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Discussion Starter #1
Heya, I'm not an INFP but I need to ask you all a question and couldn't find a thread for that.

Do you guys not like questions, and that's why there's no thread?:laughing:
(That's my first question I guess.)

But here's the real deal:
I'm an ISFJ, mom's an INFP. It seems like whenever I try to talk to her about something that's bothering me, she gets kind of emotionally unavailable and frustrated with me. She doesn't ask questions, and when she does, they are questions based on her own values. Not open-ended. So I don't talk to her a lot because I find it hard to trust her with stuff, and she gets frustrated that I don't talk to her more.

What is going on??


How do you suggest confronting her about it?

Why do you think this is happening?

Thanks you guys. I realize this is a big question but any help would be much appreciated. And feel free to venture off from this whenever you like.
 

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Hard to answer, as I don't share personal stuff with my own parents either, also because of lack op open-mindedness and lack of understanding / interest in understanding on deeper level. In worst case even used against me, which is the biggest dealbreaker in the universe.

How much of it would you put on generational differences? Other than that I guess if you talk to your mom about your daily woes, it wouldn't necessarily trigger her positively to ''experiment'' with the material you bring to conversation.

Also is it something you already talked about before?
 

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could you perhaps explain a bit more detailed? give an example or just what kind of things that might bother you? I feel there is a little too little to go on to make a guess here.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
How much of it would you put on generational differences? Other than that I guess if you talk to your mom about your daily woes, it wouldn't necessarily trigger her positively to ''experiment'' with the material you bring to conversation.

Also is it something you already talked about before?
I’m not sure about the generational differences part, but to go into more detail I guess I would say I’ve never been very open with her about things. I’m trying to think if there was a specific scenario way back where I felt shut out or had any of the issues above... and I guess I can’t think of anything specifically.

I guess I would say I have a general feeling of distrust with her, it seems like she has always talked at me as soon as I got home. About her day, her troubles, family troubles, troubles with my siblings (I’m the oldest). I haven’t felt safe to talk to her in return, because I’ve been the listener most of the time.

One question I have, after thinking about this, is if this even has to do with being an INFP? Maybe I took it to be a personality thing when it’s really not.
 

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I'm so sorry you've had that experience. For me personally, I always try to be polite, welcoming, and accomodating, but I do tend to talk about myself as a default, because I assume that if the other person is interested in and comfortable with sharing about themselves, then they will. I inherently expect conversation to go ABABAB (person A speaking, person B speaking, person A, and so on), and I feel awkward when it's just AAAA. Additionally, I wouldn't share very openly unless I really liked and trusted someone. I think that it is an INFP tendency to think in terms of taking care of one's own bubble and not wanting to "intrude" on others' space, and so we unintentionally can seem self-absorbed or disinterested, even though we usually care a huge amount about others, especially those we love, and we usually do try to observe them closely and understand them, even if it's not always very explicit listening during conversation. I cannot say for certain, but I would be willing to guess that she is intending her sharing a lot emotionally with you to act as a demonstration that she is desiring conversation with you. It sounds like she trusts you very deeply and considers you a confidante. I'm sorry you haven't felt as welcomed to feel a similar way with her.

I think it would be helpful to your mom if you told her that you would really appreciate if she could assist you in processing hard situations by her asking you open-ended questions. Personally, I am not always good at figuring out what other people need/desire out of me in conversation, but I am eager to please them if they explain how I can best support them. You can also tell her that you would feel more supported and listened to if she asked you to share first and then shared about her day. INFPs are usually pretty flexible/ adaptable/accommodating and changing their behaviors is usually not highly demanding for them.

As for why it's happened, I'm guessing an unintentional negative feedback loop. Probably she started talking to you about her day one day when she was very wound up (sometimes when I get very emotional I really really really need to vent to someone to help me process), and then you sort of felt steamrolled by the me-me-me, so you were quieter, but then she felt like you weren't engaging and she still wanted to have close interaction with you, so she filled the space between you with her discussion topics, so then you talked even less; rinse and repeat. That's just my conjecture, though.

