Personality types that tend to be more submissive include the following:
ISFJs are introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging personalities. They tend to be loyal, practical, and sensitive. ISFJs like routine and order, and they’re often observed as quiet and reserved. They prefer predictability and may come across as passive or submissive.
INFPs are introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving personalities. They are idealistic and creative. INFPs tend to be sensitive and easily hurt. They don’t like conflict and will often go with the flow to keep the peace. This can make them seem submissive.
ISFPs are introverted, sensing, feeling, and perceiving personalities. They live in the present moment and seek peace. ISFPs are flexible and easy-going. They adapt well to their surroundings. Their desire to avoid conflict can appear submissive.
INFJs are introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging personalities. They are compassionate and insightful. INFJs avoid conflict and criticism. They will often acquiesce to maintain harmony. This tendency lends itself to submissive behaviors.
What Makes Someone Submissive?
There are a few key traits that make someone more prone to submissive behavior:
- Discomfort with conflict – Submissive people strongly dislike arguments or tension. They will go along with things to avoid rocking the boat.
- Desire for harmony – Submissives want everyone to get along. They’re willing to compromise their own needs for the sake of the group.
- Low assertiveness – Submissives have a hard time speaking up for their own wants and needs. They let others take the lead.
- Low self-esteem – Submissives often lack confidence and self-worth. They don’t feel they have the right to stand up for themselves.
- Agreeableness – Submissive personalities tend to be very cooperative, trusting, and eager to please. They don’t demand to get their way.
Basically, submissive people are more focused on keeping the peace than asserting themselves. Their passive, compliant nature allows others to dominate.
Submissive Communication Style
Submissive communication involves:
- Speaking softly and hesitantly
- Couching statements as questions or suggestions
- Apologizing frequently
- Not making direct eye contact
- Qualifying opinions with statements like “I could be wrong, but…”
- Frequent self-deprecation
- Downplaying one’s own needs or interests
- Being overly polite and deferential to others
This style reflects the submissive person’s fear of imposing upon others. They try to make their presence small to avoid notice or criticism. Submissive communicators won’t force their viewpoints on anyone.
Submissiveness in Relationships
In romantic relationships, submissive individuals may:
- Go along with most of their partner’s choices
- Rarely voice objections or contradict their partner
- Let their partner make the important decisions
- Downplay their own needs/desires
- Apologize and take blame even when it’s unwarranted
- Have difficulty leaving an unhappy relationship
- Feel they “need” their partner to feel complete
Submissive people avoid rocking the relational boat. They depend heavily on their partners and fear doing anything that might cause conflict or disapproval. This excessive compliance can breed resentment over time.
In friendships, submissive individuals may:
- Frequently go along with the group’s choices
- Laugh at jokes even if they don’t find them funny
- Apologize or change their opinions to please friends
- Silently accept unfair treatment from friends
- Struggle to get out of codependent friendships
- Feel unworthy of true reciprocation
Submissives have porous personal boundaries. They yield their own preferences to gain approval. But this often leaves them feeling unfulfilled.
Submissiveness frequently takes root in childhood. Contributing factors may include:
- Authoritarian parents – Harsh discipline teaches children they must obey rules to avoid punishment.
- Perfectionist parents – The pressure to meet high standards makes children feel flawed.
- Conditional parenting – Love withdrawn for “bad” behavior breeds compliance.
- Neglect – Lack of caregiver attunement leads to poor self-worth.
- Codependent modeling – Children copy submissive behaviors they see at home.
- Trauma – Abuse or victimization teach helpless responses.
When children internalize shame, criticism, or powerlessness, submissive patterns emerge as a coping strategy.
Is Submissiveness Healthy?
Mild submissiveness is not inherently problematic. Getting along with others often requires some compromise. But when submissive tendencies become an entrenched part of someone’s personality, issues arise:
- Loss of identity – Submissives pay more attention to others’ needs than their own. Over time, they can lose touch with their true selves.
- Unfulfilling relationships – Submissive people often end up with partners or friends who take advantage of them.
- Poor boundaries – Submissives’ lack of boundaries leaves them vulnerable to manipulation or abuse.
- Unresolved resentment – Burying one’s own needs breeds resentment, even if submissives won’t admit it.
- Stress and anxiety – The constant monitoring of other’s needs/moods is exhausting. Submissives often suffer anxiety about disapproval.
- Depression – Never getting one’s needs met leads to sadness and hopelessness.
For submissives to thrive, they must learn to set healthy boundaries, increase their self-awareness, and adopt more balanced communication patterns. Therapy often helps.
Certain personality types like ISFJs, INFPs, and ISFPs lean toward submissive behaviors. Key traits like conflict avoidance, harmony seeking, and agreeableness also increase submissiveness. Though rooted in childhood, submissive patterns often persist into adulthood romantic relationships. When taken to an extreme, submissiveness can damage psychological health and relationships. But therapy helps submissives adopt more constructive behaviors.