The INFJ is thought to be the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type, making up only 1-3 percent of the population. “INFJ” is an initialism that stands for Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), and Judgment (J), which describes the INFJ’s core characteristics. Both introverted and people-oriented, emotional and rational, thoughtful yet at times spontaneous, INFJs can feel like walking contradictions. They read others well and easily “see behind the mask” that people unconsciously wear; ironically, however, INFJs may struggle to understand themselves. Their reactions and behavior sometimes confuse even their own sharp intuition.
The INFJ personality contains many layers and is indeed a trove of secrets. Private and mysterious, INFJs will reveal those layers slowly — if ever at all! Let’s dive into some of the “secrets” of the rarest personality type in the world. Here are ten of them.
‘Secrets’ of the INFJ Personality
1. On a different wavelength
INFJs may feel like perpetual outsiders. That’s because most people aren’t on the INFJ’s wavelength, explain Antonia Dodge and Joel Mark Witt of Personality Hacker. The INFJ’s dominant function is Introverted Intuition (Ni). (A type’s “dominant function” is the main way that type processes information and interacts with the world.) Introverted Intuition subconsciously notices patterns; INFJs, specifically, notice patterns related to human nature, because their secondary function is Extroverted Feeling (Fe), which orients them toward people.
Although not necessarily a “magic” power or a psychic ability, using their intuition can feel that way because it works subconsciously. Sometimes INFJs will have hunches or gut feelings they can’t explain. The INFJ may know something without quite being able to put their finger on why or how they know it.
This “sixth sense” can be difficult to explain to others, so INFJs often give up trying. This may leave them feeling isolated and misunderstood.
2. Highly perceptive of others
To be an INFJ is to read others well, grasping their emotional states and motivations in mere seconds. But others don’t seem to “get” INFJs as easily as they “get” them. INFJs often wish for someone to understand them as well as they understand others.
INFJs are highly perceptive of others, but they don’t just remember their coworker’s birthday or how they take their coffee. In fact, as big-picture thinkers, these small details may escape even the most observant INFJ! People of the INFJ personality use their intuition to penetrate below the surface. They get into other people’s heads and figure out what makes them tick. They often know when someone is lying even to themselves. INFJs aren’t consciously aware of how they know so much about other people — and they’ll probably never reveal just how deep their knowledge runs.
3. Absorb other people’s emotions
It’s not unusual for INFJs to absorb other people’s emotions. They don’t just sense the emotions of others — sometimes they actually feel them in their own bodies.
According to Dodge, no other personality type does this quite like the INFJ. Some INFJs even report absorbing the emotions of strangers. An INFJ may suddenly feel grumpy, only to look around the room and discover a grumpy-looking person has just walked in. The closer the person is emotionally to the INFJ, like a spouse or a best friend, the more likely it is that the INFJ will absorb that person’s mental state.
To feel not only your own emotions but also those of other people can be overwhelming. But the INFJ’s ability can be used to bring healing and comfort to others. “The ability to unconsciously absorb other people’s emotions with very little information to go on — how is that not a superpower?” Dodge told Introvert, Dear. “INFJs have the ability to get inside the suffering of others and tell them it’s going to be okay.”
4. Amazing long-range forecasting abilities
At times, INFJs feel like prophets or psychics, as what they predicted comes true. But INFJs don’t necessarily have a crystal ball. Rather, their Introverted Intuition helps them see the big picture, notice patterns, and make predictions for the future based on the patterns they’ve observed. They see what could be — not necessarily what will happen with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, mature INFJs have honed their forecasting abilities well.
5. Both emotional and rational
Although sensitive and emotional, INFJs often mistype as INTJs, their “Thinking” twin. Due to their third function, Introverted Thinking (Ti), they paradoxically can be quite analytical and scientific. They may enjoy careers in technology, the sciences, and research. Because Extroverted Feeling is their second function and Introverted Thinking is their third, these two functions are fairly balanced in the INFJ. Indeed, INFJs don’t outwardly appear as emotional as the ENFJ or ESFJ, whose Feeling function is dominant. It’s said that the INFJ can be “too emotional for the Thinkers but too logical for the Feelers.” But this common sense comes in handy, making INFJs balanced and well-rounded.
6. Creators of deep emotional intimacy
In the presence of strangers or casual acquaintances, INFJs might seem reserved and shy. In reality, INFJs are extremely relational — it just might take a while for this side of the INFJ to come out. Because they feel other people’s pain and joy, they’re able to truly walk in another person’s shoes. Their ability to empathize creates strong bonds of intimacy — perhaps one of the greatest strengths of this personality type.
7. True introverts
INFJs are sometimes called the “extroverted introverts” or even ambiverts. They get this nickname because they can be passionate, enthusiastic, and talkative when in the presence of someone they feel comfortable with. Likewise, when they’re fighting for a cause they believe in — like asking people to sign a petition to end animal abuse — they may come across as extroverts. However, INFJs are true introverts who prefer a small circle of friends to a large network of casual acquaintances. And introverts by definition need plenty of downtime to recharge their batteries.
8. Sensitive to conflict
Due to Extroverted Feeling, INFJs have a strong need for harmony in their relationships. They’re always striving to build rapport with others — and they value people who do the same in return. When conflict arises, especially in close relationships, the sensitive and emotional INFJ may become extremely distressed. They may have trouble sleeping or concentrating, perhaps even feeling the stress of the conflict physically in their bodies through headaches, muscle aches, an upset stomach, etc.
This doesn’t mean INFJs should avoid conflict altogether (although, unfortunately, many of them have a learned tendency to do just that). INFJs can learn to set healthy boundariesand stand up for their needs. And perhaps better than many other personality types, they can do this in a diplomatic way using the warmth and understanding that flow naturally from their Extroverted Feeling.
9. End up in one-sided relationships
Many INFJs are great listeners because they truly care about others, and as introverts, they rarely feel the need to hog the spotlight. Likewise, they enjoy helping others understand their emotions and grow. They’re nicknamed “the counselor personality” for a good reason. Although these abilities allow the INFJ to create a level of emotional intimacy in their relationships like few other types can, it also means INFJs tend to get ensnared in one-sided relationships.
One-sided relationships occur when others take more than they give. For INFJs, a one-sided relationship might look like someone frequently venting to them but not listening to the INFJ in return. Or someone taking advantage of the INFJ’s willingness to help. Or it could simply be that the other person gets more enjoyment out of the relationship than the INFJ does; when this happens, INFJs are inclined to just go along with it, not wanting to hurt the other person’s feelings. Unfortunately for the INFJ, these relationships get exhausting and emotionally draining. It’s important that INFJs learn to choose balanced relationships that make them feel good, too.
10. Looking for their soulmates
INFJs desire to connect deeply with others. Shallow, one-sided relationships won’t do. Likewise, because they’re introverts, they have limited social energy. So INFJs look for friends or a romantic partner who are their “soul mates.” These are people who truly click with the INFJ and can feed their very real need for authentic connection, intimacy, and meaningful conversation. However, INFJs often struggle to create the kind of relationships they desire. When they do find people with whom they truly connect, it feels like a miracle.