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I noticed that a recurring theme around this forum is the struggle of INFJs with loneliness and distance. Myself, my INFJ characteristics didn't become quite so pronounced as until the period after high school and during college when I realised that the 'friends' that I had kept during high school had little in common with me once high school was over and I felt quite estranged from the world as I had known it (before, during my senior year of high school and when I was consulting with the careers advisor, I was typing more as an ENFJ/INFJ).

So it got me wondering ...

Does loneliness make the INFJ?

Or, conversely, is it possible to be an INFJ without experiencing a (significant) period of loneliness (perceived or actual)?

Perhaps it is during this period of loneliness that we sink deeper within ourselves, trying to grasp for whatever it is that lies there to fill the emptiness, the void that the world outside could not fill? That this is when the insights come to us, when we are more receptive to and persistent on our quest for knowledge and meaning, making us introspective and what some people may call 'deep'.

Perhaps this solitude brings upon our feelings of disconnection from the rest of the world; with the social masquerades shredded and discarded and having nothing to hide behind but ourselves, we are forced to confront ourselves for who we truly are, becoming painfully aware of our difference, the strangeness that we can never seem to put our finger on. We begin to carry it like a mystery, an inscrutable cloak, the reason why people find us hard to read.

And perhaps it is this knowledge of what it feels like to be alone that makes us wary of others, and cautious when approaching new relationships, but when the right one strikes, we thrive and keep it close to our hearts like a flame struck in the dark?

I'm not saying that you have to be lonely to be an INFJ or loneliness with lead to INFJ-ness. Rather, I am proposing that it is during this loneliness that any innate or latent INFJ characteristics within a person are brought out to the fore and we become, or at least formally recognise ourselves as, INFJ's.

I will be interested to know if anyone has experienced anything similiar (or different) and what their thoughts are on this? Feel free to elaborate as you please.

For me, my loneliness matured me significantly as a person, and made me more self-aware, particularly of what is important and of my goals are in life. I realised that I enjoy my own company, that I love other people and treasure our moments spent together, but I don't need relationships to survive - I can exist happily with myself. It's not cold-hearted, just introspective. And I like being caught up in my head - it's so exciting what goes on up there! (And I swear I'm not insane ... )

I can't regret it (and wouldn't change my experience) because, for me, it has made, or at least unearthed, the INFJ that I am today.
 

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Not sure, but there is a difference between being alone, and loneliness. As an only child, I more or less grew up in that state of affairs and did singular activity often.
Being around lots of people and getting drained by it should still fit the mold for an INFJ...even if we have Fe...doesn't mean we necessarily need to be around them.
 

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Does loneliness make the INFJ?

Or, conversely, is it possible to be an INFJ without experiencing a (significant) period of loneliness (perceived or actual)?
Nope. If we are going by the definition of what 'INFJ' means, then no - since INFJ, according to JCF, means you use Ni-Fe as your primary functions. And that's it.

However, I understand where you're getting at...and I will remain with my observations and opinion that the frequency of Type-4s have subsequently painted the portrait of the INFJ. Take a look at what you have written here:

Perhaps this solitude brings upon our feelings of disconnection from the rest of the world; with the social masquerades shredded and discarded and having nothing to hide behind but ourselves, we are forced to confront ourselves for who we truly are, becoming painfully aware of our difference, the strangeness that we can never seem to put our finger on. We begin to carry it like a mystery, an inscrutable cloak, the reason why people find us hard to read.

I'm not saying that you have to be lonely to be an INFJ or loneliness with lead to INFJ-ness. Rather, I am proposing that it is during this loneliness that any innate or latent INFJ characteristics within a person are brought out to the fore and we become, or at least formally recognise ourselves as, INFJ's.
If you read up on Type-4, you'll see that a 'fundamental disconnection' is at the core of this type. The fundamental disconnection is exactly how a Type-4 formulates his identity, which is the main focus of the Type 4 (image).

