Friendships | INFJ Forum



Apr 25, 2009
I'm in my mid 30's, married with children. The past few years I have been very reflective about friendships or lack of them in my life and really have no one to talk to about it. I hardly have any friends. A few acquaintances....people who I have met through having children but not matter how hard I try or how much I think the friendship is progressing at the end of the day, they already have their own circle of existing friends who all seem to already know each other and I soon realise the friendship they have with me is on more of an acquaintence scale compared to their existing friends. I dont have friends that I can have girl chats with on the phone, to call up and ask for advice, to go to the movies and dinner with, to drop in to have coffee with. I did have one that I had maintained a friendship with from when I was younger, but I lost her friendship a few years ago.

Others I know, it's not really a friendship more of a ;'hi how are you'. I'm terrible at small talk. I try, I have learned it but it's rarely reciprocated. Other times I just dont have the energy for the effort that's required. It's almost like it's difficult for me to relax and unwind. I'm ALWAYS on edge around people. I'm not sure if this is my personality or because of something from my past. Because I'm on edge I am always careful about what I say and I have been on the receiving end of firing lines before so I tend to keep quiet, watch what I say and observe rather than get right in there with my mouth so in retrospect I wonder if I'm not giving a lot of myself in conversations making it difficult for other people to find anything interesting to talk about with me. I never really feel like I have much to say. Maybe I'm boring. I do lack self confidence too so I do worry about what other people will think of me.

It can take years for a friendship to build up. I find it completely exhausting and the effort I have made in the past with people I have met I have felt it always seems to be me doing the chasing to catch up, in the end I tire of it and the same old thing happens, it fizzles out and I never hear from the people again.

We dont have 'family friends' who have children that we see. When I was growing up it was always cool having family friends over with their kids. We played and had a good time ourselves. I'd love that for my children but we dont know other families well enough for that and in any case the people I have got to know it's never been suggested we catch up as a family. But when people are just becoming friends it feels awkward to me to catch up like that anyway, better to become friends over time and then it's a natural progression to visit homes etc. I do wish though we had family friends with kids, but we dont. We know people through school but they have never become more than people we see at school! Sometimes I see the groups of people all laughing and being friends through school and looking from the sideline I wonder why I'm not part of it.

I read loads of threads on the internet about friends, circle of friends, dinner parties etc. and I feel like such an outcast. I really don't have this. I'm not working at the moment so that also has shut down my contact with other people. I have really isolated myself and feel quite lonely at times (but mostly I am okay with it, just confused feeling something is wrong with me). Being an introvert I do need my space. I certainly couldn't keep up with several high maintenance friendships that needed constant contact. Maybe other people need that and where I can go weeks or months without seeing a friend, maybe to other personalities that is seen as desertion.

I'm rambling I know, but I get very confused about my relationships with other people and understanding why I am like I am. Is it just me?
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everything you describe, I suspect that most of the INFJs here have experienced to some degree (the isolation). I know that I certainly have. Sometimes one is fortunate to come across a raging extravert who 'takes one under his/her wing' and drags you to all the social events and keeps an eye out to make sure that you're not left out of things. However, I think that even those of us who have a lot of social contact, nevertheless live as hermits.

I suggest that you try browsing through lots of the older threads in the various categories. What you will quickly realise is that you are not alone in your experience. While this might not change anything, it is somehow comforting to know that the situation you describe is not caused by something being wrong with you. Rather, it is something common to many people like you.

So no, it isn't just you.

P.S. (Unrelated) - if you post replies on some of the more recent threads in the category "Imagination exercises" I'll love you forever - I'm so addicted to those threads.
trust me i empathize with the confusion you feel and i'm sure you are not the only INFJ who may feel torn between longing for relationships that are deep yet not exhausting whilst needing that inner space to reflect and simply revel in our cherished solitude.
acquaintances may call me their friend, but i find myself truly connecting with only a few people in my life. though few and far between, they are fulfilling and all i realize i need.
i find different people have different definitions of 'friend'. unfortunately, most people i have come across in life do not define 'friend' the same way i do and would be satisfied with small talk and surface relations like networking, group activities, and even gossip. there is nothing wrong with this as it is diverse and colourful, however as an INFJ i value depth and the limitless shades of colour as more important (for lack of a better metaphor).
even my friends may see me as aloof even though i do not intend to appear this way. my introversion causes this, but my Fe propels me to care and strive for fulfilling relationships with others. i suppose many INFJs may find themselves isolated and lonely if the balance between solitude and emotional need is off. don't worry, there is nothing wrong with the way you are :)
dear lost, I certainly sympathize with you about the friend thing. But I can try to tell you what I think I've figured out about it in my life. I'm 49 years old and have only 2 people I consider friends. I know many people and like many people but I've found that to be my true friend must be a little difficult since I am content with my own company much of the time and alot of people sap my energy. Some times I think this is selfish of me. But my 2 friends understand that when I'm not readily available they don't get upset and needy and I try not to put demands on them and their time, but when we connect the good times are the best and we know we can depend on each other.
I've learned to love myself better as I've gotten older and definitely learned to laugh at myself too. Be patient lost .....I found being in my 30's was when I truly started to understand myself
I think that in particular the fine balance between the compulsion to form relations with others and the need to retreat in order to breathe a little is a difficult one to strike.

