When I was in my 20’s, I fell madly in love with a guy and ended up moving across the country for him. We were together for three months in Seattle before he broke up with me and started dating someone else. A couple of friends had moved out to the West Coast with me, so I wasn’t totally alone, but I was still devastated. Not only over losing the guy, but also because it seemed like no one else around me understood what I was going through.
This had been a pattern before the Seattle-guy breakup, and it continued to be a pattern afterward. For a long time, I assumed that I was too sensitive, or that I got too attached to people. For a while, I just thought something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I get over people as fast as others did? Why did it take me a year or two, or an even longer amount of time, before I wasn’t actively in pain over a relationship crashing and burning? And maybe the weirdest thing of all, why did I still FEEL the energy of the person long after we had ceased to speak or even glimpse each other in real life?
I was so confused over these things for so many years. It wasn’t until I discovered I was an INFJ personality type, and I started coaching other INFJ personality types, as well as INFP personality types, that I learned I wasn’t alone. Many of my clients reported to me that they had the same experience with romantic relationships. They said that they rarely met anyone who they felt a deep connection with, but every few years or so, a person dropped into their life who felt like a soulmate. This person was usually complicated, struggling with unresolved wounds, and could also understand them on a level that hardly anyone else could.
Once the INFJ or INFP became close with the person (whether that meant they entered into an “official” relationship with them or not) they then felt some kind of merging take place. After that, the connection they shared with the other person was extreme. They almost always knew what the other person was feeling (one woman described it to me as “tapping into a phone line”), and sometimes experienced actual telepathy with them. They also experienced a heightened sense of euphoria and awareness in their own life, which usually manifested as intense creative inspiration. Many people told me that their soulmate also felt like their “muse,” and that, even though the relationship was oftentimes confusing and painful, it also resulted in them writing a great deal of poetry, finally starting their novel, writing music, painting, or making some other kind of artwork at a level they had never been able to achieve before.
Because of this heightened awareness and inspiration, many clients told me also that they were able to see life in a way they never had before. It was like their intuition came on full blast and they were able to see the synchronicities in everything and feel the grand design of life happening every single second. Some said it was exhausting, and some said it was exhilarating. Everyone said that — no matter how the experience ended with the other person — they wouldn’t trade it for anything.
This is exactly what I have experienced in my own life when I have fallen in love with someone, and this is why it’s always been so painful for me to let them go. I believe that falling in love for an INFJ or an INFP is an altogether different experience than it is for other types. For most people, it seems that they find someone they’re attracted to, then they gauge how compatible they are with that person and if that person would be a good fit for the partner role in their life, and if they are a good fit, then they become a couple with that person. That’s not at all how it happens for me, and judging from hundreds of other INFJs and INFPs I’ve talked to about this subject, that’s not how it is for INF types in general.
For INFJs and INFPs, we are usually busy pursuing whatever it is we’ve decided might hold the key to the meaning of life for us when someone stumbles across our path. This person triggers curiosity in us, then fascination, and finally obsession. This person almost always carries some kind of information for us as well. Maybe they mirror our own wounds, or they’re modeling a way of being in the world that is the total opposite of how we negotiate reality. Maybe they are five steps behind us in the growth journey and we want to help them catch up, or maybe they’re five steps ahead of us, and we want to catch up to them. Whatever it is about them that draws us in, the energy that activates our obsession revolves around growth and evolution for both ourselves, and the other person. In fact, that’s kind of the whole point of ANY relationship for an INFJ or an INFP. If it’s not primarily about growth and evolution, we’re not interested.
Then, if we become close with the person, and we feel safe with them, it seems that our sacral chakra opens and sends waves of sexual-spiritual energy up through our bodies to our heart chakra, which then sends energy up to our throat and our third eye. INFJs will usually have the intense urge to communicate their feelings of love to the person they are adoring, while INFPs might have more of an urge to write about it. Either way, the INFJ or INFP will feel an overwhelming drive to EXPRESS what they are feeling, who they are feeling it about, and why they believe they are feeling that way about that person.
Finally, the energy wave hits our third eye and blows it open, sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot. I believe this is why INFJs and INFPs who are in love with someone ALSO experience heightened visionary experiences, synchronicities, and other types of downloads from the soul plane. These downloads might come in the form of seeing the archetypal patterns of the beloved (and of oneself) or as flashes of insight about the beloved’s past experiences, wounds, or belief systems. Sometimes (most often with INFJs) the person will see how multiple future timelines might play out with their soulmate, even if some of those timelines end up with the relationship coming to an end.
