By Dr. A.J. Drenth
Sometimes dubbed “the golden pair,” many have noted the potential for great compatibility and camaraderie in INTP-INFJ relationships. In this series of posts, we will explore some of the dynamics, challenges, and rewards of INFJ-INTP relationships. More specifically, this series is written from the perspective of INTP males pairing with INFJ females. While some typologists avoid addressing sex and gender differences, having engaged with both male and female INTPs and INFJs, I feel that sex differences do play a noteworthy role in their presentation and cannot be ignored, especially when it comes to relationships. That is not to say, of course, that this series will not have some degree of relevance for INTP females or INFJ males.
INTP Compatibility in Relationships
When it comes to compatibility, male INTPs probably have the fewest options of all the Myers-Briggs personality types. It’s not that they necessarily struggle to find dates. Nor is it the case that INTPs have trouble “falling in love.” Especially in their youth, INTPs can be easily smitten, especially by EF types. EF types outwardly embody INTPs’ inferior function, which the INTPs’ subconscious sees as a quick route to psychological wholeness. As I’ve explained elsewhere, the promise of psychological wholeness is a likely reason why “opposites attract.”
The real problem for INTPs is finding a partner who can hold their interest for the long haul. As discussed in my post on INTP relationships, INTPs (especially INTP males) are prone to devaluing their mates if they don’t stimulate the INTP’s mind. Since INTPs consciously care little about SF matters (think of Einstein’s distaste for the “merely personal”), those paired with SF types will often come to question if and why they love them. This is why INTPs are particularly prone to relational issues associated with narcissism. Namely, because of their inferior Fe, INTPs generally feel they need or want to be in a relationship, but once involved in one, they can end up devaluing their partners or convincing themselves they really don’t need the relationship. This extreme, all-or-nothing approach to relationships reflects INTPs’ Ti-Fe tug-of-war.
In order to find satisfaction in a long-term relationship, INTPs desire a partner who is interesting in regularly joining them in intellectual or philosophical dialogue. Without this key ingredient, INTPs may struggle to find reasons to value or want to spend time with their partners. INTPs don’t want their time spent with their mate to feel like little beyond SF indulgences (although they might find that fun for a while, especially early in life). Rather, they want to feel that, in any given moment, there is potential for deepening their philosophical or psychological understanding through engagement with their partner. In other words, they don’t want their relationship to be at all divorced from their overall goal of understanding themselves and the world. If they can manage to find a partner whose insights complement and deepen their own, INTPs can find ample reason to continue loving and cherishing their mates.
INFJ Relationships & Compatibility Issues
Since their Fe is far more conscious than that of INTPs, INFJs do not display the “either-or” attitudes toward people and relationships. Sure, INFJs are introverts and need time to themselves, but they are not as fiercely independent as INTPs are wont to be. While INFJs are similar to INTPs in their distaste for small talk (i.e., too much talk about S matters), the fact that their dominant function, Introverted Intuition (Ni), is a Perceiving function makes them less agenda-driven and less concerned with “efficient” use of time (the Enneagram type Five speaks to INTPs’ greediness with time). For INFJs, merely being around people provides them with pleasurable opportunities to perceive and deepen their understanding of human nature.
Despite their general enjoyment of people and friendships, INFJs, can struggle when it comes to finding a worthy and compatible partner. While INTPs seek a partner who can help them understand themselves and advance their theories, INFJs want a partner who is capable of understanding and appreciating their most authentic selves (i.e., understanding and appreciating their Ni and its insights). INFJs often feel frustrated when the world doesn’t see or appreciate them for their true inner nature. Sure, others can appreciate the INFJ’s warmth and people-skills, but it is Ni, not Fe, that is the core of the INFJ’s identity. Moreover, when INFJs do venture to share their Ni insights or subversive ideas, they often feel that others really don’t understand them, don’t care to hear them, or end up looking at the INFJ as though she were crazy.
In the end, INFJs seek a partner who validates their worth and values their ideas, one who truly understands and appreciates their inner world. Like INTPs, they seek a companion who can convene with them in the world of abstractions and ideas, particularly those related to people and human nature. Of course, this is not all they seek, but a shared metaphysical foundation is of high concern to both types.
You can learn more about INTP relationships and much more in my eBook (the #1 top-selling & highest-rated INTP book on Amazon):