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The Dark Side of INFP Personality

You know who the INFPs are. They are the most compassionate, empathetic, and peace-revering type among the 16 Myers-Briggs personalities.

However, as we talk about human nature, we must realize that everyone has the capability to be destructive – even the gentle INFPs.

Can INFPs be evil? What does the dark side of INFPs look like? Unfortunately, INFP’s dark side starts within their critical beliefs which then amplifies to the real world.

When pushed into a rut, destructive INFPs revenge with severity and without any remorse. They become insensitive and indifferent about other people’s feelings. 

When My Dark Side as an INFP Emerges

As I grow older, I tend to experience a rollercoaster of emotions. I feel either heightened optimism or grueling indifference. My enthusiasm gives me hope to reach my dreams. It’s a satisfying emotion and I think I can take over the world.

But when the INFP dark side emerges, the indifference I feel towards the world cages my emotions until I don’t feel a thing, except for guilt – guilt that I’m not sharing the same sorrow with others despite the world breaking down.

When INFPs realize too much darkness in this world, they sometimes surrender to its ideals. Passionately driven INFPs can create an army that will follow their vision. It becomes more dangerous when such dark, yet passionate INFPs advocate wrong idealism to people.

The Dark Side of INFP Personality

Important disclaimer: I’m not generalizing every INFP. We have INFP-As and INFP-Ts who respond differently to situations like success and challenges. The dark sides of every INFP can be unique to their experiences and discoveries of the world.

But if an INFP turns to her dark side, it’s quite a worrying story. Let me tell you what happens.

Here we go:

1. Self-centeredness and Selfishness

It’s something I didn’t want to admit before. “Selfish? Who? Me?” Of course, I’m denying it! Everyone sees me as the kind and gentle one in the class.

But as much as we want to deny it, INFP’s primary cognitive function is Introverted Feeling (Fi) which means we have strong attachments to our morals and own ideals. We want everything filtered out through our own standards and it’s the subtle start of INFP’s massive selfishness.

Putting themselves first above all.

One dark side of an INFP is they think about themselves most of the time. Selfish INFPs would not help others at the expense of themselves. They will find themselves asking, “What’s in it for me?” If an act doesn’t make them feel good, INFPs think twice about helping others.

In comparison, the optimistic INFPs never turn down requests. They are yes-people. They take requests to avoid offending anyone.

But when INFPs start embracing love for themselves, they start distancing themselves until people can no longer tell them what to do. INFPs hate being abused so they may abandon anyone who does so. If no one meets their standards or satisfies their values, they will leave.

Nonconformity heightens to the point they’re turning rebellious or irrational. They have their own ways and no pep talk will stop them from doing what they want.

I remember being the “yes-man” when I was younger. However, as I try to do my best to accommodate everyone, these people start passing all the responsibilities onto me. I endured it, but soon I saw the circumstances as abusive to my physical and mental health.

For the first time in years, I asked myself “Why does it all have to be me?”  I was burnt out and I started seeing people who put me in that position with resentment.

It was a hot afternoon when I said my first “no” to my classmates. It was so liberating. But since then, people find it hard to reach me out and I’ve had a sense of freedom. And I loved it.

2. Obsession with Idealism

The Dark Side of INFP Personality
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We daydream, replay scenarios, and monologue a lot.

INFPs are idealists and it’s a cool name to tag along with our personality.

However, some INFPs take idealism too far that they confuse real life with imagination. As a result, when INFPs see the reality too far from what they idealized, it discourages and paralyzes them.

I remember myself being drawn into a plan like delivering stage plays and fabricating our thesis project. I’ve set up my plan. But when the people around me didn’t follow what I had in mind, it wore my motivation down.

When INFPs are too drawn by their imagination, they neglect the truths about reality, that life is a trial-and-error game. Nothing comes perfectly on the first try.

Since INFPs are obsessed with the perfection they created, when they face the imperfect real world, they have tendencies to back out and leave everyone hanging.

Idealism in Relationships

INFPs don’t fall in love with the person. But they fall in love with the idea of the person. They create a perfect image of their partners, praise them, and get obsessed with their character. But when their partners drift away from the perfect image, they start to fall out of love.

“You’re not the same person I fell in love with.” An INFP might just tell you this.

They won’t suck up your negative behavior. Immature INFPs aren’t patient enough to wait for your ultimate change. “If you want to continue this relationship, do this, do that.”

