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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

More by this author

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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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