INFJ BEWARE: 3 Warning Signs You’re In a Toxic Relationship

toxic relationship

If you’re an INFJ like me, you know how it feels to be overwhelmed in a toxic relationship. All our senses are messed up and we start feeling guilty and unworthy. The INFJ personality is like a magnet for relationships that utterly drain us, but we tend to stay in them nonetheless. Allow me to explain why.

Why are INFJs more likely to stay in a toxic relationship?

Staying in a toxic relationship can have roots from a childhood trauma, according to Ken Page, a psychotherapist and author of the book Deeper Dating. If a person was deprived of love or attention from their parents while they were kids, they tend to replicate that behavior in adulthood, seeking out partners who deny them that crucial validation and appreciation they so desperately need. This counterintuitive feeling is known as an “attraction of deprivation,” according to Page.

As Dr. Page points out, past traumas are one of the main reasons why INFJs refuse to leave a toxic relationship. Combine this with conflict avoidance, and the INFJ desire to maintain peace and understanding, and you got yourself a one-way ticket to overwhelm.

We don’t want to hurt anyone

Staying in a toxic relationship is much harder for INFJs because we don’t want to hurt anyone. For example, I never had the loving support I needed during my childhood and adolescent years. I was on my own and left to handle my fears as best I could. One of my ex-girlfriends was a classic narcissist and the relationship with her overwhelmed me daily. I wanted to speak up, but fear got a hold of me and I was afraid that I would lose her, even if she made me feel miserable.

INFJs always care. We hate conflicts and arguments and we try avoiding them at all costs. When INFJs are in a relationship that proves to be overwhelming, this is when problems begin. We would rather suffer and swallow the pain than hurt that person by breaking up.

There’s a feeling that’s worth mentioning: self-sabotage. This is a term well known for the INFJ personality. Even if we are in a toxic relationship, instead of putting a stop to it, we keep it alive and let it consume us slowly. We would rather sacrifice our own wellbeing than leave a relationship that makes us feel bad. But I want you to know something.

I understand you all too well my fellow INFJ

Toxic romantic relationships were a “normal” thing for me in the past. My partner overwhelmed me to a breaking point on a nearly regular basis. Despite my best efforts to stop, I found myself continuously entering one relationship after another with similar results. I was hurt, humiliated, sad, and lonely. But there’s a way you can avoid my mistakes.

Here are 3 warning signs of a toxic relationship:

1. Repetition of egoistical sentences and words

“I”, “me”, “it’s your fault”, “you didn’t do it right”, “I can do it much better”. When and if you hear these words repeating themselves like a pattern from your partner, be cautious. They usually represent early warning signs of a toxic relationship.

2. Lack of response and understanding from your partner.

An emotional bond between two people who cherish one another needs to be mutually caring, supportive, encouraging, and understanding. Despite the fact that INFJs give so much, that doesn’t mean that we don’t want honest, loving feedback.

3. An imbalance in devotion.

INFJs hold time in high regard, because it’s clear proof to us that someone cares. Words and actions hold a special place in our heart too. But when an INFJ senses lack of devotion from a partner, it’s a sign that a change is perhaps needed.

I deliberately focused on early warning signs, because this is the best time to act. As soon as you notice these signs, you’re likely in a toxic relationship and should consider taking action.

What should you do?

Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. I can’t even tell you how many people are unhappy in their relationships just because they are afraid to be alone. There’s a huge difference between alone and lonely. Protect and value your INFJ qualities by not entering in an unfulfilling relationship .

Keep searching for someone who will accept you just the way you are. Too many INFJs I have spoken with on the INFJ Forum and during coaching sessions shared a story of how deeply unhappy they are with their partners. It’s not your fault. We just don’t want to hurt anyone, even at the cost of our own happiness.

Remember, you deserve to be respected, loved, and appreciated. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that all the INFJ care, love, and attention you have given will find it’s way back to you. When it does, you will forget all about those toxic relationships that kept you awake and broken all those nights. You will realize that you are worthy of that love.