And if their idea of you gets stained, for example, you cheated, or you didn’t meet her expectations, the relationship would probably reach its end.

Related Post: Do INFPs Cheat? The Dark Side of INFP Idealism

3. Dropping what doesn’t feel right

If you’re an INFP, how many times have you canceled a plan at the last minute?

Because INFPs are all about passion, the unhealthy ones tend to drop everything that sucks their enthusiasm out. They don’t realize triumph, and they avoid struggles at all costs.

It’s not that they really can’t perform tasks. They just won’t. Forcing them to do a job they started to hate sucks the energy, talent, and motivation out of them. They become clumsy, unorganized, and unproductive.

Related post: Why Do INFP Suddenly Disappear?

4. Seeing people as bad

Because INFPs uphold the highest moral standards among the 16 personality types, many people can’t live up to it. That said, INFPs see other people as bad as a default. They’re cautious at the first meet and immediately build 10-feet-high walls.

It’s not easy to befriend an INFP. They think there’s a “catch” when people draw close to them.

Because of this, INFPs maintain only a small circle of friends whom she has tested through time. Often, these are people who have like personalities.

As for the others, if they don’t pass the INFP standards, being acquaintances might be the best position you can reach. Immature INFPs will make you feel safe, but in reality, they know from the start who and who won’t enter their sacred circle of friends.

5. INFP anger means mental, personal, and physical attacks

In the first stage, INFPs translate anger into silence.

When you anger an INFP, they will start ignoring you like you don’t exist at all. Their cold shoulder ruins you mentally, making it worse than a verbal argument.

It will take time before anyone experiences the second phase of an INFP’s anger. Unfortunately, it’s quite aggressive. When a person they dislike continues with their menacing attitude and insensitivity, INFPs retort to pugnacity and physical force. 

When an INFP reaches the limit, they punch you straight in the face, throw things at you, or pop your tires without any remorse. And also, get ready to be emotionally torn down because they will slap you with the ugly truths, not of your appearance, but about your whole being.

After the big outburst, they will be like, “You deserve it”.

I, myself, had slapped people with the harshest comments. My words were not meant to be an insult. I don’t target appearances because that’s shallow. I attack the core of their being with truths and shatter them into pieces until they realize how much of a useless person they’ve been. Along with these comments, I’ve punched a few classmates who kept low-key bullying me even after I told them not to.

My anger wasn’t impulsive, it was collective that when I burst it out, no one can stop me but me. I’m not proud of it, but yeah. This is how INFPs vent out overflowing anger.

Fortunately, those guys became more sensitive and careful with their words whenever they talked to me.

6. Manipulative

INFPs are the masters of emotions because they know so much about what, how, and when to feel things. Moreover, they are empaths who feel emotions deeply. They connect the dots and realize the roots of someone’s joy, fear, or anger.

And with such a gift, manipulation may be one of INFP’s darkest sides. They can make people acknowledge what they believe in. INFPs know how to play hard to get in relationships. Lastly, they can easily guilt other people for their wrongdoings.

But these are the traits of destructive INFPs. On the other hand, the optimistic ones usually refrain from blaming and making people feel accountable.

7. Advocating wrong Idealism

I’ve been really cautious about what to believe in nowadays. I found my belief system changing at a quick rate. For example, today, I’d mention a significant concept to my friends, but the next few days, new information debunks it completely and my beliefs would change once again.

It’s dangerous when an INFP doesn’t recognize the harm of what they believe in. INFPs have tendencies to create an army of believers. Charismatic INFPs present powerful visions. Unfortunately, if an INFP is fed with wrong information or preaches the wrong idealism, it’s literally a dark side at the end of the road for everyone who trusts that INFP.

8. Perfectionism

INFPs are perfectionists, but we’re not the best implementers. Thus, many of our ideas are wasted and it disappoints the daydreamer inside of us. When we get disappointments, we retreat.

INFPs aren’t sturdy pillars people can rely on. Again, we’re the source of ideas, but other personality types are more suited to implement it. When INFPs see the people around them slacking, it easily tarnishes their excitement and motivation.

When I was younger, I passionately founded a theatre club at our high school. I wrote the scripts, directed the play, and assigned the roles. I did everything I could. However, when my club members started to show up less, I slowly lost interest, too. In the end, the immature INFP in me backed out.