It may be worth considering Enneagram types here. I see your 9w1-5w6-2w1 self-typing. Any thoughts on what type she may be, and if it affects her communication? I think my ISFJ husband actually has that exact same type... crazy... well, given that, I can tell you that he is very stoic... and he tends to not share things that I would share immediately, like major stressors. I think sometimes I just don't ask the right questions, but I don't really always know which questions to ask. I've gotten better at looking for little clues in his body language, but he's still a pretty private person emotionally, and INFPs communicate primarily emotionally. It may be that your mom is having a hard time bridging the gap between you.

Can you go into more about why you feel distrust with her, and a lack of safety? Do you feel like she will just not care, and that will be hurtful, or she won't help you process in the way you need, which would just set you back, or some other kind of feeling? Distrust and lack of safety are very strong feelings...

I hope things improve for you and her :)
 

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I'm an ISFJ, mom's an INFP. It seems like whenever I try to talk to her about something that's bothering me, she gets kind of emotionally unavailable and frustrated with me.
This to me sounds like a miscommunication of needs. At the end of the day you might just want your problems to be heard, acknowledged and feel validated in that way. It might be she is fixed on seeking to find a solution to what is bothering you that she is withdrawing from her emotions to do that and when its for nothing this might be where her frustration comes into play. When actually the solution is under her nose. Does she have a partner to share the load? That might have to do with emotional availability. INFPs are notorious for bottling up emotions when there is no trusted outlet.

I haven’t felt safe to talk to her in return, because I’ve been the listener most of the time.
What kind of excuse is this? She is your mother, she knows you very well and is most likely the most well meaning human you're going to have in your life. Have these conversations with her :rolleyes:.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm so sorry you've had that experience. For me personally, I always try to be polite, welcoming, and accomodating, but I do tend to talk about myself as a default, because I assume that if the other person is interested in and comfortable with sharing about themselves, then they will. I inherently expect conversation to go ABABAB (person A speaking, person B speaking, person A, and so on), and I feel awkward when it's just AAAA. Additionally, I wouldn't share very openly unless I really liked and trusted someone. I think that it is an INFP tendency to think in terms of taking care of one's own bubble and not wanting to "intrude" on others' space, and so we unintentionally can seem self-absorbed or disinterested, even though we usually care a huge amount about others, especially those we love, and we usually do try to observe them closely and understand them, even if it's not always very explicit listening during conversation. I cannot say for certain, but I would be willing to guess that she is intending her sharing a lot emotionally with you to act as a demonstration that she is desiring conversation with you. It sounds like she trusts you very deeply and considers you a confidante. I'm sorry you haven't felt as welcomed to feel a similar way with her.

I think it would be helpful to your mom if you told her that you would really appreciate if she could assist you in processing hard situations by her asking you open-ended questions. Personally, I am not always good at figuring out what other people need/desire out of me in conversation, but I am eager to please them if they explain how I can best support them. You can also tell her that you would feel more supported and listened to if she asked you to share first and then shared about her day. INFPs are usually pretty flexible/ adaptable/accommodating and changing their behaviors is usually not highly demanding for them.

As for why it's happened, I'm guessing an unintentional negative feedback loop. Probably she started talking to you about her day one day when she was very wound up (sometimes when I get very emotional I really really really need to vent to someone to help me process), and then you sort of felt steamrolled by the me-me-me, so you were quieter, but then she felt like you weren't engaging and she still wanted to have close interaction with you, so she filled the space between you with her discussion topics, so then you talked even less; rinse and repeat. That's just my conjecture, though.
Thanks for the advice, I hadn't even thought about the fact that she may be trying to get me to engage. That cycle is exactly what happened.

