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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm an INFJ female dating an INFP male that's 'recently' been through a divorce (ended years ago but legal divorce more recent). He also has a young daughter. As two people, our relationship is beautiful. He was never really allowed to be himself in his marriage due to marrying the completely wrong person.

Now although we share an intriguing connection and understanding, he still suffers some emotional trauma from the loss. Lately he's been showing some signs of healing/optimism, but as far as health goes he still is in the "trying to figure out who he is" level. I am sure to give him space when he needs it emotionally.

What is frustrating to me as an INFJ is his "flakiness". He will seem all for a plan/idea one day, but completely opposed or scared the next. How much of this has to do with the personality vs. effects of divorce, I am not sure. But it is confusing to me and stings a little when I thought he meant something and the next day he says something else.

The biggest topic being marriage.. I don't ever bring it up because it is a touchy subject for him. I guess you could say his past marriage almost completely ruined the idea for him. He knows that I eventually want to be married, and I am in no rush. I'm happy if I'm simply with the man I love, ring or not. But it is an ultimate goal for me, especially if/when we decide to have our own kids.

So some days he says "I can't believe I'm the lucky man that gets to marry you..." and talks about how he does want to try marriage and family again someday. But then other days he says things like "I just have so much hurt in me still and I'm not sure if I'll ever want to be married again. I don't even want to think about it.." I try to stay calm but I can't help but feel my stomach drop. At this point I don't know which side is the "truth" you know?

He's also flaky with smaller things, like the overall mood of conversation. It's like if we're feeling a certain way for too long, he becomes opposed to it and backs off. Sometimes I'll give him space and he comes back all sweet and loving, which in turn makes me feel the same way. But if we talk that way through the next day, in no time he gets distant. Sometimes I feel like if I reciprocate the same thought/feeling, suddenly he doesn't think or feel that way anymore. It's quite odd to me.

Is this flip-flopping of feelings and wants normal for an INFP? Is this something that will work itself out over time? I have no problem with being patient but I feel like if he still was feeling that way about marriage 2 years from now I'd start to wonder..

Any input is appreciated :)
 

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Afraid of commitment? Rationally so. He's been burned once.

"I'm happy if I'm simply with the man I love, ring or not. But it is an ultimate goal for me, especially if/when we decide to have our own kids."

Could you love him if he were never to marry you?
Is marriage a prerequisite for kids?

"What is frustrating to me as an INFJ is his "flakiness"."
Do you love him? After all, flakiness is also a part of him.

"I have no problem with being patient but I feel like if he still was feeling that way about marriage 2 years from now I'd start to wonder.."
What do you wonder?
 

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Might be post traumatic stress disorder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Afraid of commitment? Rationally so. He's been burned once.

"I'm happy if I'm simply with the man I love, ring or not. But it is an ultimate goal for me, especially if/when we decide to have our own kids."

Could you love him if he were never to marry you?
Is marriage a prerequisite for kids?

"What is frustrating to me as an INFJ is his "flakiness"."
Do you love him? After all, flakiness is also a part of him.

"I have no problem with being patient but I feel like if he still was feeling that way about marriage 2 years from now I'd start to wonder.."
What do you wonder?
I could love him if we never were married, yes. But I will live my life always wanting that. I would not have kids without being married. Kids are not a priority for me though, I'd be fine if I never have any. My ultimate dream is traveling with my husband.

His flakiness only bugs me when it comes to big things, like marriage. Otherwise, I'm such a "go with the flow" spontaneous person that it doesn't affect me too much.

2 years from now I'd wonder if we're ever going to get married. But his times of doubt seem to be at night, especially when we're up later than usual. This morning he said "I'm sorry I was feeling that way about marriage last night. It'll happen. I just have my moments."
So if he's saying his doubts are "moments" and acts as if the high points are not simply moments but the end goal, does that mean when the dust settles, he'll want to marry again? I'm trying to see through the dust here.
 

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Oh @ishy93 my heart goes out to you... it sounds like you have been so loving and understanding with this guy - tending his broken wing with care and consideration. He is a lucky guy.

Was his previous relationship co-dependent? The reason I ask is that I behaved like this after I broke out of a co-dependent relationship (not on the marriage issue but on plenty of others). My wonderful new partner at the time used to bend over backwards to give me what I needed and I am sorry to say that I took advantage of this for far longer than I should have.

In the previous relationship, I spent most of my time as the "parent" of my partner and it was so nice to be the one being taken care of for a change.

