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Discussion Starter #1
Hey ESFJs and anyone with tips on how to deal with a lovely ESFJ who just happens to drive me crazy :rolleyes:
I'm an INFP moving into the same apartment building as my ESFJ friend and former co-worker. We're not close friends but we're friendly enough, mostly hanging out as part of a work group. She helped me find the apartment and it's a great deal and she's been really helpful. While I appreciate all of her help...I"m getting a little nervous about her potentially driving me crazy. I move in next month and she's already talking about inspecting my furniture to make sure my bed doesn't have bedbugs, because they may crawl through the sockets into her apartment (I'm not a dirty person so I found this offensive; it's not like I asked to inspect her bed for bedbugs before I took the apartment across from her...) Also, she's referring to the shared yard (the building has a total of 5 apartments) as HER yard and already regulating its use with me and the other neigbors. Overall I know she means well but I"m already feeling stifled...she mentions that she and I will walk to work together, she'll drop by to watch TV and make dinner, we'll go to nearby restaurants on weekends, and she can't wait to meet all the friends I"ll have over. HELP! I'm an introvert and I HATE "drop-bys". I HATE having my space violated. And I need time to myself to recharge my batteries. (A bit of background, she's let herself into my previous apartment to "check it out" before when I wasn't home). I want to set boundaries now, but she gets so offended very easily. Here are the boundaries I'd like: I'll have dinner parties and of course she's welcome at some, but I don't want her to assume that anytime I have someone over or go somewhere that she's automatically invited or that I have to "report to her"; I also don't want any unexpected "drop bys"; and she's been giving me "advice" about my dog (she has a dog too) and I have a sinking feeling that she'll start getting into my business about how I walk him, groom him, which vet I use etc. I know she means well but she can be really controlling with her "help" and when she gives "advice" she gets really offended if she's not "obeyed." Again, she's EXTREMELY sensitive to any perceived criticism. So, given this, how do I set the boundaries and preserve the friendship? And, also, how do I respond when she starts bossing me around about how I live my life? I don't want to feel like I"m hiding out in my apartment or sneaking around to avoid her... Thanks!
 

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YIKES. I'm stressed out for you.
I'm obviously not an ESFJ, but I have a little experience in the arena with an ESFJ in-law who treated (treats?) me in a very similar way.
I didn't want to hurt her feelings or spark conflict back when I started noticing her pushing my boundaries, so I complied and tried to appease her. Unfortunately, compliance just says "this is okay," and allows the behavior to continue.
I know it's hard to set boundaries, especially when the other person has good intentions. But I don't think you have any other options, if you would like to not have a miserable time in that living situation!
I think the best thing you could do with her is be straight-forward and honest- don't beat around the bush or try to make your boundaries sound like an option. Be clear about what you would like and what you need in order to have a good friendship with her. At the same time, focus your conversation with her in a friendship-oriented manner. Make sure you emphasize that you like her, and you know that her intentions are only to help- you don't think she's a bad person, but when she does these specific things, it makes you feel these specific ways.
The truth is, she might be offended. But you have the right to have boundaries, and if she is someone who respects boundaries, she will probably feel bad for making you feel that way.
As far as responding to her in the moment, I would say something like, "You know, I appreciate the fact that you're trying to help, but I actually have it taken care of," or "Thank you for your advice- I'm going to go in a different direction, though."
If you come at it with love and patience, and aren't judgmental or angry with her, hopefully she will be able to get over the hurt feelings and begin to respect your boundaries.
I wish I would have set boundaries in my similar situation- we are now in a very serious conflict which may very well end our relationship. :/ I know if I had stood up for myself early on, we wouldn't be in this situation today.
 

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Auntie Duckie
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Hiya PB,

I know things would be different since I'm male, but I can see how this would really drive you nuts. Here's what I would suggest, but please don't be afraid to change or ignore any/all of it. Experiences make us unique, regardless of how we score out in MBTI.

Your relationship with your friend didn't develop over-night so the process to give yourself more room and still keep her as a friend won't be as easy as a single event/talk. It's something you will likely need to work on over time.

As an ESFJ, I appreciate knowing where the social boundaries are with people that I care about. I know that people need their own space and if I were to upset their routine it would really bother me for causing them distress. My instinct is to stay close, comfort, talk and share with my friends. That instinct can be kept in check by knowing how my closest friends feel about things.

You could try just casually chatting about it over a drink or meal. Be careful of your tone and keep it jovial. Serious conversation means I've done something wrong, which makes me want to put up barriers to keep the pain of rejection away. OTOH... if we are talking and you are smiling and cheerful while explaining things, I'm wide open and everything you are saying is gospel. It may not "sink" in the first time, but the seeds are planted and help explain how the relationship is going to be.

Don't try to cram everything you want to say into 1 conversation. I need to process things in layers and it can take a little time to do so. Once it's processed we can move on, but if we try to cram for the exam... bad.

Remember, if you give a little, we'll give equal or more, so try to always work in a boundary when we are bonding.

I hope it helps and things work out over time.

