INFJ-INTP Relationships & Compatibility: Part III: Challenges

By Dr. A.J. Drenth

In INFJ-INTP Relationships & Compatibility, I explored some reasons why INTPs and INFJs may enjoy good rapport and compatibility in relationships. In Part II, I touched on the fact that these personality types may encounter some difficulties with respect to their Si-Se differences, but suggested this was typically not a deal breaker. In this post, I will focus on what are likely to be greater challenges for this pairing, involving Judging-Perceiving and Thinking-Feeling related differences.

In my post, Rethinking Judging and Perceiving in IJs and IPs, I explain why IPs, whose dominant function is a Judging function (Ti or Fi), are often well understood as predominant Judgers. Similarly, IJs, whose dominant function is Perceiving in nature (Si or Ni), are best viewed as predominant Perceivers.

INFJs, while appearing outwardly like Judging types because of their auxiliary Fe, are inner Perceivers. When their Introverted Intuition (Ni) is not engaged in forming an impression of an external situation or problem, it can be highly imaginative, playful, carefree, fanciful, and childlike.  INTPs, while sometimes appearing carefree and relaxed, tend to be inwardly serious, calculating, focused, and agenda-driven. Their Introverted Thinking (Ti) is anything but playful and childlike.

More specifically, INFJs’ inner child can get very excited about the arts and culture. Their Ni, Fe, and Se functions love relishing and experiencing fine meals, music, productions, and art. There is something very magical for INFJs about seeing the marriage of S and N through these media, which can confer a deep sense of fullness, wholeness, and joy. What makes these experiences even better for INFJs is having someone to share and celebrate them with. And since their Feeling function is extraverted, they look for their partner to join them in their excitement, making such experiences all the richer.

Since INTPs are neither N dominants nor Feelers, their interest in arts and culture cannot match the INFJs’, especially if not raised in an artsy family. Rather, INTPs’ interests tend to be more conceptual and utility-focused. And while Fe is a part of INTPs’ functional stack, its inferior position makes INTPs far less outwardly celebrative and expressive. Moreover, INTPs often get excited about different things than INFJs. While INFJs may find pure joy in a fine meal or performance, INTPs are most excited by new ideas, possibilities, or challenges.

Generally, INTPs seem less troubled by these typological differences than INFJs are. In most cases, INFJs can reciprocate INTPs’ interest in ideas, even if their Ni fails to be convinced by the INTP’s Ne speculations. But assuming the INTP is sufficiently mature, he can deal with, even welcome, the INFJ’s challenges to his ideas (less mature INTPs, by contrast, are likely to struggle with all J types, not merely INFJs). However, when INFJs are feeling passionate and excited about something and the INTP fails to reciprocate, they can feel severely disappointed and disheartened. Even if the INTP does happen to feel similarly, the INFJ may still struggle to see it in his facial expressions, which commonly appear flat and emotionless.

There are times when INFJs simply want to play and frolic in NF sorts of ways. INTPs, especially when caught up in their Ti pursuits, can seem detached, aloof, and disinterested in joining them. And even when INTPs try to relinquish their inner Ti agenda, they may still be incapable of playing in the way the INFJ might prefer, potentially appearing more awkward than anything else. When the INFJ expresses disappointment, the INTP may feel insecure and frustrated, wondering if he can ever fully satisfy the INFJ.

In light of the above, one could argue that INFJs may find better compatibility with ENTPs. ENTPs tend to have broader interests than INTPs, some of which may extend further into the arts and culture. ENTPs also share INFJs’ preference for playful Perceiving. However, INFJs may struggle with ENTPs who seem highly distractible or incapable of focusing and engaging in lengthy discussions.

