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Discussion Starter #1
I've (INTJ/M) been dating an unhealthy ESFJ (F) for about 14 months off and on. Every time we get into a good place, she ruins it. Then she inevitably comes back. I have wanted to be over her several times, but I care about her (a lot) and she just keeps coming back! We're in a bad cycle and I want to break it, so the relationship can flourish.

I want to keep the relationship from going off the rails this time. I feel that I need to learn some new skills in order to achieve this goal.

ESFJs? Help! How do I do this?

We were together steady for a year. She lied to me a lot and I kept trying to get her to remedy this and stop it (something she probably interprets as hurtful criticism, even tho I am never hurtful or mean, just direct).

Here is the cycle:

- She is sweet.
- I am sweet.
- She starts telling me about her problems.
- I am supportive and positive. I am available and responsive at all hours for this. (This is an LDR).
- She starts flipping out. A major trigger is when things are very bad for her and I respond with empathy and optimism.
- I am like WTF and stoic through it.
- She hurls insults, tells me I am perfect except for 1 thing, tells me she wants X different kind of guy. One or both of us is like, screw this, we're done.
- Communication stops because I am not tolerating all of that.
- Rarely, she apologizes. Usually, there is some silence.
- Cycle restarts, she is sweet.

She is selfish, she is rude, she exaggerates her problems to manipulate me, she threatens to hurt herself to manipulate me, she is distant at times... I can handle all that. What I can't handle is her lies and her disloyalty ("I want a guy who XYZ" and continued use of a dating site). Those are dealbreakers for me.

I need to break the cycle when she is flipping out about her life being hard in order to avoid all this other stuff.

Because I care about her and I know she cares about me. It's just we need to fix our relationship dynamics.

Maybe?
 

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I would advice you to not get back with someone you broke up with once. ESFJs can be very sweet and charming. If she's not healthy, nothing good is going to come out of this. If you're attracted to ESFJ traits, you can find a much healthier SF girl. Letting go is hard, but it needs to be done.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'll be really grateful to anyone who actually answers my question.

I am keenly aware of the challenges of an INTJ-ESFJ relationship. I'm INTJ - do you really think I haven't researched the crap out of this topic already?! :rolling:
 

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I'll be really grateful to anyone who actually answers my question.

I am keenly aware of the challenges of an INTJ-ESFJ relationship. I'm INTJ - do you really think I haven't researched the crap out of this topic already?! :rolling:
Uuugh we're not warning you against dating an ESFJ. We're warning you against dating an unhealthy one. Unhealthy any type is bad. I dated an unhealthy INTP. Not good at all. But whatever, discard our advice if you want.
 

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you probably don't want to hear this and i will probably get a lot of disagreement, and I know LDR relationships can be important and special, but at the same time, calling her your steady relationship to me seems a bit odd if it's a LDR. have you two met IRL? if you haven't then i couldn't blame her for saying she wants something more and stays available on dating sites. that being said. my ESFJ boyfriend of many years is very manipulative emotionally (or at least tries to be) with me. he has many online friendships and they all cycle through drama all the time with getting into overblown disagreements where he gets offended and he blocks them, just for him to have a change of heart and they make up. over and over with men and women. argument, make up, drama, more drama. one thing he does do though that yours might too, is he actually listens to what i say and applies it. with most people it's like in one ear and out the other, but with him it's different. perhaps if you tell her you can't be XY or Z for her and she will just have to accept you as you are maybe she will take that to heart. i don't know the LDR situation, but maybe if there was more of an effort on your part to see her or see her more often that will change things for the better. anyway, to repeat myself, try to think of exactly what it is that is bothering you about her and tell her! maybe her behavior will change afterwards. (though i wouldn't expect her to not do dating sites unless you two have met at least a couple times.)

on another note. i don't know if you've read the Celestine Prophecy book, but in it it says people have various control dramas sometimes, and it sounds like she might have what would fit under a "poor me" drama. it's their way of trying to get attention. the way to approach it is simply to call them out on it. next time she starts going on and complaining, just say something like "poor <insert name>..." then change the subject.
 

