Hello INFJ friends,
As I have sat down to write this article, I am also watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Trust me, the particular episode I’m watching coincides with the subject matter of this article. Buffy is trying desperately to host a perfect Thanksgiving dinner, but unfortunately, monsters and ghosts don’t delay their hauntings on holidays. Buffy is working in a frenzy to prepare food while her friends are too distracted with their monster research to remember to bring fresh peas and bread rolls. She wants everything to be perfect, and you can see the disappointment on her face when no one seems to be taking the meal as seriously as she is. After an intense fight, the gang sits down for their meal and all is well. It’s not quite as Buffy had planned, but it still works out in the end. Can you relate to that sentiment? I know I can.
Do you put a lot of pressure on yourself to do many things at once, completely, and on time? If you know you can’t perform at your best, do you choose to not perform at all? Do you rarely revel in your accomplishments, opting instead to quickly put them behind you and move on to the next thing? When you do accomplish something, do you feel it is never going to be “good enough”? Do you have a specific way of doing things that others simply cannot match? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then there is a very good chance that you are a perfectionist.
The INFJ personality type is susceptible to struggling with perfectionism. We are great at planning, meticulous in our organizing, and incredibly sensitive in our relationships. We strive to be our best selves, as we have enough foresight (thanks, Introverted Intuition) to see our full potential, and often feel deflated when we don’t live up to our own ideals.
I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I have struggled with being a perfectionist in several areas of my life. There are times when being a perfectionist is beneficial. For instance, when I need an eye for detail while editing a paper or fine-tuning a project, my perfectionist side can spot an error almost immediately. However, being a perfectionist is more often than not a self-sabotaging behavior. I set my standards high and beat myself up if I do not accomplish everything I think I should.
There have been many times I have worked myself too hard and end up feeling burned out. I get so caught up in working that I forget to take care of myself. A recent example of this is when I decided to go back to school a couple years ago. I had a full-time course schedule, worked several nights a week, and tried to maintain a social life. It seemed to be going okay until I realized I didn’t have time to just breathe. Fast forward to now, and I am finally allowing myself to not know what I’m doing next. I have a general outline for my future goals, but I’m trying to not be too hard on myself about anything right now. It’s hard to undo the brain wiring I’ve had my entire life that tells me to go more, do more, and be more. I’m still working on it.
High standards have found their way into my relationships. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have high standards. We should definitely maintain standards and set boundaries with other people, but it’s important to remember that standards should be reasonable and boundaries should be healthy. INFJs have been known to seek out a “perfect” partner. Personally, I tend to see past flaws that clearly indicate I’m not in a good relationship. In one of my past relationships, I hadn’t yet learned how to set boundaries, so there were none. I allowed the other person to take up all the emotional space, leaving none for me.
Over the years, I have had other relationships that have erred in that same direction. I have since learned how to vocalize my needs and boundaries, and if the other person isn’t willing to respect them, that is when I decide to move on. I have bent to the point of breaking in relationships past, and I am determined never to do that again.
I do understand the “perfect” partner quest, though. For those of you who have a lengthy list of requirements and can’t find someone that checks every box, I would suggest giving people a chance before you completely dismiss them. Your list of requirements may change based on the people you allow into your life and the more you learn about them.
With that said, I believe there are some things an INFJ should not budge on when it comes to relationships. I have mentioned boundaries already, and it’s because it is pertinent to an INFJ’s ability to thrive in a relationship that there are boundaries in place — so that we are not taken for granted. We love to take care of the people we care about, but we have to remember to take care of ourselves in the process. For example, INFJs should be in a relationship with someone who understands our need for alone time and does not make us feel guilty for wanting it.
One last thing I want to mention is to listen to your gut. INFJs have such strong intuition that it is a shame when it is not being listened to. Your intuition will guide you into or away from relationships. Listen carefully.
The concept of being perfect is all subjective. While there is no such thing as a “perfect” person, there will be a person that comes into your life that you will find fascinating, intriguing, and worthy of your time and affection. They may have some qualities you’re not completely happy with, but there will be more qualities that you love. Try to think of it this way: How would you want your partner to look at you? Would it be with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness? Try to do the same for them.