Relationships - ESFJ

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 40 Comments A+ a-


Hey there, Cafe folks!! Hope everyone is doing well!

What a busy time of year...between school starting up and some major home improvement efforts, time has slipped by all too quickly. My schedule has changed, and while there is a little more free time, there's a lot more to swallow up that free time.

How my hair feels today...
We're also in the midst of a miserable heat wave in central Illinois. Yes, I can hear my hair frizzing. It's hot, muggy, and the pollen count is higher than Cheech & Chong. Stepping out the front door invites an automatic sneeze attack, and medication does more harm than good. One of these days I'm going to travel the world, find a region I'm not violently allergic to, and build a house there :-)

Anyway, today's relationship review is one I'm familiar with. We're taking a look at my hubby's personality type, the supportive and encouraging ESFJ.




Remember Ned Flanders from The Simpsons? Responsible, positive, and annoyingly gifted at following the rules? Yep, that's the ESFJ. These folks are the caregivers of the world, kind and generous to a fault. Let's take a look at their strengths and weaknesses (as listed by Personality Page and my Mass Match hard copy):
  • Warm, friendly, and affirming by nature
  • Service-oriented, want to please others
  • Care intensely about people
  • Put forth a lot of effort to fulfill duties and obligations
  • Generally good at managing money
  • Extreme dislike of conflict and criticism
  • Need a lot of positive affirmation to feel good about themselves
  • Self-sacrificing to the point of neglecting their own needs
  • Have difficulty ending relationships, tend to take the blame for failure
  • Can be controlling and manipulative
  • Moral code tends to be defined by community, rather than internal value system

ESFJ functional stack:
  • Dominant: Extraverted Feeling
  • Auxiliary: Introverted Sensing
  • Tertiary: Extraverted Intuition
  • Inferior: Introverted Thinking

According to Personality Page, the "ESFJ's natural partner is the ISFP, or the INFP. ESFJ's dominant function of Extraverted Feeling is best matched with someone whose dominant function is Introverted Feeling. The ESFJ/ISFP combination is ideal because is shares the common Sensing way of perceiving the world, but the ESFJ/INFP combination is also very good."

And my Mass Match hard copy lays it out like this:
  • Best: ESTJ, ENFP
  • Possible: ISFJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, INFP, ISFP, ISTP, ESFP
  • Least Likely: ESTP, ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP, INFJ, ISTJ

So what does this mean for a friend/lover relationship between an INFJ and an ESFJ?

Lol, the personality gurus don't put much faith in this duo, do they?

Let's go over the obvious PROs: both the INFJ and the ESFJ are warm and generous. They care about people, enjoy serving others, and dislike conflict and criticism. Both types take their personal relationships seriously and put a lot of effort into maintaining them.

This is sooooo my husband!
The CONs? Well, the ESFJ is extraverted and social, needing the presence of others to feel needed and to serve. This can conflict with the INFJ's need for solitude. The ESFJ likes control/structure and following rules, whereas the INFJ is a hugely independent free thinker who needs freedom to choose her own path. The ESFJ also has a tendency to mold his happiness/value system around his community, while the INFJ has a strong internally-based system for happiness and decision-making.

Given all of this, I can definitely see why the experts look at this relationship through the "lens of doom." Let me shed some light of experience on this.

My husband is almost a complete fit to the ESFJ. The only characteristic he doesn't seem to portray is the manipulative aspect--which I would have picked up on when we met and instantly run away from. I'm a fairly typical INFJ. So here are some real-life issues that we deal with:

  •  EMOTION: My husband is a very emotional person. He's thin-skinned, wears his heart on his sleeve, and can take things I say quite personally. Many times his happiness will depend on the opinions and emotional state of people in our household. I'm much the opposite. I have really thick skin (mentally flipping off anyone who disses me), internalize my emotions, and base my happiness on the amount of freedom in my life. These things can (and have) severely clashed during our marriage. He's found himself taking on guilt for my unhappiness, and I've often had to apologize for my natural blunt tendencies that hurt his feelings. The solution for this? We have to spend time APART. I need solitude and freedom in order to recharge and feel good...then I'm able to approach him with the encouragement he needs. He has to get out and be around other people to recharge...then he can come home happy and not depend solely on me for feeding his emotions.
  • RULES: This one is tricky. Like the Ned Flanders of the world, my husband looks outwardly at the community and tries very hard to follow its rules. If he doesn't, the guilt seems to weigh him down. To a degree, I understand this. I like to follow rules as well...when they make sense to me. If they don't, it doesn't bother me at all to break them, bypass them, or completely ignore them. This stresses him out at times, especially when the rules are ones he's put into place, like where to store things or how much money to spend. Speaking of money...
  • MONEY: According to financial expert Dave Ramsey, every couple has a nerd and a free spirit (generally speaking). In our case, my husband's the nerd. He has a tendency to be frugal and controlling with money. He spends according to logic and data. I'm the free spirit type. I spend money emotionally (not always a good thing). I also take into consideration how an item makes me "feel" - if it's authentic, looks good, feels good, or brings me internal satisfaction, I'm less likely to care about the price tag. We've had a number of blow-ups about this. To resolve it, I've started calling him before I consider something pricey when I'm out. We talk it through. He does have a great ability to appeal to my sense of logic, and because my equally adept left and right brains tend to clash, he can help me make decisions. He's great at managing money. I'm not. So communication is key. Which brings me to...
  • COMMUNICATION: Wow, is this one difficult sometimes! When we first met, we had little problem communicating. After the honeymoon period wore off, however, I started realizing that he's a concrete thinker, while I'm very abstract. There's some common ground, and that's usually where we end up meeting. I've found that his data-logic-factual system will confuse and bore me, and my abstract-future-multiple-possibilities leads us off on tangents we don't need to be on. To help with this, my husband will allow me to end the conversation when I can't take it anymore, lol. And I try to validate his feelings when I've inadvertently stepped on them (which happens a lot if we spend too much time together). We're still working on this. It's a constantly evolving process!
  • STRESS: Our marriage isn't a typical one. We have a very high-maintenance special-needs son with a tendency toward aggression and destructive behavior if he doesn't get enough attention. Dealing with this is a serious, stressful, full-time job. I give my husband full credit for taking this on deliberately (we were both single parents when we met) and not running away screaming. Yet. The things we need to make our marriage work are often put on the back burner, just due to the situation we're in. We've managed to make it work, and we're taking steps to find a good group home for our son in order to give him more independence...and us more freedom.

