Personality Cafe banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I and my partner are both INFP's. We get along very well and are both deeply sensitive people. However, one of the problems we have (and other INFP's I know also share) is a tendency to get a bit self-obsessed in times of stress.

For my partner, this manifests in an apparent disregard for everything except "the thing" that is stressing him out; he stops asking about my life, and every time he opens his mouth it's to talk about something he's struggling with. This butts up REALLY POORLY against my own selfish habit which is a mix of "needing attention" and "taking things personally".

We don't usually fight, but lately we've been really grating on each other because of this. I tried to explain how I was feeling the other day and he said something to the effect of "Well, it's only because we're in a relationship, this behaviour was never problematic when I was single. If I just went to some cabin in the woods for 2 weeks and we didn't see each other, everything would be fine." (er, DUH @ the first point and wtf @ the second point, isn't that just an extreme manifestation of the avoidant behaviour I'm trying to talk to you about?") All sorts of psychological baggage stemming from upbringing that I'm sure feeds into our differences, but maybe that's a post for later.

My best friend is also INFP and also has a tendency to get self-obsessed and narcissistic in times of stress. However, she's also deeply giving and compassionate so she at least makes an effort to check in with folks and make sure they're ready for her long diatribes and etc. before delving into them.

Just interested to hear perspectives from other folks who either have INFP's in their life and/or are INFP themselves to get a sense of how common this is, and how you've dealt with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
This is a really interesting one, I'm an INFP and I would suggest it's probably more of an introvert thing in general to become a bit self absorbed in times of stress as we naturally look internally first for ways to deal with it. However, as an INFP and a man, I can totally relate to inherently focusing on that 'one thing' that is stressing me out, I find I tend to close off and end up dwelling on my thoughts and stress in an attempt to understand it and therefore deal with it, which is probably what your partner is trying to do. Unfortunately that's just the way we instinctively process things i'm afraid.

I have found through experience however that I never solve anything by thinking it through and on occassion it has ended up with my partner (an INFJ) noticing that i'm not myself, understanding that something is wrong and forcing it out of me, I bit like yourself, it sometimes ends with some arguments or upset.

The only way to really deal with it and the way that our relationship has improved dramatically was through my own realisation that my rumination was hurting our relationship, I have had to try and change my behaviour to express my frustration and talk about my stress with my partner and together we try to find healthier ways (i.e not rumination) to deal with the stress.

The best thing you can do in my opinion is to encourage continued communication and try to talk about it without judgement, INFP's need to feel like our values and views are not being judged or threatened, sympathise and then try to help/comfort him the best way that you can and I'm sure that it will be appreciated and reciprocated.
 
Joined
·
10,066 Posts
I have noticed the same thing ... and I would second @Seraph101 's introvert observation. The main difference between myself (INFJ) and my INFP BFF is that my self-absorption mostly manifests itself as a strong need to hermit - not have to see or talk to anyone, just be alone for extended periods of time - while she needs to talk about the things that weigh her down. When it's bad, she really needs to talk about them and can't really focus on anything else.

We are both focused on ourselves when under duress, but she needs to talk about it while I need silence.
 

·
Registered
Type 8w9
Joined
·
1,550 Posts
"Well, it's only because we're in a relationship, this behaviour was never problematic when I was single. If I just went to some cabin in the woods for 2 weeks and we didn't see each other, everything would be fine." (er, DUH @ the first point and wtf @ the second point, isn't that just an extreme manifestation of the avoidant behaviour I'm trying to talk to you about?")
Yikes.

Sounds like you both should talk about how to handle being under stress [when you are both preferably stress free or under low stress]. You can't just run off into the woods when you're in a relationship. You don't own each other, but there's at least some decency to be had: 'Hey, I am not feeling too hot right now. Can we talk tomorrow?'. Both parties should still be showing consideration to each other in some form.

