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Hey INFPs, long time no see. It's recently come to my attention that I might expect too much from people - friends, coworkers, family, people I date, etc - and this causes problems that might be unnecessary.

I've seen a lot of INFPs mention feeling like they're aching for someone to come along and understand them, that they feel like they have a hole in their chest that needs to be filled. I have that feeling too, completely, and it drives me crazy. I have a theory, and it may or may not be true, but I thought I'd present it for people to agree or disagree with.

Do you think that this feeling might mainly be caused by a lack of self-love?

People who claim to love themselves seem happy with their friendships and relationships. They seem to appreciate what they have, rather than feeling this intense lack in themselves and their relationships with people. Could that be the real solution, instead of finding these rare, magic people to connect to? The solution isn't external but internal?

Someone gave me a really good piece of advice a few months ago, and they said something like, "You keep waiting for this person to come and rescue you, and encourage you, and take you on adventures, and make sure you take care of yourself... why don't you try to be that person for yourself?" It's weird, but when I take their advice, I do start to feel a bit better. I haven't been super consistent yet, but I have good results when I sit down and really try. I feel a little less lonely, a little more capable and confident.

So I guess I'm wondering first of all, what you think this feeling is caused by? I know some people's external circumstances really AREN'T conducive to connecting with tons of people (frustrated atheist living in the Bible Belt, etc), but in a general sense. Also, is there anyone out there who used to feel that empty, lonely feeling and now does not? How did you get rid of it??

And any advice for how to stop expecting so much from people and be more satisfied? I'll admit, I don't always want to stop expecting a lot from people. Sometimes I tell myself that someone has to hold others to a high standard, blahbitty blah. Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't, but it causes problems sometimes.
 

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Someone gave me a really good piece of advice a few months ago, and they said something like, "You keep waiting for this person to come and rescue you, and encourage you, and take you on adventures, and make sure you take care of yourself... why don't you try to be that person for yourself?" It's weird, but when I take their advice, I do start to feel a bit better. I haven't been super consistent yet, but I have good results when I sit down and really try. I feel a little less lonely, a little more capable and confident.
I think whoever told you this is probably right on. :)

I know in the past when I've felt the way that you describe, it's like I'm waiting for a rescuer (just like the person you talked to said). Someone who's going to fulfill and do all these things for me. The more that I wait, the more frustrated I get as that person doesn't come along, but when I begin to take more things into my own hands things seem to get better.

So, it sounds like we've had a similar sort of experience. And, I think you're right too - I think it has a lot to do with self-love, something that I've had to practice. :)

In a situation like this, it's almost like I'm not looking for a relationship, but a caretaker, and I think I've had to learn (several times!) that I need to play that role for myself.
 

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Hmm...that's a good one. I often feel that way as well, and people say the same things to me. I feel like in order for me to do that, I have to become cold and just not care too much. Sounds wierd, doesn't it? When I hear people say that they love themselves, etc., they usually seem very shallow. The only real good example I can give is those people who hear about a personal issue, and say something like "aww, well it'll get better" and offer nothing further as they turn their head and start talking to other people. Perhaps other people just use the whole self-actualized and self-love thing as a defense mechanism, or maybe they just don't want to deal with the monumental effort of deep connections. I too hold other people, especially a romantic interest, to very high standards (like don't cheat on me or lie to me, which seems to be hard to come by these days) but I firmly believe that they are not *unreasonable.* So, don't feel bad about that!

As far as the empty feeling thing goes, I feel like that when: 1) A love interest hurts me, 2) If I stop and think too long about past things that hurt me. My coping mechanism is to just stop dwelling by delving into hobbies (running and video games for me...not at the same time of course). Sadly, it is ever-present for me but I tolerate it. I still have this ridiculous idea that I'll meet some wonderful girl who will fill that void but I think that stuff is really for Hollywood.
 

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Always unconsciously, but there's only so much I can do with my current resources.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I know in the past when I've felt the way that you describe, it's like I'm waiting for a rescuer (just like the person you talked to said). Someone who's going to fulfill and do all these things for me. The more that I wait, the more frustrated I get as that person doesn't come along, but when I begin to take more things into my own hands things seem to get better....

In a situation like this, it's almost like I'm not looking for a relationship, but a caretaker, and I think I've had to learn (several times!) that I need to play that role for myself.
Yeah, exactly! A parent and a therapist and a romantic partner all rolled into one. Which, I don't know if you've ever been involved with someone who expected those things of you, but it can be exhausting on the other side.