Some interpret it as procrastination or laziness. But this INFP trait is an issue with perfectionism. They can’t handle how much reality can drift away from their perfect fantasies. Thus, it leads them to procrastinate and give up.

“This won’t work!” an INFP would say. And then this immature INFP will abandon the current work and move on to start a new one. If they, again, find fault in their plan, they will leave it and the cycle goes on. This is why INFPs are known to be project starters, but not finishers.

9. Too overwhelmed or indifferent

The past few years were rough due to the Pandemic, lost jobs, and death of loved ones. I do shed a tear every now and then, but sometimes when I hear more problems trying to come my way, I’ve become so indifferent and lifeless about it.

People’s chaotic on social media because of politics, viral videos, and the latest trends. The me before would’ve commented and jived into the conversations, spreading positivity.

I recently looked at my Facebook memories from 9 years ago. Wow, I was so optimistic back then, telling people to smile despite the problems.

However, an INFP who has felt enormous anxiety and pain may just feel numb or indifferent. I sometimes feel guilty because I forgot how to be empathetic with my friends.

I questioned the existence of life. What makes this life important? I felt like I’m living in an illusion and everyone’s emotions are overrated.

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Fortunately, this INFP phase eventually passes. It’s not a  permanent feeling. When an INFP discovers new meaning, this excites them and brings them back to life. Real-quick, I must say.


Experience makes a lot of difference to an INFP. As I’ve told you, INFPs self-reflect too often to the point that their belief system changes at a quick rate. 

However, becoming an INFP is truly a paradox. Whatever an INFP feels today would probably change in a minute, a day, or a week. The dark side of INFPs appears and recedes from time to time.

Are INFPs bad? For me, INFPs are still gentle and compassionate people with episodes of terrible dark sides, just like most people. Although we, INFPs, have weaknesses, we still are as good as any other personality type.

That’s it. Thanks for reading, God bless! 

INFPs have the tendency to drop their goals halfway, be overwhelmed, or be too perfectionist leading to heavy procrastination. For a more in-depth discussion about INFP procrastination, check out the “Not Lazy, Just INFP” E-book.

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13 thoughts on “The Dark Side of INFP Personality”

  1. I loved the article and am sad to say that every dark side you’ve written about, I have found in myself… I also when people say that I’m very innocent Don’t even know how to react… The problem is that now when I’ve found all of the reasons I have no idea whatsoever on what to do. I have tried multiple stuff but in vain. You have mentioned in points about our dark side… I want points on how to overcome every dark side you’ve mentioned. As I have reached the stage where I have left even the smallest of tasks… Even taking care of myself… I don’t listen to others as it lacks motivation and I just think everyone’s wrong… Dure to this reason I have stopped working and am currently unemployed… In short words I have reached to a state of doing completely nothing except just lying in bed, procastrinating and scrolling.

  2. I think some things here are oversimplified. Like when you say “If an act doesn’t make them feel good, INFPs think twice about helping others.”

    I actually don’t agree with this. I’ve helped others a lot of times when it didn’t feel good, but it was in alignment with my values. The question at these times is often: “Do I have the energy for this?” I often will make the time, so that’s not an issue, but I have to feel it aligns with my authenticity. Often, if that’s the case, then I’ll come out feeling better than I did when I went into it, because I feel like I actually helped that person and it makes me feel good. However, I have to also guard my mental health. If for some reason helping someone would either 1. Not actually benefit them or would be enabling unhealthy behavior OR 2. Would end up imposing on my internal resources for being able to properly care for myself as well as for you, then I lean towards finding a more balanced solution and sometimes that’s saying learning to say “no”, instead of imagining I’m always a wealth of endless ability to Love others (lol!).

    It’s a matter of determining health boundaries and our own personal rights. That’s actually pretty far from being selfish, or relying only on what feels good. But as you say, it’s what we “might look like” at our worst, and it would take a lot for an INFP to get there.

    In regards to Idealism in relationship, I actually find this quite harsh. I have been treated this way by my ISFP ex, “you’ve changed” but I actually am far too devoted and romantic and willing to discuss, seek counseling, and reconcile as best I can with my partner in every possible way before ever dismissing them. My dark side actually looks more like an overcommitment to devotion, and over analyzing where things may have gone wrong than ever over idealizing my partner (who is very human) and ever wishing them to change (I feel this is more of a J-Type tendancy). I actually don’t believe people change either, but that while they grow or evolve, who they are is the same.