It took me a while to learn how to get anything out of large group social situations, and to enjoy transient 'friendships' while they last for what they are. The process involved a lot of pushing myself out of my comfort zone before I was able to feel out my own limits better, and work out the dynamics of how I personally interface best with others.

Of the people I see regularly, most are 'contextual' friendships that involve a lot of self editing and picking-and-choosing of the conversation. The very few with whom I don't censor at all are the people who are my most valued and genuine friends.
I have always been kind of alone when it comes down to it. I used to think it was because I was un-likable or weird, but it isn't. I am very chatty and have something to bring to a friendship. But I also have my own life and I like it private. It's okay to be a hermit. If you really want, find a group that allows this. Just don't stress.
You are definitely not the only one.

Our stories are so similar that I could have started this thread. (except that I'm not married and I don't have children)

Indeed, all my posts on this website cover an aspect of this topic in one way or another.

Growing up in school, I used to beat myself up to a bloody pulp, thinking that I was a weirdo, a freak. I'm holding back tears as I type this because I used to be very very hard on myself for being so different; for not being able to fit into a "group."

I knew about mbti before, but it wasn't until this year that I realized how much of an effect it can have... especially when it comes to this area of friendship.

There is this dilemma:

1. The the NEED for deep, meaningful friendships....

2. and the need for privacy, or alone time.

The problem is that most of the world tends to think that your need for number 2 (privacy) is a hint that you are anti-social or even worse...arrogant.

I didn't find a group of friends until my last year of high-school and even while hanging out with them there were moments when I felt like the odd one out, but they understood me! They accepted me and this was more than I could ever imagine.

Right now, your problem with friendship is because you're an adult. Making the kind of friendship that infx types crave is virtually impossible as an adult. here's why:

After college, the adults around you will most likely already have their "group" or clique from their school days. One thing about cliques is that they are very resistant to new people, who will mess up the pre-established patterns of behavior that occur within the group.

You'll need to get them on one-on-one before you could hope for a connection, because while they are within their group/clique they're going on auto-pilot. You might have already noticed a big difference between the way soemone acts while in their group, and how they act when they're alone.

I'm sorry, I didnt provide solutions in my response. It's because I'm lookign for solutions myself. I want to know the answer to this puzzle of making friends as an infx adult in a world where the adults around you already have their group/clique.
Thank you everyone. I do feel better. I know it's just my personality and the way to better understand it is to talk to people who are similar to me. I keep it to myself mostly because I am embarrassed I have no friends.

Poetininfp you are right, there is a conflicting dilemma. I feel it OFTEN. Feels like a merry-go-round and my needs depend on my mood. You do seem very similar to me. I have been noticing lots of school cliques in existance. Even just looking a few old people up on Facebook I'm amazed at the connections in existance from years ago. I dont know anyone from school. Yes I relate very well to your comment about getting them alone and the different reactions but like I said as much as I think the friendship is progressing I realise I'm just the outsider. Like Rainrise said about different people have different definitions of friends. I think the friendship means more to me than it does to them if that makes sense. Probably becus they have a lot of friends already and I dont.

Someone mentioned about coming into contact with an extrovert who pulls you out of your zone. I have had this happen to me ONCE. She was so good for me. The thing is when I get friends and get out and about I really enjoy myself sometimes. I miss that feeling bcaeuse I haven't had it for such a long time. I dont think my extrovert friend understood me at all and in the end our friendshp fizzled because I felt so smothered. She was very full on and I just needed a breather in the end so I pushed her away. She was a good friend though and I really liked her. Kinda miss her but she probably saw the finality of the friendship as me being rude or arrogant. But I just needed a break.

I feel like I've found some understanding here. I dont know anyone like me in real life, there are one or two who seme quiet like me but with two introverts it can be difficult to become friends. Does anyone else find that?

