I’m so excited to have a guest post from Susan Storm today. When we decided to trade guest posts, I asked her for an article on INFJ relationships (which I felt unqualified to write as a very single INFJ) and she sent me this fantastic post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Do you ever feel like finding your way in the dating world is messy and confusing? Are you married and wondering how you can understand your spouse better? As an INFJ blogger I get these types of questions a lot. I get it! Being part of such a rare personality means that finding a like-minded soul can be a huge challenge. I hope this article will encourage you and help you feel more at ease in the world of relationships.
What I’m not going to do:
So you might think I’m going to give you this huge list of personality types that are or are not compatible with INFJs. But I’m not going to go there. I’m a firm believer that any type can be compatible with any other type. Your Myers-Briggs type can only tell you what your preferences are; it won’t tell you who you should or shouldn’t date. The most important thing in any relationship is to understand your partner and try to work together in a way that respects each other’s differences. I really hope this article will help you find some answers to some of the most common questions!
What’s the Most Common INFJ Pairing?
From my own personal experience and from surveys done in various INFJ groups, it seems that INFJs most commonly wind up with XSTP personalities. I get questions about relationships daily, and probably 8 out of 10 INFJs I talk to about relationships are married or dating ISTPs or ESTPs. This seemed crazy initially…I mean, ESTPs and ISTPs are so different from INFJs, right? Plus all the personality dating books say that INFJs should date other intuitives. So why does this pairing occur so frequently?
Here’s my theory:
INFJs and XSTPs have the exact same cognitive functions, but in a completely different order. As people we tend to look for partners that will cause a “balancing” effect. If we’re primarily fueled by emotion and values, we might seek a logic-driven partner (and vice versa). If we’re imaginative and captivated primarily by theoretical possibilities we might seek someone who is grounded in reality and has his feet planted firmly on the ground.
Opposites Attract, right? Time has proven this again and again. Why opposites attract comes down to the simple fact that we tend to want someone who will center us, and provide us with a more holistic worldview. As an INFJ with a Ni>Fe>Ti>Se function stack, when we see an ESTP with a Se>Ti>Fe>Ni function stack, there’s a natural sense that this person could be that “balancing” piece. Now I’m not saying that all XSTPs and INFJs are irresistibly drawn to each other. I’m sure there are plenty that don’t have a connection at all. But for all the time I’ve been blogging I see this pairing far more than any other.
What do most typologists recommend as a good pairing?
Nearly every book about type and relationships will recommend the ENTP/INFJ pairing. ENTPs are considered the perfect match for INFJs by most type enthusiasts. Although I’ve rarely seen this partnership in my correspondence, I’ve always heard it’s a good match. They’re both intuitives so they can both enjoy discussing theoretical topics. The ENTP can pull the INFJ out of their shell more, and the INFJ can help the ENTP to find solace and focus for their ideas. The ENTP who uses Extraverted Intuition can give the INFJ numerous angles and perspectives to consider, where the INFJ who uses Introverted Intuition can help the ENTP to harness one idea and explore it in more depth.
What about compatibility with all the other types?
I started to write about INFJ compatibility with every single type and then I realized this article would be about 100,000 words long if I tried to do that. So I’m just going to go over some basics to help you get started.
INFJs with Extroverts:
The perks: INFJs enjoy connecting deeply with other people, so an extrovert can introduce them to friends and experiences that allow them to form connections with new and interesting people. The INFJ may occasionally enjoy the excitement of spending time with an extrovert who likes to get out more. The extrovert can enjoy the solace, peace, and comfort of being at home with an INFJ.
The pitfalls: It’s important that each type respect each other’s energy needs. INFJs in relationships with extroverts will stifle their partners if they want to stay home all the time, and the extrovert can stifle the INFJ if they push them to socialize too much. Both will need to find a compromise or middle-ground so that their energy needs are met. Respect is key.
INFJs with Sensors:
The perks: INFJs can find the down-to-earth, practical sensibilities of the sensor refreshing. INFJs live very much “in their heads” and can get lost in their imaginations and perceptions. The sensor can help bring them back to earth and show them the beauty in everyday life and the details around them.
Se-users (SPs) are adventurous and realistic. They’re great at showing the INFJ new experiences and helping them to enjoy the moment fully. Si-users (SJs) tend to be very responsible, routine-oriented people who can make the INFJ feel assured of their commitment and care.
