Nichols: INFJ-INTJ Relationships

INFJ-INTJ: The Dark Horse of Ideal INFJ Relationships

INFJ-INTJ: The Dark Horse of Ideal INFJ Relationships

I am an INFJ who only discovered my type a year ago, but I haven’t been able to read enough about personality theory since. As soon as I was able to use it to explain my weirdness, I wanted the rest of my family to type themselves, including my husband. It turns out he’s an INTJ.

Based on what I’ve read about the best relationship matches, the commonly recommended mate for an INFJ seems to be either an ENFP or ENTP. I would certainly not argue against these pairings, especially since I haven’t been romantically involved with either type. But I do believe the INFJ-INTJ relationship is often overlooked due to fear of too much introversion or an emotional mismatch.

Of course these are generalizations, something personality theory as a whole is subject to. I’ve also read that the intuitive bond between an INFJ and INTJ is nearly instantaneous, something I can certainly attest to. I think it was this that got my attention when I met my husband: he was self-assured, intelligent, wonderfully sarcastic, and aloof. I had never met someone so much like me, but with more confidence.

He was in a previous relationship with someone who enjoyed socializing regularly, and he describes this as a source of constant struggle between them. He wanted to stay home most of the time, so she accused him of being boring. I haven’t had this experience in a relationship per se, but I’ve certainly been called anti-social more than once. I avoid talking on the phone (or, God forbid, FaceTime – the horror), shopping anywhere but online, and keeping more than a couple of friends, because all these require far more interaction than I’m interested in having. We’ve been married for 10 years, and he’s still the one encouraging me to get out and do something that includes leaving the house. From my perspective, this is a win-win. I get the encouragement I need to socialize, even if from another introvert, and he gets to feel less hermit-y and boring compared to me.

We complement each other well; my abstract thinking jives with his detail-orientation and logistical tendency. Anything I can think up, he can execute. But to say he is all implementation and no creative input would be inaccurate as well as an underestimation – he thinks about a project and studies it, then is able to recreate it in a drawing on paper. Then he will build it to look exactly like his drawings and comment calmly that he’s never built one of those before. I’m generally not a fan of details, so this ability continues to impress me. My grand ideas might be earth-shattering, but they may or may not be realistic; I’m not always the best judge. But my husband can think deeply about and evaluate a situation, quickly deciding whether or not something will work. He’s frighteningly accurate, even in areas he’s not totally familiar with.

At least in my experience, these two types are well-matched in strength of will, self-reliance, intellect, and intuition (though the INFJ probably has it there). These similarities must come at a price, I suppose, and it is this: the deep well of INFJ emotion versus overriding INTJ rationality. It has always been fairly uncommon for us to argue; our shared intuition leads us to respect and encourage each other. At our best, we can rationally discuss issues and come to a resolution that we can both live with. At our worst, I am pinging in the red zone of an emotional meltdown, and he is saying absolutely nothing (if there’s one type that can clam up on you, it’s an INTJ!). Since we’ve discovered our personality types and used them to better understand ourselves, I don’t take this as personally as I used to. He also understands that I need to emote and talk, and that shutting down is not often an option with me. However, I appreciate his efforts even more since I realize how different he is from me regarding emotional sensitivity.

Another situation unique to the INFJ-INTJ pair that is bound to come up, and soon: the INFJ’s ability to perceive things and read a room with scary accuracy. Both types are intuitive, and my husband can glean things from others and a room environment as well. The problem lies in the fact that the INFJ can ‘see’ past the things the INTJ can’t, most often with little proof. That will be an issue for the INTJ – if it can’t be seen or touched or proven, it may as well not exist. So many times I have pointed out to my husband that a certain individual is shady, only to have him roll his eyes and shrug me off. I have predicted many an outcome to a variety of situations, and still he wobbles when I tell him I can see and feel things. Trying to convince a Rational with zero evidence is no small task.

Even considering these inherent differences, we can learn from each other using what we know about ourselves. My emotional sensitivity wears me down at times, but my husband teaches me to separate myself from the emotions of others. He’s shown me that I’m not responsible for the well-being of those in my life and how to say “no” more often. Because my husband is less emotionally afflicted than me, he can be unaware of how someone might receive something he says. I’ve taught him to filter his thoughts a little better as to avoid hurting others whenever possible. And I hope I’ve shown him to have faith in the things that can’t be seen.

My husband told me shortly after we met that he found me intimidating. I thought this was completely ridiculous because:

a) I mean, really. I’m just trying not to trip in front of you, and

b) I was the one who was seriously intimidated.

INTJs can come across as cold, but he’s much sweeter than he likes to let on. The challenge of getting to know him was a refreshing one, as I had to work hard for it. But as soon as I spent a little time with him and heard his witty, sarcastic humor, I was hooked. I could see and feel things then just like I can now, and my intuition told me this was going to be way more than I ever expected.

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