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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I would like your insight and analysis as to how I can possibly understand my INTJ friend's behavior.

She often initiates things to do together (going on a road trip, scheduling time to catch up, going to the museum, etc), however, she'll cancel and give fairly unconvincing excuses. At first, I believed her excuses, but then I realized that the excuses she gives are always things that were foreseeable. She knew about them when we made plans (and had no interest or intent to do those), so it's clear now she's just using those things as an excuse. For me, legitimate excuses would be something that suddenly came up and was unavoidable. I guess what bothers me most is that she often makes promises to do things together, and seems to have no intention on following through on them. When she does breaks promises, it screws up my entire schedule.

When we make plans, she's very uncompromising. For example, everything is on her terms, when her schedule is freest, when she has least work, when it is most convenient to her. In order to accommodate this, I've often had to adjust my schedule or even hang out with her in times that were inconvenient for me. However, I value my friendships, so I was willing to compromise. The problem happens when I've compromised my schedule already and she decides to cancel on me. I basically adjusted my schedule/work/other events for her, and then she blows me off. I know some people will advise me to "confront" her, but the whole point of me in writing this post is for me to try and understand her behavior without creating confrontation and conflict. And I've known another INTJ person, when confronted by their best friend about these types of behavior, she just crawled into a shell and cut everyone related from her life (this is actually similar to an INFJ), so I want to avoid that outcome. I've also tried to work things out by telling her, "Can you confirm the logistics for our trip by ____ (date), so I can go ahead and make my own arrangements as well?" She'll confirm and agree to a certain thing, but then she'll still cancel if it suits her. I just need help trying to understand why she acts this way. After many years of friendship, my patience is starting to wear thin, especially because there's no improvement whatsoever.

Then there are the lies about things that don't matter. Because they are about things that don't matter, I just pretend not to notice. But it bothers me why she feels she needs to lie to me about those things, especially when I catch her slipping.

Thanks for reading this, and sorry if anything was unclear. But bottom line: I'm very disappointed. After years and years of disappointment and being let down, I feel weary. Every time she plans or says something, I get my hopes up, but at the back of my mind, I'm anticipating for to break her promise again. I'm almost not willing to make any plans with her anymore. I don't want to be disappointed anymore. And I also don't want to have my schedule dependent on her whim. When I plan or set things, it's set. I like to know when things will be, expect things, and I dislike surprises or sudden changes for no apparent reason The thing is... if someone with an "F" function canceled because they didn't "feel" like it or were being fickle, I'd understand at least where they were coming from, even though I may not like it. For my friend, that's the thing. I just don't know if it's because she's just bad at keeping promises/compromises or if she just doesn't like me. It's confusing because she's usually the one that initiates and seeks out our friendship, but then she's never willing to go out of her way. at all.

(By the way, I consistently test out as an INFJ, but I function as an INTJ during work/school).
 

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Just some guesses...

Have you thought that your plans with her are a backup plan? That in a way she wants something else and if that happens, she'll cancel on you and if that falls through, well here's the next best thing. This is a somewhat logical view of the situation, but that's just what I see based on what you stated.

Another thought here is to note that you may be overly accommodating and she may like to take advantage of you for that. Imagine that friend that lets you make plans and then you cancel which while it upsets them, it isn't enough to make you take steps to set boundaries and have more control in your life. I'd imagine that if I had the "whenever I need a friend, here they are," situation, that could be rather tempting to overly exploit to my mind.

Are you sure she isn't an INTP? The sudden change in plans would make me think that there could be more of a P than a J there as the former is more of a "go with the flow" which would handle changing plans on a regular basis.
 

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There isn't a good reason for this. This is bullshit.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the responses so far. She's definitely an INTJ -- she took the test and was also validated by our other INTJ friends. The thing is, (and I don't mean it in a bad way), she only has a few friends - me and a few others from high school. She's told me several times that she considers me her closest friend in our group, and me vice versa. I know her family as well (and her mine), and although we are from two completely different cultures, it's mutual, common knowledge that we don't have many other friends aside from each other (we were the loners, nerds, geeks and bookworms). So it doesn't make sense to me that I'm her back-up plan friend cause it's not like we have many other friends to socialize with.