I have a feeling this might just be a learning process, where you think you've gotten a hold of it and then whoops, you find yourself slipping back into old ways. And then every time it happens it's a little easier to pick up where you left off. It does sound like we've had a similar sort of experience. I'm glad to hear another INFP giving it a shot, even if it might feel strange or silly. :)
 

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I feel like in order for me to do that, I have to become cold and just not care too much.
By "cold" do you mean "detached?" I don't think detachment is always such a bad thing, if it brings you to a middle ground. There are the extremes of unhealthy attachment (codependence) and total detachment (ie not giving a crap about anyone or anything), and then there's a huge gray area in between, and I mean hey, that gray area looks like a pretty good place to be.

When I hear people say that they love themselves, etc., they usually seem very shallow. The only real good example I can give is those people who hear about a personal issue, and say something like "aww, well it'll get better" and offer nothing further as they turn their head and start talking to other people. Perhaps other people just use the whole self-actualized and self-love thing as a defense mechanism, or maybe they just don't want to deal with the monumental effort of deep connections.
Ah, well for some people I definitely agree with you, that "self love" seems to be a defense mechanism, or an excuse not to take a good hard look at themselves. "What, girl, I hurt your feelings? Everybody hates me? I don't care, I love myself and I'm not gonna listen to anything you have to say!" That annoys the bejesus out of me. But in other cases it doesn't seem shallow at all - in fact, it seems like the opposite, that loving themselves has made them deeply, deeply caring and empathic individuals with a lot to give. These people seem driven to help other people and listen, and I'd like to get to a place like that, myself.

I don't think fidelity and honesty are high standards, by the way. Did someone try to tell you that they were, or is that just coming from yourself?

Yeah, it seems like when someone has "that void," it's usually not able to be filled by a person. :/ That's why I'm trying to figure out what's actually going on under the surface. Mysteries of life. :p
 

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Hey INFPs, long time no see. It's recently come to my attention that I might expect too much from people - friends, coworkers, family, people I date, etc - and this causes problems that might be unnecessary.

I've seen a lot of INFPs mention feeling like they're aching for someone to come along and understand them, that they feel like they have a hole in their chest that needs to be filled. I have that feeling too, completely, and it drives me crazy. I have a theory, and it may or may not be true, but I thought I'd present it for people to agree or disagree with.

Do you think that this feeling might mainly be caused by a lack of self-love?

People who claim to love themselves seem happy with their friendships and relationships. They seem to appreciate what they have, rather than feeling this intense lack in themselves and their relationships with people. Could that be the real solution, instead of finding these rare, magic people to connect to? The solution isn't external but internal?

Someone gave me a really good piece of advice a few months ago, and they said something like, "You keep waiting for this person to come and rescue you, and encourage you, and take you on adventures, and make sure you take care of yourself... why don't you try to be that person for yourself?" It's weird, but when I take their advice, I do start to feel a bit better. I haven't been super consistent yet, but I have good results when I sit down and really try. I feel a little less lonely, a little more capable and confident.

So I guess I'm wondering first of all, what you think this feeling is caused by? I know some people's external circumstances really AREN'T conducive to connecting with tons of people (frustrated atheist living in the Bible Belt, etc), but in a general sense. Also, is there anyone out there who used to feel that empty, lonely feeling and now does not? How did you get rid of it??

And any advice for how to stop expecting so much from people and be more satisfied? I'll admit, I don't always want to stop expecting a lot from people. Sometimes I tell myself that someone has to hold others to a high standard, blahbitty blah. Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't, but it causes problems sometimes.
I TOTALLY know how this pain feels. I always had this hole, this emptiness that was never filled. I tried to do things that would temporarily make me happy such as eating, hanging out with friends, trying to get attention, being selfish. It didn't work, because after I tried these temporary happy things, after the happy was gone the emptiness was back. Even when I was happy i STILL felt the sting of emptiness. I found that being unselfish, going out and serving others with charity is what made that emptiness disappear. I also tried not to think I'm THAT different from others. I can relate to any ESTP or ISFJ or whoever else, I can have deep meaningful relationships with a lot of people, they can relate to me. I know that to some extent I'm not alone. I'm not the ONLY person that feels like this. I know that I'm not THAAAT alienated from others. If you alienate yourself, if you constantly think to yourself "oh I'm different NO ONE can relate to me" then that's how you'll feel. Yes I know we are Intuitives but so what? Yeah we may be a LITTLE bit different, we may see the world with a different view, but I think that sometimes we think to much we rely to much on our own emotions.

I do think that it's good to go out and be the person that you are 'waiting' for ...in a sense. Become the person you want to marry.

I am very sure though, that if you have charity any fear, pain, doubt, loneliness will disappear because you're thinking of others, you're thinking kindly, loving others with a pure love, a willingness to help. When it becomes less about you the more happy you get. (technically speaking) If you think less about yourself, less about the things you DON'T have, less about the things you wish you had, and be less of a martyr, then you will in turn become more happy.
I know this to be true.


This hole is caused by selfishness, lack of love for self and lack of love for others.

