By Elaine Schallock, INFJ
With any pairing, the likelihood of success of a relationship must include consideration of the personal growth of each partner. Looking strictly at the Myers-Briggs personality type pairing can give one some predictable guidance regarding compatibility, but it is that tricky question of personal growth and individuation that can steer even a theoretically good typological match into pure catastrophe, or a potentially poor one toward harmony and success.
In actuality, INFJs and INFPs in relationship have no single functions (Ni, Fe, Ti, Se vs. Fi, Ne, Si, Te) in common. However, the what in the stack (N vs. S, F vs. T) without consideration of the directionality (extraverted of introverted), means that INFP and INFJ values tend to align harmoniously. Speaking from personal experience, some of my nearest and dearest friends have been INFP types. As fellow introverted intuitives, INFP’s and INFJ’s rejection of superficialities and first appearances gives them a feeling of camaraderie and intimacy. They are both adept at recognizing hidden meanings and symbolic references. Both of them value compassion, reflection, and intellectual and artistic pursuits.
What is perhaps unique about INFPs and INFJs in relationship is they can feel like Siamese twins, or reflective yet conjoined images of one another. (This phenomenon would also be common between INFJ and ENFP or INFP and ENFJ). When the INFP extraverts intuition (Ne), the INFJ finds resonance with his or her dominant, however buried, Ni, and so feels understood. Similarly, the INFJ’s Extraverting Feeling (Fe) draws the trust of the INFP whose Introverted Feeling (Fi) senses the deep compassion and warmth of the INFJ that the INFP feels inside but may have difficultly expressing. In other words, the INFJ and INFP each extravert parts of themselves that the other strongly identifies with. The result is absolutely a feeling of being understood and in harmony. The danger of this phenomenon, however, can be that each partner, sensing the ability of the other to actualize (or extravert) the parts of himself the he would like to show the world in an attempt to become individuated, can bring about jealousy and, in the worst case, distrust.
Since the journey toward wholeness for introverts is one of bringing what is inside out, there can be buried envy when one’s partner displays those parts which the other has a hard time showing. Indeed, when this pairing gets together initially it may be because of the ego’s desire to see its inner-self becoming actualized – something that the partner is able to do as a result of the reversed functional direction. Doing so can be dangerous because it amounts to depending on the other to supply what the individual thinks it cannot give to himself. This path can easily lead to a love/hate relationship if unchecked. For example, the INFP (or, more accurately, the INFP’s inferior function) may grow to envy the ease with which the INFJ comfortably extraverts judgment and may eventually criticize the INFJ for “jumping to conclusions” too quickly or even accuse the INFJ of “superficiality” seeing the extraverted nature of INFJ’s feeling as a put on. Conversely, INFJs may be jealous of the intellectual dexterity and creativity that is displayed by the Ne function of the INFP while their Ni continues to go hidden. Feeling threatened or upstaged, the INFJ may similarly accuse the INFP of being “silly and unfocused” or accuse the INFP of superficiality.
That said, if an INFJ and INFP couple can acknowledge these blind/weak spots, and work accordingly to counteract them, I think they have wonderful potential. Indeed, the INFJ may actually draw the INFP out of his or her shell – teaching the INFP to communicate openly, honestly, and directly – to avoid one of the INFP’s biggest pitfalls: passive aggressive behavior. Conversely, the INFP can help the INFJ to temper his or her judgments, to let go of some of the perfectionism so common to the INFJ breed in order to better enjoy the journey or process.