It’s 3 AM. We’ve been out drinking. An unkind word has escalated into an argument on the way home.
We rarely argue. I rarely dare to let it get this far. As an ENFP, I want harmony and will only risk causing discord if someone has really crossed a line.
We’re home now and he is having trouble, or not attempting to, mask his contempt for me. I don’t get it. I’ve been trying so hard to have his back, to be compassionate, to be supportive. I’ve done nothing wrong and I don’t deserve to be treated this way.
He looks at me with those bulbous grey eyes, the size of planets. “I’m done,” he says.
Again, I don’t really get it. “Done with what? The argument?”
“This,” he says. “I don’t want to be with you anymore.”
I’m embarrassed, now, to say that I was completely shocked. That I had not, even in our worst moments, imagined that he would end things with me. If anything, I had always thought it would be the other way around.
It sounds completely arrogant, I know, but you don’t know our story. On paper, it was the stuff of rom-coms. We met when I was a rosy-cheeked teenager, working in a sketchy bar in downtown Belfast (Northern Ireland). We had crushes on each other but nothing came of it.
I came home to Canada, and that was the end of it. Until we reconnected, nearly 10 years later, through social media. He came to visit me and by the end of his 10 day trip, he had told me he was in love with me and started the process of immigrating to Canada.
It was a whirlwind in every sense of the word. It happened so quickly, and forced me to be OK with things even if I was not, to adjust to situations I had never experienced before and with a person that I really did not know that well. The learning curve was extremely steep, but, I thought, surmountable.
Mistakes were made on both parts, but to me, this was teething. The inevitable clumsiness of two people trying to start a relationship at the living-together stage when we’d spent only a month in each other’s company (cumulative). We would argue, and then we would move on.
Or so I thought.
As an ENFP, if you hurt me, I’ll usually let it go. If you really hurt me, I’ll call you out on it in the moment. We’ll address it, I’ll be appeased, and then I’ll forget about it. It’s gone. Forgiven.
What I discovered that night, and then made sense of later (too late), was that INFJs do not let things go in the same way.
“Remember that time you didn’t tell me about that thing…”
“Remember that time you said…”
“Remember that time…”
He dug deep to drag up everything I had ever said, everything I’d ever done that had hurt his feelings. All of these things had been unintentional, any ENFP out there knows that our biggest fear is hurting somebody else’s feelings. I couldn’t understand it.
“That was 5 years ago,” I kept saying, incredulous. “We worked that out 5 years ago…”
“The trust was broken,” he kept saying, shaking his head, cool-as-a-cucumber. “I convinced myself I could let it go, because I had nowhere else to go. If we were in Ireland, I would never have put up with it.”
It ended that night, that quickly. The seeds of the break-up had been sown in the first 6 months, when we were just starting to make a life together.
Like a couple of new-born deer, taking our first wobbly, uncertain steps. Except one of the deer had a wound in its leg (arguably self-inflicted), and dragged its bloody secret around for five more gangrenous years.