Crawling out of inferior Fe– Part I– The Decision

For the past several days I have been revisiting and re-contemplating my decision-making process in ending the “emotional affair”. Not that I think I made the wrong decision; I’m fairly certain that it was the right decision and that, although the loss of that “deep connection” is definitely painful at times, it will pay off in the long run. Regardless, once we INTPs come to a decision, we are usually good at sticking with it and framing the life experience as just another step in our road to self-awareness; another piece of the puzzle; another giant leap forward in the game we call life. So, although I identify the incident retrospectively as being “wrong”, I wouldn’t be where I am today without it, so no regrets, no turning back time and no re-writing of my personal history.
I read recently on the forums that the rational, logic-based, subjective, Ti decision-making process automatically runs a risk-vs-return, cost-vs-benefit calculation on every decision we are making. I have definitely been aware of this process at work, where I weigh every experiment I want to do or are asked to do against the following internal questions: 1) how important is the result to the question I’m asking 2) how long will it take to learn the technique and get the result. The more I think the result is important, the more time I’m willing to spend learning a difficult technique and the more risk I will take on. However, the MOST IMPORTANT thing to me at work is that I actually CARE about the question I’m asking. I will care a lot if 1) I came up with the idea myself and got enough support from the literature to think it’s a good/feasible question or 2) you can somehow make me think I came up with the idea myself by giving me some sort of framework/big picture to fit your idea into, let me go read about it and independently come to my own conclusion about the strength of the idea. At the end of the day, if the final decision to address this question didn’t come from me, I will be more likely to be bored and drag my feet working on it. And I am most definitely not thinking that the research project could end up in this or that high-profile journal because we are doing this and that “cool, hot” technique that everyone under the sun is using. To me, the most important thing is coming up with THE IDEA, researching THE IDEA, thinking about the importance/relevance of THE IDEA, thinking about experiments to test THE IDEA, and finally doing the experiments that will address that idea (in the simplest, clearest way possible). What journal the “story” ends up in is secondary to my process– when professors are prematurely saying (I think sometimes giving false hope/encouragement to the naive graduate students) “well, if you do this crazy, technically challenging, impossible experiment and it works, we could send this to Nature”, I’m always thinking “WTF???”. I’m slowly starting to realize that my supervisor and I are speaking two completely different languages (dominant Te versus dominant Ti). Whereas he’s spewing all the cool, technically challenging experiments that are all the rage in the field and will put the research “on a higher level”, I’m trying to get him to see or talk about the bigger picture or meaning behind the chosen experimental paradigms. What is the question that these experiments are answering exactly? This is quite a frustrating cycle, since it usually ends up with me tuning out his experimental ideas and him not listening to my “big ideas”. Ugh.
Anyway, what does any of this have to do with my decision to get out of the emotional affair? Well, um, I’m sorry to burst the bubble of everyone married to an INTP, but (and correct me if I’m wrong) even “in love”, if our brains are functioning the way they should be, our decision to marry you was based primarily on LOGIC and less on our FEELINGS towards you. This is because 1) we inherently don’t trust our own feelings 2) we don’t actively keep an image in our minds of what qualities our “perfect mate” should possess. We just don’t. From my experience, I fall for guys that I subconsciously perceive as being interested in me (usually the conscious identification of the “spark” comes later, from an interesting, intelligent and deep conversation with the guy) and then think about the logic behind actively pursuing/staying with the relationship later. So, when I (finally) made my decision to cut ties with my deeply connected “illusion of a mindmate” I looked at all possibilities (Ne) from a logical (Ti) perspective, as well as considered my past behaviors (Si). Here are the possibilities I remember:
1. Consummate emotional/intellectual bond — Ti told me I’d ruin more than a few lives, including my own, by having a full-blown affair
2. Leave my husband for LO– Ti told me that I wouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone, including myself, if I did this. Since I’ve “jumped” before, what was stopping me from continuing this type of maladaptive behavior ad nauseam? Ti also told me that I was confusing “love” with “new and shiny” and that my 7 year relationship with my loyal, deeply caring, hardworking and trustworthy husband (someone who had demonstrated his love and commitment to me through 4 years of long-distance) was WAY more important than risking everything, including my future happiness, for an illusion.
3. Continue the “deep connection” via email– this is apparently what LO wanted, although he couldn’t answer my probing “well, what exactly do you want out of this relationship now that you’ve identified it as important to you?”– Ti told me that I couldn’t be “that girl”, the girl that has her cake and eats it to and strings along a guy who apparently was thinking about future possibilities (Ne) while at the same time double-crossing my husband by continuing to “get high” on intellectual conversations! Ti also wanted its independence back– the fact that I had accidentally gotten too close to someone and had made myself so vulnerable and exposed made me feel… frightened, scared, lost… like I had somehow placed my individual happiness in the hands of another human being and they couldn’t be trusted with it. Plus, I knew that the more I bonded and felt closer to LO, the less I felt bonded to my husband, and I didn’t want to continue my behavior until there was nothing left between my husband and I.
4. End the deep connection– Ti told me that I had some serious personal and relationship issues to work through and that I needed the space and alone time to do this. I also needed to focus 100% of the energy I had left to re-establishing my bond with my husband. This was the final decision.
All-in-all too risky a decision for the potential short-term benefits.
I can tell you that although I had all these logical thoughts streaming through my brain, the tug from my Fe feeling center was incredibly strong, especially in the last few days. To the point where if LO had made a move at any point over the last few days, I’m not 100% sure how this would have all played out. Lucky for me, he didn’t, and I was able to stick with my conscious choice. This choice allowed me to question myself when Fe demanded that I ask LO to see me alone, one last time– Ti said “well, do you really want to be with him? Is this really what you want for yourself?”. I firmly decided against it. The very next day (this is weeks before I asked for no contact) I started to cry uncontrollably. I was overcome with incredible emotion and I had no real idea why. After a few days the reason finally came to me– my decision to not see LO one last time had been the clincher for Fe– my final decision had been made by Ti and Fe was pissed! I had denied my subconscious center of something it really really wanted and now I had to suffer the consequences of creating, nurturing and fueling that “deep connection”. Beware: our INTP Fe “dark side” emits an incredibly strong emotional bonding force when we finally feel (wrongly or rightly) “understood”.
And that was the start of a long and arduous journey out of inferior Fe.
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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.