As you can see, the ESFJ and the INFJ are very different types. But that doesn't mean we can't make things work. At the root of everything, I think what helps my husband and I most is that we're friends. When romance goes by the wayside and love is ebbing more than it's flowing, the friendship is there to see us through.

Now that this has become a novel-length post, I think it's time to wrap things up. I know there are other INFJ/ESFJ pairs out there (I've received e-mails from some of you!), so feel free to weigh in on the discussion.

Have a great day, folks. May your humidity be low...and your hair unfrizzy.



40 comments

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Avania
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June 24, 2014 at 5:35 AM delete

Im an INFJ and my hubby is ESFJ too :)

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Anonymous
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July 23, 2014 at 3:49 AM delete

Just saw this post and I agree when you are both busy nurturing the focus is off the relationship and esfj is very helpful. However when you develop your differing interests contention takes over. The control thing is not cool as well especially when you have different parenting styles one controlling and the other advisory oriented.

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Anonymous
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January 15, 2015 at 10:59 AM delete

Hello~

Thank you so much for your wonderful website. It's been very enlightening and fun to read through your posts, and your great writing skill (as an INFJ) does shine through and through!

I am 29 year-old INFJ, currently in a relationship with an ESFJ man. To be honest, there wasn't an initial spark when we first met, but as he made admirable efforts to date me, I started to see the good-natured, fun, and helpful personality of his. The content of this post describes him quite well!

I wanted to seek advise (or wisdom) from older women who have been married to an ESFJ.

My question is, and this is a general one (but anything related to INFJ-ESFJ would be great too), how important is the initial chemistry in having a great, lasting relationship? Also, could anybody weigh in on how to address the "controlling" aspect of ESFJ's mannerisms? I know he means well, but he's not the most classy when it comes to verbal communication; he likes to say, do this, do that.

Thank you ladies!

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Meridian
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January 17, 2015 at 12:12 PM delete

Hi there! Thanks for posting!

I'm really glad you brought this up! Your situation is similar to the way mine started out. When I met my husband, it wasn't love at first sight. No breathless moment, no sudden "wow, this guy is my soulmate" reaction. We met at work, both recruited for the same project, and were basically just coworkers. Then we happened to have a connection outside of work that led to some personal conversation. From that connection, we quickly became friends, and that's when the romance began to blossom. We started dating and later decided to get married and blend our families.

There was a point, before we got married, when I questioned whether our lack of initial spark was a bad thing. I happened to be talking with a friend and joked, "Do you think this wedding seems like a business contract?" She said, "No, I think it's smart. You've built a bond on friendship, and when things get tough, that's what will hold it together. Too many couples fall in love and then fizzle out later. You guys did this the right way."

And I can honestly say that I think she was spot-on. At the core of our relationship, my husband and I are good friends. We balance each other out in important ways. I think that's helped us navigate the rocky waters we've been swimming in for the past eleven years. I've had relationships where the chemistry was instant and I thought that meant true love. Maybe it was, in a way, but it didn't seem to endure the rough spots. My husband and I share a love that's grown out of friendship, respect, and leaning on each other through extreme adversity.

So while we weren't exactly Romeo and Juliet in the beginning, we've made it eleven years and have survived things that are well-known for breaking marriages apart (like caring for a special-needs child). It doesn't matter to me that we didn't fall madly in love when we first met. What matters is that we have a strong backbone as friends and lovers that will carry us into the future. :)

Okay, that was the warm fuzzy part. Regarding the controlling stuff, my two cents is to just communicate. I've told my husband many times that he needs to let me be who I am. Like it or not. I do things my way, and while they might not be as logical or efficient as his, they're comfortable for me and keep me calm. The worst clash we've had on this is our parenting styles. He likes to run a tight ship, and I'm more for advising and encouraging. He likes rules and authority and often expected me to parent using his style. I finally flat-out told him that I can't. I'm extremely uncomfortable with the conflict that comes with military-style parenting, and so I prefer my way of doing things. I would take his advice, I said, and apply it where I could, but he was going to have to let me parent in a way that didn't stress me out.

That's just one example. It's taken a while, but he's finally realized that there are some aspects of my personality he can't change, and that it's unfair to force his methods on me to the point where I'm completely stressed out. And I've learned that he thinks efficiently, is resourceful, and has some great ideas that I should listen to.

My advice would be to communicate your boundaries/preferences and communicate them well (and often, if need be). If you'd prefer him to ask or request instead of telling, make that known. Help him understand which ways you respond well to and which make you uncomfortable (and which are deal-breakers). ESFJs like helping and finding solutions, so I think if you're honest about how his approach makes you feel, he'll be eager to find a way to make things work.

Does this help at all? Sorry for rambling, lol. This is just my perspective based on what I've experienced, so take it with a grain of salt, as they say. I hope you'll come back and share more about your relationship and how it's going!

