Every INFJ male holds the questionable accolade of having the rarest personality type.
If you’re an INFJ man, or you have one in your life, you may question whether or not that’s something to celebrate!
Being an INFJ male could equally be described as a blessing and a curse – and I should know – I’m a male INFJ myself.
In this article, I provide an honest and thorough insight into the world of INFJ men, as well as a few revealing anecdotes. You should find it particularly useful if:
- YOU are an INFJ male (especially if you’ve just completed a Myers-Briggs test and discovered your personality type for the first time).
- You are involved with an INFJ man – especially in an intimate relationship.
- You are an INFJ female (because much of this stuff will still be relevant).
We will start right at the beginning.
- What is an INFJ Male?
- A Quick Background: Discovering I Was an INFJ
- The Key Traits of an INFJ
- Where INFJs Excel
- Where INFJs Struggle
- INFJs and Mental Health
- INFJ Males in Romantic Relationships
- Careers for INFJ Men
- Advice for Living as an INFJ Male
- Wrapping Up
- More to Read
What is an INFJ Male?
An INFJ male is a male who possesses the INFJ personality type, as identified by a Myers-Briggs type indicator test.
The INFJ personality type is often described as “the counselor” or “the advocate.”
The INFJ acronym breaks down as follows:
I = Introvert (as opposed to Extrovert).
N = Intuitive (as opposed to Sensor).
F = Feeling (as opposed to Thinking).
J = Judging (as opposed to Perceiving).
Don’t worry if none of that makes sense to you yet – all will be revealed later in this article.
A Quick Explanation of Myers-Briggs
Myers-Briggs tests put everybody into one of 16 different personality types, based on characteristics such and introversion vs. extroversion, and whether they primarily sense or feel, judge or perceive.
Before we go any further, it’s crucial to emphasise that MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) is a theory of psychology, and one that has plenty of detractors.
However, its classifications have long served as a useful tool to help people understand themselves and their relationships. Despite attempts to discredit MBTI, it’s still been used for psychometric testing by 89% of Fortune 100 companies.
You’ll find plenty of online debate about Myers-Briggs. For the purpose of this article, it suffices to say that if you don’t “believe in it,” it’s probably not worth you reading any further.
HOW Rare is an INFJ Male?
INFJ is widely considered to be the rarest personality type, with between 1 and 3% of people testing as that type. INFJ males are rarer still, estimated to account for just 0.5-1% of the population.
A Quick Background: Discovering I Was an INFJ
Before we move on to the key traits of an INFJ, I shall give you a little background, which should serve to illustrate why I’m suitably qualified to talk about this.
When I first took an MBTI test and discovered I was an INFJ, it starkly and suddenly made a LOT of things make sense.
I’d long felt that I was a bit “different” to most people – especially other males. I’d frequently been labelled as “sensitive,” and “in touch with my feminine side” (in both positive and negative ways!) I’d also – on way more than one occasion – been assumed to be gay. (I’m making no generalisations about male INFJs here, merely sharing my experience).
Finding out that I was an INFJ was oddly liberating and empowering, and immediately helped me to like and understand myself more. (Finding out my wife’s personality type, and how our respective types can both complement and clash, was equality revelatory – but that’s for another article).
The Key Traits of an INFJ
- Idealistic: We care about the plight of others and can often imagine ways to make things better – both for the people around us, and for the wider world.
- Intuitive: It’s not over-the-top to describe INFJs as mind readers. We have a highly tuned sense of intuition and can readily tune into other people’s emotions. (This has negatives as well as positives, as we shall see shortly).
- Empathetic: INFJs truly FEEL the emotions of others – in some cases knowing something is wrong before less “emotionally tuned” loved ones even realise themselves. INFJs have empathy that goes way beyond sympathy and compassion.
- Principled: INFJs have a strict sense of fairness and justice – one that they can be surprisingly ruthless in protecting and living by.
- Driven (Mainly) By Emotion: Sometimes INFJs are described as “emotional” or “impulsive.” These descriptions at once accurate and unfair. INFJs who have yet to “grow into themselves” can behave impulsively, but more developed INFJs tend to spend a lot of time learning – both about themselves, and the views of others. While emotion plays a part in every decision an INFJ makes, the chances are that those decisions are backed by plenty of logic too.