Also, don't know if this is relevant, but we went to different colleges, and I was able to make many friends (but not a group of close friends like we had in high school), but she only recently made new friends in her last year. I've had the feeling that she tries a lot more to befriend them to have another group of friends she can have. (I went out of state, she stayed in the area). So at the same time it doesn't make sense to me, it has entered my mind a couple of times that... she is making plans with her new friends and pushing off my plans/using our plans as back-up. Maybe she's trying to establish friendships with people in-state? Then I realized some of her new friends were actually from out-of-state... Well I don't want to make assumptions and jump to conclusions but could there be any other reasons? Or perhaps I'm not providing enough info.? Is there anything else I should include for you guys to better assess the situation?
 

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Reading this, I would never put up with someone who behaves like this. This person is being a jerk, and there's no good explanation for their actions based on how you're describing them.
 

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I understand not compromising - but I would expect the other person to remain relatively consistent too, and then find something that worked for both of us. I understand cancelling - but if I knew the reasons in the first place that's just bad planning. I completely understand not going out of my way - but I wouldn't make plans I found unreasonable in the first place and then back out. Unless she really felt pressured in to them, but if she initiates then that's just....

Have you never mentioned it at all that it bothers you? We can be kind of oblivious, though we usually stick to our own standards. Or maybe she senses it and is annoyed because she thinks you're being passive-aggressive, somehow? Does she do this to anyone else? Or maybe...I can let a lot of plans lapse if I feel overwhelmed with too much socialising/people/work - which needn't be a lot, just more than I am accustomed to. Sometimes the stupid excuses are because I think "humans are tiring" will be taken personally by the particular human I say it to. People do that. They think they should be the exception, and no one is. Still, one tries to know one's limits and not screw up other people's plans too much, because that's obnoxious. You should still tell her off about it - she may be slightly oblivious to the extent it interferes? Or something? Still think it sounds shitty though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well here's the thing. I either 1) want to find a reasonable understanding of why she does this -- such as if it's typical INTJ behavior or if there's another logical reason I'm overlooking. (For ex; typical INFJ behavior is withdrawing /disappearing for a while under stressful times, so I was wondering if flakiness/rigidness in not compromising are INTJ stress symptoms). I agree that humans are tiring and I also agree that too much socializing is overwhelming - this is "I" behavior, so this isn't a good reason for me to break promises.

Or, 2) this person is just being a jerk the I'm not dealing with them anymore. If it's the case where they are just being a jerk, inconsiderate, and bullshitting/string me along, I'm not dealing with them now (I believe the INFJ forum calls this the INFJ door slam). and I'm not going to waste time to tell them this bothers me, because if anything, INTJs dislike surprises the most (I'm speaking from experience - when I'm in work/school mode for a while, I test out as an INTJ and I know from my INTJ friends that we really hate surprises or having things sprung on us or canceled like that). At the least, she could've let me know sooner, but sometimes she'll cancel that morning or really late at night.

Sorry if this post is bitter and cynical. I'm just pissed off that I've had more canceled plans than plans that have been followed through. and I think I'm pissed off at myself for getting my hopes high repeatedly. It's just that I've dealt with flaky/promise-breaking people before, and I've been working really hard to give my friend the benefit-of-doubt, but if there's no logical reason...
 

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My take on this is that she may be testing to see how strong the friendship is, basically trying to find how for she can push you. Usually this means that she doesn't see herself as worth of the friendship and has to prove to herself that the friendship can be broken. In my experience this is almost a sub-conscience thing not a deliberate act.

If you are best friends then you should be able to talk about it without a big confrontation, if she really is INTJ you should be able to approach her with the logic of the situation and not the emotion of it and she should be fine.
 

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It's not typical.

Stress behaviour can be assholery though through laziness/obliviousness/inconsiderate to a strong degree and it's not malice so much as too tired to try (especially when you get away with it)/pushing away in self-hatred or misperceptions of others' dislike kinda thing. So that would be being a jerk in actions, though not completely in intention. But the actions are in no way justifiable.

You won't find out for sure without calling her on it. She is the only one who knows why. If the friendship was that important you can give her a chance to explain rather than just venting at her. Perhaps she will smarten up. Perhaps she will explain. Perhaps you can just talk and she will admit she needs space and stop making plans she has no intention of keeping. But you have no reason to tolerate that behaviour from anyone, ever, no matter how stressed they are.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Lirulin: What would be the best way to call her out on it? I definitely need a while to compile my thoughts and compose my feelings, so I have some time to think. I just don't want to come off as sounding accusatory or clingy, two things I often perceive in arguments between people (friendships, relationships).

To Sharpstick:
That may be possible --
My take on this is that she may be testing to see how strong the friendship is, basically trying to find how for she can push you. Usually this means that she doesn't see herself as worth of the friendship and has to prove to herself that the friendship can be broken.
^Could you elaborate on this a little? What would be the outcome of finding out how far she can push me? and what would be the outcome of proving that a friendship can be broken? Still trying to get my head around this and understand the "testing" part.
 