I'll come back and edit this later...not enough time to finish it.
 

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A parent and a therapist and a romantic partner all rolled into one.
You mean such a person doesn't exist??? :'(

I'm so glad you started this thread -- I know exactly what you mean. I've been crushing on potential "rescuers" since pre-school! Part of me wants to attribute this to an unstable upbringing where I didn't get *all* the attention I must have wanted (particularly after my younger brother was born). But that can't be the case for everyone. So I don't know. Maybe we're particularly desirous of deep connections as INFPs even as very young children, and end up looking for that ideal closeness ever since.

Someone gave me a really good piece of advice a few months ago, and they said something like, "You keep waiting for this person to come and rescue you, and encourage you, and take you on adventures, and make sure you take care of yourself... why don't you try to be that person for yourself?"
That is such an amazing paragraph! It's SO true. Especially the "encourage you, and take you on adventures" part. Like there's this perfect man out there who can push all the right buttons and bring out the best me. When I'm feeling down, he'll cheer me up. When I'm unmotivated, he'll literally put the ____ in my hand. When I'm broke, he'll fly us both to Kenya. Because omg, life is so hard for me, and everything is too complicated and I am not capable right now, and there are so many better others, there are so many reasons why my dreams can't come true this very minute.

It is all negative self-talking bullcrap.

It's weird, but when I take their advice, I do start to feel a bit better. I haven't been super consistent yet, but I have good results when I sit down and really try. I feel a little less lonely, a little more capable and confident.
Yes. Like learning how to ride a bike. Initially, remember how impossible it seemed, how many times you fell off and scraped yourself. How each time you wobbled, it was like the end of the world. And then little by little, you went further and further, until one day voila, you were riding a bike like a pro.

How are our other goals as adults any different from that? Instead of giving up when you wobble and fall, the only recourse is to get up and try it again as soon as possible.

Yay, let's all prove that the INFP mascot animal is NOT "Denial Ostrich". I would much rather be "Socially Awkward Penguin" who got her shit done and walked the walk even if it's more of an awkward waddle than a walk -- it's still doing something right, guys?
 

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I do think that it's good to go out and be the person that you are 'waiting' for ...in a sense. Become the person you want to marry.
Truer words were never spoken!

I am very sure though, that if you have charity any fear, pain, doubt, loneliness will disappear because you're thinking of others, you're thinking kindly, loving others with a pure love, a willingness to help. When it becomes less about you the more happy you get. (technically speaking) If you think less about yourself, less about the things you DON'T have, less about the things you wish you had, and be less of a martyr, then you will in turn become more happy.
I know this to be true.


This hole is caused by selfishness, lack of love for self and lack of love for others.
While I agree with this in principle, personally, I'm not sure if I could ever be so selfless -- and derive fulfillment from such selflessness. To some degree, even when I do something for the betterment of others, it's also just as much for the sake of living and breathing my core values, for the sake of doing what *I* believe in. That *I* is really important, and I never lose sight of it. It is THE meaning of life for me, and it trumps everything else. I've noticed this is one way I differ from the INFJ I know. Even when it comes to say, writing a blog post, our styles differ in that she always keeps OTHERS in mind, while I always keep ME in mind. If that makes any sense.
 
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I don't think fidelity and honesty are high standards, by the way. Did someone try to tell you that they were, or is that just coming from yourself?
Well, I've had many a past romantic interest lie to me about fidelity (and other things), then say things like "well, I didn't want to hurt you," or "I didn't want things to end like this." Hmm...keep your pants on long enough to sever the current relationship and then there wouldn't be any problem...ARGH! So, implicitly I think that's what was said.


I like your gray area notion, that's heavy-duty. Co-dependance is something I struggle with and I'm SLOWLY (very, very slowly) learning to rely on me, and not others for as much as I can. I hope to sit in that gray area one day, kinda like Goldilocks...not too hot, not too cold...ahhh...just right ;)
 

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And any advice for how to stop expecting so much from people and be more satisfied? I'll admit, I don't always want to stop expecting a lot from people. Sometimes I tell myself that someone has to hold others to a high standard, blahbitty blah. Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't, but it causes problems sometimes.
thanks for this post. i feel like i've traveled the loop from too demanding- not demanding enough- too demanding again a whole lot over the course of the last few years.

for me, it has to do with where i am in life. if i'm happy with myself and feel like i have something to offer, my expectations for others are quite low. while i may be disappointed with the actions of someone that i care about, i don't really internalize that disappointment in such a way that it's damaging to the relationship. my concerns are about them- i don't want to see you go down that road and get hurt vs about me- how dare you wrong me like that??. in this state, i feel emotionally available and self sufficient.

