If you’re an INFJ, you may find yourself drawn to ISTPs. They’re quietly competent, people of few words who make every utterance worth listening to. They pay attention. They have emotional control. How refreshing!
INFJs and ISTPs have very different personalities. The only trait they have in common is introversion (I). Because both are private people, they prefer thinking about things to talking about them. They’re quiet, but their minds are always busy.
What about the other traits? First, ISTPs, being sensing (S) types, are matter-of-fact and observant of what’s going on around them. Intuitive INFJs, being more creative and less down-to-earth, are often unaware of details. They lose things like cell phones and credit cards frequently.
Second, the ISTP, a thinking type (T), makes decisions based on the facts and logic of a situation, not emotional nuances. If they’re paying to have a job done and the work is shoddy, the INFJ may worry about confronting the worker and hurting his or her feelings. The ISTP is more objective. The job isn’t satisfactory and the worker must be told.
Finally, perceiving (P) ISTPs avoid final decisions and are more comfortable when things are left open-ended. They’re casual about appointments and deadlines. They can undertake two or three projects at a time. INFJs do only one thing at a time, and they’re punctual and deadline-oriented. With their preference for judging (J), they like to see decisions made and situations brought to closure.
While INFJs and ISTPs may have philosophical differences, they can complement each other in practical ways as friends. Unlike INFJs, ISTPs generally have good eye-hand coordination and understand how things work. Faced with a car repair, for example, the INFJ can usually rely on an ISTP friend to figure out what’s wrong with the vehicle before making a deal with a mechanic. ISTPs are unlikely to be fooled by mechanics or other fixers of things. They may even be able to repair the car themselves. Because they rely on their sensing preference more than their intuition, they think problems through while working on them. Unlike INFJs, they’re not interested in theories.
When a friendship between these two types runs aground, it’s usually because of conflicts in thinking and feeling. ISTPs make decisions based on facts father than feelings and values. This impersonal approach gives them a tendency to be unaware of the reactions of others to the things they do. They may not even be clear about their own emotions. Although INFJs do examine the facts, they’re more likely to be concerned with the impact of their decisions on others. Because of this difference, the ISTP can offend the INFJs without meaning to.
When ISTPs are looking for romance they seek partners who give them freedom to follow their own interests or, better yet, share these interests. An ISTP who loves camping may persuade an INFJ of the fun of sleeping in a tent. If the INFJ shows some enthusiasm, the ISTP may acquaint the person details about types of tents, sleeping bags, and cooking equipment. Before long, the two are likely to find themselves planning a trip to the nearest state park for a weekend.
Because both types are shy about expressing their feelings toward each other in words, they look for other ways to show their affection, such as finding gifts that will please the partner. They offer to cook, run errands, and do other practical favors. They prefer to show their feelings through actions rather than words. They don’t often speak words of love to each other, because they believe that the things they do together convey the message. The way they talk about their relationship is likely to be subtle and indirect. The words “I love you” don’t come easily. It’s easier to say, “Let’s eat at this restaurant again soon.”
If one partner decides to leave the other, the rejected ISTP is quiet about his or her suffering. ISTPs don’t give up easily on their relationships unless the facts make it obvious that the partnership won’t work out. A rejected INFJ may take longer to recover from a broken romance and be reluctant to take the risk to move on.
When an INFJ and ISTP decide to make their relationship permanent and live together, they usually find that it takes effort and patience to preserve the bond that they enjoyed initially. To avoid unnecessary friction, the two must respect each other’s ways of thinking and feeling. The ISTP should try to understand the INFJs need for emotional support. For this to happen, usually the INFJ must explain his or her needs to the ISTP and make suggestions for meeting them. At the same time, 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. It’s a good idea to spread dependency needs around.
Secrets of Success
A well-matched pair of INFJs and ISTJs can complement each other in ways that benefit them both. The INFJ can appreciate the ISTP’s ability to enjoy the details of life without over-thinking, as INFJs tend to do. ISTPs have an uncomplicated way of viewing the world. This can be a relief to the complex INFJ for whom very little is easy. The ISTP’s life is enriched by the creative, witty INFJ who is usually a pleasure to be around.