Per your advice, I actually had a quick chat with her about it. I just said that I sometimes felt overwhelmed when she shared a lot of personal things with me at once and that it would be helpful if she asked me questions sometimes. She said that she stopped asking questions because I didn't give thorough answers, but that she would try and do that. (This is all my wording from what I remember)

At first I thought that she seemed upset (I usually fear underlying feelings of anger with her, she's prone to bottle things up like you said and get emotional and a little passive-aggressive. But, I'm a nine, so I have that fear with most people), but after I thought about it, I think she really was fine with it but not used to the confrontation. Which makes sense, since I haven't been talking much to her. She apologized and I did too. We agreed that we both did a bad job communicating.

Hopefully things get better, and I now know that I need to be a little more expressive when she asks questions, so she knows that I'm engaged with her. It's a learning curve but we'll see what happens!

It may be worth considering Enneagram types here. I see your 9w1-5w6-2w1 self-typing. Any thoughts on what type she may be, and if it affects her communication? I think my ISFJ husband actually has that exact same type... crazy... well, given that, I can tell you that he is very stoic... and he tends to not share things that I would share immediately, like major stressors. I think sometimes I just don't ask the right questions, but I don't really always know which questions to ask. I've gotten better at looking for little clues in his body language, but he's still a pretty private person emotionally, and INFPs communicate primarily emotionally. It may be that your mom is having a hard time bridging the gap between you.
So she's taken the test a few times, but hasn't really looked into it much to my knowledge. The test says she's a 2, but I could also see her as a 9, 6, or 4. It's honestly hard to figure her out and she can't seem to figure herself out either, which makes me think she's more of a 9.

And about your husband... that's crazy! If it helps, I think I can come off pretty stoic to people too, even though I am a sensitive person. I know that I have deep emotions, but I think I subconsciously shove them down to preserve the peace (mine and others'). I know it's not helpful at all, and thanks to the enneagram I'm trying to work on it.

When it comes to questions and deep conversation, I honestly do need a lot of questions, and actually appreciate it a lot when people ask. I think that because I haven't taken time to really get deep with myself- what I'm feeling, what I want... you know, the whole falling asleep to yourself thing- I don't express things with others very freely or even know what the normal things to express would be.

So all of that said, don't feel bad about asking the right questions. The crux of a nine is falling asleep to themselves and I know for me, any question at all is helpful as long as I'm willing to put in the effort of waking up at that moment. It's a hard cycle to break, but people need people. People need to share. I hope that your husband feels more and more comfortable sharing with you and that he finds value in his showing up!



Can you go into more about why you feel distrust with her, and a lack of safety? Do you feel like she will just not care, and that will be hurtful, or she won't help you process in the way you need, which would just set you back, or some other kind of feeling? Distrust and lack of safety are very strong feelings...

I hope things improve for you and her :)
I'm not quite sure honestly. She's really not neglectful or a bad mom in any way, and we do have a strong relationship although it used to be stronger. I think I'm mostly afraid (even though it feels wrong) of the emotional load and the strength it would take to share things with her. I guess it's the 9 in me thinking it's better to bottle things up, even though I know that through that pain I would find much more relief.

I suppose I'm also afraid of her reaction. If she will react negatively, if she will shut down, if she will be hurt by something I say. I'm afraid to share something with her, for fear of losing that connection or feeling ashamed.

But at the same time, she has reacted positively in the past. And I don't have to jump straight into anything huge, just take baby-steps.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This to me sounds like a miscommunication of needs. At the end of the day you might just want your problems to be heard, acknowledged and feel validated in that way. It might be she is fixed on seeking to find a solution to what is bothering you that she is withdrawing from her emotions to do that and when its for nothing this might be where her frustration comes into play. When actually the solution is under her nose. Does she have a partner to share the load? That might have to do with emotional availability. INFPs are notorious for bottling up emotions when there is no trusted outlet.
Yeah, that could be it. We've both been bad at communicating needs to each other. I'm going to work to be more expressive about my needs, and talk to her about hers.

