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According to you, what are INFJs like? What makes them different from the rest of the types?
 

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More in our heads than in the world, and when we come up for air we don't have any of what most others would consider something to show for it. Add in the occasional surprise of something profoundly useful, just enough to keep people guessing.

The most frequent two comments I have gotten throughout my life so far are:
- I don't understand you
- You're weird

When it was my shrink who told me she didn't understand me, I just threw my hands up and went back to keeping my own counsel, lol.
 

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Wonderful. The two people I feel closest to are INFJ's, but I find them a little difficult to define. Maybe being difficult to define is a defining characteristic? :tongue:
From my perspective they're caring and sensitive, but there seems to be almost a sort of disconnect? Or a certain level of detachment. It's like they're not fully in contact with the core of who they are. Very changeable to the environment and the vibe around them, and always willing to connect with me when no one else is, which is lovely, but this also makes me feel pretty protective of them. I often end up feeling guilty because I'll sort of dump my emotions onto them, and they never complain or do the same to me unless I specifically ask. So I try to remember to ask, and remind them that it's more than okay for them to be a little "selfish" sometimes. They worry too much about other people, which in turn makes me worry about them. I think this protective feeling goes both ways though. If you need someone to talk stuff out with, who will be empathetic but also rational and calming, I'll pick the INFJ every time.
 

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@Sour Roses Can I be an INFJ-whisperer-in-training? I'll talk to your psych. I'll call her up and I'll explain Ni and Fe and inferior Se! The Ti part is for you to do! lol
 

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More in our heads than in the world, and when we come up for air we don't have any of what most others would consider something to show for it. Add in the occasional surprise of something profoundly useful, just enough to keep people guessing.

The most frequent two comments I have gotten throughout my life so far are:
- I don't understand you
- You're weird

When it was my shrink who told me she didn't understand me, I just threw my hands up and went back to keeping my own counsel, lol.
I find it weird when INFJs describe themselves and their experiences with others. Typically my interactions with INFJs have been more one-to-one because even when we're in groups it feels like our connection is separated from the others in some way, but within that dynamic I always find INFJs very calm, composed, I mean I can sense that there is a lot deeper going on, but they have tight enough control and self-awareness over it that I'm not too bothered about that.

As an ENFP I'm used to being able to listen in to other people's thoughts and emotions, whereas with an INFJ it really is just blank.. I get fleeting glimpses, just fleeting, and then I think the INFJ themselves is aware of it because the composure instantly comes back on. Like.... I trust my gut with most people 100%, but with INFJs my gut gives me very little information. When they then describe what goes on inside it's strange.

Imagine living through life feeling like you have a read on most people, and most people only have a surface understanding of you from what you portray of yourself.. and then this mysterious person shows up, at first very insignificantly, and when you turn your lens on them they seem completely neutral, but then you see odd glimpses. Some surprising behaviour, the most fleeting eye contact movement or the slightest way they angle their body toward you that shows you they're thinking something and normally you'd be able to tell what that is, but your senses are giving you nothing. Not only that, but that person seems to keep increasingly co-ordinating their behaviour, actions and perspectives around your inner thoughts in a way that no other person ever has done..
This is all done incredibly subtly, but because you are an intuition dominant you can just about catch whiffs of it here and there, but nowhere near the full picture.

So enthralling as an ENFP.
 

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To get my idea of the INFJ I basically take what I know about the ENFJ and invert the functions (I'm better with Judging functions than I am with Perceiving ones so I understand how J-doms work a bit better). Obviously it varies from person to person but from my experience INFJs tend to be quite philosophical and make some very profound realisations and statements, with more of a human angle than an INTJ might. ENFJs' functions tend to make them good at peering into other people, but since they lead with Fe and support with Ni, with them the desire to understand the person is likely to be for the purpose of knowing how best to facilitate that person, what they want from the ENFJ, and a general desire to understand that person. Often. Often. Whereas with the INFJ, because the Ni comes before the Fe, I'd imagine the desire to understand others is more likely to be for its own sake. By understanding others, the INFJ's Ni is armed with knowledge for its abstract web, and this is information they can use as they go forth into their world of both Fe and Ti.