The thing that eventually made me wake up to myself was seeing the hurt that my emotional flip-flopping was causing my partner. He hid it from me for ages, but once I glimpsed beneath the doting mask and saw his confusion and pain, I knew I was being self focused to his detriment.

Have you spoken with him honestly about how you feel? Does he know that you want him to seriously consider marriage as a possibility within the next two years? Does he know that you would never be happy long term without marriage? Has he seen that this is an emotional need for you? Because when I read you're post I was getting mixed signals as to what you want/how much you want it.

I would interpret, "I am happy...ring or no ring" and "no rush" to mean my partner may be open to hanging around with or without marriage. But you also state marriage as an 'ultimate goal' and have a time limit in mind for at least considering marriage as an option.

I am sorry if I sound harsh, I don't mean to, I am just trying to articulate how I (as an INFP) would interpret you wishes... and honestly when I was in his position, I heard what I wanted to hear until I saw the emotional impact. I hope it is helpful.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
@Sangoire

I don't believe his marriage was co-dependent. His ex-wife was physically and verbally abusive and they often fought. He is not one to raise his voice, but was provoked in his marriage for 6 years. This woman had been divorced once already before him. I think he feels he lost himself in the chaos of his marriage.

He's getting himself back though, slowly. It's sad for me because I see his heart beneath the defensiveness and insecurities, and it's like we're both running towards that light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes it seems so far away. He often voices his appreciation and gratefulness, and his desire to live a drama-free, positive life together. I think before he was married he had these dreams of committing to one person for life and giving them his all (he's always stood up for women). But since that crashed and burned he has a hard time "re-dreaming" that, even though it's still in him deep down.

He is aware that I want to be married someday. And apologizes nearly every time he has a "flip-flop" moment or low point. I can see that he really is trying. His current situation (ex, kid, work, divorce, money) spreads him thin at times.
 

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It sounds like his trust has been broken. His experience of marriage is of fragility and temporariness. So how can he believe in it again? What is there to hold onto if things are everchanging? It sounds like he is caught in between trust and distrust and hasn't integrated the two yet.

There's nothing you can really do for him. You're already doing all that you can.

Yes, the night brings out the reflective moments, doesn't it?

Why do you want to get married?

It doesn't sound like his doubts are going away anytime soon. So how long are you willing to wait? What if they never?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It sounds like his trust has been broken. His experience of marriage is of fragility and temporariness. So how can he believe in it again? What is there to hold onto if things are everchanging? It sounds like he is caught in between trust and distrust and hasn't integrated the two yet.

There's nothing you can really do for him. You're already doing all that you can.

Yes, the night brings out the reflective moments, doesn't it?

Why do you want to get married?

It doesn't sound like his doubts are going away anytime soon. So how long are you willing to wait? What if they never?
I want to get married as a symbol of commitment, plus I'm a helpless romantic and everything about it appeals to me. And I want a husband. Like I've said I'd be willing to wait 2, maybe 3 years. Not that I'm really putting a set deadline on it. I don't know how I'll feel 2 years from now. Or next week for that matter.

Despite his doubts he sometimes says things like "I feel like you're reteaching me how to love and trust again.. Like you're chipping away at it." I showed him the video about the guy whose wife goes blind and he takes care of her. It made him cry and the next day he said he couldn't get it out of his head. He said that's what he wants, that it should be a motto, something you wake up to every morning. Can you see why I get confused? Ha.
 

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How long have you been dating?

Failed relationships can be just about the *most* traumatic thing an INFP can go through. One major hurdle to getting past it is the tendency to replay things over and over and over again in the mind. One line I use to describe this is "It only takes one blow to strike me 1,000 times. The first is from your bowstring, the other 999 are from mine." Which is also why a scared INFP fears new relationships, because of the damage they will do to themselves if it breaks again.

It sounds like he is still doing this very thing to himself, and it continually reinforces the failure. And when new people come into the picture, then there's the added fear of failing them and/or making them deal with it, which only compounds the anxiety. A broken INFP will find 100 reasons why someone is better off without them. But.... they still want it to work, so you get the pushing and pulling.

