While trying to decide on my next topic, I saw that “how to be friends with an INFJ” was one of the top searches on my blog this past week. I’ve addressed the issue of friendship in some of my other posts about INFJs, but never written an entire post about it. It’s also something that has been on my mind recently, and it is a not infrequent topic of discussion between me and some close friends.
If you want to make friends with an INFJ, or get to know one better, there are a few key points to keep in mind. Some of these are true for all friendships, and especially friendships with INFJs, and others are more INF-specific. They are also a good first-step if you are romantically interested in an INFJ and want them to notice you.
Five Tips for Relationships
1) Make the First Move
INFJs use extroverted feeling (Fe) to relate to the outside world. This means that we can draw energy from emotional interactions, and may appear more extroverted than other introverts. This is also true of ISFJs, who are often considered the most “extroverted” introverts since they love people so much.
Still, we are introverts, and we’re most comfortable talking with people we already know. If you want to get to know an INFJ, you’ll probably have to be the one who initiates a conversation. That lets us know you are interested in talking with us, which puts us at ease since we aren’t worried about whether or not we’re imposing on your time when you’d rather be doing something else.
2) Be Genuine
Pairing Introverted Intuition (Ni) with Fe gives INFJs an almost super-human empathy. Many INFJs literally feel other people’s emotions, and we’re quick to pick up on unspoken cues that don’t match spoken words. We might not be able to tell what you’re holding back or lying about, but we can tell you’re not being genuine and that’s a huge turn off.
If an INFJ suspects you of being less than genuine, they loose interest very quickly. If you’re a new acquaintance, they might simply avoid seeing you again. If you’re someone they can’t avoid, then they will keep conversations civil but superficial. We don’t trust our true selves with people when we can’t get a read on what their true selves are like.
3) Don’t Be Afraid to Go Deep
INFJs have little interest in shallow conversations. We would rather have a few close friends than many casual acquaintances. The way the word “friend” is used has always bothered me as being imprecise. I have acquaintances, friends, and then close friends, but I just refer to them all as “friends” to avoid offending anyone who thinks they are a friend and then finds out I think of them as an acquaintance. People who meet INFJs often think that they know them well, while the INFJ thinks “they really don’t know me at all.”
If you want to be one of an INFJs close friends, then you have to make an effort to get beyond the superficial. INFJs respond very well to this, so once you indicate that you are interested in going beyond small-talk the sharing will go both ways. We like conversation, and we will talk as well as listen if we feel safe and interested. Here’s a great article called How To Turn Small Talk Into Smart Conversation. When I read this as an INFJ, my reaction was, “I wish more people would introduce themselves like this. I would be so much more interested in talking to them.”
4) Be Patient
Even if you’ve taken the first step to initiate a friendship, been completely honest, and encouraged deep conversation it can take quite a while for an INFJ to really open up. We have many layers, and the longer we are in a stable friendship with you, the more layers we’ll let you see. INFJs form instant perceptions of whether or not we can trust people, so first-impressions are important, but we also modify our impression based on how we observe your behavior over time. A bad first impression can be reversed if we see you making an effort to be friendly and trust-worthy, and a good first impression can be deepened as we see that what we’ve already shared with you stays safe.
Patience also comes into play during conversations. INFJs have trouble getting all their thoughts out into words. If the topic of conversation is something they’ve already thought about, they can speak readily and coherently. If it’s new and unfamiliar we typically do one of two things: 1) nod and make some general comments while our brains frantically race to come up with something to say. Usually that “something” shows up a week later in the shower. 2) start putting our thoughts into words, and sorting through ideas verbally. The final idea might take some time to emerge.
The second reaction is the one you’re going for in a friendship with INFJs. If we’re comfortable enough to think out-loud, it means we trust you. As long as you give us time to come up with an answer rather than look at us like we’re crazy, then we’ll relax and the conversation can continue to move forward. If you cut us off or jump to conclusions about what we think before we’ve had time to express outselves, we feel like you aren’t really interested in what we’re thinking and be hesitant to share with you later.
5) Don’t Betray Us
INFJs hold grudges. We might forgive readily (depending on the circumstances), but we don’t forget. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is my automatic response. The closer you get to an INFJ, the harder it is to bounce-back to a close friendship after you’ve hurt us. The more we like you and the more we have invested in you, the more chances we’ll give you, but there’s a point at which we just give up and shut you out.
An INFJ might not completely sever ties with someone who has hurt them (depending on the nature of that betrayal), but they will withdraw. For example, if you give an INFJ the impression that you want to carry on a regular correspondence filled with deep discussion and then ignore her for 3 months and forget to answer any of her questions when you do reply, she will have no interest in continuing the correspondence.
So why go to all this effort? What do you get out of a relationship with an INFJ?
For one thing, INFJs are surprisingly good fun to be around. We have a great sense of humor, delight in occasional spontaneity, and can talk about pretty much anything you like. But you don’t see all that until you make the effort to become friends. Until then, INFJs will hover in the background (away from other people) or blend in like a chameleon (with other people) to avoid stressful, superficial interactions.
INFJs are also good listeners, and we love to offer counsel. Sometimes we feel like our friends’ therapist, but we rarely mind. We want to help, and we’re good at suspending judgement. Since we’re so empathic, we aren’t often surprised by anything you tell us even if you thought you were doing a good job of keeping it hidden. Once it’s out in the open, we are sympathetic listeners who ask questions and want to fully understand what’s going on before we offer suggestions or any kind of judgements.
We’re also fiercely loyal. We don’t let many people get close, and we want to hold on to the very few that do become our true friends. We’ll do just about anything to keep the people we love in our lives. INFJs take the time to build-up their relationships, cultivate deepening friendships, and keep in touch with what’s going on in the lives of people we care about. We’re supportive, encouraging, and willing to adapt ourselves to make others happy as long as it doesn’t conflict with our core values. So get out there and start making friendships with INFJs. I don’t think you’ll regret it!
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