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.