The Paradoxical Personality of the INFP

INFPs are fickle creatures. They are guided by their emotions; whichever way the wind blows, that’s where the INFP will go. Thus, the INFP often portrays traits that seem to go against previous traits they’ve shown. This can often create confusion among close friends and family because of the INFP’s ever changing moods and desires, thinking the INFP is one way or another when in fact the INFP can possess several traits at once.

1. Solitude vs. Community

Out of all of the contradicting traits of the INFP, this one is one of the most significant to me.

INFPs are introverts, and we INFPs crave solitude and time alone. It helps us recharge. After any social event, we often feel the need to spend several hours or even days home to recover.

However, INFPs also desire close friendship and feel the need to be around other people, whether or not they interact with anyone.

We want to be alone, yet we want to be assured that we’re a good person that someone will like, so we seek close relationships and enjoy being around friends.  I’ve been confused as being an extrovert, as many see my desire to be around friends as an outgoing trait. However, while I do enjoy being around friends, after a while I do seek to be alone.

2. Freedom vs. Order

INFPs need a lot of space to grow and be creative. For instance, I always hated maximum word limits on essays in school, as too many restrictions can drain an INFP of ideas and inspiration. It can feel overwhelming and hard to breathe, trying to be creative while “thinking inside the box”.

With more freedom comes more inspiration and creativity, allowing the INFP to think more clearly.

However, INFPs also desire stability and familiarity. With Extraverted Thinking, INFPs need a clear structure to work in. Without, say, deadlines or a schedule, they may easily fail to keep working on creative endeavors due to a lack of inspiration or motivation. INFPs also need to feel safe and at home in their environment, with Introverted Sensing. Anything that doesn’t feel like home will stress the INFP out and cause anxiety. There might be freedom, yes, but a lack of knowing how to go about living in an unfamiliar environment can emotionally drain the INFP.

3. Emotions vs. Intelligence

While these two traits are not contradicting in reality, they may seem contradicting to other people.

I’ve often heard other types describe the INFP as a fragile butterfly (for humorous purpose), which I’ll admit is true to a point. At least, while the INFP is never a “crybaby”, an INFP’s mood can change very quickly based on circumstances. The smallest thing can brighten the INFP’s mood and the smallest thing like remembering a stupid mistake the INFP did 10 years ago can make the INFP feel terrible for hours.

INFPs are very much guided by their emotions and are very much in touch with them. They know why they feel what they feel. Sometimes they can control their emotions, sometimes they can’t.

Because of this, others may not consider the INFP to be one of logic and pure smarts, as we seem to follow the currents of our intuition and feelings.

However, this is not the case. While it’s still debatable at the moment, the INFP (along with INTPs, INTJs, and INFJs) is one of the smartest types out there, due to aspects in intelligence that correspond to traits within Introversion, Intuition, and Perceiving.

While INFPs can be very whimsical and moody at times, they also greatly despise stupidity.

One reason is due to Extroverted Intuition, in which, we don’t like watching people who act stupid because it seems obvious to us that a million things could go wrong, while the person acting cannot.

Another reason for their looking down on stupidity is brought on by their emotional intelligence. INFPs, while not the only type to experience emotions with such breadth, are emotionally intelligent. They understand their own feelings, and by which, can easily analyze a person or a group of people and instantly empathize with everyone, understanding why someone is feeling the way they are and what caused it. Because of this, the INFP is often frustrated by people who consider emotions to be pointless and people who cannot see why they are hurting other people because of their lack of empathy.

Especially as a male INFP, I hate hearing about other males who believe emotions and empathy to be feminine aspects. I’m sure I’m not the only INFP who has gotten incredibly frustrated when friends or family members argue and get upset with each other because one friend failed to see how his or her actions affected the other. It seems simple enough for me to just empathize with others and quickly fix the situation or even prevent it, but others aren’t as naturally empathetic.

4. Idealism vs. Wisdom

INFPs are very optimistic and idealistic, as Introvert, Dear, says, the INFP can seem very childlike. We see the world through rose-colored glasses, often thinking the best about the world and other people. Sometimes the INFP will marvel at the tiniest things. The INFP’s whimsical nature can seem care-free due to the constant state of flow with INFP’s ever changing mood.

Meanwhile, the INFP can also contradict their childlike nature with a breadth of wisdom, one that can also seem unusual if considering a younger INFP. With an ability to empathize easily with everyone, the INFP can seem like an old soul. The INFP understands his or her emotions easily, and they can foresee several dozen possibilities streaming from one single situation via “Ne”, thus, giving the INFP much wisdom that only their elders seem to have.

5. Individuality vs. Anonymity

While this one can often be more of an inner battle within the INFP than it is seemingly contradicting traits to an outside viewer, the INFP often struggles with the need to original and the need to be anonymous.