When an INFJ or an INFP who is experiencing all of this tries to make sense of it, they usually end up feeling like they’re totally weird or like something must be wrong with them. Because if you look around online for information on this, you’ll find a lot of articles about codependency, attachment style disorders, and limerence. And if you’re an INFJ or an INFP who is currently in love and you read any of those articles and take them seriously, you will end up feeling like a clingy, needy, codependent hot mess who had a bad childhood and can’t be a normal healthy human being. However, that is NOT what’s going on.
What’s really going on is that INFJ and INFP personality types are extremely energetically and psychically sensitive. Most of us merge with people we are close to, unconsciously and all the time. Merging with the energy of others is how we do life, and the only way we don’t do this is if we’ve specifically learned the tools to not do it, and we consciously practice using those tools. Also, even those of us who are super aware, still do it. It’s kind of like breathing for us. We just do it. We don’t think about it.
When we fall in love with someone, we not only unconsciously merge with them, we actively try to make it happen. This is because of a few different reasons. We want to be close to them, we want to understand them, and we want to take care of them. The way most people understand others is through a person’s projected outer identity — their profession, their societal costume, the role they’re playing in life. INFJs and INFPs do not understand other people using these cues. Instead, INFJs and INFPs understand people through their essence, and what leads us to a person’s essence is their wounds.
This is why wounded people tend to captivate us, and this is also why we merge with those we love. We’re trying to get at the wound. If we can see what’s actually going on there, then half our battle is won. We start to “get” the person. We begin to grasp their fears, their motivations, their mindset. We can begin to see through their eyes. This is not psychoanalysis. This goes so far beyond an intellectual exercise, it’s not even funny. This is merging. We use our intuition and psychic sensitivity to create an internal simulation of living life as that person. When we come to the point where we can see that the choices that person made, never felt like choices to them at all, but instead total necessity, then we are there. We have completed the puzzle.
Sometimes the relationship itself continues on after this, whether that’s marriage or another form of long-term relationship. Sometimes it falls apart, or it dissolves a bit more gently. If it does end in a tearing-apart, painful sort of way, the INFJ or INFP will need a long recovery time afterwards, sometimes years. That doesn’t mean that we stay single or celibate, but we will still be aware of that person’s energy and we will actively still feel their imprint on our heart. Many of us will be grateful because the relationship did spark us creatively and we ended up writing the story or began painting the pictures or making the music. No matter how it ends, or if it goes on, after the intense obsessive falling-in-love stage is over, we will usually go into a period of prolonged reflection, where we sort through everything that happened and clarify even more of the deeper meanings.
And then, oftentimes, it will happen again. This is what most INFJs and INFPs don’t talk about, that even if we’re happily married or partnered, it seems to always happen again. It might be years later, but someone else stumbles into our life and the cycle happens just like last time, the fascination, the obsession, the visions and telepathy, the synchronicities, the sparking of the muse, the wounds — on both sides — the triggers, the confusion, the puzzle that we’re so desperately trying to put together. It all happens again.
Please know, first of all, that everything I’ve outlined above is actually totally normal for INFJs and INFPs. It does not mean that we’re emotionally dysfunctional, and it does not mean that we’re dissatisfied with our primary relationship (if we have one). All that it means about us is that we are energetically sensitive people who are also highly creative and have healing abilities, and when we fall in love, the whole package of what we are is activated. We become more curious, more driven, more creative, more open, more awake, and even more sensitive.
If you’re an INFJ or an INFP who is currently in love with a soulmate, the best thing you can do is let go. You don’t have make decisions about what it is or what it should be. You don’t have to categorize it or explain it to other people. You don’t necessarily need to treat it as a sign that you’re trying to do a partner exchange or even that you need to be in the same geographical vicinity as the other person. You can just let it be, observe it unfold, and be grateful for such a beautiful experience dropping into your life.
Instead of judging it and trying to control it, just let go. Let it be.
Lauren Sapala is the author of The INFJ Writer, The INFJ Revolution, and the creator of Energy and Intuition for INFJs, an online course for INFJs on intuition, relationships, creativity, and more. She is also currently offering a free copy of her book Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers to anyone who signs up for her newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy.