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Discussion Starter #1
Hello ISFJs. I have a problem and could do with some advice. At any rate, it'll probably help my broken heart to talk about it anyway.

I started a new job in April and have got to know someone on the publication who I *think* is an ISFJ. He's not in my immediate team, but I do see him and talk to him every day. I don't really know how, but we have got closer and closer over time - going from spending lunch hours with a couple of other colleagues to taking walks in the local park just the two of us [that's not a regular thing though]. He's very sweet - always emails to ask what I was up to the previous evening, how I'm doing etc. He also initiates text messaging outside work, usually because he's remembered some event that's happening in my life - e.g. wishing me luck on a long charity bike ride I did.

That's already an unusual level of closeness for me, especially in a work environment, but could still be platonic I guess. But it feels like it's become more intense in recent weeks - after work socials he always walks me to the station and waits until my train arrives before going to his own platform. And now he's driving over to my house next week so we can go for a bike ride in the local countryside, which is the first time we'll be hanging out completely away from work.

Big obstacle - he has a girlfriend. I know almost nothing about the relationship, except that they've been together maybe three years and that they don't live together. I should say that nothing's happened with me - there's never ANY physical contact and no flirting as such. But I have completely fallen for him over the last few months, simply because he's one of the loveliest men I've ever met.

Now I'm really struggling to know how to act on a day to day basis. Some days I decide to pull away and not respond to his emails and stick closely to other colleagues at lunchbreaks - but I know that he looks at me, and he'll often seek me out. Other days I decide to just go with the flow and talk to him normally, when there's a natural spark. I must come across as a complete schizophrenic, but I don't want to say anything in case I've completely misinterpreted what's going on, and have to keep working with him.

Any insight appreciated. Sigh.
 

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Oh no! Sounds like an ISFP friend of mine, actually. She's so super thoughtful. Anywho, I don't really know what kind of advice to give about the situation - sorry. I'm sending all my best wishes to you!

Perhaps try asking this in the advice or relationships forum? :(
 

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Be yourself, don't fake being anything else to try to get him to like you. Silly :tongue:

also if he is already with someone you probably should just leave it alone.
 
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It sounds like he thinks you're lovely too and feels deeply drawn to you. He finds you appealing and wants to know all about you. If I had to guess though, I think he feels comfortable spending time with you possibly because he knows he's able to maintain a boundary. If you have feelings for him, it seems like it would be best to at least avoid spending time with him outside of work. Interacting with him only at work would allow you to continue enjoying each other's company without letting things go too far.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Be yourself, don't fake being anything else to try to get him to like you. Silly :tongue:

also if he is already with someone you probably should just leave it alone.
It's less about changing my behaviour to get him to like me - I know he likes me - and more changing it to encourage a bit of distance without seeming like a bitch...I think not hanging out with him after work is a good call. I've actually done my utmost to get out of this bike ride ("Oh great idea! But we live far apart, I don't drive, and it's so inconvenient!") but he's actually driving round, so I can't really avoid it now. I mean, I know ISFJs are very attentive and caring and that, but how can he genuinely think it's going to be totally platonic? *despair*
 

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@Tapir How to make distance from someone without appearing to be a bitch, Well I think that will be a bit challenging. I don't think there is just one answer for this, you could try a few things. Good luck!


  • Tell him that you cannot have a platonic relationship, try to explain to him how you feel without sounding creepy.
  • Continue pretending everything is okay and suppress your emotions until they disappear. (Does this even work?)
  • Go out of your way to date someone else. (occupy your mind with someone new) or even just make a new friend.
  • Try to transfer somewhere else, so you don't have to work close with him.
 
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Yeah, this are pretty tricky.

I would think you reasonably sense there is something inappropriate happening. He has a girlfriend, so what kind of role can you play while dealing with the issue at hand.


1. You hang out with him as before and just see where it goes. Maybe he leaves her for you. This would not be my chosen course, but it is something people do. I prefer things a little more upfront. I wouldn't be comfortable with that level of interaction with someone who has a significant other. They'd have to end it before we hung out like that. But that is just me. Some people are more comfortable with more platonic relationships.