This doesn't have much to do with being an INFP, in my eyes. More of common sense. There's nothing wrong with taking time for oneself, it's just a matter of how it's done. Don't feel tempted to excuse it just because your partner is INFP, when your friend handles herself differently.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You hit the nail on the head and that's exactly where we're at right now, too. We had a long discussion about it last week where shit kind of hit the fan. A huge challenge is that he always sees "the thing" as something that will pass; in reality, maybe it will, but there will be another "thing" before long because we're both fairly high-achieving people that take on a lot. So before, it was his stressful consulting job... then it was getting into grad school... then it was being in grad school... then it was finishing grad school... soon it will be moving... There's always something, you know? It took a lot of these conversations for him to understand that it was a pattern of behaviour and not actually a problem external to himself that would just go away when it's over.

I personally used to struggle with really bad anxiety in a similar way, and found that counseling was really helpful in learning to differentiate "stress" from "anxiety", and teaching myself to accept that just because I have something to do doesn't mean I need to be stressed about it. I suggested several times before that he should see a counselor to learn some of those kinds of coping skills, but I think I may have finally gotten through this time as he did go online and start exploring what services are available in our neighbourhood.
 

·
Registered
Type 8w9
Joined
·
1,550 Posts
You hit the nail on the head and that's exactly where we're at right now, too. We had a long discussion about it last week where shit kind of hit the fan. A huge challenge is that he always sees "the thing" as something that will pass; in reality, maybe it will, but there will be another "thing" before long because we're both fairly high-achieving people that take on a lot. So before, it was his stressful consulting job... then it was getting into grad school... then it was being in grad school... then it was finishing grad school... soon it will be moving... There's always something, you know? It took a lot of these conversations for him to understand that it was a pattern of behaviour and not actually a problem external to himself that would just go away when it's over.

I personally used to struggle with really bad anxiety in a similar way, and found that counseling was really helpful in learning to differentiate "stress" from "anxiety", and teaching myself to accept that just because I have something to do doesn't mean I need to be stressed about it. I suggested several times before that he should see a counselor to learn some of those kinds of coping skills, but I think I may have finally gotten through this time as he did go online and start exploring what services are available in our neighbourhood.
I hope he can get the help he needs to be able to work well within your relationship, and you both are able to move forward happily. :-]
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,198 Posts
This is one of those things people don't realize that us guys are often sitting on a lot more stress than is being let on so whatever gets vented is usually the bit the emotional relief valve releases otherwise be ready for the emotions to go off like a bomb.

Pretend that men are like this propane tank and the fire is the stress so when one dumps needs after needs it acts as fuel for the flame till eventually the tank fails.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,219 Posts
Mmm, yeah. That's one of the reasons I married an ISTP. Lol. I can ruminate and he won't notice (my own form of cabin in the woods) or I can share and suck up all of his attention for myself. Haha.

Anyway, when I'm in my zone, what he does that helps me is very basic. He gets me snacks or does an act of service. I don't know how that would translate to an INFP-INFP relationship, but I've learned to do this myself. It's very different than your situation because he doesn't need to be asked how he is or talk about his feelings - but, the physical act of caring for him is something I can manage (even in my funk) and it doesn't take up my mental/emotional space. It's another way of loving. Like, I can still make him dinner or clean the house or buy him a small gift - expressing my attention whilst processing my own inner crap.

Of course again, I am not sure if this is helpful at all because of the very different dynamics. I would think for INFP-INFP, the best way to go is THROUGH. Meaning of course, you have to talk about all of this (since nothing will go unnoticed between both of you and you both have similar needs)... and it may take some time.
 

·
Registered
INFP
Joined
·
2,948 Posts
Graduate School demands much of people. My INFP daughter-in-law just recently finished it. She handled the stress pretty well but she was preoccupied much of the time.

I wouldn't think that a male, who is often single tasking in terms of handling the demands, would fare as easily as a female who, as we know from countless research studies, can multitask more readily.

Males can get a lot of things done (as the P preference indicates) but we tend to get easily over whelmed and may have to spend extra time sorting things out before getting them all done. As one of the posts above pointed out, we sometimes need a friend or associate of a different type, at the very least a J and an S will help ground him, to bounce ideas off and get clear on our approach.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Graduate School demands much of people. My INFP daughter-in-law just recently finished it. She handled the stress pretty well but she was preoccupied much of the time.

I wouldn't think that a male, who is often single tasking in terms of handling the demands, would fare as easily as a female who, as we know from countless research studies, can multitask more readily.

