INFJ Meets ESFP

 

What happens when an INFJ meets an ESFP? Is there an instant attraction? Do they repel each other like two magnets?

Looking at their personality traits, you’d think they have little in common. When an early attraction persists, it’s cause for wonder. Usually, the bond is associated with their shared feeling (F) trait.

Introversion (I) vs. Extraversion (E)

The first big difference lies in the INFJ’s need for privacy vs. the ESFP’s preference for social contact. On the introversion/extraversion (I/E) scale, the inwardly focused nature of INFJs causes them to be reserved and, in extreme cases, reclusive. They dislike crowds and need considerable time alone. They’re worn out by prolonged social interaction. In contrast, extraverts are social butterflies. The company of other people energizes them. Being left alone too long makes them feel anxious and disorganized.

When an INFJ and ESFP are getting ready to go to a party, the INFJ may say, “Do we really have to go? I’d rather stay home and watch the Ferris Bueller movie again.” The ESFP is likely to reply, “C’mon, the party will be fun. We’ll see old friends. If you’re bored we can leave early.”

To which the INFJ responds, “I can promise you, I’ll want to leave early. And I know you. You won’t.” And so it’s likely to go.

Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S)

The difference in Myers-Briggs traits can be more divisive for the partners in terms of their intuitive (N) vs. sensing traits. The well-developed intuition (N) of INFJs gives them a talent for interpreting the meaning of events around them on limited evidence. Their hunches are usually well-founded. To the sensing (S) ESFP, this makes no sense. ESFPs draw conclusions based on what they see and hear in the immediate environment. They’re less concerned about the meaning behind people’s actions than they are with the actions themselves.

On the way home from the party mentioned above, the ESFP may say, “Wow, did you see the ring on Jill’s finger? I guess they’re getting married after all.” To which the INFJ may respond, “I don’t know, they looked pretty tense with each other. I wouldn’t count on it.”

The ESFP thinks, “What? A ring is a ring! We all know what that means.” The INFJ thinks, “Ring? Who cares about the ring? I can tell there’s trouble in that relationship.” Mostly likely, the INFJ is right.

Perceiving (P) vs Judging (J)

INFJs and ESFPs are also worlds apart on their perceiving (P) and judging (J) traits, especially if they tend to be at extreme ends of the scales. Perceiving ESFPs are easy-going and fun-loving. If they’re a little late for an appointment or miss it entirely, oh well. Manaña is the name of the game. Not for the INFJ. To be late is almost a sin.

When frustrations arise in a relationship, they’re often due to P/J differences in the decision-making styles of the two types. ESFPs like to delay decisions until the last possible moment. In their view, there’s always more information to be gathered. They’re less concerned about bringing decisions to a close than enjoying the ride. INFJs prefer closure. They want to sign the contract and whip out their credit card. They’re more interested in reaching their destination than enjoying the scenery along the way. In old Type A—Type B terms, the INFJ is a Type A and the ESFP is a Type B.

When an INFJ/ESFP couple decide to buy a refrigerator, the INFJ goes to the computer, looks up comparative data and prices, and consults Consumer Reports for  recommendations. By the time the partners walk out the door the next day to shop, the INFJ has already decided on a refrigerator, including the make and model.

Not so fast, says the partner. We’d better look around. They visit every appliance store in town before sundown, and still the ESFP hasn’t made a decision. They’d better go back on Sunday, the ESFP says. The INFJ is going crazy. Before they left the house that morning, the INFJ knew which refrigerator they should buy. He or she would like to wring the partner’s neck.

Feeling (F) vs. Thinking (T)

Vive la feeling! At least the two types have this preference in common. Both are concerned with the other’s emotional comfort. They’re careful of the impact of their words, actions, and decisions upon the other. Both are kind, compassionate people.

Their feeling trait helps them work through the incompatible aspects of their personalities. The ESFP member of the couple is optimistic, playful and fun-loving. Of the two refrigerator shoppers, he or she takes the most outgoing, enthusiastic view of life. The INFJ is more focused and driven. Because they love each other, they make allowances and put effort into getting along and enjoying each other’s company. They give each other wiggle room.

The balance is important. If the INFJ is too demanding and insists that the partner make a choice by noon on Saturday based on Consumer Reports data, the person may pay later. The first time the refrigerator makes a funny noise, the ESFP will say, “See? I told you we should look around more.”

The secret of a successful INFJ/ESFP relationship lies in the couple’s tolerance, compassion and mutual enjoyment of life together. Their feeling function—their love for each other—is a major factor in the growth and stability of the partnership.

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Differences Between Introverts and Extraverts

Most of us think we know the difference between introverts and extraverts. Introverts seldom go anywhere, right? They’d rather stay at home and read a book. Extraverts are party animals. Wherever the action is, that’s where you’ll find them. Introverts don’t talk much. Extraverts talk all the time.

