Hello fellow ISFJs,
I am having a problem with another of our kind.
I have recently become close friends with a male ISFJ. At best, we get along spectacularly--we make the same jokes, think on the same level, etc. However, after a particular conversation I had with him the other day, I was left confused about some issues that I believe refer to his Fe.
Prior to this conversation, another friend and I were discussing something in front of my ISFJ friend that he finds uncomfortable. When the other friend left, I was left alone with him. I noticed that as I would try to talk to him, he would become extremely manipulative with both his words and the feeling behind them. It started with him acting sour, but when I went along with his little "game", he instead tried to pull the "I'm just kidding" card and act like normal. I could tell during this entire conversation that he was uncomfortable--he would often shift his eyes away from me or pull out his phone and fiddle with it. After 20 minutes or so of subtly trying to reconcile with him, I eventually gave up and left him so that he could recover on his own.
As an ISFJ myself, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of how he was feeling and what he was trying to do, but his manipulation really threw me off. When I become stressed out, I tend to worry about all the possibilities of things going wrong, which causes me to become hypercritical of whatever it is that’s stressing me out. At those times, I seclude myself from whomever or whatever that stressor is and analyze/rationalize the situation until I feel comfortable enough to return to it.
I guess what I was wondering is, is my friend’s reaction normal amongst the ISFJ community, or is it perhaps--as I feel it is--a result of an underdeveloped or misused Fe? I can often tell that he feels uncomfortable with his emotions and probably tends to repress them quite a bit. This causes him to act more volatile towards others when he becomes frustrated (for example, he can get quite nasty with opposing teams when he plays sports). These actions make me think that he suppresses his Fe usage because of some “Be-A-Man” notion that having and/or expressing feelings will make him less manly (any other male ISFJs feel this way?).
If this is an issue with his Fe, what can I do as a friend to help him? I know how finicky we ISFJs are about our independence and making sure that we are the ones who come to our own conclusions, but if there is any way I can provide some sort of “backstage” support, I would love to be able to do so. Unfortunately, he has no interest in my “personality typing stuff”, as he calls it, so I can’t quite be direct with him in my help or support. This, combined with the fact that his Fe seems to mask his Ti during times of stress or pressure, often places me in some sticky situations with him (he frequently likes to question the worth of our friendship when he gets upset, which really kicks my conflict-avoiding stressor into gear and makes me as antsy as he is).
I feel as though I have almost reached my limit with him in this respect. I really don’t want to end our friendship because I do value it, and when he is fine, we get along really well. One of the most challenging parts about this issue is that often times, there doesn’t appear to be some external source for his stress or frustration; he could wake up one morning and act just as nastily as if someone had punched him in the gut and insulted him. I hate avoiding him when he is like that because my Fe wants to help him (and I’m usually around him anyways), but I have also found out that ignoring his emotional manipulation attempts only seems to make him keep trying. I guess I have just reached my wit’s end trying to figure out what I can do for him.
Can anyone explain what it is that may be causing him to react like this and what I can do to help him (or at least make it through his mini-tantrums alive)? Sorry for the long explanation, but I’d really appreciate any feedback.