Love is the life-blood for those who identify with the INFP personality. As lovers of love, finding a compatible partner willing to investigate our complex, individualistic nature can be hard. Thankfully, we found you. Our number one desire in a relationship is to be understood and accepted for our authentic self. While we’re keenly self-aware, we can struggle to help you discern our perplexing ways. If you haven’t already noticed, we can be paradoxical, with many traits that contradict each other. Getting to know an INFP can be an expedition full of swift twists and turns, with a few unexpected boundaries thrown in. So, here are 10 things you should know while on your quest to understanding an INFP’s mysterious behavior in a relationship:
1. We prefer to move at a slower pace. In the beginning of a relationship with an INFP, you may notice their hesitance to reveal certain parts of themselves. Occasionally we’re an open-book, but the stuff that matters will take time to unveil. We take mental and physical intimacy very seriously, as we want to be sure that you are capable of accepting us. One of our romantic ideals is to share our innermost self with you, so try to ask the right questions in a gentle manner to help this along. Pressuring us to open up may result in more resistance (we’re stubborn that way).
2. We’re genuine romantics. Think more along the lines of a Shakespearean sonnet, rather than a Hallmark card with platitudes of affection. We’ll certainly enjoy fresh flowers or dinner by candlelight, but personalized gestures will make us feel incredibly special. A foolproof way to accomplish this is through handmade gifts. Masterful or loaded with imperfections, your gift is bound to be thoughtful since you put in the effort. Finding creative ways to say, “I love you” that are uniquely suited to your INFP demonstrate that you understand and admire us — the attempt of which is the greatest gift of all.
After spending many years counseling couples, Dr. Gary Chapman concluded that there are five love languages, or in other words, five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. I’ve noticed that INFPs tend to appreciate quality time the most. Try deliberately fitting us into your schedule for some one-on-one time so we can feel connected to you.
3. We’re hopelessly devoted to you. Thanks to our ever-present idealism, when we fall, we fall hard…to the point where we might overlook our own needs and desires. We love to please the one we adore, as they are seen as someone deserving special treatment. Harmony is important to us, and we value working together so we both win. Unfortunately, as the song lyrics suggest, being “hopelessly devoted” can result in staying in relationships that don’t serve us completely. We can be taken advantage of for our devotion, and end up damaging important parts of ourselves to serve our partner’s needs. If your INFP has dealt with this in the past, remind them that it’s all about balance. Take care of them the best you can, but make sure they consider their own needs too.
4. We want our values and emotions taken seriously. INFPs tend to think with their feelings. With dominant Introverted Feeling (Fi), we use our inner sense of ethics formed by personal experiences as a way to interpret information. This impulse shapes our values, which are tightly laced to our deeply felt emotions. If you aspire to understand an INFP, you must understand that this is how we perceive the world. And, you must aspire to respect this. We are accustomed to judgment and criticism when we share how we feel. Dismiss our emotions or our values and you might as well be rejecting our entire self. Please choose to listen. Kindly assist us when we aren’t being objective and it’s clearly called for.
Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness, I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul. –Charles Bukowski
5. We’re open-minded (most of the time). Auxiliary Extroverted Intuition (Ne) gives INFPs a penchant for exploring ideas, possibilities, and patterns. This is what makes us unconventional, easy-going, and willing to try new things. Nevertheless, these characteristics come with the price of indecision, so don’t expect us to always know where we want to go for dinner. We’re much better at laying out options and deciding together. It’s tempting to bask in the convenience of our open-mindedness…until you hit a value. We’re compromising — to a point. Each INFP will have values worth defending and standing by, no matter what. These will appear unexpectedly, so be ready for them. Again, respect is much obliged.
6. We can be cryptic. Being direct can be impossible for us, as Extroverted Thinking (Te) is our last and least developed cognitive function. We can be reluctant to divulge specific emotions straightaway, making our roundabout manner of communicating hard to decipher. With great affection, we may tell you how much we care about you through a heart-felt letter, rather than a face-to-face conversation. In frustration, we may unfortunately resort to passive-aggression, along with some uncharacteristic lashing out. If this happens, approach the situation directly, so it can be resolved. Try not to take this personally (we know, it’s hard).
7. We need a lot of time and space for processing — alone. This need manifests a number of ways. As introverts, we need time by ourselves to regain lost energy. Our creative process also requires isolation so we can form thoughts and ideas. When we’re alone, we can relax and follow our own schedule. Otherwise, we may become overwhelmed and unable to focus. Please note that alone time is the most critical when an INFP is processing their emotions. We often know how we feel instantaneously, but we need time to sort through our labyrinth of emotions before sharing them with others. Be mindful that we’ll be unable to properly share how we feel unless we’ve had time to think things over on our own.
8. We may need your help when we’re stressed. Everyone has to deal with stress from time to time, but it can be particularly daunting for INFPs. We can quickly become distraught when our perfectionism kicks in. Tedious day-to-day activities can add up and contribute to the madness. As we established earlier, we have trouble being direct — and this applies to asking for help. Crossing things off our to-do list for us will win you major points, especially the little things. Sometimes we’ll need to vent while you dry our tears of exasperation. Thank you in advance for this; you don’t know how much it means to us.
9. We want you to be honest, despite how sensitive we can be. Being completely honest with us can seem dangerous. We don’t take criticism well and can often respond emotionally when confronted with an issue. However, it doesn’t help anyone to withhold concerns, and we will become hurt if we realize that you can’t share with us completely. INFPs can be receptive to negative statements if they are explained in a loving and affectionate manner. Try to phrase things in a way that won’t be perceived as an attack. We recognize compassionate intentions. Approaching potential conflict this way shows you are trying to help us, and ultimately, help our relationship.
10. We need you to be reliable. The world can be a harsh place for INFPs. We regularly feel misunderstood. We worry that our attributes are not highly valued by those around us. As a result, our imagination often serves as our place to retreat and feel free. When we come back to reality, we want to rely on you, our romantic partner, first and foremost, for support and care. Be our refuge when we are caught up in the unfairness of the world. Be our champion and point out when we’re not properly sticking up for ourselves. Be our source of comfort and assurance when we are in need of empathy and a warm hug. We will forever cherish this, and we’ll be determined to do the same for you.