2. You try to make things clear. A good old fashion sit down. "Hey, I don't know exactly what situation this is, but I'm not comfortable with how we hang out while you have a girlfriend." From there see what his reaction is and how it goes. Maybe he comforts you into the whole platonic thing. Maybe you force his to deal with his emotions and choose one of you. I think sometimes ISFJ's desire not to hurt or lose people, can sometimes lead them to not make decisions that need making in the 'big picture'.
Maybe he is interested in you, but doesn't want to hurt or lose his SO. So why not have both of you while he sees where it goes.
 

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It's important to communicate how you feel to him. First you might get a better idea of his motives if you ask him if he is happy in his current relationship before proceeding. You just have to accept the response afterward regardless as the cards you are being delt (at least you will know to pursue or to stop wasting your time.) You can be a bit shallow and say that you don't think it's a good idea to spend time with him outside of work ... but TELL HIM WHY (b/c you have a big ol' crush on him and he has a girlfriend, be funny about it if you must.) If he expresses an interest in you, I would tell him he needs to make a choice about his current relationship before moving forward.

ISFJs are VERY charming, thoughtful, light-hearted, encouraging and positive people. Most ISFJs aren't aware they need to be reserved about getting involved with the opposite sex b/c they really are easy to get on with (since we mold very well to those around us, sensing and catering to the needs of others.)

At least in the communication you will redefine your relationship "together" and move forward either as strictly workmates or possibly more.
 

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Wow. I'm an INTJ who's been in a relationship with an ISFJ male for 4 years. I love ISFJs, but sometimes their socializing can be maddening. Like, I have to tell my ISFJ if he has to avoid certain women who seem to have the hots for him. I mean, can't he see that for himself? It causes us a lot of tension when he doesn't understand why it's best for him to avoid certain girls.

Sorry for ranting, I just remembered all this upon reading your post. I just hate that ISFJs (males at least) would profess how loyal they are and then do things like that behind their partner's back. I doubt he'd like his gf to know that he's been doing those things for you.

That said, I strongly think he isn't in good terms with his gf, and his subconscious flirting with you is a sign of it. I've seen it happen with my ISFJ a couple of times. They can be unbelievably passive aggressive. (sorry, the memories just make me seethe! grr) Anyway, this kind of flirting, is definitely a sign that they aren't doing so well. If you're that interested, you can just go in for the kill.

Now if you want a relationship with the guy, then maybe you can just pursue him, and he would leave his gf for you. For all you know they may not be good for each other and you could be doing them both a favor. But maybe you'll have to analyze the situation first, INTJ style. Is him being with you better, are you willing to invest effort for the relationship, etc. I being an INTJ woman with an ISFJ male totally understand what you find attractive in him, and I'd say I do love being with my ISFJ (even if we're currently in a quarrel).

But if you're not willing to be in a relationship with him, you can turn him off by showing that you don't need him (that does the trick for me). Be independent and self-sufficient. Look happy and content. He may be attracted because you exude a form of melancholia we INTJs are quite good at exuding. ISFJs love that, they want to baby you so you'd stop being so sad.

No offense to ISFJs -- you drive me nuts, but I love you, I stayed for 4 years with one of you... ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you - your responses are all really thoughtful and sensible, and some bits really resonate.

The 'non date' is tomorrow evening, provided it doesn't get rained off. It has got even more peculiar since my last post. He now wants to go for dinner after the cycle ride (not an insane suggestion I guess) and has floated the idea of coming back with me to my parents' house for dinner. Interestingly, we only talk about all of this out of earshot of our colleagues.

Sigh. I completely agree with @scamper_22 - I don't want to steal anyone. It just starts the relationship on the wrong footing really - by our age (me, 26, him, 28) you ought to know that you need to break it off with someone before starting something new. That's hugely presumptuous, I have no idea if that's even what this is.

I find it very hard to understand but I think he may just be one of those people who gets very close to others without realising it might inappropriate, seemingly in that very ISFJ way. I have a few telltale clues - he doesn't have anywhere near as full a social life as I do, and as an extension of that does a lot cycling on his own during the week. His gf doesn't own a bike. I could understand from his perspective that it's exciting to find a new friend else to go cycling with, esp if you get on well. EVEN THOUGH IT IS TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE *gnashes teeth*.

