Emotional bonding for this INTP

I have a particular “odd feeling” (dislike? repulsion?  a need to be different?) towards the rise of the social media site Facebook and the importance it seems to play in a lot of people’s lives these days. Emotional bonding by maintaining personal ties with people undoubtedly plays an important role in everyone’s life, regardless of type (I think)– it’s an important part of being human and was and still is essential to our survival as a species. But, to me it always seemed weird that people prefer to maintain extremely large social networks through a rather informal and cold-looking website interface. I’d much rather interact with people face-to-face or via lengthy emails (sometimes useful to help clarify my thoughts).
Some of my thoughts when looking at my Facebook wall: Why are you posting sexy portrait pictures of yourself every day? I’m supposed to care about what you ate for dinner last night? Or, why are you announcing your break-up/new relationship/engagement/wedding/baby bump to the whole world? Do you really want everyone to know the personal details of your life? Are you really that closely connected with all these people on Facebook? Are these all projection thoughts emanating from my inferior Fe, my inner narcissist?
Even though I remained extremely reticent to the idea throughout my youth and university years, I did eventually decide to sign myself up in 2009, shortly after my wedding and after attending a scientific conference. Must have been Fe rearing it’s head. I posted pictures of the wedding, joined groups to stay “connected” with my scientific network and
“reconnected” with long-lost friends. But, I didn’t really invest much time in it. I mostly found people’s “status updates” boring and wrote random one-liners that my husband always found very witty. A few people cared about what I wrote, most did not. So why bother?
This reticence might stem from my seeming inability to develop and maintain close emotional connections with anyone that is not inside my small inner circle or people that don’t/no longer share my interests.  It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I sometimes end up caring too much, and feel ripped apart every time a deep connection is somehow broken-up by physical or emotional distance. I’d much prefer to keep you in my daily life and continue sharing my deepest thoughts and ideas with you, but the physical distance makes it almost impossible for me to continue. Also, I usually somehow perceive that the relationship has moved from “close” to “superficial” and at this point I no longer have the need to continue investing.
This inability to connect with people that don’t share my interests or are not in close proximity to me on a daily basis has led me to inadvertently form a few “close” (female) and even one “inappropriate” friendship (male) at work. The increase in energy and “happy feelings” I got while discussing scientific topics at work with my LO was, let’s say, “magical” and it became quite literally “addictive”. I consciously “watched” myself (Ti watching over Fe– although Ti couldn’t STOP Fe) as I began to display incredibly bizarre behaviors– incessant playful teasing, sharing of food to coerce him into conversation, emails with links to blog postings/papers/anything interesting that I thought might eventually lead to some sort of discussion. Mostly it didn’t, sometimes it did though and when it did and I perceived good feelings from the conversation, it was exhilarating. This, in addition to some pretty addictive obsessive fantasizing on my part and way too much eye contact, joking around, a few too many hugs (initiated by him– I usually tried to duck them; but when I did he resorted instead to giving me what I perceived as an affectionate tap on the head– WTF, do people actually do this???), compounded over a two year period eventually led to an incredibly large intertwined web of emotional ties (big mess!) inside my head. And, some very noticeable TUNNEL VISION. I literally tuned out almost anyone else in my immediate surroundings to concentrate on my bond with this one person. I also got increasingly frustrated if people interrupted the conversation before I wanted it to end. I would also effectively “tune-out” if any other topic but science was discussed by him or others (beer making, bread making, his travels, different types of teas, etc– I think he’s an ENFP). And I really couldn’t understand how the closeness had developed– everything seemed “appropriate” for a “friendship”, at least on the surface. Conversations revolved mostly around scientific topics with a small and unnoticeable increase in sharing of personal details over time. There was no sharing of deep feelings whatsoever (until I allowed Fe to write my “closure” emails). And yet I had reached what I felt was the DEPTH of human caring– I was willing to give my life for this other person, without really knowing him very well at all! I’m thankful to Ti for keeping me out of trouble for this one, but just barely. More on that later.
On recounting my actions to my friends, sister and husband they all laughed at me–that sounds like a friendship they said! Why did you “hold on” or place “importance” on all those trivial things (social niceties)? How did you develop “feelings” for this other person? This was followed much later by the daunting realization that it was because I “thought” and “perceived” differently than others– how having different thought and emotional processing can skew our perceptions of our own actions and the actions of others! Evidently, my subconscious mind had ascribed some deep “meaning” to what I perceived as bizarre, but heartfelt, interactions, creating a tangled web of emotional bonds revolving mostly around the “feelings” I got while discussing science in his presence (when really I was energized and effectively “getting off” on the intellectual stimulation or mental masturbation). Basically my mind was classically conditioned to “love” this person– step 1: get excited about discussing your interests with someone who appears to like your ideas and can introduce you to different ideas (Ti-Ne-Fe) 2: person on other end is also free with his flirtations, compliments and admiration (Fe-Fe-Fe!!!) step 3: simply being in the presence of this person now gets you incredibly excited step 4: perception of “falling in love”. Who knew and how simple? Is “falling in love” just an initial  misunderstanding between two different personality types??? I would NEVER flirt with someone unless I was interested (edit-but Fe would…). To me, it just seemed strange, even though logic told me that he behaved that way with every other girl in his immediate vicinity. I don’t think logic mattered though– Fe was taking it all in subconsciously. If this is what characterizes the process of “falling in love” (at least in the world of this INTP– the same thing happened when I met my husband– but at that time it took me much longer to be consciously aware of my actions and what they actually meant) then an ability to “stay in love” must then be characterized by the rude awakening that you never actually “understood” each other in the first place, and that you must now start the process both of understanding yourself first and then understanding each other, followed by some sort of compromise where most of your combined emotional needs can be met (in my case, with an ISFP, I’m guessing it’s going to take a combination of meeting them individually and together– because I feel so incredibly “misunderstood” at the moment, especially with my recent interests and ramblings).
Over the past four months, I’ve definitely analyzed, over-analyzed and then continued to analyze my behaviors and feelings over the past two years. What actually happened? Why did it happen? What was I missing in my life? Why was the interaction so entertaining/fascinating/addictive? In this particular case, my need for this particular “close, inappropriate” friendship was most likely driven by the stress induced by my husband moving away for work (Fe feelings of loneliness and abandonment!!!), my increased drive to fill the void with work to escape the reality of this situation, compounding my stress, the stress of having to commute 4 hours per week which also gave me plenty of time to develop a “fantasy life” inside my mind. Basically, I think I masked my stress or projected my stress onto another person, associating “stress” with “love” and therefore converting a situation that would normally be felt as quite stressful/painful, into something quite pleasurable and almost necessary for my existence.

