The Myth of the Good Little INFJ

Last week, I stumbled across an article on Pinterest talking about female INFJs. Well, technically it was about INFj in the Socionics system, which is a bit different than the MBTI type and may include INFPs as well, but for purposes of this article we’ll just talk about INFJ types. The original article, written in 2011 by someone identified only as Beskova, paints a portrait of the INFJ type that is beautiful on the surface but doesn’t quite manage to reach their heart. It’s part of a disturbing trend in portrayals of INFJs, though this is the most extreme example I’ve seen.

Like many people who treat the INFJ type as quasi-mythical, this writer describes INFJs as flawless, naive, pure and submissive. They even describe a typical INFJ appearance: “Women of this type are very feminine and are delicate, modest and even shy. … They have a very ephemeral body, and sometimes lightly stooped posture.”

Reading on, it seems the INFJ has no faults. They never gossip or argue, meet adversity with mild gentleness, focus on humanitarian efforts, fit into any job, and submit themselves selflessly to helping the people in their lives. In short, the article says, “When a female INFj becomes your wife, know that in your home there lives a quiet angel” who “makes for one of the most obedient wives.”

The Myth of the Good Little INFJ | marissabaker.wordpress.com

photo credit: Cameron Nordholm

The biggest problem with this portrait of an INFJ isn’t just that it’s untrue; it’s the fact that INFJ women may try to fit into this mold if they end up in a relationship with someone who expects “their” INFJ to act like this. One thing that’s become clear in the months I’ve been reading things INFJs share online is that we’re one of the types most vulnerable to getting involved in unhealthy relationships with narcissists. And INFJ descriptions that make us out to be perfectly submissive and obedient aren’t helping discourage interest from unhealthy people.

Myth: INFJs won’t start a fight

It’s true that INFJs are one of the most conflict-avoidant types. Until a person does something the INFJ can’t live with, we’ll often just nod and smile at most conversations and suggestions. This happens with casual acquaintances when we don’t want to wast energy on conflict, and in closer relationships when we don’t want to deal with the emotional fall-out of conflict unless there’s a very good reason. I talk about this at greater length in my INFJ Handbook.

But if you think INFJs can’t get angry or won’t take a stand when things aren’t as they should be, think again. INFJs tend to draw a line in their minds, and once it’s crossed we’ll make sure we let you know. Once we get started, we’ll probably tack on a list of every other way you’ve ever let us down as well. The closer we are to you, the better we’ll know how to tear you apart (note: we’re not proud of this fact, and many INFJs work hard at controlling their anger). The best way to avoid this in a relationship is to keep open lines of communication, which is the number one thing many INFJs are looking for in a relationship. INFJs prefer to keep our emotions out in the open, and if we feel safe and heard then there’s no need to bottle up our feelings until we explode.

Myth: INFJs are always agreeable

In this socionics article, the writer talks about how INFJ women often need/want other people to make decisions for them. They write, “If you are her husband take responsibility for making major decisions in development of your family and she will with pleasure obey you.” Now, I’ll be honest — sometimes I do want people to make decisions for me. But if an INFJ is consistently told she can’t be trusted with important decisions and is left out of the planning process, then she’s going to stop trusting you.

The other party might not even notice an INFJ doesn’t agree with him if he’s expecting her to be what the article says: “friendly and dutiful, never quarrel nor ask much for themselves.” We place a high value on trust and communication in relationships, and assuming we agree with you instead of really asking us what we think is a good way to experience the INFJ door slam.

The Myth of the Good Little INFJ | marissabaker.wordpress.comA tip for people who know INFJs: If we don’t actually agree with you, or simply don’t care, we’ll typically make non-committal sounds, nod our heads, and avoid eye contact. If pressured to commit to something we don’t want to do or think, but won’t openly disagree with, we’ll try to push it off to an unspecified future date. When an INFJ actually agrees with you, we’ll make eye contact, our face will light-up, and we’ll say things like “Oh, yes” instead of just nodding. Usually, we’ll also be able to explain why we agree with you in specific terms.

