Posts

Sensors vs. Intuitives—The Dating Game

In the dating game, the Sensing and Intuitive Myers-Briggs preferences can be a source of excitement and, at the same time, confusion.

Sensors are realistic about dating partners. They judge other people by what they do and say. Being grounded in objective reality, they aren’t impressed by phony facades or bragging. They clearly see the good and the bad in the here and now. Intuitives, with their active imaginations, are more titillated by the possibilities in their minds than what’s actually taking place in the present. They extrapolate from the evidence in front of them and don’t take it at face value. Sensors may fantasize, too, but they’re more likely to do it after the fact. Their perceptions in the moment must agree with what’s going on in reality, rather than their wishful thinking about the future.

Sensors are more tuned to their senses: how the date looks and sounds, whether he or she smells nice and has agreeable tastes in music and food. For them, the dating experience happens through the five senses. Intuitives are more interested in their hunches about the person. They experience dates more in the sense of potential for the future. The Intuitive is more interested in images conjured up by their imaginations—in other words, what the date should be like, more than what he or she actually is.

For Sensors, the date begins only when the two parties stand face to face. For Intuitives, the date begins as soon as arrangements are made. That leaves plenty of time to fantasize about possibilities.

One problem arises when the two types actually get together for their date. Sensors may have trouble following the Intuitive’s many trains of thought. Because good conversation is a major factor in the early phases of the dating game, the differences between the two types begin to emerge sooner rather than later. Sensors like to talk about concrete things: people they’ve met, experiences they’ve had, places they’ve been—with specifics provided in detail. Intuitives would rather talk about their dreams, visions, ideas, and other intangibles.

One aggravating problem for both parties lies in the details each provides. Sensing partners tend to interrupt the stories of their partners with corrections about dates, places, and so on. The Intuitive is less interested in minute details than in the main theme of the story.

Here’s an example of a story about poor restaurant service that Joe is telling friends:

Joe: We were eating at Chez Pierre, and they brought me a Martini instead of a Bloody Mary.

Susan: They brought you a Manhattan by mistake.

Joe: Then it took almost an hour to deliver my entrée.

Susan: It was 40 minutes.

Joe: And the trout wasn’t even cooked thoroughly.

Susan: You ordered grouper that night.

You can see how this couple could run into irritating conflicts over time—with the Sensing person aggravated by her partner’s factual errors and the Intuitive’s annoyance at being interrupted and contradicted like a small child.

For Sensors, it’s important that facts be presented correctly. The details are as important as flow and underlying meaning. For the Intuitive, the underlying message takes stage center.

Extraverts vs. Introverts—The Dating Game

Extraverts are naturals at the dating game. You can count on them to take the role of pursuer, make the date, and do the talking. They know how to fill the time and provide the entertainment, whether it’s just an evening of talking or a night on the town.

Extraverts carry on conversations with remarkable ease. In fact, when spending an evening with an Introvert, they can ask all the right questions, provide the answers, and then thank the Introvert for a wonderful time. They suggest different activities—bowling, dancing, the movies, etc. It’s not that Introverts are pushovers. But one event in an evening is enough, while Extraverts like to be everywhere at once.

The fact is, despite their differences, Introverts are drawn to Extraverts for their outgoing nature. Because they are so congenial, Extraverts can carry an entire conversation on their shoulders with no help from outsiders. They can practice their extraversion on ushers, waiters, hostesses, and anyone else within earshot. One Introvert said of her Extravert date, “I don’t need to show up for a date. My partner might not even miss me, but he’ll thank me for a good time.” It’s easy to be with an Extravert. You don’t have to worry how to act or what to say in public, or in private for that matter. The Extravert will do it all.

The ease of being with an Extravert is especially helpful in the first stages of a relationship. Don’t know what to say? Extraverts can keep a conversation going when nothing needs to be said. That’s why Extraverts perform so well on casual introductory dates. An Extravert coupled with an Introvert can enjoy the company of another person while still being alone, in a sense.

The advantages of the combination? The Extravert can keep the Introvert from isolating themselves too much of the time. On the other hand, Extraverts, like all of us, need some quiet time to keep from getting frayed around the edges. Introverts provide those intervals of peace and quiet.

Perceiving vs. Judging—The Dating Game

Perceiving (P) and Judging (J) are a set of opposite traits on the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. They are called the attitude traits. The other three sets are Extraversion vs. Introversion (energy), Sensing vs. Intuition (information-processing), and Thinking vs. Feeling (decision-making). Differences in the J-P function may cause considerable friction among opposites—particularly between the Judger, for example, who is always on time for appointments and the Perceiver who always arrives late.

The differences between a Perceiver and Judger are hard to hide on a day-to-day basis. Concealing one’s type is not all that difficult for other types. For example, an Introvert may have cultivated enough interpersonal and communications skills that he or she can come across as an Extravert. This is not uncommon. Or a smooth-talking Thinker may come across as a Feeling type when he or she is anything but. The J-P difference, on the other hand, is difficult to mask.

The differences between the two types are seen in the following example.

P: I saw the new library building this morning.
P: It must hold a lot of books.
P: The library will be open evenings.

