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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am 5w4 (INTP), and I have been dating a 9w8 (ISTP) for almost 8 months. Oftentimes, I find that we are not the best at communicating how we feel about each other. I get scared to talk about my feelings. It makes me feel overly vulnerable, and I worry about not being able to handle bringing up an emotional situation. I pretty much avoid talking about feelings, which works for my boyfriend because he isn't particularly open about his emotions either. We instead show how we care about each other in other ways. He'll take care of me with his actions by providing me with food, paying for pedicures, keeping my stuff at his place etc. We have a comfortable companionship, a fun friendship, and a hot sex life, but I definitely notice his avoidance of anything that could rock the relationship boat. Any time an issue has arisen or we had an emotional conversation, the moments are swept under the rug, and things go on as usual. I'm never sure if things are really resolved because he won't talk about it, and I won't bring it up because I prefer to avoid the emotional vulnerability. I know that I need to be better at communicating how I feel, but I know that it is not my strong suit. I want to tell him that I love him, but I have no idea how to express it. I'm, also, afraid that I'll be disappointed if he doesn't follow suit and let his emotional guard down. Any recommendations as to how to bring up the topic? Or any insight as to being a number 5 or 9 in a relationship? I'm collecting data to feel better prepared for the situation.
 

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Dear Raychan

I resonate with what you are describing of your romantic relationship because I type just as you do as 5w4 in the Ennea and I went through difficulties in a friendship with a 9w8 female friend this summer. At some point my friend was blaming me for not being normal - yes, crazy - for expressing my need to talk about things that were going on in our friendship which I didn't feel good about. She instead suggested that I shouted at her agressively about how much I was upset about her. She even tried to manipulate me into getting angry at her. Of course I cannot exactly know what was going on for her but to me it seemed that I had touched an extremely vulnerable spot in her where she lost all of her belief in her that she was a lovely and good person. That of course made me feel sorry, at the same time, it was clear to me that I needed to care for myself first. And that meant that I simply was adressing what wasn't going well for me between us and therefore I couldn't help her feeling good about herself in this moment.

For me it it ended all really well because I simply trusted my experience of what was good and supporting in our relationship and what was not working and dragging me down. I therefore could easily decide that I needed a break. I realised that it just wasn't something - I mean our relationship - that I felt I wanted to invest more of my energy at the moment.

Over many years of coping better with the difficulties in my life I have understood how much pain in the first place and then commitment to a path of growth and thirdly how much support of others is needed to learn and to grow. I think that I reckognize quiet easily therefore in others how comfortable but somewhat numb they are with their lifes and how scared at looking at themselves. And when I see that someone I would like to be closer for whatever reason is not putting energy in their inner growth I can really easy let go of that relationship. And nothing is wrong with that person because there are always good reasons for not growing or for not wanting to grow and everyone in every moment is just where he or she should be I believe. Or at least I think I may not judge others for what seems to me to be stuck. Who am I to know what is a good life for them? Or what should be going on with them?

And on top and of more practical importance, I simply cannot grow for them, right? And my duty is to care for myself in the first place and not to care for others in such a way that I enable them to take care of myself in the way I wish it, would you agree? I am full of trust that you gonna learn what you can in that relationship and no matter if it works out or not you will have a greater understanding of who you are and what you need.

Instead of going into my understanding of the needs of nines and fives and sorting things out in analyzing your situation I have in my view much better advice for you. I can really recommend that you take up or intensify doing things that help you getting more in touch with your needs and practice staying with the fear that comes up when you express what you want towards others. I think that it is this that will lead you to more and more trust your experience in any circumstances and not giving up to fight for your basic needs just because you feel that others feel upset about you bringing up that topic. You are responsible that your basic needs are met and your right to have them met is as important as that of other's in my view.

I think in many ways a fantastic place to get on very well with that for a 5w4 is going to New Life Foundation in Thailand. It is were I learned about the Enneagram and had some coaching in the first place and where you can try out all sorts of practices to connect to yourself more fully like yoga, meditation and so on.

