The Vanishing INFJ

I’ve written before about how other types can be friends with an INFJ. But there’s another side to that dynamic: what INFJs are like as friends. We can be fantastic friends — fun, engaging, good listeners, intensely loyal. But sometimes we’re not the best sort of friends and often, that’s the INFJ’s fault.

There are some things I love about being an INFJ personality type. And then there are other aspects which aren’t so nice, and some of those can negatively impact our friendships if we’re not careful. Today, I’m speaking of our tendency to drop out of contact with people.

Unique Mental Wiring

INFJs are a curious mix of mental processes. We’re most comfortable using Introverted Intuition (also called “Perspectives”). This is focused on collecting information about how the world works, processing it internally, and making speculative leaps about what it means. Basically, it’s advanced pattern recognition.

That’s paired with Extroverted Feeling (aka “Harmony”). This mental process is in-tune with other people’s feelings and wants to make sure their needs get met. It’s generally the first mental place INFJs go when trying to make a decision, asking, “How will this affect other people and my relationship with them?” When well-developed in an INFJ, they can be so outgoing and social that they seem like extroverts.

But we might also skip this process and spend more time in our tertiary Introverted Thinking (aka “Accuracy”). That one’s more about analyzing of facts, trying to make things “make sense to me.” It’s also impersonal. When INFJs spend more time inside their heads than on developing our extroverted side, we can stay in an introverted Intuition-Thinking loop.

Distracted By The Inner World

Using our Intuitive and Thinking process together isn’t always a bad thing for the INFJ. Our Extroverted Feeling side is important to develop so we can make decisions more easily, maintain friendships, and experience personal growth. But we to also need alone time to re-charge and it can be a good way to process data. It only becomes a problem sometimes when we get “stuck” in our introverted side.

My brother (an ENFJ) put it this way: “If you want to be friends with an INFJ, you have to get used to them disappearing for a while.” INFJs will get distracted by the worlds inside their own heads and may cancel plans, respond very briefly to communication attempts, or ignore you entirely. It’s going to happen at some point.

Some INFJs might do this very rarely, other quite frequently. It depends on the individual’s priorities, maturity and personal growth, how much social energy they have left after dealing with other people in their lives, and other factors.

Let’s Think About Others

As an INFJ, it’s important to realize when you’re doing this sort of thing so you don’t accidentally damage friendships you value. You might be okay with not talking to someone for three months, while they’re wondering what on earth happened to you.

If your friend reaches out to you, make sure you take the time to respond and maybe explain what’s going on with you (and appreciate that they’re following steps #1 and #4 of How to Be Friends With an INFJ). And if you do agree to contact them or hang-out, make sure you follow-up on that in someway. I struggle with this, too, but I think we owe it to the people we care about to try and be a better friend. You know how much it hurts if someone you take the time to contact brushes you off, so don’t do that to other people.



19 thoughts on “The Vanishing INFJ

  1. Nicely said!
    I have been strugling with this problem eversince I was a child and even my mother says that why don’t you keep your friends around?!
    Well, she probably compares me to my sister, istj, who is still in touch with her elementry school friends!
    I have to admit that I do this very often, and sometimes it gets really like reaaallly hard to keep in touch with all my friends on a regular basis and I do lose friends because of that!
    It’s not like I don’t care about them
    Maybe as you mentioned, I put alot of effort in being around my family and putting up with work people that I am left with no energy for old friends 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment. I know what you mean — I felt I was writing this post to myself as much as anyone else. I’m terrible about keeping in touch with all my friends, especially if I have to initiate the conversations 😦


  2. This is a very hard balance. Especially when you have an extroverted friend who is overwhelming and who leaves you exausted. One day with them and I feel like I need to run and hide for three months. It takes me just that long to recover from an encounter with them. What do you do when they don’t follow the rules of being friends with an infj?


    • I have cut such people out of my life. I just can’t deal with them anymore. And it’s been a year or two, I guess. I know it’s bad to admit this but I don’t feel a tinge of regret, ever. It’s actually such a huge relief for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have disappeared on my oldest friend. I have tried to explain things to her but she takes it all personally. I am not sure what to do. I do not get enough alone time and when I get I do not speak to anyone. I am more of a loner so I don’t have many friends to begin with. I can’t seem to manage all the emotions that come with having a lot of friends. It takes a lot of energy to stay grounded and balanced and having too many people in my life is overwhelming. I am not doing it to my friend, like she thinks. I just need to go into my own world for a while. Sometimes a few days, sometimes longer, weeks or months. I always come back though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Four Reasons INFJs Struggle with Loneliness - Psychology Junkie

