A few days ago I received an email from an INFJ who was struggling with bullying and a sense of isolation in her every day life.
“I feel so alone. I feel like I can’t be myself around anyone. When I do try, I’m instantly rebuffed.”
Unfortunately, this kind of experience is very common. Every day I get emails and comments from INFJs who feel like nobody understands them, like they’re walking through life unheard. They feel like aliens in a world that simply doesn’t accept, understand, or appreciate their strengths.
Why is loneliness so common for the INFJ? How can they feel more connected to the outside world and more understood? I hope this article helps you (if you’re an INFJ) feel less alone, more understood, and more aware of why you struggle with loneliness. If you’re not an INFJ, I hope this article can help you to understand the INFJ in your life in a better, more positive way.
4 Reasons INFJs Struggle with Loneliness
Reason #1 – INFJs Are Rare
INFJs make up only 1% of the population. That means that you have a very small chance of meeting another like-minded individual in the world. This also means that 99 out of 100 people you meet are likely to see the world in a different way than you do. Many INFJs go through life never meeting anyone who sees the world and makes decisions in the same way that they do.
“But I see so many INFJs online!”
INFJs gravitate towards personality forums, groups, and message boards. They are one of the types most naturally interested in Myers-Briggs® theory, so you’ll find a much higher percentage of them in personality groups. Also, I would guess probably 8 out of 10 people typed as INFJs by online tests are actually INFPs, ISFPs, or ISFJs (also amazing personality types). You can find out more about this here.
Now before you give me a hard time about having a “special snowflake INFJ syndrome” just remember that I’m only stating facts here. Every personality type is unique, special, and gifted.
Reason #2 – INFJs are Social Chameleons
INFJs interact with the outside world using Extraverted Feeling (Fe). This means that they are remarkably attuned to the emotions and moods of others. They “absorb” the feelings of the people around them. If they are with people who are sad, they will feel sad. If they are with people who are happy, they will feel their joy. If they are in a stressful environment, they will feel other people’s stress.
On one hand, this ability makes INFJs great at connecting with people and feeling their pain, rejoicing in their joys, and empathizing deeply. On the other hand, it also leaves them at the mercy of the ever-shifting moods of the people in their environment.
INFJs are so concerned with maintaining harmony and improving the moods and emotions of others, that they can leave their own emotions and feelings untended. As a result, they can wind up feeling overloaded with other people’s feelings and lost and alone when managing their own.
Related: ENFJs, INFJs and Empathy Burnout
Reason #3 – Very Few People Trust INFJ Insights
The intuitive insights of the INFJ are hard to explain in a tangible, concrete way. INFJs have insights, premonitions, or predictions about the future and most people will laugh these off as “silly” or not grounded in reality.
Why do people react like this?
If we look at the US population, about 70-75% are made up of sensors. Sensors trust concrete facts and tangible results. If an INFJ explains a “gut” feeling or insight about the future, the sensor is naturally going to feel suspicious. They’ll want to know what led to this insight, what tangible, concrete steps were taken to determine this intuition.
The problem with this is that Introverted Sensing (Si) is the function that determines a future outcome by looking at past experience. Introverted Sensing (Si) focuses on verifiable facts, credentials, or concrete tangible proof. Si-users predict the future based on past performance and experience. If you ask a Si-user why they predict something, they’ll be able to say “because A led to B which will lead to C”. If you ask a Ni-user why they predict something, initially all they might be able to say is “I just know”. This does little to impress or influence the sensor, and as a result, the INFJ may be seen as “nutty” or bizarre. There IS a logical way that INFJs get their insights, and you can find out more about this here.
Living like this can be debilitating for the INFJ. Many other types have dominant functions that are appreciated and promoted in daily life. Extraverted thinking, for example, is easy for people to trust and see as beneficial. Introverted Intuition is one of the most abstract and misunderstood cognitive functions, and very few people in the outside world trust it or understand it.
Reason #4 – INFJs May Lose Friends Due to “Vanishing”
INFJs often go through long periods of time relying very heavily on their auxiliary function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe). Work, family life, and social obligations demand it. INFJs enjoy the company of others, because it allows them to exercise their feeling preference. However, after prolonged socialization INFJs can experience stress from leaning too hard on Fe. It’s important for them to get plenty of alone time to give their dominant function, Introverted Intuition, time to breathe and be fully accessible.
After too much time spent socializing, INFJs may suddenly decide to retreat from the social realm for an indefinite time. They may ignore phone calls, texts, emails, or any effort at communication. INFJ blogger Marissa Baker writes about this well in her article The Vanishing INFJ. No matter how friendly and sociable INFJs may seem to others, deep down they are true introverts, and they often leave their introversion needs unmet.
What happens when an INFJ vanishes? Many times their relationships suffer. Friends and family members may be offended, and certain relationships may even be lost. It’s hard for people to understand why someone who once seemed so friendly and compassionate would disappear, leave phone calls unanswered and refuse to speak to them for days, weeks, or even months. This not only hurts the friend but the INFJ, in the end. They care very deeply about their relationships and when they finally return from their vanishing act they can feel regretful and even more alone than ever.
What Can INFJs Do to Avoid Loneliness?
- Tell Your Friends and Family About the INFJ Personality Type
Share this article with friends and family if that would help. Otherwise you can check out a book like Please Understand Me or Type Talk: The 16 Personalities That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work. Understanding more about yourself can help you to feel less alone, and telling your loved ones about your type can help them to be more understanding of your needs.
2. Balance Time Alone with Time with Others
It’s important that you get plenty of time alone to recharge. Just make sure you also balance that out with occasional time with friends and loved ones. INFJs who spend too much time alone and ignore the auxiliary function can get stuck in a Ni-Ti loop and that can lead to more loneliness. Conversely, spending too much time socializing and ignoring your introversion needs can result in the need to “vanish” and can hurt relationships. I know as an INFJ you care deeply about your relationships so try not to wear yourself out so much that you need to disappear completely!
3. Express Your Feelings to a Good Friend/Journal
As an INFJ, you are probably able to express your thoughts and feelings in a deeper way through journaling. Because you use Extraverted Feeling (Fe), instead of Introverted Feeling (Fi) you may be more aware of other people’s feelings than your own. This can exacerbate a feeling of loneliness and anxiety. When you write your feelings down in a journal and then read them back to yourself, it allows you to channel your emotions through Fe and understand and manage them better. Venting your feelings to a trusted friend can have the same effect.
Many INFJs find that reading allows them to feel a connection with other individuals, albeit fictional ones. Ideally you would balance reading with real human interaction, but reading can be a wonderful way to cure stubborn loneliness when there’s no one around you can truly connect with.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you struggle with loneliness? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other INFJs? Let me know in the comments!
Related: My INFJ “Grip” Stress Experiences
I don’t just come up with this information on my own! Check out these amazing books:
Please Understand Me
Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
MBTI Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, 3rd Edition
Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People
Creative You: Using Your Personality Type to Thrive
Type Talk: The 16 Personalities That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work
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