I am really sorry you're going through this, and I can tell you I have done it to many a guy. I can't explain it either. The last thing I ever want to do in this world is hurt someone but I used to do it all the time. In high school, my mom called me the "Black Widow" because I would get a guy to like me and then suddenly - he'd do or say something that weirded me out, make too romantic or mushy of a gesture than I was ready for and give me the creeps, or I'd simply look at him and suddenly be repulsed.
This is one of the things I'm least proud of. I'm so happy now to have been with the same guy for 6 years, but even in the beginning of our relationship I did this to him. He tried to buy a bunch of romantic stuff and when he got it out it just turned me off and I started ignoring him. He moved away, we got back in touch, and got back together when he came back again.
Honest to God, I'd stay away from INFPs that are under the age of 23. Or whatever their full maturity level is. When I was younger, I wouldn't wish pursuing me on anyone. I only like guys that acted like they didn't like me or were a difficult catch. I was so flighty and flaky and treated a lot of really nice guys like dirt.
Now that I'm thinking about it, I think it could be this - a lot of times guys would like me but I didn't like them enough to want to date. I liked the attention and wouldn't want to hurt his feelings, so I'd try to convince myself I liked the guy and allow them to think I did. Then, when they'd do something overly sweet or try to make it serious, I'd suddenly feel a rush of emotions that scared me. Was it guilt over the fact that they'd done something nice for me when I don't feel the same way? Was it feeling trapped in the situation I had gotten myself in? Not knowing how I was going to get out of the situation without conflict? I have no idea what emotions I was trying to avoid but it's obvious something in me was trying to bottle it all up, forget about it, and run away.
I'm sorry you're going through this, just as I'm sorry for all the guys I did this to. I wish I had a better explanation.
Hmm. I've been reading this and another thread, and I have been alternately angry and empathetic when I read things like this. I think I should entitle this post: Don't Mess With Your Own Kind.
I'm an INFP and most of my major relationships have been with other INFPs. For some reason, though, I have rarely done to another what is being described here. I have periods when I need to be left alone, but it is not in response to a person violating some emotional space. Once I've allowed a person into my emotional interior, that person is allowed in for an indefinite period. Yes, I'm sensitive like other INFPs, but for some reason I accept almost anything from an intimate except for major emotional hurts...generally, I forgive people easily.
Here comes the empathy, the anger, and the exception to what I've just stated. My longest relationship has been my marriage. I have, deliberately and in his f**king face, told my husband that I have cut him off from my interior life. This was in response to my discovery of his affair with a high school sweetheart. We tried counseling, I tried discussing it with him, I even wrote a long letter telling him that it was his job to regain my trust and my love, or he could leave. He hasn't left because "we can't afford it." Well, all bets are off, and if I have to live under the same roof with him, that does not mean that under these conditions, he is entitled to some form of emotional intimacy.
And BTW he is an INFP. He doesn't seem especially introverted compared to me, but he does have some of the more maddening INFP characteristics. The one that bothers me the most is his sensitivity. It comes out at inconvenient moments, and it especially bothers me that any past hurt is always on the table for a future conflict. But remember, conflict is not something we INFPs like or wish to engage in. So instead of talking things out, he took matters into his own hands and had an affair instead. Then, when we began to go to therapy, he had gripes, many of them over a decade old. This "therapy" was a hurtful, one-sided affair, since I was the partner who was willing to forgive and forget...and though I can be hurt, for some peculiar, not very INFP-ish reason, I truly had forgotten most of his offenses toward me.
The past year I also had an online relationship/friendship/whatever with another INFP, and that brought its own difficulties and pain. Again, for some oddly non-INFP reason, I have no difficulty opening up emotionally to the right person. But he was the more typical INFP. I would share and share and share, and he remained the man of mystery. It took months to get him to admit to the smallest things about himself. Then he gradually began writing less and less. I was never sure where I stood with him. I knew I had fallen in love deeply, but I never felt the freedom to even say those words. He once compared himself to a crab...a hard shell for an exterior, but tender on the inside. I lived in constant fear that I had gone one step too far with him, and the gentle soul would simply withdraw.
I am now corresponding regularly with an NT, and God, what a breath of fresh air. The pained eloquence of INFPs is alluring to me, but for now, I have had enough of all this touchiness, all this fear and loathing and walking on eggshells. No more delicate sensibilities to offend...no more demons to battle other than my own.
I could write about this all day, but I'm at work. So I'll close and just say, I've looked in the INFP mirror, and I see the aspects that might attract. but might eventually hurt. And Lord, I try hard not to be the one inflicting the hurt...
It is totally undestandable that you would have a reaction like that. I think many -if not all- personality types would react in a similar way in order to protect themselves. What I can say in my defense is that I never hurt this INFP, and I don't think I disappointed him in any way (unless he had expectations that I wasn't aware of).
I can only comment that the INFP I was romantically involved with is a man in his 30s, so one would expect a degree of emotional maturity from him, and I think he has it.... his problem is the confrontation part. There were other factors at play in our relationship/friendship that complicated our situation, but I won't go into such details here.
Thank you for sharing. I relate to some aspects of your experience and I appreciate your comments. I have been in romantic relationships with more than one INFP and is always the same story: difficulty to get them to open up when there is a problem in the relationship (they always "clam up"). The cyclical withdrawals and the lessening of communication have also been there. Also, "The man of mystery" role that you mentioned I found in all INFP men that I know.
On the moodiness: Yes, I know how terrible this is. There were times when I felt I was talking to a stranger, or even worse, to a wall. Also, I sent him friendly messages that never got responses. Never knew why he avoided a simple question or why he was avoiding me on IM.
Communication lessened gradually, he only seemed to respond to emails that had marked emotional tones.
He applied the 'silent treatment' more than once... ugh, I hated this. Gawd knows I was ready to throw in the towel in more than one ocassion!
I have given up on this relationship. It was too emotionally draining. The main reason for me to give up? He doesn't talk about what's bothering him. I don't read minds. And the damndest thing is that his silence intimidates me, so it's a vicious cycle.
Communication between us is almost nil. I have come to the point where I don't care anymore. I guess this INTJ has switched off herself for good.
I've shared my personal via crucis here in hopes to get advice (and I got pretty good comments and guidance, so thanks) and also to discuss this interesting INTJ-INFP types dynamic. Hope this humble thread leaves something to INTJs and INFPs to ponder about this interesting pairing.
I'm glad I was able to bring some understanding to your situation, but really, I am glad you started this thread. I am thinking of my own limited experience in relationships and realize that all but two have been with other NFs. When some withdrew emotionally, I simply blamed myself, believing that there was something profoundly wrong with me, that perhaps I was too naive, too insensitive, or too selfish to understand what the other person was going through. And sadly, that is a characteristic way of an INFP to react. Often, I would further react in what perhaps was exactly the wrong way. Believing that love would fix whatever was broken in these people, I would edge closer in, thinking that somehow I could fix the damage.
I actually have no good advice here. Some people allow themselves to be ruled by fear and are controlled by their own shortcomings. I would be lying if I said that I don't sometimes find myself fearful to fully express how I feel about others, and do not always respond well when they express something about me...whether positive or negative. But whatever one's personality type, in the end it is up to us to decide whether to embrace life, love, and a meaningful connection with others. Sometimes it takes courage to ignore the impulse to withdraw. At times this has been a conscious decision with me, but I do so with the hope that someday I will find someone courageous enough to share the journey with me.