Why Introverts Cut People Out of their Lives… a.k.a the “Door Slam.”

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An INFJ (or Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judger) is a Meyers Briggs personality and one that can often cut people out of their lives, often definitely. Here’s more on the INFJ personality, and why they are the way they are.

Many people might read this without having a clue what an INFJ is, let alone an INFJ “door slam.” However, INFJs, and those who have been involved in relationships with them, will understand exactly what it is.

INFJ is a personality type characterized by the Myers Briggs Personality archetypes. INFJs are believed to make up approximately one percent of the population and the initials stand for: introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judgment.

What is the Introvert ‘Door Slam’?

Out of all the INFJ traits, the “door slam” may be the most infamous. The reason is not due to the actual hypothetical door slamming, but because of what takes place up until it’s firmly shut.

When INFJs connect with someone, they give it their all, so if someone repeatedly takes advantage of the fact they have become emotionally invested, or if they are abused relentlessly, INFJs eventually decide enough is enough, and they will sever all ties. This can include blocking telephone numbers, social media links, and, in extreme cases, moving house and giving no forwarding address.

INFJs are tolerant creatures and are renowned for allowing people to treat them badly. They are compassionate, empathetic, forgiving souls, and they try to give people the benefit of the doubt and offer chance after chance in the hope the person will change.

Some INFJs hope that by slamming the door it will make the other person realize what they have lost and trigger them to put in a huge and genuine effort to make amends and attempt to work things out. INFJs don’t enjoy drama or leaving on a negative note, so in many ways, the door slam can be a final chance for the other person to be jolted to action. Even if the relationship can’t be fully salvaged, at least there would be no lingering hard feelings.

Often, by the time the door has been slammed it is “too little, too late” to make amends, as too much water has passed under the bridge. The INFJs want the other person to get the message that they have gotten to this stage, so they don’t try to walk back through the door thinking everything is okay.

What takes place following the door slam gives the INFJ all the information they need about the state of the relationship, friendship, or family dynamic. If silence follows, the INFJ will just keep on walking without glancing back.

The reason INFJs get to this place of strength is that they grieve and mourn the loss before they actually lose the connection with the person. This makes it far easier for them to accept that the relationship they thought they had was based on an illusion and what they thought they had didn’t actually exist.

INFJs are introverts, which means they internally process much of what goes on around them. Therefore, if they do not feel emotionally safe with someone, they may not openly express what they are thinking or feeling.

Instead, INFJs will figure things out in their own time, in their own way, and make decisions that may appear sudden and shock those around them. However, at an internal level, the decisions are far from sudden and are usually the results of days, weeks, or years of deliberation.

Before the door slam, INFJs usually give out numerous warnings, and let whoever is involved know that they do not find their behavior acceptable. Door slams usually happen when an INFJ has distanced themselves after being repeatedly and relentlessly hurt by someone, and most likely when they do not feel the other person is willing to make any effort to change.

Therefore, when an INFJ is done, they feel liberated and lighter, and they swiftly move forward. They may remove all reminders of the past and appear to others, or the person they slammed the door on, as though they are cold and calculated. However, they only reach this place if that person has continuously been cold hearted with them.

Introverts Won’t Make Demands, But They Read Situations Well and Expect Others to Be on the Same Page

INFJs are not the types to make demands upon people and tell them how they want to be treated, or how they should, or should not, behave, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. They hope that if someone cares deeply about them, their actions and words will reflect how they feel.

The trouble here is that because INFJs are highly intuitive and read situations well, they sometimes forget that not everyone has this ability. They may expect people around them to be mind readers and to analyze situations as intently as they do, and when they don’t, instead of offering clues, they might close off contact. Although INFJs are compassionate, it would serve them well to try to communicate as openly as possible and explain how and why they feel the way they do before opting out.

INFJs would do well to not allow the situation to get to the stage where they feel burned out, used, and abused. Although the door slam is done as a self-protection mechanism, INFJs can try to discern whether they are devoting too much time and energy to those who do not hold the relationship in the same high regard. Pulling back from relationships that are not mutually respectful prevents INFJs from feeling hurt and disappointed when people do not treat them fairly, or do not show them compassion or care.

Although the door slam sounds severe, INFJs are forgivers and may allow the person they’ve slammed the door on a place in their lives in the future, but that is only if they feel behaviors have changed and they aren’t going to fall back into the same unhealthy dynamics.

Sometimes the door slam only happens in the mind and heart of the INFJ, and they continue to remain in contact with the “door slam” person. However, a significant change in the relationship has occurred by this point, and the INFJ will no longer be investing the same time, attention, and energy into a relationship, and the contact will be limited to functional communication.