What are your experiences with toxic relationships? Have you ever been in one? Please feel free to share your comments below.

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Xo,
Marko

Hi, I’m Marko, the Introvert Spring INFJ forum coordinator. I’m a writer and certified professional coach, with a rich background in leadership and communications. Right now, my biggest passion is helping to grow the Introvert Spring INFJ forum, so INFJs have a place to feel seen, understood, and inspired.

 

27 Comments

  1. Thank You.

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    • You are most welcome. 🙂

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  2. Over the years, the more I read about psychology on the internet and on books (a lot of reading and a lot of discernment), the more I feel I have been wasting my money with psychotherapy (especially CBT). It’s been a process, but recently this has been so true you have no idea. My current psychotherapist left me astray for 7 months from a relationship with a religious narcissist like a frog boiling in the pan. Those psychologists (or neurotypical people) think it is all about choice (not like that for INFJs, and in my case there was a lot of feelings involved until the bullying has corroded my mind), but such a relationship can many times a matter of serious emotional stability. She wouldn’t have acted so passively if her sister were in such a problematic relationship. Those guys just want to make you dependent on them and do not necessarily act on the patient’s best interest. Thank you!

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    • I’m so sorry scarletscar you’ve gone through all of this. For us INFJs it’s definitely different because we live it on a whole new level, especially in the realm of emotions. I really hope the situation is better now, and you are most welcome. 🙂

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  3. Nice article, sir. Toxic people are present everywhere, not just in relationships. But getting out from a toxic relationship is as important as getting out of toxic friendships. The only few things that I believe this site is missing, is incorporating the “resources” factors into the issues that they’re (most amazingly) highlighting. Especially because introverted people don’t have the luxuries of remaining the way they want to be, mainly in over-populated and developing countries. I had already highlighted this issue to the website founder (and most eagerly awaiting reply), but if I could gain some insight as to how introverted people could PREVENT being bullied, shamed, defamed, etc (mainly by psychopathic and manipulative individuals, who are relatively better in terms of financial resources, backgrounds, IQ, inherited wealth, etc), even when they ask for most basic resources, such as school notes, small financial help (would be returned later), some explanation for classes missed, some valuable information that groups are discussing with each other (including important data, stats, announcements, etc), then that would be really helpful.

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    • Thank you, Kyuyen. 🙂 I agree when you say that toxic people are present in all realms of life. Michaela, who is the amazing creator of Introvert Spring, and myself, are always focusing on offering the best possible resources to our fellow introverts. As for the questions you asked, bullying can be primarily prevented by establishing a healthy boundary, firstly with yourself and never allowing yourself to succumb to that external pressure that bullying brings. Perhaps that individual possess more material wealth or something else, but what matters the most is what you have on the inside. 🙂

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      • Thanks for your reply, sir. You are absolutely correct about the fact that we need to find inner peace in order to achieve an optimum level of mental stability. But at the same time, we also need external resources in order to survive. Now, if people are automatically gifted with naturally competitive amounts of intelligence, IQ, skills, capabilities, etc, then it isn’t much of a problem to not depend much on others, as our knowledge levels would be enough to manage a few people at a time and get the job done.

        But throughout schools, colleges and workplaces of almost all major (developed &) developing countries in the world (especially the over-populated ones), most introverts face huge amounts of bullying, denial of resources, denial of information, denial of experiences, denial of group inclusions, and so on, which are sometimes critical to the survival of the people.

        Examples include: lecture notes, ideas of solving problems, information which the HOD has told someone to pass on, collection of assignments & submissions, STEM projects & workshops, sharing of resources for gaining experience (like if a rich person recently purchases a high-end iPhone or a DSLR camera), going around with friends to gain early access to event registrations & discounts………the list goes on and on and on. We introverts have to boost up our energy levels and maintain artificial and superficial extroversion (with huge amounts of painful continuous chatting & convincing) just to barely maintain friendships and healthy social contacts for future help and references.

        I’m extremely sorry if my comment comes across as trolling, ranting or complaining, but do you have ANY OTHER suggestion regarding dealing with issues I mentioned above?

