So,,,,,I am an INTJ female who had been talking to an ESFJ male. We grew up together so I have known him most of my life, while not being terribly close to him. We became reacquainted as adults about 6 months ago, and really hit it off. I naturally don't open up to people that quickly, but with him it was different (maybe because I felt more comfortable in somewhat knowing him and his background, etc). We were carrying on a fun and easy relationship, and taking things slow which seemed just fine with us both (especially since it was long distance). I am in the process of applying to grad school, and he convinced me to apply in the city where he lives which I happily did (I figured why not?!). I had been out to see him on several occasions, and things were great. He was so affectionate, caring, and you couldn't help but just adore him. In the mean time we kept in touch as much as possible via phone/text. As we are both very busy it certainly wasn't an issue of quantity, but I always felt there was substance and quality in our communications.
So, as my winter break approached I brought up the subject of coming out to visit since I would have a significant amount of time out of school. His vibe was slightly hesitant, but he went for it and seemed excited. We discussed in advance that he would be very busy with work, and would be unable to take time off which I assured him was no big deal. I am very independent and have no problem "doing my own thing", and I told him I would be happy just to hang out for a little bit in the evenings and just do simple things (cook dinner, watch tv, etc). So, I go to visit him and everything starts off just fine. He was very excited to see me and we were having a good time. The first few days go by great, although I could tell he was tired. After the first few days I think the exhaustion started to get to him more, and he started to withdraw a bit which in turn made me withdraw a bit and get a little upset. At this point I think there was a significant lack of communication, and a lot of misperceptions between us both. Long story short instead of talking about it, it boiled over. So, about a week into it I made a snarky remark to which he proceeded to unload on me. He didn't raise his voice, and he wasn't mean but I could tell he was heated. And he was just completely unemotional and cold and basically told me he didn't feel the same way about me anymore, and that he was done, and I should go home. I was completely floored, didn't have much to say, and besides I needed some time to go "think" about what had just happened. I didn't show any emotion in front of him.
So after about a day of thinking about it, and letting us both cool off a bit I asked him to sit down and talk with me about what was going on. He was still pretty distant and guarded, but he was no longer angry like he had been previously. Basically in a nutshell he then told me that he was not sure what he felt about me, but that he just felt overwhelmed for a variety of reasons (mainly being work and family, which since they are both intertwined is like a double whammy for him) and felt like he couldn't give me what he felt that I needed. So he felt like he needed to take a "break", and he needed some space. On a brief subsequent conversation he mentioned that he "wasn't sure if he had feelings for me or not, but that he was choosing not to deal with it at the moment" due to his current obligations. He also said "you never know I might call you one day crying (basically implying that he might wake up and one day realize that he does in fact have feelings).
So for the rest of my time there (we agreed that I would stay a few extra days, but still cut the trip short) he seemed very distant emotionally and physically withdrawn but I have to admit it seemed rather forced, but I wanted to honor his need for space and I did not push the issue with him. In the last few days he seemed to soften a little bit, and became a little more affectionate (albeit nowhere on the scale of how he was prior).
I have been back about a week now, and we have had a few really friendly texts (he wanted to make sure I made it home ok, and there was something he needed to mail to me), but that is it. I want to give him the space that he claims he needs, and not pressure or overwhelm him. But I am utterly mystified by his behavior, and how it changed so dramatically so quickly. Funny enough the last night I was there his family was doing personality testing, and we discovered what our types were. After much research I feel like I understand a lot more about us both, and I saw a lot of things where we went wrong especially in my communications with him, and how he could have grossly misinterpreted me.
So, ultimately I think it was just a miscommunication and we haven't learned how to effectively communicate with each other on some levels. But, I wonder is this kind of behavior common among ESFJ'S (particularly males since there is a strong gender role influence)? Do they "come back around"? What is a good way to communicate effectively with him? I would like to understand him better and what his needs are so that if things do turn around I can handle the situation differently, in a way that will not be misinterpreted.