But because they're Fe-secondary and Ti-tertiary, I picture the INFJ as easily able to use this Ni information they've collected about the world and how its people work to make cold and calculated judgements and decisions when the situation calls for it, which I'd imagine the Fe-dom ENFJ would have a lot of trouble with.

I and an INFJ have exchanged a lot of our experiences with being an INFP and an INFJ and she seems to fit this idea like a glove. She's very philosophical and has a genuine desire to better understand other people and integrate with them, but she isn't slave to the latter desire.

I guess the overall impression I have of the INFJ is of an observer, watching the world and its people and trying to make sense of it. A conversation with this hypothetical INFJ would make it quickly apparent that they're a reliable source of insights into other people, and they're probably ready to share and discuss them. And they'll be probing into your mind to understand you all the while.
 

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INFJs are very accessible...until they aren't and they're very distant.

They are very playful when it's durian time...until it's not time to play anymore and it's time to ache for the world.

They choose who really knows them. Perhaps you can dig into an ENFJ, but you can't dig into an INFJ. They have to take you in there. And then it might be too much for you and you'll want out. (Which is why they are slow to take you in) I kind of wanted out of my INFJ friendship... We had the best of fun together, but now I don't think she would approve of the way I live my life.

I don't know if they desire to be understood or merely listened to. I would rather be listened to and accepted as I am, not understood. I'm a very simple, easily understood person when you get down to it, but my way of expressing it is a way that needs to be accepted by those close to me. I'm wondering if the INFJ would like to be understood instead of merely accepted, or if being accepted as they are is an adequate mask for understanding. Not sure. My friend and I had our ups and downs. Wild creativity and laughs, and also barely being able to stand the other. I forgot that I dated an INFJ for a bit! He broke up with me unexpectedly...

A well-known INFJ friend is a challenge. The worst is when they are right, but what you are doing feels good, and you don't want them to be right because you don't want to change. That drove me mad. My Ne would twist and turn, trying to create some outcome that they couldn't predict. Often to no avail. Every so often it was okay, but when she was in a stress mood, Ni-Ti loop, it would severely cramp my style. And then she would start the obsessive cleaning...
 
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Me? Smooth, gentle and out-of-this-world soft. Quoting someone else...
 

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INFJs are very accessible...until they aren't and they're very distant.

They are very playful when it's durian time...until it's not time to play anymore and it's time to ache for the world.

They choose who really knows them. Perhaps you can dig into an ENFJ, but you can't dig into an INFJ. They have to take you in there. And then it might be too much for you and you'll want out. (Which is why they are slow to take you in) I kind of wanted out of my INFJ friendship... We had the best of fun together, but now I don't think she would approve of the way I live my life.

I don't know if they desire to be understood or merely listened to. I would rather be listened to and accepted as I am, not understood. I'm a very simple, easily understood person when you get down to it, but my way of expressing it is a way that needs to be accepted by those close to me. I'm wondering if the INFJ would like to be understood instead of merely accepted, or if being accepted as they are is an adequate mask for understanding. Not sure. My friend and I had our ups and downs. Wild creativity and laughs, and also barely being able to stand the other. I forgot that I dated an INFJ for a bit! He broke up with me unexpectedly...

A well-known INFJ friend is a challenge. The worst is when they are right, but what you are doing feels good, and you don't want them to be right because you don't want to change. That drove me mad. My Ne would twist and turn, trying to create some outcome that they couldn't predict. Often to no avail. Every so often it was okay, but when she was in a stress mood, Ni-Ti loop, it would severely cramp my style. And then she would start the obsessive cleaning...
I want to be understood and then accepted. To be accepted through continuous understanding. Otherwise the acceptance is only about behaviour and what is seen which is just a tiny part of the whole. If that happens and someone accepts me in this way - it is the end of it. He no longer tries to understand and just gave up into acceptance of seen. There is not much future with that person apart from an acquaintanceship. Understanding needs to be continuous process which never really ends because the human never really ends. When it stops - open communication dies and acceptance which comes out of this is more of a tolerance combined with giving up.
 

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"From my perspective they're caring and sensitive, but there seems to be almost a sort of disconnect? Or a certain level of detachment. It's like they're not fully in contact with the core of who they are."