5 responses to “Crawling out of inferior Fe– Part I– The Decision”

  1. xenogirl says :

    I recently came to realize that I made my decision to marry based on a prolonged inferior “grip experience.” Thankfully I chose pretty well, and we eventually developed a great marriage. My first thought when I read your post was to think… wait… no… I have made such decisions based on love! And then I read the description of how you made decisions in your situation, and I have to say you characterized the INTP “love” process all too well! Ugh. When not actually trying to access the inferior to extrovert emotion, it is almost as if I somehow attempt to observe my emotions as a separate object and then manage them by applying Ti…. does that make sense? I don’t think it works very well. My newfound understanding of the INTP’s inferior Fe has dramatically changed my understanding of my self. Now just trying to figure out how to use Fe in a consistently healthy way…. is it possible? http://www.personalityjunkie.com is by far the best resource for a discussion of the inferior, as you already know. Thanks once again for some great insight.

    • intpblogger says :

      Yes, well I was trying to refrain from over-analyzing the decision to marry my husband! I think in this particular case I was made particularly aware of my decision-making process since it was an on-going, long and arduous battle between two seemingly distinct parts of my mind! And as time went on the battle just became more intense and started shifting in favor of my subconscious (all of this in retrospect of course, I had no idea what my mind was doing at the time).

      Away from LO, I could rationalize the situation, reinforce my conscious decision, review my personal history; although I was quite unable to counteract the Ne-Si fantasy-reel I had going on in my mind. In the presence of LO it was a whole different ballgame– Fe was slowly taking complete control and all I could do was watch as I made stupid decisions. I knew I couldn’t trust myself in the end :(.

