The Fe-Fi Divide

Lately, two new INFJs have waltzed into my life whom I get along quite well with. I wonder what’s different about these two in comparison to the dozens of others I know presently and from the past, and I have a few guesses. I doubt, though, that our relationship will go deeper or last for long. But for now, I’m enjoying their company.

I think I come across to them as insightful, since they’re not familiar with the MBTI and I have much to say about it. I haven’t really found anything they said to me particularly insightful, so the relationships are a little one-sided.

One thing odd is that I give them relationship advice. How absurd. Aren’t INFJs the ones who are supposed to have exceptional interpersonal skills? I recently spent a couple of hours talking with one of them about their feelings and relationship troubles, and I was giving advice throughout — sound advice, if I might add. How ironic. I seem to understand so much so quickly. I even seem to understand their long-term partners more than they do, although I’ve never/barely met or interacted with them. How peculiar — not of me, but of them and how little they know about the inner-workings of their decade-long (or two) partners. Aren’t INFJs supposed to read others effortlessly? During the two-hour long conversation, the INFJ confided that they feel burdened when their partner talks about their own feelings for an extended period of time, and would stop the partner. My gosh, Fe. I later pointed out and juxtaposed the length and topic of our conversation, much to the INFJ’s astonishment.

They don’t seem aware of my overwhelming sadness. They’ve had glimpses of and expressed their sadness with a couple of things I’ve mentioned to them about myself, but I don’t think they’re aware of its omnipresence.

The way Fe consoles irks me. “괜찮아, everything will be alright” doesn’t work, at least not for me. It’s a dismissal of my feelings and makes me crawl back into my shell. As an enneagram type 5, I deal with problems by turning to knowledge and information. This hoarding of information doesn’t translate much into practical use for me, so I retreat to hoard more information. It is the way I function and deal with things, but it’s not helping, so 어떡해? I understand and read people pretty well, yet still lack the practical skills to communicate and interact with others. Isn’t it strange?

I am neither here nor there
Neither living nor dead
Neither present nor absent
Friend nor foe
Intelligent nor unintelligent

I live high up in the clouds
Peering at those down below
Wishing not to be here
Nor down below

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5 thoughts on “The Fe-Fi Divide

  1. This post is making me think. I am wondering if these INFJs are aware of the one-sided nature of your interactions. For an INTJ, listening to relationship problems must be exhausting. For an INFJ, less exhausting. Is there a possibility they are not INFJs?

    “everything will be alright” is a phrase that will irk an INTJ. If now sucks, then what will make the future seem better? At least, that’s how I think of it when someone says that to me when I’m not in the mood.

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    1. I think they see me as being in my shell and they’re not forcing me to emerge but are allowing it to happen naturally over time (which is great of them). They’ve described me as being “shy”, but as English isn’t their native language, I think they meant that I’m reserved, distant, and withdrawn. So I think they could be aware of the one-sidedness in the sense that since they are more open than I am, and I am more inaccessible, I’m helping (and enlightening) them more than they’re helping me.

      I see it as the other way around — that INFJs find it more exhausting listening to relationship troubles than do INTJs. I’m quite an Fi-strong INTJ with an interest in psychology, so I’m genuinely interested in listening to such issues, analysing the issues and persons involved, and helping them. If I weren’t genuine or sincere, I think the INFJs would have quickly sensed it, stopped sharing, and changed the subject. For INTJs with little to no interest in psychology, then they would most likely find these sort of things boring to listen to and become impatient, though not specifically ‘exhausted’. That’s for the INFJs who tend to feel burdened and weighed down by the emotional baggage of others. I don’t feel that way at all. I feel others’ emotions, I empathise, I think about their problems throughout the day, but I don’t feel burdened by their emotions. My emotions are my own, their emotions are theirs — it is separate, which is very different for INFJs who have a tendency to feel emotionally invaded by others’ emotions.

      I am definite that they’re INFJs. INFJs are easy for me to detect, plus I’ve discussed INFJ-centric characteristics with them to which they’ve been amazed and shocked by the accuracy. Aspects such as the biggest question in their lives is “Who am I?”, the speed and accuracy of the way they detect the emotions of others but not of their own, the internal conflict they feel between wanting to extrovert and be around people while also wanting to be alone at times, etc.

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      1. Ahhh, so you mean it’s one-sided as they are more open to you than you to them. I understand better.

        I forgot to consider that! People with an interest in psychology are more likely to listen to people problems. In a weird way, it’s like solving a puzzle. It’s the way I think of it when I’m put in a situation where I am forced to listen to it. I understand what you mean now. My ability to listen to relationship problems is more developed than my other INFJ friend who has no interest in psychology.

        That’s true. It took me a while to develop my Fi and to detach from Fe overuse, which is what causes INFJs to feel burdened by other people’s problems. Are there specific instances where you feel burdened by other people’s problems? I notice with my INTJ friends, the reason they don’t like listening to relationship problems is it’s because they believe it should be private and now they must carry the burden of a secret.

        Those are very much tell-tale signs of being an INFJ. I think I read too much into “Everything will be alright”. I notice that strong Fe uses that statement to comfort people. I find it to be a blanket statement that people use because they don’t know how to deal with a problem. It’s especially common in my experiences with ISFJs (which was my guess on their types). But it could also be used by INFJs in instances where they don’t know the person well.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The one-sidedness from what I think their point of view would be, yes. (My point of view is what’s in the post.)

          I like how you used the term ‘forced’ (to listen). I don’t feel burdened at all listening to others’ problems and I’ve listened and talked to others about their problems for extended periods of time. There are instances where I’d have to postpone the “session” if, for instance, I had to rush off to some place and such. Being ‘burdened’, to me, feels like it’s just shutting off the other person and dismissing their feelings. I may feel sad or sadder about life and the world after hearing their troubles, but as my emotions are mine and their emotions are theirs, their feelings do not stack up on mine and I take responsibility for my own emotions. In my eyes, using the term ‘burdened’ and feeling that way is akin to blaming others for having emotions and sharing their emotions, that it’s their fault you’re feeling this negative way, especially when emotions are such highly individualised and personal states/sensations/processes, which is probably a very Fi perspective. I become annoyed and impatient, though, if another keeps harping on the same issue and is not trying to do anything about it. It also becomes awkward and tense if I were to be caught between two persons and I’m the mediator. And if I’m going through a stressful period, I may feel more stressed and tired due to having more things on my mind and giving them more of my precious time. But, I’m never burdened.

          Privacy, secrecy, and secrets are grey areas. Privacy is highly important to me and I expect whatever I converse with another to stay between us, which is the way I treat others as well. The thing is, since they were there and were a part of it, they are free to share their own experiences, thoughts, and feelings with others, just not mine (without my consent). But that’s a difficult line to toe because sharing any thing would also release information about me. Keeping to generalities is the way to go, I find, but it’s still a very grey area in terms of what and how much is shared, to whom and in what context, personal preferences, etc. So this is the way I view the talking of relationship issues with others. Every interaction I have with others is private and personal to me. I don’t see it so much like I’m carrying secrets, they’re just personal information about others that isn’t mine to share, and it’s definitely not a burden to me. If an individual starts sharing too much about the other person, or if the angle switches to them talking bad about the other, then I would walk away from the situation and keep my distance from them in future.

          In this particular instance, statements like “everything will be alright” were said multiple times by the INFJ to their long-term partner as a way to console. The INFJ also mentioned that they themselves do feel better when others express these same sentiments/statements to them. Culture, language, individual differences, and context may be some of the factors at play here.

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