Best of luck to you <3

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Anonymous
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February 1, 2015 at 12:48 AM delete

I just made a friend recently who is and ESFJ personality, I am the INFJ. I actually find the contrast between our personalities to be refreshing, it's all about balance.

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Meridian
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February 1, 2015 at 10:58 AM delete

Agreed...definitely about balance. Hope your friendship blossoms into everything you want it to be :)

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
February 4, 2015 at 2:39 PM delete

Hi Meridian!

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. Read it a few times to absorb everything. I love your blog!

It's so easy to relate to the things you mention here (although my relationship is just getting off to a start). It's amazing how fast we are able to gather our partner's tendencies and inclinations in a short amount of time.

I've communicated to him about his speaking style, and we're meeting halfway---at least so far it's been successful. He does get discouraged when I point out these clashes in communication styles, so I'm trying to say it more diplomatically and tune down my "critique" part of the brain, which can get too intense :/

And about the initial spark/chemistry! I still have a hard time with this; I just see and read so much about couples breaking up due to not having enough chemistry, sparks being an important aspect of long-term relationship, etc., and it gets easier to get discouraged... Thank you for sharing your experience.

Sometimes, I feel that we're in different hemispheres. His way of affection is words and says a lot of affirming words with regards to my looks, drive, work, etc. I guess I'm much more stingy, inadvertently, with compliments, but I can work on that, too...

Have you checked this podcast out? I recently came across it on my iPhone, and it is a pretty in-dept discussion about INFJ types: http://www.personalityhacker.com/podcast-episode-0034-infj-personality-type-advice/

Have a great day, Meridian! I hope to be back with more ESFJ stories... I've unofficially made this blog my go-to-mentorship... Hope you don't mind! :)


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Anonymous
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February 13, 2015 at 7:55 AM delete

My son married an INFJ. I am an ESFJ. I have such a hard time reaching out to her. She's pretty much decided she has no use for me and it's SO difficult to be around each other. I've tried every way I can to be a friend, but nothing works. My husband and son are both INFPs and they get along with her fine. I don't know what I'm doing wrong or if she'll ever let down her defenses. She's intelligent, hard worker, great mom, creative and artistic, very capable, clever and can be sweetly funny. She's my only daughter-in-law and we never had a daughter. I miss a relationship w her.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
February 14, 2015 at 10:33 AM delete

Hi, and thanks for reaching out. I'm so sorry that you're struggling with your relationship. The IN/ES dynamic can be really tricky between women. For me, an ESFJ female is much more difficult to process than an ESFJ male. ESFJ women are outgoing, talkative, and emotional...all things that can confuse and drain me in a very short period of time. I have one ESFJ acquaintance and though I don't mind talking with her, I have to get away after about twenty minutes or so. It's not her, it's me...my quiet, deep-thinking nature can't keep up with her energy and constant chatter. And I feel her emotions to the point where I become uncomfortable. This can happen with my ESFJ husband, too. I often have to get away to think and recharge.

So don't take it personally (even though that's hard to do). Your daughter-in-law is wired a certain way and needs time and space to build relationships. There's a lot more going on inside her than most people would guess. If you have a moment, check out this short video I found on the internet about caring for INFJs (http://theinfjcafe.blogspot.com/2015/02/video-care-and-feeding-of-infjs.html?showComment=1423927172094#c8402668097044366054). It may help you understand how she thinks and what she needs.

Give her space, but don't give up on her. Just understand her. :)

And if any other INFJs out there have advice or experience with this dynamic, please feel free to comment!

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Anonymous
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April 8, 2015 at 2:30 AM delete

I'm an INFJ and I just found out my mother is an ESFJ, so maybe my experience can be of some help.

We've had quite a lot of problems in our relationship, although it has always been very warm and close. I know without a doubt, that I can always count on her for help and that she will do anything in her power for everyone she loves. I love that about her, but it's overwhelming at times. I feel a strong need to reciprocate, but doing concrete things for others is not my "thing".My kind of help comes by talking deeply with someone and helping them understand themselves better. But that seems to make her uncomfortable or very emotional(witch makes me uncomfortable after a while). So, I often end up strongly feeling her need for just more of my attention basically, and wanting desperately to give it, but being unable to give the kind of attention she longs for. When I'm really stressed or tired, I can sometimes just somehow completely shut her out emotionally because I feel like I can't handle it. And feel really, really guilty about it afterwards.
When I was younger, I mistook her helping, as a lack of trust in my abilities to do things. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I realized she just genuinely loved helping others. It is still hard to decline her help because it hurts her, but I've tried to tell her that I need to be able to make my own decisions and mistakes. She's trying to be ok with that :)
And just being with her and our family(or any people for that matter) for long periods of time drains me, but I stay anyway, because I'm worried she will be hurt by my leaving so early. That being said, I'm so grateful that she organizes all kinds of social gatherings! I'm almost always happy and extremely tired after those :D I'm just sad for my mom, since almost everyone else in our immediate family is an IN, I feel like she often gets disappointed and hurt by our need of space :(

I don't have any clear advise, but the best thing for me and my mom has been short, totally honest and authentic conversations. It took a long time for me to be truly open with her as an adult, but we have even been working together for years now, and it's been absolutely great!

Good luck(and patience) with your daughter-in-law! :)

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Anonymous
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April 13, 2015 at 7:33 PM delete

Hello, Meridian!

Thanks for the wonderful website.

Could you share where you found the "Mass Match" hard copy that you mention above? It sounds like a great and fun resource.

Thanks again!

