How INFPs Approach Love

ladybug

The short answer: We don’t.

Or, at least, I don’t. I can’t speak for all INFPs – every person is different even if they share the same personality type, so perhaps this should be titled “How An INFP Views Love” – but I can safely say that “approach” is not the right word to describe the way I gingerly dodge and avoid the arena of relationships, turning up my nose at the whole business around others and then wistfully gazing over my shoulder at the spectacle when no-one is watching.

The long answer is a little more complicated.

My past is a contributing factor to this caution and fear. When I was a teenager, my father walked out the door without a backward glance, leaving my mother and I without the funds to pay even the rent for the week. To this day, I have not seen him since. At the time, the sense of abandonment I felt was like a howl in my heart I could not express verbally. Even when he was in life my life, he was awfully distant, awfully selfish, and awfully unloving; I remember he used to spend thousands on the perfect sound system yet complain when I needed fees to pay for school excursions. So it only follows that, as he was the first man I tried to love, my opinion of the male species in general is quite low.

Not all men, of course, are as bad as him; lots of men are nice and good and kind; I am not so bitter as that. But in terms of relying on men, on handing over to them my love and trust, as a partner – frankly, I would sooner stick a skillet in my eye. I am fond of likening myself to a woman who carries invisible burns, and now, every time I come close to any “fireplaces”, even if they are not lit, I cringe and step away. This, combined with my extreme desire for love and affection, naturally anxious personality, and high sensitivity, tends to make me view love with the wide-eyed gaze of a gazelle caught in a lion’s sight.

Then there is the small matter of my sense of separateness from humanity. In truth, I do not think there are any glaring differences in myself compared to others, apart from perhaps an increased tendency for introspection. But this introspection, which some might call self-absorption, means I am a highly self-conscious creature, which means in interactions with other people I am overly focused on myself and my own shortcomings, which makes me feel removed, and, well, different. Out of place. An outcast.

Being creative doesn’t help matters, as often what you want to talk about are too strange and random and bizarre to be palatable for most people. For instance, most people do not want to make up as many symbols for Death as they can while waiting in line to borrow books at the library (though I can’t imagine why). What all this boils down to, essentially, is that there are a limited cohort of people in society with whom I can find any common ground with, and feel comfortable with. University campuses are infested with people who talk of the most banal and trivial subjects; I have yet to find that sort of odd, artsy young graduate who is by himself a lot of the time, and seems to see and notice things others do not. Basically, I like unique people, and in society there are not many unique people, mostly selfish or boring or indifferent people. Thus my very nature greatly limits the available romantic candidates. Until I find a man strolling alone through a cemetery in the sunshine, looking thoughtfully at headstone after headstone, deep in philosophical thought, and who is not a serial killer trying to select the best place to bury his victims that night, falling in love is unlikely, if not impossible.

Another complication is my own self-hatred. Because I spend the majority of my life inside my own head, thinking and thinking and thinking, it gives me a lot of time to analyse myself, physically and psychologically, and, truth be told, I do not often like what I find. Self-love is an ongoing battle, every second posing a choice to love myself or to berate myself. On my rare good days, I see myself as a beautiful creature, both inside and out, kind and intelligent and sweet. On my bad days, which is most days, it is hard for me to look in the mirror without feeling visceral surge of disgust; to not loathe my arms, any body hair, my legs, my skin; to not see myself as an a reserved and aloof woman no-one could stand to be in the same room with, let alone love. On the worst days, I am disgusted by my own bodily fluids, disgusted when I pass gas or burp, disgusted by every word that comes out of my mouth and every thought that crosses my mind, am unable to look in the mirror or leave the house, and wish I were a pristine, ethereal creature who was above all humans matters and concerns. Such an unhealthy mental state, need I say, would not be conducive for a good relationship. To love others, you must love and accept yourself – and I am just not there yet, and might not be for a long while and after many hours of therapy.

On top of all this, I am just not an easy person to be around for most people. For one thing, I am very, very introverted. I am most comfortable going through great swathes of my day talking in short bursts, and spending the rest of the time observing the world and the people around me and holing myself up in my room, doing introverted tasks, like studying, reading and writing, for hours on end. This annoys people who like to talk. Even other introverts get a little huffy at my extensive desire for alone time.

