Breakups are a small slice of hell for any personality type, but they hit INFJs particularly hard. Unfortunately this is true whether the INFJ is the dumper or dumpee. Below are are few reasons why breakups are the perfect storm for INFJs:
You’re already primed to question your SO’s intentions (Ne Nemesis).
As an INFJ you’re paranoid about hidden meanings, especially when it comes to interpreting what someone’s behavior “really” means. INxJs are prone to worrying that everyone has a hidden motive, due to our Extraverted Intuiting Nemesis, which is a cognitive function on our shadow side. Because it’s a shadow function, interpreting the actions of others usually comes from a pessimistic point of view. Even when things are going reasonably well in a relationship, the INFJ will have his niggling doubts about what his SO’s actions truly mean: Is she really into me or is she using me? Does she really only like him as a friend?
When the INFJ is given reason to believe that the relationship is in jeopardy, her paranoia is amplified tenfold. The INFJ watches every move her SO makes, and inevitably deems each to be an insidious act: Is his phone really dead, or is he avoiding me? Is his new Facebook status a sign that he’s upset with me? The INFJ will hold her paranoid thoughts in for as long as she can, but accusations will erupt in a time of stress or weakness (e.g. drunk, tired). The accusations will push her SO away, resulting in her SO taking even more drastic action to find space and peace. This will then become fodder for even more INFJ paranoia in the future.
…and this is even before we get into the meat of the breakup.
You have a vivid imagination that can see and feel, in gory detail, what a breakup will entail (Ni Hero).
As an INFJ you’re really good at synthesizing information, even (and sometimes especially) if it doesn’t fit the current mold or theory. When a breakup is looming, the INFJ obsessively imagines what the future of the relationship will bring. He will imagine his SO flirting with everyone she meets – bartenders, baristas, cowboys, and colleagues – even if she was never the flirty type. He will imagine confronting her when he catches her with another guy. The script will be written and rewritten in his head until he knows exactly what he’ll say when the moment comes.
At the same time, he’s also imagining his future without her. How miserable it’ll be to be alone again! He’ll need to start dating again! Oh great, because wading through small talk with a bunch of duds on eMatchMaker sounds wonderful. He’ll be alone! And he’s thinking about all of the movies he’ll need to see alone, dinners he’ll cook alone, vacations he’ll take alone, etc. His imagination is firing on all cylinders, but it’s off kilter. It’s not the trusty instrument that was once able to conjure idealistic visions about the future; instead, it’s a nightmare factory.
…And all the while he’s imagining his SO happily sharing a blanket and popcorn with another man.
Whatever she feels in the breakup, you’ll feel double (Fe Parent).
This is because as an INFJ, you feel your partner’s feeling in addition to your own. So if you’re being broken up with, you’ll feel the usual abandonment, betrayal, and judgement, while still feeling bad for your partner. You sense that the breakup is causing them pain as well – that they too are losing someone they loved. Perhaps you feel bad that you pushed them so hard for so long that they were driven to this. Or perhaps you sense that they’re putting on airs, acting tougher than they feel inside, and you feel bad that they need to act this way.
The feelings might be even more painful if you’re executing the break up. You’ll hear sobbing; you’ll hear pleas to stay together; you’ll receive late-night, drunken calls; you’ll receive texts that are excoriating followed by texts that are apologetic. And you won’t be able to ignore any of it. You’re so tuned into the pain that your former SO is now feeling that all you want to do is make it stop, for their sake. This is why many of us INFJs “door slam”. Because if we saw the suffering behind the door, we’d cave and open it up again.
…And while you’re feeling what your SO is feeling, you’re also stuck thinking about what everyone else is now thinking about you
Through the course of a breakup, you’re going to question your self worth (Fi Critic).
During a breakup, some personalities double down on how great they are, bolstering their self-worth: “Her loss!”, “I should have broken up with her years ago!”, “Lookout ladies, here comes Kyle!” That’s not you. Your Fi Critic function will kick into gear, and it’s going to criticize your own essence – your sense of self worth. You’ll tell yourself that you’re unlovable, that you’re to blame, and that you’ll never be happy again. This self talk is, of course, all crap, but because it’s stemming from deep in your gut it will be very hard to ignore.
Once again, this isn’t any easier if you’re doing the dumping. You’ll feel like a terrible person for hurting your SO. And, for days and months, you’ll still be questioning whether you’ve made the right decision. After all, will you ever find someone who understands you as well as he does? You won’t feel confident in your decision – even if the breakup was long overdue – because all you will feel in your gut is “bad”.
…Cue your imagination running wild with images of you sitting alone, asking your 27 cats what color sweaters they want for Christmas.
Finally, after the breakup, your memory will sharpen at just the wrong time, flooding your mind with regrets and painful memories (Si Demon).
INFJs are not known for having sharp memories, because we don’t focus on the past; we typically deal with things as they come and are future oriented. That won’t be the case, however, when your Si Demon is unleashed and rehashes even the most insignificant memories about your relationship. You’ll think, “Was that time, 6 months ago, when she didn’t want to stay over, the first sign that something was wrong? Could I have said something different?” It will be years and years before you can view memories of passed romantic relationships as cozy or warm. Si Demon will make sure of that.
Not to mention, you’ll lose a lot of memories when the relationship ends. As INFJs we often look toward people and things in our environments to be sort of mnemonic souvenirs — again, because our actual memory is usually not great. When someone or something important leaves an INFJ’s life, it’s as if a massive block of his history has been erased. Like a computer hard drive crashing and needing to be restored, a big piece of your identity was just lost and will need to be salvaged or replaced as well.
Fortunately, INFJs don’t break up that often. We are typically careful about who we enter relationships with, and we are careful to nurture relationships so that they don’t wither and die. But when they do end, clear your calendar for a few months or years, because it’s not going to be fun.