        And sir, have you read the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”? The author, Susan Cain, presents a history of how Western culture transformed from a culture of character to a culture of personality in which an “extrovert ideal” dominates and introversion is viewed as inferior or even pathological. This “extroversion” can be more applicable for modern developing countries, especially the Asian ones, where the emphasis on education, job and materialism is on an all-time-high.

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        • You are most welcome Kyuyen. 🙂
          Thank you once more for sharing your thoughts about this! As for your question, I can recommend activities that can recharge when out of school, job, or an bullying situation (meditation, reading, writing, nature). All of these mentioned serve to calm the INFJ mind when it needs it the most. Yes, I read Susan Cain’s book, and it has good advice and insights on introvert, what we value, and also situations where we can find ourselves in.

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  4. Interesting. May you send me the FULL pic as I’d like it not the cut off head version!

    Emi

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  5. It’s beyond frustrating to be so aware that you’re in a toxic relationship. Doing something about it, so much easier said than done.
    When there isnt any physical abuse, or emotional abuse, it makes it difficult to “justify” leaving.

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    • I completely agree with you. Doing something is much easier said than done. I waited a year before I finally had the courage to leave, even though there was no physical or emotional abuse. I just knew deep in my heart I wasn’t happy. I didn’t know that I could be happier, but I knew I had to try. My hope is that anyone who is in a toxic relationship can find that their happiness is reason enough to justify leaving. <3

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    • Indeed it is frustrating and hard Tiffski603, I agree. That first step is crucial, and even though it won’t be easy, in the end we need to take care of ourselves, because we INFJs too deserve love and care. 🙂

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  6. Thanks Marko

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    • You are most welcome Eddie. 🙂

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  7. I think this is a great article for INFJs! It is so easy for us to recognize when our loved ones are in toxic relationships, but we can sometimes be blind to the fact that we are in them too. My first relationship was with a person who didn’t deserve me. It took them cheating on me and a year after that to realize I needed to let go. I was afraid to be alone, even though I wasn’t happy.

    All I can say is that the best choice I ever made was to break up with them. I am so much happier now and have a partner who is perfect for me. Fellow INFJs, muster all of the strength you can and leave a relationship where you are not happy. You will find happiness with someone who deserves you. You will not be alone forever. It is worth it. 🙂

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    • Thanks so much, Ashley! exactly, we can easily see when our loved ones are in toxic relationship, but we become unaware when we find ourselves there too. I’m sorry you went through this, but I am glad that you are happy now with a partner that loves and with whom you are happy. 🙂 It’s definitely worth it. 🙂

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    • Hi Ashley! 🙂 This might seem counter-intuitive however consider that the guy you were with felt that he didn’t deserve you. The number one reason I found for infidelity when I researched my book was low self esteem, now that doesn’t mean that all people like that will cheat however, after discussing it with the people that had been cheated on, by a spuse or significant other, that had said that the person they were with were so many great things however, considering the amount of love that was given by the victim in this case the receiver couldn’t receive it, because as the perpetrator of the infidelity put it. “I don’t deserve love.” This one statement was consistent with low self esteem and for them to seek less than desirable people to cheat with that matched the level of superficial love they would allow themselves to receive. One key thing to remember about the person that has trouble loving themselves is that they will never allow you or me or anyone to love them more than they love themselves.

      From what I can tell you did nothing wrong, you were being you and you having the capacity for such deep love that others can’t appreciate it, has less to do with you and more to do with them. I’m glad you have someone that see’s your love as something of value and can both give and receive as well as you can, that’s a beautiful thing. 🙂

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      • Thank you James, I really appreciate you writing this out! It does make sense, but me having low-self esteem makes me want to believe that it was I that was not good enough haha. I try not to see it that way but it is hard not to.

