INFJ seeks cool guy; need not like same bands

I'm young, smart and attractive but I'm a rare personality type and can't find the right man

By Cary Tennis
February 28, 2012 6:00AM (UTC)
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(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

I am writing to you because I feel that you would understand me.

I am a 27-year-old woman with a promising career as a research consultant and adjunct professor in the social sciences. I graduated from prestigious universities and finished my master's degree at 23. Although it wasn't my ideal job, I was initially offered a lower-level job in my medium-size hometown before I graduated and I decided to take it, mainly to be closer to my family. I worked my way up to get to where I am today and still am working very hard to go where I want to be. I like what I do, and I especially love to teach.


While my family never had a lot of money and I'm not yet making a generous salary, I have savvy financial skills and secured my own car and home a couple of years ago by saving penny by penny. I am attractive, I work out four to five times a week, and I watch what I eat. In terms of hobbies, I cook, play instruments, read, love art, films and graphic novels, and enjoy keeping up with fashion. I tend to be private, but I do have a small but close group of friends here and a few hours away in the Bay Area and SoCal.

I don't mean to make myself seem exceptional and different, but most of the time, I feel incredibly lonely. Some moments, so lonely that I feel I am at the bottom of a deep, emotional pit. I always was sort of different as a child in school because in terms of stereotypes, I was all over the place. My parents pushed me to do well in school, as is known in their culture, so I excelled and graduated near the top of my class in high school even though I hated and did not participate in the student politics it took to get there (sucking up to teachers, running for student body), and rebelled through clothing and alternative music. I mainly identified with the attitude and musical tastes of the skater kids who were sarcastic and apathetic about the world but they never accepted me because I just wasn't like them. My parents would have never allowed me to hang out after school with them anyway. Instead, I'd listen to my favorite albums and write poetry alone in my room after my homework was done.

College opened up a familiar world of kids just like me, awkward nerds who play guitar when they have a free moment from their books. There, I met my first serious boyfriend. Our relationship was very close and I have still never been as revealing to any other human being besides him. We were emotionally compatible and I poured my soul into him during our time together. After college graduation, we moved to separate grad schools in different cities and continued to long-distance date throughout most of my grad school years. We then broke up three years later when we both agreed we had grown apart and had life goals that no longer met. I was almost done with school, ready to settle into my career and be practical. He still had many years of grad school left because he wasn't doing so well, and wanted to travel and live in cities I didn't want to live in. Breaking up was probably one of the most painful, heartbreaking situations I have ever been in. It took me many months to get over it.


Then, I moved back home and dated here and there for a couple of years until I fell in love again with a great, fun-loving guy. We got along fairly well in the beginning but later discovered we had very different lifestyles and disagreed on almost everything. Although we broke up less than a year later, I really did care for him and I struggled through the aftermath for a bit.

I am an INFJ. True to my personality type, I have so many thoughts and feelings, sometimes I confuse myself, but it's just how I am. I have dated a few guys since my last breakup but it's been hard, probably because most guys don't know how to handle me. Some guys my age are intimidated by me and sabotage the relationship because they find out about my achievements and say they don't think they're good enough for me. Other guys get so confused or frustrated with me and my "complexity" that they say they want to give me some space and then never talk to me again.

I've asked a few of my best friends. They tell me I'm pretty, smart and awesome, which can be very intimidating. I tell them I'm no model for anything, so it doesn't make complete sense. They also say it's just not my time yet and to just have fun. Deep down, I know that's what I should be doing. But, how do I not worry and have fun? And with other people? But I'm introverted ...


I've been hooked up through friends and even did the online dating thing. Dating is so demoralizing. How can I find someone as weird as me? Someone who loves hipster things and being spontaneous but also loves having a secure career and finances. I know that these guys exist because I've met a few of them but they are all snagged and married already. Most other guys my age are either one or the other. Recently, I met a man online who did have all the same practical, boring achievements as me but also had very boring interests. He was nice but we were so different, we didn't have any fun and I felt so quirky in contrast to his run-of-the-mill interests.

And how can I find someone who understands an INFJ, the most unique of all personality types? I feel so all over the place, it's like I have multiple personalities sometimes. One who wants to throw caution into the wind and another that wants to make my parents proud and another that wants to lead a practical life. Is it because I don't live in some big hipster intellectual city like Seattle or SF? I love my family and I'm not completely opposed to moving, but I don't think the location is the problem.


I also realize that I don't need someone to have the same exact interests or favorite bands as me; that's just silly. I just identify with music a lot because it tends to express who I am better than I can. What I really want is someone who understands me or really wants to understand me and tries his best to. Can I find that someone who can do that but also knows how to take care of himself and be successful? Am I asking too much or looking for the wrong things in another person? What do I do with myself and my loneliness until I find him? Should I keep dating online?

I hope this letter isn't so convoluted that it makes no sense at all. Thank you so much for reading my letter I look forward to hearing from you.

A Lonely Me


Dear Lonely Me,

My advice is to study your Myers-Briggs type in greater detail. This will help you in many ways. Understanding our strengths and weaknesses and the role our type plays in successes and failures is a lifelong occupation.

I was very impressed with the accuracy of this excellent summation of the INFJ type. I also found an online dating site based on Myers-Briggs type called Type Tango! I spent a good bit of time examining it and think it may be of help.


There is a great deal more I would like to say. But frankly, I must say, today, though I have spent hours on your letter and have written quite a bit, none of it seems coherent and strong. I wonder why that is. I have learned enough to accept that at times our minds work in mysterious and sometimes contrary ways. This may be my intuition telling me that you do not need explicit instruction, but only a gentle guide, or suggestion of direction. I sense that you are resilient, energetic and persistent. I think if you examine your responses to the men you have dated so far, and go over in detail the specific conflicts of your past relationships, and spend some time just relaxing and being yourself (which I know sounds vague and lame, but I mean it!) you will be just fine.

INFJ's are great. After all, I married one! (I'm an ENTP. Typical, huh?)

But seriously, now, I have great hopes for you, and I am sure you will find the right guy. It's just that we INFJs and ENTPs are relatively rare in the world, and sometimes hard to find, but you will know the right guy when you meet him.

Cary Tennis

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