Myth: INFJs are completely altruistic

One last quote from the socionics article: “watch that her emotional resources aren’t spent on her girlfriends, who inadvertently will use your wife as a psychotherapist. She will never refuse them herself, of course. Out of compassion. Therefore, it will be best if you take the matter into your own hands and limit the flow of those desiring to obtain psychotherapeutic sessions and useful advice from her.” In addition to being incapable of taking care of herself, INFJ wives are apparently so dutiful they’ll do all the housework without any complaint even though they hate cleaning and cooking.

For the record, this INFJ loves cooking and the housework doesn’t always get done in a reasonable amount of time. Also, one reason INFJs will avoid conflict and try to help people is because of how it affects us. Sometimes I do what people ask just because I don’t want to stay awake for three hours that night re-hashing every word of the resulting argument. It’s a self-protecting mechanism. That’s not to say INFJs don’t care about people — we do, deeply, and we will support our friends and family whenever possible. It’s a good thing. We can stretch ourselves too thin at times, but INFJs value their introvert time and don’t usually need someone to step in an control their lives to keep them from burning out. We’re not that altruistic.


I may have dispelled some of the “mystic unicorn” aura surrounding INFJs, but perhaps that’s a good thing. Our rarity doesn’t make us better than other types, and type portraits that make us out to be something ephemeral and idyllic really aren’t helpful. As my siblings (and no doubt other people who INFJs have let into their lives) can testify, we’re not perfect.

 

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23 thoughts on “The Myth of the Good Little INFJ

  1. Wow! I completely relate to this. I had to kind of laugh to myself when I read the part “The closer we are to you, the better weโ€™ll know how to tear you apart” – I HATE conflict, and so I rarely ever get into a verbal fight, but when I do I usually win…but at the expense of completely shattering the person I’m fighting with. I can pick up on weaknesses and hidden agendas really quickly, but I tend to not say anything about it (I’m no good at confrontation). Then when I’m pushed to the breaking point by someone I can completely tear them apart because, unbeknownst to them until this point, I have mentally stored every single offense, flaw, and weakness. This is a BAD thing, and it’s only happened a couple of times, but it’s a problem I’ve worked on avoiding by keeping those lines of communication open and working on forgiveness and being more forthcoming with people I really care about.

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  2. There’s so much I want to comment on in this post…but then I’d practically be re-posting in the comments. I agree with so much of what you’ve said and can very much relate. Thank you for writing it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. As an INFJ woman, I do find that I avoid conflict, don’t like to make decisions and do much more listening than talking in my friendships. But I definitely don’t like the idea that INFJs are submissive and weak as the article you are critiquing suggests! It seems that the article suggests we don’t really have feelings or minds of our own and just let everyone take control over us, which definitely isn’t true! Thank you for shedding light on this ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚ You hit on exactly what I disliked about this article — we INFJs aren’t incapable of standing up for ourselves when needed and we certainly don’t need someone controlling us in order to thrive. Like you, I also prefer avoiding conflict, decisions stress me out, and I listen more than talk, but that doesn’t make us inherently weak.

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  4. I thin that there was some truth in the article quoted. I am blessed to have a good man and I prefer him to make a lot of the decisions. I just think of myself as easygoing ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I just get overwhelmed easily though so it is nice to know there is two of us on the team. I am gentle and I HATE hurting people’s feelings but I also do have a major temper and a lot of passion- which seem to be INFJ things too. Good article, thanks for the insights.

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  5. Awesome blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring
    writers? I’m hoping too start my own website soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused ..
    Any ideas? Thanks a lot!

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    • My biggest tip is to establish a regular posting schedule and don’t give up too soon. I’ve read it takes about 3 months for new blogs to get consistent traffic, and it took a little longer than that for me. Make a writing schedule, stick to it, and engage with other bloggers.
      For the platform, it depends what you want the website to do. If you want to blog, share ideas with the world, and meet other content creators, then a free platform like WordPress works well. If you’re hoping to monetize the blog with 3rd party advertising, you need to pay for the website yourself (the free WordPress lets you market things you’ve created yourself, like my e-book, but not to market things for other people).