Let's not forget that the 'fundamental connection' is simply a state of mind. "You're unique...just like everyone else." By focusing on many differences between yourself and the surrounding persons, you are consciously separating yourself. That is how the image is formed - and because of the large population of Type-4 INFJs (and thus the 'commonly-seen theme' here), the attitude is pretty widespread.

So, I suppose it makes a pretty common portrait of the INFJ. But overall, no. There are INFJs who don't have the same sentiments...though these numbers are generally overwhelmed by the 4-population.
 

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I went through that same period after high-school. I have few friends, but I'm no longer alone, I felt confident I had searched myself and found what I needed, and shortly after I found what I always wanted. I think that long depression and introspection doesn't make the INFJ as the INFJ makes it.
 
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I was going to say the same thing Lost said and agree that much of what you are describing I believe to be type 4 qualities.

Of course I've felt alone in my life (haven't we all?) and good things came from it I suppose but I've always enjoyed my own company and known it. When I feel lonely, I do not enjoy it though. It's sort of contradictory but that's how it is for me. Well I guess it's not all that bizarre :)
 

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Like somebody else said above, I think there's a difference between loneliness and being alone. I must say, I have always been a lone wolf, but rarely have I felt lonely. In fact, I've felt loneliness when I'm surrounded by people, because I cannot really relate to them, and them to me. But when I'm by myself, I am free of pretenses and I can be who I am as opposed to accommodating to society's expectations of who I should be. When it comes to the latter, how can I not feel lonely when I am expected to be someone who I am not? I am playing a persona, a role of something that maybe deep inside I cannot relate to, and thus, I feel like people are in love of this mask rather than the person inside.

Of course, there comes a time when a voice inside my head is telling me to come down the mountain(metaphorically speaking) because too much solitude is dangerous as well. I just try to keep it balanced.
 

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I would assume that a highly introverted INFJ, or one who has social anxiety or something similar, could feel rather lonely at times. The Fe wants to be around people, but the overall introversion limits that to one degree or another. Is this what you're getting at?

Personally, I'm single and independent and "alone" pretty much anytime I'm not at work. But I'm not lonely. I'm quite content. But I'm also a 9, so there's that. Solitude is amazing when it comes to seeking peace and harmony, lol.
 

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I think I realized that part of the fault is my own. I do not try as hard as most people to make a connection in terms of texting, facebook, cell phones, anything that devalues face to face interaction. When I meet someone it is something about them that triggers me to pursue their company a little more so it isnt that I am socially retarded just that I dont crave social interaction like others and am really picky about letting people in.

I rarely feel lonely, and my relationships develop really slowly unless I get approached but I must usually make the first move.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I would assume that a highly introverted INFJ, or one who has social anxiety or something similar, could feel rather lonely at times. The Fe wants to be around people, but the overall introversion limits that to one degree or another. Is this what you're getting at?
To an extent.

In my first post, I'm not describing loneliness to the point of mental disorder, such as social anxiety or depression (I've had neither), but just an encounter with it enough to get you thinking.

For an example, I'm an introvert but only just. Outwardly, you'd never guess, because I'm warm, engaging, and quite outspoken. I've always been surrounded by people and good at striking up friendships, so that was what made the sudden estrangement from friends quite unexpected and impacting on me as I'd never thought that it would happen to me (but sometimes life just gets in the way!).

Although there is a difference between loneliness and aloneness, I feel to an extent that you have to get past the former in order to feel comfortable with the latter and hence become an INFJ :)
 

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Like somebody else said above, I think there's a difference between loneliness and being alone. I must say, I have always been a lone wolf, but rarely have I felt lonely. In fact, I've felt loneliness when I'm surrounded by people, because I cannot really relate to them, and them to me.
That is the worst type of loneliness, you can be more lonely in a room of 25 people you can't relate to... and feel more connected and at ease reading a dead author.

I'm not so sure Fe wants to be around people (at least not a lot of them, and not "random" people), INFJ's are still introverts, it is more of basing your decisions off an extroverted F value... often ethical choices. Being around people is sometimes nice though, but I think most introverts are still going to need that crucial alone time to soak in everything that was gathered in that being around people experience.
 

