Fun fact: the reason why I became interested in MBTI in the first place was because I had a schoolgirl crush on an ISTJ. He posted his type on Facebook, so I just *had* to figure out what the meaning behind this mysterious acronym was. That opened the doors to so much information on what he could be like, along with a number of Google searches equivalent to “Can Aries woman be compatible with Cancer man?” but in MBTI terms. Nothing ever happened with the ISTJ, as he was handsome, well-dressed, and smart — thus terrifyingly intimidating. My curiosity in him led me to MBTI and eventually psychology, so I guess in a round about way, my calling was found through a silly, infantile crush. This has made me a believer in destiny, even though it has not worked it’s magic on my love-life yet.
Since this was the pathway that lead me to MBTI, I thought I’d contribute to someone else’s by making my own list of how to tell when an INFP is interested in you! This is just for fun. Take with a spoonful of sugar and a grain of salt, please.
Before I get into the signs, I feel it is my duty to provide some disclaimers first.
*Be careful: using MBTI to understand someone you do not know is a one-way ticket to idealizing or making incorrect assumptions. Try to see them by what they actually communicate to you the best you can, not as a “type”.
*Are you sure you have their type right?: typing yourself should be a labor intensive process of introspection and self-discovery. It takes time and interest. Type others with caution.
*This list has bias: this doesn’t mean it’s incorrect per se, it just means that what I’ve described is possibly not true for all INFPs. INFPs are individualists. There is much room for variability within our type. These are collected from my own life-experience and observations.
+ LOVE-SHY INFPS +
Love-shyness tends to be a trait of INFPs, particularly in their younger years. If your INFP seems so quiet they verge on being mute, is typically found alone while lost in their own world reading a book or listening to music, and refuses to indulge you in prolonged conversation, you may have found a love-shy INFP. Are you confused by their contradictory behavior towards you? That’s a sign in itself.
- AVOIDANCE: You’ll probably catch them glancing at you, then quickly looking away. Faced with an opportunity to talk to you, but somehow practically evaporate. Maybe they literally run at the sight of you. Yes, they like you. Or hate you. One or the other.
- STRANGE COINCIDENCES: Does the INFP seem to randomly appear in places you are known to hangout? While also avoiding you? And acting like you don’t exist? This switch in proximity might seem pointless, but they’re collecting data on you (in an endearing, non-creepy way, if possible). They are probably hoping you’ll notice them, while simultaneously being terrified that you’ll actually talk to them.
- BREADCRUMB HINTS: Like Hansel and Gretel, we will leave a trail of breadcrumb hints here and there for you to find. Pay close attention, especially to social media. A song, quote, like, link, post, share, follow, etc. could possibly be their way of feeling like they’re communicating their interest in you (even if it’s not addressed to you). Reading between the lines, while risky, is a must for reading love-shy INFPs.
- NERVOUSNESS: Tell-tale sign. Speaking for myself here, I am usually overthinking how I am coming off, or overthinking every detail of our interactions. Sometimes my body doesn’t quite know how to respond to everything going on in my head. This might be hard to spot since we can be prone to awkwardness already, but look for blunders followed by obvious embarrassment. Oh, the shame *sigh*. This tends to lessen as I get to know you better.
- SAYING THE WRONG THING: If we do manage to talk to you, our brains might overheat from the pressure. So, we might space out at random increments of the conversation. There’s a chance there will be mumbling, and non-sensical words riddled with “um’s”. Oddly timed laughter. And we might just blurt out something we don’t mean at all, even something that’s accidentally insulting (whoops). Say yes when we mean no, things like that.
+ LOVE-READY INFPS +
These are INFPs that have grown out of love-shyness and are proactively hunting for a mate. By this I mean waiting around to be receptive to someone they like. Even if they’re not as shy, INFPs are rarely direct. They’ll likely try to communicate interest in you through indirect means before taking that leap of faith by telling you how they feel. INFPs are pros at pretending like they don’t like you, but if you’re perceptive, it can be glaringly obvious.
- INITIATING CONTACT: As introverts, initiating contact is practically unnatural. INFPs only do this if they want to get to know you, which isn’t the norm for us. Now don’t take this and run with it yet, because we might be solely interested in friendship. But initiating is a good initial sign. If we tend to text or message often, that’s a very good sign. Initiating hanging out is an excellent sign. Initiating dates…how much more obvious must we make it for you? If they’re on a date with you, they’re interested and suspect it could possibly go somewhere (unless they are just trying to be nice, this also happens too sometimes).
