by Michelle Dierker
1. We are naturally enthusiastic and curious.
I recently spent some time with a friend I knew growing up, who I haven’t seen much socially for many years. While we were out exploring a city that is still new-ish to me, she said. “I forgot just how curious you are. You haven’t changed much.” Curiosity and enthusiasm are one of the things we are probably most known for.
ENFPs have a genuine excitement for life and are full of natural curiosity about the world and the people in it. I have met older ENFPs who easily appear 20 years younger because of the zeal that they continue to have for life. It is one of the things that stands out most about our type and something that we value most about ourselves. We are fascinated by so many things. We are also easily amused.
How to love this part of us: Engage us in new thoughts or ideas. Engaging our minds is one of the quickest ways to really connect with us. Tell us what things you are currently wondering or thinking about and ask us the same thing. Throw scenarios our way or challenge us with new information. Knowledge is power and we love people who help us grow.
2. We like to take care of others, but struggle to be taken care of ourselves.
But please do it anyway.
We are seekers of people. We love them and when we connect with someone, we are often the first to go out of our way to initiate conversations, check in to see how their day/week has been, and make sure they are doing okay. We feel fulfilled when the people in our daily lives are happy and we try to find ways that we can add to that. The truth is though, we are often on the giving end of those things. Sometimes we need to be taken care of, but we will never ask you to do it. We hate asking for help. This can end up being a really lonely place for ENFPs to be.
How to love this part of us: Few things make me feel more special than knowing when someone is thinking of me or goes out of their way to help me or check in on me. Make it a point to make contact with us. Texts, small handwritten notes, or unexpected pop-ins (although not always welcomed at home) are all acceptable forms of checking in on us. We think so often of others, that we will notice when the cards are reversed.
3. We really, truly are not flirting with the waiter.
It will hurt us if you make the insinuation that we are. ENFPs are constantly accused of flirting (with everyone), and while it’s true that most people will never have as much love and attention thrown their way by others as ENFPs often lavish, it really is only our curiosity that pushes us to engage in and interact with others as forcefully as we sometimes do.
How to love this part of us: Accept the fact that your world has collided with someone who absolutely loves people and shows genuine interest in just about everyone. But also know that our loyalties run deep, and if we have chosen you, we will invest in you fully. ENFPs are very much all or nothing types. If we’re not fully invested in you, you’ll know it.
4. We have layers.
And lots of them. It will take us quite a bit of time (and some gentle prodding) to actually open up to you. This is probably one of the most surprising things about ENFPs. While we come off as being incredibly warm and open, we can actually be very private. We rarely share personal things about ourselves with others. This is a juxtaposition of sorts, because what we crave most are meaningful conversations and interactions. The clincher is that while we want to know ALL about you, we will often hold back in sharing much about who we are and what we need from the people we do life with. Growing up and even today, I’ve often felt that many people feel closer to me than I do to them. There is nothing wrong with that, however, it’s important to know that while we are external processors, we are internal feelers.
There is a lot going on in my heart and mind on an ongoing basis that I might never feel that I am able to process externally with someone I love, unless they ask the right questions. There are very (very) few people who know me deeply, and those who do have really taken the time to invest in me. If you take any time to observe an ENFP, you will notice that they are usually focused on other people.
How to love this part of us: Love us through the layers. Ask open ended questions to encourage us to dive deeper with you. And realize that if we are volunteering personal bits of information with you, it’s a big deal.
5. We need time to process and we’re probably going to do it out loud.
ENFPs are external processors. What this means for the people who share space with us is that we are often coming to revelations about things while we are speaking. Unfortunately, this also means that half the time that we are talking, it can seem nonsensical, because our brains don’t do the whole, “processing and compartmentalizing what is share worthy and what is not” thing. I have about 18 conversations a day when I immediately regret the words coming out of my mouth because my brain just hasn’t caught up yet. Luckily, for mature ENFPs this isn’t usually too much of a problem, however, it does mean that our thoughts often seem scattered.
How to love this part of us: Listen. Have patience for our whimsical way of sharing what is going on in our minds and understand that just because we might be venting, problem solving, or thinking out loud, it doesn’t necessarily mean we want you to fix anything for us. Be understanding of how we process and don’t judge us for the lackluster way that our thoughts can sometimes come together. Some of the people I have felt the safest with in life have been those that I can sit beside and think out loud with. It is one of the ways we make sense of life and having someone willing and unassuming enough to help us by listening to us process is gold.
6. Verbal praise is everything.
This is a hard one to admit, but it’s true of every ENFP I’ve ever known. We are over-analyzers and we know that we have big personalities. Because of this, we have a tendency to feel insecure in relationships if we aren’t told exactly where we stand or how you feel about us. I often feel like I am just too much for people and since I was young I have always wondered if I’m encroaching on people’s space, just by how I love them. Human connection is something ENFPs thrive off of and it is something we not only crave, but something we need to feel balanced. We need to know that you see us and appreciate us. ENFPs are people who need verbal praise often, especially from the people we care about. We need to know where we stand with you.
