The Vanishing INFJ

I’ve written before about how other types can be friends with an INFJ. But there’s another side to that dynamic: what INFJs are like as friends. We can be fantastic friends — fun, engaging, good listeners, intensely loyal. But sometimes we’re not the best sort of friends and often, that’s the INFJ’s fault.

There are some things I love about being an INFJ personality type. And then there are other aspects which aren’t so nice, and some of those can negatively impact our friendships if we’re not careful. Today, I’m speaking of our tendency to drop out of contact with people.

click to read article, "The Vanishing INFJ?" |
photo credit: Tony Lam Hoang via StockSnap

Unique Mental Wiring

INFJs are a curious mix of mental processes. We’re most comfortable using Introverted Intuition (also called “Perspectives”). This is focused on collecting information about how the world works, processing it internally, and making speculative leaps about what it means. Basically, it’s advanced pattern recognition.

That’s paired with Extroverted Feeling (aka “Harmony”). This mental process is in-tune with other people’s feelings and wants to make sure their needs get met. It’s generally the first mental place INFJs go when trying to make a decision, asking, “How will this affect other people and my relationship with them?” When well-developed in an INFJ, they can be so outgoing and social that they seem like extroverts.

But we might also skip this process and spend more time in our tertiary Introverted Thinking (aka “Accuracy”). That one’s more about analyzing of facts, trying to make things “make sense to me.” It’s also impersonal. When INFJs spend more time inside their heads than on developing our extroverted side, we can stay in an introverted Intuition-Thinking loop.

Distracted By The Inner World

Using our Intuitive and Thinking process together isn’t always a bad thing for the INFJ. Our Extroverted Feeling side is important to develop so we can make decisions more easily, maintain friendships, and experience personal growth. But we to also need alone time to re-charge and it can be a good way to process data. It only becomes a problem sometimes when we get “stuck” in our introverted side.

click to read article, "The Vanishing INFJ?" |
photo credit: Tony Lam Hoang via StockSnap

My brother (an ENFJ) put it this way: “If you want to be friends with an INFJ, you have to get used to them disappearing for a while.” INFJs will get distracted by the worlds inside their own heads and may cancel plans, respond very briefly to communication attempts, or ignore you entirely. It’s going to happen at some point.

Some INFJs might do this very rarely, other quite frequently. It depends on the individual’s priorities, maturity and personal growth, how much social energy they have left after dealing with other people in their lives, and other factors.

Let’s Think About Others

As an INFJ, it’s important to realize when you’re doing this sort of thing so you don’t accidentally damage friendships you value. You might be okay with not talking to someone for three months, while they’re wondering what on earth happened to you.

If your friend reaches out to you, make sure you take the time to respond and maybe explain what’s going on with you (and appreciate that they’re following steps #1 and #4 of How to Be Friends With an INFJ). And if you do agree to contact them or hang-out, make sure you follow-up on that in someway. I struggle with this, too, but I think we owe it to the people we care about to try and be a better friend. You know how much it hurts if someone you take the time to contact brushes you off, so don’t do that to other people.

If you’d like to know more about the INFJ personality type, check out my book The INFJ Handbook. I just updated it with a ton of new information and resources. You can purchase it in ebook or paperback by clicking this link.

34 thoughts on “The Vanishing INFJ

  • Nicely said!
    I have been strugling with this problem eversince I was a child and even my mother says that why don’t you keep your friends around?!
    Well, she probably compares me to my sister, istj, who is still in touch with her elementry school friends!
    I have to admit that I do this very often, and sometimes it gets really like reaaallly hard to keep in touch with all my friends on a regular basis and I do lose friends because of that!
    It’s not like I don’t care about them
    Maybe as you mentioned, I put alot of effort in being around my family and putting up with work people that I am left with no energy for old friends 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment. I know what you mean — I felt I was writing this post to myself as much as anyone else. I’m terrible about keeping in touch with all my friends, especially if I have to initiate the conversations 😦


  • This is a very hard balance. Especially when you have an extroverted friend who is overwhelming and who leaves you exausted. One day with them and I feel like I need to run and hide for three months. It takes me just that long to recover from an encounter with them. What do you do when they don’t follow the rules of being friends with an infj?