Anyway. I'm planning to be friendly rather than flirty - I'm a crap flirt anyway - and let him say something if he likes. After that, no more one-on-one time if I can help it. I appreciate the suggestions that I should say something to him. Nine times out of ten I agree it's the best option, but a) I'm British, feelings mortify us and b) I do have to see him every day at work, and I still feel like the new girl. I'd rather not create lingering awkwardness if I can avoid it/bury my feelings under the carpet.
@ilythia when you say your ISFJ is sociable with other people (women), how sociable are we talking? Like, date-level sociable?! In his defence...he doesn't really flirt. He's just very, very lovely.

I'll keep you guys posted...more for my own sanity than anything.
 

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I have to second what @ilythia said: socializing per se doesn't mean the ISFJ is romantically interested. Depending on how solid his relationship is, I've noticed they are really able to socialize with the opposite sex without even a shred of ulterior motive. The non-date takes that concept a little far though..

Ask him somewhere between casually and seriously if his girlfriend is ok with you guys hanging out like this. That way you give him the option to be honest with you without asking him directly "is this going to be something, or what". If he asks you why you ask that and you don't want to be straight up you can always say that you realize he's in a relationship and don't want to cross any boundaries that you're unaware of.
 

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@ilythia when you say your ISFJ is sociable with other people (women), how sociable are we talking? Like, date-level sociable?! In his defence...he doesn't really flirt. He's just very, very lovely.
We had a period before when we had a lot of problems in our relationship. And I subsequently discovered that he had been chatting up girls online and being very nice to them, but also complimenting their physical characteristics and giving them some sort of special nicknames, which I classified as flirting.

Anyway we've gotten over that phase and -- I think -- he no longer does that.

Based on your description, it kinda fits the bill. A problem with ISFJs is that they find people who like them irresistible. They're looking for validation of how wonderful they are, and anyone who gives a hint of that they become very nice to, in order to obtain even more validation from that person. That is, however, just my personal observation and may be wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hello! Since I promised an update and since talking into the void evidently clears my mind a little...

To cut a long story short, we went on the non-date, and it was literally everything you'd expect from a date short of a kiss. Or really, flirting. It was just a very lovely bike ride. There was sunset and boats, and he stayed in my house til 1am eating dinner and talking. He talked a LOT (unusual for him) but, I should stress, very little sense that he was flirting.

When we were back in the office this week, he asked if he could come round for another bike ride and...as @Zoof suggested, I said I thought it wasn't a great idea, because he had a girlfriend and I was mindful he's a friend, sure, but also a colleague. Then followed a bit of back and forth where he was upset by the implication we couldn't hang out, and I tried desperately to explain that I was doing a decent thing without actually giving away any feelings. That's all played out through this week, and even now I'm not sure he fully understands. In his responses, he just kept saying things like "I don't want you to feel uncomfortable". At no point did he ever acknowledge that it might have been wrong of him to spend this much time one-on-one...he just kept focusing on me, and how I felt. Nor did he ever mention his girlfriend, despite this being the centre of the whole issue (!). It was utterly infuriating.

So far, it seems like not much has really changed beyond my refusing to spend time together outside work. He still emails a lot during work hours and seeks me out, and I think he's puzzled by what I've said, but I'm trying hard to reconcile myself with the fact that it's all totally platonic.

Thank you for listening!
 

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I think it's pretty safe to assume that he's very much attracted to you. It must be frustrating that he isn't taking ownership of the situation. For me personally, it's really hard to make a big change like breaking up with a long time partner even if I'm dissatisfied. Because it's like I broke a promise and didn't hold up my end of the deal. Sometimes, only when the other person does something truly terrible can I justify cutting ties.

If you want him to make a decision about his relationship, I think you may want to explain that you're able to spend that kind of time with him only if he's single. As it is now, he might be thinking that you don't like him as much anymore, therefore you wouldn't be interested even if he did end his relationship.
 

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Hello! Since I promised an update and since talking into the void evidently clears my mind a little...

