“I’ve noticed that a lot people without an Fe preference tend to see Fe as having a lot to do with appearances, getting along/fitting in at the expense of yourself, people-pleasing, inability to say things as they are, etc… Certainly it can manifest like that but that’s not at all what Fe is based on. And I think a lot of the confusion about Fe - which seems like it should be easy to understand because it’s so visible, but believe me it can be just as complex as any other function - comes from making too many comparisons between Fe and Fi. I tend to believe that Fe and Te have more in common with each other than Fe and Fi. What Fe and Te have in common is that they’re based on organization of the environment. But while Te focuses on organizing tasks and objectives, Fe is about organizing relationships and social/emotional dynamics. The fact is, sometimes what is best for the group is also best for the individuals in that group. Fe tends to ask the question, “What is the purpose of us coming together like this, and how is what everyone is saying/doing affecting that purpose?” Kind of like how Te considers the goal of a project and how elements of that project fit together to achieve that goal.
Apart from that, Fe is also about helping people grow beyond their problems, kind of like how Te is about breaking through obstacles to improve your situation. Fi is about growth as well, but in a different way… Fe leads to growth by taking what someone thinks or feels in context with their environment, seeing how the two affect each other, and then either changing the environment or changing how the person interacts with their environment, hopefully in a way that’s empowering. Fe growth happens in the context of the environment, whereas Fi growth seems to happen more in spite of the environment. This gives you guys a very strong and consistent inner “anchor”, but it can also put you at odds with people and things unnecessarily, without much benefit coming from it. In that sense, Fi is very cause-oriented whereas Fe is much more effect-oriented. And this isn’t a bad thing - sometimes I am amazed at how much of an advantage being Fe-dominant gives me compared to people who don’t focus on that kind of thing as much. On the other hand, balancing the benefits of this advantage with staying true to my core is more of a challenge for me (being pulled to the needs of others can be a storm sometimes).
That doesn’t mean conformity though - fitting in and conforming are two very different things, and it has a lot more to do with the individual than with what their function preference is. One of the best things about being Fe-dominant is that I never really have to “conform” in order to fit in pretty much anywhere I go. I feel at home with everyone because Fe always lets me find common ground. It’s genuine common ground because it comes from something that’s true about me, and also true about the other person. Sometimes this common ground is minor, and basically just leads to small talk… other times it’s more significant and leads to a friendship. It feels just as natural for me to fit in with a group of artists as it does to fit in with a group of scientists, because in both cases the fitting in is based on something real. The artists and the scientists each see different aspects of me (because that’s what I show them more of in order to relate), but they’re still both seeing the real me. I hate not being true to myself as much as any other type, I just approach it in a different way.”