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Sunny
AUTHOR
April 13, 2015 at 7:43 PM delete

Hi Meridian and readers,

I'm in a relationship with an ESFJ, and I'm wondering if you believe the MBTI's description of ESFJ's being "very loyal" to their families and friends to be accurate. I think most of SJ's in my life are very loyal, my father and one of my best friends being one.

I ask about ESFJ's in specific because as you've described above, ESFJ's get energized by interacting with people and need a lot of social affirmation. I'm wondering if this social (and popular) side of them ever interferes with them being loyal to their loved ones.

Thank you in advance!

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Meridian
AUTHOR
April 16, 2015 at 8:49 AM delete

Hey there! Sure, I'd be happy to share. For the relationship series, I used a couple of resources: personalitypage.com and massmatch.com. Mass Match had a neat summary of all personality types and their best, likely, and least likely matches. So I printed that page off to make it easy for me to type in the information. I don't know if the information can still be found on their website (my hard copy is probably a couple of years old now), but feel free to look them up. They're a dating/matchmaking service, and if they're basing their work on MBTI types, I'm sure they're getting some really awesome results.

Let me know if you need anything else!

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Meridian
AUTHOR
April 16, 2015 at 9:08 AM delete

Hi, Sunny. I've been married to my ESFJ hubby for almost twelve years, and he is extremely loyal to me and our family. Granted, we don't socialize much due to a restrictive lifestyle (we tag-team to care for a special-needs child), so I haven't really experienced him in full-out service mode.

But he loves helping others and the feeling it gives him when those people appreciate him. I think he needs more of that and am looking forward to the time when he's able to engage in it. I really don't think he'll put that part of his life above me or our family. He's as serious about helping us as he is other people. If I ever did feel left out, I know I could talk to him about it, and he would make an effort to spend more time with me. He'd probably be very pleased that I asked!

I think a lot of this is about balance. ESFJs need affirmation, and INFJs (as far as I can tell) aren't naturally given to providing that all the time. So if an ESFJ isn't feeling very appreciated at home, he might gravitate more toward the areas of life that give him that. An INFJ who is aware of this potential trouble spot will probably gain a lot by giving her ESFJ partner the attention he needs to keep things balanced.

Hope this helps a little...thanks for reaching out!

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Anonymous
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July 13, 2015 at 8:50 PM delete

I am an ESFJ and hubby is INFJ. We are constantly working on our marriage but stress seems to be the root cause of many of our arguments. I stay home to care for our toddler and newborn, and my husband works full time, while in law school. He takes on a lot! I do what I can to help ease his burden but at the end of the day of caring for two dependent children there's only so much more I can do before I burn out. Do you have any advice on how we should handle our stress? When we don't have much on our plate, we seem to do great. But when we're overwhelmed he's constantly at me.

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Meridian
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July 14, 2015 at 9:14 AM delete

Wow, it sounds like you have a lot going on in your life. I can understand why the two of you, as a couple, often feel overwhelmed. Hubby and I deal with a lot of stress in our lives as well, especially when our needs are going unmet. I need a lot of solitude and he needs lots of positive interaction...and when we're stressed, those needs sort of cancel each other out. It is not always easy to stay balanced as a couple.

For my ESFJ hubby, having friends helps. We're sort of secluded at home, so he has to get this at work. He tries to get a lot of interaction there so that he's not asking for that from me all the time. For me, it's a little more difficult. I never get enough solitude. So I'm usually more stressed than he is. I try to offset that by exercising and getting up early (our house is pretty quiet on summer mornings).

Not sure what you mean by "he's constantly at me." Maybe being critical? When I'm stressed out and can't get away from it, I tend to pick at people. I'm pretty sure this is an INFJ defense mechanism designed to push people away so that we can be alone. The more overwhelmed we are, the worse it gets. Communication helps...when I'm feeling nit-picky, I'll ask my husband to watch our son so I can take a bath or go for a walk. He almost always agrees, since he knows it will relax me and make me more open to interacting with him amicably later.

I wish I had more advice on this. The best solution would be to eliminate the major sources of stress, but that's not always possible. Communicating with each other and reaching out to other people for help/support might be a good start.

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Kary Smith
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July 17, 2015 at 12:42 AM delete

Are ESFJ'S shallow or are they just content to love us just the way we are without the need for deep conversation about who we are underneath it all. I'm crazy about my guy but he doesn't probe. My biggest fear is that this type is shallow and self centered. We're extremely compatible with tons of chemistry but I am deep and I want to share my inner world and he's more focused on logic and practical matters. Otherwise we have a very warm, caring, loving relationship that is intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally stimulating and overflowing with physical chemistry. It just seems like he's Spock and I'm Deanna Troi. The half human /half vulcan and the empath. Alike in so many ways but opposite in a few key areas.

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Meridian
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July 17, 2015 at 7:25 AM delete

Hi, Kary! You pose a really good question. I have the same problem with my ESFJ hubby in that he's very outwardly focused and rarely asks how me how I feel about issues. When I bring up deep or sensitive topics with him, he definitely engages, but I often feel that his responses are more a reflection of what he's been taught than what he might truly believe. I don't think ESFJs are into as much soul-searching and internal speculation as INFJs. They give us a lot of that awesome extraverted love (which we need), but don't always satisfy our longing for a more introverted understanding.

And this is the second comment along these lines that I've received over the past couple of weeks, so I'm going to write a post about it. Thanks so much for the inspiration! :)

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blonderj
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July 18, 2015 at 5:07 AM delete

I am an ESFJ who was raised by intuitives and married an INTP. I feel I am far more balanced than the normal ESFJ, and I probe, probe, probe - too much!

