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Discussion Starter #1
Just unloading a bit, really.

I broke up with my ISFJ ex-girlfriend one year ago, almost to the day. From the start we had had a charmed relationship: little synchronicities and coincidences, things that would appear exactly when they were needed, tastes and jokes and stories that fit together effortlessly. The active side of our relationship, out doing things and interacting with the world, seemed to flow along so easily. The other side, the inner, quieter part, was very difficult. It was so hard to have a free-wheeling conversation about ideas or the whys of things; even for somewhat concrete things, it often felt like she was happier looking to me for a ready answer than thinking them through herself. (No! Just tell me!!) That's kind of OK, I can happily fill the role of a know-it-all, but it made it very hard to feel like we were building a deep connection and like I was understood. After a while, it wasn't so much that I was unhappy, as that I had a growing dread that this wasn't working out, it was all going to come apart sooner or later, and I would hurt her terribly. That's just what happened, and I feel terrible for having caused so much harm to such a wonderful person.

Since then I've tried to move on, with mixed success. There's someone else, long-distance, and at the moment we're not-quite-exactly-definitely dating. Which is my own fault. She's brilliant, intuitive, funny, incredibly capable, and she's been amazingly patient with me so far. We've known each other for years, and we can each pretty easily tell what's going on below the other's surface level. She's also quite capable of being definite, vocal, and bold.

Somehow, though, I haven't been able to go whole-heartedly in one direction or the other. When I try to move forward with my distant friend, I get pulled back by a million sentimental reminders of my ex, which tell me that my feelings are still somewhat tangled up in her. And when I think of my ex, I come up against the same disconnections and frustrations that led to our breakup, and that haven't changed any since then. So I'm stuck in this loop.

Am I just giving too much weight to sentimentality? Or giving too little weight to feelings? Fighting a battle of head vs. heart? Or just a chronically indecisive person?
 

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I find that until I move on, a part of me continues to remain with the person I was with last. I've broken up with plenty of people and knew damn well I didn't want the relationship but once it was over officially all of the sudden I wanted that person back. If you knew that it wouldn't work out and you were unhappy I do not think it is healthy to go back... at least not fair to waste her time if you think there is a possibility that you will again become bored.

It never hurts to try something new.... otherwise history will likely repeat itself.
 
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In my opinion, N and S don't mix, so don't feel bad about the relationship not working. (And maybe you don't.)

Enjoy the sentimental reminders of the ex, and continue on with the new. Not mutually exclusive.

Would caution you, and perhaps you're already very aware of this, that INxP can easily create a version of the long-distance person that doesn't bear much relationship to reality. I've done it myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
As an INFP I reserve the right to feel bad for the relationship not working, as well as for my current bemuddled state. Also for the weather, things that happen to fictional characters on television, etc. :)
 

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For the better part of a year, I tried over and over again with my ISFJ (or maybe ISTJ with a weak T) boyfriend to get over my qualms about our differences. Like you, my main problem with the relationship was the lack of deep connection, despite the fact that he was amazingly handsome, loyal, sweet and loving with me. I tried to appreciate and hold up these qualities so that they could compensate for the weaknesses in our relationship. From start to finish, something didn't feel right and I wasn't ever fully comfortable or content.

The relationship kept deteriorating and eventually he began to resent me for hurting him repeatedly by making him feel that he wasn't good enough. I wasn't trying to, but it was evident that I wasn't as happy and in love with him as he was with me. It was not fair to him, and it's where your relationship could have led if things didn't improve between you and your ex. So I wouldn't regret your decision to break up if it wasn't working out.

You have to be with someone where you can accept and be satisfied with who they are and vice versa. Otherwise, even in spite of love you can start slowly destroying yourself and your SO by feeling stuck in a relationship that you know inside isn't right. It's possible that with improved communication and mutual effort, it can be a satisfying and fulfilling relationship, but it would take hard work and commitment. Only the two people in the relationship can determine if it's worth it, but I've come to learn that it's just so much easier when you're more compatible.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, exactly:

[...] despite the fact that he was amazingly handsome, loyal, sweet and loving with me. I tried to appreciate and hold up these qualities so that they could compensate for the weaknesses in our relationship. From start to finish, something didn't feel right and I wasn't ever fully comfortable or content.
I'm in awe of how wholeheartedly and completely she was able to love me. It tears me up that I wasn't able to always be the same way with her.

The relationship kept deteriorating and eventually he began to resent me for hurting him repeatedly by making him feel that he wasn't good enough.
Also yes. The bind was that I could say what I was feeling and hurt her, or keep it in and sacrifice open connection, which she would notice in other ways and which would also hurt her over time. I feel like I've received overwhelming love beyond my hopes, and betrayed it.