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@cyklo
You should ask her what she thinks she could do to make the relationship better. That will say a lot. If she thinks she's doesn't have much to change there's your answer. And perhaps you should not offer advice and just listen, since that seems to be a 'trigger' but honestly she sounds like she needs some pro help (nothing wrong with that).
And if she's lying and exaggerating her problems that's a huge sign she doesn't like you enough.
Do you think you can't find something better or are you lonely in some way?

And how many times does this happen? You must really like her, like I pissed off my ex INTJ SO to the point where he was like 'bye' until I explained myself. But if I had done the same thing no way he would have given me a second chance.
 

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In my opinion, you can have a good-working relationship with an unhealthy type, if and only if they accept that they're unhealthy and really try to work out their problems.

I need to ask you this: Why do you want this relationship to work out?

You describe a situation that keeps repeating because she behaves like an asshole. Every single time, over and over again, in the exact same way. (Doesn't that get boring? If I had to cope with a huge douchebag, he should at least be flexible enough to invent new situations to present his assholery.) She should be learning to manage herself better and instead she learns "no matter how shitty I behave, I can rely on him being there for me if I'm only being sweet enough". That's definitely not what you want her to do.

To get out of that cycle, talk to her in one of her sweet moments. Say that you have been thinking a lot about how to improve your relationship. Ask her why she thinks you're breaking up all the time. Depending on your answer, you can decide how to act. If she refuses to take credit, at least make sure she understands that you have certain boundaries that can't be crossed any more. I have already joked a lot about getting a new partner. But I exaggerated enough to make sure my bf knows that it's nothing more than a joke. ("Yeah, you know what, if you keep laughing at me for bumping against the cupboard I'll just go to the boyfriend store and buy one that fears me enough not to.") She does this to hurt you. And that's a thing you should refuse to tolerate. At all. She disrespects you as long as it takes for one of you guys to break up. Make sure she knows that this relationship is unhealthy, and that without her contribution for an improvement there's no point in keeping it up.
 

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My best friend is ESFJ and I have watched her go through plenty of unhealthy relationships. She can be lovely, loyal and fun. She can also be a complete and utter nightmare.. She is also manipulative and exaggerates a lot. So much so, it filters into her normal language. For example, she never says 100%, she says 1000%. Which always makes me laugh ;)

The only relationship that I have seen progress well for her is one of complete submission from her fiance - but in that submission, her fiance has the final word.

He pretty much does everything for her. Drives her around, cleans up, takes her out for meals etc, and allows himself to be a verbal (and physical) punching bag. If something bad happens, unrelated to her fiance in anyway, she takes it out on him. He is unbelievably patient with her. I believe his MBTI is ESFP/ESFJ also. He shares her secret desire to "keep up appearances".
As an INTJ, I'm sure your stability is irresistible to her, but also your stability is probably frustrating, as she cannot completely bend you to her will. I think she is probably throwing the "I wish you were XYZ" thing as thats the most hurtful thing she can think of throwing at you, to get you to react.

In my opinion, the only person that can be in a relationship with an unhealthy ESFJ is someone who is subordinate in nature. My friends relationship has got this far (although they have fallen out many-a-time) because her fiance allows himself to be dominated. She knows this is a rare find, as is not going to let go so easily. Sometimes when she has really pushed too far, she behaves herself for a long time. She rarely says sorry, usually choosing to not mention her behaviour again and hope her fiance has "forgotten" about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Ugh.

Yes, we have gotten together many times for weekends, whole weeks, holidays, sometimes twice per month.

Me being able to tell her my thoughts and feelings is not a problem. The problem is that she can't handle them.

Could I go out and get a different girl? YES, of course. I'm 6'2" blue-eyed, in Latin America and speak fluent Spanish. Girls' looks linger on me in public places. Everyone agrees I look at least 10 years younger than I actually am. This is not the point.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, guys, but maybe I wasn't specific enough. I need tactics for managing ESFJ madness. Ask her X and tell her Y are not bad advice per se, I just need the advanced stuff.


@cyklo
And how many times does this happen? You must really like her, like I pissed off my ex INTJ SO to the point where he was like 'bye' until I explained myself. But if I had done the same thing no way he would have given me a second chance.
I did the same thing many times when I was 20 years younger. Some INTJs grow up and want to add more tactics to our repertoire than just the door slam.