      (sorry it took me a few days to approve your comment — just happened to be checking the comments labeled “spam” and noticed it there. Sounded like a real person wrote it, so here we are ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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  6. After leaving such a huge comment elsewhere, I was thoughtful if I should say something here…BUT…this struck a major nerve. I may appear arrogant, but I can accept that in this state. I cannot stand weakness, having known what its like to be weak and knowing full well some of what is ‘attributed and part’ of being an INFJ stated by this person i’ve known and they were false concepts on attempting to be something else…

    I look down upon it. That is a sad fate to fall into.

    Heh, this person whoever wrote this ‘article’ is very much deluded in their view points. I would very much be a very good example of a ‘strong’ INFJ. And it sounds silly, but I find the use of ‘unicorn’ made to be fragile disturbing as well; but that is personal view points. They are strong and loving things, or rather, symbolic of. Not something to be bent over backwards – drawn to innocence which in some cases could be considered ‘broken’. Due to the view (to me anyway) that ‘broken’ on an emotional level denotes ‘infantility’ of the mind and in that ‘innocence’. Making nods to Jung’s views. He is a mentor of mine, and to be frank, the ‘Unicorn’ is an Archetype for me which is why i’m adamant on its ways and still humored when I found out that it was used to ‘personify’ INFJs.

    Before I knew of any of this, I remember telling the one closest to me he was my Unicorn. It came out in a flurry of words, no real thought and no connection to all I know now as this was months ago. It was as it was; the unconscious spilling out its life blood to try and keep that Love.

    Anyway…

    A little too much of my overly creative views, but hopefully that gets the point across.

    It actually made me feel ill, however, as I did go through a point in my life where I did try to be ‘dutiful’ but yet I was still manipulative to never have to ‘do anything’. I was a housewife once – but something snapped in me and I started to ‘wake up’. Ended up in divorce, realizing I cannot live a life like that; and it was the first very strong decisions I had to make that scared me to the core of my being in a time I did not understand or comprehend my actions as I was not self aware enough.

    I can only imagine possibly that most of these ‘people’ that are subject to these viewpoints are not self aware and only use the ‘crutch’ and ‘name’ alone for the INFJ personality type instead of actually discerning their inner self. Or…perhaps it is just how incredulously judgemental I am due to my own life experiences that I have a hard time remembering not everyone can openly admit defeat to their own hearts and change themselves for the better. Settling and stability is the easiest way to live these days – which is why I find some of what is said extremely disheartening and any INFJ in that area that believes in will find out through rows and rows of depression assuredly as their iN and multiple parts of their other functions fight amongst themselves will find out.

    Obviously I am not a psychiatrist, but, so much I use from my trial and error pushed upon me by forces I cannot comprehend or deny.

    I can never be the same again, which is where my arrogance and judgement will come off so very strongly to those I view in these places. They can live how they want, I cannot change that – but to me, like this sordid article trying to make it sounds like female INFJs are so damn ‘soft’ and ‘pliable’…that is a disgrace.

    My ability to look back on my past and pick apart everything and put it back together again to define myself is uncanny.

    In any event, this part:

    “unhealthy relationships with narcissists.”

    This has happened to me…and I changed for those people, but the one actual relationship that was probably the most toxic definitely fell into this category. Changed too much, and in that became something else…a broken thing. Even though my Inner Voice was adamant against the acts against me, I was afraid of loss and cared too much. This person was broken, and like any INFJ I wanted to ‘fix’ them. Help fix them. But i’ve left a huge comment somewhere else on my views…this is just in particular to how this line of thought works.

    I am just disgruntled at the view points, and I am in no way some extreme feminist or what have you, its just the primary views and knee jerk reaction I read of the quoted text of said person speaking for all the ‘INFJ women’ making them seem like docile cattle. Maybe before they ‘Become’ or actually grow in their backbone. No, that doesn’t mean altering your views to conflict – I do NOT go into conflict or confrontation unless I need too/that line has been drawn. I have to be responsible due to work and relationships – be it friends or loved ones – and I will force myself to face these things out of sheer will power to show I have the strength to do it, and not react violently even if I ‘feel’ as if everything in my body is going out of wack from the explosion of adrenaline, amount of sensory overload and how many different ‘versions’ start to play out from the situation.