Otherwise, even in spite of love you can start slowly destroying yourself and your SO by feeling stuck in a relationship that you know inside isn't right.
In spite of love. I don't even want to believe that's possible! But as hard as I tried, I haven't found a way around it.
 

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Also yes. The bind was that I could say what I was feeling and hurt her, or keep it in and sacrifice open connection, which she would notice in other ways and which would also hurt her over time. I feel like I've received overwhelming love beyond my hopes, and betrayed it.
This is exactly what my problem was. I loved his sincerity and almost deeply vulnerable way of loving me, but I never felt like I could be fully myself with him because he wouldn't understand it. When I tried to talk to him about it, it almost felt like he smiled and nodded and then dismissed it, because he couldn't see things from my perspective, or he would crumble. I started building up walls. My discontent kept manifesting in other ways, eventually leading to very bad fights and crushing words, which he never fully recovered from. We were just strangely unable to see eye-to-eye, despite the fact that we loved each other very much and like you, functioned very very well on a day-to-day activity level.

I think as INFPs it kills us to believe that a person you love and who loves you may just be flat out wrong for you. We are famous for our loyalty and inherent faith in love, after all. I have to say though- I tried my best to make it work with him and stuck it out til the end, because as dysfunctional as it started to be, it was so much worse for me to have to end it. But ultimately, that became the only choice left. And I will say -- as sad and empty as I sometimes still feel without him, I do feel like I can breathe ​better than when I was with him. And that also makes me really sad. I will always miss him and wonder about him.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks, Lollicat. It helps a lot just to hear from someone who understands. (Most of my friends, I think, find my breakup completely incomprehensible.)

I'm sorry to hear about the fights, and I can only imagine what you're feeling when you write "which he never fully recovered from."
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Most of the time, time has done wonders (as I knew it would). I've gotten back together with an ex-girlfriend once before. That was rather different, because our breakup was caused by external circumstances and the relationship itself seemed to have been working out well. When I'm seeing someone, I always want to give the relationship every chance to work. Once we've gotten to a point where it's clearly not working out, I haven't had too much trouble moving on. So what's different now? Is time broken? :-/

There must be a part of me that still hopes we could grow (or could have grown) together despite it all... and a part of me that really doubts that.
 

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Most of the time, time has done wonders (as I knew it would). I've gotten back together with an ex-girlfriend once before. That was rather different, because our breakup was caused by external circumstances and the relationship itself seemed to have been working out well. When I'm seeing someone, I always want to give the relationship every chance to work. Once we've gotten to a point where it's clearly not working out, I haven't had too much trouble moving on. So what's different now? Is time broken? :-/

There must be a part of me that still hopes we could grow (or could have grown) together despite it all... and a part of me that really doubts that.
I feel the same way about my ISFJ. He touched me in a way that was different from my other relationships. Maybe it's the purity and sincerity of their love that we as NFs can pick up and appreciate so much. I also still hope against hope for a reconciliation someday, if possible. Classic case of head vs. heart, I guess.... How is it going with the new love interest these days?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for asking! I only just realized that I posted this in NF instead of INFP.

Over the past few days: After talking to various people, praying with people, and forcing myself to look at / pick up / re-read some of the things that I usually avoid (as in avoidant) because of overwhelming emotions, I'm feeling a lot better. I can now see how much of the difficulty in our relationship was really caused not so much by N/S differences as by my inability to address those differences and the conflicts they caused (that I wouldn't allow them to cause!). Part of that realization is that *it's all much easier than I think it is.*

In practical terms I'm still in a muddle, but there's nothing so very exceptional about that.

I feel the same way about my ISFJ. He touched me in a way that was different from my other relationships. Maybe it's the purity and sincerity of their love that we as NFs can pick up and appreciate so much.
Yes. That intensity of devotion is completely overwhelming, a force of nature. I hope you'll be able to come to some sort of understanding and contented peace with your ex.
 

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I know what you mean. Sometimes you need to block things out and let some time pass before you can even confront the past again. It is interesting to me though that it's been a year and you're still feeling this way.... When you say that you realize "it's all much easier than I think it is" -- do you mean easier to move on, or easier to reconcile the N/S differences had you tried harder? Do you mean it could have been simpler between you two than you made it when you were together? I know I feel that way. I overcomplicated things in my head...and in the process, I failed to just enjoy the relationship as much as I could have.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
"All much easier than I think it is" is a hazy idea. It means getting over myself a little bit. Learning from my ex how to just feel and express things in the moment, without having to first harmonize them with everything I've ever thought or valued or done. Maybe authentic freedom starts with being able to set aside all the cosmically important internal stuff that I can't express, and just be able to ask "Am I hungry? Am I tired? Am I bored?"
 