It's kind of a tricky situation when it comes to advising how to handle it because he will need a lot of patience and understanding, but it's also not fair to expect someone to drain themselves of all their compassion while the INFP works out their demons. It's really in your wheelhouse to decide if you're willing to put the time in until he's healed or if you feel that you will end up only resenting it in the long run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
How long do you think that would take for someone divorced after 6 years and with a daughter in the mix? I've always been in a love-hate relationship with myself when it comes to long-suffering. I seem to have the patience for anything. It gets hard sometimes but I feel like I have what it takes if he does. I was in a relationship with an ISTJ before this for 3 years. He ended it. Totally crushed me but I was miserable the whole time, the ST in him just didn't mesh with me. Despite my current SO's demons, our relationship is far more fulfilling and enjoyable. What kind of behavior on my part could potentially prolong his healing process?
 

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I want to get married as a symbol of commitment, plus I'm a helpless romantic and everything about it appeals to me. And I want a husband. Like I've said I'd be willing to wait 2, maybe 3 years. Not that I'm really putting a set deadline on it. I don't know how I'll feel 2 years from now. Or next week for that matter.
For a hopeless romantic, you are quite practical.

How long do you think that would take for someone divorced after 6 years and with a daughter in the mix?
Willing to wait and no deadline, so why are you concerned with how long it will take?
You keep saying you're willing to wait, but I think the Goal of marriage is the only thing on your mind.

About 6 months so..still pretty fresh but still pretty familiar at the same time.
6 months only, huh. No wonder he doesn't want to get married yet.

"Afraid of commitment?" is really another way to say "why aren't you helping Me accomplish my goal of getting married." It blames him for not getting what you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Willing to wait and no deadline, so why are you concerned with how long it will take?
You keep saying you're willing to wait, but I think the Goal of marriage is the only thing on your mind.
Because I like to plan and have things in the future to look forward to, I've always been that way. Even if it's "date night next Tuesday".
Plus he was the first to bring up a "goal of marriage".


6 months only, huh. No wonder he doesn't want to get married yet.

"Afraid of commitment?" is really another way to say "why aren't you helping Me accomplish my goal of getting married." It blames him for not getting what you want.
Like I said, in the beginning, he brought it up first. I let him do all the talking because I wanted to let the man lead this time and not be the one "steering" the relationship like in the past. So we talked about what we wanted in life and in a partner and decided because we had the same goals/values we would continue a relationship. He fell all in. He became smitten by me. I was taking it slow. He wanted to marry me within a couple months of knowing me. I still took it slow. After a couple more months I got more comfortable with the idea, but by then he had slowed way down. It went from him saying "Let's get married ASAP" to me saying "Yes let's get married when the time is right" and him saying "I'm not sure I'll ever want to get married again". Yet he continues to tell me I'm the exact kind of partner he always wanted.

I had mentioned this before, that he initiates but as soon as I hop on board he changes his mind. He doesn't do it intentionally. But it confuses me. So no, I'm not trying to control him or manipulate him into getting what I want. This isn't all about marriage for me. I care about him, I love the connection we share, and would simply love to marry him someday if our relationship continues to bloom. After all, he did lead me to believe earlier on that that was where we were headed together. So I got my hopes up. Now I'm just trying to understand where he's coming from and what's likely to happen from here on.
 

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Like I said, in the beginning, he brought it up first. I let him do all the talking because I wanted to let the man lead this time and not be the one "steering" the relationship like in the past. So we talked about what we wanted in life and in a partner and decided because we had the same goals/values we would continue a relationship. He fell all in. He became smitten by me. I was taking it slow. He wanted to marry me within a couple months of knowing me. I still took it slow. After a couple more months I got more comfortable with the idea, but by then he had slowed way down. It went from him saying "Let's get married ASAP" to me saying "Yes let's get married when the time is right" and him saying "I'm not sure I'll ever want to get married again". Yet he continues to tell me I'm the exact kind of partner he always wanted.

I had mentioned this before, that he initiates but as soon as I hop on board he changes his mind. He doesn't do it intentionally. But it confuses me. So no, I'm not trying to control him or manipulate him into getting what I want. This isn't all about marriage for me. I care about him, I love the connection we share, and would simply love to marry him someday if our relationship continues to bloom. After all, he did lead me to believe earlier on that that was where we were headed together. So I got my hopes up. Now I'm just trying to understand where he's coming from and what's likely to happen from here on.
I'm sorry. I assumed too much. Sometimes I get too cynical.