J: I saw it, too. The architecture is beautiful. It must have cost a pretty penny.
J: I’ll look forward to a larger selection of books now.
J: I’m glad it will be open evenings. I can go after work.

Notice that the Perceiver makes no judgments about the new library. She’s seen it. It’s big. And it’s open in the evenings. On the other hand, the Judger’s remarks are full of value statements. The architecture is “beautiful.” He looks forward to a larger selection of books. He’s happy that he can now visit the library after work. These three statements have considerably more attitudinal closure—the hallmark of the Judger—than those made by the Perceiver.

This example is pretty tame compared with many of the scenarios faced by couples, based on their attitudes and outlook. In real life, both parties can get irritated by the obtuseness of the other. The Judger has an opinion, a plan, and a schedule for nearly everything. Perceivers, meanwhile, seem wishy-washy with their lack of opinions. They are easygoing about everything short of life-and-death issues.

Neither function, Perceiving or Judging, is better than the other. We need both types in the world.  J’s need P’s to inspire them to relax, collect more information before reaching a decision, and not make major issues of relatively unimportant matters. P’s need J’s to help them get organized and follow through on decisions.

Judgers can be described as orderly and organized. Their actions are controlled. They’re always on schedule. They seem to make decisions quickly with a minimum of stress—far too quickly for the anxious Perceiver. Judgers plan their work and their daily activities and then stick to the plan, Even leisure time is organized. For Judgers, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything.

Perceivers try to create an environment that allows them to be flexible and spontaneous. They want to be ready to adapt to a variety of conditions that can’t be predicted. Making and sticking to decisions prematurely causes them anxiety. The person whose friends have trouble understanding where he or she stands on specific issues is usually a Perceiver—flexible, open, and not judgmental.

At their respective extremes, the Perceiver is almost incapable of making decisions. Judgers find it almost impossible to change theirs.

Thinking vs. Feeling—The Conflict

Thinking and Feeling are a set of opposite traits on the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. They are called the decision-making traits. The other three sets are Extraversion vs. Introversion (energy), Sensing vs. Intuition (how information is processed), and Perceiving vs. Judging (attitude).

Everyone exercises their Thinking-Feeling function based on information they’ve gathered, one way or another. This decision-making function—unlike the information-gathering function, which is the process of taking in data before doing anything about it—is all about closure. It is focused. Its purpose is to make judgments and determine what action to take.

 The Differences

When a couple is buying a car, they look at its appearance, determine the price, and then test-drive it. During this time, they’re gathering information. If all the qualities of the car are right, they may decide to buy it. The buyer who is a Thinker—analytical, detached, and logical—is driven by objective information. He or she is likely to be swayed by price, mechanical characteristics of the car, and resale value. The Feeling person—flexible and more emotional—is likely to be influenced by comfort, eye appeal, and what others will think of the car.

If the Thinker and Feeler arrive at the same conclusion, that doesn’t mean that they’ve taken the same route to the decision. If, for example, the car were a distasteful color in the eyes of the Feeler, that alone could be sufficient reason for him to reject it as a choice. On the other hand, the Thinker might find the color of minor importance, outweighed by other factors. In this case, the two will disagree on the decision.

Conflict

Too often, in the intimate areas of life, Thinkers and Feelers pass like ships in the night. Because they so easily misunderstand each other, their dialogue is often laced with negative feelings and unresolved issues. Much interpersonal dissatisfaction can be the result on both sides.

It should be clear that Thinkers do more than just think. They feel, too. And the opposite is true. Feelers think. At best, the Thinking person can bring objectivity to the table in any decision-making situation involving the partners. The Feeling person brings an awareness of how their decision can influence others, or the subjective outcome of their proposed action. Together, they can complement each other, listening carefully to the arguments put forth by the other party. In this way, they can reach a decision that meets both their needs.

Thinkers Feel, Too

Because a Thinking person tends to be objective, it doesn’t mean that he’s always decisive. What’s at stake is the process by which the decisions are reached. The thinker tends to be objective and removed, while the Feeler is totally involved. Both care, think, and feel, but the routes by which they arrive at their decisions are very different. When they fail to understand each other, they can fall into the trap of mutual put-downs.

While more American men are Thinkers rather than Feelers and more American women are Feelers, it doesn’t mean that the trait is gender-specific. It’s estimated that about twenty-five percent of men are Feelers, and the same percentage of women are Thinkers. On first impression, this might be viewed as a natural and appealing split. Some women are charmed by a manly decision-maker, while many men may find feminine flexibility attractive. Over time, however, their differences can become a source of interpersonal problems. This is particularly true when women are thinking types and men are Feeling types. These women don’t follow the feminine stereotype of soft, malleable creatures. The men who show feelings too readily aren’t considered macho enough.

The Solution

For the Feeling and Thinker to be compatible, they should understand the advantages of their different points of view and profit by them, not criticize each other.

Traits of Thinkers vs. Feelers

Thinkers                      Feelers

Firm                             Flexible

Clear                            Subtle

Critical                         Tolerant

Detached                     Involved

Just                              Compassionate

Legal-minded              Fair-hearted

Objective                     Subjective