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More thoughts...

Ah, ok so there is an ignorance explanation that makes sense to my mind here. If she has few friends, there is a chance that she doesn't understand how bad what she is doing is. I can relate as an INTJ that has massive trouble with relationships as growing up, I just didn't find many that I needed to cultivate at all. Thus, I became really good at being manipulative when needed and not needing others. You may be placing too much value on friends here compared to where she is. I know for myself, I could see how I would do something like this where I'd double book myself with the expectation that one of the two will likely fall through. The point here is that she doesn't see what she is doing as wrong, rather she may see it making a lot of sense and expect you to just accept it as this works for everyone or so it seems. If you want some more of an elaboration, imagine someone for whom relationships tend to be a lot more trouble than they are worth and thus dealing with people is tolerable but rarely enjoyable. Yes, it could be scary and hard to imagine, but I could ramble on about it if you want. Just saying as it could get real dark real quick here.

lirulin is right in that she knows why she does this and we can just speculate. I know that I've probably done similar stuff in my life where I'd blow off a friend because something better came along, even my girlfriend that was all part of that learning curve which may or may not be something you want to tackle. Would you want to be that teacher in her life that tries to explain to her what she is doing to you? That's the big question to my mind as there are a couple of different ways I see this going. Either she doesn't get how bad it is that she does this as she just may believe that if it wasn't ok then someone would say something somewhere along the way, or she does know and is a manipulative jerk in a sense. The latter is the scarier option to my mind, but there is the question of how deep into the rabbit hole do you want to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for helping. I agree, I guess all we can do is speculate. With all this discussion though, I am better understanding where she is coming from.

However, despite all these possible logical evaluations, I can't help but strongly feel that she's being utterly selfish. I know what you mean in that relationships that tend to be a lot more trouble than they are worth. It is like that for me, too. I find dealing with people tolerable, and only allow myself to tolerate some people. With others, I keep a friendly distance, if that makes sense. I recently dealt with some toxic friendships in college. Coming from a very sheltered nerdy, geeky life from high school, I was suddenly exposed to a world of toxic, manipulative, backstabbing people. Given that, I'm weary and slightly distrustful/cynical of most people nowadays.

I guess a crux of the problem is that I'm putting more value in the friendship than she is, like you mentioned. As to your choices, I'd like to think it was the first one --she doesn't know the effect she's having on me, because we don't see our friendship in the same way, and probably because I keep my thoughts to myself.

I think there's a lot of repair that needs to take place with us, but I don't see how this is possible unless we can actually spend time together or communicate on a regular basis. I don't want to throw all this on her, when she does't even view friendships the same way I do. I guess I'm just disappointed. I feel used. It seems to me that she doesn't want a regular communication, because she's too busy with her life. And then when she's bored, she makes plans but doesn't follow through. I see this as really selfish and I don't have the strength to be a teacher of any sort. I don't like telling/explaining people like you mentioned above, nor do I think she would be quite receptive to this (would probably see this as criticism). In a way, I've already been her "teacher" for a bit now (her and my other IxTx friends), for the past several years. I'm always the one checking up on them, engaging them in conversation, inviting them to talk, etc... my other IxTx friends have sort of "learned" in that they are more in-tune with our friendship now and remember to keep communicating (even without me initiating all the time), whereas my friend here will cut off contact whenever it suits her. I feel that my other IxTx friends have come to value my friendship and what I have to offer -- sometimes they tell me that bluntly, but sometimes they don't, but I understand from their actions. for ex, they can be busy during one period, but will take the time to email me that there's much to catch up on and can't wait to have a chance to talk or hang out with me later. I feel kind of useless in this friendship now, because everything is only on her terms, only when she feels like she needs a back-up plan.

I'm taking everything into consideration that you guys said, so at least now I sort of better understand where she's coming from. I think I still need more positive interactions with her to solidify our friendship in my mind. Not sure if this makes sense, but I need to sense some genuine connection or desire on her part in the next few times, for me to go forward. If not, I'm hesitant to continue any further. I've had my share of heart-breaks (in friendships), and i guess I'm going through the process of weeding out people that may potentially hurt me further.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
By the way, I want to thank you guys again. It is helping me to sort out my thoughts logically. Otherwise, I'd be going in circles off of my feelings, but it's becoming more clearer and your input is very valuable. Thanks.