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        • You are most welcome Ashley. 🙂 Thank you for the reply. You may be surprised to know that in my research also, I found that such things as depression and low self esteem can actually be contagious, especially when we are HSPs and can empathize with others, we can quickly absorb others negative emotions that lead us to feel them literally. I can’t say if you had LSE going into your relationship, however having it before can lead one to attract those types of relations with others, on both sides of the coin. I’m just glad you got out and found the joy that waited for you all along. 🙂 Yours is a success story, not everyone will make it out of those pesky toxic romances, and I think that your story being shared is inspirational to others that may not be able to see their way out of the swamp. I do know what you are talking about with it being hard not to think that way, finding love as an INTJ can be challenging. Logic tends to get in the way of feelings, I worked diligently to develop my Fe even though my third function is Fi, being able to feel deeper than any other type of XXTJ and not to be able to express it, except through my thoughts, is taxing when someone that is Feeling dominant tries to hear me explain my feelings by way of thoughts and logic, makes me come off as unromantic or even cold and analytical. It feels like such a punch to the gut not to get love right or to face betrayal. However I’m still hopeful in finding someone that gets me.

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  8. Marko my dearest friend, this is an absolutely brilliant article, and easily your best one to date, in my opinion.

    As a former psychotherapist who has worked with many people who struggled to free themselves from seriously toxic relationships (and also as someone who grew up in an atmosphere of trauma and deprivation myself, and who ultimately learned to free myself from this trap), I think that acknowledging the underlying issue of what predisposes many of us to be attracted to toxic people and situations in the first place is an essential first step in dealing with this problem.

    I would add that not only do our past traumas (particularly from childhood) play a significant role in making it difficult to leave a toxic relationship, but even more importantly, play a crucial (and often wholly unrecognized) role in what leads us to be unconsciously attracted to them in the first place.

    For those who might be looking for possible resources to help free themselves from this type of painful pattern, I would recommend educating yourself about codependence and relationship issues, in books such as Howard Halpern’s How To Break Your Addiction to a Person, and Pia Mellody’s excellent books Facing Codependence: What it is, Where it Comes From, and How it Sabotages Our Lives, and Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love.

    I would also highly recommend checking out the CoDependents Anonymous (CoDA) website (at coda.org) to learn more about this subject, and to see if there are any free peer support group meetings in your area (this is an international organization, with meetings all over the world).

    Thank you again for this very helpful article, my dearest friend. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much for your lovely words my dearest friend, they mean a lot. 🙂 Also, thank you for sharing your wise thoughts, advice, your priceless experience, and resources regarding this topic. And you are most welcome. 🙂

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  9. Narcissism seems to have become the plague of the 21st century. I survived an 8 year relationship with a “toxic” narcissist who managed to turn it into an artform.
    Unfortunately, even in the beginning there we’re many red flags including my intuition telling me to run like crazy which, obviously, I ignored. I can only say now that it was definitely a learning experience. One I hope to never repeat.
    It has been nearly ten years since that relationship ended and I have had absolutely no contact with her since (which I would highly recommend to anyone leaving such a relationship) but, have not been involved in another relationship since, either. I don’t have an answer for why that is. The intervening years have primarily been focused on finally living my dreams and the prospect of living the way I do now can be rather intimidating to anyone. Then again, I could just be gun shy. Nevertheless, healing from such a relationship takes time because the narcissist is so adept at tearing people to shreds and then leaving them lay in a pool of blood. (Metaphorically speaking) In my relationship she was both emotionally and physically abusive. The most fortunate aspect for me was the strength of my own beliefs. She couldn’t change them and ultimately she’s the one who left because of that. If a narcissist can’t get someone to convert to their thinking then they have no use for them and will discard them like a used tissue.
    One thing I learned is that education is the key. Learning to identify exactly what narcissism is. How to recognize the traits and pay attention to the red flags and intuition. I’m still healing but, I’m also optimistic about my own future.
    Thank you for your insights.

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    • I’m so sorry Scott that you went through all of this… I humbly thank you for sharing this here, and I am glad that you didn’t stop believing in yourself despite of what happened. That takes true courage and strength. Of course, don’t rush yourself, healing does take time, but you are doing well. :You are most welcome. 🙂

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  10. Marko, this is some really good information, I think this will help so many people. I’d really like to see more of these psychology post from you, considering we have a mutual interest in the subject of people, and human behavior.