To some extent, this is true. But there’s much more to it than that.

Introverts don’t just find a hole somewhere and sit in it, protected from the outside world. They’re recharging their batteries, collecting their thoughts, and getting their feelings organized. When they’re in the outside world, they’re certainly able to be friendly and talkative some of the time. But after a while they tire out. They need privacy to regroup, think things over, and decide what it all means. If they’ve been let down by a friend, they want to mull the matter over before talking about it. Not extraverts. Too much time alone makes them antsy. When left in solitude for a long period, they get irritable. They need to talk to other people. It’s how they get their energy.

If you send an introvert and an extravert to a party together, you can almost count on the introvert suggesting they leave early and the extravert wanting to stay until the lights are turned out. The difference? The introvert is being depleted of energy. The extravert is recharging.

Here are some of the hallmarks of the two types:

Introvert

• Gathers energy from thinking and reflecting in private.

• Needs plenty of time alone.

• When in social settings, comes across as reserved.

• Is drained by prolonged exposure to groups, at work or anywhere else.

• At parties, talks to only two or three people, preferably previous acquaintances.

• Suspicious of people who seem too glib.

• Doesn’t reveal personal information readily.

• Dislikes being interrupted while concentrating on something.

Extravert

• Comes to life in group settings. Mixes easily in crowds.

• Needs the stimulation of social activities to function effectively.

• Knows a lot of people and considers many of them friends.

• Can work and function in noisy, busy settings.

• Isn’t distracted by the TV, radio, or conversations of others.

• Tends to dominate conversations, especially with introverts.

• Approaches strangers as easily as friends.

• Discloses personal information readily.

• Needs frequent attention and affirmation from others.

Subtleties of Introversion and Extraversion

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst whose work on personality types opened up the field of personality typology in the early 1900s, introduced the concepts of introversion and extraversion. These ideas were further developed by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, creators of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory.

As the words introvert and extravert are used these days, they miss some of the subtleties of the original Jungian terms. Now, people think of introverts as shy, withdrawn people. They think of extraverts as talkative, outgoing types. Jung intended the words to indicate not where a person’s actions are invested but the source of their psychological energy.

Extraverts focus their attention on people and events in the external world. Introverts focus on their inner world. As personality preferences, one is no better than the other. Both are simply ways that people construct meaning from their experiences.

It’s important to remember that the functions of introversion and extraversion are preferences, not rigid personality characteristics. While introverts may be reserved and quiet most of the time, they’re quite capable of being talkative and outgoing when a topic comes up that interests them. The same is true if they’re talking with close friends about subjects of mutual interest.

Speaking from personal experience, I have friends who swear that I’m an extravert. They’re wrong. Nothing pleases me more than checking my calendar and finding that I have no appointments that day. However, when I do have appointments and they engage my interests, I look like an extravert—outgoing and enthusiastic. What I’m not interested in are meetings devoted solely to social interaction.

Are extraverts always talkative and outgoing? Not necessarily. While they are energized by the company of others and enjoy contributing to conversations, they are capable of being quiet observers. The defining factor is where their attention is focused. Extraverted news reporters, for example, may have little to say while watching and recording a public event. While they are absorbed in filming, recording or taking notes, they may be mostly quiet and observant. As soon as these extraverts have done their jobs, however, they’re likely to feel a need to talk with others about what they’ve witnessed. Introverts, on the other hand, will process the information internally first and talk about it later.

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College Kids, Alcohol, and Myers-Briggs Personality Type

What does Myers-Briggs personality type have to do with alcohol abuse in college kids? Does personality type influence drinking behavior? If so, how? According to recent research, there are definite connections. When teenagers go to college, they take their old personalities with them but expose them to new, challenging situations.

Triggers for Drinking/Substance Abuse

Going to college is an adventure for most 17- and 18-year-olds. It’s the first time they’ve lived away from home. The freedom to make their own choices is exciting. For some personality types, it can also be a trigger for anxiety. Suddenly, freshmen find themselves taking difficult college courses—nothing like classes in high school. For the first time, they are in charge of their schedules. Most haven’t learned time management strategies to help them deal with their workload. Their mom or dad is no longer standing behind them saying, “Time to do your homework.”

For 18-year-olds who found their parents restrictive back home, the freedom may be especially intoxicating. However, it comes at a price. It’s easier to make a wrong decision without the support of family, previously taken for granted. The teenager is no longer grounded by the affection and reassurance of close friends from high school. He or she must establish new social networks. It’s a time to experiment, and often the experiments involve risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use.

Research conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration (SAHSA) indicates that nearly half of all college students engage in binge drinking over any 30-day period. This includes freshmen with little or no previous contact with alcohol. About one fourth of college students in the SAHSA study reported binge drinking and one third had gotten drunk at least once. Of these, one fourth had been drunk six or more times.

Personality Type and Alcohol Abuse

Research shows a definite correlation between Myers-Briggs personality type and alcohol use in college students.

