Most relationships don’t end amicably right away. Someone is generally hurt. For the INFJ who prioritizes the moral order of the universe over most everything and needs for life to be copacetic, the imbalance that this creates will haunt them endlessly. INFJs desire peace and stability in their lives and in the lives of those around them, and when that sense of harmony is disrupted and broken, the INFJ often becomes self-blaming, placing the load on their shoulders as they seek ways to restore order and balance.
An INFJ’s favorite word might just be “sorry.” They’re sorry for pain they’ve caused. They’re sorry for pain they didn’t cause. They’re sorry for pain you caused them. They’re just really sorry. So when a relationship goes south, they often get hung up on the all the things they feel an overwhelming agony to be sorry for, all the things they feel they did wrong. It can be hard to move on when there are so many things they feel they need to apologize for.
INFJs are naturally people who need to spend a lot of time alone to recharge. It’s good to take time to be alone, in the wake of heartbreak or otherwise. But there is such thing as too much alone time, and if there’s any type equipped to write a novel about that, it’s the INFJ, who slips into a ruminating and obsessive mindset far more easily than they’d like to admit. The thing about retreating into solitude for an INFJ who’s dealing with heartbreak is that it’ll move them past a place of healthy self-love and self-reflection and into a world where loss and emptiness rule, and that’s a dark place for the typically idealistic INFJ.
INFJs are natural idealists, but there’s a bottomless darkness to them that’s always circling them like a shark. In the wake of heartbreak and feeling beaten down and broken, something about letting the INFJ’s darkness take over just feels so damn gratifying and peaceful, a gentle succumbing. Finally, finally, this is my true self, the INFJ might think, and where this gets dangerous is that they might start to really believe it, that all there is to life is desperation and need and disappointment and deadness. What’s worse, they might start to romanticize it, connecting deeply and painfully with the kind of tormented music, art and books that only bury them further into the hole they’re in.
INFJs are naturally fierce protectors, but the flip side of this is that, when hurt, they can be made into destroyers. While growth and maturity for the INFJ often yield a more gentle belief in karma or poetic justice, an INFJ experiencing heartbreak is likely also experiencing a war inside their mind. The overly empathetic INFJ will want to love everyone and everything, to know and believe that there is love everywhere, that we are love, and most importantly that the people who hurt us are the ones we need to love the most. On the flip side, the INFJ will wonder if love and kindness are recipes for being a doormat, if maybe there’s something after all to bashing those who have broken our hearts. Which is worse? For the INFJ – overthinkers by nature – maybe they’ll never know.
INFJs are incredibly private, harboring secrets in a way that others don’t tend to do. With trust no easy feat for them, if an INFJ has opened up to another person and revealed who they truly are, it’s been a challenging process for them, one laced with self-doubt and caution always at the back of their mind. When someone who the INFJ has exposed the most intimate parts of themselves to leaves or hurts them, the INFJ often snaps backwards, retreating, feeling that they’ve given something away that they shouldn’t have. This lingering sense of having made a mistake in letting someone in can slow progress in moving on.
It’s the INFJ’s judging preference, in combination with being an intuitive, that leads them to process information in such a way that they’re often planning the future. In this way, when a relationship ends, it can be devastating to the INFJ because they had started building in their heads the life they thought they could anticipate. While that’s not to say that the INFJ is planning the wedding on the first date – they’re too practical or realistic to be thinking in this kind of way – they somehow do just know, in their gut, and often in a jarringly short period of time, when there is a true future with someone. INFJs may try not to have expectations for life ahead, but they often can’t help but have at least some sense of a plan, and in the wake of heartbreak, the shattering of the future they believed would be real can yield a lot of pain for the INFJ.
People often joke about how INFJs can see straight into your soul, and in some sense, this feels quite true. INFJs tend to get a premonition about something in about the same manner as being struck by lightning. Though it’s a rare occurrence, this “sixth sense” often leads the INFJ to fall for people extremely quickly. An INFJ may simply see someone from across a room and know immediately that they know something about the other person – that there’s an intense connection – before even meeting them. In this way, though guarded, the INFJ tends to jump in quickly, opening themselves up to be hurt regardless of whether things go south in six years or six days.