    I can feel though at times that our differences might encroach on my space and when this occurs too often I can get very irritable, particularly if there’s a violation of my equilibrium or values. For example, living together with someone noisy, or who doesn’t clean up after themselves or who is rude or insensitive. In these cases I either withdraw, or get snappy with those who I’ve felt trespassed by. I can start to feel like my commitment to this person might shift in those cases where I feel my energy is being depleted by them in this way. Particularly if I ever feel they are ever abusive, I can’t live in that situation and will detach. I see that as self preservation, which is a good thing, but this is when I’ve most seen my dark side come out where I can’t handle the disequilibrium in my environment. My home is my sanctuary, it helps me stay sane, so I need a partner I can find that harmonious living situation with.

    My strong Fi actually wouldn’t let me impose my values onto another person. While I’d hope that my partner would share my values, I’d at least prefer they be honest about theirs and see how we can synergize or compliment them.

    As for seeing people as bad, I never used to do this. In fact, I would always see the good in them and then get myself into trouble when I learned they had sought to manipulate me, or take advantage of me. That’s where we can get disillusioned by the repercussions of our idealism. We can become somewhat untrusting of others until they earn our trust, or if they’ve ever betrayed it before, but that doesn’t really take much work to win, since we are always seeing the good in people. When I start to think people are “bad” or the world is awful, is when I’m overwhelmed by the bad hurtful behaviours people incur upon eachother. This makes me withdraw from the world and seek my own sanctuary to recover within. From that safe space, I can nurture my center to have a strong and bold face in a dark lonely or oppressive world again, but only if I find my solace. So really it doesn’t necessarily have to do with other people, but about my perceptions. Once I get a handle on my perceptions, things are better and less universalized to “the world being a horrible dangerous place”. Once again, it’s self preservation, which isn’t actually bad, but can maybe look bad when we are in a desperate moment or mindset. In any case, I agree with you, we definitely have this tendency and it is an extreme turmoil we are always juggling: ” is the world safe for me? Is this person safe?” You’d think we were the most traumatized by social emotions. 😅

    The thing with INFP anger is it’s nearly non -existent, so when it ever erupts, that INFP feels so unlike themselves, they can’t handle anger very well at all because they are so unfamiliar with it. If it gets physical, it’s usually never against another person, but more so against a wall, thus just hurting themselves. But, best to not be within the space of any angry person. I can’t say I’m familiar with vengeful INFP behaviour, as I notice it’s usually self-inflicted. That’s not to see those emotions aren’t ever felt, but I am not familiar with them being acted upon. The worst might be some sort of social vengeance, such as cheating when they feel unappreciated or violated by their partner emotionally. That’s definitely a dark side we could have, even though it is also the worse thing we could do because it destroys us with guilt for years afterwards knowing we acted so disgenuinely, and did exactly what would hurt us the most back to them, ultimately hurting ourselves deeply too in the process.

    And I agree with you, when I attack, or at least try to understand what happened, I analyze and judge a person’s character and how they might have violated my values. It is definitely a blinder for an INFP to not see how clearly a gut blow this would be, considering we would be decimated by such an attack.

    I’m not sure INFPs recognize their ability to manipulate, even if they wanted to. Perhaps it’s there, but I see this more as an Artisan skill that I am not very well equipped at. I am maybe good at convincing people of things that I have strong values or interest in though. That’s not quite manipulation, but maybe coercion.

    I definitely agree with advocating wrong idealism for young or immature Idealists. However I find as Idealists get older, we recognize the faults in this approach more and more which results in more of an acceptance of the various ways we can coexist and seeing the value in all different perspectives. So, INFPs actually become the more pragmatic type, and start to be irritated by this actual trait in other types (who have their own ideals and tend to impose them). So it’s a tricky thing to make that claim about Idealists, because we all do it, but hopefully the Idealist learns this lesson sooner than other types and adjusts.

    As for our Perfectionism, again, I used to be that way when I was younger. These days I’m more ADD, and I don’t complete things because I have multiple projects on the go that I can never stay on top of. My energy gets dissipated between them all and sometimes balls get dropped.

    We definitely get overwhelmed due to our sensitivity. That’s why quiet time alone for reflection, as well as consulting with other trusted people regarding what’s on our hearts and minds are so important. At our worst, we could certainly seem unhinged if we were ever pushed too far during an overwhelmed state.