And then there are times when I am just plain unpleasant to be around. Yes, I am kind, and caring, and I would never hurt a single creature willingly; but in the privacy of my home, I can be moody and impulsive, wallowing in misery one second and then taken to the heights of ecstasy by a beautiful piece of artwork. If riled, my ability to intuit exactly what would hurt the other person most makes my tongue sharp as a thorn. When my writing is not going well, or when I begin to despair of my literary ambitions coming to fruition, the door is shut, my soul is dark, and anyone who dares come inside my room does so at their own peril. Whoever does end up being my partner will have to be someone strange or crazy enough to want to put up with my mercurial moods, my bouts of self-loathing and depression, and my isolated nature. It’s a tall order, is all I’m saying.

In theory, I am a romantic, but in reality, I would much rather be alone than spend my time around someone I cannot be myself around, doesn’t understand me, and doesn’t support my creative endeavors. With the right person, I will appear bright, sensitive, self-aware, creative and talented. All the wrong person will see is a moody and immature woman who holes herself up in her room for long hours and possesses the irritating tendency to gush over the beauty of a dead insect, a rusted tap, a flower poking its way through the footpath. I need to find (or stumble, more like; “find” suggests one is actively searching) someone whose weirdness interlocks with mine, just like everyone else, and until then, I will file away Love to the back of my drawers, to be taken out some other day, and leave the business of dating to others.

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Things People Say To INFPS – and The Answers INFPs Would Like To Give (But We Usually End Up Saying Something Polite Instead)

INFP girl

Person: Oh, hey! What are you reading?

INFP: Oh, goodness, please disappear; I am busy reading, as you can evidently tell, and what I am reading is none of your business, even though you only mean to be friendly. The next time someone interrupts my reading, I shall pluck out their heart and feed it to the fishes, and skin them to make bookmarks.

Person: Well, somebody got on the wrong side of the bed today, didn’t they?

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Person: You’re weird.

INFP: If I pointed out the weirdness of other people, there would such an immensity of weirdness to point out that I would have to transmogrify into an extrovert just to accommodate for the strain of the task. Which would be highly unpleasant, to say the least.

Person: That was weird. What you just said. You’re weird.

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Person: It is only a documentary, why on Earth are you crying?

INFP: Because I, unlike you, have a heart.

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Person: You know, he doesn’t like you. He does not know you; the two of you have never even spoken; in fact, the only reason he knows you exist is because you tend to walk in the opposite direction or ignore him whenever you are in his presence, which is, frankly, counter-intuitive, as it conveys an air of haughty dislike rather than interest.

INFP: I know. And I do not care. The Heart has spoken.

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Person: How did you even come up with that? It’s ridiculous!

INFP: I naturally find associations between things. Possessing an imagination helps. A bird makes me think of cages which makes me think of prisoners which makes me think of war which makes me think of blood which makes me think of Death – and therefore I get depressed, just by spying a pigeon whilst walking down the street. A man wearing a hat is sometimes shielding himself from more than just the sun; every time I see a flower, I hope that it will speak, just like the flowers in the Alice in Wonderland books; and I think it is a beautiful thing, rather than outrageous or stupid.

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Person: That is illogical.

INFP: What do humans really know of the world, the universe, and even ourselves? To me, it seems like we are discovering, using our little toys, only things which fit into a model our measly brains are capable of understanding. Or, to put it metaphorically, a caterpillar, crawling over a softball, might deduce shape and texture, but never utility. I think humans are the same. So what we term “logical” only makes sense from a human perspective, and sometimes not even that, whereas what is termed “illogical” may well be the caterpillar getting a vague inkling of a large object hurtling through the air for the purpose of amusement, the way eating leaves amuses it.

Person: I did not understand a word of that, which only proves my point.

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Person: Where did you last leave it? I swear, you had it in your hand only a second ago!

INFP: It has vanished. Unbeknownst to myself, when I turned my back to sing a song and ponder the life of a squirrel in its tree hollow, a portal opened up above my cupboard, out of which sprung a team of tiny green aliens that picked up my pencil case, held it high above their tiny green hands in a line, and disappeared back through the portal with it. Even now, perhaps they are using the pens as signposts on their tiny planet, and prodding confusedly at the erasers.

