Marcie’s parents swear that she came tap-dancing into the world the day she was born. Obviously this was not literally true, but she smiled very early, soon laughed at everything, and seemed to bring joy wherever she was. Life was simply a delight for her from the beginning. As she grew older, her warmth and sweetness seemed to captivate everyone, and life was full of friends and endless social events.
Not surprisingly for an ESFP, she did not shine in her academic work in school, but she did well enough, and her talents in music and dance more than made up for classroom boredom. She later attended a high school that specialized in the performing arts, and did very well in that setting. From there she went on to a public university and majored in dance. The major was wonderful, but the rest of college life just was not for her. After a couple of years, she auditioned for a part with a small company that staged musicals in her local area. She quickly became an accepted member of the troupe and settled into a life that seemed very gratifying.
Not too long after this she met the man who would become her husband. Barry came to the group as an assistant director. He saw himself as a person of deep artistic temperament and, in fact, was quite talented. Most of the cast, while admitting his talent and usefulness, found him quarrelsome and hard to relate to. Marcie took pity on him, and he in turn was totally charmed by her warmth and enthusiasm. He was soon swept away by his feelings for her and carried to un-Barry-like extremes of affection. He showered her with gifts and lavish trips and entertainments, as well as with extraordinary praise for her many wonderful qualities. She came to feel that he had a wonderful nature that he simply did not reveal to many people. Before long, they were engaged and then married.
All was joy at first, but eventually life became more routine and they began to see one another’s flaws. Barry was highly introverted in his more normal not-newly-in-love persona, while Marcie, of course loved being surrounded by people. He was a very orderly person, where Marcie lived quite happily in a world of total disorder. She tried to be tidier for his sake, but was never successful for long. Where at first, Barry had joked about this as an endearing little foible of hers, he became increasingly sharp and critical as time went by. He, in turn, proved to have a deeply brooding side. Others had not been wrong about this. He tended to see others as constantly in collusion against him, and would become more and more upset, the longer he thought about it.
Marcie tried very hard to keep their home atmosphere happy. She struggled to understand his worries and offer more optimistic interpretations. She tried cooking special treats for him and dreaming up surprise events that might cheer him up. As much as such things were a source of joy for her, they were not for Barry, who cared not at all for surprises and not a great deal for unusual foods. Although dance was Marcie’s best talent, she also loved music and loved to sing. Many times, she would put on a special piece of music to try to lighten the atmosphere and would sing along with it. Whereas Barry had loved her cheerful singing when they were dating, it seemed now to aggravate him more than please him.
They had been married about a year and a half when Barry was fired from the company. The actual reasons had a great deal to do with his very difficult disposition, but he simply saw it as a coup by the jealous members of the company. Shortly after this, he took a position in another city and the two of them moved, Marcie giving up her job. More unhappiness ensued. This was a small city in an otherwise rural setting. Marcie auditioned with the few companies in the area but did not immediately find work. Barry refused to have them socialize with his new work group on the grounds that this simply opened the door to the sort of problems he had had before. Idle and isolated, Marcie was truly unhappy. She cried a lot when she was home. Eventually, she began to hang out during the day with new friends she had met during auditions. Somehow this was threatening to Barry and he tried to forbid it. When that failed, he demanded that they go to a marriage counselor. That went on for a while and seemed to suit Barry rather well. Exploring his darkest emotions seemed interesting and somehow fitting to him. To Marcie, it was just one more black hole that this marriage had led her into.
One day, she sat down by herself and reflected on all that they had been through. In her view, life was meant for happiness. She had tried every way she could to create that in her marriage, but Barry seemed determined to be miserable. That being the case, she decided that he would just have to be miserable alone. She packed her few possessions, wrote him a farewell note, and left him for good.
Marcie’s story illustrates some important points about ESFPs. They are warmly and kindly inclined toward others and sometimes naïve in this. When Marcie’s kindness to Barry led to a world of affection, lavish praise, and extravagant gifts in return, it was easy for her to believe that this was the true Barry. She held stubbornly to that as things became darker and less pleasant, and did everything in her power to charm him into a return to his initial joyfulness. ESFPs show great love and loyalty to others, as long as their truest values are not threatened, but they are deeply committed to finding happiness in everyday life. Marcie walked a long way past this with Barry, but the day that she became convinced that he would never change, she was through. There is no way that a strong ESFP is going to make a lifetime commitment to being totally miserable. And, as a here-and-now person, she made her decision quickly and efficiently, refusing to linger for further long and miserable arguments.
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