My deepest, closest, clingiest, worst, best, and all around most complicated besties were INFJs. We are magnets to each other. I can pick 'em out of a crowd, and they come bounding to bond with me. It's uncanny.

I adore them for what they are, and for their depth and passionate loyalty. And every single one of them tells me that I truly get them at their core.

However, I have had toxic INFJs who clung to me like parasites - and I clung back! - and we fed each other's deep feely egos. That wasn't a good match.

My current best friend is INFJ, and she and I still sometimes need to back off and make sure we don't consume the other person's life (Haha!) but she's amazing. I love her dearly. I'd never marry an INFJ, because the universe would explode, I think. Talk about obsession! I need my stable INTP instead. But they sure are amazing. I think an ESFJ/INFJ relationship is an amazing thing. :-)

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blonderj
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July 18, 2015 at 5:08 AM delete

That must only be a man thing. We ESFJ women love to plumb the depths of people. :-D

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Meridian
AUTHOR
July 18, 2015 at 8:04 AM delete

Thanks for your comments...I love the insight you shared on the ESFJ/INFJ bond. And I agree that gender plays a role, along with experience and childhood influences. Being raised by intuitives probably went a long way in helping you develop such a balanced perspective. It's no wonder INFJs are so drawn to you. :)

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Anonymous
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August 10, 2015 at 3:25 PM delete

I felt really compelled to comment since I've just broken up with my ESFJ boyfriend :( I'll try my best to explain clearly what I think I understand after having been in a relationship with an ESFJ male.

I know 100% what you mean by "not probing enough." I think INFJ and ESFJ are almost on the opposite spectrum on this. However, ESFJs are usually very intelligent and willing to listen as long as you present the ideas clearly. The times I ran into conflict with my ESFJ man was when my "probing" was directed at his ways of living, working, interacting with others. I was in no way trying to get mad at him; I was genuinely curious about how he functions psychologically so I would ask, but my questions came off like "attacks," as he called them. I am learning to talk a lot more softly about issues and questions now. It's something I'd like to work on anyway. I personally grew in a family where ideas and questions could be thrown in all directions without really offending anybody. ESFJs get offended very easily, so as long as you are aware of that, I think they can add a lot of insight into the things you are questing.

Also, I think it's too much to as a boyfriend to really fulfill you on every need of yours. Just because ESFJs need a LOT of affirmation, it doesn't mean that we INFJ can or should give it 100% while draining ourselves. Similarly, we can want to engage in really deep conversations, but we have others to do that with, too. As long as you're okay with dividing up the needs to seek from many other people, I think it'll be okay!

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Anonymous
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August 24, 2015 at 11:16 AM delete

I am an ESFJ and my bf is an ISFJ.

We seem to have trouble with decision making. Like I think aloud and list out many options. Sometimes after making a decision I might still be thinking and suggesting again. This makes my bf really agitated and frustrated that we cant make a decision properly.

How do INFJs make decisions generally?

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Anonymous
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January 9, 2016 at 1:30 AM delete

Im INFJ and my bestie is ESFJ. we got along like bang and we gossip and stalk on facebook and we play like how girl besties are supposed to be.

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Anonymous
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January 14, 2016 at 9:56 PM delete

I'm an INFJ and my husband is an ESFJ. The worst part about being with him is his Over reaction when any disagreement comes up, and he gets insulting with his comments. He had a lousy childhood and admits to be super sensitive. I am too, but I don't go into slicing and dicing the way he does. I think he does this on the defensive, even though I am just trying to sort things out. Do you have this experience with your ESFJ? It's really troublesome.

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Anonymous
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January 14, 2016 at 9:59 PM delete

Thank you. I just wrote about how easily offended my ESFJ is. I hate that about his personality. I, like you, just try to get at the problem, try to look for solutions, understanding.. he takes it as criticism, personal criticism! Then, he gets very nasty and insulting. A complete drag.

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Meridian
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January 15, 2016 at 9:15 AM delete

My ESFJ hubby is sensitive, too, and will sometimes overreact during disagreements. I think it's partly a control issue for him--he grew up without a father around and had to be man of the house. So he gets upset when things don't go his way. He can be critical when he's feeling defensive, but he's rarely insulting. If he does start down that path, though, I tell him we need to take a break and talk later. It's much easier to be civil after you've had a chance to cool off and think things through.

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Anonymous
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February 3, 2016 at 12:26 AM delete

I'm an ESFJ and my husband is an INFJ. We've been married almost 11 years, and started researching our personality types yesterday at the direction of our marriage therapist. I've felt like such a failure to be in marriage therapy, but it's so easy to see why we have so many struggles as I read everybody else's comments! I'd like to think I'm not shallow, but I know I'm not nearly as deep thinking as he is. I'm definitely more interested in people and social interaction than he is. My biggest hangup with him is his intense idealism. I totally understood the comment from last year from the young mother whose INFJ husband is in law school. She said the stress is getting to them and he is "at her" all the time. (Fun fact: my INFJ is an attorney. We met and got married when he was in law school.) I think our personality differences are harder on him than me, and bother him more as well. This in and of itself causes stress, which I take personally and feel "attacked" by. He has impossible standards (to me anyway) for himself, and expects those same standards from me, which often leads to conflict as well (which I fiercely abhor), and me taking it personally.

Our other big hangup is that we haven't really figured out how to balance the social needs thing. I definitely would make plans a lot more often, but he really struggles with understanding why I would WANT to be away from him or our toddler daughter, like it's a seriously selfish flaw. I got a boost when our daughter was born and I had time with her during the day that I could get together with friends to grocery shop or go for walks, or have play dates for the kids. I always feel like I have to sneak these things in though, and can only do them when he's at work. He is never down with me spending time with friends at night or on the weekends, and I'm often envious of my friends who do have that ability. Do you have any advice for me or him in balancing this more? Or would you think this has less to do with personality types and more to do with other factors (upbringing, etc.)?