INFJs are incredibly selective about who they’ll date. Something about hurting another person is unbearably painful for the INFJ – so much so that the INFJ would often rather see themselves get hurt before hurting another, burying their own pain for the sake of keeping others happy – so INFJs tend to be very cautious about who they get into relationships with. To minimize the possibility of hurting another, they’ll only allow themselves to date when they 100% know they’re interested in someone and they 100% see a realistic future with that person. That said, having been so selective about a partner can really backfire on them when a relationship goes south. This kind of intense investment from so early on can leave the INFJ devastated if their partner wasn’t 100% sure about them right from the get-go (and so often this is of course the case). To boot, the INFJ knows it might be a long time again before they feel a similarly strong bond with another, making it even harder to move on and recover from heartbreak.
One might say that INFJs don’t get out much. They value time spent alone or doing quieter activities with a valued few. A packed bar on a Friday night might not be the most appealing place for an INFJ; they’re more likely to be home building a pillow fort and reading. So when the INFJ has stumbled across someone who they really connect with, when they’ve finally found someone who balances them out and also understands them at their core, this person inherently means a lot to them, and losing them can be devastating. Meeting someone new seems to always be the final push over the hump of heartbreak, and the fact that the INFJ typically just isn’t out meeting tons of people may keep them from moving on as quickly as others.
INFJs tend to bring perfectionist tendencies into all that they do, and relationships aren’t spared from that. Because the INFJ gleans so much of their self-worth from how well they can keep everything together, when a relationship falls apart, often so does the sense of worth of the INFJ. Part of what holds an INFJ from moving on after heartbreak is the nagging sense of failure that they just can’t seem to kick.
INFJs place a lot of value and meaning in a shared connection, which to them is built heavily on something real and vulnerable and open more so than on sex or lust or physical desire. Sex for the INFJ is typically an extension of expressing how they feel about their partner and thus is entirely empty if there isn’t a deep emotional and intellectual component to the relationship. While sex is an unquestionably important part of a relationship to the INFJ, it’s not the thing that’s most deeply and painfully lost when a relationship ends. What they most miss is that rare and intense sense of connection. That said, the age-old “go hook up with somebody else” rebound move won’t do much for the heartbroken INFJ who craves a bond and sense of mutual understanding with another.
INFJs are notoriously often in their own worlds, living very much in their heads. They tend to be outwardly serious and composed, keeping a playfulness locked away inside of them that’s often only accessed by a rare few across their entire lifetime. Ideal partners for the INFJ tend to be a mirror: lively and fun on the exterior and harboring a darker, more serious room inside of them that only a handful of people are let into. In believing it’s safe to let someone into that guarded place inside of them, the INFJ feels and falls in love with the feeling of balance and completion that their partner provides them. Thus, when a relationship ends, the INFJ can be left feeling as if a part of them has been stripped away, the rug ripped out from under them. To go from that sense of being made whole and grounded by another to suddenly being without them leaves the INFJ feeling split in two and, now knowing what life was like with the one they loved, far more aware of their shortcomings.
The mix of intuition and feeling in their type makes the INFJ a natural romantic, extremely passionate about everything they do, and particularly so about the people they love. Paired with their creative nature, the INFJ tends to live in a hidden world of possibilities, often erring into fantastical thinking. An INFJ in love is an INFJ floating through a daydream – and conversely, an INFJ experiencing heartbreak is an INFJ struggling to believe in hope and living alongside a dark sense of loneliness. To feel stripped of their naturally romantic and imaginative nature leaves the INFJ lost and confused.
While many other types desire to be wanted, INFJs like to be needed. Combine this with the fact that INFJs, at less than 1% of the population, are the rarest of the personality types and often feel misunderstood and it makes sense as to why INFJs are devastated and don’t bounce back as quickly or easily as others after getting their heart broken. After having found someone who they felt understood them and who had needed them, it’s unspeakably painful to lose both.
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