Either way, it is rare for an INFJ to entirely trust someone that they once slammed the door on again, therefore, the relationship will likely never be the same as what it once was.

Those who are in a dynamic with an INFJ can work out how serious the door slam is by observing whether the slam was done in haste and fury, or calmly and rationally. If it’s the latter, the likelihood is that the decision has been firmly made and there is little chance of getting back in.

INFJs are far more likely to slam a door quickly, and for good, when someone has hurt someone they love and care about. Sadly, they may allow themselves to be abused over and over, but they will not tolerate abuse of any kind when it is directed at anyone else.

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Bonus: The Introvert Myth: How to Deal with being an Empath.

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Author: Alex Myles
Image: Flickr/Nguyen Hung Vu
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor:  Nicole Cameron

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April Mellott Nov 18, 2018 5:16am

Hi Alex I've have the same exact outlook on my sister & my relationship status. I haven't seen her in 6 years. I'm glad I came across this because it helps to know some rational reasoning to this painful, isolating withdraw. Update: she invited myself & my daughter & boyfriend to her home for Thanksgiving this year.

Amy Bradley Sep 19, 2018 3:02pm

Omg yes. I’ve always known I do this. I appreciate the insight! xo

Key Garcia Sep 19, 2018 11:01am

I relate so well to this article. I'd say it's sensibly explained. I even relate (very well) to the caption: "This explains why my friend group has shrunk significantly over the past few years"

Key Garcia Sep 19, 2018 11:00am

I relate so well to this article. I'd say it's sensibly explained. I even relate (very well) to the caption: "This explains why my friend group has shrunk significantly over the past few years"

Courtney Hart Sep 14, 2018 11:40am

oh wow. I felt like this was written by me. I blame myself for being unable to forgive. I have lost so many friends and relationships because it seems that even though I've learned to communicate what I need and when boundaries have been crossed, I've always felt like people just steam roll over my boundaries anyway. How do you make people have respect for you? Or am I just allowing the wrong people in?

Tiffany Dawn Sep 13, 2018 2:30pm

I am SO feeling this right now with someone who has been in and out of my life for 20+ years. (and yet I've rarely thought of myself as an introvert) I slam the door, time passes, one thing or another puts us back in touch and then repeat. It's exhausting. We're currently on "repeat" and I'm not sure how much longer I can do it but hate to think about life without him around. What a mess.

Robert Herman-Smith Sep 1, 2018 9:05pm

I have taken MBTI for years and almost always come up INFJ. This is very spot on. When I door slam, people are perplexed because I am usually a very accepting person and cutting someone off doesn't seem to "fit" with what they know about me. The other issue from the article I can relate to is that door slamming is much more likely to happen when I find out the person I'm struggling with is hurting someone else, especially if the person being hurt is an underdog. I'm pretty laid until I see bullying...then look out!

Michelle McKane Sep 1, 2018 2:22pm

This is bang on, but how do we make the warnings firmer so the slam isn’t necessary?! :)

Lara Wisdom Aug 27, 2018 8:23pm

I wonder how much an INFJ is accurate in their assessment to slam a door. This article does not take into account trauma and faulty belief systems of humans in general despite your MB. I am on the side of actually saying yes with understanding that I must checking my judgments/belief systems/sideways thinking vs. having judgments ready to slam door shut whenever the criteria of the judgment is met... there is a difference perhaps there are some blind spots for the INFJ

Chriss Smith Aug 20, 2018 2:40am

I loved reading this article! I could feel myself nodding and saying, uhuh, yes, for sure as I was reading beacuse this is me to a T. I read Quiet, The Power Of The Introvert In A World That Can't Stp Talking and realised why I am as I am and proud of it. I am a good door slammer when I realise I have been taken advantge of unfairly, taken for granted, used etc. Being an HSP is a gift, not quite the easiest road to travel. It's taken me many years to feel reasonably comfortable with who I am. Setting healthy boundaries and learning to speak up has been a huge step for me and its really only been in the last 5 years where I have actively said no. Saying no has been the best thing- whether its to other people and myself. Thank you for writing this perfectly timed article:)

Rachel Krasovec Aug 19, 2018 5:59pm

Great article Totally me to a tee....nice to see some sense put to my crazy behaviour

Ellis van Drent Aug 18, 2018 11:21am

Exactly! And hurting people along the way. It's not okay.

Ellis van Drent Aug 18, 2018 9:07am

Very recognizable for someone on the recieving end of the door slamming, 3 times from the same person. I miss the part where it can be very hurtful when the INFJ partner does not say what they think or feel and even disrespectful when the door gets slammed. I had no idea what was going on. I thought we were doing great! I'm sorry but I don't think this is an acceptable way to treat anybody you're in a relationship with, of any kind. If you're having concerns, not feeling it anymore, want out, please say so and don't check out while letting the other person believe all is well. Just don't.