@marbledinks - Thanks for this comment. I'm an INFJ and this describes much of my experience. I've been struggling with this disconnect for years. Can you elaborate a bit more and explain what you see in terms of an INFJ not fully in contact with his/he core? I have a hard time putting it in words myself.
 

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@cafetalk if you don’t mind me answering your question uninvited and also in a round-about way: I think Fi and Ti mean figuring out your own values and reasons for things. Basically it’s about what makes “you” tick. I think INFJs develop more of a sense of who they are as they age and develop Ti, looking inward for a philosophical framework to judge themselves and decide what works for them.
 

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Thanks llyralen. This is interesting. So are you you saying you think its because Ti doesn't get developed until late with INFJs that causes the disconnect where talking about?
 

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Thanks llyralen. This is interesting. So are you you saying you think its because Ti doesn't get developed until late with INFJs that causes the disconnect where talking about?
Yes, that's my understanding. I originally wrote about a page that I erased. I think even though ENFPs are long-winded, I probably shouldn't edit myself too much. lol I always end up re-writing it. Maybe it just takes that long to make my case and explain all my thinking so that you with Ni can then boil it down after you've heard the whole thing. lol

This idea didn't originate with me, but I very much think it is true. Fi and Ti are your "sense of self". I recently saw an interview of an ESFJ who said "I have a hard time thinking that I am an actual person." and ENFJ Oprah has some quotes on "You've got to figure out what you love, who you are...." which to an Fi user just sounds kind of like nothing. Figure out what you love? Don't you know already? Who is in danger of missing such obvious information? Which does make me wonder what it is I say that "sounds like nothing" to another type. Probably when I say something like"You've got to figure out a system to find your keys. Put them in the same place in your purse every time. Put your purse in the same place in the house every time." Most ENFPs start making fun of our Si as we realize we'll always have a problem with it.

In Dario Nardi's neuroscience work with MBTI he finds that Fe prominent types are highly developed in an area of the brain that makes Fe users feel like they are one with other people. He says Fe prominent women in particular have a hard time distinguishing between their own thoughts and wants and those of others. I have asked INFJs at length about this and you guys seem to agree with this, especially when listening to other people speak. To contrast, Dario Nardi says Fi prominent types are highly developed in an area of the brain (these areas were mapped out before Nardi linked different MBTI types to them) that has to do with a sense of identity and with processing words and tone. It lights up whenever we say the word "my" but when listening to others discuss their stories or feelings this area is intensely listening in Fi users and I believe what is being described and what is happening to me is that I become highly aware of the difference between myself and them while at the same time putting myself in their situation in order to "try out" or see what I would feel. Since feelings are generated by Fi independent of anyone else's feelings, this makes sense, right? I can only know really how I would feel---but we get better at this the more we listen and "try out" and realize that they might not feel how I felt at all... and actually I've written a lot about this discrepancy and how it's kind of the source of a ENFP super power to inspire, in my opinion. At any rate, listening to others makes Fi users just experience their own feelings even more... I usually feel quite Fi-moved after hearing someone's story I know my feelings even stronger,
Nardi did not talk about this phenomenon happening with Ti users. Ti users have a lot of connections at the back of the brain and seem to use different areas. However, Ti is a personal philosophy of reasons, and high Ti users definitely show a willingness to follow their Ti ahead of the opinion of anyone else. They consistently and fairly follow their reasoning, just like I follow my Fi morals. It's a blueprint I'm always working on and embellishing, but it's the same house I've been working on for years.

Well... so what about Ni which would be experienced as private as introverted learning functions are... well there is some there, but at the same time it must feel like Ni just appears? Like something you are good at listening for, but that you didn't create exactly? Or maybe it doesn't feel like that. I experience my introverted functions as very personal and more private "my" functions... as "me." "My" feelings "my" Si experiences. Maybe you experience Ni more like how I experience Si.... like Ni could be "information according to 'my' organizing? Since Si is "my experience" and together Fi and Si--- my burnt-in-deep memory.