I eventually consciously decided that it was not “love” and that I had somehow gotten my mind screwed up and “sick”. I actually started to freak out pretty badly (some deeply felt emotional pain) about not receiving a response email from my LO (this was after I had moved away and was hoping that the distance would break the ties; but he continued to email me more frequently than he ever had in the past). I also began obsessively checking his Facebook page every 2 seconds and getting exceedingly upset. At that point it was like “YOU ARE CRAZY! It’s time to transfer all that emotional bonding energy BACK to where it belongs, your husband, you need to stop this nonsense!”. Bye bye Facebook for four months while I Ti myself out of this mess.

All this to say, emotional/psychological connections are either all-or-none for the INTP and come with an incredible DEPTH. Either I’m 100% in or I’m 100% out. And when I’m in 100% — it’s SCARY for me, so be ready for a wild, emotional ride. When I’m 100% out– good luck trying to reconnect.

And people on Facebook are boring. Death to Facebook.

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About intpblogger

I'm a 29 year old female currently wrapping up my PhD in Neuroscience, which looked at the molecular underpinnings of learning and memory. I've just recently stumbled upon the fascinating world of personality types and how our type guides our perception of the world, the people around us and the decisions we make. I'm especially interested in the process through which neuromodulators, released during periods of stress, bonding and romantic love/limerence influence our personalities (and how this might differ between types). My posts will be based on a mixture of thoughts, personal experiences, ideas and things I've read along the way. Since I've traditionally stuck to the molecular/cellular side of neuroscience and possibly scoffed at social psychology in the past (ashamed) I only "discovered" Myers-Briggs theory and myself a week ago, after a seemingly long period of a what I would call an "identity crisis". But more on that later. As an INTP (I think), I'd like to think I have some unique insight to share with all of you, but I don't necessarily think I hold all the answers nor will I be able to express them as clearly as some would wish. So, I welcome all clarifications, challenges, criticisms, different perspectives, thoughts, personal experiences from other INTPs as well as all other personality types that choose to join me on this journey. The idea here is to gain insight into my mind and the mind of others through the mutual sharing of ideas, thoughts and experiences. Onwards.

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