Thanks for your blog - it's an awesome resource!

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Meridian
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February 3, 2016 at 8:15 AM delete

Hello there! I read through your comment several times and talked with my hubby about it (he's working from home today). We've been married about twelve years and have run into similar issues. Let me see if I can cover this without writing a novel. :)

Please don't feel like a failure for being in marriage therapy. Marriage is hard work for any couple, and certain MBTI combinations are going to struggle more than others. Getting therapy shows that you cherish your relationship and want to improve it instead of letting it slide. Kudos for being proactive!

And thumbs up to your therapist for suggesting that you learn your personality types. Understanding the nuances of your functional preferences is, in my opinion, vital to a relationship. I'll go a step further and say it's incredibly vital for an INFJ. One thing I've discovered in the few years this blog has been up is that an INFJ who doesn't actually KNOW they're an INFJ is destined for a rocky path. We have some pretty intense quirks (idealism, perfectionism, high expectations) that can hurt a relationship if we don't understand them. Male INFJs are quite rare, and I believe it's critical that they know how they operate (and how that works in relation to other personality types).

As far as needs, yours aren't selfish at all. You're an ESFJ and you need interaction to recharge, just as he needs alone time to recharge. Balancing this? Hmm, that's tricky. There has to be a mutual understanding of how you both recharge, before you can restructure your schedule to make it work.

Here's how we do it: my ESFJ hubby gets most of his social needs met at work. He's a business analyst and talks with people throughout the day. Would he enjoy more? When I asked him, he said yes. He gains energy through interactions, and the idea of occasionally going out with friends appeals to him. Until recently, our lifestyle hasn't allowed for social outings, so he says he gets it where he can. Grocery shopping, for example. I detest it, but he loves it. He greets people with a smile, says good morning, makes comments, gets into conversations, etc. He'd love more social outings.

Me, on the other hand...I stay at home by myself. My kids have all moved out, and I'm sort of in hermit heaven, lol. I get energy through solitude, and it's awesome. What's nice about my situation is that during the day, I get solitude and hubby gets social interaction. By the time he gets home from work, I'm charged up enough to talk with him, and he's charged up enough to be okay with staying home with me. We do plan to evolve our marriage into being out more with people...I guess my point is that by knowing our MBTI types, we understand each other's energy needs and have adjusted our lifestyles to accommodate them.

Omg, I'm getting into a novel here, aren't I? Sorry, lol. Let me sum up. I think you're on the right track. Your husband, by finding out how INFJs operate, is hopefully going to start understanding how he (and you) get your energy. He will learn that for him, interaction is costly and for you, interaction is critical. Understanding this, I hope, will allow him to see that your need to get out isn't at all selfish...it's completely natural. Conversely, you will learn that his expectations and idealism are deeply rooted in his personality type and aren't tied to your behavior or accomplishments. (I've struggled to adapt to this part of myself...most INFJs do...check out my Dark Side series if you want to learn more, specifically "Dark Side: Great Expectations" posted in December 2015).

My main point: knowing your types will help you balance your needs naturally, allowing you to evolve your relationship into a place where those needs are met freely and without resentment.

I hope this helps…wish we could sit and chat over coffee!! Feel free to respond, and you can always reach me through my Contact form for a more in-depth conversation via e-mail.

Take care,
M.

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Anonymous
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July 12, 2016 at 10:14 AM delete

My wife’s an ESFJ (I think), while I’m an INFJ (with INTJ tendencies). I find that we compliment each other very well in many ways. I look at the big picture and dream, while she worries about day-to-day details. She supports me when I have to be more sociable than I'd prefer (we have the same employer, so I rely on her extroversion regularly) and I in turn listen (a lot!) to her. We both highly value harmony, and so we tend to deal with conflict quickly, not letting it simmer. We’re both relatively organized and affectionate, and we’re both careful with money, although for different reasons (she from a position of financial caution growing out a family history of deprivation and me out of a general apathy toward material goods). Her concern for material realities has helped me to better care for “stuff” (and to dress much better than when I was single!), while my concern for deeper ideals helps her reflect on life’s meaning.

The challenges have been that she is highly dependent on her family and social network for making decisions, while I intuit the “right” answers to questions. When big decisions come along, like jobs, moving, etc., it’s tough when her family and social network say one thing but my intuition tells me something else. That happened recently, but I ended up giving in because her position made logical sense, especially financially. Likewise, we spend way more time doing social activities (especially shopping) than I used to do when I was alone. I’m still figuring out a balance, because I find myself reading much less than I used to, which drives me a little crazy sometimes. But we’re finding solutions, including reading out loud together. I think that when I move to a job that plays to my strengths (I work in a clerical position right now. The work bores me, but it's for a nonprofit, so I see value in it. I'd prefer to be teaching, though, especially at university), I will meet many of my intellectual needs as a part of my work, rather than having to rely on personal time for meeting both those needs and relational ones.

Regarding communication, some of the things she seems to need to express seem pointless to me, while much of what I express seems overly complex and theoretical to her. I see myriad possibilities where she wants concrete clarity. We don’t have a lot of profound intellectual conversations, which is probably the only thing I really wish our relationship had that it doesn’t. I’m learning to communicate in a more concrete manner and to explicitly express the things that I intuit automatically but rarely mention in conversation, while I think she’s learning to reason more abstractly and to reflect on the large themes and ideas behind the real world she experiences.

