[INFP] INFPs need intense emotions, INTPs avoid them. In conflict their needs are opposite.

INFPs need intense emotions, INTPs avoid them. In conflict their needs are opposite.

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This is a discussion on INFPs need intense emotions, INTPs avoid them. In conflict their needs are opposite. within the INFP Forum - The Idealists forums, part of the NF's Temperament Forum- The Dreamers category; My INFP wife and I have been together for fifteen years. We're best friends and have had a deep, loving ...

  1. #1
    INTP - The Thinkers

    INFPs need intense emotions, INTPs avoid them. In conflict their needs are opposite.

    My INFP wife and I have been together for fifteen years. We're best friends and have had a deep, loving relationship. She's really great, but here I'd like to focus on a problem that has plagued us from day one... something we've only half understood, but which personality typology can speak to.

    Periodically something snaps in my wife and she erupts like an emotion volcano. It's usually in reaction to something I've said or done, or not done, which I perceive as completely innocuous. It happens more often when she's short on sleep and has had to deal with a stressor... or if she feels guilty about something. I could go into more detail here, but I think you get the idea. The first part of my question is this: do you INFPs recognize this in yourself?

    Generally speaking, my wife is prone to intense emotional expressions, especially in a conflict situation, and unlike others of her type she doesn't avoid conflict. More like she heads straight for it, gets a good cry in and talks through the problem until we reach some resolution. Afterwards she feels better... and I feel worse.

    As an INTP, I'm troubled by intense emotions, especially when they are directed at me by someone important to me. If I'm troubled by something, I need time alone to mull things over. I don't want to be asked how I'm feeling, I don't want to talk about it, and I especially don't want an emotion volcano burying me in heavy, burning hot lava. When that happens it can take hours, days, even weeks for me to fully recover.

    So there it is... she needs to talk and express her emotions and I need to NOT talk and NOT experience intense emotions. For her this is frustrating and worrisome, but mostly over the years she's gotten the release and resolution she needs. For me it's just painful. It wipes me out and pushes me away from her. If, however, she somehow avoided exploding, she wouldn't get what she needs.

    It seems impossible to answer, but that's my second, primary question: how can we handle conflicts when the conditions we need are exactly opposite? Does anyone else have experience with this? Maybe this is a broader problem experienced by T's and F's of all types, but it's particularly strong in our relationship and I think it has a lot to do with our specific types.
    snail, Now and Then, ethylester and 12 others thanked this post.



  2. #2
    INFP - The Idealists

    The only way I can think of that I would do that would be if I were suppressing my emotional side for a Thinker's benefit on a daily basis. Then, when I was stressed or tired or I had just had too much of one (seemingly small but repeated) offense, I might explode like that. I would do my utmost all the time to try to avoid any discomfort I may cause you, but sometimes I would need to just vent and I would expect you to just hold on for the ride, knowing I can never be upset for very long.

    All you can do is just try to be there for each other and sometimes endure that which makes you uncomfortable for the sake of just being your SO's partner in life. "It's not always rainbows and butterflies, it's compromise that moves us along." (song lyrics, sorry)
    Raichan, hasenj, fane and 2 others thanked this post.

  3. #3
    INFP - The Idealists


    Have you told this to her?

  4. #4
    INTP - The Thinkers

    Yes, it's something we're both aware of.
    snail thanked this post.

  5. #5
    INFP - The Idealists

    Quote Originally Posted by fane View Post
    Periodically something snaps in my wife and she erupts like an emotion volcano. It's usually in reaction to something I've said or done, or not done, which I perceive as completely innocuous. It happens more often when she's short on sleep and has had to deal with a stressor... or if she feels guilty about something. I could go into more detail here, but I think you get the idea. The first part of my question is this: do you INFPs recognize this in yourself?
    A little - I don't get set off a lot though, but when I do, it can be big and it's only around those I am close to. The vast majority of the time, the reaction is NOT directly in response to what has just happened (which is often deemed "minor" by others). INFPs will jump into conflict in what they see as a defense of their values or ideals. Often, the obvious offense is really just symbolic for a much deeper issue. Sometimes it's the straw that broke the camel's back - a string of minor offenses add up so we feel we cannot ignore it anymore.

