Introverts fear confrontation.


I came across this individual’s forum post on The Personality Cafe in a weird way. My article “Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims,” (which has become my most viewed article ever and is still gaining momentum on the web), was linked to by this writer and there was an excerpt from their own post left in my comment folder. The blurb was intriguing enough that I decided to read it, and holy cow! It sounds like my own life story. In fact, I am going through this situation with a friend even as I write this. (If you’re a friend of mine reading this it’s not you–this “friend” doesn’t read my blog or even know I have one). I don’t want to be friends with this person anymore (who I suspect is a malignant narcissist who likes to “play” with me and make “jokes” at my expense) but instead of confronting them and telling them I want to end our friendship, I’m just avoiding this person, hoping they get the “hint.” I do that sort of thing all the time. Confrontation terrifies me, but what happens is my anger becomes seething resentment and has to come out eventually, so after weeks or months of pretending everything is fine, I’m likely to explode and say things I regret. It also comes out in other ways, like acting passive-aggressive. I’ve gotten better but it’s still a problem. Anyway, here is that article. The writer is an INFJ like me and wonders if this is common in INFJs. I’m also an Enneagram Type 4/5.

If we need to slap a psychiatric label on this sort of behavior, it’s a common symptom in people with Avoidant Personality Disorder and Covert Narcissism (which I still suspect I am, even though my therapist has said I’m only “on the spectrum” but not NPD). I think people with BPD are also guilty of this.


Has anyone else had this problem in the “social environment”?

As of recently I have made a personal discovery about the origins of how and why I have a certain fear. And it also ties in with the Enneagram 4 labeled fear “that they have no identity or personal significance”. Generally, with “friends” (both close and acquaintance) I tend to hide away or become afraid of sharing my true thoughts and being completely honest with them if there’s a problem (unless they manage to hurt me to the extent that i just cut them off). I become fearful of their reaction before it even happens, so i withhold my thoughts and continue acting as if everything is okay. It’s not only the fear that they will be upset at my honesty, but the fear that I would also begin to hate myself afterwards as well. I didn’t realize there was a term for this as well (even though i knew it as a common term i never understood its meaning). And that term is “Shame”. And while shame is the major factor of why i feel guilt for wanting to speak out, as well as feeling it for not wanting to speak out, I had also come to realize this was also connected to my upbringing. I learned in the article mentioned below, that most scapegoats have high empathy and sensitivity at an early age, which causes them to absorb all of the projections of their parents, thus causing the birth of self hatred/possibly depression. It also informed me that as they continue to go into social relationships, that they will also absorb the projections of what other people think of them as well. For me this explains a helluva lot, of why i fear getting close to certain people and their impact on me if i either

A. Do something wrong.
B. Be honest with them.

I’m personally terrified of being completely honest with someone i’m not sure of, as any kind of minor negative backlash towards me can cause me to go in a state of guilt for a long time. So instead I internalize everything that bothers me about them, and I simply play my part in this “friendship” until i have a reason to avoid them or doorslam. And this is different from constructive criticism, i’m talking about the consequences that may occur if they end up being hurt by my honesty. While their take of it may not be my problem afterward I still hold the shame of what I have done to another human being, even if it was the “right” thing to do rather than continue being dishonest with them and put on the fake persona. I fear hurting them..but I also fear hurting myself. It’s a double edged sword and the ending remains the same regardless of which way i act. I’m fearful of absorbing any new projections one might have of me (specifically negative) which has caused a spiral of paranoia in 2/3 of my friendships, even if they may not take it personal. And before I end this, I am not intentionally hurtful when i’m honest, as I still try to be polite and respectful of the person that i’m talking to. I am also aware that they can be positive in their response, but i’m practically crippled by my fear, especially because of social experiences that didn’t go well.

Read article on The Personality Cafe here.


4 thoughts on “Introverts fear confrontation.

  1. I hate confrontation and conflict. I’ve always chalked it up to my unhappy childhood in an extremely high-conflict family; I feel as though I had enough of that crap in my first twenty years to last me the rest of my life. Right now I’m dreading the holidays because I know they’re going to be positively drenched in conflict. I hope I get through it without saying or doing anything I’m going to regret.


  2. I, too, am an INFJ that really hates confrontation. So you are not alone! I will say that I have gotten much better at addressing issues directly but it usually takes me a few days or weeks to get the nerve to do it, partly because I want to look at things from their perspective (without talking to them… interesting but I think you get what I mean lol), make sure I’m not in the wrong by analyzing the situation myself or asking friends what they think of the situation and then it also calms me down so I am able to address the person without too much anger laced in my voice. Unfortunately, there have been moments when I’ve kept things inside for far too long, years even and I’ve drank and everything that I kept to myself came rushing out into one drunken anger spew that I always regretted and felt terrible about. This only happened two times that I can remember but each time, I felt like crap and it resulted in the ending of one of my friendships because after I apologized, I had to admit that on some level, those feelings were actually true. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever did and I was only able to text it to her because 1) she texted me first when she addressed me and 2) I knew she wouldn’t want to hear me after the first sentence so the positive is I got to let it all out and think it through and edit it before sending it. However, a part of me still regrets the way I dealt with altogether. The relationship is now cordial but very distance and it is what it is. It’s probably a blessing in disguise. Anyway, just sharing my story to let you know that you are totally not alone and I totally understand your struggles and pray we both get better at sharing our honest feelings openly and lovingly. And do not drink and get angry. Bad combo. 🙂


  3. I found this post very informative. I am an INTJ, but am related, through marriage, to someone who is an INFJ. I do not understand this person, and suspect they are harboring a lot of hurt (as well as a completely different framework for understanding the world) and this leads to behavior that seems irrational to me. This person’s post gels for me the behaviors I and others have observed in this rather private person.

    What I wonder, is whether it would help to reach out proactively to someone like this and say “Hey, i know you’re hurting, you’re worried what I think of you, and I want you to know you can be honest with me, just as I am with you. This is a safe space.” I worry, though, that this would mean the closing of doors and loss of contact with nieces and nephews. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It could help to do that, but if he/she is a covert narcissist (sounds like they could be but I can’t say for sure), they may be offended or scared off and avoid you. If they do that, then you are probably better off anyway. If he/she is open to your question, then you can work toward healing in the relationship. I’d go ahead and try it and see what happens, unless you’re sure this person is a narcissist, then you should just try to get away.


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