It’s fair to say that any two people with this combination of Myers-Briggs traits are likely to have adjustment problems if they’re to function smoothly together. While they are joined in their preference for privacy (introversion), this isn’t enough to make them compatible. Both have a preference for judging, as well, but they use the function in dissimilar ways due to their other trait differences.
The INFJ is introverted (I), intuitive (N), feeling (F), and judging (J). The ISTJ shares the introverted, judging traits, but is a sensing (S) and (T) thinking type. How do INFJs and ISTJs get along and where do they run into trouble?
ISTJs are one of the most responsible of the sixteen Myers-Briggs types, but they can be inflexible. Although INFJs are responsible, too, their drive to meet obligations is softened by concern about the impact of their decisions on others.
ISTJs focus on objective details. They are bound by rules and regulations. INFJs are more comfortable with complex, subtle intellectual considerations. This difference can put them at odds. The ISTJ may view the INFJs as freethinkers, oblivious of convention. INFJs may consider ISTJs to be narrow-minded and rigid.
Another difference in their personalities relates to the way they gather information before making decisions. ISTJs rely on concrete details. They miss nothing and take nothing for granted. INFJs are more imaginative. They’re willing to trust their hunches as the basis for action. They feel that this is justified by the fact that their intuition is so reliable. As friends, INFJs and ISTJs can get impatient with each other because they think so differently.
INFJs are impatient with themselves, but tolerate the idiosyncrasies of others, at least openly. ISTJs, being quite sure of everything they think and do, can be demanding companions. INFJs sometimes find this hard to deal with.
While ISTJs make loyal partners, they are seldom outwardly sentimental, rarely putting their feelings into words. To them, the fact of their commitment is enough. This can be frustrating to INFJ partners, who like to hear words of affection. Without verbal evidence of a partner’s loyalty, INFJs can feel ignored or unappreciated.
Because ISTJs are traditionalists at heart, they usually conform to stereotypes of their gender. Females engage in conventional female activities, such as cooking and decorating, while males are more “macho”—preferring to watch football or tinker with their cars. They are protective of their female partners, figuring that it’s expected of them. They know how to make the masculine moves that the culture approves of—opening doors, pulling out chairs, and so on.
ISTJs are happy to undertake routine responsibilities in the home—mowing the lawn, cleaning the kitchen, getting the children to school on time, and so on. On the other hand, INFJs seldom enjoy activities that involve regularity or what they define as drudgery. They prefer creative tasks, such as decorating rooms in the house or planning dinner menus. While the differences between the types can be complementary, they may cause friction when the two types are collaborating on the same task. When painting a room, for example, the ISTJ is likely to prefer a light, neutral color such as eggshell, while the INFJ may want to experiment with maroon. Neither can understand the other’s choice.
Because ISTJs love tradition, they go all out to celebrate important family events. Everyone is expected to show up and participate. Absentees are likely to have a guilt trip laid on them. INFJs find the ISTJ’s enthusiasm for get-togethers hard to understand. Being intuitive types, they aren’t conventional and don’t see the point, especially if they’re not fond of some of the people involved.
While both types enjoy their home life, ISTJs are neater and tidier. They prefer subdued, tasteful decor. Things are put away. The yard is neat and orderly, with no extravagant landscaping. Here they part company with INFJs, who are chronically untidy—although they do clean up after themselves when prompted. INFJ tastes in decorating are more elaborate and inventive. They’re so caught up in creative projects that messes are inevitable. Pleasure takes priority over neatness.
When children are involved, ISTJs enforce the regulations they learned while growing up. Family roles are clear. Fathers and mothers make the rules and children follow them. INFJs are not bound by tradition. They make up things as they go along. This free-wheeling attitude can be frustrating for ISTJs.
Secrets of Success
The INFJ, being capable of more insight than the ISTJ, may need to make the greatest adjustment in the relationship. However, when major conflicts arise, it’s important for the INFJ to explain to the ISTJ in concrete terms what he or she needs and why. Abstract reasoning frustrates most ISTJs. When handled patiently and given down-to-earth reasons for requests, ISTJs who were once difficult partners may become more spontaneous and tolerant.
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