    Our feelings are a rational process of gauging things by significance & good/bad, but emotions are physiological responses which serve as clues when one of these feelings is violated. A stressed out INFP may react on the emotion, instead of stopping to consider what it is telling them and then approaching the value violation rationally. It's important when she approaches a problem for you to try and see the core issue behind her taking offense. It may not make sense to you (at first), but if you invalidate her view, then you're invalidating her feelings. INFPs see their feelings as who they are - to dismiss them as irrational is to dismiss their existence as a human being. We are often dismissed by others because we see meaning where they see none, and we can find it difficult to express these feelings in a way so that others can understand them & see them as valid.

    If you make some effort to see the underlying meaning to her reaction, then you may begin to form a picture of what is important to her, so as not to step on it. If she approaches an issue in a calm way, reinforce it by taking her feelings seriously, even if they don't make sense to you immediately. You might have to take it on faith a bit that something is "important", as INFPs, frankly, have a refined system when it comes to ideals, and so they may easily see errors in ethics just as you see errors in logic, but others may not see it so glaringly obvious. The better you come to understand her ideals, the more clear their rationality will be, and it will be easier for you to know what is unacceptable to her.

    Generally speaking, my wife is prone to intense emotional expressions, especially in a conflict situation, and unlike others of her type she doesn't avoid conflict. More like she heads straight for it, gets a good cry in and talks through the problem until we reach some resolution. Afterwards she feels better... and I feel worse.
    She may feel "better" because she stood up for her values & made her voice heard. If you find resolutions, then it seems you are already validating her feelings (as in ideals/values) to some degree and that will satisfy an INFP. The fact that it gets to the point of a big explosion implies to me that she holds in her feelings for awhile & IS avoiding conflict. You just probably think everything is fine during that time, until she can't hold it in anymore.

    As an INTP, I'm troubled by intense emotions, especially when they are directed at me by someone important to me. If I'm troubled by something, I need time alone to mull things over. I don't want to be asked how I'm feeling, I don't want to talk about it, and I especially don't want an emotion volcano burying me in heavy, burning hot lava. When that happens it can take hours, days, even weeks for me to fully recover.

    So there it is... she needs to talk and express her emotions and I need to NOT talk and NOT experience intense emotions. For her this is frustrating and worrisome, but mostly over the years she's gotten the release and resolution she needs. For me it's just painful. It wipes me out and pushes me away from her. If, however, she somehow avoided exploding, she wouldn't get what she needs.
    I don't relate to this, as I don't like to talk about my feelings or emotions. Volcanic reactions occur because I hold them in, as it's very draining and uncomfortable for me to verbalize them. I may get emotional due to the difficulty I experience in expressing them rather than the actual issue making me emotional. Such situations are NOT pleasant for me. I also prefer to process the feeling alone, as I need to turn inward to explore my emotions and glean meaning from them, instead of acting rashly on them. So experiencing emotions is important to me as I derive meaning from them, but expressing them is not a focus of mine.

    However, once I have ventured to open to up to someone, maybe out of "necessity", then it will be important for me to make my feelings clear to the other person, so that person will not continue to vex me emotionally. I need them to grasp what & why something is important so they don't step on it. It's kind of like how INTPs can be accused of being argumentative & hostile when they think they are just trying to discuss a topic in an analytical way so as to make a point about what is true. INFPs want to make value points, and it's not about venting emotion on people, it's about analyzing feeling so as to assert what is important. Remember Feeling in MBTI is NOT emotion, but a rational process of judging value. INFPs judge based on an almost innate sense of what is ideal or perfectly good. We usually take a defensive stance, meaning our feeling only shows in response to a violation, just as INTPs may only assert their opinion in response to what they see as a logical error. Otherwise, we're laid back people.