How to love this part of us: This is a difficult one to write about without seeming really needy. This is an area where we have the potential to feel the most loved, if your comments are sincere. I guess the best way to love us in this respect is to be cognizant of the fact that this really is a consistent need of ours. Be specific in your praise and tell us when we do something that makes you grateful or proud. And remember that just because you told us on Monday how much you appreciate us, doesn’t mean we won’t need our tank filled again by Friday.
7. Go with the flow.
An ENFP friend of mine recently got out of a long relationship where the deal breaker was the difference in which she and her partner approached the speed of life. He was too regimented and she was too free and they had a tough time meeting in the middle. ENFPs go with the flow of life. We like not knowing where a day might lead us or what adventures we might find along the way. We don’t mind making plans but we don’t always feel like we need to stick to them. As my mother would say, sometimes we just like to “fly by the seat of our pants.”
How to love this part of us: Keep us on our toes. Be willing to go into a weekend or a vacation without having a schedule and surprise us by your willingness to seek out new experiences with us.
8. We crave consistency.
Luckily for my friend, our natural relationship partners (in life and in friendship) often tend to be INTJs or INFJs. Some of this probably stems from the steadiness we find in those types. ENFPs have a tendency to be all over the place, but once you really learn our patterns, we are actually very predictable. Still, we are idea people who often have our heads stuck in the clouds. We need the gentle grounding of a person who is reasonable, steadfast, loyal, and dependable. Hot and cold personalities are among the hardest people for us to connect with because we never really know what to expect or know where we stand with them. If you are warm and friendly one minute and cold the next, we will take it personally.
How to love this part of us: Be consistent, especially in your interactions with us. Because we don’t open up to everyone, if you are in our inner circle, we will likely desire contact with you on a routine basis. Knowing that we are an important part of your life validates our relationship and helps us know what to expect from you. I have often joked about this before, but it’s true: there is nothing more charming to me than reliability.
9. Be willing to engage in parallel play.
Parallel play is known as the stage in development when small children play beside another child without engaging with them directly. ENFPs are the most introverted of the extroverted types. Being so, we crave time alone to think, process, regroup, and reflect on current happenings and wonderings. While we love people, we can become easily overwhelmed or overstimulated and need quiet time to re-energize. Especially at the end of a long day, there are few things that I love more than being beside someone who allows me to just be. My old coworker, Kathi, and I used to parallel play our way through report card comments, weekly planning, printing/filing/stapling, and so much more. Being in the presence of someone we love, even if we aren’t talking, is comforting for us.
How to love this part of us: Spend a Saturday curled up on the couch reading with us or in a coffee shop writing or getting work done. We crave time alone with the people we really love and quietly sitting in your presence will be a good balance of giving us time to regroup while also helping us to feel like we aren’t alone.
10. Don’t put us in a box.
ENFPs need room to grow. More than most types, we see life as a journey and believe we are (and should be) constantly evolving through it. We are very quickly drawn to new adventures and ideas and while we do sometimes need to be pulled back down from the clouds, we also really value people who understand our need for consistent growth and new experiences. We see them as opportunities to learn more about ourselves.
How to love this part of us: Encourage our personal growth and hair brained ideas. Find opportunities to help us try new things. Sometimes we do need to snapped back to reality, but learn us well enough to know when to gently tug us back to earth and when to encourage us to spread our wings and fly.
11. Include us in your adventures.
We love seeing the world through the eyes of people we love. If there is something you love doing, take us along on the journey. It will help us to feel like we are seeing another side to you and we might also learn something about ourselves along the way.
How to love this part of us: While this is really more about you than it is about us, anytime we feel like a person has opened up a piece of themselves to us, we take that seriously. Being trusted with another person’s dreams and adventures makes us feel like we are an important part of your life.
12. Criticize lightly.
ENFPs throw our entire selves into life. We try to live rather than exist, so 95% of the time we pour our whole hearts into our work, relationships, art, hobbies, etc. We have a very difficult time separating who we are as a person from who we are professionally or who we are in a relationship. Despite how long I’ve been alive or how much I’ve tried to train myself otherwise, I will always be a little bit sensitive to criticism.
How to love this part of us: Be gentle. We really do want to be the best version we can be of ourselves and the only way of doing that sometimes is to know what we can do better. Don’t avoid confrontation with us. We are likely to do enough of that all by ourselves. Instead, choose your words kindly and come at us from a point of love. If we know that your aim is to better us or our relationship, we will really try to take it in stride. And if we’ve hurt you, please tell us.
13. Inspire us.
I have never been drawn to someone I wasn’t inspired by. I also couldn’t ever be in a relationship with someone who wasn’t passionate about what they do. The ability to inspire is probably one of the things I appreciate most in others. It is the kind of person I hope to be and so I seek the same in the people I hold in my inner circle.
How to love this part of us: Share your ideas with us. ENFPs are types who often fall in love with a person’s mind. We want to encourage growth in you as much as we want you to help us grow. By sharing your dreams with us, we will know how to support you in not only your future plans, but also in your every day life.
14. Be a safe place for us.
The world is noisy, and we are often adding our own form of noise to it. At the end of the day, security is everything for us. We need to know that we have a retreat or escape from the rest of the world when things seem just a little bit chaotic or on days when we feel too much. Knowing that we are a safe place for you to land is equally important to us.
How to love this part of us: Encourage us. Affirm us. Trust us. Believe in us.
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