I’ve been putting off writing about the INFJ and compatibility in relationships for a while. Maybe it’s because I felt like it would be a little conceited to talk about how awesome INFJs are in relationships when I am one. Maybe it’s because pretty much every book out there says that INFJs do best with other intuitive types, and I’m married to a sensor. I guess that’s just the kind of rule-breaker I am!
Seriously though, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that, as I’ve said before, I’m NOT a relationship expert and so I believe that (often) people take the MBTI® too seriously in their relationships. There have been those who question their relationships after finding a chart somewhere that says their type and their partner’s type are incompatible.
The MBTI® can tell us where potential strengths and weaknesses lie, but it does not say ‘avoid this type / be with that type’. There are pluses and minuses to any relationship, and people within a type can vary so much based on upbringing and environment. Yes, intuitives and intuitives tend to inherently understand each other’s perceptions better, as do sensors and sensors. However, you really can have a happy relationship with any type as long as you both do your best to be understanding and to work on balancing out your strengths and weaknesses.
If you want more in-depth info on INFJs and relationships be sure to check out my eBook The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic
What INFJs Want In Relationships
Is the perfect soulmate too much to ask for? Really? One of the struggles of being an INFJ is that of being a true idealist and a perfectionist. While we are very warm, affirming people by nature – we also tend to be over-achievers in relationships. We want to be the “perfect” partner, and we tend to want our partner to be the “perfect” soulmate. We want someone who will make the effort to truly know us (which can take a while as we’re very private), and someone who will listen to our greatest hopes and dreams and ambitions. An INFJ would passionately cling to a life of singleness over being married to someone, or dating someone, who they feel little passion or depth of feeling for. INFJs are very independent, and while we long for a partner and soulmate in life, we have very little tendency to be desperate or to “settle” for anything less than someone with whom we share a very deep connection.
As David Kiersey so aptly puts it; “Finding that rare person with whom they can share their inner world is difficult for idealists, a painful process of trial and error, and often they vow not to date at all for periods of time rather than go through the search. For NFs, dating someone means more than physical fun or social experience; it is an opening of their heart and mind to the other person, in some cases a baring of their soul, and carries with it both a promise and an expectation of deep regard and mutual understanding.”
In relationships, INFJs usually seek intelligence (both intellectual and emotional), authenticity, and openness. Ideally, since we are always on a quest for personal growth, we want a partner who is seeking this same kind of personal or spiritual growth. We want to see the dark and light side of a person, not just the side you choose to show us. We’re pretty good at detecting phoniness or hidden agendas, so being honest and open is one of the best ways to impress us.
What INFJs are Like in Relationships
I may have painted us to be quite a demanding group of people, and maybe you’re thinking “wow! these people sound high-maintenance!”, but let me add a point. INFJs are extremely loyal and understanding. Once we’ve made the decision to commit to a relationship with you, we will love you unreservedly and passionately – seeing the best that’s in you and overlooking a multitude of weaknesses. We have plenty of our own weaknesses, of which many of us are highly aware. Personal weaknesses are easily overlooked, but if you degrade or criticize one of our deeply held values it’s not likely to go so well.
As perfectionists, we INFJs work hard at our relationships to try to be the best we can be for our partner. We aren’t perfect, that’s true, but we certainly do try to be. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than we generally hold our mates and children; so while we may at times seem too idealistic, we are usually going to be extremely thoughtful and caring towards those we love. We are also (usually) very empathetic and good listeners, and we will do what we can to make sure harmony is maintained in the relationship.
INFJs are often very sincere romantics. We love to express our feelings through gifts; usually gifts with a symbolic meaning, like a beloved piece of music, a favorite book, a piece of artwork. We may write poetry, love letters, or find other ways to show you how deeply we really care. When in love, we often make ourselves more vulnerable than is naturally comfortable for us. This, for us, is a way of being generous and authentic with our partners. It may scare us to tell you that we love you, to write you that poem, or to have you listen to that song that describes how we feel. But showing you, or giving you, these long-locked pieces of our hearts, are one of the most generous ways that we as INFJs can show our love.
Keep in mind, INFJs usually are better at expressing their feelings through writing, than through speech. Many INFJs harbor deeper feelings than they say out loud. A great way of unlocking those feelings is by engaging in letter-writing (not just texting!). In letters or even emails, you will often see a side of the INFJ that they have a harder time showing in person.
So what should you do to make your INFJ happy?
– Be 100% yourself.
– Don’t be scared to think outside the box.
– Listen to our passions and our deep feelings.
– Talk about your passions and/or feelings.
– Have a hard time talking about feelings? Write them down! We love written communication.
– Be kind. We tend to be on the sensitive side.
On a side note, I have officially come to the conclusion that writing about what INFJs want in relationships as an INFJ is awkward. I feel like I’m pointing out all our strengths and ignoring our weaknesses…don’t worry, we’ll get to that!