In sum, INFJ-INTP relationships are not without their challenges. As discussed in my earlier posts, INFJs love the fact that INTPs seem truly interested in understanding and listening to them, reassuring the INFJ of both her value and sanity. INTPs, in turn, love the INFJ’s intellect, perceptiveness, and depth of insight, not to mention her warmth and nurture. The success of a given INTP-INFJ pairing will depend largely on the degree of openness and maturity in both individuals. Prior to age 25, these types may well have more struggles than success. The other major factor, as discussed above, would seem to involve the INFJs’ willingness to accept differences of interest and a relative lack of overt communion in the realm of Feeling.

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Related Posts:

INFJ-INTP Relationships & Compatibility Part I & Part II

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  1. says

    I am an intp, i have had male friends infj, and i faced these every bit of things discussed with them(not romantic but friendship). But there is this girl i like so much who is an infj. I tried to talk to her but she ignored me for long time as usual infj minds, but after a long year i can sense something different. I noticed a change, i can understand her many moves now after following mbti and understanding it, but as you said the differences are huge. I feel like , guess i have to wait life long for that right matured infj. But i still feel i should make a move but i am skeptical of the future with her and the possibility of spending my resourceful time for a failed relationship or try. It is very difficult for such an INTP like me to find a right partner after hectic relationships with esfj and enfp. If you have some suggestions then please do mail me.

    • jen says

      The guy I am seeing is an INTP (I am infj female). We danced around each other for 4 years before the water got clearer. I can attest to the Ni-Fe and Ti-Ne difference. Music and painting move me but not him. He’s lack of response (facial and others) bothers me.

      Sometimes you need to kiss a lot of frogs before finding the prince/princess. We are both middle aged and have gone thru quite a few unsatisfactory relationships before we met. It’s basically an understanding that a romantic relationship may never be a perfectly fitted puzzle. We all have to reign in or give in to make it a go.

      My advise to you is to find the kind of woman who can reveal vulnerability and true nature comfortably. If this woman is an INFJ, she has to be very mature cognitively because most INFJs grow up under a facade, hiding the true self to fit into the mold of the wider world.

      INTP’s love of freedom and automaton nature are too strong to stay in people’s Fe demand for the long haul. A mature INFJ can sense this struggle and be careful with her Fe demand and expression without sacrificing her honesty and openness.

    • Kitteh says

      As an INFJ woman married to an INTP man, my idea for you is to notice some interest of hers she does not feel comfortable expressing in her usual environment. You can stalk her on the internet, you may find a secret blog. (I wouldn’t mind. We really want to be understood, but don’t want to impose ourselves on others. E.g., I am big on feminism and LGBT issues, but never talk about it in real life because it would just cause conflict.) Then educate yourself thoroughly about the matter, develop an independent opinion, and strike up a conversation or show up at an event. Ask her lots of questions. If you think you are losing her interest, I think you can regain ground by shifting focus entirely to her. If you make a fool of yourself, ask her to educate you. Be sure to express that you always like hearing what she has to say and how she is different from anyone else you know. DO NOT use any stereotypical romantic gestures like commenting on her beauty in a general way or giving a generic flower, this is the worst buzzkill. But if you happen to know her favourite flower/sweet/game/artist, get her a small gift. Mention you are not usually into this kind of stuff. (She’ll be impressed you went out of your way for her.) Taking things slow is all right, but you need to take charge. You need to be the driving force of change in her life and she’ll either reject you or accept the change. Good luck!

  2. prestige says

    I’m a female INTP and I’m interested in knowing what a relationship between my type and a male infj would be like. I mean, I know we already established that fem intps are more “F-like”, but what about men with feeling types? Are they more “T-like”? How does that work?
    And another thing: I’m almost positive I’m an INTP, but I really enjoy the arts — especially music and film. I don’t consider myself to be very artistic, though. I just really enjoy all types of music.
    How does my type fit in there? Can someone explain this to me? (I’m 22, in case that’s important in some way). Thanks in advance.

    Oh and last thing: your book on the INTP personality type may or may not have been on the top best three things to happen to me last year. So thank you very much for that.

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