Introversion/Extraversion. The first aspect of personality that appears to influence drinking behavior is whether a person is introverted or extraverted—that is, private or outgoing. The traits of Introversion and Extraversion relate to where a person draws his or her energy. Introverts get theirs by retiring from social contact and focusing inward. They tend to be reserved and cautious. In contrast, extraverts get irritable when left alone too long. They draw their energy from social contact with others.

Myers-Briggs studies differ in their conclusions about the influence of Introversion/Extraversion on drinking behavior. This is because introverts and extraverts appear to drink for different reasons. People who are naturally extraverted may drink in social situations, but they tend to drink less. In fact, the most responsible drinking behavior is seen in extraverted students. Introverts spend more time alone and tend to keep their emotions under wraps, including their feelings of vulnerability and anxiety. The resulting stress may attract them to the relief offered by alcohol and other mood-altering substances.

Perceiving/Judging. The second pair of traits that influence alcohol use in college students is perceiving and judging. These traits relate to attitudes toward life and spontaneity of behavior. Perceiving types are flexible and immediate in their approaches to tasks and social relationships. They prefer to “wing it.” Judging types are more comfortable with closure. They are decisive, consider the facts before drawing conclusions, but then act promptly. Perceiving people are often sensation-seekers, a trait that sometimes encourages drinking. They think, “What the heck? I might as well try it.” Judging types are more likely to draw conclusions about their behaviors from past experience and are less likely to take chances—a trait that may protect them where alcohol is concerned.

Other Preference Pairs. Researchers have been surprised by the lack of correlation between the sensing/intuition and thinking/feeling preferences and alcohol consumption. Researchers suggest that the explanation lies in the fact that the sensing/intuition and thinking/feeling are “mental functions,” which appear to have little impact on risk-taking behaviors. The sensing preference involves direct experience with the external world. Sensing people are fact-finders. Intuitive people are more oriented to creative thinking. Neither preference seems to be connected with drinking behavior.

The same is true of thinking and feeling. Thinking types are rational and logical, priding themselves on this aspect of their personality. Feeling types are more affected by mood and the needs of others. It seems logical that feeling types would be more likely to use mood-altering substances, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Predicting Alcoholism and Drug Use in College Students

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finds that substance abuse behaviors starting in the teen years are likely to continue through life. The good news, says the CDC, is that alcohol abuse is preventable if addressed during the transition of teenagers from high school to college.

Myers-Briggs preferences are usually constant over a lifetime. The type a person is at age 18 is the type he or she will probably be at age 68. The difference is that the scores will be less extreme. People who were once pronounced introverts become more outgoing. Those who were once off the charts on the perceiving function learn to practice their judging function more over the years. They get better at meeting deadlines, being on time for appointments, and so on. In this way, scores on the four pairs of personality functions are likely to migrate toward the middle, but they seldom cross over. Once an INFP, for example, always an INFP.

The bottom line is that college students who are introverted and perceiving on the Myers-Briggs scale need to be cautious about alcohol use. To do this, most will need more effective health education and counseling services than are now available on the nation’s campuses.

INFJ Meets ISFJ

INFJs and ISFJs are alike in many ways. They’re introverted, feeling, and judging. They differ only on the intuitive/sensing dimension of the Myers-Briggs Inventory. Both types put much of their energy into helping others and share a drive to make the world a better place. People can count on them in times of trouble.

Although INFJs and ISFJs have high ideals, they’re modest about them. They prefer to make their values apparent in their actions. This is partly due to their introverted personalities and desire to avoid the spotlight. Seldom do they call attention to themselves or demand recognition for their achievements.

The main difference between INFJs and ISFJs is that INFJs are more perceptive. They pick up on the motives of others quickly. Because they’re so sharp at spotting phony behaviors in people, their judgments are sometimes harsh. On the other hand, ISFJs are somewhat naïve. They have a hard time understanding power-hungry people or those with self-serving motives. They are bewildered by greed and unkindness as it’s so foreign to their natures. INFJs and ISFJs complement each other because they meet somewhere in the middle. INFJs protect ISFJs from their gullibility, and ISFJs are models of tolerance.

Quiet and unassuming, INFJs and ISFJs aren’t easy to get to know, but people close to them value their friendship.

In Love

Both INFJs and ISFJs take romantic relationships seriously and are attentive to their partners’ needs. In their speech and demeanor, they’re tactful and kind. At the same time, their introverted natures make them cautious about expressing their feelings for fear of rejection. These two types may be so cautious in their approach to romance that more extraverted partners get impatient with them. INFJs and ISFJs have a tendency to hold back on the playful aspects of their personalities until they know people well.