Guy Scholz Aug 18, 2018 4:18am

you just keep nailing it....so often you articulate what i am feeling and trying to articulate.....i have often quoted this scottish writer to other's :) ....thx again...

Aggy Osoro Aug 18, 2018 1:45am

Great article and a perfect description of me. Thank you

Elizabeth Kearney Aug 17, 2018 8:38pm

I test out as an INFP, but this all sounds familiar. I slammed the door on a relative 30-some years ago, and the silence that followed was all I needed to know. I slammed the door on a job, too, where I felt unappreciated for meeting ever-increasing demands for incredibly shitty pay. This article gave me much to think about, esp. about speaking up before reaching terminal burnout. Thanks.

Nancy Ann Fitzgerald Aug 17, 2018 4:56pm

This so explains why I have been cleaning house lately!! Thank you!!

Benita Kirshenbaum Aug 17, 2018 3:31pm

Very interesting article

Shelley Brantley Aug 17, 2018 3:08pm

You perfectly expressed my concerns about door slamming. I didn't really understand what I had been doing and actually started seeing a therapist - I had other issues but x-ing people out of my life and never looking back was one of them. I knew I was an INFJ - took the MBTI years ago- but didn't know much about it. Sumbled upon a FB group and when I read about door slamming, I was astounded and actually didn't feel so bad. But..... it's not something enjoyable and at a certain point, continually losing people did start wearing on me. So, yes, searching for wisdom about why door slam becomes a necessary action is critical.

Shelley Brantley Aug 17, 2018 3:02pm

Kudos to you for taking care of yourself and removing your mother from your life. I've never been able to do it even though a couple of therapists have suggested it.

Shelley Brantley Aug 17, 2018 3:00pm

This is so true, especially the part about grieving the relationship while still involved with the person. About a year ago, I started wondering if something was wrong wtih me because I did this (door slamming). I'd taken the MBTI years ago and knew I was an INFJ but didn't knwo much about it. I stumbled a group on FB and when I read about door slamming, I was blown away. In the past, once I door slammed someone, I was completely done and I did it to remove the toxic person from my life - not hoping they'd change and we could resume the relationship. Most of the times I was able to avoid the person completely but there have been times I had to continue being around them so I'd door slam them inside. BUT I recently decided to give someone another change - blew up in my face. And it's weird that I actually miss aspects of my friendship with her when in the past with other people, once that door slammed, that was that. So, this situation is perplexing.

Lalana Morris Aug 17, 2018 2:04pm

I shut my mother out and down in my early 20s after dealing with her drama and anger throughout my childhood. She made lots of promises but never followed through. She was never really a mother. After feeling she had to really want to get help for her addictions that added to that anger and drama I let the relationship close. For me it made sense and my life has been better for it. I totally get this article. It is so me. Once years ago I told a friend that if she kept doing things she was doing I would not ever talk to her again. She replied that I wouldn't cut her out of my life. My husband chimed in to tell her I totally would. I will only put up with toxic drama or people for so long no matter if blood or not. Been married 28 years this month to guy from my teens and he teases that he's surprised I have kept him around so long..lol. He knows that when I'm done I'm done. He is a wonderful man though:) This article totally nailed it for me. It is not that I am a mean person but that I grew tired of feeling I was not receiving what I was giving out. It is true on being too little too late. Life is too short for me to have that in my life. Thanks for breaking it down like this:)

Christina Van Note Aug 17, 2018 12:59pm

This describes the door slam very well. I am an INFJ who has slammed plenty of doors. The real life-long issue that develops over decades of door slamming is balancing wisdom with social isolation. In fact, the J can overwhelm the choice of getting involved with future relationships. To continue as a free loving INFJ after 10-20-30 years takes staying emotionally open to learning about life (and self) through new relationships. An INFJ after a door slam must stay focused on the I and seek to gain wisdom from the encounter, ... wisdom which they eventually use to help people find truth in their own search for happiness. In many ways, this is how the INFJ becomes the sage. The door slam is only one-side of the INFJ's search for meaning.

Tracy Haigh Aug 14, 2018 10:30am

This is very helpful, thank you. I have been left hurt and baffled by my best friends actions towards me, 7 months ago we had an upset, not a big one, but an upset, I was then defriended, with her texting me saying, good bye old friend!! I have tried to make contact but to no response. We had been friends for 15 years, I thought we were very close. I still feel upset and think of her all the time.

Heather Thomas Aug 11, 2018 11:40am

As an INFJ, this is SO accurate!

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Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex’s bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.