I hope this isn't seen as clinginess, as that is a behavior I dislike the most. If anything, independence in friendships & relationships are extremely important for me (which is why I think my ISTJ friends and I are doing okay). I guess I feel like I need some more substance to go off of... more positive memories, positive moments, more careful planning (so less postponing/canceling), more communication spread out, rather than spontaneous moments. It's hard to explain, but I think it's an INFJ thing, but we usually need this kind of stuff, so we can kind of try and figure out how much space, how much minimal communication, how much contact, and all that stuff is needed to maintain enough distance, but a close relationship. We kind of go along with how the other responds to us, and I think it's natural in my case, to feel kind of rejected. (Key word is feel.) Anyway, I think any sort of positive reinforcement would quell most of my thoughts on this, and give me a kind of catalyst to give her the benefit-of-doubt and stir up more energy to be the friendship-maintainance-person, but right now, I'm kind of burned out.

And on that note, I guess the only reason I have these expectations/concerns about her is because she's one of the few people I care a damn about. And because I miss the old times.
 

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I would say never put yourself in a position where she can screw you over again. Don't compromise your own plans for her and put your cards on the table first. That way if she does cancel she's not causing too much damage. I can understand being annoyed at a person for putting themselves in a shitty victim situation they didn't have to and then blaming me for it so she may go that route. Don't change your schedule for her again, at least.

There can be a feeling of unfair pressure in something like this - someone giving too much and wanting it back, trying to drag it out of you, when you never asked for it in the first place and don't want to give it. And not all INTJs realise that people find their uncompromising position pressuring for these others to change, since all they're doing is not changing themselves, like everyone else has a right to, right? It feels massively unfair. Mostly I feel this dynamic with people who give spontaneous gifts and with them guilt complexes, but, extrapolating, general expressions of friendship that are unnatural to me can fall into that pattern. It's like, I am willing to do this much, and no more, because this is who I am, you know this by now, if you do more it is a free choice on your part - you cannot consider it forcing the obligation of reciprocity onto me. It is considered in the context of the interaction, not in the context of "what friends owe each other" since that is a stupid societal thing. Keeping in constant contact is something I myself do not do always, but my friends know this and know why, and we have no issues with it. Plus they know that, although I don't express friendship those ways, I do it other ways more natural to me, and they recognise them. It is much more balanced - there are ways to not compromise and yet find balance. So I sort of get that way of thinking, though I would not myself apply it to breaking promises - but she has not found balance with you. She may not know how badly she is off though she damn well knows what the usual expectations are and that she's not meeting them. Like jbking said it is a learning curve - we figure out there are some things you have to do, and that some friendship is obligation even if you feel like it shouldn't be or want it to be "better" than that, that people should understand how we are and not force us into mushy societal norms (none of the latter is unreasonable, but it can be taken to the level of serious fucking overkill). What she is doing is low on the learning curve indeed, but I expect it makes sense to her on some level. It's still not on though. Obnoxious.

In confronting her...maybe focus less on the emotional impact and more on the practical? Someone like that, all emotions are blackmail. The "I do this, therefore you have to" argument probably will not mean much because "but you don't have to..." is always the thought.... more along the lines of "you don't live in a goddamn vaccuum." or "I have no problems with distance and giving each other space, but I expect you to show up when we make plans so don't make them if you won't be there." Lay more boundaries of behaviour in future and less talk about the behaviour in the past. This is the way it will have to work - accept it or piss off. Although a "what the fuck?" would not be out of line, honestly. It depends. But no need for a big fight or showdown necessarily - that's all about the past and anger. The future is solving it. If you even want to.
 

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... right now, I'm kind of burned out.
.
Enough said.

Everything lirulin and jb said is right. But also really listen to yourself. Your feelings are telling you something important.

If you feel burned out, just stop for a while and see what happens. If she's a good friend, she'll pick up the other end of the relationship.

Good luck!
 

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Suggestion...

Rather than confronting her and all the drama that could stir up, consider what boundary you need to put in place here and communicate that to her. The next time something falls through, then you have to follow through on whatever followup there was as consequences for upholding the boundary. Otherwise, is it really there if it is never enforced? I wouldn't think so, but then I'm still working on setting boundaries and seeing where that leads. The point here is to protect yourself and try to avoid getting tangled up in all the drama that you seem to have there on a regular basis.
 