INFJs can provide sensors with refreshing perspectives and ideas. SPs have Ni in their function stack, and can be amazed and intrigued by the INFJs ability to use Ni to see patterns and spot underlying meanings. The INFJ can help the SP to develop their Ni and see things from a deeper theoretical perspective. In turn, the SP can help the INFJ to develop their Se more fully.
When it comes to SJ types, both SJs and INFJs tend to be organized, decisive, and goal-oriented. When INFJs and SJs are a team they can work together to accomplish almost anything. Where the SJ will know the facts and details necessary to make a decision, the INFJ will see the big picture and understand the strategic view of how to accomplish a future goal.
The pitfalls: Sensors tend to naturally distrust intuitive perceptions more than other intuitives will. When an INFJ explains to a sensor that they have a “gut” feeling about something, it’s difficult for the sensor to take that seriously. They want to know facts and details before they trust something, and gut feelings and hunches are rarely accepted readily. INFJs, in turn, can feel that the sensor is too focused on the details without regard for the big picture. This can result in errors of communication and conflict if neither one is willing to open their mind to the other’s view.
When I speak to clients and readers, I find more conflict between INFJs and SJ types than INFJs and SP types. This is largely because INFJs have the same learning processes as SP types do (Ni and Se). SJs perceive the world through Si and Ne, and hold to more traditional views, which INFJs tend to view with skepticism. SJs, in turn, view the INFJs visions and perceptions with skepticism.
Sensors and intuitives also may enjoy different conversation topics. INFJs love theoretical topics and discussing things that are more abstract. While sensors can enjoy this from time to time, over a long period this can wear them out. Sensors enjoy discussing their projects, plans, the stories of their life, and topics that have a basis in concrete reality. Both types can feel bored with the topics that interest the other type. It’s important that each work at listening fully to their partner, even if the conversation isn’t always centered around something that immediately interests them. It’s especially important that they never patronize each other. The sensor should never belittle the INFJs hunches and visions, and the INFJ should never act like their intuitive insights are superior to the sensors concrete focus.
One issue that can be a major problem for ESP/INFJ couples involves triggering each other’s inferior function. For example, an INFJ with dominant Ni can trigger the ESTP or ESFPs inferior Ni by forcing them to focus too extensively on theoretical future plans. If an ESP is focusing on their Ni too extensively it can cause a “grip” stress reaction. In the same way, ESPs with dominant Se can trigger the INFJs inferior Se by pressuring them to focus too extensively on the moment and the sensory details around them. Se dominant types like a lot of sensory overload which overwhelms the Se-inferior INFJ. Ni-dominant INFJs like to project and focus very much on the future which can overwhelm the Ni-inferior ESP. This issue will become less of a problem in later life, when both types normally start to develop their inferior functions.
INFJs with Thinking Types
The perks: Thinking types provide a logical, objective balance to the INFJs decisions. When INFJs make decisions they tend to think of the most harmonious approach. They “step in” to the equation and try to understand how everyone will feel. Thinking types do the opposite. They “step out” of an equation to find a logical, unbiased perspective. When thinking and feeling types respectfully communicate about decisions they can give each other fresh perspectives and wisdom when moving forward in life.
Thinking-types tend to enjoy the warmth and compassion of the INFJ, and INFJs tend to enjoy the logical, straightforward perceptions of the thinking type. When thinking and feeling partners respect each other and communicate honestly they can work as a team to make decisions that are both logical and considerate.
The pitfalls: Naturally when thinking-types and INFJs get into relationships there are bound to be some misunderstandings. Thinking types tend to be less tactful about how they present things, and they dislike “sugarcoating”. They can unwittingly hurt the INFJs feelings when they state their opinion without considering the emotional impact.
In the same way, INFJs can focus so much on other people’s welfare and harmony that they ignore a more straight-forward, logical approach. This can frustrate the thinking partner, who doesn’t understand why the INFJ isn’t just making the most straightforward decision.
INFJs and Thinking types can start to judge each other for their differences as well. Thinking-types can feel that INFJs are too sensitive or easily offended, and INFJs can feel that thinking types are too callous and harsh. To avoid these types of conflicts, thinking types should try to consider criticism carefully to determine how it might impact the INFJ. INFJs, in turn, should try to speak their mind more plainly, and remember that their partner is probably not intentionally hurting their feelings, but just being straightforward. Remember that emotional appeals will probably negatively affect the thinking-type, and blatant criticism will probably negatively affect the INFJ.