I don't know how other ENFPs feel about their Ne, but I was talking to a friend of mine who is an INFJ and he gave me such a compliment of a question, but it was hard for me to answer. He said, "Why don't you take more credit for your Ne? You've always got a solution, but you always talk like these aren't even your ideas." I think this is what he said, anyway, because I was confused and had to quickly self-assess, "It doesn't feel like anything I can take credit for. It feels like I'm just "finding" the solutions. Like I'm good at seeing the possibilities that are there to be found." But this is an extroverted "gathering" function and doesn't feel private. In fact, we are always constantly trying to hold Ne back due to feedback from others. We would discuss everything we are learning and musing for forever.... until past an INFJs bedtime, that's for sure. =) But Ni acts like a meta-analysis, but I still don't think that learning functions are experienced as "me", not the way Fi or Ti are experienced.

P.S. Today I wrote about meeting an ENFJ who had a very hard time figuring out what she wanted and liked on a thread that's probably right under this one. So you guys don't have as great a problem with finding your Ti, but in another way it might be even harder to explain your Ni to others or even to yourself.
 

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Thanks llyralen. These are interesting thoughts. I never heard of Dario Nardi. I'll have to check out his work.

This is the first I've heard about Ti and sense of self. I'll continue to look into this moving forward. Previously I thought it was due to my conditioning growing up - not having a clear sense of self - so tracking it down to something like Ti would be great. It would help alleviate all of the confusion.
 

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Yes, that's my understanding. I originally wrote about a page that I erased. I think even though ENFPs are long-winded, I probably shouldn't edit myself too much. lol I always end up re-writing it. Maybe it just takes that long to make my case and explain all my thinking so that you with Ni can then boil it down after you've heard the whole thing. lol

This idea didn't originate with me, but I very much think it is true. Fi and Ti are your "sense of self". I recently saw an interview of an ESFJ who said "I have a hard time thinking that I am an actual person." and ENFJ Oprah has some quotes on "You've got to figure out what you love, who you are...." which to an Fi user just sounds kind of like nothing. Figure out what you love? Don't you know already? Who is in danger of missing such obvious information? Which does make me wonder what it is I say that "sounds like nothing" to another type. Probably when I say something like"You've got to figure out a system to find your keys. Put them in the same place in your purse every time. Put your purse in the same place in the house every time." Most ENFPs start making fun of our Si as we realize we'll always have a problem with it.

Thanks for saying this. I think it's important. There's some kind of thing about the human brain where it is hard for us to imagine that other people don't know what we know, that what is obvious to us would not be obvious to someone else.

I can only speak for myself here but I struggle a lot with Ti issues, and it is hard when people expect me to just know on the spot what I like, or what I want, what my preference is. I know it's in there somewhere but I can't call it up on demand, I have to almost sit and divine it slowly over a period of time and reflection, and I need to feel comfortable and calm to be able to do that. It's definitely not something I can easily summarize.

One of the most stressful things for me is actually when people think that because I don't know what I feel, or don't know how to express my personal sentiments, it means I don't care. I often avoid expressing my personal sentiments just because I'm afraid of not explaining them right, I am not really secure in my knowledge of them. They do always live within me but they do not find a voice easily. To attempt to voice them to me feels extremely vulnerable. I still never know what to do about that, but life must go on, so mostly it stays hidden from view.

Also I think it is harder for me than it is for perceivers because my preferences are 1000% connected to action. If I were to have a preference that I know for certain, chances are I will do something about it, in fact I will tirelessly and devotedly expend nearly unlimited energy trying to satisfy that preference and I would be unwilling to settle for anything else. To me, my preferences, to the extent that I am sure of them, need external expression, it does not really feel optional. The hard part is finding the preference to begin with. Most of my Ti signals are weak and fuzzy, like looking at an old faded map, and even once I think I know them I constantly doubt if I got it right. I easily bend to what other people prefer just because I will feel like I am not nearly as confident in my preference as they are, and the last thing I want to do is misrepresent myself.
 
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I can only speak for myself here but I struggle a lot with Ti issues, and it is hard when people expect me to just know on the spot what I like, or what I want, what my preference is. I know it's in there somewhere but I can't call it up on demand, I have to almost sit and divine it slowly over a period of time and reflection, and I need to feel comfortable and calm to be able to do that. It's definitely not something I can easily summarize.
I find that my preferences are softly malleable. There are quite a few things I don't enjoy on my own, but when I can tag along someone who loves them, I enjoy them, too. I don't find anything wrong with that. To me, it's a bit like ... no, I don't like to kick a ball alone, but when there's a bunch of people playing, it can be fun. Some activities are only fun with the right kind of company. There are bands I would only listen to with someone who loves them, comedians I only find funny with someone who loves them etc.

