Reciprocity and Love: Advocates (INFJ)

When some people hear the phrase “give-and-take,” they think of “taking” with a hint of negative judgment. The word might conjure the image of an ungrateful partner or someone who doesn’t contribute equally to the logistics of everyday living. But “taking” is not inherently selfish and is, in fact, an essential counterbalance to “giving” if a relationship is to prosper.

“Taking” includes knowing what you need and asking for it. It includes healthy boundaries, open and honest communication, and allowing yourself the time and space that you need to attend to yourself as an individual. It also includes showing yourself the same consideration that you show your partner.

What are boundaries? Boundaries are fluid barriers that define what is and is not okay in our interactions with other people. Unhealthy boundaries can be too rigid or too porous. When it comes to having a happy and satisfying romantic relationship, healthy boundaries are fundamental.

In the article “Reciprocity and Love: The Art of Give-and-Take in Relationships,” we explore the concept of give-and-take in depth. We also highlight one of the main personality-related factors in how we contribute to a reciprocal dynamic. But personality is a complex interplay between distinct traits – each of which helps shape the subtleties of our interactions with our significant other.

Advocates (INFJ), as Feeling types, are among the most likely personalities to be natural givers. But their Introverted, Intuitive, and Judging traits also factor into how they build reciprocity. In this article, we’re going to dig a little deeper into how Advocates both give and take (sometimes excessively) within their romantic relationships.

The Advocate Paradox

In some ways, Advocates hold their intimate relationships on a pedestal. They are quite willing to do the work that is required to keep their relationship healthy. They recognize how a healthy, loving bond creates a sacred space where mutual personal growth can take place. In this vein, people with this personality type tend to find a sense of purpose and meaning by tuning into and being attentive to their partner’s emotional, physical, and practical needs.

But people with the Advocate personality type can also have a more rigid side. They often come to conclusions and hold strong opinions based on a sense of moral or ethical authority. The high expectations that they set for themselves may be projected outward to the people closest to them, and they can be critical of even the people they love. And while they encourage openness and vulnerability from their partner, it’s not always easy for them to grant access to the depths of their own inner world.

This paradox between the mindful and romantic altruist and the reserved perfectionist is often observed in the ways that Advocate personalities give and take in their romantic relationships.

How Advocates Give

Advocates are generous with their time and energy, and they are happy to support their partner’s overall well-being – sometimes to the point of self-sacrifice or overstepping their bounds.

Thanks to the powerful combination of their Intuitive and Feeling traits, Advocates have an almost uncanny ability to comprehend their partner’s emotions and anticipate their needs. They have a way of discerning the underlying motives and outside influences that shape their significant other’s emotional processes, resulting in a multilayered understanding of that person’s inner workings.

Stemming from this understanding is an incredible capacity for empathy and compassion. Advocates deeply value emotional intimacy, which serves as a foundation for working through difficult issues while supporting their significant other’s process of personal growth. When they love someone, they find meaning and purpose in becoming that person’s pillar of support.

Advocate personalities also bring a certain level of pragmatism to their relationships. As Judging types, they often see what needs to be done and do it. There’s a good chance that they assume a more administrative role in their overlapping lives, organizing and tending to practical matters of all kinds.

When Advocates Give Too Much

Giving too much is often evidence of porous boundaries, which many Advocates struggle with, especially Turbulent types. Advocates’ ability to understand and anticipate their partner’s feelings and perspectives might lead them to set aside their own wants and needs out of consideration and support for that person. These personalities are also prone to employing their mindfulness to avoid conflict.

Advocates might also take on their significant other’s problems as their own, possibly feeling a sense of responsibility for the practical or logistical challenges of everyday life. These types tend to have strong opinions about how things should be done, and it’s common for them to step into problem-solving mode, offer unsolicited advice, or simply assume their partner’s responsibilities.

This can also be seen in their tendency to take on an oversize mental load, something that people with the Advocate personality type are known for. They often feel responsible, obligated, or simply more qualified for certain tasks. Issues can arise if they slip into a more managerial mindset, rather than adopting a collaborative attitude toward their partner and the relationship as a whole.

How Advocates Take

Advocate personalities often need ample personal space and the freedom to do things their way.

While it’s true that people with the Advocate personality type have a tendency to be givers, there are certain aspects of their relationships where they naturally take what they need.

One of these areas is their personal space. As Introverts, Advocate personalities value privacy, which they hope will be respected, even within the intimate context of their romantic relationships. And while they love quality time, they feel little need to spend every waking moment with their partner. These types often find the breathing room that they need by opting to stay in when their partner goes out or by setting aside time for personal hobbies.

Advocates may also take through their high expectations. These personalities can be quite particular in the way that they go about doing things. This taking might look like sharing their vision for how they prefer things to be done or steadily insisting that they be able to do things according to their plans and somewhat exacting standards.

When Advocates Take Too Much

Unhealthy taking by Advocates might appear as chronic criticism or a more passive-aggressive way of expressing disappointment or disapproval. These personalities have a lot of preconceived notions about how things should be, and despite their general willingness to accommodate their partner, certain things are likely to create friction.

Advocates may also find themselves needing more time and space within their relationships than other personality types might consider normal, possibly giving the impression that they are withdrawn or inaccessible. While this certainly has something to do with their independent nature, it may also be, at least in part, related to their tendency to worry about being misunderstood or their fear of unintentionally creating tension or conflict.

Rather than stepping up to deal with an issue directly, it’s often more comfortable for Advocates to simply pull back into their own private world. Most people with this personality type are sensitive to criticism, and retreat is often a preferred strategy if they sense it (or any other difficult interaction) coming.

Building Healthy Reciprocity through Healthy Boundaries

Advocates can contribute to a sense of balanced reciprocity in their romantic relationships by developing self-awareness around their own unique tendencies for giving and taking, particularly where porous or rigid boundaries may have developed.

As giving people, Feeling personality types like Advocates offer so much to their partner, but they often let their own cup run dry by taking on responsibilities above and beyond the call of duty. And while there is nothing wrong with having high standards or needing ample personal time and space, it’s important for Advocates to recognize when those demands are impacting their relationships.

Final Thoughts

There’s a concept floating around that seems relevant to share at this point. It basically states that the only thing that you can control in this life are your own reactions to the things that happen to you. Reciprocity in relationships can be thought of in much the same way. You can only take charge of your part in it.

This requires self-awareness, transparency with your partner, and expressing the boundaries that allow you to create the space within your relationship to fully be you. It calls for the intentional taking of what you need – without guilt but also without falling into the trap of rigidity. It also calls for conscientious giving by recognizing your partner’s needs and stepping up to fulfill them without sacrificing your own or ignoring their autonomy.

Reciprocity, by definition, is an interaction. It’s an exchange. And the law of reciprocity is that you get what you give. By offering awareness and intentionality from your side of the dynamic, you’re creating an invitation and cultivating the environment for your partner to do the same.

Further Reading