I'll go and look at the excercises Flavus Aquila and see what they are all about. Thanks everyone. I'll come back and read over everything again.
LostINFJ, there is always hope. :) Part of the solution is changing your focus, from what you don't have, to what you do have. From reading your posts I already have a sense of what a deep, caring soul you are, and your need for friendship is also about providing friendship to others. Yes there are many pre-established cliques. Don't worry about them. There are also many individuals seeking friendship, who you probably walk past every day, without realising it. Maybe if you could tune in to that, you would be able to establish your own clique. If you could give other people the chance you want for yourself, you might be surprised to find that you're not alone in the world after all.

Also (and this is one I'm working on too), be your own best friend. Enjoy your own company. Do the things you like doing. Watch your favourite films. Listen to your favourite music. Go to your favourite places. Do your favourite activities. Have fun and be happy in your own company. You will find that it acts as a magnet. People love to be around happy people! :)

Your user ID is LostINFJ - I understand, but be aware that it sets a precedent. It sends out a message to you, and to the world. So 'find' yourself, and create a good vibration.

Love and friendship to you
Do your favourite activities. Have fun and be happy in your own company. You will find that it acts as a magnet. People love to be around happy people! :)

Hey there, Elf

I understand your post, and I have heard people giving this advice before. It's very good advice.

But one thing about it troubles me: It means that say...if you're depressed, people will avoid you, because..."people love to be around happy people"

It just leads to a horrible situation for depressed people. No one will reach out to you or want to become your friend, but yet you need the help of a friendship to truly get over the depression.

So are you supposed to just fake a smile and look happy in order to attract the potential friend who will help you get over your depression? A part of this seems like insincerity to me even though I see the logic behind it.

Wouldn't it better to just be honest and then wait for the good soul who still wants to be your friend despite your depression?

It just makes me wonder if many of the happy people magnets I see around me are probably depressed on the inside and had to put on that persona in order to attract acquaintances.
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Poeticinfp - Having suffered fom depression, I get where you're coming from, and the advice I gave would undoubtedly have frustrated me no end whilst I was depressed. I stand by it though. It is only my way of looking at things, from my current perspective, so I give that disclaimer, but from experience, people did not want to be around me when I was depressed. Some people do stick around, but it's not in all honesty fun for them. Do you enjoy being around depressed or otherwise unhappy people? I don't. I wouldn't have enjoyed being around the depressed me either. I'm not making light of depression. It's a serious illness, but thankfully one that can be "cured", through effective and vigilant use of cognitive therapy techniques. It's amazing how well that works. Three years of anti-depressant medication did nothing for me, but one month of cognitive therapy gave me hope, along with a vital set of tools to help myself out of depression, which was key - because I took back control of my life. That's my experience.

For those who are depressed, I would say, don't even worry about friendships right now. You have enough to cope with, in getting out of depression. Focus on that. It's the most important thing for your health and happiness. Read 'Mind over Mood' or 'Feeling Good: The New Therapy'. Go see a cognitive therapy specialist.

It may sound like a hollow cliche, but it's true that in order to be a friend to others you need to be able to love yourself. Loving yourself leads to self-confidence, which leads to happiness. As our supposedly INFJ friend Jesus said: 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. Love yourself, in other words so that you can love your neighbour. A lot of what I say comes from reading self-help books, but I'll gladly embarrass myself here by repeating useful advice, if it will help someone out of an unhappy situation.

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I really have been wanting to offer some thoughts on this thread today. Sadly, only until now with my workday over do I have the appropiate time to say what I've been thinking all day.

LostINFJ, I completely empathize with you. I relate so strongly to how you felt. I was nearly moved to tears. I'm in the same boat as PoeticINFP as I don't have children either being single and 35. Your sentiments deeply resonated. I also want to thank you for reaching and tell you are aren't alone - you are among brethren who completely understand.

I am also terrible at small talk. I get so self conscious and stressed. I just don't feel at home. Tonight at work, after working 16 hours, I came home really bitchy because being around extroverts just wiped me out.

Its so hard when we don't have that support system of people who understand us, cherish us, connect with us on that deep level and bring that spark meaning out of nothing. Through some life experiences of my late teens and early 20's I never developed a good solid support system either. My parents are still there, but friends the kind we as INFx's need - I don' t have. Its horribly empty. I can go have fun hiking. But, my need for human interaction that enriches me, feeds me and connects to me - it just isn't there. That plant has long been wilted. I don't how to water it, its not for trying.

The first step though was finding this place with similar souls who get it. We do and you aren't alone.

I hope you stick around. Communing with brethren and knowing its not you is hopefully a step to knowing you aren't broken. For the most chatty extrovert, there are the opposite out there - just you don't see us.