    • I have cut such people out of my life. I just can’t deal with them anymore. And it’s been a year or two, I guess. I know it’s bad to admit this but I don’t feel a tinge of regret, ever. It’s actually such a huge relief for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  • I have disappeared on my oldest friend. I have tried to explain things to her but she takes it all personally. I am not sure what to do. I do not get enough alone time and when I get I do not speak to anyone. I am more of a loner so I don’t have many friends to begin with. I can’t seem to manage all the emotions that come with having a lot of friends. It takes a lot of energy to stay grounded and balanced and having too many people in my life is overwhelming. I am not doing it to my friend, like she thinks. I just need to go into my own world for a while. Sometimes a few days, sometimes longer, weeks or months. I always come back though.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wow, I do this a lot too. Recently my sister told me an old friend sent her a message saying she has tried many times do contact me over the past two years and to please let me know that she misses me. That made me kinda sad. First in that I didn’t know I meant enough to be missed and that maybe they thought the same. Also that I had no idea she was looking for me. I hadn’t thought of it because I get so lost in my world. I felt like a bad friend. In truth, I know I can be for these reasons. I need too much time to retreat and be alone. And I need far less time socializing. I struggle with wanting to make friends so that I’m less lonely but not having the desire or energy most people require in maintaining friendships. In turn, I feel like I’ve developed an “I can take it or leave it” attitude. Not toward them of course but for myself. Like “meh, it’s fine either way.” I’d rather not feel that way about people and relationships but I just do. It may be self preservation for me in some ways. I’m no longer friends with my long time best friend because I needed a week long break from listening to her in her time of need (which was basically ALWAYS). The neediness and constant phone calls were exhausting and made me unpleasant and stressed. When I abruptly took my break, she angrily ended our friendship and I honestly didn’t feel bad about it – just like ok best of luck, bye. I only felt bad about not actually caring. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  • Oh my. I thought this was just me. Turned out it is still part of me being an INFJ. I feel so bad when I “vanish” though. I can see my friends trying to extend their lines out to me and all I do is ignore their messages purposely.

    It feels so wrong, but I can’t help cutting myself away from them. Sometimes I think it’s for their sake, tbh. I feel like I’m such a crappy friend to be with and that they deserve someone more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, it’s not just you. And I can also identify with your feeling that maybe they’d be better off without you as a friend. I’ve felt that. But I hope you can remember the fact that they’re reaching out to you means that they think you’re someone worth having as a friend even with your INFJ tendency to withdraw. And friends who value us like that are often friends worth taking the effort for us to get of our comfort zones and stay in touch with


  • This explains a lot. I’m an infj and I tend to go through cycles. For awhile, I’ll be really social and will keep up with my friends. Then, I become really introverted and if I didn’t have to leave to house I’d never see people. And I’d be fine with that. As I get older, instead of thinking “what’s wrong with me?” Or “why am I like this?” I accept it and I don’t really care what other people think.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Yo what the hack i am also an INFJ with a ENFJ brother… hmm im just wondering if personalities types are more likely to have a similar personality type? like the same as u do have a enfj bro and the same as i..?


    • As far as I know, no one has really done research on how personality types show up in families. There does seem to be some genetic aspects to determining type, but not enough to make blanket statements like “An ISFJ and an INFP are more likely to have xNFJ children” (for example).


  • I lost my best friend of over four decades. I had no idea I was an INFJ at the time – I’d never even heard of such a thing! I just knew I was different. I hated talking on the phone. I hated small talk. I needed huge amounts of alone time. My bff got fed up. She called me self absorbed and said awful, horrible cruel things to me and I literally walked away. I felt relieved at first. I didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t in order to be loved. But I miss her so much. I doubt she’d ever want to resume the friendship – and I doubt she’d even “buy into” the whole INFJ thing. It’s all such a tragedy.


    • It’s awful to feel like you have to be someone you aren’t in order to keep your friends, but loosing a best friend like that is also incredibly tough. I’m so sorry to hear that happened to you 😦


  • I literally have no friends left (not that I had many to lose) because my Vanishing is compounded by “Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder”, “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”, and other personality disorders. Although I’ve been aware that I’m an INFJ for about 20 years, I had no idea that Vanishing was part of it — just discovered this today. I thought this behavior was peculiar to me.