But there are also other things I love whether on my own or with others. They don't change just because I am with someone who does not love them. They can, however, be enhanced by being with someone who also loves them.

I guess you could say I feel there are three distinct "layers":

#1: Things I always love
#2: Things I love with the right company who loves them
#3: Things I don't like no matter what

When it comes to trivial things like "where should we eat?", I often give a random suggestion from a number of potential decent options (ruling out any places where I absolutely wouldn't want to eat) just because I know that my companion doesn't like taking their time to pick a place. Our choice of restaurant doesn't make much difference to me, but I know they prefer choosing a place quickly, so I pick something fast with my internal Random Generator™, so it looks as if I had a preference.

I think I realised early on - as a teenager - that people are very different internally and want and feel very different things. It may have helped that I grew up in a family with lots of different personality types so it was obvious from the get go that we all operate very differently. I don't remember ever consciously thinking that other people must be having the same internal experiences or feelings that I do ... I've always assumed we're all different, with some universalities.
 

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@wums @Marvin the Dendroid. And yet, that J often makes INFJs seem so particular about things to a perceiver’s view. I wonder if you all need us to point out things that perceivers see that you like or dislike. Maybe what I’m seeing is just the cap on the amount or the number of things that you’ll accept at a time. Because it seems like most (read all) Js are good at shutting out whole genres of information. Sometimes it’s hard to show you all the things I might want to show you. It definitely takes some trust, I guess, in the person showing you... or I don’t know. I always have problems with that with Js, as much as I love you all. But to be fair I probably should put more caps on all that I explore.

On the other hand, I think a person with you would be kind to reinforce and help you define your likes and dislikes, I would think. This is maybe easier for me to do with my INFP 9 husband since he knows what he likes and he usually has let the information in in order to actually judge it. He just needed to be told that it was okay for him to stick to it. It’s okay if something makes him mad, etc.

Wums what you’re saying about following your preference if it is defined is interesting and actually also very okay. ISTPs let information in (actually seek it, an Se dorm even more so) they judge it with their Ti and they totally follow their Ti selfishly and the rest of everyone need to juggle a bit around this. And that’s fine. It’s accepted. Lol....to a degree! I kind of like having my deciding functions in the middle where I’m weighing self and tribe. However, I trust my own views well ahead of the tribe’s personally. I know that seems strange to you maybe but I rarely trust that a crowd would come to the right decision. I rarely trust juries or actually any crowd mentality and whenever a group decides on a certain narrative you can bet your boots that I’ve already distanced myself and considered the alternative narratives and assessed my own gut for what I think happened...but that’s always what Fi users do. We are just observing the unacceptable and diseased morals of human beings as a whole—- in a way that I assumed everyone did and that authors who I read do...and I assume this is obvious to others. No need to raise my voice or write a book unless I can do so more eloquently than the next person. And my ISTP dad and I would compare the problems we see. But these ideas never touch how perceivers view individuals. A person is smart, a crowd is stupid. That’s how we perceivers live. Conformity is the enemy, that’s how we live. And an ENTP and a ENFP will both see how everything could be different if individual decisions were different and compare notes.

Anyway, to a perceiver it is quite acceptable and healthy to peruse individual interests as long as you don’t hurt anyone else’s right to do so...the pursuit of happiness, but of course that is only okay if other individuals have freedom to pursue the same. This is why human rights are so gut-wrenchingly important to perceivers.

This must seem somewhat dangerous sounding? In certain societies it is. However, I’d rather die than not follow my Fi and that is a solid truth that many perceivers know. The guilt comes from not following what you know is right. From making concessions.

Maybe you can show me the judging experience? My INFP husband does not feel like he should die for his Fi and I believe it is because part of his Fi philosophy has the importance of making concessions for his preservation. My Fi values bravery, though, but at the same time I can’t put my family and relationships at risk. I don’t know...in the end it will depend on whether or not I can sleep at night knowing what is happening in the world is happening. When I was around 18 the idea of personal responsibility for cleaning up this play ground that I didn’t litter but that other people did became impressed on my mind. I’m working on it.

