INFJs: The Bad, The Good, and the Ineffable

Written by Stephanie Briggs
INFJs have a reputation in the online MBTI world as the personality type that everyone wants to claim as their own. Well, as a bona fide INFJ, I’m here to tell you that it’s not all sunshine and roses. This four-letter label weighs a ton.

The Good

First, let’s review some of the positive qualities that INFJs are known for:

  1. Imagination

When we need a break from the here and now, INFJs can retreat into our rich inner world, using our mind’s eye to conjure up a happy memory or an exciting new fantasy.

  1. X-ray Vision

INFJs’ first impressions are usually accurate, because we see people, perceiving who they really are and what’s there beneath the surface—their fears, desires, motivations, character flaws, gifts, and potential.

  1. Foresight

INFJs intuitively understand how a current situation is likely to develop and play out in the future, what the probable outcomes will be, and what overarching trends are emerging.

  1. Drive

When an INFJ is truly engaged with what we’re doing, we are capable of laser focus, working diligently towards our goal and refusing to give up until our vision is realized.

  1. Natural Counselors

People (sometimes even complete strangers) feel safe opening up to INFJs about their struggles, secrets, and missteps because we listen attentively and respond with compassion even when we don’t agree with their actions.

  1. Inquisitive

Our innate curiosity and openness to different perspectives drives INFJs to question just about everything that others take for granted, and these questions can be a powerful tool for uncovering insight.

  1. Students of Life

INFJs are lifelong learners with a desire to independently seek out and deepen our knowledge of the subjects that interest us, and we tend to grasp new ideas quickly and easily.

  1. Social Radar

Naturally attuned to group dynamics, values, and unspoken social codes, INFJs automatically feel the “vibe” when we walk into a room, and we intuitively understand what kind of behavior is appropriate and expected in a given social context.

  1. Metaphor

INFJs are masters at interpreting the meaning of symbols and imagery in both life and art, and equally adept at employing them for nuanced expression, especially in writing.

  1. Personal Growth

Our self-awareness, high standards, and distaste for the status quo drive INFJs to continuously work at developing and improving ourselves so that we can live up to our potential and fully embody our ideals.

The Bad

Now on to the not so great parts about INFJs:

  1. Perfectionism

The same idealism and concern for quality that drive us to do and be our best can also make INFJs reluctant to share our work with the world until we’ve achieved perfection, and we’re rarely satisfied with what we’ve accomplished.

  1. Self-Criticism

Similarly, the introspection that fosters the famed INFJ self-awareness can often take a negative focus, leading us to criticize ourselves harshly for our imperfections, denying ourselves the compassionate understanding that we show others.

  1. Ungroundedness

INFJs tend to be loosely tethered to physical reality, suffering from clumsiness (“How did I get this bruise?”), spaciness, and a distaste for practical details and tasks.

  1. Sensitivity

Most INFJs are Highly Sensitive People, and this thin skin makes us vulnerable to overstimulation from the environment, and easily hurt by negative feedback from others, which we take to heart.

  1. Slow Processing

INFJs’ ideas and insights often develop slowly in the background, and we need time to process things before reacting, so we’re not the best in situations that call for spontaneity, especially when it comes to expressing ourselves verbally.

  1. Solitude

Though INFJs care deeply about our loved ones and need close relationships, we have a competing need to regularly withdraw into total solitude, which can be inconvenient and hard for others to understand.

  1. Hard-won Trust

INFJs open up very slowly, revealing ourselves one layer at a time, because we need to know someone is safe and trustworthy before we make ourselves vulnerable.

  1. Intensity

The intensity of INFJ love is not for the faint of heart, and we’re constantly being admonished by more carefree types to lighten up and take things less seriously, which is fundamentally contrary to our nature.

  1. One-sided Relationships

INFJs often find that the amount of love and support we give in relationships is not reciprocated, and we can be so focused on the other person that we make a habit of subordinating our needs to theirs, or failing to recognize that we have needs at all.

  1. Alienation

Many INFJs go through life with an awareness of how different we are from the general population, feeling misunderstood, undervalued, and invisible to those around us.

About the author

Stephanie Briggs

Stephanie is a psychology-obsessed writer, singer, and student of life. Connect with her on Twitter for more INFJ musings, in 140 characters or less: @cosmickismet


  • Charity K. says:

    Stephanie, I too am a true INFJ. So glad to read your post. Everything was spot on. People think of us as special when, even though we may slightly feel that way, we also feel so alienated or even cursed at times. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out because NO ONE sees things the way I do. LoL. I would love to stay in contact with you. I constantly thirst to find someone like myself…….have not so far. I really would love to speak to you about your life experiences and trials. Please feel free to email me anytime. Thanks so much!

  • I’m an infj. I’m starting to believe the only people that truly feel we’re special, is ourselves and rather than feeling “cursed” we use the excuse for a reason to alienate beneath our skin. I wish someone would survey “which personality types googles the Myers Briggs the Most”. I bet it’s us because, well, us INFJ’s are the only 3 people on this post.

  • Unbelievable insights. I always felt different and reacted different. Then I took this personality test and I understand why I’m so different.

  • So, a few things:
    I was always really good at physical things (I’ve studied ballet most of my life), so I didn’t connect with that particular negative, but do have bruises that puzzle me almost 100% of the time, so…

    Also, your Twitter handle is “CosmetKismet”: back in the days of AIM (AOL instant messenger), I had various names, including Cosmic Kitten and Kismet Kitten, and my current YT name is Smitten Kitten (I guess I have a kitten theme…) So I thought that was a strange coincidence!

    As an aside, have you ever covered a topic I think a lot of INFJs struggle with; the phenomenon wherein the opposite sex mistakes your “openness” and kindness as flirting? (“Openness” is what they see, but it’s not what is being offered, if that makes sense.) This happens so often that I don’t know how to handle it. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I don’t want to be misunderstood.

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