- Stubborn: INFJs can be strict in their routines and rituals and, as mentioned before, are also strict in their principles. This can manifest itself as being inflexible and intolerant. Being more charitable, INFJs tend to consistently give of their best in a world that’s not designed to make their lives easy (especially for INFJ males!) Routine and adherence to an internal moral code is a way that many INFJs keep themselves sane.
- Deep: There’s no other word to use! INFJs spend a lot of their time in “existential contemplation,” and often willingly talk about complex and (sometimes) personal issues that others shy away from. On the flip-side, INFJs tend to find small-talk and superficiality a huge turn-off.
Just from scanning that list, you will see that the INFJ male is made in a way that’s very much out of step with “traditional gender roles.”
A Few Examples
The above explains the theory, but how does all this manifest itself for a real life INFJ male?
Here are a few examples of from my own INFJ existence, to put some of this stuff into perspective:
- I (usually) know what people are thinking: Yes, I know this may sound conceited, but intuition really does exist. I tend to know what a client or an interviewer wants to hear. But I also know when the mood in a room changes, the moment somebody decides they don’t like me, or if I’ve said something that’s “landed badly.”
- I absorb people’s emotions: The “dark side” of having a lot of empathy is that you absorb energy from others – both positive and negative. This can mean you feel and experience joy more deeply than others, but are also hugely affected and drained by conflict and “negative vibes.”
- I’m ready to give my all – until I’m not: I will put up with a lot of nonsense from other people, and give people second chances and the benefit of the doubt. But when I’m pushed past a clearly defined limit and decide to step away, I will almost always remain steadfast in my decision. The “INFJ Freeze Out” is a real thing – Google it!
- I see being “woke” as a good thing, and a duty: I’m constantly learning about other cultures, people and viewpoints – and often empathising with them. In the case of viewpoints, I’m always willing to change my own if shown suitable evidence. INFJs are constantly evolving.
Where INFJs Excel
As I’ve said a couple of times, being an INFJ is both a blessing and a curse. Here are some of the plus points:
INFJs can be of great support to others
There’s a reason INFJs are known as “The Counselor” (I’ve actually trained in counselling myself.) As well as having a well-tuned sense of empathy, INFJs are generally both willing and eager to delve into the “affairs of the heart” stuff that many people shy away from.
People often turn to INFJs when they’re going through hard times, and the INFJ genuinely enjoys being able to help. (We can also take great offence when that help is taken for granted, but we’ll come back to that later!)
INFJs can benefit from their instinct
Being able to intuit what people want to hear can be great in an interview situation! But intuition is also an INFJ trait that could reasonably be placed in the “with great power comes great responsibility” category. It’s fair to say that intuition can be used to manipulate.
There’s a huge irony here. While some might assume that INFJs would use their intuition to get what they want, it’s perhaps more common for us to mould ourselves to other people’s expectations – to our own detriment.
INFJs can be good for the world
The INFJ’s innate sense of justice and idealism can often translate to altruistic pursuits and charity work. INFJs want the world to be better, and often dedicate their time to trying to make it so.
INFJs can help with social cohesion
Although INFJs are introverted (in terms of classification), they are still social beings, like all humans. In a stilted social situation, it can often be the INFJ who gets the different groups talking and interacting. INFJs can seem reserved, but that doesn’t translate to shy.
Where INFJs Struggle
To balance out the plusses, here are some of the trickier parts of being an INFJ male:
INFJs often burn themselves out emotionally
The popular meme that says “who looks after the person who looks after everyone else?” might as well have been created with INFJs in mind.
INFJs willingly give up their time and emotional energy for others. Some even choose to do that as a career. But it’s sometimes at the INFJ’s own expense. Often, the person who’s been helped moves on contentedly, without realising that the INFJ who helped them was left drained by the experience!
I think it’s fair to say that this can be a particular problem for the INFJ male. In a male friendship group, the INFJ male will tend to become the “go to” person for anything deep and meaningful – and not have anybody to turn to for the same kind of support.
INFJ men can be lonely
It’s a sad inevitability that people who share a personality type with just 0.5-1% of their peers will have a tendency to feel lonely. It amounts to a very small pool of people who truly “get you.”