    Since your feeling is inferior, it will be harder & more draining for you to access that thought process to deal with your own emotions & to guage value. This process will make you uncomfortable. However, you don't have to process her feeling with your inferior feeling if you expand your iNtuition a bit.

    So, one tip... to avoid getting to the point of a volcanic emotional eruption, try to put yourself in her shoes more. Use your iNtuition to imagine the different possible ways a person may respond to a situation. Observe other people without judgment - see how they respond to different approaches & note what seems to work best, as opposed to simply going with what YOU see as the "logical" response. Then you can adapt your dealings with people to cause less conflict. You'll basically be more aware of other people & how they think/feel, instead of gauging everything by your inner world of logical principles.

    How much do you know about the cognitive processes behind types? I think that can be useful to understanding conflicts in communication.
    Aero, clear moon, hasenj and 7 others thanked this post.

  6. #6
    INFP - The Idealists

    Quote Originally Posted by fane View Post
    My INFP wife and I have been together for fifteen years. We're best friends and have had a deep, loving relationship. She's really great, but here I'd like to focus on a problem that has plagued us from day one... something we've only half understood, but which personality typology can speak to.

    Periodically something snaps in my wife and she erupts like an emotion volcano. It's usually in reaction to something I've said or done, or not done, which I perceive as completely innocuous. It happens more often when she's short on sleep and has had to deal with a stressor... or if she feels guilty about something. I could go into more detail here, but I think you get the idea. The first part of my question is this: do you INFPs recognize this in yourself?

    Generally speaking, my wife is prone to intense emotional expressions, especially in a conflict situation, and unlike others of her type she doesn't avoid conflict. More like she heads straight for it, gets a good cry in and talks through the problem until we reach some resolution. Afterwards she feels better... and I feel worse.

    As an INTP, I'm troubled by intense emotions, especially when they are directed at me by someone important to me. If I'm troubled by something, I need time alone to mull things over. I don't want to be asked how I'm feeling, I don't want to talk about it, and I especially don't want an emotion volcano burying me in heavy, burning hot lava. When that happens it can take hours, days, even weeks for me to fully recover.

    So there it is... she needs to talk and express her emotions and I need to NOT talk and NOT experience intense emotions. For her this is frustrating and worrisome, but mostly over the years she's gotten the release and resolution she needs. For me it's just painful. It wipes me out and pushes me away from her. If, however, she somehow avoided exploding, she wouldn't get what she needs.

    It seems impossible to answer, but that's my second, primary question: how can we handle conflicts when the conditions we need are exactly opposite? Does anyone else have experience with this? Maybe this is a broader problem experienced by T's and F's of all types, but it's particularly strong in our relationship and I think it has a lot to do with our specific types.
    Well, it's already too late for you to do what I've decided to do: avoid relationships between INFPs and INTPs.

    To me, INTPs are just about the sexiest things alive, but it doesn't matter. I, as a sensitive, emotionally intense INFP with very powerful expressive needs, should never fall for the trap of being mated with someone who can't deal with my feelings, who considers them unacceptable, or who is drained by them to the point where he is constantly suffering in order for me to not suffer. I don't want to make him martyr himself for me. If that is what is necessary in order for me to not hurt, then WE ARE NOT COMPATIBLE. It sucks, but eventually we have to face this reality. The ones we want are not necessarily the ones who are good for us. You are right that it is impossible for our needs to be met simultaneously. While I would be getting what I needed in order to be okay, I would be taking something important away from an INTP partner, preventing his needs from being met, and vice versa. I learned this through trial and error, repeatedly making the same mistakes and finding that it was always the same result. Now I know better. I see a sexy INTP doing sexy INTP things, and I feel an immediate attraction. Then I push down the feelings and picture the possible future scenario in which I am in a relationship with that person, where I need emotional comforting and end up feeling abandoned. It makes me rethink the situation just long enough to stop being attracted to the person, which ends up being best for everyone involved. INTPs generally can't resist me either, and they inevitably end up wishing they had. I wear them out.