"what's likely to happen from here on."
The big question, isn't it? I don't think there's anything you can do really. You're doing all that you can. You sound patient with him. But this is one of those situations... his trust in relationships is broken and it's hard to be optimistic about them again when he's already been burned once. I think you're just going to have to wait til he is ready. You are, but he isn't. How long will you have to wait? I can't say either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The other problem with his view of relationships is his extreme selfishness. He was seemingly selfless in the beginning. Now although he says he cares about my feelings, he makes it clear that he doesn't have the capacity to make any effort or change or handle any amount of added stress. A few weeks ago he mentioned wanting to start therapy after his schedule cleared up. He said it would be good for him to have someone to talk to. But now, his schedule is open.
And I asked "Are you starting therapy this coming week?"
"No."
"Why not?"
"I don't have time. And definitely can't afford it. It's not covered. I have no money. Zero."
"Could you find a support group online?"
"We'll see. I'm just going to do it my way. When it's convenient for me."
"What's your way?"
"Go with the flow."
"Is it working?"
"I'm living my own life and I'm ok with it. The less pressure I have from anyone else, the better I feel. The more I feel like I have to please you or anyone else, the worse it gets. That's why I worry about being in a relationship."
"I only asked a question."
"I know, I just don't want to have to answer to anyone but myself. I've been nagged for 8 years so I'm hypersensitive to suggestions about anything."
I just stopped after that. Sometimes I have no idea what to do or say. He obviously needs to work on himself to be good for me. That's where I get confused. Should I stay or should I go? I want to see it through with him. But how...
I feel like it's only worth it if he gets through it. I don't know when. But if it's never, then it's definitely not worth it.
 

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Man, it's almost cringe worthy to read his trains of thought; sounds like things I would say. I know I'm not him, but perhaps I could offer some perspective.

When it comes to INFP's, I think we tend to have whimsical bursts of intense passion. The problem is that it burns out quick and we often find it hard to rekindle the flame. In those short bursts, we think with our heart; it may be a moment where we truly say what's on our mind with confidence and/or without over thinking said thoughts. It's similar to how I would procrastinate on my school assignments, especially essays. If I had a week to do an essay and actually spend each day productively working on it, the finished project probably wouldn't be "A" worthy. It would be the product of constantly over thinking changes (did I write too much? Did I write too much but still fall short of explaining anything coherently? Did I explain too much? Etc). However, in the early hours of 1AM on the day it's due, I feel a wave of energy where I know I have no time to over think and just let ideas flow out at once. I loved the surprised feeling of, "Oh! How did I pull off a decent grade like that?"

The point of that anecdote was to express how a majority of our time is spent worrying, mostly about how we affect others. It is difficult to get us in that zone where we just let everything out without second thought. Even then, whenever we express daring feelings of things like, "I want to marry you!" it doesn't take long until we start replaying that phrase over and over and thinking how much it may be irrationally selfish to say such things because of how 'broken' we are inside. We don't want others to experience our distraught nature; doing so sounds like we would make the other person spiral down with us. We want you to be happy, so we irrationally think putting distance between you and ourselves will solve something, but of course, it's not true.

What I may be saying may or not be accurate for what's going on with your SO, but I felt I could relate to his timid nature. I wish I could offer advice, but currently, I myself still am trying to figure and sort my inner self before I settle down with someone else. ETA: unknown.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you Shoryu. A lot of that sounds like it could be accurate with him. When you find yourself in these "whimsical bursts of passion" versus the irrational outcome of replaying over and over in your head, do you know deep down what's true? Do you think despite his flip-flopping he knows what he wants, even when he gets confused and thinks he doesn't know? Or is it really a constant unknowing? An inevitable impulsive nature. I have ups and downs as well. But when I come back up I always recognize the down as the hinderance to the truth/goal I end up sticking to. And I avoid making rash decisions based on a feeling I know is temporary. Is this the case with INFPs too?
 

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Ahhh, didn't realize this thread was still going. There's one major thing that's keeping him from healing from his past relationship: The fact that he is still very much dealing with his ex via shared responsibility for their child. That's not *at all* to say the child is the problem, but I do find that ex spouses continuously rekindle old fires (the bad kind) when they have to work together for the sake of the child. It's all that much more difficult to heal when the wound is constantly being reopened. I've experienced this myself in dating men who share a child with another woman. I get along great with the child, but the SO is always dealing with "baby mama drama". And it's constant and relentless.

Pull back. Tell him you're giving him some space (deliberately) to work out his issues. Go back to just being casual for a while. There is a tendency to fall too fast too early and start planning out futures long before it's actually called for. Let that taper off in his mind. And then if he's still on a crash course, at least he won't take you down with him. And if he's ready to move past it, he'll have the time and space he needs to see that clearly.
 
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