Person: …I think you just misplaced it.

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Friend: I cannot imagine you getting married; the man would either have to possess a level of craziness equal to yours, or greater (unlikely), or be able to tolerate your madness. Frankly I am of the opinion that, clever and beautiful as you may be, you will remain both celibate and single until the day you die. You’re just a little, well, odd.

INFP: Not to worry – I have my books, and my brain is populated with an assortment of interesting characters, who I can talk to for hours on end, so I will never be bored or lonely.

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Person: Why are you so sensitive?

INFP: Because I, unlike you, have a heart.

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Person: You spend too much time by yourself.

INFP: It is excellent company, you should try it some time. And that statement is incorrect, for I have characters existing between the pages of books and the lobes of my ears to keep me company that are often far more interesting than the people one meets in everyday life – though I do stumble upon some interesting ones, now and then.

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Person: Why are you always attracted to assertive, logical and confident individuals? They are obviously not the kind of people that would be most suitable for you to enter into a relationship with.

INFP: Probably because people are attracted to what they lack in themselves, and though I am getting more confident day-by-day, conflict is still scary, and being assertive is tiring, and I tend to be more emotional than logical, so I guess I am attracted to them as someone standing in the rain might be drawn to an umbrella.

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Person: You are too quiet. You need to be more outspoken.

INFP: I am an introvert, which means I gain energy from being alone rather than being in the company of others. I have a fascinating, internal landscape – perhaps if you tried to get to know me instead of criticizing that which I cannot change, I would give you a glimpse or two of it. Treat me as an individual, not a silent shop dummy, and I will respond as an individual.

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Person: You are a people-pleaser, a doormat, and lack personal boundaries.

INFP: Yes, it is hard for me not to cater to the needs of others, as I am adept at picking up the emotional states of those in my vicinity, which can be viewed as a gift than a burden. I am not a doormat. I stand up for myself when the occasion requires it. Only, a lot of the time, it is simply easier just to be the more lenient one. Conflict drains my energy. Just because I try to go with the flow, and create harmony, does not mean I am meek or submissive.

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Person: They’re just people! Go talk to them!

INFP: They’re just dinosaurs! Go slip your hands into their reeking, blood-stained maws!

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Person: You think too much.

INFP: You think too little.

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Person: On the one hand, I think you’re a great person, very humanitarian, kind, artistic, etc; but it’s like you have all these dreams to help the world, but are too shy and reserved to express or put them into action. Kindness is useless when coupled with weakness.

INFP: Thank you for that curious mixture of an insult and compliment, it was very interesting. Yes, I can be shy, and reserved – once, I was too afraid to give a homeless man a chocolate and whisper to him some caring words. But that does not mean I cannot help, in my own way, through my words – and I also plan on donating every cent of the proceeds from my books after my death to charities. The act of helping others does not always have to be loud and extravagant. I do things my way, you do things yours; and perhaps let us not judge one another, in the process, my friend.

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Person: You idealise those of the opposite sex too much, and come across as weak and needy.

INFP: That is true, but only because I have a habit of seeing the good in people rather than the bad. And yes, I do have a habit of getting infatuated easily – but the moment I speak to them, and their true self slips out, I can instantly gauge their character, and if I find it unacceptable, I have no qualms about detaching myself from them. I will always believe in love, and no matter how many times I am disappointed or get hurt, I will still love, because loving is who I am – and that, I think, is not always a bad thing.

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Person: You are going to die alone! You are a sad, lonely, loser, with only her dreams to keep her warm at night! No-one understands you! And I hate it when you stare at me with those stupidly deep eyes of yours, like you are literally peering into my soul, and the way you turn a hot dog into a metaphor for life!

INFP: I am not alone. Last time I checked, at least 4% of the population shared my personality type, and though we are scattered far and wide, and are not all the same, our hearts are joined by ethereal links of love, hope and kindness. We are the dreamers, the philosophers, the humanitarians, the psychologists, the writers; and we will contribute to the world, in our own way, and if that means taking the lonelier path, then so be it. I care more for those that I touch than those I offend.