So, in my own rambling way, I want to say welcome and hope these responses removed some of the weight from your shoulders.

I too have suffered the same fate as you guys. I can tell you how I have learned to deal with it. I try to find people that are interested in what I am already doing. What is the one thing you really like to do? Go do that and you will find the people you are looking for. When I go to school meetings I never talk to the other parents. It's really not the place for me I never have enough time. My kids have a load of home work and I gotta get them home to do it. It's a sign of modern times and most people only have time for superficial relationships. Look at myspace and facebook. How many friends do people have on those sites that they actually communicate with daily? And face to face?
I have three to four friends. These are guys that I talk to monthly or weekly. We barely go do things together Maybe a few weeks a year is all we get. It's the phone conversations that keep us friends. And in the past when we were younger you could not afford to communicate that much from a distance. I know all about high teen age phone bills lol My parents had friends that I saw weekly as a kid. And I still see them today from time to time but my parents mostly hang out with me. I find that as you get older that most people tend to keep to themselves. So if you catch them doing what you like to do they will usually open the door to you because you can relate on that level.
I have found my best friends doing the same type of activities that I am perusing and I bet that will work for your situation. Friends are very hard to find and even more difficult to keep..
For those who are depressed, I would say, don't even worry about friendships right now. You have enough to cope with, in getting out of depression. Focus on that. It's the most important thing for your health and happiness. Read 'Mind over Mood' or 'Feeling Good: The New Therapy'. Go see a cognitive therapy specialist.
I especially agree with your point on therapy.

Seeing a counselor or finding a support group is a good way to have social contact that can help pull a person out of a depression without demanding too much from them. Just knowing there is someone to connect with even if it is in a clinical setting can make a big difference. If it is a good counselor, then the person can can also help eliminate the negative feedback loops in the thinking, choices, and behaviors of the depressed. There are certain degrees of depression that causes a person to simply not have the energy to pull out of it. A support group might be an especially good idea. Online interaction actually is not such a bad option either. I was severely clinically depressed last year and counseling and online interactions got me through it.

I have an idea that depression serves a useful function. It is the body's way of conserving resources and energy when subjected to stress and uncertainty. It is primarily when it becomes a negative feedback loop and becomes obsessive that it is destructive. Withdrawing a little from the world in reaction to grief, loss, or chemical imbalances can have a natural and healthy element. The can be benefits to not having fear of the depression, but to see it as a natural phase in reaction to certain events or chemistry that can and will pass.
I sympathize with some of your post, I am never at peace around new people.
Hee. I'm sort of in the same boat, too. I'm 40 and single, and I have one really good friend who I trust implicitly, and I have no children/never married. But you know what? I don't mind it. I'm also fairly active in a few organizations and my job keeps me busy. And school. But I have to admit things do get lonely, and I have to balance that loneliness with other activities. I have to ask myself: Am I lonely because I'm not reaching out, or am I lonely because I'm depressed? Or something else? It's hard to stop the cycle when you're in it, though, and it takes outside sources to help you. I'm sort of in a cycle myself, and I think it's time to see a counselor again. :)

Good luck to you, my dear - things *do* get better.:m032:
I make friends pretty easily, but I know full well that most of these are based on a certain set of facts that are pretty easy for people to read. I'm fine w/ that....I'm a nice person. Generally though, few of these folks have any idea as to get to know me on that level, the level I really live on, takes a good bit of time. I have been very fortunate to have had a few friends over the years who seem to be able to know me almost immediately. That was pretty awesome!! It helps me to see that I am not just being mysterious or evasive. I'm pretty much an open book....just one that not everyone has the time/interest/inclination to read.
Lost, I don't know how old your children are, but I found having young children to be isolating because so much of my energy was focused on them.

The other thing I've noticed from postings in these forums and from my own experience is that we INFJs tend to come into our own rather later in life than other types. Maybe it takes us that long to figure out the balance we need between socializing and solitude or it could be the complexities of our analytical hearts. And, as Arbygil says, we tend to cycle, or at least many of us do. Learning to get comfortable with this, much less good at dealing with it can take years.

It's taken me till now--I'm 61--to have a circle of good friends. It's a small circle, yes, but very good and I would say the shortest time I have known any of these folks is 10+ years. It didn't happen overnight, finding this place where I'm mostly comfortable; it was gradual and things really started getting better for me in my mid-forties or so, I think.

Take care and, as one of our resident wise women, Arbygil, says, it will get better.

PS I've found cognitive behavioral therapy helpful as well. Oh, and keep coming back here.
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