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ESFJs are warm-hearted individuals who highly value their close personal relationships. They are very service-oriented, and their own happiness is closely tied into the happiness and comfort of those around them. They are valued for their genuine warm and caring natures, and their special ability to bring out the best in others. They usually do not handle conflict well, and may tend to be very controlling or manipulative. Relationships are central to their lives, and they put forth a great amount of energy into developing and maintaining their close interpersonal relationships. They expect the same from others.
Each type has traits and behaviors that can strengthen their relationhips. Most ESFJs will exhibit the following strengths with regards to relationship issues.
The first step in overcoming our weaknesses is identifying them and recognizing them in our own behavior. Once we've done that, we begin to naturally correct our weaker behaviors in real-time. ESFJs may recognize some or all of the following behaviors that can negatively impact the health of their relationships.
"To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." —Rollo May
ESFJs are warmly caring people who give their intimate relationships a lot of special care and attention. They're usually traditional and take their commitments very seriously. Once the ESFJ has said "I do", you can bet that they will put forth every effort to fulfill their obligations to the relationship.
ESFJs want to be appreciated for who they are, and what they give to others. This need of theirs is sometimes intensified to the point where they are very emotionally needy, and constantly "go fishing" for affirmation if it is not freely given. ESFJs typically cannot stand conflict or criticism. They take any sort of criticism as a general indictment of their character. This is a potential pitfall for ESFJs to be aware of. In the face of negative feedback, or the absence of positive affirmation, ESFJ may become very depressed and down on themselves. Appreciation is the greatest gift that their partners can give them.
ESFJs have a tendency to be very conscious of social status and "what other people think". They should take care not to let this interfere with their close relationships.
Sexually, ESFJs are warm and loving, and welcome intimacy as an opportunity to express their affections, and receive their partners gifts of love. Many ESFJs have a tendency to be highly scheduled and traditional in their sexual habits, but this is almost always overcome by increasing their education and awareness of options. ESFJs are very service-oriented and will place a lot of importance on making their partners happy.
Being highly practical, the ESFJ is excellent in matters regarding home management. They're likely to be very responsible about taking care of day-to-day needs, and to be careful and cautious about money matters. They are interested in security and peaceful living, and are willing and able to do their part towards acheiving these goals for themselves, their partners, and their families.
Most ESFJs have a strong need to "belong" - whether it be to institutions or traditions, or family units. This need usually causes them to be quite social creatures, who enjoy attending parties, as well as throwing their own. They're likely to strongly desire that their partners share in their social experiences.
Although two well-developed individuals of any type can enjoy a healthy relationship, ESFJ's natural partner is the ISFP, or the INFP. ESFJ's dominant function of Extraverted Feeling is best matched with someone whose dominant function is Introverted Feeling. The ESFJ/ISFP combination is ideal because is shares the common Sensing way of perceiving the world, but the ESFJ/INFP combination is also very good. More on ESFJ compatibility
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth...
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable." —Kahlil Gibran
As parents, ESFJs are extremely committed to their roles and duties, and contain and freely express a great deal of love and affection for their children. They expect their children to honor, respect and obey their parents, and do not tolerate well any deviance from this rule of behavior. Their Feeling preference makes it difficult for them to discipline their children. If they have not worked on overcoming this issue, they may tend to punish their children in less obvious ways, such as using guilt manipulation. This is a potential pitfall for the ESFJ to overcome. It is generally more effective and more healthy to discipline directly when called for.
The ESFJ is very service-oriented and concerned with the comfort and happiness of those around them. Consequently, their children are likely to have their practical needs taken care of very efficiently and responsibly. Their ESFJ parents will create structured environments for the children, where their boundaries will be well-defined and known.
The ESFJ's tendency to be controlling, combined with their emphasis on tradition and security, makes it likely that they will be at least somewhat strict and controlling of their children. However, they will also be their children's strongest, loudest advocate. Children of ESFJ parents are likely to rebel from their authority at some point, which will cause a stressful time for both parent and child. In this case, the ESFJ natural tendency is to make their children feel guilty about their behavior. Depending on the extent of the guilt manipulation, this may cause serious damage to the relationship.
Most ESFJs are remembered fondly by their children for their genuine love and affection, and for the well-defined structure and guidelines they created for their children.
Although the ESFJ usually puts their family in front of their friends, they do place a lot of importance on their close friendships, and feel tremendous loyalty towards their friends. Since they feel tremendous pressure in their lives to constantly "do their duty", they may sometimes turn their friendships into another task or responsibility. Usually, however, they get a lot of enjoyment from their friendships, and give back a lot of affirming warmth.
There are a couple of ESFJ tendencies which may cause problems with their casual and intimate friendships: 1) they don't give things freely - they expect something in return, and 2) they have a difficult time believing anything bad about someone close to them.
ESFJs are valued by others for their genuine interest in people, and for their warmth and kind-heartedness. They have a special skill at seeing the best in others, and making people feel good about themselves. As such, they usually have a relatively large number of very close friends, usually of all different personality types.
ESFJs are likely to have well-furnished, orderly and attractive homes. They are usually excellents hosts and hostesses, and enjoy throwing parties and having a good time. They like to feel as if they belong to traditions and institutions, and are likely to have a relatively large group of people which they include in their social circles.