To cut a long story short, we went on the non-date, and it was literally everything you'd expect from a date short of a kiss. Or really, flirting. It was just a very lovely bike ride. There was sunset and boats, and he stayed in my house til 1am eating dinner and talking. He talked a LOT (unusual for him) but, I should stress, very little sense that he was flirting.

When we were back in the office this week, he asked if he could come round for another bike ride and...as @Zoof suggested, I said I thought it wasn't a great idea, because he had a girlfriend and I was mindful he's a friend, sure, but also a colleague. Then followed a bit of back and forth where he was upset by the implication we couldn't hang out, and I tried desperately to explain that I was doing a decent thing without actually giving away any feelings. That's all played out through this week, and even now I'm not sure he fully understands. In his responses, he just kept saying things like "I don't want you to feel uncomfortable". At no point did he ever acknowledge that it might have been wrong of him to spend this much time one-on-one...he just kept focusing on me, and how I felt. Nor did he ever mention his girlfriend, despite this being the centre of the whole issue (!). It was utterly infuriating.

So far, it seems like not much has really changed beyond my refusing to spend time together outside work. He still emails a lot during work hours and seeks me out, and I think he's puzzled by what I've said, but I'm trying hard to reconcile myself with the fact that it's all totally platonic.

Thank you for listening!
Wish I could help more; but I (like you) am an INTJ...I believe my wife is ISFJ (but I don't know how male ISFJs differ from female; besides, we've been married forever, it's not like she's dating someone else and spending time with me on the side). The proferring practical things for you and remembering stuff about you *is* how ISFJs show devotion.

Best I can suggest is that, since he is not mentioning the girlfriend, and is focusing on you, is that he is trying to start a relationship with you before he breaks up with her.

That's probably not what you *wanted* to hear, judging by the rest of the thread, but (being a man!) I can tell you that I wouldn't spend time until 1AM over a gal's house (ESPECIALLY 1-on-1 !!) unless I were "interested."
Incidentally, just as a note to the socially-oblivious INTJ part of you: in most circles, for a woman to allow a man to be alone with her until 1 AM is generally considered a "no-brainer" that she's feeling amorous and not platonic.
Exception being if you're studying for a quantum mechanics final...

Best wishes
 
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I think it's pretty safe to assume that he's very much attracted to you. It must be frustrating that he isn't taking ownership of the situation. For me personally, it's really hard to make a big change like breaking up with a long time partner even if I'm dissatisfied. Because it's like I broke a promise and didn't hold up my end of the deal. Sometimes, only when the other person does something truly terrible can I justify cutting ties.

If you want him to make a decision about his relationship, I think you may want to explain that you're able to spend that kind of time with him only if he's single. As it is now, he might be thinking that you don't like him as much anymore, therefore you wouldn't be interested even if he did end his relationship.
I think what you say is completely within the bounds of possibility but as you say, he isn't taking ownership of the situation, so there's just no way for me to be sure. It seems like I *could* just take a risk and spill my feelings but let's say you and I are wrong. The only person that loses - badly - is me. That might be ok if we never see each other again, but I see him every day. *misery*.

And there is the small voice in the back of my head that just says, he's a nice guy, that maybe doesn't have that many close friends, and is just happy to meet someone with shared interests. And finally, there's the whole breaking-a-couple-up....awful! I think the only thing I can really do is see how things play out. To be honest, if he keeps pushing me to spend time, I'm just going to end up doing the standard INTJ thing and emo-splode everywhere, so he'll know eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's probably not what you *wanted* to hear, judging by the rest of the thread, but (being a man!) I can tell you that I wouldn't spend time until 1AM over a gal's house (ESPECIALLY 1-on-1 !!) unless I were "interested."
Incidentally, just as a note to the socially-oblivious INTJ part of you: in most circles, for a woman to allow a man to be alone with her until 1 AM is generally considered a "no-brainer" that she's feeling amorous and not platonic.
Haha, I was well-aware it was a no-brainer...but that's why the thing's puzzled me. How does he not realise how I feel, given all that's happened! And why it's inappropriate for him to have STAYED til 1am when he has a gf! Rargh!

But yes, I dunno, objectively I feel you must be right, he must like me but...yet nothing's ever explicit, and it's been months now. *headache*.
 
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