on the other hand, when i'm in a more damaged state, i am very critical of myself. this, in turn, makes me hypercritical of others. people don't take well to this constant criticism, especially when they've been used to me as a fairly stable and caring person in the past. this results in a lot of negative feedback, making me more critical of myself, causing even more strain in relationships, eventually alienating me from the people that i care about. this is sort of "rock bottom", and after some space i am able to regroup and jump back in healthier and generally better than ever before (silver lining!).

so, really:

Do you think that this feeling might mainly be caused by a lack of self-love?
yes. i think that the best way to stop the cycle of unrealistic expectations and loneliness is to accept yourself for what you are. try to keep your faults in perspective, and, at least at first, try giving to others only what you're comfortable giving without expecting anything back. when relationships go bad, think of what you can do to feel better. don't even factor any external party into your happiness- do what you need to do for you. in my experience, once you really see yourself as independent and resilient, it's easier to have faith in yourself, to build good relationships with a healthy balance, and to find the general good in life.
 

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when i'm in a more damaged state, i am very critical of myself. this, in turn, makes me hypercritical of others. people don't take well to this constant criticism, especially when they've been used to me as a fairly stable and caring person in the past. this results in a lot of negative feedback, making me more critical of myself, causing even more strain in relationships, eventually alienating me from the people that i care about. this is sort of "rock bottom", and after some space i am able to regroup and jump back in healthier and generally better than ever before (silver lining!).

so, really:

yes. i think that the best way to stop the cycle of unrealistic expectations and loneliness is to accept yourself for what you are. try to keep your faults in perspective, and, at least at first, try giving to others only what you're comfortable giving without expecting anything back. when relationships go bad, think of what you can do to feel better. don't even factor any external party into your happiness- do what you need to do for you. in my experience, once you really see yourself as independent and resilient, it's easier to have faith in yourself, to build good relationships with a healthy balance, and to find the general good in life.
This describes exactly the pattern I seem to get into in many of my relationships, unfortunately even when I'm in a "good" place in life generally, relationships seem to make me insecure and then this nasty criticism cycle that you describe seems to emerge. I have been wondering whether it's because opening myself up and allowing someone to know me more intimately is just very difficult for me to do without starting to feel insecure. I've just been seeing someone new recently, I spent some time with him at the weekend and I could feel myself going down this road and it really depressed me. I came away feeling sad and frustrated because it's such a destructive pattern I can't seem to get out of. Reflecting on your advice though, maybe the problem is I'm rushing things a little.
 

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Yay, let's all prove that the INFP mascot animal is NOT "Denial Ostrich". I would much rather be "Socially Awkward Penguin" who got her shit done and walked the walk even if it's more of an awkward waddle than a walk -- it's still doing something right, guys?
I love this paragraph. I think you're right about the doing something part.

@Blackbird Yes, a parent, therapist and romantic partner, and I'm sure I've had a few more roles added in there at certain times. ;) And, yeah, I think I have been on the receiving end of this too - it doesn't feel good. It's exhausting. :)
 

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I expect too much from my best friend. I expect her to love me with as much love as I give her.... unfortunately I've come to realize that it likely won't happen. :/
I used to feel exactly this way in relationship and began feeling like I was doomed to never have relationships that were satisfying. But one thing I realized is that I hate when people have expectations of me. Actually, I pretty much stop showing up in a relationship if people expect me to behave in a particular way. And nice things are only fun for me to do if they aren't expected. If I feel obligated to do them, I won't bother, and I feel resentful. So, why was I putting so many expectations on others?

I made a big shift in my life. I was so empty. For a while I had to say no to everything and everyone unless it was something that really fed my soul. I am still learning to distinguish between 'should's (what other people want me to do) and what I truly want to do (my bliss). I had to do a bunch of stuff just for myself and learn a lot about how to love myself. So, now I only love or do things for or give things to others if I can do it without expecting anything at all in return. It feels really good. Like giving from a cup that is overflowing instead of giving of my own source energy and then expecting others to fill me back up when I am depleted.
 

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I used to feel exactly this way in relationship and began feeling like I was doomed to never have relationships that were satisfying. But one thing I realized is that I hate when people have expectations of me. Actually, I pretty much stop showing up in a relationship if people expect me to behave in a particular way. And nice things are only fun for me to do if they aren't expected. If I feel obligated to do them, I won't bother, and I feel resentful. So, why was I putting so many expectations on others?

I made a big shift in my life. I was so empty. For a while I had to say no to everything and everyone unless it was something that really fed my soul. I am still learning to distinguish between 'should's (what other people want me to do) and what I truly want to do (my bliss). I had to do a bunch of stuff just for myself and learn a lot about how to love myself. So, now I only love or do things for or give things to others if I can do it without expecting anything at all in return. It feels really good. Like giving from a cup that is overflowing instead of giving of my own source energy and then expecting others to fill me back up when I am depleted.
Thanks! That really put things into a new perspective.
 
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