INFJs and ISFJs sometimes remain in partnerships that are no longer working. The thought of leaving a relationship makes them nervous and insecure. When either of these types is left by a partner, they’re deeply hurt. Typically, their self-esteem suffers and they go through a period of painful self-examination. If they don’t turn to friends for support, they’re slow to regroup and move on. Some grow quiet, trying to appear composed and stoic to the people around them.

At Home

The homes of INFJs tend to be more cluttered than those of ISFJs. An abundance of books, crafts supplies, musical instruments, and other paraphernalia lie around the house, allowing INFJs to pursue their hobbies at a moment’s notice. While they would prefer a tidy environment, housekeeping has a lower priority than having fun. When family members complain about the mess, however, INFJs will pick up after themselves.

ISFJs’ homes are usually neater, as they’re more prompt about attending to home maintenance and domestic chores. Sometimes their sense of responsibility prompts them to take on more than they can handle. They may complain about their workload in a martyred sort of way, but then turn down offers of assistance from family members. To accept help makes them feel inadequate and guilty.

Celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries are important to ISFJs, who are more traditional than INFJs. To get the most enjoyment out of such events, they participate enthusiastically in the preparations—cooking the holiday meal, cleaning the house, and so on. This is one way they show their commitment and love.

Both Myers-Briggs types take their parenting responsibilities seriously. For them parenthood is a lifelong commitment. Protective and patient, they’re likely to set aside their own needs to be sure their children are taken care of first. They give them every opportunity for a good education, for example. While ISFJs tend to encourage their children along conventional career lines, INFJs are more broad minded. They’re tolerant of unusual extracurricular and career interests as long as their children put forth genuine effort.

INFJs and ISFJs desire harmony above all. They want their partners and children to be happy. As a result, they sometimes sidestep family conflicts that should be resolved for the good of everyone.

At Work

INFJs and ISFJs need careers that are consistent with their values and desire to serve others. ISFJs are generally satisfied with conventional careers that focus on short-term goals and hands-on attention to detail, while INFJs feel fulfilled only when their intuition and creativity are called into play and they’re involved in long-range planning and problem-solving.

Both personality types are averse to conflicts and stress in the workplace. INFJs can become rigid and uncommunicative in a competitive or intense work environment. Eventually, they look for another job. ISFJs are likely to keep trying, working harder in the hope that the situation will improve.

Growing Older

INFJs and ISFJs enjoy their retirement years if they’re free of financial worries and have leisure time to pursue their interests. INFJs, once preoccupied with world problems, become more relaxed as they grow older, leaving many of their worries behind and enjoying the present. They’re likely to decide that the state of the world is the next generation’s problem.

ISFJs, always more now-oriented than INFJs, also enjoy being released from the time-consuming obligations that characterized their working years. With age, they become less self-critical and more extraverted. Their give their own needs and desires higher priority than they once did. Still, being of service to others remains important.

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INFJ Meets INTJ

INFJs (introverted, intuitive, feeling and judging) and INTJs (introverted, intuitive, thinking and judging) are suited to each other in many ways. Both are independent and guided by their intuition. However, INFJs are more tactful about insisting on their autonomy. INTJs can be confrontational. Sometimes they’re so confident that they seem argumentative. INFJs aren’t comfortable with this. When an INTJ seems to be picking an argument, an INFJ friend can be surprised and hurt, even though this is rarely the INTJ’s intention.

At Work

Like INFJs, INTJs are organizers. As a result they often rise to leadership positions. Blessed with strong intuition, both types are good at seeing the big picture and solving problems.

They’re effective workers because they’re skilled at planning projects and carrying them out efficiently. They don’t walk away and leave the details to others. The main difference is that INFJs are more content to work in the background, while INTJs want to be sure they get credit for their efforts. INFJs cooperate with others more easily and avoid conflicts.

In Love

When an INFJ and INTJ fall in love, they want to include each other in every aspect of their lives. Both express their affection more by what they do than by what they say. They’re cautious about discussing their deep feelings for fear of rejection. INTJs are likely to purchase expensive gifts for their partners. The INTJ man in love with a woman who enjoys jewelry may buy her an expensive ring. The INTJ woman involved with a man who’s into winter sports may buy him cross-country skis.

If a relationship between an INFJ and INTJ starts to fall apart, the INTJ is likely to withdraw and remain silent about his or her feelings, even with the partner. INFJs are affected more deeply and deal with the crisis by looking for their own mistakes and shortcomings. Unlike the INTJ, they may need friends to help them overcome their grief before they can regroup their energies and move on.

Because of their need to be loved, INFJs are more likely than INTJs to get involved with partners who aren’t right for them. Even when they suspect this, they often continue the relationship because the intimacy and commitment are so important to them.

INTJs are more particular. Even before they find a partner, they know what they want and how they want a relationship to function. They don’t continue a relationship that doesn’t meet their needs. An INTJ who does a lot of camping and hiking looks for a partner with outdoor interests. No matter how attractive a bookish INFJ type may appear, the INTJ won’t feel drawn to them. An INTJ who makes a living as a concert violinist won’t be interested in an INFJ who dislikes classical music, no matter how appealing the person is otherwise.