Contrast this with the comparatively common “protector,” the ISFJ, estimated to account for 14% of the population. If you were one of these, you’d be 14 times more likely to meet people who think the same way as you.
There are several factors that play into a lonely existence for male INFJs. Aside from the fact we think differently, we don’t tend to be “into” the same things as our male counterparts. Nobody at the football match wants to have a deep conversation about our latest read from the “Mind, Body and Sprit” section!
The INFJ’s rigidity and strict moral code also tends to keep friendship groups small. It takes a lot for an INFJ to truly “let anybody in,” especially as they grow older. Furthermore, while INFJs can be tolerant and understanding, once they decide to let a friendship go, they rarely change their mind.
INFJs struggle to be themselves
Many INFJs try to counteract being different to most others by trying to act the same as them. Over time, it can become difficult to identity how much of the true person is left underneath.
I’ve certainly spent a lot of my life doing this. Plenty of people I’ve met over the years would – no doubt – remember me as a loud, extroverted party animal. But that’s not me at all.
Don’t underestimate an INFJ male’s ability to convincingly mask their true selves. In many cases they will have started the process from a single-digit age.
One thing I can say, however, is that there’s a happier life awaiting those willing to live more authentically. (It’s quieter and by some measures more “boring,” but I think it’s better!)
INFJs and Mental Health
There’s plenty of supposition out there about INFJs being particularly susceptible to mental health issues.
Obviously there’s no firm data around this. Your Myers-Briggs personality type isn’t something a psychiatrist or doctor asks for! However, it is reasonable to assume, based on the things we’ve already discussed, that INFJ males could be particularly vulnerable to mental health conditions.
I certainly have my own fair share. I have generalised anxiety, OCD, and periods of depression. I’ve also, over the years, been very much aware that I’m susceptible to addiction, although thankfully it’s never become a major problem. (In fact, just over a year ago I gave up alcohol, leaving me mercifully vice free!)
Being realistic, there are many parts of being a male INFJ that could have a negative impact on mental health:
- Struggling to fit in – right from an early age.
- Not feeling understood.
- Resorting to alcohol and other substances in an attempt to feel more “normal.”
- Taking on too many other peoples’ problems.
- A mismatch between the INFJ’s rather utopian idealism, and what the world is really like.
If you’re reading this as an INFJ who’s struggling in any way, I would highlight the importance of rest, self care, and having somebody to speak to. Professional therapy can be enormously helpful, and as an INFJ, you’re likely to be more receptive to its wonders than most.
INFJ Males in Romantic Relationships
Being in a relationship with an INFJ male could be great because:
- They’ll be hugely aware of your needs – sometimes before you are yourself.
- They will always be a great shoulder to cry on.
- They will almost certainly be faithful – the INFJ moral code wouldn’t permit them to be otherwise.
- They will buy fabulous gifts.
- They will probably inspire you with creativity of some kind – art, music, cooking.
- They will keep the place tidy!
But being in a romantic relationship with an INFJ male could also be a bit of a nightmare, because:
- They WILL be a bit needy and high maintenance (I’m allowed to say it – I AM one!)
- They could put you through tiring highs and draining lows.
- They will probably moan about politics, whether you care about them or not.
- You won’t stop them “telling it like it is” if something doesn’t fit their moral framework.
- They may well spend their lives trying to find a satisfying career (more on that next).
Careers for INFJ Men
Finding a satisfying career can be a frustrating endeavour for an INFJ. Making good money is unlikely to provide adequate satisfaction in itself, and -perhaps more than for any other personality type – that “making a difference” factor is likely to trump the number on a monthly pay-check.
Self employment can also prove an attractive prospect for an INFJ. There are many aspects of a “traditional” work environment that can prove undesirable for INFJs, from the overstimulating daily commute, to navigating superficial politics and – let’s be honest – tolerating certain other people.
Here are some of the jobs that INFJs typically gravitate to:
- Writing – allowing for a quiet work environment and freedom of expression and creativity.
- Counselling – plays well with an INFJ’s ability to tune into and help other people.
- Human Resources – INFJs make great HR people, ensuring employees are fairly treated and promoting a positive working environment.
- Project Management – INFJs may be seen as “sensitive,” but being sensitive to the needs of different people and departments is a strength in project management. Furthermore, it’s a myth to think that INFJ’s aren’t very capable of dealing with deadlines and pressure.
