of rejection. But it’s also brave and the best way to encourage honesty and openness in your relationship. Send a text or email if you feel uncertain about verbally expressing your feelings. Remember that certain partners can get very confused by roundabout, subtle ways of showing love. Fe types (FJs) like a lot of verbal affirmation and encouragement from their partners. TJ types like a lot of very direct, up-front communication. Sensing types like things to be very specific. Extroverts feel loved when their partners make regular time for them.
It’s good to be you! Just try to show your inner feelings to your partner so they don’t feel lost or perplexed about where they stand in the relationship.
As an INFP you have a lot of qualities that make you stand-out to a partner. Your empathy, imagination, and sincerity are gifts that bring a lot of depth and wonder to a relationship. Every type has a unique set of weaknesses and strengths. Don’t let these weaknesses bring you down or spoil your mood – you can do so many things well! And remember, each INFP is different. You may not relate to every single one of these mistakes. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments! You can also discover more about your personality type in the INFP personality course that Joel and Antonia have created!