As far as I know group feelings make no impression on me— I cant even read anything but individuals—and it is nearly impossible for me to see individuals as part of groups except in a factual way like “He was brought up Catholic” makes me understand what information and some experiences someone was exposed to in youth, but tells me nothing about their decision-making or personal views. They are a clean slate to me until I assess them as an individual. I can see Te reasoning and goals in groups and being used by Te users and I understand it, but I don’t trust it at all. There is usually a better way, imo. One that allows for more freedom or benefit for all, one that arrives at how to accomplish this. However, most perceivers think that if you think up a way to do things better that you can try to gain group acceptance and sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t (see most dead famous artists and scientists.)—- groups aren’t smart enough. Studying cultures is very interesting, though. Cultures show you how different societies can be. Likely all originating from individual decisions/philosophies that gained acceptance.
 

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I find that my preferences are softly malleable. There are quite a few things I don't enjoy on my own, but when I can tag along someone who loves them, I enjoy them, too. I don't find anything wrong with that. To me, it's a bit like ... no, I don't like to kick a ball alone, but when there's a bunch of people playing, it can be fun. Some activities are only fun with the right kind of company. There are bands I would only listen to with someone who loves them, comedians I only find funny with someone who loves them etc.

But there are also other things I love whether on my own or with others. They don't change just because I am with someone who does not love them. They can, however, be enhanced by being with someone who also loves them.

I guess you could say I feel there are three distinct "layers":

#1: Things I always love
#2: Things I love with the right company who loves them
#3: Things I don't like no matter what

When it comes to trivial things like "where should we eat?", I often give a random suggestion from a number of potential decent options (ruling out any places where I absolutely wouldn't want to eat) just because I know that my companion doesn't like taking their time to pick a place. Our choice of restaurant doesn't make much difference to me, but I know they prefer choosing a place quickly, so I pick something fast with my internal Random Generator™, so it looks as if I had a preference.

I think I realised early on - as a teenager - that people are very different internally and want and feel very different things. It may have helped that I grew up in a family with lots of different personality types so it was obvious from the get go that we all operate very differently. I don't remember ever consciously thinking that other people must be having the same internal experiences or feelings that I do ... I've always assumed we're all different, with some universalities.
I do find this very relatable. However I see #2 as not necessarily having anything to do with my real preferences and rather it's more of a Fe thing, just how I automatically operate and what feels right by default. Well I have put a lot of thought and soul-searching into this issue, specifically about how I relate to #2, what does it mean to me to take interest in the interests of those around me and share in those? How much of it is me and how much is them and how much is down to me wanting rapport with them?

It becomes a can of worms, what is a preference? What does it mean to like or love something? I summarily decided that it's about an experience that starts internally and can find externalization. I feel there's something fundamentally different about the #2 kind of liking something vs. the #1 kind of liking something, and while we can treat them as shades of the same thing, I can't help thinking it's an entirely different category altogether. Because #1 has this certain autobiographical component that just isn't present with any other type of liking.

I think I find it easy to find ways to like all different sorts of things, because I can take a piece of them and tie it back to some concept that I find important, I can find a way to fit parts of it into my internal structure of what is meaningful, however none of that is specific to the thing itself, I could find those same pieces in a million different things. When I describe it this way, it doesn't sound much like a preference, does it? Because I could feel the same way about almost anything, take up the same interest in anything, so there is no preference for the specific thing itself.

There's something a lot more subjective about loving something in a way that you can only feel toward that thing in particular. Again, it's autobiographical, I don't think it's magic or destiny but it does have a lot to do with personal experiences and a narrative sense of oneself. I find these things are difficult for me, this state of being is difficult for me and hard to stay in touch with, but I don't know, it just feels a lot more important too, and worth the effort. Getting along with people is nice, sort of impartially appreciating who other people are and what they appreciate is nice, genuinely it is, and it certainly works for my comfort zone, but then ideally I want to really connect with people, as the person I can't not be, as the me who fully knows that I value some things much more than others, and I love some things much more than others too, and I feel like my life is too short and as I live more of it I feel I can't spend so much of it on things that, if I'm honest just feel interchangeable to me, feel unspecial.
 
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