She does, and he's a 3w2 SO (he read The Sacred Enneagram and everything). I'm not sure about the exact dynamics of their relationship, but I think she does sometimes feel emotionally stubbed. He's an ENTJ, busy with work stress and sometimes doesn't communicate emotionally to her as much as she would like.

That being said, they have a good relationship. They got engaged in high school, and I think they're good at communicating, although this topic is touchy for them.

What kind of excuse is this? She is your mother, she knows you very well and is most likely the most well meaning human you're going to have in your life. Have these conversations with her :rolleyes:.
You're right, it's not. I don't want to pretend that any of this is an excuse to not communicate with her because I know that's more important than crappy excuses. Just trying to process things and most of it is a crappy excuse that I need to work out. Thanks for your honesty.
 

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This is interesting for my mother is an SFJ and we are at loggerheads for a long time now despite a lot of personal sacrifices that have been made from both sides. I don't think it is not an mbti thing (double negative in a sentence, but I like using them, kinda like a stylistic thing). It is definitely a communication problem. Looking at the four functions of the two types would be fruitful. INFP is Fi Ne. ISFP is Si Fe. So the first difference is that your perceiving function is the unbalanced obsessive one (Si) and her judging function is the unbalanced one (Fi). These are things that you do not have much control over. You have to have a familiarity of routine in your life. She has to go by her internal values. The middle two functions are more helpful. She is Ne-Si. So, her perceiving of situations, her perceptions basically, can help you see things better. You are Fe-Ti in your middle/balanced functions. But these judging functions run on a whole different place from her overcharged Fi. So, any kind of judgement from you would run counter to her Fi and she would flip out, which she is doing. Understandably so.

What you can do is stand your ground whenever she dismisses you. Ask what her overall perception about the thing is. She is more experienced than you in life. And a normal Fi dom would not run over the feelings of another person, let alone their own daughter. One question from you and insistence from you for her to pay attention and answer honestly is, "What do you think about _____?" She would speak her mind out. Would also end up communicating any repressed emotions this way (INFPs are clever in this that they would fit in their own emotions into any conversation). And ultimately you and your mom will establish a flow of communication that has been blocked for a while.

My own mother is so darned repressed and into her late sixties now. I just have no idea how I would ever be able to talk to her. I do believe SFJs and NFPs can really make wonderful relationships. It is a tragedy that I have failed so badly.
 
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In my experience this is often totally the SJ conflicting with the NP. My questions are often of the "what if" type, or at least coming from a silmilar place. SJs tend to be a little more on the "What has to be done?" and "What has been accomplished". Not that they can't be playful, but that comes after everything else is done. It makes for a difficult dynamic if both aren't aware and ready to give leeway for the different instinctive motivations.
 

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You have to have a familiarity of routine in your life. She has to go by her internal values. The middle two functions are more helpful. She is Ne-Si. So, her perceiving of situations, her perceptions basically, can help you see things better. You are Fe-Ti in your middle/balanced functions. But these judging functions run on a whole different place from her overcharged Fi. So, any kind of judgement from you would run counter to her Fi and she would flip out, which she is doing. Understandably so.
Aha! Lightbulb! I'm not very experienced with MBTI so that clears things up.

What you can do is stand your ground whenever she dismisses you. Ask what her overall perception about the thing is. She is more experienced than you in life. And a normal Fi dom would not run over the feelings of another person, let alone their own daughter. One question from you and insistence from you for her to pay attention and answer honestly is, "What do you think about _____?" She would speak her mind out. Would also end up communicating any repressed emotions this way (INFPs are clever in this that they would fit in their own emotions into any conversation). And ultimately you and your mom will establish a flow of communication that has been blocked for a while.
Will do. Aye aye captain

My own mother is so darned repressed and into her late sixties now. I just have no idea how I would ever be able to talk to her. I do believe SFJs and NFPs can really make wonderful relationships. It is a tragedy that I have failed so badly.
Hey, don't beat yourself up. Communication fails because of both parties, not just one. No matter what you've done.
 
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