Males can get a lot of things done (as the P preference indicates) but we tend to get easily over whelmed and may have to spend extra time sorting things out before getting them all done. As one of the posts above pointed out, we sometimes need a friend or associate of a different type, at the very least a J and an S will help ground him, to bounce ideas off and get clear on our approach.
Very true! We're both wrapping up Master's degrees right now and while I'm going on to a PhD, he feels very strongly that academia is not for him (even though he is very high achieving and has done well in the program).

I think people who thrive emotionally in grad school tend to be the kind of people who can close their laptop for the day and allow themselves to be done with it, even if the work is not done. I feel no guilt about taking breaks or leaving tasks undone until the next day, if my brain/emotions tell me I'm done for the day (so academia is great for me because I get to have that flexibility - I'm very productive if I have the freedom to follow my whims, I guess).

But my partner needs the structure of having a 9-5 job and "permission" to finish work at the end of the day. He takes his work home with him emotionally anyway, so the added pressure of never really feeling like the work day/week is over is really too much for him.
 
  • Like
Reactions: UpClosePersonal

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,788 Posts
INFPs under stress over-exaggerate their Fi-Ne. Since it's the two primary cognitive functions, we tend to fall back on things that we do best in order to resolve the issues. The problem is that Si-Te are the unconscious balancers for Fi-Ne. So as Fi-Ne grows, Si-Te also over-exaggerates in order to balance but Si-Te usually manifests in unhealthy way.

So that overblown Te manifest as nit-picky obsessiveness trying to come up with the perfect plan that will produce the desire results. The out-of-proportion Fi-dominant manifests as hyper-sensitivity so everything becomes personal.

What really needs to happen is developing healthy conscious Si-Te behaviors that balance out Fi-Ne.

Healthy Te creates efficient systems that once developed, an INFP can just follow without thinking about. Basically, if A happens that causes me stress then these 3 things are what I have to do, no matter what. You don't question why, you don't try to find a better way when you're under stress, you just do them. Because you have to trust what you developed is really the right thing.

Si balances out the Ne. What do the facts really say? Is this real or is my head just making these issues up? The object is to balance out all that Ne psychobabble with real data so you can reduce the noise in your head.

Healthy INFP behavior is about figuring out how to use all your cognitive functions in a balanced way.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Meowmixmuffin

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
The girlfriend really really really withdraws on times of stress, which hits me kind of hard because I have innate problem solving tendencies, and so I can tell something is wrong but I don't know why and I don't know how to help, which is a bit maddening

I wouldn't call it selfishness though. We all have our stress coping mechanisms. They can be a bit of a snag in relationships but nothing impossible to talk out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@infpblog

That all makes perfect sense and is stuff I knew, but didn't make the connection to INFP traits/shadow traits! I went through anxiety counseling when I was younger and the two major skills we learned were cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and "dealing with the stressor".

For me, since I tend to get stressed/anxious when I have "too much on my plate", the latter of those manifests in really strong organizational and time management skills. My partner is a very effective worker but he doesn't really have those skills, he just puts his head down and powers through things until he finishes, often at the expense of his health and our relationship. Whereas I actually schedule time for self care and just being passive because I know I need that for my wellbeing, so I don't feel guilty and stressed about it when that time comes and I'm sitting doing nothing, because I know I've scheduled enough time to get the other things done.

The CBT was exactly what you refer to re: Si balancing Ne: "Is this real or is my head just making these issues up?" and additionally, "So if the thing I dread *does* happen - then what?", "Is that thing so bad?" and if yes, "How do I address this so that the bad thing does not happen?" (and if you can't manage the thing, then comes the logic of challenging the 'usefulness' of the anxious feeling).

I find this is really helpful when the stressor is specific (ie. "for stress", I would say, rather than "anxiety") but for me personally it's less helpful for more generalized anxiety, when I have a kind of general feeling of dread that I can't pin to a specific problem.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,572 Posts
This is a scene from "East of Eden." You see the father (INFP) react so coldly (of course he's under a lot of stress) to his troubled ISTP son's attempt to bond with him (baby Fe). For me, it's a heartbreaking scene, because they're both doing their best in the moment, and missing each other completely.

 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top