So, I'm here to ask some advice, particularly from INFPs and INTPs, but also from anyone else who thinks they might be able to help. Sorry, this will get long.
My issue concerns my relationship between my partner (INTP, F) and myself (INFP, F). Also relevant is that according to the theory of the 5 Love Languages, I prefer physical affection and words of affirmation, while she prefers to spend quality time together.
A little background: we're in a long distance relationship; we've known each other for more than 2.5 years and have been dating for more than 1 year. We're best friends and we can talk (and argue!) for hours about everything from TV shows to politics to philosophy. She's always kind to me and literally never gets angry, which is very important to me because I come from a rather abusive family background and I panic when people are angry. When we met in person, our physical chemistry was off the charts, and she was unstinting with hugs and touches, which was blissful, because I'm a very, very cuddly person. I think she's amazing, and I'm deeply in love with her.
The thing is, neither of us know if she's in love with me back. I'll explain.
A while back, we were having a conversation and the concept of love came up. She ended up telling me that she doesn't like to feel strong emotions, and that she's never going to feel the same way about me as I feel about her. She also said something like, 'You shouldn't compare how I feel with how you feel; you should compare how I feel about you with how I feel about other people.'
More recently, she told me she's not sure whether she loves me, because she doesn't know what love is. She also says she can't tell if she loves her family, for the same reason. This devolved into a weird discussion about 'what love actually is', which is almost incomprehensible to me as an INFP, because to me love is as easy and natural a concept as breathing, and my heart doesn't understand her drive to deconstruct and rationalise it.
When she asked, I tried to explain what love was to me, trying not to use feeling terms, as she doesn't consider them to be good arguments. When I was done, she said she could relate to the following:
'I want to look after you and give you things and make sure you're comfortable and feed you.'
'I want to do things that make you smile or make your bad days less bad.'
Then the conversation circled back, and she said, 'But how can you tell what you're feeling is love?' and 'When you're small, everyone tells you what you 'feel' for your family is love but how do you know what you feel in the first place?'
She has said that she loves me in the past, but with these recent developments I don't know if that still stands.
Relating to the love languages, I have asked if she could try to use words more often to tell me I'm cared for and valued, because physical touch, my main love language, is non-existent at the moment because we're long distance. She shows caring in other ways - spending time with me, sharing her interests, spending time when she was stressed and overworked trying to sort through these issues with me because I was upset. I value this, I really do, but I don't feel it inside like when I receive touch or words - and as an INFP I really need to feel it to be happy. I recognise that INTPs find it very hard to say stuff like this, but I try to show my love to her in her preferred ways, so I think it's fair to request to receive my own.
I guess ultimately what I'm asking for advice with is twofold. Firstly, how can she and me work out what love actually is for her? She definitely wants to be with me, she has clearly said so multiple times, but does she actually love me?
Secondly, how do I come to terms with the fact that she will never care about me as much as I care about her? She freely admits that she's never going to care as deeply as I do, and furthermore, she doesn't want to, either. She doesn't seem to understand why this is such a problem for me, or why it hurts so much. She says that this doesn't mean she will put less effort into the relationship, and that no relationship is ever perfectly equal in terms of love. That's true, but this is a huge difference when one partner is deeply in love and the other isn't sure what love is. How can I accept this and stop hurting inside when I think about it?
We fit so well together, we have heaps of fun, we have loads in common, we treat each other with respect, we have plans for a future together, and we're both very committed to making this work. I think that in a relationship, compromises sometimes have to be made, and a middle ground found that may involve stepping out of our comfort zones. I also don't think the compromises should be all on one side or the other.
I'm sorry this got so long, thanks so much if you've read this far. If anyone has any ideas, strategies, insights or comments, please, please tell me! Thank you so much!!