The INFP and Relationships (or lack thereof).

If there is one thing I dread more than anything it is the inevitable relationship status questioning that surfaces whenever you meet someone new. One guy I met recently asked if I was seeing anyone and when greeted by the word ‘no’, he pulled a mock sad face and soothed ‘don’t worry, you’ll find someone’. And I realised that what I hate most about people asking this question is that nobody ever says ‘thank you for relaying that piece of information which I asked of you. Would you be interested in some pie?’ No. The knee-jerk reaction is always to comfort me, as if I am in mourning for this non-existent human, or I’ve lost him like one might lose a job.

‘I am sorry for your loss, but he’s at peace now. It’ll be a long process but eventually you will begin to feel normal again.’; ‘don’t worry, other jobs will come along’.

And rather hypocritically, I also can’t stand the response ‘Enjoy being single whilst you’re young.’ Now I don’t care about being single, but I can’t really see any benefits to it. It’s just a status. And what is a partner, anyway? They’re a friend, basically, but one you love romantically. So that’s like saying ‘enjoy having no friends whilst your young’. It makes no fucking sense. And what if I become old and suddenly realise I am single? Should I stop enjoying myself? Is it somehow looked down on to be single and old? What are you trying to tell me exactly? Because from where I’m standing, it just seems like you’re filling the awkward silence which could have been avoided by not asking about my love life in the first place. Maybe you could have waited for me to say, ‘my partner blah blah blah’ or whatever. Ideally, you could just not really care about other people’s love lives until they enter into your own life, which is the position I take.

Occasionally, or not so occasionally, I’ll be asked ‘well, why don’t you have a boyfriend?’ which is kind of like asking somebody ‘well, why haven’t you won the lottery?’ It seems to be that people’s idea of relationships is completely different to my own. It’s as if I can go down to the local boyfriend shop and pick one out. ‘Why haven’t you got one? It’s so easy!’ Perhaps more than anything the ‘why don’t you have a boyfriend?’ question is the most insulting. What answer are you expecting?

I am physically unattractive. My body shape resembles a toffee apple. I spit like a camel at prospective mates. My swastika badge puts them off. My cat is my boyfriend. I have a fear of commitment. Sometimes if I can’t think of anything to say, I ask them if they would like to sniff my elbow. I’m waiting for Alan Rickman to marry me.

Really, what do you want?! Sometimes I’ll even get follow ups on that question. ‘Why don’t you have a boyfriend? You have wonderful galoshes.’ (I think the statement was more geared towards a facial feature, but I’ve forgotten which.) It’s especially awkward when you get the ‘Oh I bet you have guys falling over themselves to meet you!’ Apparently, a quick, sharp, expressionless ‘no’ was not the answer this person was looking for.

This is where the INFP falls down. In answering these ridiculous questions we try to be honest. I usually plump for the rather fallacious ‘I haven’t met anyone I really like.’ but that only encourages your friend/family member to find you someone. No, no, no. Don’t you understand that my choice in partner is not based on how attractive they are or how good their job is or the fact that they once built a schoolhouse in Peru? It is a personal thing, a thing based on personality. Chemistry. You wouldn’t use a banana to figure out if two magnets attract or repel each other, so keep your opinions to yourself. ‘Oh, but you’d make a really cute couple!’ What you want, my friend, is to create a pair which appear to match. I suggest you take this out on my sock drawer.

‘Why don’t you like him? He’s hot.’ a friend said to me once. Can we just clarify that being good looking and being attractive are not the same thing? Attraction is subjective. I have found countless men attractive who once upon a time physically repulsed me. I am not even lying.

And then I stumbled upon that old INFP chesnut. ‘INFPs are not realistic when it comes to love.’ This statement is usually followed by the supposition that INFPs are waiting to be swept up by a prince or knight in shining armour, or be proposed to on windswept moors or on dragon-back. All we are looking for is a deep connection. Maybe it’s our Fi that makes this so deep a connection that others can’t even see the bottom of it, but I think that’s pretty straight forward.

Looks mean nothing to me. I think it’s rather stupid to stipulate good looks in a partner. After all, it’s not how the human race got here. Look around you. In a world full of beautiful tigers, orchids and turtles, it’s the odd fleshy bipods with hair sprouting in disparate locations that rule the earth. Have you ever looked at the human form, I mean really looked at it, in comparison to the tiger? Tigers are so beautiful and majestic. The patterns on their faces, their eyes, their deep, throaty , rumbling purr. Instead the bald, squeeking, awkwardly shuffling mammal rules the world. And why? It’s not our aesthetics, that’s for sure. Opposable thumbs, intelligence and luck. That’s what did it.

I mean, saying ‘I feel a deep connection with this man because he owns a Lamborghini and his chin is shaped like an egg tray’ is like saying ‘When it came to constructing a nuclear reactor, I bypassed the greatest scientists, engineers and builders in the world for Ted, because he can burp his ABCs’.

INFPs don’t have a list of material qualities their partners must have, but they long for love. I don’t think that’s unrealistic. If I were to go into Starbucks for a coffee, I would search for coffee. I wouldn’t leave with one of their chairs because it was more expensive or had delicious tethering.

So when an INFP does actually find someone they have feelings for, then it pretty much encompasses them. They will idolise that person. Combine that with introverted feeling (Fi) as their dominant function and extraverted thinking (Te) as their weakest function and you’ll find that even though they may idolise this person, they find it nigh on impossible to make that known to the other person without substantial evidence to confirm that their feelings will be reciprocated. If you ask any INFP, I’d bet that they have experienced unrequited love – or rather unvoiced love, because we can’t be certain it’s unrequited if the topic has never been broached.

And forget asking an INFP if they like someone. The answer will almost always certainly be ‘no’, not because that’s true, but because it doesn’t involve revealing their feelings. Instead, the INFP will express their inner bitter-sweet, sorrowful love through music, art and poetry. Or other means.

As such, the INFPs romantic history will often look like pages torn from a gothic novel. They are Jane Eyre, and in reality Mr Rochester is happily married to his non-mad, non-burning-the-house-down wife. But just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. As any INFP will tell you.

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour! Enough; no more:
‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love! how quick and fresh art thou,
That, notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,
Of what validity and pitch soe’er,
But falls into abatement and low price,
Even in a minute: so full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.

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