Like any relationship, we’re on a journey together. Most of it’s been really good so far (we’ve been married for 1.5 years, but we dated for 6 years before that). We have an added challenge in that we’re from different cultures, and we speak different native languages (I’m fluent in Spanish but learned as an adult, while she’s quickly becoming fluent in English). As in all relationships, patience and good will have been key to us being happy together most of the time. There are challenges, but that’s true with all relationships. Overall, I'm really happy with her.

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Jennie Liang
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July 18, 2016 at 12:51 AM delete

This was a good thing to read. I've been trying to understand my ESFJ mother-in-law as an INFJ so that I can better support my ENFP husband in his relationship with her and it... is... killing me. I noticed the one big difference between your situation and mine (besides the obvious) was the manipulative part. My mother-in-law is manipulative in the absolute worst of ways. She's not only obviously manipulative, but she's also passive aggressively manipulative. To make it even harder, she comes from a culture where tradition is highly valued and saving face is extremely important, which is based on tradition. So she's basically been validated 100% her entire life. That and I don't feel like she has tried very much at all to understand me and my life choices. I don't force my choices on her, why does she insist on forcing hers on me? I'm not even asking her to understand me, but simply respecting me and my opinion would be nice.

And for as much as I'd love to run away due to the manipulation, I don't have that choice. But I'm still doing my best. I mean, if you're an INFJ married to an ESFJ, that gives me hope that maybe one day she and I can be kind of friends. Maybe? *sigh*

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martha
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August 16, 2016 at 5:32 PM delete

Hi, everybody! I apologize in advance for my bad English. I'm an italian girl, Infj, and I would like to answer to the question posted by Sunny in the april 2015. She asked if the social (and popular) side of ESFJs ever interferes with them being loyal to their loved ones. By my eperience the answer is yes, depending on the circumstances.
My ex Esfj lives in a little town in Spain and since he was 20 years old spend all his time with the same group of friends, that is a very closed group, composed by the same people of 15 years ago, that were in many relationships with each other, until in the last years they formed stable couples. And he remained the only single. Actually he never had had a real girlfriend, till he moved to Italy for a master and met me. It was a fantastic relationship, I liked his histrionic side, his curiosity about my way to see the world, his ability to support me in every thing; in spite of the difference of temperament we have similar opinion about almost every thing. But all this chemestry ended when we went last summer to visit their parents and - first of all! - their friends. The alfa female of the group didn't approved me at the first meeting, and obviously showd her hostility. He tried to defend the alfa female and blamed me. He became nervous and censorious towards me in the net days. In short, we broke down in the first week of holidays. I was devasteted, I felt like everything had happened was unreal.
Answering the question I can say that the best qualities of an Enfj can turn in his worse flaws if the circumstances are negative. We all have a need of acceptance, included the INFJs (I think that the raison because we appear like very independent people is that we have a so unusual personality, and we are so much aware of it, that we simply ignore the opinion of the rest of the world, branded like not able to understand us), and for everybody this need of acceptance is caused by the same personal insecurity. For an Enfj, that’s one of the most common personalities and that’s by his caracter naturally talented at please people is fundamental to stay inside the majority. If in his life he doesn’t meet this majority, or if this majority is a family that loves him and wants his happiness and let him free, can grow up like an indipendent person. My ex boyfriend is prisoner of a family of about twenty people that don’t love him or love him in a superficial way, that will not allow him to improve his life if it collides with their strenghtened positions and rules And he can’t go away, because without he would feel wiped out. The proof of it is that as soon as he changed environment he found – at the age of 33 years old – his first girlfriend, and lose her as soon as he came back.
I would like to know your opinion about the experience I had. And thank you Meridian for your beautiful blog!

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Meridian
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August 17, 2016 at 10:17 AM delete

You're welcome...thank you for sharing your insights!

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win7ers
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December 15, 2016 at 10:28 AM delete

I have a friend that has been in my life for about a year, and it is very refreshing to have someone make you laugh and experience life. However, I do not know how to balance this relationship. I am overwhelmed at times from the neediness, and it causes me to isolate myself and ignore her. I find it very exhausting at times. Our kids love hanging out together, and I am always trying to maintain harmony in this friendship. Words go straight into her soul, and cause the crazy to come out from 0-60 in 2 seconds. She is highly manipulative, but so charismatic that I often ignore it. She is an ESFJ and I am an INFJ. Any suggestions?

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Unknown
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April 1, 2017 at 7:45 AM delete

I am a 58 year old INFJ who just found out he is an INFJ. 30 years of marriage to an ESFJ. I am feeling both elated at knowing my type and crushed to now know why I have felt so unfulfilled all these years.

I have just started seeing a counselor for me. Trying to deal with issues from my past that now seem to be bubbling to the surface as my brain ages. It has been two days since learning I was an INFJ and it has been the most freeing two days. I am not broken!!

What I wanted to add to your site is that I never get a chance to recharge as much as I would like to. My wife and I do just about everything together. We have one car and drive to and from work together, we grocery shop, run errands, everything together.

I was wondering why I like to be up early in the morning all the time, even on weekends (we are empty nesters now). It is because I need the solitude! I am going to get us to work on being apart more so that I can get what I need.

She, of course, needs her time with people. I encourage that as much as possible but she gets concerned because I do not consider the male members of our couples circle my friends. They are not. So she tries very hard, sometimes way too much to try to include me with them. I need to find the balance with that. So we are going to work on it.

Here is one thing that I would love to get some feed back from ESFJ's: In a social situation where INFJ's are engaged in a conversation with someone and you ESFJ's physically approach do you find it necessary to be included in the conversation? I would prefer not but my wife will engage, basically interupt, and even physically put herself between me and the other person, effectively shutting me out. I usually just walk away at that point.