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For an example, I'm an introvert but only just. Outwardly, you'd never guess, because I'm warm, engaging, and quite outspoken. I've always been surrounded by people and good at striking up friendships, so that was what made the sudden estrangement from friends quite unexpected and impacting on me as I'd never thought that it would happen to me (but sometimes life just gets in the way!).

Although there is a difference between loneliness and aloneness, I feel to an extent that you have to get past the former in order to feel comfortable with the latter and hence become an INFJ :)
Well, just like there is a difference between loneliness and being alone, I bolded a part of your post because there is also a BIG difference between being an introvert and being shy. Again, two different things. I am introverted but I am not shy or bashful in conversations whatsoever. And no, you wouldn't notice it in conversation, you will notice it when I don't want to hang out as much as you do or decline an invite to go out on Saturday night because I already went out Thursday-Friday night, when I go out of town and they ask with who and I say myself, and things of that nature. There are many E types that are more shy and socially awkward than I types for example.

But, back to the initial question... I would say being alone (not necessarily the despair which comes from loneliness) are crucial for an INFJ, at least a healthy one. The question is which came first, the outer development, or were we predisposed to being that way since birth. Personally I think they both contribute.
 

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Like somebody else said above, I think there's a difference between loneliness and being alone. I must say, I have always been a lone wolf, but rarely have I felt lonely. In fact, I've felt loneliness when I'm surrounded by people, because I cannot really relate to them, and them to me. But when I'm by myself, I am free of pretenses and I can be who I am as opposed to accommodating to society's expectations of who I should be. When it comes to the latter, how can I not feel lonely when I am expected to be someone who I am not? I am playing a persona, a role of something that maybe deep inside I cannot relate to, and thus, I feel like people are in love of this mask rather than the person inside.

Of course, there comes a time when a voice inside my head is telling me to come down the mountain(metaphorically speaking) because too much solitude is dangerous as well. I just try to keep it balanced.
Wow. So well put, Iconoclastic Visionary.

When I'm socializing it can feel so lonely, it's like I exist on a different 'plane'. I don't care about gossip, so there goes at least 50% of all conversation. However, if there's another INFx in the room, I'll recognize and approach you because I do crave human interaction. I want to connect with someone who speaks my language, and there are so few of us.

When I'm alone in my own space I can expand (let my soul take wing!) and be my quirky self without judgment. I really do enjoy my own company, where I feel free, and prefer it to socializing with 'non-speakers.'
 

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Not sure, but there is a difference between being alone, and loneliness.
Indeed. I'd far rather stand alone, than fall alone.




(But company is always welcomed. :D )
 

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I have discovered I am type 4 a few weeks ago. I thought I was 9.
Anyway. I had the same problem. It seemed like being depressed and lonely made me do a lot of thinking or life and the future which I associate with Ni.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I am introverted but I am not shy or bashful in conversations whatsoever. And no, you wouldn't notice it in conversation, you will notice it when I don't want to hang out as much as you do or decline an invite to go out on Saturday night because I already went out Thursday-Friday night, when I go out of town and they ask with who and I say myself, and things of that nature. There are many E types that are more shy and socially awkward than I types for example.

But, back to the initial question... I would say being alone (not necessarily the despair which comes from loneliness) are crucial for an INFJ, at least a healthy one. The question is which came first, the outer development, or were we predisposed to being that way since birth. Personally I think they both contribute.
Very insightful. I must agree. Even in high school, I was making up excuses as to why I couldn't go out or attend a particular party because I felt that I had gone out enough times that week (filled my 'quota') and needed some time alone.

Perhaps you are right. Perhaps it's aloneness that's integral to INFJ.

Having said that, why do so many INFJ's struggle with it, and turn it into loneliness? (look around this forum).

PS. As a side note to posters above, yes, I'm an indeed a Type 4 :) I always thought it related to me because I'm an innately creative person (love to write and draw), but I'd look into your recommendations. Thanks!
 

