An In-Depth Look at The INFJ and ISTJ Relationship
The INFJ and ISTJ relationship is one that is relatively rare, but I’ve had several requests for an article about this pairing so I thought I’d make an effort to write something helpful about it! When it comes to type and relationships, literally ANY pairing can be successful…OR a trainwreck depending on how open-minded and respectful each partner is of the other. When you respect each other’s differences instead of seeing them as negatives, then there is huge potential for growth and happiness in relationships where there is very little type-preference in common!
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What INFJs and ISTJs Have in Common:
From a purely dichotomies standpoint, INFJs and ISTJs share two preferences; one for introversion and one for judging. This definitely helps their relationship in two different ways!
- INFJs and ISTJs both value their alone time and privacy. They will both understand the other’s need for quiet solitude and space to recharge. They are unlikely to pressure each other into attending lots of social engagements and will both give each other space.
- As judging types, INFJs and ISTJs both like to have closure on major decisions. They tend to take their relationships seriously and are (usually) more fond of long-term serious relationships than casual flings. They tend to like having relatively structured lives and having a plan and schedule for their days.
The Benefits of This Relationship:
INFJs and ISTJs are both very loyal individuals. They are willing to go the extra mile for their partners and are willing to overlook minor issues and annoyances for the sake of their long-term happiness. The ISTJ is down-to-earth and responsible, and the INFJ finds this quality comforting and stabilizing. The INFJ is visionary and future-focused, a quality that is intriguing to many ISTJs. Together, ISTJs can inspire the INFJ to not lose track of current needs and practical realities while the INFJ can inspire the ISTJ to see the big picture and new, profound ideas for the future.
ISTJs and INFJs both enjoy quiet intimacy and the “little things” that make relationships special. Whether it’s curling up on the couch with a good book together or walking through the woods at dawn, each type enjoys those little, quiet moments that can create deeper bonds and friendship. The INFJ is often impressed by the ISTJ’s attention to detail and storehouse of facts and data. Their awareness of facts, practical realism and sense of objective logic and fairness is impressive to INFJs. ISTJs are impressed by the INFJs depth of vision, insight into future implications, and strong empathy. They find themselves drawn to the INFJ’s warmth and imagination.
Together, this couple can help to strengthen each other’s weaknesses and, if they’re willing to be open-minded of each other’s different viewpoints, they can make more balanced decisions because they both have something that the other lacks.
The Struggles in This Relationship:
INFJs and ISTJs share zero of the same primary cognitive functions (their most preferred functions). As a result, they are more likely to make projections about each other and misread or misunderstand the other’s motives and intentions. Knowledge of personality type can really help this pair to understand and respect each other’s differences rather than see those differences as simply “wrong”.
The INFJ’s weakest functions are the ISTJ’s most preferred, and the ISTJ’s weakest functions are the INFJ’s most preferred. This can be a breeding ground for discontentment at times. The INFJ has to use Introverted Intuition to reach a mental “flow” state and the ISTJ has to use Introverted Sensing to reach that same relaxed, contented state. Neither is very capable of tuning into the other’s flow state or preferred information-gathering process, so they can both feel a little bored at times when their partner, in contrast, is quite excited about something.
When an INFJ wants to have a conversation, they will typically veer towards theoretical, abstract subjects and question traditions and pre-established rules. The ISTJ, in contrast, will focus more on practical realities and will value tried-and-true methods and empirical evidence/facts. They can find themselves under-stimulated in conversation because both are trying to veer into a territory that the other naturally distrusts. Introverted Intuition is the ISTJ’s “demon” or 8th function, and so they are likely to see Ni “epiphanies” as completely untrustworthy or without merit. Introverted Sensing, the ISTJ’s dominant function, is the INFJ’s “demon” or 8th function, and so the INFJ is likely to see Si impressions as debatable and untrustworthy. This can cause a lot of arguments and misunderstandings in their relationships, especially as both are quite certain of their opinions and tend to be on the stubborn side.
Ni (the INFJ’s dominant function) is quite certain about its insights and predictions and how current events will change/affect the future.
Si (the ISTJ’s dominant function) is quite certain about its own personal experience and how that knowledge through experience will change/affect the future.
Ni tends to distrust Si’s personal experience because it sees it as highly subjective, and Si tends to distrust Ni epiphanies and insights because it sees them as highly abstract and ungrounded in reality.