    I always was aware that it was difficult to be my friend (or relative even) and just figured that I was incapable of both establishing and maintaining relationships. I have always been puzzled why anyone ever wanted to strike-up a friendship with me in the first place, and I never initiated. My thinking was that these former friends were better off without me anyway. It doesn’t help that they live far away now and it seems I have so little left in common with any of them — they have normal lives while I certainly do not. I have tried to make new friends, but nothing has panned-out; a lot of it is my Ultra-perfectionism rejecting them first, but also I just don’t have the energy. The loneliness is truly soul-crushing. (Yes, as you likely suspect, I have attempted suicide. God said, “No.” So here I remain. For what purpose I cannot fathom.)

    I’ve become resigned to the “fact” that I’ll be the dreaded eccentric “spinster” uncle — a lodestone to my immediate family if I live too long.

    Now before you break out the box of Kleenex, I’m not writing this to elicit pity or sympathy (much), but rather, I guess, to give caution: Don’t be so willing to cast aside the friend or relative that makes even the tiniest attempt to keep in contact. Don’t assume your friend is done with you forever. Write a letter if you can’t say what needs saying in person. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. Try and try and keep trying. Remember that you aren’t a true nut-case like I am, you merely have the aroma of cashews and almonds… (And maybe I’ll have-a-go at my own advice — sometime this century.)

    Jesus loves you (way more than anyone else can.)
    ~ k


    • Hi Kirk,
      I’m sorry things have been so difficult for you. Life’s complicated enough without piling anxiety, depression, lost friendships, etc. on top of everything else! I won’t claim to really “understand what you’re going through,” but I have close friends who struggle with similar things and you certainly have my sympathy.
      Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts on this topic, as well as offering your encouragement and advice.


  • I’m an ENTP female dating an INFJ male, he’s mature and caring and although doesn’t withdraw all the time. But there is a pattern where once a month he kinda goes awol. He doesn’t text or call and he doesn’t want to see me. I know there’s no funny business going on, I mean i trust him completely. I know he needs his time, he loves being alone and i can deal with his occasional falling off the face of the earth thing. He says I can always call him but I want to give him the space that he needs. I can’t help but feel a little bad. I can’t help but think he’s just not that into me, and that makes me feel not good. but i know thats ridiculous. ugh, I just get so much energy when he’s around and i feel so happy but it’s like he needs breaks from me. can anyone tell me how i should think about this? what should i say to him? how do i give him his needs while not sacrificing mine?

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, I think it’s wonderful that you’re working to figure out how to make sure both of you get your needs for alone and together time met. That’s so important in relationships between introverts and extroverts.

      When I was dating an ENFP, he told me that he felt like people frequently needed breaks from him because he had so much energy he’d overwhelm just one person. So he had lots of friends who helped fill his need to socialize and be around people when the introverts in his life needed some space. Perhaps it might help you to build up your other friendships outside of this relationship so you could still socialize with people even when your boyfriend needs some alone time.

      However, I also think it sounds like you care about this INFJ so much that he’s the one you want to spend most of your time with. Which is wonderful. But while INFJs often enjoy this sort of focused attention, it can also feel overwhelming. My guess is that he isn’t withdrawing because he’s “not that into you,” but rather because he knows he needs some alone time to keep himself balanced emotionally. It’s easy for INFJs to start resenting people who we feel pull us out of our shells too much, and we don’t want that to happen with someone we care about. So there’s a good chance that he’s withdrawing because he cares about your relationship, not because he doesn’t want to be with you.

      It might be a really good idea to have a conversation with him about this. To talk about what you’re each thinking when he withdraws and see if there’s a way to keep both of you happy. And if you haven’t already, it might help to talk about what makes each of you feel loved and appreciated. Different personality types say “I love you” and ask for love in different ways (here’s a good article on that:, and love languages also play a role in this. For example, if your love language is Quality Time, maybe the two of you will need to plan that whenever he needs to spend some time alone you’ll also plan some time after that for just the two of you.


  • I struggle with relationships and I’ve known for a while that it is due to my INFJ personality- but it can be so frustrating. I have 5 children + my husband as well as a VERY large extended family (my husband and I have 7 siblings between us and 3 sets of parents due to divorce.) At this stage in my life, I just don’t feel like there is enough of me to go around and if I have a spare moment (very rare), I desperately need alone time.

    As friendly as I can be with people that I have one-on-one conversations with, I can’t handle big group activities and often get labeled as being cold or snobby because I tend to retreat. My private and cautious nature as well as my tendency to listen instead of interact in larger groups (church, school functions) due to needing time to process before I speak is making it not just difficult for me, but for my family as well. Because people see that I can be warm, funny, and outgoing in certain situations, it really throws them for a loop when I become quiet and reserved in others. I feel very misunderstood often.