Regards,

-ZDD
 

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You could try just casually chatting about it over a drink or meal. Be careful of your tone and keep it jovial. Serious conversation means I've done something wrong, which makes me want to put up barriers to keep the pain of rejection away. OTOH... if we are talking and you are smiling and cheerful while explaining things, I'm wide open and everything you are saying is gospel. It may not "sink" in the first time, but the seeds are planted and help explain how the relationship is going to be.
This piece of advice stuck out to me and I have to inject another comment here. :)
My ESFJ inlaw, her husband, my husband and I are all meeting this week to talk, after they refused to meet with a mediator (things have gotten very tense between us and that was our suggestion as to how to reach reconciliation). What I found interesting is that she insisted that we have the conversation over dinner at a restaurant. As a very private person (not to mention an HSP), this was one of the worst possible scenarios I could imagine for this conversation. It will be extremely serious, I know, and may possibly be explosive- emotions are so high! But this is not the first time she has insisted to have a very serious conversation over a meal. I'm wondering now if this is actually an attribute of her personality, not just a preference or even a power-trip.
It makes a little more sense why she was so insistent when I asked if we could instead meet at one of our homes or over just coffee and such. My husband and I agreed- we both were not going to eat anything! In such a serious conversation, why would we??
What an interesting difference. Thank you for that insight!
 

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Auntie Duckie
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I absolutely agree. As an ESFJ, I can pick up on the heavy tension in the air really easily, and that makes me go on red alert if I'm not careful!! I'm suggesting they have a quiet coffee or quick bite and as part of the light-hearted conversation (if the mood is appropriate) that she casually interject a quick story about how she recharges by having space around her with nobody there, or how "so-and-so" stopped by one time and it was uncomfortable. It won't be easy, or quick, but if the friendship is worth it I think she can get some relief over time.

One other thing about me (ESFJ)... if I get really tense, my unconscious body language makes people around me tense.
 

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Honestly, as an ESFJ I am very good at picking up on emotions, but as to WHY those emotions exist I can often be exceedingly clueless and puzzled over for many hours [depending on the emotion or who is showing the emotion].

It sounds like she thinks that you are close. And honestly, some of the things that she has said it sounds like she was half-jokingly commenting on. . . perhaps she considers you a best friend?

Trust me when I say this: if you want to continue your friendship: gently tell her that you are concerned about x, y, z, and how you would like it if she would back off. The harsher tone you use the quicker and the more she will back off. If you want her to back off a lot, be harsh. If you want her to back off a little, be gentle. In-between may go one way or the other, [depends on how sensitive she is.]

If you want to continue having her feel close to you and having her be a good friend, do what Zombie said to do. Gently tell her to back off several times. [Kind of like a gentle reminder.] It's never taken much for me to give someone their space. They even hint at it, and I am out of the room. . . simply because I do not like over stepping boundaries or making someone feel uncomfortable.

But if you don't hint, and you don't tell me to back off and you just get uncomfortable I may take that as a sign to do more for you, [not less]. So please, be clear. As an ESFJ I need to know what the emotions you are shining forth actually mean.

But yeah, she just sounds like she likes you a little too much, and those that have been her best friends before haven't told her to back off. Haha. =P

The more you explain to her gently though the better your relationship will be. We tend to remember how to act around those that we care about.



Example: One of my professors when I asked him a personal question went: "I really don't want to get personal with you." in a gentle tone. I haven't needed a reminder since. I definitely remember him saying that and haven't asked any other personal questions since.

In fact, come to think of it, get a few tips from INTP's on this forum. They are very good at being gentle and direct with us. That's why we know to keep our distance from them, and we don't get offended.

Hope this helps. =)
 

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I like a lot of what other ESFJs have suggested. Gentleness - that's the key for anyone, really.
Zombie touched a little bit on this but I want to expand just a wee bit more. Perhaps, it might be a good pathway for her to receive what you want to tell her without being "confrontational." Being an ESFJ, I tend to internalize a lot. Like you said, we're sensitive. It's because of that dang F!! Anyway, a casual atmosphere and in casual conversation, bring up the "kind of person" you are when it comes to socializing. This is the great divide between you two. You're an I, and she's an E. Don't discuss so much about where you get your energy from because that's a little abstract even for me and I understand those words. Be linear. Say things like, "I prefer doing things on my own and quiet nights... being around people can be draining (ironically, that's understandable language)." ESFJs love examples. And of course, ask her about herself and how she prefers to live. Lead her to think about how her unconcsious actions are affecting other people. This will train her to think considerately without being harsh. A friend of mine would do this to me by always offering a contrary viewpoint (not to be argumentative) just so I would consider other options. As a result, I practice that now even though my initial thoughts default to linear judgements. Consequently, my inclinations are more centered than when I was younger.
I hope this helps some.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
thank you everyone for your responses! terrific and gave me new perspective. so I should follow up....I still haven't moved in and am a bit nervous about how things will go, but am def going to apply some of the suggestions given on how to set boundaries w/o ruining the friendship. And I'd be remiss not to say...some of her ESFJ-ness is ...AWESOME. for example, one of the other tenants ( tenants who keep an office in the building we live in) offered to about 5 of their friends that they could use our shared courtyard as "temporary storage." ESFJ was having NONE of it!!
and immediately invoked my right to put my bbq there when I move in, and threatened to call in to city officials for rodent/mosquito harboring (a HUGE no-no in our city) :D so I guess the moral of the story is that her watchful ways are like calling in the cavalry sometimes.... I can appreciate that...:) thanks again to everyone who replied! you guys rock!!
 
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