The INFJ and Lost Souls

the bartender“Hey, Hank.  How are things?”

“Can’t complain, the bar is busy, the weather’s fine.  It’s all good.  What about you?  What’ll ya have?”

“The dark stuff.  Thanks.”

Hank filled a pint, stopping just before the foam spilled.  He placed the beer in front of Joe.  “Last time you were in here, it was Jack on the rocks.  Did you figure things out with the woman?”

Joe laughed.  “I’m still working on that.  In the meantime, I gotta ask you – seeing’s how you’re the expert – about my sister.”


“Hmm….  I’m no expert, but I’ll give it a shot.  I don’t think I’ve met your sister.”

“Nah.  She keeps to herself.  She’s been burned a couple times, so she keeps a low profile.”

Hank wiped a spot on the bar.  “Give me the details.”

Joe takes a long drink and puts down his glass.  “I’m worried about her.  She seems to attract lost souls or something.  Every guy she’s been with has had issues.”

Hank laughed.  “Well, it’s fair to say that we all have issues.”

Joe said, “Oh, yeah.  I know.  But the guys she attracts are lost.  I mean it’s like she has this magnet in her back pocket.  It’s like she collects ’em.  Oh she doesn’t seek ’em out, but they find her.  It’s weird.  And then it’s like she’s too damn nice to tell ’em to get lost.  I don’t get it.  Why put up with that crap?”


Hank rubbed his chin.  “Tell me more.  What’s she like when you interact with her?”

“She’s my sister.  What do ya mean?”

Hank said, “I know, but describe her.  Is she flighty and outgoing or is she intense and introverted?”

Joe thought for a minute and said, “Well, she’s pretty much the definition of intense – eye contact is something that comes to mind.  When you talk to her, she looks at you, and she has a way of making you feel that she’s really listening.  She clicks with folks, but she’s definitely not an extrovert.  She’s kinda like the family counselor.  Everyone goes to her with their problems.”

Hank laughed.  “Do you know anything about Myers Briggs Personality Types?  I bet, just from the little you’ve told me, that she’s and IN…”

Joe interrupted.  “Yes.  She’s always mentioning something about INFJ.  What does that mean?”

“I knew it.  That’s her personality type.  She’s a counselor, and I don’t mean by vocation.  That’s the role she’ll often play in the lives of others.  Folks are drawn to her – especially folks who are lost or struggling.  They find comfort in her company.  She’s a port in their storm.  She listens and lightens their burdens.  That’s an INFJ for ya.”


Joe pushed his glass across the bar.  “Well, that may be, but she’s often in a situation where a guy will take advantage of her, and she’s too damn nice to the creep.”

Hank reached for the empty glass.  “Throughout history, INFJs have been quick to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others.  It’s how they are wired.  They avoid conflict like it’s the plague, so it isn’t instinctual for them to shun someone, even if it means they need to for self-preservation.  They actually believe that with their depth of caring, desire to help, patience and understanding, they have a chance at saving this lost soul, even if there isn’t a chance in hell.  It’s like they have a calling to help the lost ones.  You can’t expect her to play the role of the bitch in order to get rid of a creep.  It isn’t in her.  She’ll do whatever she can to protect others – say her kids, if she has ’em – but she’ll seldom give a thought to protecting herself.”

Joe reached for his filled glass.  “Crap.  Then there’s really little I can do for her.  Right?  I mean, it’s not like I can scare off every lost soul that crosses her path.”

Hank reached for a wine glass to fill an order.  “True.  But an evolved INFJ will see her own tendencies.  That’s probably why she stays close to home.  She knows she sends out a signal, and the best way she can protect herself is to stay close to her sanctuary.  Evolved INFJs will establish boundaries, but lost souls don’t usually recognize boundaries, even if the boundaries are stated clearly.  Don’t expect her to suddenly wake up one day and stop being nice or caring.  It’s not gonna happen.  Not even with the creeps.”

Joe took a sip.  “So what can I do?”

Hank reached for a wine bottle.  “Understand her.  See her for the counselor/helper that she is, and appreciate her efforts.  Believe her when she says that she didn’t seek out those creeps.  And above all, don’t introduce her to any of your loser friends.”

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  1. You are reading my mind again, sister INFJ.

  2. There’s a take on this (phrased in terms of behavioural economics) that I read a couple of years ago which really stuck with me:

    – A person who is a “realistic cooperator” assumes most people are good, and we benefit from cooperation. If they meet a non-cooperator (such as a narcissist), they may get burned once or twice, but then they decide to keep their distance from this person. i.e. establish boundaries.
    – The non-cooperator assumes it’s a dog-eat-dog world. They may cooperate temporarily, but generally they take the attitude of “I’d better look after myself before the other guy screws me”. This has a self-fulfilling effect, since after a few times the realistic cooperators realise the narcissist can’t be trusted, and put up their defences.
    – The unrealistic cooperator (UC) continues to believe that cooperation is always the best approach, even when burned repeatedly by the narcissist. He/she believes unrealistically that the narcissists behaviour will change. The narcissist has hit the jackpot when they find the UC. Hence UCs attract narcissists like honey for flies.

  3. M,

    Thank you for that. Wow.

    I have to say that I’ve been turning off the UC path and veering toward the realistic cooperator path for awhile now. Just wish I could figure out how to quit attracting ’em.

  4. You need to learn ‘resting bitch face’ on command. Lol

  5. Z,

    This made me really laugh. Then I read it to the kids. They exchanged glances. I think they would tell you that I’ve mastered the ‘resting bitch face’ but now I may wanna take it out for a test drive in public!

  6. Heehee! Make sure Gladys gives a report over cherry pie!

  7. Z,

    As you wish! (This’ll be fun!)

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