    I feel like my energy level is often so depleted that I don’t have much left over to accept invitations or respond when people reach out to me- especially if it is a group activity. I’ve become very selective of who I really let into my life. My extended family has a healthy dose of drama, so it is also hard for me to be around them as I start to worry and go down an unhealthy path of thinking that takes me days to recover from. As a result, I have become somewhat of a “vanisher”. I have friends and family who are very frustrated with me right now, understandably. (I also have some caring friends who have stuck with me despite my personality struggles.) I am torn between being true to myself in this season of life and shrugging off people’s perceptions of me, or going back to trying to be someone I’m not in order to make those around me happy. This was the pattern I followed for the first 30 years of my life which led me to “crash and burn” far too often. I can’t help but feeling that once my kids are a little older, I may be able to better focus on the relationships in my life, as I was able to do before I got married and had my large family. Any tips or insight to how I might better walk through this season of life or am I a lost cause? 😉


    • Well, I don’t think you’re a lost cause 🙂 It sounds to me like you desperately need recharge time and I don’t think you should feel guilty about asking for space to do that.

      You mentioned you have friends and family who are understandably frustrated with you right now. But I also think it should be understandable that this is stressful for you as well. You already know that ignoring your personality needs to try and make others happy lead to a “crash and burn” cycle in the past that wasn’t healthy. And I don’t think you really want to do that again, and the people who love you shouldn’t ask that of you.

      Have you tried telling the people in your life that you just feel spread too thin right now and that even though you care about them, you simply can’t be there for them all the time? I’m sure not everyone will take it well, but some (I hope most) should be able to understand this is a season in your life that’s particularly hectic and you need to make tough choices about how you spend your time.

      I’m hesitant to make detailed recommendations since I don’t know much about your specific family dynamics and other factors influencing your time management. But it sounds like purposefully scheduling alone time for yourself would help. And when spending time with others, maybe you’ll have to prioritize time spend with your kids and husband, then only go to the most important family gatherings. For friends, perhaps you can spend time with those people who have stuck with you through your struggles, but tell other friends you simply can’t make the time right now.

      Finally, I want to share something Antonia Dodge wrote for Personality Hacker. She says, “With Harmony as your decision making process, you vet all your decisions through the question of ‘Will this get everyone’s needs met?’ Notice the word ‘everyone.’ YOU are a part of ‘everyone.’ If you truly want to get EVERYONE’s needs met – you must include yourself. Put on your own ‘oxygen mask’ BEFORE you can help others.” (from


  • I find structure and meaning gives direction in life while giving me the chance to grow. True friends are those who accept and understand you for who you are and they will support you to do what is best for you. Those that are offended by who you are, well they should not be in your circle of friends. On the other note, as human beings mature, they fall into the tendency to be with the pack and enjoy being with the pack and doing what most people do. However, their are those who as they mature, they find solitude more enjoyable and as they grow older they focus on what matters to them and makes them happy. There is nothing wrong with the pack and nothing wrong with what different people do as they mature in life. In the end, to each according to his or her own and in the end one must be true to his or her self, for that is what truly makes one happy in life. . . if one is not true to his or her self, then it is hard to grow, and be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Oh my goodness. I am just in shock. While I’d heard of the Myers-Briggs (both of my parents’ surnames, Myers & Briggs- how weird is that??) personality assessment before yesterday, it was less than 24 hours ago that I discovered that my personality has a name! It has been all I can do to keep the eerie shivers at bay as I’ve spent the entire day devouring as much information as possible. The accuracy of the insights would be overwhelming to me if I was not so relieved to finally, FINALLY, understand some of the complexities of my life.
    Yes, I vanish from the “real world” and all of the people in it more often than I’d like to admit. And not only emotionally, sometimes physically as well. There are times when even the thought of speaking on the phone with certain people can exhaust me. I simply must escape to my safe place.
    However, for me anyway, those very loved ones who probably feel rejected or ignored, are STILL on my mind, in heart, and a part of my soul.
    I don’t know quite how to explain this, but one thing that I’m ALWAYS doing is having deep and meaningful conversations and/or discussions with others; but when I’m in a “vanishing state of mind”, these discussions take place WITHOUT the other party, in my head. So, even though I have such a strong need to regain my balance with alone time, I am STILL engaging with the very people from whom I’m seeking refuge. This can definitely get me in trouble when my subconscious gets confused between my inner world and the real one.
    I doubt this made much sense, but I guess just I’m just learning about all of this. One more thing I’m wondering, TOTALLY off -topic, but I’m curious about the perspective of others?
    I tend to get EXTREMELY overwhelmed and frustrated with the online world and social media. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being able to use the internet for research & I gain so much insight from certain online groups. That said, the sheer volume of social media platforms and the amount of time I’d need to even keep up simply paralyzes me! I just have not been able to find any kind of comfort level with any of it. Maybe because I SOOO crave the intimacy that comes from TRULY connecting with another? The paradox then becomes that the more and more that social media becomes an integral part of our society, the more distanced & removed I feel from everyone around me.
    I’ve ALWAYS felt like I just didn’t fit in anywhere, and even at 44 years old, it seems like that perception becomes all the more real to me.
    Thanks so much for this article. I can’t even put into words how much this helps me in a particularly difficult “who am I” journey in my life. I know, I know… this post is so long that I certainly was TRYING to put that gratitude into the right words, right? So yes, please forgive the rambling lengthy post!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you found this post helpful! I understand what you’re saying about still having conversations with the people you care about even after you vanish. It’s hard sometimes for me to remember which conversations I’ve actually had with people and which ones only happened in my head.