    I have this idea that it is similar to the energy balance going on with introversion and extroversion. The introvert is drained by social contact while the extrovert requires it in order to keep from feeling drained. With thinkers and feelers, the thinker is drained and damaged by emotional intensity, while the feeler requires it in order to avoid feeling drained and damaged.
    apathy, fane and LadyMojo thanked this post.

  7. #7
    INFP - The Idealists

    Disclaimer: I am sharing things the way I see it based on what you've shared, so the advice I offer is from my perspective. I'm not attempting to direct things in a personal fashion, but rather I'm treating the content of your first post like a formula within the words, and giving my interpretation of the answer to the formula that I perceive.

    If I may put it plainly, it sounds to me like both you and your wife are unbudging about what you both perceive as your needs. You say you need to avoid conflict and think things over in an unemotional setting, and she says she needs to let off the steam and confront the issues. If you both hold to that, it will be quite difficult for both of you to be happy about things, unless you find a way to avoid stirring up problems altogether.

    So, what I'm saying is that I think your wife needs to learn to handle her emotions more effectively so that she can be honest about them and experience them, but without being continuously eruptive. Also I think she needs to learn patience for some situations where immediate confrontation is not critical. If she does this, she may find that when time for talking and confrontation comes, she isn't shooting lava, but rather is more able to communicate with more balance.

    For you, you may feel like your need is to avoid emotions, but it's your instinct, not an absolute need. If you learn to demonstratively support your wife's need to vent her feelings, it will enable her to do so less harmfully. Why? Because, for an INFP, or other emotional people, when they feel as if their feelings are misunderstood or rejected, it only fuels their frustration or anger. Even if you fail to agree with or completely understand her expressions, your willingness to listen and receive her feelings will be noticed, and it will gain her trust and gently vent the volcanic pressure. The triggers you see as innocuous may actually sometimes BE rather innocuous. The actual triggers over what you've done or not done are likely not the main issue, but rather what those things are telling her. In her state of heightened sensitivity she may read into things more with thoughts such as, "He must not care," or, "He doesn't respect my feelings," and then those deep feelings of mistrust create volcanic reactions. That is something about emotional people...emotional people tend to look beyond the logical ramifications of actions, to the perceived motives or sentiments that led to the actions.

    Right now, for you to cater to your wife's perceived needs may be like travelling 100 miles with only 3 gallons of gas, which in your "car" can only take you 58 miles - you can't make it. For her to cater to your perceived needs may be the very same; 100 miles on only 3 gallons. That makes it seem impossible to fix. So that is why I believe there should be a midway destination that can be agreed upon. That way it isn't you or your wife saying, "Honey, I'm staying where I'm at. Drive over here to where I am." But rather, an agreeable midway destination dissolves resentment, and gives hope of meeting the other person in an equalizing way.

    Creating the meeting point requires compromise on both sides, of course, and determining where those compromises can be made on both sides. You can ask her about what sets her off, and let her explain why, so you can learn the primary mistakes to avoid so as to make things easier for your wife. Also, you can tell her that at certain times when she determines she has a real need, you will stay present to listen to her feelings and complaints and try to understand. In return, she can agree to be willing to be more selective in her confrontations, and to be willing to take time to settle her feelings independently when there is no urgent need. Also, for her to be less accusational in her approach (if she is) would help.

    If both of you held up your ends in such a situation, you would both find that it is much easier than either of you anticipated. She would realize that when you attentively hear her out and show interest and support in her concerns that her emotional turbulence is calmed, because the presence of trust is calming to her. You would also find that as you deal with a less eruptive wife, your fear of emotion will retract, and your desire to recluse will not be as pervasive. Her emotions will not be seen as much as threats, but will be something you can merge with. When you both take these steps toward each other in marital compromise, it leads to what you both ultimately desire. You trust her emotions more, and learn to accept emotion in the relationship, and for her, with less emotional turbulence, she learns to balance emotion with a rational approach and gains respect for that approach that is a part of you.