At Home

Both INFJs and INTJs are inconsistent about how tidy they keep their homes. Sometimes their homes are neat and organized. Sometimes they’re not. Keeping the environment in order is probably more important to the INTJ than to the INFJ.

When the partners and children of INFJs complain that their house is a mess, they will try to tidy the place up to keep everyone happy. Their work areas may be cluttered, but, as with INTJs, their minds are extremely organized. INTJs may let some parts of the house be in disarray, but they usually keep their personal quarters organized. To both the INFJ and INTJ, their inner lives are the most important. Both types need solitude, but the INTJ is more demanding about this than the INFJ.

INTJs develop idealistic models of how people should lead their lives, applying them to family members as well as themselves. An INTJ father may decide what college would be best for his son and what his major should be, failing to consider the boy’s preferences and personality. If the father was a business major in college, he may discourage an athletic son who wants to study physical education. A mother who is a biologist may not understand a daughter who wants to be a musician. Music doesn’t fit her model of what a child should pursue in college.

As parents, INFJs are more broadminded than INTJs. They’re more tolerant of the types of playmates their children choose, what kind of extracurricular activities they’re involved in, and what they choose to study in college. To them, the important thing is how much effort their children put in and whether they’re developing into happy, productive human beings.

Leisure

INFJs and INTJs like purposeful leisure activities, but INTJs are more serious about it. When vacation time comes, the families or companions of INTJs shouldn’t look forward to unplanned, carefree days. Outings must have a goal and be scheduled. INTJs don’t feel comfortable lolling on the beach. They must be scuba diving, taking pictures, or collecting shells. INFJs are also more comfortable if their leisure activities have purpose, but they’re not as goal-directed. Planned activities are mostly an excuse to have fun.

The dedication of INTJs to specific sports or seasonal pursuits can be daunting to INFJs. Perhaps an INTJ plays tennis three times a week in the summer, then goes cross-country skiing three times a week in the winter. Most INTJs like to keep their bodies in shape. In contrast, INFJs give more importance to having fun with others. They like sharing hobbies and outdoor activities with close friends. In the company of others, they don’t necessarily talk a lot, but they enjoy easy, informal exchanges connected with what they’re doing.

INTJs and INFJs are able to enjoy each other if the INTJ is accepting of the INFJs’ enthusiasm and open display of feelings, and the INFJ is patient with the INTJ’s reserved, competitive tendencies.

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INFJ Men as Lovers

INFJ men are complex, warm, and perceptive. They’re drawn to women who are intelligent, creative, and compassionate. While few INFJ men ever achieve perfect relationships, they always wish for them. This is a positive quality when they stay in a committed relationship but it works against them when they move from one woman to another, always seeking a partner who lives up to their ideals.

If you’re in a relationship with an INFJ male, your feelings won’t go unnoticed. He’ll pick up every nuance and shift in your mood. Sometimes you’ll think he can read your mind. He’s a skillful, attentive lover who won’t be happy unless he can give as much pleasure as he receives. He views lovemaking as a nearly spiritual experience and wants you to feel the same.

Have no fear that he’ll leave you on a whim. He’s steadfast and loyal. Hurting people is not what he does. In fact, he has a tendency to hang on to partnerships long after they start going bad. If your relationship begins to deteriorate, you’re likely to see him struggling with himself. If he finally concludes that his efforts are useless, he’s likely to move on quickly. Don’t expect to go through a series of arguments. That’s not his style. There’ll be no shouting or fighting, just a quiet announcement that it’s over and time for him to go.

If your relationship stands the test of time, you can look forward to years of meaningful companionship. You’ll receive thoughtful gifts, favors and compliments. INFJ men enjoy showing their love, but they also like to hear that their efforts are appreciated. Getting material gifts from you isn’t necessary. They’re happy with your words of pleasure and gratitude.

Don’t risk being dishonest with an INFJ man. You won’t get by with it for long. INFJs have little patience for people they consider fake or corrupt. They recognize lies quickly, even if they don’t say anything about it.

You may notice that other women are attracted to your INFJ partner. He may not realize this. He’s hard to resist because of his intelligence, warmth, and consideration. He has interesting ways of viewing the world. He inspires people to be their best. Yet because he’s a selfless person, he doesn’t recognize the impact he has on others. His modesty is part of his appeal.

If you’re lucky enough to find an INFJ man, don’t count on his making the first move. INFJs are rarely the first ones to initiate social contact. Ask whether he’d like to have coffee sometime. If he’s interested, you’ll know. Also, keep these pointers in mind:

1.  On a date, don’t talk about designer labels, top ten music, and other superficial matters. This is a major put-off for INFJs, who enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Money and fads are of limited interest.

