The INF(J)amous Door Slam
It came down to laughing out loud or choking on my coffee, and the result, I can assure you, wasn’t pretty.
As a lifelong INFJ personality type*, otherwise known as the Advocate, I had no idea that this was a thing among the 1% of us who belong in this category, let alone that it had a name - accompanied by “infamous”, no less, according to more than one source, as I later discovered.
I felt like I had been called out. It caught me so off guard that I reacted viscerally, and I have the coffee stains to prove it.
So yes - the infamous INFJ door slam.
In all fairness, the label is rather harsh. A door slam suggests anger and aggression, or at least some version of a temper tantrum. It implies an emotional reaction that occurs in the heat of the moment, evoking images of broken dishes, punctuated by words that can’t be unsaid. Anybody who knows an INFJ type will tell you that this is pretty much the exact opposite of everything they embody.
Yes, they are sensitive, but emotional they are not.
And yes, they are also critical, but they don’t judge. Or at least they try very hard not to.
Advocates may profoundly disagree with you, but they will never make you feel small for your differing opinion, and if anything, they will welcome opposing viewpoints, if only to improve their own understanding of how other people’s brains work. Theirs is a world of principles, mostly, and they care very much about practising what they preach. One of those things is respect.
They can handle people’s anger, and they understand lashing out as coming from a place of pain and internal misery. None of that is by definition disrespectful. They know not to take personally what wasn’t intended as such and accept that people react defensively in the moment, patiently waiting for them to come back around once the moment has passed.
INFJ personality types don’t particularly enjoy taking the high road, oftentimes cursing it under their breath. But they can see the destruction ahead if they don’t, and simply choose to take one for the team. More often than not, they will give you more than a couple of chances. The benefit of the doubt. Space to decompress. A soft place to fall. We’re all human, after all.
But then there’s that line. It’s part of their INFJ-DNA. A shield that separates the wild west that is the rest of the world from this personality type’s sacred core. It carries a sign that says “Do not cross”. You probably can’t see it, and even if you could, you might be bewildered at what constitutes a chargeable offense. In your mind, you’ve said or done so much worse, and now this – this?? – is considered a dealbreaker?
Well, yes. Because while those other things were selfishly impulsive and thoughtless, they were, for the most part, understandable and forgivable. What crosses the line is the act that is deliberate, unprovoked and unjustified. One that leaves no doubt about how little the person at the receiving end matters to the one dishing it out.
In that moment, INFJ types will feel like the rug got pulled out from under their feet. The act itself needs not be of great significance or consequence. But it says everything it needs to say with its underlying message: “You’re not important.” “You’re not worth the effort.” “You mean nothing to me.” And while Advocates will bend over backwards for you, they don’t expect the same in return – on the contrary, it would make them uncomfortable. But to be dismissed with the back of a hand is something else entirely, and that, they can’t overcome.
INFJ types know better than to react in that moment. Yes, they will feel everything you would expect them to – pain, disbelief, anger – but they will wait for the wave to pass before making any attempt at even assessing the situation. The very last thing they want is to act irrationally, under the influence of a torrent of emotions. But once the dust has settled, and they are back in control of their mental faculties, and they are certain that they have not misinterpreted what was said, done or not done – and God knows they question their perceptions to an unnerving degree and allow a tremendous amount of leeway for the possibility of being wrong - eventually they reach that moment of clarity. They have seen you for what you are, and will ensure that this never happens again.
And so they proceed not so much to slam the door on you but rather to methodically and quietly simply erase you out of their existence. No exchanges, no memories, no feelings, no mementos.
It’s not being done to you, see it instead as an act of self-preservation. They didn’t get there over night, and they don’t do this lightly. But once it becomes clear that who you are cannot co-exist with who they are, it emerges as the only logical thing left to do.
There are many personality types, no doubt, that have their own version of the door slam, but what marks this one is the cold contrast to the Advocate’s usually rather warm disposition, the awareness with which it’s carried out, and its finality.
And the thing is, you may not even know that it happened. If they don’t have a choice but to deal with you, like in the workplace, they will remain pretty cordial. They just won’t feel anything anymore – no good will, no empathy, no resentment, just nothing at all. You may as well be a cardboard cutout of yourself. If you were, up until this point, in sporadic contact you may just think that life happens and that people move on for no particular reason. And if you were close, well then yes, you would likely know that you overstepped. But if you’re not sure, you can always ask.
In a lifetime, this doesn’t happen very often, but I can assure you that every INFJ can remember every instance, no matter how deep or superficial the relationship was.
Is there a way back from this? Rarely. First because most culprits don’t care enough to bother, otherwise they would not have been in the situation in the first place. But assuming they do, the fact remains that they are still the same person, the one that is capable of the type of action that led to this. The Advocate is not out to change anybody, or looking for apologies, or out to punish, or on some kind of power trip. You are what you are, and it is what it is, they just want no more part of it.
But on rare occasions, sometimes after a lot of time has passed and the two people involved have had time to digest, review and grow from their past selves, and both can concede their responsibilities – one, for hitting below the belt, the other for stubbornly insisting on their unilateral decision – then yes, there is a way back to a peaceful truce, and even a renewed friendship.
And this one may well come with an open-door policy and a welcome mat, but perhaps you’d be wise to invest in a doorstopper or two. You know, just to be safe.
* Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) which breaks down the psychological types as described by C. G. Jung into 16 different personalities. To find out which one you are, you can take the test here: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
To read more about the 16 different personalities, click here:
Sandra is a blogger, life coach and activist.
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