    I hope you haven't found my words to be too direct or offensive, since I don't know you personally, but since you asked, I gave the best answers I could.
    Last edited by Matchbook; 10-04-2010 at 12:33 PM.
    OrangeAppled, Aero, fane and 5 others thanked this post.

  8. #8
    INFP - The Idealists

    Not that it helps your situation at all, but FWIW we only ever really lose our shit to the people we're closest to. It's wrong and it sucks, but it's us :(

    But I'm sure you already know this, having been married for this long.
    TheDreamDealer thanked this post.

  9. #9
    INTP - The Thinkers

    Quote Originally Posted by snail View Post
    Well, it's already too late for you to do what I've decided to do: avoid relationships between INFPs and INTPs.

    To me, INTPs are just about the sexiest things alive, but it doesn't matter. I, as a sensitive, emotionally intense INFP with very powerful expressive needs, should never fall for the trap of being mated with someone who can't deal with my feelings, who considers them unacceptable, or who is drained by them to the point where he is constantly suffering in order for me to not suffer. I don't want to make him martyr himself for me. If that is what is necessary in order for me to not hurt, then WE ARE NOT COMPATIBLE. It sucks, but eventually we have to face this reality. The ones we want are not necessarily the ones who are good for us. You are right that it is impossible for our needs to be met simultaneously. While I would be getting what I needed in order to be okay, I would be taking something important away from an INTP partner, preventing his needs from being met, and vice versa. I learned this through trial and error, repeatedly making the same mistakes and finding that it was always the same result. Now I know better. I see a sexy INTP doing sexy INTP things, and I feel an immediate attraction. Then I push down the feelings and picture the possible future scenario in which I am in a relationship with that person, where I need emotional comforting and end up feeling abandoned. It makes me rethink the situation just long enough to stop being attracted to the person, which ends up being best for everyone involved. INTPs generally can't resist me either, and they inevitably end up wishing they had. I wear them out.

    I have this idea that it is similar to the energy balance going on with introversion and extroversion. The introvert is drained by social contact while the extrovert requires it in order to keep from feeling drained. With thinkers and feelers, the thinker is drained and damaged by emotional intensity, while the feeler requires it in order to avoid feeling drained and damaged.
    I have to disagree with this. In my opinion, INFP + INTP = perfect match. The contrasting T and F functions don't clash with each other, but rather, balance out the relationship.

    It's possible that the INTP's you've met are just jerks. All the INTP's I've known are relaxed, kind (though obviously not "friendly" in a superficial Fe way), and just a pleasure to be around. They aren't unable to provide emotional support, it's just a skill that they have to develop (as it is for most people with a T type). If you really need somebody who constantly provides emotional comforting, you should just try to find somebody with Fe dom or aux. But an INFP-INTP relationship can work very well, and you shouldn't just write off because of bad experiences in the past.
    ethylester thanked this post.

  10. #10
    INTP - The Thinkers

    OrangeAppled said it really well!

    INFPs only 'explode' when they've been supressing their feelings in order not to hurt yours. We reach a point were can't handle it anymore and we need to let it out.

    My problems with the T's in my life is not the particular thing they say or even how they word it: it's the feeling that makes them say so. Usually my problem is that they feel that my opinions and feelings are invalid.

    So really, all you need to do is listen, accept & understand your wife's feelings. You don't have to "agree" with her opinions, but you have to *accept* that they are just as valid-able as yours. To dismiss the opinion of a feeler as plain wrong is to directly disrespect who they are and what they value.

    To respect another person's opinion doesn't mean to accept them as true or correct, but to accept them as valid opinions that a rational person can form even if they're not in agreement with _your_ opinions.

    Is it that hard, Ts?
    Aelthwyn, Beauty for Ashes and LadyMojo thanked this post.


 
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