Don't get me wrong. I am myself just in the middle of such a process. I have started psychotherapy about six month ago and I am sometimes extremely challenged in the process. It is not so much anymore to process trauma actually. This takes also a lot of energy but it's usually not overwhelming but very relieving. What is really difficult and I think this is the core issue of us fives, is to allow ourselves to be nurtured and to be cared for at all. I am extremely challenged to allow myself to take in the love and support of my therapist. It seems to bring up every big and little demon in me trying to persuade me that I shouldn't take not even one more step in that direction. And I do a lot of weird behaviour in the sessions because it triggers up so much fear.

I am therefore wondering actually if we fives often have a taste in romantic partners who are not truly caring because this keeps our fears at bay. At least I reckognize that pattern in me when I look back to former relationships. This makes us feel safe whereas loving and caring people scare us to death. Being around them potentially brings up all the pain and frustration we experienced towards our first caregiver who we experienced as unreliable. What do you think? At least this is what the Enneagram says and I get a better and better understanding of it.
 

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I responded earlier to raychan56's comment on the Type 9 forum about this, but I also have a thought about Sengai's comment here. I'm a 9w8 ISFP, and I can identify with what you're saying because I have been close to a few 5w4s (all INTPs) and it's very hard for me when they express disappointment in me after I've already gotten close to them.

As a 9 sx/sp, I tend to see myself through the eyes (lens) of the few people I care about, and it's almost like I become the person they see me to be. So if they see me in a negative light, it's very difficult.

And that's where I think things get difficult. Because as a 9, I want to merge with the person I care about. I don't really see boundaries between me and them. But type 5s don't really have that same dynamic, I've noticed.

This part resonated with me a lot, because I've seen it in other 5w4s:
"What is really difficult and I think this is the core issue of us fives, is to allow ourselves to be nurtured and to be cared for at all. I am extremely challenged to allow myself to take in the love and support of my therapist. It seems to bring up every big and little demon in me trying to persuade me that I shouldn't take not even one more step in that direction. And I do a lot of weird behaviour in the sessions because it triggers up so much fear.
I am therefore wondering actually if we fives often have a taste in romantic partners who are not truly caring because this keeps our fears at bay. At least I recognize that pattern in me when I look back to former relationships. This makes us feel safe whereas loving and caring people scare us to death. Being around them potentially brings up all the pain and frustration we experienced towards our first caregiver who we experienced as unreliable. What do you think? At least this is what the Enneagram says and I get a better and better understanding of it."


Anyway, thanks Sengai for your post...I very much enjoyed reading it.
 

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I am 5w4 (INTP), and I have been dating a 9w8 (ISTP) for almost 8 months. Oftentimes, I find that we are not the best at communicating how we feel about each other. I get scared to talk about my feelings. It makes me feel overly vulnerable, and I worry about not being able to handle bringing up an emotional situation.
There can be a pleasure to being vulnerable (with someone trustworthy) if you'll allow yourself the experience. You can test the waters with small ways first. Don't get into all or nothing thinking. Let it grow organically. Remember that people tend to chill out/get more secure over time in a successful relationships as confidence/trust is gained.

I pretty much avoid talking about feelings, which works for my boyfriend because he isn't particularly open about his emotions either. We instead show how we care about each other in other ways. He'll take care of me with his actions by providing me with food, paying for pedicures, keeping my stuff at his place etc.
My ISTP best friend (male, 8w9) is EXACTLY like this with people he cares about. No words -- he prefers honest, unambiguous actions. He makes it incredibly clear with his behavior whether he is pleased (or displeased) with you. This is a valid form of communication.

Sometimes people with different 'love languages' discount the other's primary way of 'speaking'. An 'acts of service' person in a relationship with a 'words of affirmation' person might both be scratching their heads (especially if their secondary love language still doesn't match up; e.g., quality time vs physical affection).

Then again, sometimes (endlessly) insecure people are just looking for security and they think the problem is with the other when it's really within themselves.

We have a comfortable companionship, a fun friendship, and a hot sex life, but I definitely notice his avoidance of anything that could rock the relationship boat. Any time an issue has arisen or we had an emotional conversation, the moments are swept under the rug, and things go on as usual. I'm never sure if things are really resolved because he won't talk about it, and I won't bring it up because I prefer to avoid the emotional vulnerability. I know that I need to be better at communicating how I feel, but I know that it is not my strong suit. I want to tell him that I love him, but I have no idea how to express it.
It's only been 8 months. Continue giving it time to evolve. Try baby steps. Write a 'thank you for dinner!' little note circled in a heart (or whatever suits you) that hints in that direction. Give him the 'I love you' look at an appropriate time. See how he responds to these things.

If you want to discuss your general feelings (about anything) with him I'd recommend you announce that's what you want so that's clear -- "I'd like to talk about my feelings, is now a good time" -- so there is no sweeping under the rug on his end or it becomes obvious he can't tolerate talk about feelings at all.

This is exactly what my ISTP best friend is like. I vented once and you could see the discomfort on his face (and he never said a word in reply -- awkward!). The next day he somewhat solved the thing I vented about. I then just assumed he couldn't tolerate emotional talk and doesn't understand that emotional venting is just venting (not asking for help), so I never did that again with him.

It is important to determine if you have a relationship incompatibility in this way. I personally cannot be with someone who leaves me alone emotionally. That's fine in a friendship for me but romantically I actually find it creepy if he doesn't want to know what's going on with me emotionally. So if this is where you're coming from/what you're worried about, I understand completely.

I'm, also, afraid that I'll be disappointed if he doesn't follow suit and let his emotional guard down.
In some ways I see this as the crux to your problem. You're saying 'here's what I want to do' (tell him you love him) but really you have one eye on him. Meaning what you really want is a certain response from him.

Fwiw, I like to give freely (and be given to freely) in relationships. I hate tit for tat, get the tally out, TRANSACTIONS in (healthy) romantic relationships. I find it to be a form of underhanded manipulation as well as dividing & cheapening. How could anyone feel grateful when the entitled hand comes out right as the gift is given? What's the value of 'I love you' if it's being used as a lever?

Just tell him you love him when you feel ready, with no strings attached. Take that risk. It's okay if he responds with a kiss or whatever. This isn't about him. Let him say HIS words, if he chooses to, in his own time. Remember he is already telling you this in behaviors ---> this is your preference/problem, don't put it on him (don't say "we have a problem in communication"). Don't make a gut type ISTP 'wrong' for being different to you.


...as a 9, I want to merge with the person I care about. I don't really see boundaries between me and them. But type 5s don't really have that same dynamic, I've noticed.
Sx dominant 5s usually do (instincts count!)

This part resonated with me a lot, because I've seen it in other 5w4s: "What is really difficult and I think this is the core issue of us fives, is to allow ourselves to be nurtured and to be cared for at all...I am therefore wondering actually if we fives often have a taste in romantic partners who are not truly caring because this keeps our fears at bay...This makes us feel safe whereas loving and caring people scare us to death."
This couldn't be more untrue for this 5w4. I need, and will only tolerate, a very overtly caring/deeply loving/highly responsible man. I've never been romantically interested in 'cold' men or 'bad boys'. I actually went to considerable effort to learn about psychology/relationships/EQ to specifically avoid ever (unknowingly) getting involved with one.

I suspect 5s who are more detached from their emotions are more vulnerable to this as a group but it's important to remember that there is a wide range in 5s; instinct, tritype & health levels (in addition to experience/mbti/core values etc) changes things. Too frequently people seem to have this idea that all 5s are an unhealthy SP variant stuck for all eternity in their self imposed prison-castle (or all 5s are alike in some other spectacularly unhealthy way). 5 =/= fucked.
 

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I am a 5w4 istp involved with a 9w8 infp.
We are both fairly sensitive at each other, and when we have disagreements we both become emotionally retarded.
but we are committed to each other and want a good relationship and have agreed being vulnerable is highly desirable. we are both sexual subtypes, though, and perhaps that makes a difference.

I figure, I didn't come to love to play it safe, I want to be close, it is scary but sx 5 is counterphobic, so I feel compelled to try.

Do yall have that committment thing sorted out? Do your values align? Are you willing to try and get awkward? It can be draining but rewarding.
 
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