    I really enjoyed your article though! I think it’s so important to be mindful regarding what our dark side can look like so we can be more aware regarding how to find healthy balance. We all have our dark sides and it’s ok to acknowledge that “I’m actually being rather selfish here”, or “that is actually incredibly cruel” can help us stay humble and realize our humanity. It can help us to recognize that we are as equal and deserving as everyone else is. It’s actually freeing to acknowledge, accept and learn to adjust our actions towards healthier functioning for ourselves and for everyone’s sake in our lives. 💗 Thank you.

  3. A lot of things resonate with me in this post. I love the validation that I’m not some hopeless case. While I love being unique, it’s comforting to know that there are others like me. Sometimes I feel insane! I envy practical folks who aren’t stuck in their heads and paralyzed by infinite possibility, yet have this arrogant pride in what a unicorn I am. Ridiculous. Definitely been in my dark side – isolating, self-sabotaging with too many late nights bingeing “Better Things,” deserting my short-lived primal diet, and not working much but surfing the web instead. I’m lucky to have a very independent role at work but jesus christ I work in HR!!! The ultimate act of self-sabotage. To not believe in one’s specialness enough to pursue a creative calling(s). Now I find myself in a job that has zero value to me. Zero. Other than the coarse but necessary financial compensation I receive. I have a wife and two young boys so my performance must go on. Plus, there is a big conference for work looming about a week away. Hundreds of people. Many whose calls I avoid but will now see all in the same place. Ye gods!!! Was self-pity and whining mentioned above as a dark trait????

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dan. Glad to know you resonate with this.

      I see a lot’s going on and I admire how you keep it up for your kids! And indeed self-pity (negative self-talk) is one terrible habit among INFPs, too. Wrote about that in a separate post.

      Hope you do well at your conference. All the best!

  4. It’s like I wrote this myself… It’s been so long since I was the better version of myself that I don’t know how to get back.

  5. “my Facebook memories from 9 years ago. Wow, I was so optimistic back then, telling people to smile despite the problems”

    So sad, Margarette. It is like reading myself.
    I like being alone in nature, in peace and poetry.
    The irony is that for last 9 years, I’ve been working as an HR manager in a harsh environment. I’ve grown morose, wounded and aggressive. Perhaps I’ve grown a horrible shell in order to protect my soft, honest, loving core which still beats with hopes and dreams for my people and a better future, which I think I can contribute to, if only I’m able to lose this shell and regain my positive past self which (I’m afraid) is no longer suited to survive in this new world.

    *I sound like I’m in the shadowgrip, perhaps I am

    1. What you said makes total sense, Adler. Now that you said it, it saddens me how society has transformed many INFPs from the childlike, idealistic, and hopeful being to someone completely different (and indifferent) just to survive. People around us don’t realize how much intensive friction we get from trying to “fit in” to their ideals and shunning away who we truly are.

      I hope you get out of the shadow grip soon, Adler. Don’t lose yourself (I mean, ourselves, because I’m quite in a grip right now, too). Let’s strive to cultivate our strengths because it’s magical and alive, rather than patching up our weaknesses to cater to other people’s expectations. Don’t give up on creativity.

    2. To some extent i really relate with you, like i was once this social all over the place all about people type of person but now… i just want to be in nature and study the structure of old buildings and do different hand related crafts till i die

  6. Thank you so much for this article Mathias. I greatly appreciate your knowledge about our/my darksides, every single line your wrote is more than correct to describe myself. I totally agree. Reading your article, it feels like you know me, you know what happened to me & you know how i reacted.

    Knowing my dark sides may help me to control my emotions better, and help me to make more wise decisions. I need to train myself.

  7. I think that very few people realise the darkness of an INFP. In friendship groups we’re often classed as the ‘innocent’ friend which is weirdly pleasing but also frustrating. I think our un-anticipated dark side makes us particularly dangerous, in a poem I wrote ‘nobody knows the fire that burns within.’ Darkly, when someone does something that makes me angry, I take comfort in the fact that I could rip them to shreds without them even knowing. It’s probably what keeps me at bay.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Mary!

      I agree with you, specifically about the unanticipated character. People are used to seeing our kind nature that they didn’t realize what lies beyond. In the shadows, there’s critical thinking, the accumulating anger, our strong judgment, the biases, and our displeasing opinions. Interrupt our quiet and they’ll see our “dark side” in one big outburst.

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