My best friend is ESFJ and I have watched her go through plenty of unhealthy relationships. She can be lovely, loyal and fun. She can also be a complete and utter nightmare.. She is also manipulative and exaggerates a lot. So much so, it filters into her normal language. For example, she never says 100%, she says 1000%. Which always makes me laugh ;)

The only relationship that I have seen progress well for her is one of complete submission from her fiance - but in that submission, her fiance has the final word.

He pretty much does everything for her. Drives her around, cleans up, takes her out for meals etc, and allows himself to be a verbal (and physical) punching bag. If something bad happens, unrelated to her fiance in anyway, she takes it out on him. He is unbelievably patient with her. I believe his MBTI is ESFP/ESFJ also. He shares her secret desire to "keep up appearances".
As an INTJ, I'm sure your stability is irresistible to her, but also your stability is probably frustrating, as she cannot completely bend you to her will. I think she is probably throwing the "I wish you were XYZ" thing as thats the most hurtful thing she can think of throwing at you, to get you to react.

In my opinion, the only person that can be in a relationship with an unhealthy ESFJ is someone who is subordinate in nature. My friends relationship has got this far (although they have fallen out many-a-time) because her fiance allows himself to be dominated. She knows this is a rare find, as is not going to let go so easily. Sometimes when she has really pushed too far, she behaves herself for a long time. She rarely says sorry, usually choosing to not mention her behaviour again and hope her fiance has "forgotten" about it.
This is an interesting and insightful comment. Indeed, me not bending to her will is a trigger now that I think about it.

Indeed, I bet my stability is frustrating, because when she is in a bad situation and freaking out I am as chill as ice and respond with optimism - and then she explodes. It's so counterintuitive to me.

I go out of my way to take care of the (few) people I care about but I will never submit. I wonder if what I need to do here is figure out how to get her to submit. I hate manipulating people as much as I hate being manipulated but maybe some light, "whitehat" manipulation tactics will keep things on an even keel.

Ideas welcome.

BTW if anybody needs mature-INTJ advice, count on me. I give good advice on a wide range of things. Feel free to PM me. :)
 

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@cyklo okay so it sounds like you have a bonafide relationship, though it does seem like kind of a messed up one where she is telling you you are not what she is looking for in a man. i don't know if you have some kind of masochistic streak or something, but as far as that goes, have you tried giving her the same treatment she has been giving you? like having your own active dating profile or telling her how she doesn't measure up to your perfect standards either? of course this could backfire, but giving people a dose of their own medicine usually helps them come around. of course it could start an argument but trust me women seem to perversely enjoy be treated like shit occasionally and you are probably too good to her. if you do give her a dose of her own medicine and she gets mad, then who cares. if she can dish it out she should be able to handle it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
@cyklo okay so it sounds like you have a bonafide relationship, though it does seem like kind of a messed up one where she is telling you you are not what she is looking for in a man. i don't know if you have some kind of masochistic streak or something, but as far as that goes, have you tried giving her the same treatment she has been giving you? like having your own active dating profile or telling her how she doesn't measure up to your perfect standards either? of course this could backfire, but giving people a dose of their own medicine usually helps them come around. of course it could start an argument but trust me women seem to perversely enjoy be treated like shit occasionally and you are probably too good to her. if you do give her a dose of her own medicine and she gets mad, then who cares. if she can dish it out she should be able to handle it.
Interesting idea, thanks. My dating profiles went active again once I realized she'd lied to me about keeping hers open and that she wasn't going to close them anytime soon. And she knows that.

I have, indeed, pointed out on a couple occasions faults of hers that parallel the faults she perceives in me, and she brushes it right off. It doesn't faze her.

I have little interest in making anyone feel like shit. I have done it before, I am good at it, but it is a net negative for everyone involved.

I am interested in figuring out how to push the right buttons, so to speak, to increase stability in the relationship.

It's very easy to go through life, judging and discarding people. I've done it. Hell, I am good at it.

Taking a person as they are, especially a difficult one, and building a relationship despite the problems is more interesting to me at this point in my life. If you folks in this forum are nearly as interested in MBTI as I am, I would think that this type of challenge would be interesting to you as well.