What NOT to do:
– Be passive-aggressive. INFJs do not handle this well and tend to give up on relationships where they’re faced with this regularly.
– Dismiss our theories or insights. Ni is an INFJs most advanced function. While we’re not always right about our insights, we are more than most.
– Criticize our sensitivity. INFJs are often highly-sensitive people, and things like loud noises, bright lights, and lots of commotion can make us extremely overstimulated. We can also get very overwhelmed and frightened by horror movies (although we may still like them).
– Criticize our intense emotions. INFJs are not good at internally managing their feelings; their unique combination of Ni (introverted intuition) and Fe (extraverted feeling) makes it very hard for them to sort out what’s going on when they experience emotions. Because of this, they often feel overwhelmed by emotions and feelings they don’t even understand. It can become so intense that they become physically sick as a result. Because their feeling function is extraverted, they will easily understand other people’s feelings, but be unable to decipher their own. If they externalize (talk about) their feelings, they are then able to process them through extraverted feeling. So being able to listen, give your input, and not judge is an essential part of being in a healthy relationship with an INFJ.
INFJs and Guardians (SJ types) in Relationships:
INFJs and SJ types usually enjoy very comfortable and happy relationships. INFJs appreciate the stability and responsible nature of the SJ types. The SJs appreciate the warmth, passion, and sincerity of the INFJ. Guardians (SJ types) can feel like a stable force in the INFJs life since INFJs are prone to feeling scattered and of two minds about many things. In turn, the INFJ can add some creativity and intensity to the relationship that the guardian admires and appreciates. These two types will both take the relationship seriously and be very committed to each other. An INFJ usually (not always) will get along better with an ISFJ/ESFJ type than an ESTJ/ISTJ type, simply because both are concerned very much with maintaining harmony and will work to take care of each other’s feelings. ISFJs and ESFJs have Fe and Ti, which INFJs also have. INFJs share no common functions with ISTJs or ESTJs.
However, the MBTI shouldn’t always be a guideline for relationships and many STJs and INFJs have very happy relationships.
Problems arise for INFJs and SJs in relationships often due to the N/S difference. The SJ may tire of the INFJs flights of passion and imagination; and they may see the INFJ as being impractical, with their head in the clouds. The INFJ, in turn, can view the SJ as being “boring”, lacking vision, or being overly traditional. INFJs with thinking SJ types can feel that they are too bossy, or too insensitive to others’ feelings. If they aren’t careful, INFJs and SJ types can work at changing each other too much, to the effect that they both feel unappreciated and let down. It is extremely important to balance out your functions and appreciate the other’s strengths. INFJs would do well to appreciate the SJ partner’s introverted sensing. Admire that they have such an incredible memory and such an eye for details. Learn about their functions and give them the appreciation they deserve. SJ types should appreciate the INFJs vivid insights, and genuine warmth, and generosity.
INFJs and Artisan (SP Types) in Relationships:
INFJs and SP types can have a lot of fun and excitement in their relationships. INFJs appreciate the SPs fun-loving, spontaneous nature. SP types usually have a strong physical presence and are full of action and energy, due to strong extraverted sensing. The INFJ can really appreciate this since their Se is inferior, and their partner can help them to strengthen their Se. In turn, SP types are often impressed by the INFJs strong use of intuition, an area where they are naturally weaker. INFJs love the playfulness, live-in-the-moment, laid-back style of the SPs. In turn, the SP types are inspired by the INFJs depth, passion, and insights. This often is an “opposites attract” type of relationship, where both partners admire the other’s strengths since it is usually an area of their own personal weakness. Someone with weak Se may admire someone with strong Se. Someone with weak Ni might admire someone with strong Ni, etc,..
Usually, the major problems with the SP/INFJ relationships have to do with the N/S difference. SP types often have little interest in talking about their “inner lives”, and would rather be doing something other than talking. While INFJs are abstract and theoretical, SPs are extremely concrete and practical. SPs, more than any other type, live completely in the moment. INFJs live with their thoughts always on the future. INFJs live in their heads, SPs live fully in their bodies – taking in every sensation and being very aware of external stimuli. For this reason, the SP can often see the INFJ as having their head in the clouds or being flighty and unrealistic. The INFJ, in turn, can see the SP type as not thinking deeply enough, or being too focused on the here-and-now without regard to the big picture.