      Social media can overwhelm me, too. I try to keep up with Facebook, but that’s about it. Pinterest is easier for me since it’s image-based with fewer interactions to keep track of. I just can’t handle Twitter – there’s too much going on. And even with Facebook I’ve just had to accept I can’t keep up with every one of my friends and groups.

      I’m never quite sure if I feel like Facebook facilitates real connection because it helps you keep in touch with people in between the times you see them in-person, or if it makes true connection harder because so many people settle for online interaction and don’t make the effort to supplement them with real, in-person connection. I guess it depends on the individual relationship and how much each person is willing to work on true connection.

      P.S. I’ve published some rambling, lengthy posts so you certainly don’t have to apologize for leaving rambling, lengthy comments 😀


  • Thanks so much for the article! I have been wondering on and off all day why I have been dropping off attending church. I go for a few weeks, then skip a whole month (or couple of months). It’s a small quaint church, and I love the people there. I even have some friends I work with who go there, and I always feel like a terrible person when I just “don’t go.” I have felt it’s the right place for me to go, yet so many Sundays I just feel like such a homebody that I stay home. Work is very busy this time of year and I find myself having to do much more extraverting than usual… But I’m going to make people a priority and seek more balance in my life. I guess I don’t have a choice! 🙂 That way I can find energy enough for something like staying connected with friends at church on Sunday mornings. You’re absolutely right, we need to think about others first!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you like this article 🙂 I can completely understand feeling like you don’t have energy for weekend socializing after extroverting all week at work, but I also agree it’s important to stay connected with church friends. I often feel spiritually and emotionally re-charged after church even though my social energy is drained. I hope you can find the right balance of alone time for you and time spent with good friends!


  • Oh goodness, I can’t tell you how many times I have disappeared. Since many Pisces are INFJs I had another Pisces (whom I had just met) once ask me, “Don’t you just hide sometimes? Are you good at hiding like me?” And I knew exactly what she was talking about. Many times I will just disappear from people’s lives, no warning, but they will have done something to me that I just find incomprehensible and the relationship for me is done. I don’t do that with really important relationships, just acquaintances or friends. I don’t start a conversation, I don’t finalize anything, I just end the relationship without any further contact, no matter how many times the person calls and begs me to please call them back, what did they do, etc. I just don’t want the confrontation and as far as I am concerned that person betrayed me or did me wrong some other way and they don’t deserve an explanation anyway. I guess kids call that “ghosting” today? I don’t know but I did this way back for a long time.


  • Also, I am terrible because I am not that type of person who will just call someone out of the blue, I always feel like I’m bothering people, and people get really angry with me because of it. If someone calls me, I will call them back, but many times, if I know the conversation is going to be controversial, I usually will avoid it. I had a boss once who would scream at me on the phone for no reason (super aggressive sales person) and I would just hang up on him. He would call back and I wouldn’t take the call.


  • I have a group of friends that I think are mostly composed of Extroverts and Perceivers. They’re very spontaneous, and a bit crazy. I keep leaving and coming back to the group for several months at a time. I love them all individually, but altogether, they just wear me out.

    Liked by 1 person

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