Any thoughts on that?

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Meridian
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April 4, 2017 at 12:33 PM delete

Hey there!

I ran this by my ESFJ hubby, who said that yes, he HAS to be included in the conversation. If he comes up while I'm talking with someone, and he gets the urge to contribute, he always does. He can't help himself. He said that he's afraid if he doesn't say it right then and there, he'll forget about it and feel bad that he didn't mention it. It's the same reason he interrupts me (look, a squirrel!) when I'm talking. His extraverted intuition sees everything, so his focus is sometimes like a moving target. :)

I'm super glad that you're getting counseling. The needs of an INFJ are complex...and very different from the needs of an ESFJ. All relationships require love and patience, and this is especially important for the INFJ/ESFJ duo. On top of that, INFJ males are rare. You are precious and need lots of understanding and TLC as you embark on this journey of self-discovery.

Best of luck to you!! :)

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Unknown
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June 16, 2017 at 7:16 AM delete

I am a gay, 22 y.o. male INFJ and my ex boyfriend is a 23 y.o. ESFJ. We have been broken up for exactly 60 days now as I initiated our final breakup this past Easter. (We dated a little over 2.5 years and during that time I initiated 2-3 other breakups between us but we always talked it through-us both being harmonizers.) I agree completely with previous posters of this personality dynamic. I believe this pair can be powerful or doomed. When I first initiated this past final breakup, I thought it was the right thing to do. A) Because I couldn't keep doing this to him. And B) For myself, I needed to figure out what I am doing in my life..what I want. Etc. I cant remember where I read this but it seems like a common enough trend that if this pair breaks up, its usually the ESFJ that doesn't see it coming. My experience was no different. Each time I told him we needed to take a break/split up he was always “caught off guard”. He basically said at least once that he didn't see it coming, and I had to question him in all seriousness, really? Obviously our communication was not where it needed to be. I think a large part was due to me feeling unfulfilled in our relationship and my high expectations of myself as well as my partner.. I moved states after completing school in order to make this relationship work and for us to build a life together and in doing so I left my family, and and only close best friend of 10 years (an ENFP female). I isolated myself with him for the most part. When it came to getting my more intense social needs met, he wasn't able to or didn't take enough interest in my abstract way of intellect. I remember being so desperate to get him to reach me on a deeper abstract level of thinking and he'd pass it off saying he was too tired, or that he didn't understand. I then took that as him not being interested or him essentially saying I wasn't a good communicator because I was a introvert. This infuriated me.

Sorry, I know I'm rambling. I’m pulling an all-nighter and its now 5:30 AM.

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Unknown
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June 16, 2017 at 7:17 AM delete

I don't mean to drag ESFJ’s. I know they can be hugely beneficial for an INFJ as well. My ex and I were just in a very unhealthy and stressful situation for the past 12 months that we lived together. He was a full time student (his final year of University for baking/pastry and business degree.) He was also working bakers hours a few days a week at a cafe i.e. had to be at work at 4 AM, then do school, then study/homework, then spend time with me. I might also mention here that he would unwind every night or afternoon by having a drink. Don't want to say he was an alcoholic but sometimes it just seemed excessive? I on the other hand was working a retail sales job in cosmetics. I worked 5 days a week from 10-7 paid a competitive hourly wage as an esthetician waxing brows + tips….making pretty decent money for what the job was. Not sure if thats a good fit for INFJ’s but there were aspects of it I definitely liked….And ones I definitely loathed. Anyway while he was in school I was the money maker, helped keep our monthly bills afloat until he was able to pay me back (right before the next bill was due). We had many and huuuuuge fights about money since him being an ESFJ was the practical one with money yet for the time being, he wasn't making much since school was his main focus. While I was making pretty great money, getting our bills paid first and foremost, keeping us afloat. But also spending the rest lavishly on nice things we honestly did not need…writing this down now I can see this is such an unfortunate and toxic combo.

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June 16, 2017 at 7:17 AM delete

A huge benefit of us I appreciate and miss is what is his personality did for me. His extroverted side exposed me to many friends I would of otherwise not met. He brought me out of my shell and I believe this contrast of me initially preferring introverted intuition is what helped me slowly grow and become a more well rounded INFJ. I cant say for sure since the relationship obviously failed..but I hope I did the same for him while it lasted. I also admire his practical way of thinking and know his motives of being practical were for us to save money for building a better future for the both of us. Not because he was jealous and didn't want me to spend money. If he were the one making money at the time, I'm sure he would of done that for us. ESFJ’s are selfless givers and providers, and I regret forgetting that aspect about them. I also love that he wasn't opposed to speaking up for me. I HATE conflict or just even making others feel uncomfortable. So in turn i find it hard to tell people no for example. He being a big strong ESFJ knew this, and would tell those people no for me. I appreciated that :) I also agree with the comment someone said about when the romance and honeymoon phase seems to end, and ESFJ and INFJ will still have their bond of friendship. At times it felt me and my ex were more good roommates than romantic partners..thats a great thing but being an INFJ that tends to overthink things, i started to doubt our relationships stability and if it was true without being romantic…….not meeting my “ideal” view of a relationship. blah blah. & then ending it.

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Anonymous
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July 10, 2017 at 2:03 AM delete

I wish I'd been as wise as you. I'm an INFJ and he's an ESFJ. We've been married for 24 years and a total of 23 have been almost entirely miserable for me - and he's oblivious to that fact. Unfortunately, I'm disabled and dependent upon him with no other options.

Kudos for making the right choice for you early on! Best of luck.

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