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From my pespective: I would say there is a difference between my alone time and loneliness. Alone time is that time where i am by myself and love every minute of it. This doesn't bother me, I look forward to it. This isn't forced on me, I seek it out.

Then there is the state of being alone as in not having any connections with other people. I am not referring to "shallow" acquaintances, such as work friends. These are sincere friendships, just shallow, and therefore do nothing to fill that void. And since a "deeper" connection like this is a two way street, this type of loneliness can be forced on a person (if no one sincerely reciprocates the connection).

It has been posed to me that perhaps with friendships, I am judging "shallow" and "deeper" too strictly, that I am too picky. I think folk get the impression that I believe a relationship has to be deep from the first step, and that isn't what I mean. I considered perhaps I was being too rigid, but eventually I ruled it out. It is more about connection than a rule, so it isn't hard and fast, you have to "feel it out" as it where. Either the connection is there or it isn't; trying to get "deeper" with someone where that connection isn't there is pointless. It's lipstick on a pig; dressing up a shallow relationship as a deeper one doesn't make it deeper. However in my interaction with these "shallow" relationships, I am always feeling to see if there is any chance for something more. I make it sound more mystifying and complicated than it really is. It comes quite natural, I just have a poor way of explaining simply. :D

And as we know, we can be in a room full of people and be the loneliest person in the world. So surrounding ourselves with shallow relationships we are trying to force (or "give a chance") to become deeper doesn't mean we aren't lonely. Personally I would rather die alone than settle for a relationship that is disjointed like that.

So for me, I love being alone, but I hate the fact I am forced to be lonely simply because no one reciprocates the deeper connection I long for (not to sound pathetic lol). I can't stop being lonely because I can't force that connection I am seeking, and without that connection, I am lonely.
 

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Very insightful. I must agree. Even in high school, I was making up excuses as to why I couldn't go out or attend a particular party because I felt that I had gone out enough times that week (filled my 'quota') and needed some time alone.

Perhaps you are right. Perhaps it's aloneness that's integral to INFJ.

Having said that, why do so many INFJ's struggle with it, and turn it into loneliness? (look around this forum).

PS. As a side note to posters above, yes, I'm an indeed a Type 4 :) I always thought it related to me because I'm an innately creative person (love to write and draw), but I'd look into your recommendations. Thanks!
I would theorize that a lot of people here are actually depressed and searching for answers then combine that with type of how there life is. Misery loves company.

@ohnoeitzjoez I would say instead of using it shallow (which has the connotation of being superficial or lacking feeling) you just call them colleagues (which means by default, these people aren't going to fill the role of confidant to you) Sometimes it is hard to reach out to colleagues as it might put your work/school life in jeopardy. I've found I become better friends with some colleagues from work after I have left a certain company, then all of a sudden it's like "hey let's actually talk and hang out".
 

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That probably is a better term to use for those at work. I use shallow to describe the connection, not the person (though I understand how it could unintentionally look like I am implying such). I never mean to judge the people as shallow.
 

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I think there is a difference between 1. solitude, 2. loneliness that leads you to greater spiritual awareness, and 3. the absence of intimacy.
What INFJs seem to complain about is the absence of intimacy, not just loneliness. I know for myself that I like to have my moments of solitude, even periods of agony that lead to betterment of my self. But once in a while when I move out into the real world, it is nice to have at least some one to share something absolutely mundane with, without annoying small talks and counselling sessions (from us to them).
It does get tiring to be talking to strangers on the internet, posting in chat rooms and living inside one's own head all the time. One does not assume automatically that to be an INFJ is to agree to The Bet (Anton Chekov). If that's how its supposed to be then I would rather love to be an ethereal entity who does not have to walk out in the real world to feel that I hardly belong anywhere. We are people too, its quite natural to expect that the "social animal" stuff applies to us too. And once you have banged your head against every possible opportunity for brief moments of intimacy, it can make anyone a whacko.
 
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