Q: Many years ago, I had a deep and meaningful relationship that fell apart. The man still means so much to me, and I want the opportunity to discuss things with him. I must have called a thousand times to tell him I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done, but when I call he never seems to be home. I feel he’s completely cut me out of his life, and it breaks my heart. What can I do? ~ENFJ
A: As an ENFJ with a dominant Fe (social relatedness), it’s perfectly natural that you feel this way. Your relationships with other people are the most important thing in your life. You experience them on a deep emotional level. The happiness of others means everything to you, and you hate the idea that you may have messed up and caused someone else pain. For you, it is natural to talk things out, get all the messy, complicated emotions out there, so that everyone knows what happened and where they stand. It’s a cathartic release for you that clears the air and allows you to reconnect with the other person again.
The difficulty for you is that a good portion of the population doesn’t work this way because Fe is not their dominant (or even secondary) function. Because these others interact in different ways emotionally, your emotional reactions are often misunderstood. The best thing you can do for others, for your relationships, and for yourself, is learn about the other ways people react emotionally, how you come across to them, and how you can approach them in ways that meet their particular needs.
For example, those with Fe in the lower half of their function family, the Thinkers, do not often express their emotions outwardly in the way you do, and may tend to view such expression as over reaction. What is natural and cathartic for you, is seen as drama to them. Don’t take it personally! They are just wired differently than you.
You may call someone many times, simply because that’s an outward expression of how much you care. For a “T” individual though, this may seem excessively uncalled for, on the point of harassment! They will react by slamming down a protective wall to keep you out! For example, they may be sending your calls straight to spam, whether or not they are home! I know, it’s so frustrating to have your good intentions misunderstood! Fortunately, you have the dominant function most able to learn how to adapt to the strange behaviors of others, and love them anyway!
If you find yourself in a cold case like this, your strategy is to find other ways to release the majority of your emotional expression. A great way to do this is to find another Fe (ENFJ, ESFJ, INFJ, ISFJ) who thinks like you do, and let it all out with her. But there are other outlets for you, like pouring yourself into a craft or service project.
Once you’ve gotten the heat of your emotions out, you can approach your remote loved one — but only once! So plan ahead and make it good! It’s essential to keep your communication short and CALM. If you can’t find a way to do that, you aren’t done releasing — call another Fe friend! 🙂 If you are not sure if you are pulling it off, run your communication ideas past someone you trust who has T in their upper family function, to get their reaction.
Once you have delivered your short, calm communication to your estranged loved one… that’s it. You wait. It’s up to them if they want to respond! I know! It’s best if you’ve prepared distractions for yourself, to get the whole thing off your mind. Have a shopping trip planned with a friend, or a volunteer project that takes all your time, or find someone sick or lonely who really needs the love and attention you have to give.
The person receiving your message likely needs some time to digest it and decide if and how to react. They don’t tackle this sort of thing like you, by reacting as feels natural and assessing later. You help them best by honoring their own peculiar process. Keep in mind that if you have a history of emotional expression with them, they might choose not to return your communication. What you consider communication, they may consider explosions… and they may wish to keep their distance.
Consider this a life-learning lesson. When you meet someone else who reminds you of them, be ready to run your new game plan when your emotions peak. Beat it out with your Fe friends first, throw yourself into a cathartic release, then have a calm interaction with your beloved T. Now you’ve set the stage for open communications with your strange but adorable T friend!