      As for the decision to marry my husband, it was also the result of an inferior grip experience. I think I’ve probably been dominated by Fe for 7 years (and just transferred the good feelings by forming a strong bond with someone else). It seems like my mind wanted to hold on to that experience, that feeling of finally being understood (even if I was not!), for as long as it could, because if it didn’t, I found it hard to feel anything. That first experience with the feeling of “deep connectedness” or “love” can be very profound and I wanted to hold onto those feelings forever (even though, both times, it felt like I was riding a rollercoaster between intense pleasure and intense pain)! I guess I also naively thought that everyone experienced love the same way…

      So, the decision to marry my husband was more like “well, I’ve fallen madly “in love” for the first time, I’m still “in love”, it feels amazing, nothing has made me question that love as of yet, I admire, respect, care for this person, so I guess the next logical step is to get married (since that’s what they do in movies/books/etc– I think this is my externally-driven Fe concept of “fall in love-get married”). I think it was still a decision primarily based on logic (will this decision bring me the most long-term happiness?), although I didn’t have enough personal experience/external information to question that logical decision or foresee future issues (I guess we are all faced with the same issues the first time we fall in love/get married)– Ie. What happens next? What exactly does “being married” mean? What happens when those initial “in love” feelings fade or disappear? Can we continue to make each other “happy”? Or, what happens if you experience those “in love” feelings with someone else (and what does that mean about love?)? My husband doesn’t seem to be faced with the same questions. His love for me… just is. He doesn’t question it (even when I do stupid things). Whereas I need to feel “mentally/emotionally connected” or “understood” to feel “love”. It’s a very weird realization, but I hope it will help me make better decisions in the future!

      Fe in a consistently healthy way? Not sure, I think for us the close, intellectually/emotionally connected relationship that our minds seem to strive for (to make us feel “whole”) will always turn into a co-dependent/addictive relationship, even if not necessarily accompanied by romantic attraction (if the emotional bonding continues over a long period of time). Now that I know what makes me establish that closeness/bond with another human, I can try to manage it better and not direct the energy all towards a single person. Since these types of connections appear to be rare, I might not have to worry though. I’m enjoying my independence from Fe though– although at times I am still sad to have lost that connection (usually when stressed)– and I think this new-found self-awareness is helping to make me a more interesting, stable & healthy person.

      Thanks for the tips!

  2. xenogirl says :

    PS You should tag all of these posts with “Psychology” and “Relationships” so they show up more frequently in the Word Press Reader.

  3. Female INTP says :

    I could relate to your post almost too well ! I’m currently in a relationship with an ENFP (After a period of extensive analysis, it seems to be his best fit type). We discovered this attraction after the never-ending conversations regarding our shared interests in video gaming, anime, and music (besides having the same religious beliefs; the most important point)… It was a totally unplanned intoxicating relationship, and my academic performance deteriorated in the process. We actually met each other in the last year of high-school which was undeniably a terrible timing. However, I’m currently merrily enjoying college independently from him… He’s so kind and accepting that I can’t help but think he’s the only one who’s willing to accept me for who I am. The way he ‘worships’ me though is pretty puzzling to me, because, I once asked him to tell me what flaws I have (in order to work at them and fix them) but then he responded with: “You’re perfect, you’re everything I wanted in a woman.” ! Honestly, I still think it’s too good to be true. I even mentioned the fact that I’m bad at cooking (just to gauge his reaction) then he replied with : “Don’t worry, I’ll cook, we don’t need to follow social stereotypes.”.. I can see that we’re a perfect match virtually but I keep thinking, is this really the right choice? Three years have almost passed and we’re still infatuated with each other and it can probably last for eternity due to our mutual congenial, intense, and passionate natures. I had accidentally revealed my love interest to both my sister and her good friend and based on their opinions, it seems that he’s successfully manipulating me directly/indirectly due to my inferior Fe, and I sadly attest to it. I admit that I profoundly crave that gratifying “deep connection” with my SO. Although he was immature in the first year of the relationship but after receiving constructive criticism recently from my side, he’s progressing and taking his life and studies seriously. Although the two who are aware of our relationship persist that he’ll become a potentially hindering husband and that I’d end up parenting/mothering him instead… I would like your input as a fellow female INTP on my relationship with the ENFP: – Should I leave him before it’s too late or would it be selfish and cowardly on my part? List your perceived pros and cons? (Regardless of your stance, for or against, persuade me through the pros and cons list respectively).