INFJs with Perceivers
The perks: INFJs can enjoy the open-minded nature of the perceiving type. INFJs tend to take life very seriously and they can feel trapped by their perfectionism. The perceiver can help them to enjoy the moment or take their time to consider other approaches. Perceivers are excellent at entertaining multiple views and finding creative nuances at the last minute. The INFJ, in turn, can help the perceiver to come up with a plan to reach their goals and achieve their dreams before it’s too late.
The pitfalls: Perceivers can grow tired of the INFJs plans and their focus on deadlines. INFJs tend to want to complete projects more quickly than perceivers do, and they can become obsessed with perfection and getting a project done by a certain time. Normally INFJs don’t push their tasks onto other people, but they can overwork themselves trying to keep up with their goals. Being late, finishing something at the last minute, or being in an environment of disarray is stressful for an INFJ. Likewise, being pressured by a deadline and having to be pushed to finish projects is frustrating for the perceiver. It’s important for both types to respect each other’s way of doing things and give each other the independence to accomplish tasks in their own way.
If there are serious problems in a relationship due to the J/P preference then it’s important to “meet in the middle”. Split up household responsibilities and obligations so that one type isn’t carrying the bulk of the work and thereby growing resentful of the other type. Keep communication open and be willing to compromise a little so that each partner has their needs met. Try to see if your partner’s perspective has positives that you could incorporate into your own!
On a side note, INFJs are not your typical J-types. Because INFJs are dominant perceivers (introverted intuition is a perceiving function) they can often come across more easy-going and cautious to act than EJ types, who lead with a judging function. INFJs will perceive first, act second because of the order of their functions.
INFJs with Intuitives, Feelers, and Judgers
Perks: INFJs with other intuitives will naturally have a lot of common ground and shared interests. Intuitives can engage in conversation about theoretical ‘what-if’s for hours and enjoy every minute of it. Both will be more focused on meanings and the big picture than details and present realities. They both will trust each other’s insights because they view the world in much the same way.
INFJs with other feeling-types will naturally share concern for each other’s well-being and a desire for harmony. Both will be tactful, considerate, and respectful of each other’s emotions and moods. Both will be interested in helping and improving life for people. These types often feel like ‘kindred spirits’.
INFJs with other judging-types can find commonality in their shared goals. They can both propel each other towards their purpose and help each other plan and prepare for the future. Both can split up responsibilities easily and stay on track with their to-do lists.
Pitfalls: When two intuitives are in a relationship together they run the risk of forgetting about their daily needs. They can both get so caught up in possibilities and ideas that they forget to eat, wash the dishes, put oil in the car, or take important details into consideration. All intuitives tend to dislike “chores” and so they may get behind on day-to-day tasks that sensors are more aware of.
When two feeling types get together, they run the risk of “smothering” each other by being too concerned with each other’s feelings. When these two types fight, it can be fueled by emotion and feelings and logic can become stifled in the face of fiery moods. It’s important for both to take a step back to consider the facts, the truth, and where the other person is coming from so they can avoid bitter arguments.
Feeling types also have very strong personal values and can risk appearing morally superior to each other. It’s important that they both respect each other’s values and abstain from “moralizing” or seeming self-righteous.
When two judging types get together, they risk steamrolling over ideas and avenues that might be important in their hurry to “get the job done”. They can benefit by slowing down every once in a while and considering any perspectives they may be missing or any creative options that could improve their project.
What Do You Think?
There is SO much more I could write about INFJs and relationships, but I hope this very brief article can give you some pointers! Do you have any tips for your fellow INFJs? What relationships have you found to be successful or challenging? Be sure to comment with your ideas!
Author Bio: Susan Storm is the writer for PsychologyJunkie.com, and the author of of Tranquility by Type, a book packed with stress-relief tips for each personality type. She is a certified MBTI® practitioner, and has been avidly studying psychology for ten years.
If you’d like to know more about the INFJ personality type, check out my book The INFJ Handbook. I just updated it with a ton of new information and resources. You can purchase it in ebook or paperback by clicking this link.