Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
It’s an intimidating world out there. In a culture where connections are forged in non-traditional avenues like Twitter and Tinder, it can feel nearly impossible to form a friendship organically.
Our world prizes confidence, boldness, and the perfect Instagram photo. INFJs, quieter and often prone to shyness (although not universally), can feel hesitant to know where they fit in in the bustling world around them.
I’ve been where you are, INFJ. In fact, I’m still there. I have thousands of friends on Twitter, but I can hardly ever find someone to meet up with for a chat and a coffee. In a crowded room, I stick to the corners like glue, feeling silly, being unsure who to approach and how to approach them. I prefer to be home where I can sprawl out on the bed in my pajamas eating Twizzlers to my heart’s content. After all, I have five kids – why would I need another person? But yet….
We crave the kinds of friendships where our deepest fears and emotions can escape our hesitant hearts. We want to talk about the meaning of life, what happens after we die, the beauty in sadness, the insights and visions we have for the future. We want to share a kaleidoscope of possibilities and feelings with someone we can trust.
But how do we find that person?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as walking up to someone and saying, “Hey! I don’t know you, but wanna be my friend?”
All my toddler’s cartoons got that wrong. At least for adults anyway.
On top of this, there’s the frustration and insecurity many of us have felt surrounding our innate strengths. If I got a nickel for every time an INFJ told me their intuition was dismissed or laughed at I’d be a millionaire.
No, we’re not all misunderstood martyrs. But there is a definite pattern of INFJs having their intuition ignored, patronized, or scoffed at.
“Get your head out of the clouds”
“That’ll never happen”
“Snap out of it”
Sure, there are times we could be more focused on the present or more detail-oriented. That would surely be easier. I’d enjoy not walking into door frames when I’m talking to someone I actually want to impress (like my husband). But hearing these things repeatedly, especially in early childhood, can breed a feeling of insecurity in the very thing we should feel confident about. For many INFJs, rather than having our strengths praised and nurtured, we were essentially told to “sweep it under the rug” because it isn’t “normal.”
I was speaking to an INFJ two weeks ago who has isolated herself into an apartment that she hardly ever leaves. Her friends are the bearded dragons that she had resting on her lap. “People have always told me I’m strange. I feel like I’m not in one place in time. I sense patterns all around me that branch to the past and the future. I have foreseen so many things happening and called them out weeks, months, or years beforehand. When they actually did happen, people would just laugh me off. I wouldn’t get credit. I didn’t really want it even. I just wanted to feel accepted.”
So, dear INFJ, I want you to know that you’re not alone here. There’s a world of us all struggling with the same insecurities, still trying to build up our confidence, still trying to figure out our place in the social sphere. Still trying to accept our own strengths.
And if you’re an INFJ who isn’t insecure, who isn’t shy, but still struggles to find friendships, you’re welcome here too. Being shy and insecure isn’t a specifically INFJ thing – it just is a tendency I’ve noticed among many of this type (including myself).
But here’s where it gets good. Your friendship situation isn’t hopeless.
You’re worthy of that colorful, deep friendship that you crave. You deserve the “kindred spirit” that Anne of Green Gables longed for (nope, she’s an ENFP, not an INFJ, but still…)
5 Ways to Find Friends as an INFJ:
- Write down everyone you already know.
Sometimes people in your immediate list of acquaintances are real gems, but you just haven’t taken a closer look at them yet. Which of them seems interesting? Which has seemed kind? Which seems trustworthy? Send them a text and ask them out to coffee! It might seem awkward or a little unnerving, but you’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t ask! The more you do this, the braver you’ll become!
Afraid of rejection? That’s understandable. I’ve been there. I’ve had people who I thought were friends ghost me, spread rumors about me, etc, Friendships can hurt. Making new friends requires taking action. It won’t happen passively. Remember that rejection happens to everyone – and it doesn’t make you any less worthy of friendship. Take heart and don’t let a rejection ruin your chances for future friendships!
- Fight off your insecurities. People like you more than you think.
A new study published in the Journal Psychological Science found that after a first impression, people actually like you much more than you think they do.
During an experiment, people who had conversations with each other had to rate each other and their likeability. Most people rated their conversation partners as much more likable than they found themselves to be. The test revealed that we tend to project our own insecurities onto other people, assuming that they see them and notice them. We tend to underestimate how much other people like us when we first meet them. In fact, researches call this the “liking gap.”
- Integrate Friends into Your Favorite Activities.
Too many people think that in order to meet friends they have to go to a party, a club, or an unfamiliar social event. That’s absolutely not true! Do you go jogging every week? See if someone wants to go with you! Are you a mom with young kids? See if you can join a stroller fitness group and get your exercise while talking to new people! Are you a book lover? Join a book club! Are you an MBTI® nerd (like me)? Follow me on Twitter and start getting to know the other type nerds on that platform. You could also join a Facebook group (although sometimes those can have trolls, so watch out when you cross the bridge!). Do you love animals? Volunteer at an animal shelter and get to know the other people volunteering.
Socializing doesn’t have to be scary. And you can absolutely integrate it into the activities and priorities you already have built into your life.
- Explore What Inspires You
There’s no reason you have to talk about the weather when you meet up with someone. Sure, some small talk may be ideal to pave the way for deeper discussion. But once you feel comfortable, talk about the things that light you up! Don’t feel like you have to hide it. Here are some fun questions that can help plant the seeds for deeper conversation:
“If you got $5,000 as a gift, how would you spend it?”
“What are your absolutely favorite activities?”
“What would you do if you had a magic wand?”
“If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?”
“What do you think about when you’re bored or can’t fall asleep?”
Just make sure it doesn’t seem like you’re interrogating your friend!
- Take a Class
Learning something with other people is one of the most tried-and-true ways to make friends. Look at the classes available in your town! Sometimes libraries have classes, sometimes churches do. Community colleges and even grocery stores have classes sometimes (learn how to cook Hors d’oeuvres with someone!). Who knows, maybe you could even take an MBTI® certification class or a Personality Hacker profiler training! I know a lot of people who have formed strong friendships in those settings!
Don’t give up, dear INFJ! Some people won’t be your cup of tea, and you won’t be theirs. It’s not personal. When you’re having a rough day, you can always curl up with a good book to take the edge off your loneliness! I know that sometimes just reading about Harry, Hermione, and Ron at Hogwarts puts a warm glow in my heart and staves off the ache of my loneliness. But be sure to try again the next day! You deserve a friend who will really be there for you and who will appreciate the rich, colorful world inside of you!
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any suggestions for fellow INFJs? Let us know in the comments!
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!