    • intpblogger says :

      I’m a little hesitant to offer advice, since, as far as I understand it now, introverted “subjective” thinking (Ti) develops it’s own “personal philosophy” based on personal experience and knowledge, and therefore its subjectivity renders it pretty useless to other people! It’s really hard for us INTPs to understand certain experiences (especially deep, intimate, interpersonal connections, which we subconsciously crave), without experiencing them ourselves, so even with my advice you’ll probably just go ahead with whatever feels right to you at this time (and so should you!).

      So here goes:

      ENFP Pros (from an INTP perspective)

      – they have a knack at getting us out of our shells
      – they can read our emotions
      – they can get us out of the house and introduce us to new people
      – we find them hilarious and their adventurous nature is infectious
      – they are smart, have lots of interests (often similar interests) and can usually keep up with us in a debate/discussion (and find nothing unusual about the Ne tangents)
      – they idolize us (which strokes our Fe Super-ego)
      – we feel they can understand us like no other type can

      ENFP Cons (from an INTP perspective)

      – they never stop looking… for something, anything… there will always be one more possibility to explore (includes relationships; however this can also hold true for the INTP)
      – they are very emotionally needy (which will eventually annoy the INTP)
      – I’m not sure they are 100% honest, especially when immature/growing into their personalities– they will tell white lies in order to not hurt other’s feelings (including keeping things that upset them hidden).
      – their extraversion could get annoying if you were actually living together (ie. I personally don’t think I could keep up with an extravert, at least at this stage in my life).
      – Possibility to live in a fantasy world separate from reality for a long time (or is this a pro?)
      – Possibility for a co-dependent relationship with no clear differentiation between “Self” and “Other”… this might be ideal for the ENFP… but the INTP will eventually want to be independent again.

      My husband (an ISFP) also says that I’m “perfect” which annoys me a bit and makes me feel that he is not actually seeing the real me! I think this due to dominant or auxiliary Fi (they would rather hold onto those positive feelings than “see” the truth of what’s really in front of them?). Anyway, I try to understand it from his perspective!

      Also, from my foray into human behavior/personality theories it seems pretty clear that our patterns of thinking and behavior change dramatically in the presence of high levels of neuromodulators (dopamine and noradrenaline are both released in high amounts when we have those initial feelings of being “in love”). Basically INTPs loosen the reigns on Ti, and start pulling out the Fe behaviors (I felt more calm, less worried about schoolwork/project, more adventurous, more willing to extravert/party, more willing to take care of my appearance, etc). It was actually by noticing a change in my behavior that I figured out I had feelings in the first place (since we have little access to those– Fi)! So, I’m pretty sure the same thing happens with ENFPs (I’ve read that they become more shy, introverted, etc). For instance, are you really both seeing each other’s “true, natural selves”? Remember, the mind likes to trick us into thinking we are seeing the whole picture (from an objective, rational stance)– but really we are subconsciously over-valuing certain “positive” traits and de-valuing the “negative” ones we come across. Therefore, the big question is what happens when those intense feelings eventually start to fade (as they inevitably do?) Will you still enjoy being with that person just as much (and them with you?)? Will you make the conscious choice to stay together?

      Lol… that’s probably way too much analysis for you (I never wanted to analyze my positive feelings– I just hoped/expected they would last forever!)

      Good luck!

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