The INFP hates conformity and enjoys feeling original. They often try to shape their inner lives by trying to be unique via partaking in activities, media, and lifestyles they actually like. INFPs look down on conformity and the need to be “cool”, trendy, or “hip” like everyone else, as such desires are usually not in line with people’s true selves.

Since the INFP is in touch with their emotions, they understand what they like and what they don’t, how they enjoy living and what lifestyles they despise. As such feelings, passions, and lifestyles are true to the INFP but not in line with the world’s ever changing trends, the INFP enjoys feeling original and true to themselves.

However, the INFP hates being the center of attention. While their introversion is one the traits that causes the need to be unique, it is also the aspect of the INFP that causes the INFP to feel the need to blend in and not be noticed. We INFPs hate being in the spotlight; it drains us emotionally and stresses us out, worrying that others will think that there is something off about us.

We want to be original, but we want others to like us and not judge us. While we may lace our inner lives with originality, when we’re around others, we’ll sacrifice individuality for anonymity, trying to act normal and like everyone else. That way, we won’t be noticed or judged. While we would love to show our love of a certain fandom to the world or blare our favorite music on the radio as we drive down the highway, we INFPs feel much safer just trying to be normal.


So, what do you guys think? Do you relate to all of these or just a few of them? Are there any contradicting traits I missed?




12 Comments Add yours

  1. Stormy Dormy says:

    Hit the nail on the head! A lot of these contradictions are why I really enjoy writing in my blog 🙂

    I can be at solitude at any moment by just closing my WordPress tab, and enjoying being in my room by myself. At the same time, I can interact with other bloggers by writing a post, liking, following or commenting on other people’s posts, if I want to.

    I have the freedom to write what I like, and also have the ability to be organized and structured – I can erase any mistakes and can edit my posts at any moment!

    I can express all my feelings and opinions freely – as well as all my dreams and insights.

    I can be my true self on my blog, but can also control how often I “expose” my true self to the world, by choosing to simply not blog on some days!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep! Life as an INFP is a complete contradiction, lol! People are always telling me they don’t get me, and I say that’s it’s ok, because I don’t really get myself, either, lol! I couldn’t logically explain my contradicting nature if I tried, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. martalbb says:

    Reblogged this on Delineatas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 1allove4 says:

    I agree and relate to most, if not everything I’ve read. I love my friends and I have a good time talking to them. However I feel so drained from talking all the time. I really crave having my time alone, but I do enjoy them calling and texting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marcus says:

    Spot on. Thanks. I still find life wonderful and rich, in spite of all contradictions, well … except when it sucks of course 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. supitsphillip says:

    This is truth!!


  7. I like your insights on individuality vs. anonymity. Your comments on empathy really resonate with me. I often find that communication among coworkers, family members, people at church, etc., would be greatly improved if folks would just exercise a healthy dose of empathy. But as I grow older, I increasingly wonder if perhaps some people genuinely have a smaller capacity for it than others. Since empathy comes so naturally to me, I can’t relate, but I can sort of see where they’re coming from. (See what I did there. 😉 ) This gives me an idea for an article!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. peterg says:

    I very recently found your website and find it to be an excellent and rambling travel log through the life of an INFP (I am one,too). A brief description of who I am: Sixty-two years old and counting, I’ve spent most of them making a living as an artist with my wife (artist) and one child (designer+artist), who has since flown the coop and lives in Amsterdam. I grew up experiencing all-too-much of the dark side, which is something I may go into further on future “replies”. Here, I wish to briefly comment about your reference to “optimism”, as carried by INFPs, where continuing circumstances starting early in life dealt blow after blow to my optimistic outer view causing a turning inward to find peace, which is something that continues to fully and completely inform my artwork. In other words, I decided all too many years ago to remember the date (an exact date DOES exist) that the world sucks, REALLY SUCKS, and art is where I go to reclaim optimism, and palliate a cynical world view. Any INFPs out there that can relate? How about old age ones? Artists?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Angela Aldridge says:

    Absolutely spot on! X


  10. Paint says:

    Gosh. I am literally making a shirt I love at the moment, while wondering if I will have the courage to wear it – it’s ‘a bit out there’ apparently. I thought this was how things are. Or just me. Interesting. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Helen says:

    Very accurate reflection of how I think and feel. The one point that stuck out this time, was hating watching others fail or make mistakes…a lightbulb went off….you have explained why I dislike comic movies that involve characters ‘dealing’ with bad situations like walking into glass doors, slipping on water etc. They really piss me off – now I know why lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Kristen says:

    Thank you for putting words to these feelings. I don’t especially enjoyed your thoughts on conformity. For instance, I love to indulge my tastes in clothing, but constantly worry about drawing attention to myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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