Struggles in Decision-Making
Similarly, when making decisions both types value completely different mental processes. The INFJ will mainly decide using Extraverted Feeling (Fe). They will tune into the emotional needs of others and attempt to maintain harmony when they decide. In contrast, the ISTJ will tune into Extraverted Thinking (Te) and assess the logical facts and realities when they decide. The ISTJ can risk seeing demonstrations of Fe as manipulative or overbearing because Fe is his “trickster” or 7th function. The INFJ can also risk seeing demonstrations of Te as forceful or overbearing because this is their “trickster” or 7th function. They can both struggle to reach agreements because the criteria they value when they decide is so different and tends to be naturally opposed.
Turning the Weaknesses Into Strengths:
The potential pitfalls we’ve just discussed for this relationship are not signs that this relationship is doomed, however! If these two types can work to respect the other’s strengths and avoid projecting negative qualities onto their partner’s abilities then there is huge potential for growth! Whenever you have two very different personalities who learn to work together those two people can grow in ways that two similar personalities never would!
For example, when it’s time to make a decision if the ISTJ and INFJ both respect each other’s feelings and thinking modes and listen open-mindedly to their perceptions, they can make extremely balanced decisions and are less likely to have biases and narrow-minded views. Two types who are extremely similar might get wrapped up in their own “bubble” and never learn to see outside of their own perceptions. This is why it’s usually extremely helpful for INFJs and ISTJs to learn about type and to learn about the cognitive functions so that they can “step in” to their partner’s shoes and appreciate their insights and viewpoints.
When it comes to conversation, INFJs and ISTJs can enjoy meaningful topics. INFJs enjoy figuring people out and learning about where they came from, and ISTJs who are comfortable in their relationship are often good at sharing stories from their past and meaningful moments they’ve experienced throughout their lives. Together they can enjoy recalling experiences that were meaningful to them, although INFJs tend to be a little less on the nostalgic side than ISTJs. ISTJs and INFJs can also find ways to combine interests so that they can have very stimulating conversations and moments. For example, if the ISTJ likes gardening and the INFJ enjoys reading poetry, they can sit outside and garden while reading poetry. There are a lot of ways to creatively come up with activities that will stimulate both partners’ natural desires and interests. As both partners get older they also develop their sensing and intuitive functions more and more. In their 50’s and onward, INFJs become more fond of sensing activities, and ISTJs become more fascinated by intuitive subjects.
Another area where this couple can thrive is in working towards a shared goal or vision. INFJs and ISTJs are both goal-oriented individuals and so if they have a common dream or ambition to work towards they often make a great team. INFJs are good at getting a clear idea and strategizing the best way to get there, while ISTJs are excellent at troubleshooting, creating efficient plans, and keeping track of the practical realities involved.
Summing it all up…
I’ve seen many happy INFJ/ISTJ couples and while this relationship may not be as “simple” as many other pairings, it has a lot of potential for personal growth and development. As long as both parties are interested and curious about each other and willing to see things from the other’s perspective they can both broaden their view of the world in profound and meaningful ways.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Are you in this kind of relationship? Do you have any tips or advice for people in this pairing? Share your thoughts in the comments! You can also discover MUCH more about INFJ relationships and how to maximize them in my eBook, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
Dating Do’s and Don’ts For Each Myers-Briggs® Personality Type
What NOT To Do on a Date with Each Myers-Briggs® Personality Type
What Each Myers-Briggs® Type Needs in a Relationship
10 Things You Should NEVER Say to an INFJ
10 Things You Should NEVER Say to an ISTJ
I am an INFJ married to an ISTJ married for 34 years. I have come to appreciate his loyalty and willingness to support me when I come up with the next “great idea” but it took me a long time to accept his reason for doing it. I want him to be as enthused as I am and he does it because he loves me. When we make decisions we have learned not to discuss them right away, but to go off and mull them over independently. Usually we come to the same endpoint but the road there is completely different! I can get stalled trying to imagine all the future ramifications of a decision, he just takes all the information he has and makes the best decision he can for that moment. I have stopped mining for layers of feelings that aren’t there and he listens patiently while I navigate the latest emotional storm. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the differences but it is the shared need for a small group of precious people, a deep sense of commitment to each other, a desire to help others, a desire to honor God, and the desire to always do the right thing to the best of our ability that is the solid base of our marriage. It’s also very comforting to know that we sense and respect each other’s need for space and time alone. my one piece of advice is,” Don’t imagine what or how the other is thinking. Just ask.”
Sherri you really hit the nail on the head! I’m also an INFJ married to an ISTJ for 11 yrs now, and everything you said rang so very true. I used to get frustrated that he wasn’t as empathetic as I thought he could strive to be, but he is so very supportive of that part of me and it doesn’t make him wrong or not as caring. In fact he helps me relax when I start to get too invested emotionally into things that are draining. He’s my rock and I’m his greatest cheerleader.