2.  Leave your hand-held devices at home unless you need them for directions to a theatre, restaurant, etc.

3.  Don’t flirt with other men. You won’t impress your INFJ man. He’ll worry that you’re an unreliable partner.

4.  Don’t suggest that you’re out for a temporary affair.

5.  Don’t pressure him into going places that involve crowds of people, unless they’re quiet spectator events such as concerts, art shows, etc. Remember, he’s an introvert.

6.  Even though he may talk about expensive places he can take you, let him know that your idea of a good date is spending time one-on-one with him—that you’d rather be picnicking next to a river in his company than eating at a five-star restaurant.

7.  If your relationship moves on to sexual intimacy, take your time at lovemaking. Don’t rush the process. Savor every moment.

8.  Don’t lie to him, even about little things. He’ll pick up on it and your deceits will lower his opinion of you.

9.  Be patient about learning the INFJ’s innermost secrets. INFJs are more guarded than most Myers-Briggs types. If your partnership flourishes, he’ll eventually tell you everything.

Of all sixteen types, the INFJ has the greatest capacity for love and compassion in a relationship. If you find an INFJ man, hang on. He’s one in a hundred.

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INFJ Meets ISTP

It’s obvious looking at the letters I-N-F-J and I-S-T-P that these two Myers-Briggs personality types are very different. The only trait they have in common is their introversion. Both types enjoy privacy. They find meaning not from superficial experiences but from their contemplation of them.

 Sensing vs. Intuition

Because ISTPs rely on their sensing preference more than their intuition, they are driven to understand how things work. They usually have good eye-hand coordination, which makes them skilled at fixing things. They use their minds for practical matters and think problems through while working on them. Theories don’t interest them unless they can be put to practical use.

In contrast, INFJs aren’t mechanically minded. They get impatient with details and prefer to head straight to outcomes. The ISTP can be a big help to the INFJ who doesn’t want to bother with, say, taking apart a toaster to see why it’s not working. If the problem is a blown fuse, that may occur to the INFJ intuitively while the ISTP works his or her way to the solution through logic. ISTPs are likely to examine the parts of the toaster before checking the fusebox. The two types have complementary strengths.

When an ISTP and INFJ collect information to make a big decision, such as what car to buy, their sensing and intuitive functions may collide. The ISTP may not be satisfied until all aspects of a model are checked out and the vehicle is examined by a mechanic. The INFJ is more likely to base his or her decision on how the engine runs and if the car feels good to drive. The ISTP’s private opinion is that the INFJ rushes to conclusions without taking enough precautions. The INFJ thinks the ISTP is too fussy about details.

Thinking vs. Feeling

When an ISTP-INFJ relationship runs aground, it’s usually because of thinking-feeling conflicts. ISTPs make decisions based on facts rather than feelings and values. This impersonal approach gives them a tendency to ignore the effects of their actions on others. They may not even be clear about their own feelings. INFJs’ emotions are more likely to influence their decisions, although they do examine the facts. Because of this difference, the ISTP can hurt the INFJ’s feelings without meaning to. The INFJ can get on the ISTP’s nerves with his or her emotional reactions.

Perceiving vs. Judging

Because of their perceiving preference, ISTPs don’t worry much about deadlines and usually finish jobs just under the wire. They postpone starting projects and then rush to finish them on time. They’re often late for appointments. In contrast, INFJs work on a schedule, make lists, and make sure to meet their deadlines with time to spare. They plan projects. They don’t just jump in. In this arena, too, the INFJ and ISTP can get on each other’s nerves.

Making the Relationship Work

It takes effort and patience to make an ISTP-INFJ relationship work. The two must respect each other’s methods of processing information. The ISTP should try to understand the INFJ’s need for emotional support. Often this requires that the INFJ explain his or her needs to the ISTP and make suggestions for meeting them. INFJs shouldn’t expect ISTPs to be their sole source of emotional support. They need to cultivate a few friends who can empathize with their feelings and give them support.

As close friends, INFJs and ISTPs enjoy sharing experiences quietly, away from crowds. They’re most at ease when they’re camping, listening to music, or watching a documentary. Words aren’t necessary. The shared experience is enough.

The INFJ appreciates the ISTP’s ability to enjoy the details of life without over-thinking. ISTPs have a matter-of-fact, uncomplicated way of viewing the world. This can be a relief to the complex INFJ for whom very little is easy. Often the ISTP has practical solutions to the small problems of life: how to replace a bicycle chain, determining what’s causing the funny noise in the car engine, or figuring out what’s killing the roses in the yard.

Famous INFJs—The Good and the Evil

 

INFJs are the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type—found in only one percent of the population. The combination of introversion, intuition, feeling and judging make INFJs insightful, persuasive, charismatic, and passionate. When famous INFJs worked for good, they were positive forces in the world. When they turned evil, they became dangerous and desperate people.

INFJs whose childhood influences nourished their desire to do good in the world include Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. INFJs turned evil include Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and David Koresh.