As an INTJ, I can go off and say, I will get my one perfect ENXP! But, guess what, I haven't found her and the ENXPs I know irritate me as often as they please me. MBTI doesn't have to be about falling back on naturally strong pairings. It can also be about building strong connections where the pairing is naturally weak.
 

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Interesting idea, thanks. My dating profiles went active again once I realized she'd lied to me about keeping hers open and that she wasn't going to close them anytime soon. And she knows that.

I have, indeed, pointed out on a couple occasions faults of hers that parallel the faults she perceives in me, and she brushes it right off. It doesn't faze her.

I have little interest in making anyone feel like shit. I have done it before, I am good at it, but it is a net negative for everyone involved.

I am interested in figuring out how to push the right buttons, so to speak, to increase stability in the relationship.

It's very easy to go through life, judging and discarding people. I've done it. Hell, I am good at it.

Taking a person as they are, especially a difficult one, and building a relationship despite the problems is more interesting to me at this point in my life. If you folks in this forum are nearly as interested in MBTI as I am, I would think that this type of challenge would be interesting to you as well.

As an INTJ, I can go off and say, I will get my one perfect ENXP! But, guess what, I haven't found her and the ENXPs I know irritate me as often as they please me. MBTI doesn't have to be about falling back on naturally strong pairings. It can also be about building strong connections where the pairing is naturally weak.
well, this isn't related to MBTI but if you want to increase the stability of the relationship, perhaps the buttons you should be pushing are your own. or letting up on them rather. greater understanding of her motives and everything. i mean, at least she is being honest with you to a certain degree. she is telling you straight up that she is looking for someone with whatever qualities. if you can deal with that and still want to invest your time and energy into cultivating an uncertain relationship with her.. she may have a change of heart someday and realize you are everything she needs and how stupid she was to think that way. but of course nothing is certain anyway so what's the difference. it seems to me like you really like her and want to be with her. if she is with you, then there must be reasons for that too. maybe you could wheedle some of those reasons out of her and that will help her see why she is "with you" despite having the feeling that she needs something else too. you can't expect anyone to change for you, but you can make changes to accommodate other people yourself. i am imagining she is a very headstrong person and i wouldn't take what she's said and done as a sign of disrespect but of honest communication. as far as having a dating profile after saying she didn't, it is kind of sneaky and that is definitely dishonest, but if she is a girl who wants what she wants, then she will most likely do it with or without your permission. they say that the things you hate about a partner are often what you come to love so maybe subconsciously you like that about her. (her strong will and independence.) in any case, good luck with your esfj. mine can be a lying, manipulative, spoiled rotten brat, but he comes in the sweetest package you could ever imagine.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Pushing the right buttons does mean changing my own actions. When I push one button over another, that is precisely me changing my behavior.

How is this not blindingly obvious to you?

It is so tremendously tiresome when people go off on their own little diatribes and don't actually answer the question one asks, but imagine a whole other universe of things that may or may not apply at all.

Again the question is, how do I manage the ESFJ madness?

Don't tell me I should get a new girlfriend.

Don't ask me if I am really an INTJ.

Don't lecture me.

I am interested to hear practical strategies on how to manage ESFJs.

You have made a dozen assumptions about what you think is going on here, you have lectured me and have entirely missed the point. Very few people in this thread are actually listening.
 

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This thread is totaly disturbing. You should not be manging anybody. When the people above are telling you change you actions, they are not suggesting you change to more effective tactics, I think they mean stop trying to magane your girlfried.
 

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- She starts flipping out. A major trigger is when things are very bad for her and I respond with empathy and optimism.
Do not do that then?

Like, if you're describing your behavior accurately, I'm not sure why it pisses her off, and I got nothing from a type perspective (in a vacuum I'd expect Fe to appreciate "empathy and optimism" but I dunno maybe she feels she can produce enough of that herself and wants something else like active problem solving), but you have identified the pattern. The pattern is that when you do X behavior, it triggers her to flip out, and this leads to the destruction of the relationship. If you want the relationship to last, not doing X behavior would be the first step.