I’m an INFJ, my partner ISTJ. It’s a train wreck. They’re so stubborn as to make decisions alone because they only care about their agenda, duty, wants. The minute my INFJ feelings and intuition show, the ISTJ sits down, goes into extreme introversion. My over all feelings are like I’m not wanted as anything but an object in their plan to feel they’re doing their duty. This is not a good pairing at all. And ISTJ too duty bound to care.
Agreed, had a similar experience as an INFJ with an ISTJ man. Wasn’t a healthy pairing for me.
I feel this. So much. I also just feel like and object. No matter how much I try to compromise or understand them, just feels like I am giving them more rope length to do what they want and I just become a door mat. All of the things that I find important they don’t care about until someone from their circle of friends says something complimentary of it. Then it’s an ego boost so it’s ok. Never sways them to actually be supportive or take interest. I pay attention and I’m somewhat involved in the community, he constantly tells me what a waste of time it is and how much he hates it. Almost to a mocking state. It’s hard being told something I find important is stupid. I give up on most of those projects because any time I put into it causes a fight. I seriously don’t know what to do. I entertain his quirks and give him support and freedom. Just don’t feel valued or seen for me.
Yes! I am an INFJ who recently left a 20+ year marriage with an ISTJ. On the surface we seemed like a great match, but not really. He never really understood me, and I felt like I was only useful for him. He never reached into my inner sanctum.
I am an ISTJ mom trying to get along with my adult INFJ daughter, 28 yrs old. Any specific advice in this type of relationship?
Don’t be quick to give advice. She’s smart enough to come to her own emotional conclusions. The best thing you can do is support her and make her feel safe enough to explore the world. Let her know that you will always have her back and she will never be homeless as long as you are there. Help her with the little day to day tasks because she won’t know how to ask for help and will burn herself out. She won’t tell you when she’s really down or needs help. Just do it. Love is the best gift you can give and INFJ. Facts and common sense just make us feel judged and unheard.
I absolutely love it that you want to work towards understanding with your daughter. One thing that means a lot to INFJs is to have their intuition respected. It’s taken years for my ISTJ husband to trust me, even though he doesn’t understand exactly how I arrive at conclusions. Heck, I don’t even clearly understand it most of the time!
I’m the opposite! An INFJ mom with an ISTJ daughter ❤️ I find our best moments are quality time together, sharing books or hobbies we like, and encouraging her to dream and think about her future. As an INFJ daughter, I would want my mom to listen and let me dream without filtering it through her sensing side. It can be difficult for us to open our hearts and even more so if it hasn’t been respected, which I’ve found can happen with peer ISTJ’s and it makes me not feel as close-perhaps a similar dynamic could be there with a parent-child relationship where the child is an INFJ.
Hey ginny, I’m much like your daughter and have had a very tumultuous past with my boyfriend (ISTJ). I think what’s important is realising that while you are opposites you each have the other weakness/strengths. Maybe try to figure out how you could use that to take on the world? Also when you accept each other as you are you will find more harmony in the relationship. You both have unusual personalities and really do need each other 🙂 respect is number one!
GInny – I am an INFJ and my partner is ISTJ so I’m trying to imagine if he was a parent and how that might feel / what problems we would come across, I imagine he would be quite strong minded in the “I’m right because of XYz facts, and you should respect me – I am your parent, I am advising what i know is best for you!” And my INFJ personality would be crying out for him to see my vision or understand my need to create or follow my heart – even if it may seem risky or unreasonable to him! My advice is to pull together – respect her dreams / wishes and ambitions and come to a compromise or even use your intellect to help guide or help her follow the paths she yearns to follow. Using your strengths to guide and support her in the directions she wants to go (even if you are dubious of her ideas) could be a winning combination! Hope this helps! Wishing you all the best xx
Really interested in this.
Lots of the posts are female INFJ to male ISTJ pairs. No problem with that…. But.
My wife claims INTJ but I think she is ISTJ (phenomenal memory – seriously, you have no idea, and repeated claims of being rational/logical – and she is). Maybe hasn’t got that the full data-matching potential of Si is similar to Ni? (I think they feel similar). I am probably INFJ (feels that way).
Give us a clear practical problem – like a 25 year relationship, 10 house moves and refurbs, and raising 3 kids etc – and we are awesome. Complementary strengths, etc.