- Science – can deliver on the “making a difference” factor, and usually comes with a quiet working environment.
- Design – and other creative pursuits – ticks plenty of boxes for INFJs, including indulging their creative sides, and allowing lots of opportunities for self employment.
- Librarian / Book Shop Worker – you would struggle to find an INFJ who wouldn’t relish spending their working life surrounded by books.
- Non-Profit Worker – INFJs are wired to want to make the work a better place, so any kind of advocacy and charity work is likely to appeal.
It’s important to emphasise that no two INFJs are exactly the same, and that a personality type doesn’t preclude you from any career. However, these are certainly good good starting points.
Advice for Living as an INFJ Male
We shall end on some advice for living as an INFJ male, based on a lifetime of being one, including half of it knowing I am one.
Always strive to learn more about yourself
Some people are steadfast in their habits, their views and their priorities. If you’re an INFJ, the chances are you view such an approach as hugely flawed.
I’m personally of their view that if I’m not looking back on plenty of my past decisions, viewpoints and ideas as foolish and ill-advised, I’m neither learning enough nor paying enough attention!
Self analysis and evolution is terrifying to some personality types, but it can be a joy to an INFJ male. ENJOY being a work in progress.
Stop trying to “fit the mould”
If 99% of people don’t think like you, it’s human nature to wonder if it’s you who’s getting it wrong. But the world needs its “counsellors,” just as much as it needs the fearless ENTP “warriors.”
Dame Helen Mirren famously said that she wished she’d spend more of her earlier years “telling people to f&*k off.” That’s NOT what I’m advocating here (well, not exactly!) However, I have wasted a lot of my own life trying to “brute force” myself to be more extroverted, more “one of the crowd,” and more like other people.
I can whole-heartedly assure you than life is both richer and more serene on the other side of that.
Protect your mental health
Absorbing peoples’ emotions is exhausting. As an INFJ male, you might thoroughly enjoy social occasions, but need far more time to recover from them than others.
I only truly realised the extent of this when I quit drinking alcohol. I’d always wondered why I got far worse hangovers than other people. But I was truly mystified that I still felt that hangover feeling when I’d not been drinking at all.
It turns out that a “social hangover” is very much a thing. A far bigger issue is how drained you can become after weeks or months of helping other people with their problems – and if you’re an INFJ, you’ll probably be doing a lot of that.
Don’t be scared to get away – whether that means to the bath or the comfort of your bedroom, or on a little solo trip. More than any other personality type, INFJs need to remember the importance of “putting their own gas mask on first.”
Don’t expect other people to deliver the same empathy you do
As an INFJ, you are an expert in interpreting other peoples’ needs. Sadly very few personality types come close to doing the same thing.
This can lead to a lot of disappointment and bitterness. But the sad truth is that you could go through your whole life never meeting anybody who gives you the kind of emotional support you give to other people.
Rather than railing against this, try to be more aware of the other strengths people bring to the table.
Don’t get hung up on gender stereotypes
I’ve been keen to avoid gender stereotypes in this article, but they do have some relevance here.
If you’re an INFJ male in a heterosexual relationship, there’s a good chance that the dynamics of that relationship won’t conform to (old fashioned) societal norms.
For example, in our household, I do all the grocery shopping and most of the cooking. I’m the one who instinctively knows what to get people for Christmas and birthday presents. And if one of the children is in an emotional mess, it is me that unravels it and is usually the chosen “shoulder to cry on.”
But meanwhile, my wife does all the driving (I’m an anxious mess behind the wheel), and would only let me assemble flat-pack furniture with considerable reluctance!
My point is that worrying about these stereotypes is just another way to try to “fit the mould.” It will likely never feel comfortable. Your efforts are far better spent on building functional relationships based on the you that actually exists.
It’s been surprisingly cathartic to produce this article. It’s one of those that will feel thoroughly worthwhile if it helps just one person. So if you’re an INFJ male and this has resonated with you, do let me know in the comments.
I’m also always happy to hear from readers direct, especially those with the rarest personality type(!) so feel free to contact me.
More to Read
- Read The Ecstatic Soul: A New Look at the INFJ Personality
- Find out a bit more about me here.
- Read my Benefits of Quitting Alcohol.