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Or just stop, don't confront her and see if everything settles itself out. I have been pleasantly surprised more times than not by this strategy.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
The main point I guess: I don't want a confrontation, so I'm just going to let everything settle itself for now. The main reason is because I'm feeling burned out, so I just need to stop for a while, like Isis said. And JBking - I agree, I think I need to find the appropriate boundaries, which I'm still trying to figure out. For me, I usually am able to work out the boundaries after a certain point, but I base my boundaries off of how that person responds to me. In this case, it is difficult for me because I can't tell if this friend even wants me around anymore or doesn't. And like lirulin said, we really need to find our balance. I think our once-perfect balance has obviously tipped, due to life and its business, and it's all about finding a new balance that works.

A question: we are supposed to meet up again but I have not heard back from her yet, although I sent her possible times that would work for me (as she had requested). I would prefer doing something else, a personal hobby, that day (as I had been planning), but I don't know how much longer I need to wait for her to write her into my day. I don't want to contact her again because I don't want to "bug" her, but I do want her to know that she needs to let me know soon because if not, I can plan my day accordingly. I want her to know this, but I'm hesitant to contact her because when I tell her "Can you let me know by _ so I can make my plans accordingly," she gives me a "Yes. Let's meet here at that time," but then cancels. So I don't want her to feel like I'm squeezing a commitment out of her, but at the same time, I need to make arrangements to get there and I would like to know in advance so I know how to plan my day. I currently do not have a car in-state so I rely on relatives for transportation, which she knows, which is why this whole making arrangements is annoying for me. Should I still email her anyway, and remind her that she needs to get back to me? soon...? This was her plan, too, by the way, but since this is a plan that involves both of us, I feel responsible for following through on the plan-making if we are to go through on this.

~~
And other thoughts:
And lirulin - I understand what you mean. I feel this way with ExFx types who expect me to express myself in an outwardly emotional way. I can't. They know how much I value them, but I just can't be "emotional," ironically. I go off of my feelings, but when it comes to ExFx's , they are totally different creatures from me in that ExFx's are very outwardly capable of expression, whereas INFJs are considered the most aloof of the feeling types. This is how I am and I don't expect others to also express friendship in a verbal, emotional way.

That said, there is something I would like to point out: obligation of reciprocity . First of all, I hate it when people talk about this in terms of "what you owe me and what I owe you." When I give to my friends (whether it's an occasional hand-made/thoughtful birthday gift, or my friendship), I don't expect anything to be reciprocated in return, and my friends all know this. I've been friends with my IxTx friends for almost a decade now, and it has always been me making the effort to keep us together, initiate get-togethers, always being there for them, a call away, checking up on them, whatever; and I never thought they 'owed' me anything. However, after this very long time, I've found a balance with most of these friends. They sense when I'm starting to get burned out or slow down, and they sort of know to pick up the other end of the relationship like Isis mentioned. They know that I don't expect anything back, but that I'm delighted when I get a call or thoughtful email from them every so often. And I've learned how they express their friendships in different ways than I do. That said, while I don't expect any "reciprocation," I think there is a bare minimum and effort in any relationship, but I think this minimum heavily differs between my friend and I at this point.
 

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There is a bare minimum and there should be. Which is why it can be expressed in different ways by different people - within reason. If you express the idea that way, as the bare minimum, it should be accepted by anyone with sense. It's just...someone who is very aware of the difference between how they act and social expectations, and annoyed by and disagreeing with social expectations, and painfully aware of the difficulties this creates for them, may feel things as an expectation/imposition regardless of a friends' intentions. Very enneagram 5 too, that, which is common in INTJs. More of a potential sore spot warning in terms of framing how you talk to her - not a defense for her. This behaviour is crap. The way you said it there sounds perfectly rational, indeed it is. This is not outwardly giving something, this is just not doing damage, for fuck's sake. At least that.

You're still leaving a lot of the decision making in her power - sending her the times, letting her pick one, waiting around for her. I'd say do it the other way round from now on, given her history. And you have every right to bug her. Maybe "Is this still happening? - I need to plan the car, and if not, I have something else I want to organise." And even an offhand remark of her being busy lately and cancelling would not go down badly if it weren't phrased in an accusatory way. Give her an out and see if she takes it? Maybe... But be more uncompromising yourself - at least suggest one time that works for you, and let her get back to you on that one time, not a range so you cannot even plan. Or better, let her suggest the time and you pick the one you like. There's no danger, clearly, of her inconveniencing herself, so if she does show up it will be convenient for her too.
good luck?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Will do so. Thanks for the advice! Do you think you could actually help me phrase that offhand remark of her being busy lately? Sorry if this is a silly request... I have been wanting to make that remark, but I just don't know how to do so tactfully in a non-accusatory way.
 
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