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Agreed - that's the lesson I learned from mine as well. I asked about your new love interest earlier because I'm curious how it's going for one, and also b/c I'm contemplating seeing someone new. Wondering if that will be a bad idea until I fully "get over" my last relationship -- we left it semi-open (along the lines of "maybe someday..") and it feels like a betrayal of sorts to meet this new person. But at the same time, my rational side tells me to consider it done and done - and to move on. I just don't know which is the better option for myself at this moment, or if I'll end up feeling worse...guess you don't know until you try.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
To tell you the truth, I've been completely dragging my feet on starting a relationship with the new person. I don't know whether that's a good thing because I wouldn't be able to be wholeheartedly engaged anyway, or a bad thing because I'm stuck in the past.

I know what you mean about feeling like a betrayal. I have felt that too. That goes back to the "easier than that" idea, too: I don't want to acknowledge any feelings or desires that go against what I believe I should feel or want. I suppose you feel some interest in a new person, you're still attached to the old person and wondering whether it could have worked, and you also still feel some genuine commitment to the relationship that ended. That's all so completely natural, and anyone can understand those feelings. The "easier than that" that I have in mind is this possibility: maybe it's OK to just let those conflicting feelings be enough in themselves, and just express them to your friends and to the other people involved without having to sort it all out first.
 

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I found it helpful to write down what I really needed from a partner, what was unacceptable, and what would be nice to have. Helped to clarify things for me a bit, see what I was missing from past relationships & when I finally found the right one, made it easier for me to realize that I was in the right relationship.

My wife is an ISFJ, I appreciate what she brings to the relationship, feel like I have a true partner. On the other hand, there are certain things that I simply don't discuss with her. Not necessarily because she wouldn't be able to get it, but because she just doesn't care about certain things I find interesting enough to try and understand. That's what friends, coworkers, and family are for...if you are trying to find someone who fills every need you have in your life, you are likely to be looking a long time. The perfect person doesn't exist, and if you think you've found them, you probably just haven't been with them long enough to see the flaws.

I did learn to listen to my instincts though while dating though even if someone made it through the checklist, if something really seems off you can't try to force it. More than likely your subconscious picked up on a long term issue that your conscious mind hasn't figured out yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
My usual way of processing things is something like this:

1) Something happens / external stimulus
2) Immediate emotional response (internal)
3) Clam up
4) Ruminate internally to try to harmonize the feelings with values, other people's feelings, etc.
5) After a long time weighing things against each other and considering different points of view, come up with a solution.
6) Seek to communicate the conclusions.

This is great because I'm good at 4) and 5), and so I come up with good conclusions to share in stage 6). The more difficult way, which might or might not work, but which would allow for real intimacy, would be more like this:

1) Something happens
2) Immediate emotional response
3) Communicate that unfiltered
4) Process conflicting feelings, values, points of view together
5) Come to conclusions together

It's tempting to keep the middle steps to myself because I'm not bad at them and can eventually come up with a conclusion that works all around. But there's a terrible cost to cutting the other person out of those middle steps.
 

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My usual way of processing things is something like this:

1) Something happens / external stimulus
2) Immediate emotional response (internal)
3) Clam up
4) Ruminate internally to try to harmonize the feelings with values, other people's feelings, etc.
5) After a long time weighing things against each other and considering different points of view, come up with a solution.
6) Seek to communicate the conclusions.

This is great because I'm good at 4) and 5), and so I come up with good conclusions to share in stage 6). The more difficult way, which might or might not work, but which would allow for real intimacy, would be more like this:

1) Something happens
2) Immediate emotional response
3) Communicate that unfiltered
4) Process conflicting feelings, values, points of view together
5) Come to conclusions together

It's tempting to keep the middle steps to myself because I'm not bad at them and can eventually come up with a conclusion that works all around. But there's a terrible cost to cutting the other person out of those middle steps.
I tend to jump to conclusions fairly rapidly, but have found over the years that involving people earlier as you suggested before the conclusion is fully formed can be helpful. I am normally right with my conclusions, but it is pretty easy to overlook critical pieces of information if you don't check all your sources. It also saves feelings from getting hurt, especially if you missed something in your analysis.

If you are also trying to get others to go along with your conclusions or implement the next steps say in a business setting, it is very important to involve them somewhat early in the process so that they can see your thought processes. I use this all the time strategically...why should I have to convince someone to go along with my conclusion if I can just involve them early on and have them come to the same conclusion themselves?
 
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