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Published on December 12, 2018

Practical Advice for Overcoming Problems in INFP Relationships

Practical Advice for Overcoming Problems in INFP Relationships

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who you felt like was your complete opposite? I have. And it’s frustrating. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!

Sometimes you just want to bash your head into a wall because you don’t understand why the person does what he/she does. And what happens as a result?

Conflict.

Despite what people think about conflict, it’s not inherently negative. While most people dislike it – and/or try to avoid it – how you deal with it is what will inevitably make or break a relationship.

One of the reasons we have so many problems in relationships is because of our differing personality types. One of the most popular personality tests is called the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Test. If you haven’t heard of it, 16personalities.com is a good reference to read up on it.

One of the sixteen personality types is the INFP. It stands for Introversion – Intuition – Feeling – Perception. As with any other kinds of personalities, people with this type have characteristics that can cause problems in relationships.

So, let’s take a look at some of them, and then figure out how to overcome them.

8 Potentially Problematic Characteristics of the INFP Personality Type

Before we talk about some of these seemingly negative personality traits, let me just say that INFPs also have some very redeeming qualities as well. However, that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

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So, let’s take a look into an INFPs mind and see how we can have successful relationships with them.

1. They can be procrastinators.

Yeah, I know. Most people are procrastinators at some time or another – especially when they don’t want to do something. However, INFPs tend to procrastinate a little more than most people. They don’t tend to be very good at regulating their time, so they tend to put things off longer than they should.

If you are the type of person who hates procrastination, then you just need to accept that it’s a reality for most INFPs. Perhaps you can gently remind them of the things that need to be done ahead of time.

Or, if you are in control of telling them when the “due date” is, you could simply tell them that it is a bit earlier than it really is.

2. They can be lazy.

“Lazy” tends to be a pejorative word. It’s fine when you’re lazy because you’re on vacation and laying on a beach all day long. But when it’s the weekend and some projects need to get done around the house, or you simply want to go out and have some fun, well, the INFP might not be on board with you.

I was married to an INFP for a while, and I used to joke that it was like pulling teeth trying to get him showered, off the couch, and out the door to do anything on the weekends.

But the key is to inspire them, encourage them, and plan things that will naturally interest them. If they feel pressured to do something, they might resist. So, refrain from name-calling or so-called nagging. Because it might get you the opposite result of what you want.

3. They like to isolate themselves.

Introverts tend to need a lot of alone time. That’s because that’s how they re-charge. Being around people for an extended period of time is draining to them. So, you can understand how an extrovert would be confused by this need, since they are the opposite. In fact, a lot of extroverts take it as a person insult if the introvert wants to spend “too much time” alone.

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If you are in introvert yourself, then this won’t be a problem for you. But for us extroverts, it does sometimes hurt our feelings. We think that if someone likes or loves us, then they should want to spend as much time as they can with us.

So, extroverts just need to accept that INFPs need a lot of alone time, but it’s not because of you. It’s simply who they are.

4. They like to be spontaneous.

Spontaneity can be either good or bad, depending on who you are and what someone is being spontaneous about. Some people, like me, hate spontaneity (unless someone surprises me with an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii and already cleared my schedule ahead of time!). To me, if someone won’t plan something with me ahead of time, I find it rude.

But INFPs don’t like to be boxed into a corner. They like to keep their options open. I know several INFPs, and almost none of them even keep a calendar (which blows my mind!).

So, if you are like me, just sit down with them and talk about your need to plan. Tell them that you understand their need to be spontaneous. And then ask that you both meet in the middle sometimes.

5. They can be quiet and reserved.

Not all introverts are quiet and reserved. However, as a whole, they do tend to be more reserved than extroverts. Again, if you are an introvert this might not bother you – you might even prefer it. But for extroverts, it might present some problems.

I know quite a few couples where one is an extrovert and one is an introvert. And they all have the same struggle. For example, the extroverts are usually the ones trying to coax the introverts into some sort of social situation. And usually, the introverts will at least resist going. And even if they do, they tend to be more quiet in these situations, which frustrates the extroverts. They wonder why the introvert just won’t talk more!

What they have to keep in mind is that the introverts aren’t doing it on purpose. That is simply their nature. Once you accept that, then their quiet nature is no longer a “problem.”

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6. They have an extreme dislike of conflict.

As I mentioned above, conflict isn’t always a bad thing. It’s inevitable in any relationship, and sometimes it can help you grow and understand each other better. If handled properly, the two of you can become closer than ever.

However, the INFP has an extreme dislike of conflict. For example, I once dated an INFP guy for two months who completely “ghosted” me. I thought we were having a great time, but one day, I just never heard from him again. Obviously, he didn’t want to face me to break up with me, so he just thought it would be easier to slink away into the night and hope I forget about him.

Being an extrovert, this was a problem for me. I value communication and being up-front about everything. But INFPs don’t. And that’s fine. But not everyone is compatible with an INFP (myself included).

For other personality types who might not be as bothered by this behavior, just keep reminding your INFP that conflict isn’t bad. It can actually be a quite productive way to grow your relationship.

7. They prefer to move at a slow pace.

If you are entering into a romantic relationship with an INFP, you might not know if he/she actually likes you or not.

Many extroverts, like myself, tend to dive head first into a relationship when we finally find someone we like. We throw all caution to the wind and pour our hearts and souls into the other person. And we make it obvious that we like them and want to move the relationship further.

That’s not how INFPs are. They like to take things slowly. They don’t open up very easily to other people, and therefore, it takes some time to get to know them. It has nothing to do with the other person, it’s just who they are.

If you’re like that too, then it won’t be a problem. But if you’re like me, it may be disappointing or confusing to you since that’s not typically how extroverts operate.

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8. They struggle with self-examination.

For some people, self-examination is just natural and normal. For others, like INFPs, it is not.

I have been with a couple of INFPs before, and whenever I asked them, “Why do you feel this way?” or “Why did you do this?” (in a non-accusatory way), I usually got the response, “I don’t know.” And I always thought to myself, “How can he not know?!? If he doesn’t know… then who does?!?”

I used to think they were just being difficult and didn’t want to tell me. And it took me a while to realize that they really didn’t know.

As difficult as it was for me to accept that someone could not know why they think or act the way they do, I just had to realize that’s just how some people are. And that’s okay. Pushing them to figure themselves out won’t work. Some people just aren’t very capable of it, and an INFP is one of them.

The Bottom Line

I don’t like to say that these 8 characteristics are inherently negative, because they aren’t. It’s all a matter of perspective. For every person who despises spontaneity, there’s another person who loves it. Some people love to socialize, and others don’t. It doesn’t make them “bad people.” It just makes them different.

So, the important thing to remember here – whether it’s about INFPs or any other personality type – is that you have two choices. First, either accept and love the person for who they are (because you will never change them). Or second, find someone else that you are more compatible with if these differences bring you that much angst.

We all need to learn to accept people who are different than us, and to work through problems that arise out of those differences. It’s definitely possible. And now you know a little more about the INFP personality and the potential problems that can come along with them, hopefully you can work through your issues a little bit better in the future.

More Resources About Personality Types

Featured photo credit: Jared Sluyter via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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