But we fight like cats in a bag. And I think thats because we have absolutely zero common language – and, maybe, when we are at our most raw and honest, those modes of thought make the other feel, strongly, that we are lying… even though we are not. Any thoughts?
I’m an INFJ married to an ISTJ for 11 years. This was spot on. We’ve always described ourselves and complete opposites. Fortunately we accept each other for who we are and don’t try to change each other. Making decisions is actually easy for us 95% of the time because we can clearly tell who cares about something more. Usually one of us will really care and the other won’t or we both won’t care. The other 5% is when it gets tricky. But we work through it and we don’t hold grudges or lie to each other.
I am an INFJ female and have been with my ISTJ male partner for 5 years now. We connect with many things in common, but sometimes it can be difficult when I can be so invested emotionally in issues that aren’t even mine, or when I “see” to far into my own future over something I said that I imagine all the worst possibilities and just burn myself out with worry. Sometimes he seems like he isn’t listening or he doesn’t care as much as I do and that can be frustrating. But what I’ve come to learn over these years is when he is quiet, he’s absorbing everything I am telling him. He remembers it all too, even years down the road… And every single time I am an anxiety-ridden mess, this man that I think doesn’t listen always seems to have the answer for me. He just doesn’t come to the conclusion the way I do. His path is clear and lined with information and mine is like a 5-year old’s coloring book, all sorts of mismatched scribbles outside of the lines. 🙂 His love for me helps him be patient with me, and what would possibly make an ISTJ incredibly irritated winds up becoming how he collects my “data.” I don’t think he completely understands me and all of my motivations, but he learned to navigate my overwhelming emotional hurricanes and figured out the right words to say. His logical nature is what keeps me grounded and I don’t think I’ve ever felt this stable and more heard in a relationship than with my ISTJ. In the end, I think our personality types help us grow. It’s really come to be a great balance.
I loved reading this article — it really hit the nail on the head. 🙂 Thank you for it!
I am a female INFJ and my male partner is ISTJ, I can say we have very difficult times were we cant understand each other, both feeling misunderstood and defensive. We are very fond of each other and share past trauma. He inspires me to understand my Sensing/Thinking side more.
I have to say, he’s definitely more stubborn than me, but I find as long as I listen to him and give him all my concentration when its needed, that makes things easier. We have broken up many times it always get back together, this mainly is a lack of alone time, so we annoy each other, because we dont always like the same things, like films, hobbies, choice of friends or games. We are introverted, we need alone time, I definitely have my head in the clouds and he is so organised. It does impress me.
Mad how right this is.
I am ISTJ and my best friend of 12 years is INFJ/P (she seems to bounce between these two effortlessly). Three years ago we moved into a house together and became roommates.
While ours doesn’t have the intimacy aspect of most relationships on this thread, I feel that so much of this describes us exactly and I just want to encourage INFJs out there not to give up on us ISTJs.
It is true that we are complete opposites in a lot of ways. I order my information in a series of labeled, categorized, and subcategorized mental “boxes” (think of a beautiful, bright, unending hall of perfectly labeled file cabinets) where I can find anything and everything, but I’m pretty sure her mental organizational strategy is a gigantic ball pit with magical fey creatures playing Laser Tag.
That being said, I FREAKIN ADORE HER. It’s like her entire being is this incredible whirlwind of intuition, emotion, and expression that is so completely beyond me that I find it fascinating. She opens my eyes to perspectives that are naturally outside my grasp and teaches me things about the world that I would likely never see on my own.
It’s true that I don’t always understand her, but one thing that people tend to forget about ISTJs is that, with our perfectionistic and analytical tendancies, we crave growth. We want to become better people than we are and we have a crazy intense need to think through problems and figure out the world.
The key to making this work is communication and common understandings. She has had to learn to be patient with me, that I need to think through things one at a time and that I WILL take longer to come to conclusions. I have had to learn to trust her, that just because I don’t understand every step she made to come to a decision doesn’t mean that it isn’t the right one. I’ve had to learn patience as well; just because the decision has been made doesn’t mean the the emotional roller-coaster fallout is over!
I have become a fuller and better person because of my friendship with my roommate and I definitely wouldn’t mind if I married an INFJ someday (any single guys out there interested? Haha!). And she appreciates my steady nature, targeted ambition, intense focus, and ability to draw joy from the mundane things in life.
Anyway, being in a relationship with someone so unlike yourself, whether romantic or platonic, can be an incredible experience. So INFJs out there, don’t give up on ISTJs. Just focus on understanding them, try to communicate clearly (we WILL NOT understand subtext or hints, use your words please!), and be patient with our slower methods. We might just make a perfect team!