This article is written by INFJ blogger and author Marissa Baker from LikeAnAnchor.com
You know you’re a writer when one of the first things you think after a breakup is, “I could turn this into a blog post.”
About 3 months after a relationship which lasted 9-1/2 months ended, I wrote a post called “5 Tips For INFJs Going Through Heartbreak.” Now, several months later, I wanted to expand on that idea and share a few more thoughts that I hope will help other heartbroken INFJs.
It’s not easy for INFJs to let other people in. When we do find someone we trust enough to befriend and enter a relationship with, we tend to become very attached to them. As long as the relationship’s going well that’s okay, but if it ends the heartache is going to be particularly hard to deal with.
This isn’t exclusive to INFJs, and I’m sure other personality types will find parts of this article that resonate with them. I’m going to write with a focus on INFJs (mostly because that’s what I am and it’s the type I understand best), but whatever your type is I hope you’ll find something good to take-away from reading this post.
Why Does It Hurt So Much?
Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and author of Anatomy of Love says that love acts on our brains like an addiction and breakups trigger a form of withdrawal. She says, “One main region of the brain (referred to as the brain’s reward system) is linked with all addictions … That same region of the brain is activated when you’re rejected in love. That’s the biology of it” (from “The Science Behind Getting Over Heartbreak”).
That happens with everyone. On top of what’s going on biochemically, INFJs don’t have many close relationships and losing one often feels like being cut lose from an anchor. That’s especially true if we still care deeply about the person we lost through breakup, divorce, or even a friendship dissolving.
INFJs don’t typically enjoy casual relationships. When we find someone we really click with, we’ll rearrange our lives to make room for this person. We start to consider their needs, wants, and desires as equally (or even more) important as our own. They become a vital part of our lives. We might even “map” the other person into our inner world so being with them is almost as relaxing/energizing as being alone. After investing so much energy and trust in a relationships, having it end leaves a huge hole inside us.
6 Tips For Getting Through
1: Look To Something Outside You
While not every INFJ is religious, most of us are spiritual in one sense or another. A fairly high percentage believe in a higher power, and even those who don’t usually believe in some kind of ideal that transcends themselves, such as a belief that people are inherently good or that the human race can learn to live in peace.
For me as a Christian, the first place I turned for comfort after my breakup was prayer, reading the psalms, and listening to worship music. Looking to whatever it is that gives us hope can be incredibly helpful for INFJs who feel overwhelmed by heartache. Listen to relaxing music, read a good book, meditate on something that gives you a sense of hope. Remind yourself that what you’re feeling right now isn’t the end of the world and there is still good out there, somewhere.
2: Talk With People
It’s not always easy for INFJs to open up about our heartbreak. And if we’re dealing with feelings of unworthiness on top of the heartache, we might even assume no one would want to comfort us. But if you give them a chance, the people in your life might prove they want to be there for you just as much as you’d be there for them if they were hurting.
One of the most encouraging things to come out of my breakup is the realization that my support system is much stronger than I’d expected. It was hard for me to tell my friends I was hurting, but when I did I received the hugs, comfort, and good advice that I desperately needed. I hope other hurting INFJs can experience that as well.
3: Get Some Help
I wouldn’t say every INFJ needs professional counseling when going through heartbreak. But if you think you need help please don’t ever be afraid to go get it. Whether there’s something else going on along with your heartbreak, the circumstances are particularly trying, or you don’t have anyone else you want to talk with, it might be a good idea to contact a counselor.
Sometimes INFJs can attract narcissists, manipulators, and other unhealthy relationships. If that’s something you were dealing with, I definitely recommend seeking out a professional counselor to talk with. I’d started seeing someone about my anxiety a couple weeks before my breakup, and she has been invaluable in helping me work through all the confusing, messy feelings after my breakup.
4: Research Your Heartbreak
We INFJs like research. Our Introverted Intuition loves putting patterns together, and tertiary Introverted Thinking wants a logical explanation for the things we observe. When we’re going through something stressful, it’s not uncommon to go into an Ni-Ti loop where we obsessively look for answers.
It might help an INFJ to read books about grief or articles about the science behind breakups, like the one I referenced in the introduction. Understanding what’s going on in your brain and why this experience left you feeling emotionally gutted can help an INFJ accept what they’re going through is “normal” and that it isn’t going to permanently define their lives.
5: Give Yourself Time
Loosing someone who’s an important part of your life isn’t something you’re going to get over quickly. And that’s okay. It’s important to give yourself time to grieve. We usually think of grief as something you go through after someone dies, but any loss can prompt grief.
While it is important to work through your heartbreak so you can move on, you don’t have to grieve according to anyone else’s timeline. You also don’t have to grieve in the exact same way as other people. For example, some experts tell you that journaling about your ex is a bad idea. However, it might be worse for INFJs to push down or ignore the thoughts swirling in our heads. Talking with someone or writing down what you’re thinking about is often the best way for INFJs to move on rather than become obsessive.
Find out more about how each type handles grief in this article: Here’s How You Respond to Grief, Based on Your Personality Type
6: Let Yourself Move On
This is a point that wasn’t in my original article on heartbreak, but it’s one that I think is important to add. When you’re reluctant to trust someone but still risk it and then the relationship ends in heartbreak, it can be very difficult to move on from that.
A heartbroken INFJ might think they should never have trusted this person in the first place and eat themselves up with guilt. They might get angry and defensive, scared of ever letting another person in. It’s okay to feel those things, but it’s not healthy to stay there long-term. The heartbreak doesn’t have to define the rest of your life and your other relationships (I’m currently working on convincing myself of this).
Heartbreak is something we all experience, regardless of personality type. It can affect different types in slightly different ways, though, and I hope this article was helpful for INFJs who are struggling with heartache.
Please feel free to share your story in the comments. What are you struggling with right now? Have you worked through heartbreak in the past and have some tips to share with the rest of us? Let’s discuss!
Marissa Baker is the author of The INFJ Handbook (available in the Amazon Kindle Store). You can find her online at LikeAnAnchor.com where she blogs about personal growth and development from a Christian perspective.