  5. Wow, I do this a lot too. Recently my sister told me an old friend sent her a message saying she has tried many times do contact me over the past two years and to please let me know that she misses me. That made me kinda sad. First in that I didn’t know I meant enough to be missed and that maybe they thought the same. Also that I had no idea she was looking for me. I hadn’t thought of it because I get so lost in my world. I felt like a bad friend. In truth, I know I can be for these reasons. I need too much time to retreat and be alone. And I need far less time socializing. I struggle with wanting to make friends so that I’m less lonely but not having the desire or energy most people require in maintaining friendships. In turn, I feel like I’ve developed an “I can take it or leave it” attitude. Not toward them of course but for myself. Like “meh, it’s fine either way.” I’d rather not feel that way about people and relationships but I just do. It may be self preservation for me in some ways. I’m no longer friends with my long time best friend because I needed a week long break from listening to her in her time of need (which was basically ALWAYS). The neediness and constant phone calls were exhausting and made me unpleasant and stressed. When I abruptly took my break, she angrily ended our friendship and I honestly didn’t feel bad about it – just like ok best of luck, bye. I only felt bad about not actually caring. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh my. I thought this was just me. Turned out it is still part of me being an INFJ. I feel so bad when I “vanish” though. I can see my friends trying to extend their lines out to me and all I do is ignore their messages purposely.

    It feels so wrong, but I can’t help cutting myself away from them. Sometimes I think it’s for their sake, tbh. I feel like I’m such a crappy friend to be with and that they deserve someone more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, it’s not just you. And I can also identify with your feeling that maybe they’d be better off without you as a friend. I’ve felt that. But I hope you can remember the fact that they’re reaching out to you means that they think you’re someone worth having as a friend even with your INFJ tendency to withdraw. And friends who value us like that are often friends worth taking the effort for us to get of our comfort zones and stay in touch with


  7. This explains a lot. I’m an infj and I tend to go through cycles. For awhile, I’ll be really social and will keep up with my friends. Then, I become really introverted and if I didn’t have to leave to house I’d never see people. And I’d be fine with that. As I get older, instead of thinking “what’s wrong with me?” Or “why am I like this?” I accept it and I don’t really care what other people think.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yo what the hack i am also an INFJ with a ENFJ brother… hmm im just wondering if personalities types are more likely to have a similar personality type? like the same as u do have a enfj bro and the same as i..?


    • As far as I know, no one has really done research on how personality types show up in families. There does seem to be some genetic aspects to determining type, but not enough to make blanket statements like “An ISFJ and an INFP are more likely to have xNFJ children” (for example).


  9. I lost my best friend of over four decades. I had no idea I was an INFJ at the time – I’d never even heard of such a thing! I just knew I was different. I hated talking on the phone. I hated small talk. I needed huge amounts of alone time. My bff got fed up. She called me self absorbed and said awful, horrible cruel things to me and I literally walked away. I felt relieved at first. I didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t in order to be loved. But I miss her so much. I doubt she’d ever want to resume the friendship – and I doubt she’d even “buy into” the whole INFJ thing. It’s all such a tragedy.


    • It’s awful to feel like you have to be someone you aren’t in order to keep your friends, but loosing a best friend like that is also incredibly tough. I’m so sorry to hear that happened to you 😦


  10. I literally have no friends left (not that I had many to lose) because my Vanishing is compounded by “Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder”, “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”, and other personality disorders. Although I’ve been aware that I’m an INFJ for about 20 years, I had no idea that Vanishing was part of it — just discovered this today. I thought this behavior was peculiar to me.

    I always was aware that it was difficult to be my friend (or relative even) and just figured that I was incapable of both establishing and maintaining relationships. I have always been puzzled why anyone ever wanted to strike-up a friendship with me in the first place, and I never initiated. My thinking was that these former friends were better off without me anyway. It doesn’t help that they live far away now and it seems I have so little left in common with any of them — they have normal lives while I certainly do not. I have tried to make new friends, but nothing has panned-out; a lot of it is my Ultra-perfectionism rejecting them first, but also I just don’t have the energy. The loneliness is truly soul-crushing. (Yes, as you likely suspect, I have attempted suicide. God said, “No.” So here I remain. For what purpose I cannot fathom.)

    I’ve become resigned to the “fact” that I’ll be the dreaded eccentric “spinster” uncle — a lodestone to my immediate family if I live too long.

    Now before you break out the box of Kleenex, I’m not writing this to elicit pity or sympathy (much), but rather, I guess, to give caution: Don’t be so willing to cast aside the friend or relative that makes even the tiniest attempt to keep in contact. Don’t assume your friend is done with you forever. Write a letter if you can’t say what needs saying in person. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. Try and try and keep trying. Remember that you aren’t a true nut-case like I am, you merely have the aroma of cashews and almonds… (And maybe I’ll have-a-go at my own advice — sometime this century.)

    Jesus loves you (way more than anyone else can.)
    ~ k


    • Hi Kirk,
      I’m sorry things have been so difficult for you. Life’s complicated enough without piling anxiety, depression, lost friendships, etc. on top of everything else! I won’t claim to really “understand what you’re going through,” but I have close friends who struggle with similar things and you certainly have my sympathy.
      Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts on this topic, as well as offering your encouragement and advice.


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