Here are their stories.

The Good

Nelson MandelaNELSON MANDELA

Born to the royal Thembu family in rural South Africa in 1918, Nelson Mandela spent his early boyhood tending cattle in the countryside. He grew up with two sisters in his mother’s village. At the age of seven, he was sent to a Methodist school where a teacher gave him the English name Nelson.

As a young man, Mandela studied law in Johannesburg. Because of his legal efforts against apartheid, he served over 27 years in prison. He was released in 1990 only after international organizations campaigned for his pardon. In 1994, he was elected South Africa’s first black leader. During his life, he received more than 250 honors, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. He died in 2013 at the age of 95.

Among the most influential leaders of the 20th century, Mandela exhibited the best traits of the Myers-Briggs INFJ type. He was eloquent and had a sharp sense of humor that defused many touchy situations. He was confident enough to laugh at himself frequently, endearing him to followers.

Mahatma GandhiMahatma-Gandhi-Gandhiji-300x250

Born in 1869, Mahatma Gandhi was the spiritual and political leader of India from 1921 until 1948. Gandhi was raised in a prominent Hindu family. When he was 19, he traveled to Britain to study law. Returning home, he led a nonviolent national struggle for India’s freedom from British rule, which was finally granted in 1947. It was his greatest achievement. He became famous for his many fasts to protest social injustice.

Gandhi was a true INFJ. Even at an early age, his value system was so strong that no one could talk him out of his convictions. Although deeply committed to social change, he achieved his goals without violence. He was a visionary who infected others with his dreams.

October 2, Gandhi’s birthday, is celebrated as the International Day of Nonviolence.

Martin Luther KingMARTIN L. KING

Born in 1929, Martin Luther King was leader of the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. He used Gandhi’s nonviolent methods to combat racial injustice. King organized numerous peaceful protests U.S. cities, including the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

As a child, King attended church regularly. His belief in the church’s mission led him to study the ministry in college. After earning a PhD degree at Boston University, he decided that church work helped him satisfy his “inner urge to serve humanity.” In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent protests against racial inequality.

In 1968, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots followed in many U.S. cities. After his death, King received numerous posthumous awards. In 1986, Martin Luther King Day was declared a U.S. holiday.

Martin Luther King showed the best traits of an INFJ. He was committed to his ideals and ready to put himself in peril to defend them. He was a brilliant speaker, articulate and forceful. He was able to convince others of his beliefs and pinsire them to action.

The Evil

Adolf Hitleradolf-hitler-2

Born in 1889, Hitler was the leader of Nazi Germany from 1934 to the end of World War II. He was responsible for the deaths of at least 5.5 million Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Like many INFJs gone bad, Hitler had an unhappy childhood. He got in trouble at school, and his father beat him regularly.

Hitler’s only love was art, which his father considered a waste of time. Adolf was sent to a technical school where he performed poorly and dropped out. After his father died, he worked as a watercolor artist to make a living. His hopes for the future were dashed when he was rejected by Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts because of his poor academic record.

Hitler had an idealistic streak typical of many INFJs. He was a vegetarian, often trying to persuade friends to give up meat in their diet by describing the inhumane slaughter of animals. He quit drinking and smoking, as well. He was kind to a select few people around him and to his dogs, which he loved. Some of Hitler’s extreme behavior has been blamed on his amphetamine addiction during the war.

Osama bin LadenOsama

Born in 1957, Osama bin Laden was the founder of al Qaeda, the terrorist organization that destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Bin Laden also claimed responsibility for other deadly attacks against civilian and military targets.

Bin Laden was raised a devout Muslim. As he was growing up, his main interest was religion, charitable work, writing poetry, and reading. In these respects, he was a model INFJ. Colleagues described him as gentle and soft spoken. However, like many INFJs, he was considered a mystery even by family members. He was known to be opinionated and severe in many situations. In the Muslim tradition, bin Laden had five wives and fathered over 20 children. Most of his wives were educated women, not subservient females as one might expect.

Bin Laden’s career as a jihadist began when he joined Muslim forces in Pakistan against the Soviets as a young man in 1979. His life ended in 2011 when he was killed in a covert military operation carried out by U.S. Special Forces and the CIA on the orders of President Barack Obama.

David Koresh220px-David_Koresh

David Koresh was the charismatic young cult leader whose “Army of God”—the Branch Davidians— had a 51-day stand-off with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Waco, Texas, in 1993. The siege began after the cult stockpiled weapons to prepare for the apocalypse. The ensuing firestorm left 76 cult members and 4 federal employees dead. Koresh shot himself in the head.

Born to an unwed teenage mother in 1959, David Koresh was raised by his grandparents in Houston. He was a lonely child, often ridiculed by kids his own age. He did poorly in school and eventually dropped out. Finding comfort in the Bible, he memorized long passages by the time he was twelve. A high school dropout, he moved to Hollywood at the age of 20 in a failed attempt to become a rock star.