You could ask what she would like you to do when she comes to you with problems--say, "I'd like to support you but instead I seem to annoy or distress you. What would be helpful when you tell me about a problem?" She might not know, but maybe she does.

- I am like WTF and stoic through it.
Yeah, I do that, and I can answer this one from a type perspective: Fe does not like that. I know it's difficult, but if you can, try to stay emotionally engaged and respond freely and personally, not using a robot voice. This is also an enneagram competency type thing (I see you're a 3w4): shutting down our emotional circuits to solve a problem. That doesn't...work when the problem is emotions.

I don't know if you can change this (I have been trying without much success) but it's a good idea to at least recognize that being stoic is not inherently a virtue and people often find this affect off-putting or condescending.

I want to keep the relationship from going off the rails this time.
Okayy, why? After all,

What I can't handle is her lies and her disloyalty ("I want a guy who XYZ" and continued use of a dating site). Those are dealbreakers for me.
I'm not advising you to dump her but I see why many posters did. You sound like you genuinely hate this person. In order to fix your relationship, you have got to change your mindset toward her and think of her as someone you...like, and want in your life. And you need to view her as an equal, and not...

Help me manage my unhealthy ESFJ girlfriend
Cause, yeah, yikes.

To clarify, I'm not scolding because you're viewing fixing your relationship in terms of learning new skills and managing problems the same way one might view fixing a machine, cause I do that too. But it's disrespectful to think about managing the other person as though they are a problem or a piece of the machine. By dehumanizing them in that manner and putting yourself above them, you will lose your ability to interact with them like they're a person you actually want to be interacting with. Instead, I'd suggest you view this issue in terms of "How do I manage myself?" Honestly, based on the portrait you paint in your OP, she is the bigger issue in the relationship. She is causing more problems, and is being ridiculously unfair. But you are not her boss and she's not a broken line of computer code, so you aren't going to be "managing" her. Your only options are to leave--which you've said you're not open to--or to "manage" yourself by altering your behavior to get a different result.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
"Stop trying to manage..."

HELLO. I have not tried it yet!! That's the whole point, to figure out how to do it.

Most of you have been worse than useless. Do you realize that the point of MBTI is to improve human relationships?

Most of you have suggested in one way or another to end the relationship.

I never even asked you if I should end the relationship. I asked for your help in improving it.

Good luck, guys. I am done.
 

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Pushing the right buttons does mean changing my own actions. When I push one button over another, that is precisely me changing my behavior.

How is this not blindingly obvious to you?

It is so tremendously tiresome when people go off on their own little diatribes and don't actually answer the question one asks, but imagine a whole other universe of things that may or may not apply at all.

Again the question is, how do I manage the ESFJ madness?

Don't tell me I should get a new girlfriend.

Don't ask me if I am really an INTJ.

Don't lecture me.

I am interested to hear practical strategies on how to manage ESFJs.

You have made a dozen assumptions about what you think is going on here, you have lectured me and have entirely missed the point. Very few people in this thread are actually listening.
what i find tiresome is when you take your time to try and answer someone's question as best as you can and they are totally thankless. best way to "manage" an ESFJ. take them or leave them just as they are.
 

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"Stop trying to manage..."

HELLO. I have not tried it yet!! That's the whole point, to figure out how to do it.

Most of you have been worse than useless. Do you realize that the point of MBTI is to improve human relationships?

Most of you have suggested in one way or another to end the relationship.

I never even asked you if I should end the relationship. I asked for your help in improving it.

Good luck, guys. I am done.
You have been trying to manage her this whole time.

Let me tell you something about typology. There's no handy "manual" for dealing with any one type. There's no "ESFJ, this is how you treat all ESFJs book" She's an individual. She needs to be treated differently than other ESFJs.

If typology could really solve all your problems, it would be the most popular thing on the planet.

It doesn't matter what your type is, what anyone's type is.

Relationships take time and effort. It takes your investment. If you want to fix your relationship, take things up with her. But instead, you come here, to our forum, ask us advice and then when we tell you what we honestly think, you call us useless. Maybe you can see your problem now? Work on fixing yourself first maybe. Then move on to a relationship.
 
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