I myself am married to an ESTP so I can tell you from experience that the SP/INFJ relationship can work really well. He is really laid back like SPs tend to be, and that helps me to be calmer and to take things more one day at a time. He is also an optimist (most SP types are) and I’m more of a pessimist, so he keeps me really balanced in that respect. He appreciates my insights and trusts them, and even though he’s a sensor we’ve been able to have some really in-depth discussions about abstract concepts. Being with him has definitely helped me to balance out my Ti and Se functions, and he’s developed more of his Ni and Fe. When we got married, I remember seeing all these charts that said the INFJ/ESTP relationship was a REALLY bad idea. While we’ve only been married for 3 years, I think I can say with relative certainty that we shouldn’t put all our faith into charts, or even compatibility articles or posts like this one! Each pairing is going to have its own unique pros and cons regardless of MBTI® type, and the key is to be understanding of each other and appreciate each other’s strengths, even if they’re very different from your own.
INFJs and Idealists (NF Types) in Relationships:
INFJs do exceptionally well with other idealists. While many types struggle with relationships within their own temperament, INFJs often find that true soulmate with another NF type. Two NF types together can find deep satisfaction because they are finally able to be with someone who truly understands them, which is usually such an elusive thing for an INFJ to find. They will enjoy sharing their inner worlds with each other and will take very good care of each other’s emotional needs. They usually have very intense, romantic, intimate relationships that may feel “too good to be true” many times.
Unfortunately, no relationship is without its struggles – and this definitely applies to the INFJ/NF relationship. An INFJ and another NF type can be so concerned with each other’s feelings that they risk invading each other’s personal space. INFJs are extremely independent and private, and so after a while, they can feel a need to get away and have some of their space back. They can have the same effect on the other NF type in the relationship. The other problem area is that they are both bound to be so intensely passionate about their visions and goals that they run the risk of tiring each other out. INFJs and other NFs are also not known for being particularly good with money and practical affairs, which can end up causing difficulties throughout their relationship.
Sometimes the differences that partners have can provide a balancing/relieving effect to each other. For example, a feeler is getting carried away with their emotions, and a thinker helps them to see things in a more rational way. A thinker is being too tactless in their relationships, so a feeler helps them to find ways to re-word things. Two types in a relationship who share the same temperament may end up “living in a bubble” and become too focused on a narrow perspective of life and how things should be done.
INFJs and Rationals (NT Types) in Relationships:
The INFJ/Rational match is considered by many MBTI experts to be the best pairing. In the rational partner, the INFJ can find someone who, like them, thinks in abstract terms, who sees the world of possibilities, ideas, and theoretical concepts. Yet, unlike another NF, the NT has a certain autonomy and calmness that the NF finds to be intriguing and relieving since INFJs can get so overwhelmed with their own soul-searching and intense emotions. The NT type will likely see in the INFJ a warmth, passion, and sincerity that they admire and desire. Conversely, for the NF type, they see the NT type as being intelligent, intellectually stimulating, and brimming with ideas that are inspirational and fascinating. These two types together can engage each other’s intuition and ideas and can be an unstoppable force for innovation and brilliance. David Kiersey says that the best match for the INFJ out of all 16 types is the ENTP. He says:
“The reserved and schedule-minded Counselors (INFJs), with their complex, mysterious, symbolic inner-worlds, tend to become trapped by introspection and tied in ethical knots, and they can be freed up considerably by the outgoing and probing Inventors (ENTPs). Counselors might also find great satisfaction in trying to help the non-conformist, sometimes even reckless Inventors find their soul and significance in the scheme of things.”
Of course, there are always potential problem areas for any pairing. With this duo, the problems mainly lie in the T/F difference. The INFJs firm belief in their intuition may exasperate the ever logical NT types. The INFJ may also feel that the NT type lacks sensitivity or depth of concern for humanitarian issues. The NT type may find the INFJ overly absorbed in their feelings or in other people’s feelings and may wish for more of a calm, steady partner at times. However, if both types work to stay balanced and healthy and try their best to understand each other, this pairing can be incredibly successful.
INFJ Strengths in Relationships:
– Good listeners
– Warm and empathetic
– Sincere and authentic
– Open-minded and imaginative
– Protective of their partner’s feelings
– Have very high expectations of themselves (both a strength and a weakness)
– Take their commitments seriously
– Excellent communication skills, particularly in writing.
INFJ Weaknesses in Relationships:
– Very private. They can keep part of themselves hidden.
– Detest conflict or criticism
– Not usually good with practical day-to-day matters or finances
– Can hold their partners and themselves to an unrealistic standard
– Can have a very hard time leaving a bad relationship
What are your thoughts?
Are you an INFJ with some insights into relationships and MBTI compatibility? Are you a different type with any thoughts? Let me know what you think in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.
Find out more about your personality type in our eBook, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type.
I wouldn’t be able to get very far without the help of these AMAZING books and web pages. If you want to know more about the INFJ, the other MBTI® types, or relationships, check out the sources for this post.
Please Understand Me II by David Kiersey
Just Your Type – Create the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted Using the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger
Personality Page – INFJ Relationships
Personality Junkie – INFJ Relationships (AWESOME web site!)