    Ah, here we go. Another long string. Damn late night ramblings.

    In any event; I think i’ve made note already how much this article from this person displeases me on a insanely personal level…thank you for sharing. I needed a good internal laugh and growl.

    I do like this as well:

    โ€œThe closer we are to you, the better weโ€™ll know how to tear you apartโ€

    I have said this many a time, before I even took upon myself to really find out what my MBTI was. I always told people, those closest to me, when speaking of people outside of ourselves that I would get under their skin…as they would tell me almost everything because people somehow come to talk and trust me after a time. And I have in the most callous and vicious of ways let loose a string of heart wrenching commentary when the last straw was pulled.

    I do not play games. And I am a very violent thing which is why I am avoidant of conflict that I find petty. I do not WANT to have to use that onslaught on anyone, no matter how much I feel in a more ‘childish place’ in my mind that they truly deserve to have their insides ripped out proverbially.

    Those times in the past I had to actually ‘go after’ people in person vocally, its like at that moment all my words and everything come together as one and shot gun in a dastardly array of sharp commentary meant to cut as deep as it can into their visceral baggage.

    I mention this as I am, like i’ve noticed with some INFJs, can stumble over my words when interacting with normal people. Putting the wrong phrases consistently, as if speaking to these ‘normal’ people in the most formal of ways if the hardest thing ever. Even a simple ‘how are you doing?’ can be, to my dismay, butchered horrifically due in part to my sudden retrieval into the ‘here and now’ from my ‘inner world’ i’m in when at work, etc.

    But damn that beastly fury; I totally agree with some comments and articles i’ve read that INFJs are some of the most vicious if NOT the most vicious of personality types once you get them angry. I should know. I’ve done things i’m not proud of as a result of said over ‘enthused’ and repressed negative emotion.

    I’m no longer a child – and I think that is what gets me the most from this person’s viewpoint. That is an infantile way of looking at women. Old school and archaic. Not just versus men, just as ‘female’ in general. Disgusting.

    But not all INFJs are the same. Just like no type shall be. Some are far more resilient than others. Experience and acceptance denotes true talent in becoming who you really are meant to be.

    Thanks again for a good article, even if I have found it late in the game. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I know what you mean about having a good laugh and a growl at this post (though I think I did more growling than laughing). Glad you stopped by to read and comment!

      On the subject of violence, I think it was on my post about Kylo Ren’s personality type that I got into a discussion with an INFP/J commenter about how we’re scared of our own tempers. We were talking about how careful we are about getting angry because we don’t like to hurt people. It’s verbal violence, though; the idea of hurting someone physically makes me nauseous (that’s one reason I left Tae Kwon Do after a year. They kept telling me to hit harder and I wouldn’t). Words can tear people, up, though, and most the times when I have lost control and attacked verbally I’ve regretted the damage it did to the relationship.

      On unicorns … I love them, too. It puzzles me when people think of them as frilly, fragile creatures. I think of the legendary unicorns that were strong, graceful, and fierce and only associated themselves with those who were pure. I’d rather think of myself as that kind of unicorn — rare, strong, and picky about who I let get close to me ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Oh dear, the original article made me nauseous. Seriously. I’m pretty much the opposite of everything described, with a hugely feminist outlook being fundamental to my sense of self.

    I really dislike the way the article portrays us as poor, naive little waifs who desperately need the guidance of a good man to keep us on the straight and narrow. Let me be very clear: if you’re going to tell me who and what I can expend my energy on, I’m going to lose my shit. If you don’t do your share of cleaning up mess you contributed to making, I’m going to lose my shit. If you think you scored yourself a chef, you’re going to watch me eat the tasty food I made for myself whilst you chew on an old, dry crust of bread. If you treat me like crap for long enough, expect to not be granted the opportunity to continue exercising that action. I’m not a doormat, even if I do want to see the best in people. I might keep you around for longer than I ought to as a consequence of that desire, but it’s not going to be easy to win back my trust.

    Liked by 2 people

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