At 22, Koresh moved to Waco, Texas, in 1981 to join the Branch Davidians. Taking over the cult after the death of its leader, Lois Roden, he instituted “spiritual weddings,” which permitted him to have sex with female followers of all ages. As a result, he had 12 children with women other than his wife.

With a sense of misguided idealism, Koresh exalted his own ego at the same time as his Christian bliefs. A powerful orator, he transmitted his ideals to others, as other INFJ cult leaders have done. His Myers-Briggs traits went unchecked and eventually expressed themselves in extreme, destructive behaviors.

 

How Myers-Briggs INFJ Scores Can Change

The Myers-Briggs scores of INFJs can change over the years, sometimes dramatically. Twelve-year-old INFJs who never turn their homework in when it’s due can, by age 17, become academic achievers. That’s because the childhood years of INFJs are devoted to developing imagination and creativity. They daydream, have just one or two friends, and share their make-believe world with only one or two trusted adults. Between ages 6 and 12, their introverted function occupies the main stage.

In their teen years, INFJs become more extraverted, getting good grades and excelling at sports, acting, or other extracurricular activities. They become conscious of their appearance and want to dress attractively. They take on added responsibility, often holding down part-time jobs. At the same time, being INFJs, they always feel a little out-of-step with their peers. They know they’re different and tend to think that something must be wrong with them.

As teenagers, their feeling preference turns their attention to causes such as animal welfare, human rights, and so on. They become more aware of ways they can help others. They may get so involved in these activities that they have little time for themselves—quite a contrast to the reclusive children they were between ages 6 and 12.

From ages 20 to the mid-thirties, socially approved ambitions take hold. INFJs look for ways to become autonomous, run their own lives, and succeed at their jobs. They learn to be smooth and accomplished in many settings, even though inside they may still feel unsure of themselves.

Many INFJs decide in early adulthood that they were too submissive in their earlier years. The INFJ becomes assertive and sometimes rebellious. Family and friends may be puzzled by the change. What happened to the quiet, accommodating INFJ they used to know?

At the same time, INFJs start to tap into their sensing abilities and put them to work. In their early twenties, they may learn to play the guitar, take up oil painting, or collect antiques. INFJs pursue these new interests with enthusiasm, attentive to the smallest detail. Unlike their former tendency toward introversion, the company of others becomes desirable in their quest for new interests.

The departure from the ingrained INFJ style serves their overall development well. With time and maturity, the fully evolved person should be proficient in all eight personality functions.

Readers may get the impression that it’s best to develop all the functions equally. According to Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst who developed personality theory, it doesn’t work this way. If a person dedicates a period of his or her life to, say, sensing and intuition simultaneously, neither function will get the attention and energy needed to become fully developed. The same is true of the other three trait pairs. One of each pair of functions must be dominant at any given time to produce a stable, reliable personality.

The objective of personal development in terms of the Myers-Briggs theory is to have access to each of the mental functions when its use is appropriate. By being able to use the less-preferred functions when they are needed, the person brings more balance to his or her life.

Prevalence of INFJs in the General Population

According to researchers, the INFJ Myers-Briggs type occurs in about 1% of the population—the lowest prevalence of any type. Studies vary regarding the exact percentages of the 16 types, but INFJs always walk away with the prize for the most rare.

The downside of being an INFJ is that there are few people out there with whom they can relate deeply. Also, they don’t fit into social norms because their qualities are unusual and, to some people, unsettling. INFJs can size up others quickly and those who don’t like to be sized up are likely to avoid them. Friends and colleagues find many INFJs almost clairvoyant.

The upside for INFJs is that they have gifts not common in other types. This makes them valued as leaders, workers, and friends. They also have rich interior lives.

In work settings, INFJs collaborate well with the second rarest type, ENTJs—also known as the CEO type. While ENTJs prefer the footlights, INFJs are happy to operate behind the scenes. Both types are intuitive; when they combine their insights they make a formidable team. INFJs can soften the edges of ENTJs, who prefer logic and rationality and are often insensitive to the feelings of others. The quiet, tactful INFJ can steer the ENTJ away from decisions that will alienate colleagues. Since the two share a Judging preference, the two types can forge productive partnerships and get a lot done.

At the other end of the scale are the three most prevalent types, shown in dark green: the ISTJ, ESFJ, and ISFJ. Each constitutes between 11% and 14% of the general population, for a total of over 35%. The ISTJ, sometimes called the Inspector, is reliable, works conscientiously, and follows rules and regulations. INFJs and ISTJs often have trouble understanding each other, probably because they have neither intuition nor feeling in common. ESFJs, called Harmonizers, are friendly facilitators. ISFJs, called Protectors, live to serve others often at the expense of their own interests. The ESFJs and ISFJs are liked and admired by most people.
prevalence