    Even as an INTJ, I’ve played the nice guy role and all it got me was walked on. Toxic relationships based on finding an emotional corrective experience can lead to dead ends when it comes to romance. Once I became aware of my personal love map, I sought to get things handled, such as setting boundaries and just saying what I want and saying how I expected to be treated and being firm in my resolve.
    I don’t think I ask for much wanting to be respected, appreciated and not taken for granted, I work hard on my relations with people, in the past it seemed like no good deed goes unpunished, lol

    However one good thing from all that hurt has been massive growth and understanding. The other good thing I think is being able to see red flags early on and deal with them or move on before I’m emotionally committed. It’s funny I see so many things come up I always question it first and either dismiss it or confirm it as a deal breaker, however, I’m genuinely hoping for a positive outcome, I so want to be proven wrong about people.

    People think I’m aloof naturally as being a commitment phobic male, but for me, it’s about long term survival, I take moderate risks, but I’m not foolish about health and life, it to me would be a nightmare, to be with someone to find out when they finally open up, that they tell me about that communicable incurable disease that they now have passed onto me and after a year of being together they feel that we are close enough to tell me, and they didn’t do it before because they didn’t want to upset me or get rejected. It’s funny because I also seem strict and maybe too interrogative. For me toxic relationships are like that, I ask because I want to know and it’s not to make negative judgments of others it’s to make good decisions for both of us. I now, more than before focus on intentions more, I don’t think most people are malicious, however some people just don’t think, and like they say, love is blind, and the past is 20/20.
    I’ve been told that I was paranoid, but based on experience, I think I’m exercising cautious optimism, I’m hoping for the best, but planning for the worst, and that is where I hope I’m wrong, that someone out there before we get involved thinks about me too, and not just themselves, I always do. My good intentions are focused on what’s in the best interest of the other party, I will make concessions and meet them half way, but I need that honesty, without information I can’t make a solid decision so it looks like I’m waffling or indecisive or even leading people on, and all I ask from people is if I ask a question, just give me an honest answer, I won’t argue your logic or your feelings, I really need information, it’s how my Ni brain works. I personally feel lead on and like someone is keeping secrets, when I can’t get a question answered. I am not trying to be intrusive, I respect privacy, I don’t ask for passwords, I don’t read others mail or open boxes, I won’t even use your toilet unless I get your permission, lol For me when actions don’t match the words coming from someone’s mouth I take notice and focus on patterns of behavior and question it, I’m looking for the “why” of that behavior, I want to know these things to gain perspective and understanding, it’s how my intuition works, I get how Ne works, and I back up my words with my actions so the Ne user can confirm I’m being honest I’d like the same when I listen and observe, I want to believe that people are doing good when no one is watching, that to me shows true character, because I’m often watching for good character, values, virtues, morals and ethics, if I see them doing good that to me answers questions I have about them. If I can’t see due to distance it’s why I ask all the questions I ask. It’s may seem annoying to some people however, since I’ve been burned by past relations a few times, I tend to come off as defensive, this is part of my love language, I want to relax and know that I have nothing major to worry about. I like solving problems I just am not big on wasting my time, and toxic relations are a waste, I’ve got way to much love to give to those that don’t appreciate it.

    Thank you for an intriguing post. 🙂

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    • Thanks James for your kind words! And thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts on this. I’m sorry you went through all the hurt, but I am glad that some good things came out of it. 🙂 You are most welcome, glad you like the article. 🙂

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  11. I got out of one of these relationships about a month ago. I didn’t realize how much of a negative impact it was having on me until just the last couple of weeks. Thank you for this article. It helps to.reaffirm some things that I just thought I was being overemotional about!

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    • I’m sorry you had this kind of an relationship, Allyd1012. You are most welcome, I’m glad to hear the article helped you. 🙂

      Reply

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