- 21, ooo Q’s: If an INFP likes you, they will be curious about you. When an INFP is curious about you, they will pester you with questions. Questions are a general sign of interest for anyone, but an INFP will ask insignificant questions along with the important ones. Favorite color? Favorite vegetable? Favorite time of day? Favorite toothpaste brand? Life goals? Fears? Allergies? How do you feel about mortality? Feminism? Existentialism? Art?! WE’VE GOT TO KNOW.
- UNEXPLAINABLE GENEROSITY: Every INFPs base level of generosity will differ, but if we like you, this will go up a notch. Our “gifts” can come in different forms, from literal gifts bought because it reminded us of you, to sharing our cherished popcorn that we love so much, we don’t share it with anyone (except you). They might create something for you, or go to great lengths to help you in some way. It might take shared social circles to notice this, but if they give you a little extra somethin’, they appreciate you very much.
- MILES OF SMILES: INFPs value authenticity, and we have a strong dislike for doing things that don’t coincide with how we truly feel. Study their facial expressions. Ample toothy smiles with lit-up eyes, snort-laughing, ugly crying (okay, hopefully no ugly crying). If it seems genuine, it probably is, and that means we not only like you, but are comfortable enough to fling away the superficial mask and reveal the real stuff our faces are capable of doing. When I really like someone, I can seem to hide it everywhere except my face. The damn thing is always betraying me. Also, I’m not a “smiley person” so if I seem like one around you, you’re special because you actually make me happy.
- TAKING INTEREST IN YOUR INTERESTS: If you’ve shared your interests with us, and now find us bringing up your interests on our own, that’s a sign that we’re trying to engage and connect with you. Of course, we might find your interest interesting, but there’s a good chance we’re doing it to show you that we find YOU interesting.
- FRIENDSHIP FIRST: This may not be the case for every INFP, but for those that are looking for something long-term, it is likely we will want to know you very well before we act, if we act. Because we’re prone to idealizing, getting to know who you are is helpful in establishing whether our connection is real and worth pursuing. Friendship is a more genuine way to get to know someone compared to dating as well, and it’s the safe route if you don’t care about the friend-zone (personally speaking, I do not).
- SHARING IS CARING: We aspire to deeply connect with others, and that takes being vulnerable. INFPs are notoriously private and difficult to know, so opening up takes forever and is a privilege of sorts. Paired with friendship first, we will slowly reveal our most sacred self if we trust you. There might be some hesitation with this if we do like you, because we tend to instinctually hide our romantic feelings. An INFP opening up is the ultimate sign that we adore you in some way.
+ GENERAL TIPS +
- BE YOURSELF: Since we value authenticity, we despise inauthenticity, and we will usually be able to tell if you are putting on a front. Whatever you do, don’t be someone you’re not. Who you are should be more than enough for someone, and if it isn’t, then it clearly isn’t the right match.
- DIVULGE YOUR TRUE SELF: When we badger you with questions, answer them honestly. Ask us some back and have it lead to a heart-warming, soul-connecting conversation. People seem to often inquire as to how to get an INFP to open up. Try to share the many parts of yourself with us, including the more exclusive, ooey gooey center. If we generally like you, we’ll be prompted to do the same, bit by bit. When we do share, please do not criticize us. That will make us feel misunderstood and will likely result in us clamming up again.
- TELL US YOU’RE INTERESTED: If you’re wondering whether you should directly ask or strongly suggest your intentions, be direct — for your own sake and sanity, as well as our own. We can relate to not having the cajones to tell someone we care about them in a romantic way. And we tend to fall into the unrequited trap by either not saying it when we have the chance, or not saying it at all. Bravery fortunes the bold. Even if we turn out not to be interested, we will admire your courage because we know it’s a difficult thing to acquire. It’s best not to call INFPs out on how they feel, it’s better to share how YOU feel. Don’t manipulate them into telling you they’re interested, as that is a huge turn-off. And if you ask them on a date, try to make it clear it is a date. The more direct you can be, the less excruciating the outcome will be.
There you have it! Likely some INFPs will exhibit a mix of both love-shy and love-ready traits, shifting as they live and learn. If you are dating, are in a relationship with an INFP, or are anticipating this in the near future, check out my article on INFPs in relationships on Introvert, Dear.
AND, if you’re an INFP, are these signs true for you? Are there any that I missed? I’d love to know!
*ALL IMAGES ARE FROM FOX’S TELEVISION SHOW BOB’S BURGERS