“I feel really comfortable around you.”
“I feel like we have a really meaningful connection.”
“You just seem to understand me so well.”
The above three sentences can be filed away under ‘Things INFJs Hear All the Time.’
INFJs are known as the Counselor personality type. And like a counselor, most people find it really easy to open up to us. It took me awhile to understand that having this sort of relationship with everyone, from a best friend to the cashier at the grocery store, was not something that most people experience regularly.
The problem with this personality trait is that it can create a lot of one-sided relationships. For INFJs, what is often a normal conversation (you know, just another person telling us their life story) often equates to a deep and meaningful connection for the other party. There is a surprising number of emotional vampires out there who will happily suck us dry of the support and empathy we’re able to give, if we let them.
Over time I’ve had to learn how to separate the emotionally needy people from the rest, for my own health. One-sided relationships that consist of the INFJ giving emotional support, but not receiving it, is extremely unhealthy for our type.
This can create even larger problems when it comes to INFJs and romantic relationships.
Imagine this scenario:
Sarah, an INFJ, is going on a first date with Tom. They hit it off right away. Tom feels very relaxed and calm around Sarah, and the conversation flows easily. At the end of the date, he realized that he’s shared more about his personal life with Sarah than he usually would on a first date. He doesn’t normally feel comfortable opening up with people so early. Sarah leaves the date feeling happy to have had a good time with Tom and is possibly interested in seeing him again. Tom leaves the date feeling as if Sarah is “the one.”
If you’re an INFJ, you may have had the exact same experience as Sarah. You might have even dated a couple of Toms — people convinced that their initial level of comfort around you meant that you shared a much deeper connection than what you yourself experienced.
If we’re not careful, INFJs can get swept up in this. Everyone wants to be loved, and it can be equally exciting to meet someone who we feel comfortable with right away. But it’s extremely important to detect the emotional vampires early on. Otherwise, you could end up in a draining and one-sided relationship.
Let’s imagine that Sarah and Tom have been dating for a few months now. Tom still feels very sure that Sarah is “the one.” However, Sarah is starting to feel like she’s not truly being listened too by Tom. Most of their conversations revolve around Tom talking about his problems or ideas, and when she tries to open up to him, he becomes quiet and distant, or changes the subject.
Tom is an emotional vampire, taking Sarah’s emotional support while not being able to reciprocate it. INFJs need as much, if not more, emotional support from their friends and partners as anyone else. A relationship with an emotionally needy person can be a huge source of stress and unhappiness for us.
Here are 5 ways to spot and avoid emotional vampires:
They want to rush into things.
If a new friend or romantic interest wants to become really close, really fast, it’s a sign to be cautious. Especially if you don’t feel comfortable moving at an equal pace. This doesn’t always mean that they’re an emotional vampire, but it’s important for INFJs to set boundaries until they are sure that the connection goes both ways.
They can take, but not offer emotional support.
If you’re cubicle neighbor is constantly telling you about her marital problems, but changes the subject or turns it around and makes it about her when you mention a fight with your husband, you definitely have an emotional vampire in your midst. While it might be hard to avoid certain people (like the cubicle neighbor) it’s definitely a good idea to set boundaries. Not even INFJs have an obligation to be a pillar of emotional support for everyone, all the time.
The only time they want to talk is when they have problems.
You rarely see or talk to your friend from college when she’s in a happy relationships with her boyfriend, but as soon as there’s trouble in paradise, she needs you to be there to listen to her vent. Emotionally needy people feel like they have to fill a void any time they lack emotional support, and INFJs can be easy targets. Anyone who only seems to consistently show up in your life during times of trouble is not worth your time and energy.
You feel like a parental figure or therapist around them.
There are plenty of times in life when we might take a parental or counselor type of role around friends and family. This is our Extroverted Feeling at work. However, if there is someone who you feel like you are always advising and helping, and you’re not getting any support back from them, it is probably time to move on. And if you already are a parent, a therapist, or both, then you definitely don’t have time to play these roles in other areas of your life.
They don’t celebrate your successes.
People who truly care about you will be happy when you’re happy. If your family, friends, and partners don’t celebrate your successes with you, that is a sign of a one-sided relationship. Unhealthy, emotionally needy people might feel envious of your achievements, and attempt to downplay them or change the subject when you bring them up. We can’t expect everyone we know to understand our life choices, but we should expect to be encouraged and supported by our loved ones along the way.
Do you have experiences with emotional vampires in your life? How did you deal with them?