We hope you enjoy the following Q & A with Elaine Schallock (INFJ).
What do INFJs look for in a partner?
The Introverted Intuiton (Ni) and Extraverted Feeling (Fe) functions serve as powerful screening tools for the INFJ in everything from friendships to romantic relationships. INFJs are constantly evaluating their relationships, keeping at least one finger on the pulse of the relationship at all times. It is my experience that most INFJs (wisely) won’t even bother to invest in a relationship if they sense someone is lacking in authenticity and/or has major ego defensive issues. (The exception to this rule is the INFJ that is attracted to the idea of making a “project” out of a relationship – taking on an egoic partner as a challenge, someone in need of enlightenment, etc. This, of course, is a risky and inadvisable move; one that I believe is unhealthy for the INFJ.)
If an INFJ is working from a healthy place, (s)he will likely be looking for these qualities in a relationship: openness and honesty, patience, genuineness, a minimum level of intellectual compatibility, good communication, friendship, perceptivity and receptiveness from his/her partner, some level of interest in social issues, and, if we’re being honest, thanks to the influencing powers of the inferior function (Se) physical attractiveness can and often does play a role (whether it should is a different matter!)
What do INFJs need to feel satisfied in a relationship?
Communication. Communication. Communication. They really struggle with partners that either cannot or will not communicate. This isn’t necessarily limited to the expression of feelings, though this is important, but thoughts, ideas, insights, etc. Conversely, they also need to be able to feel comfortable communicating with their partners. INFJs are surprisingly verbal (more so than any of the other introverts), and they need clearance to speak candidly about their perceptions, even at the risk of offending of their partners. This is why a lack of ego defensiveness in their partners is so important.
Communication takes precedence – the idea being that with open and honest communication, almost any other challenge can be navigated – but other things that INFJs need to be satisfied in a relationship include respect (especially for their Ni insights), semi-regular expression of love/affirmation, willingness from their partner to devote time and energy to work on the relationship, a high level of trust, and some level of willingness to try new things and share new experiences.
What should INFJs avoid in relationships?
Again, ego defensiveness is number one. An ego defensive partner can also induce ego defensiveness in the INFJ. When the relationship starts to go down that road it can be extremely destructive. INFJs tend to do very poorly with passive aggressive behavior, which can quickly lead to the erosion of respect and love in the relationship. They are not like Fi types who can internally manage their feelings. Instead, INFJs actually do better when they keep their feelings out in the open where they can be appropriately managed and dealt with. If their partner can’t handle this, then it might not be the right relationship.
INFJs also need to be wary of the pitfalls that are specific to their inferior sensing function. It is important that they not be blinded by physical attractiveness, sexual compatibility, or material wealth to the potential character flaws in their partners. Placing these factors ahead of other more substantive N traits (like intellectual compatibility, mutual respect and understanding, etc.) should be avoided.
Are certain personality types more compatible with INFJs?
As a general rule, I don’t pitch the “this type should never pair with that type” philosophy. However, it is true that certain pairs will naturally have more rapport than others making the relationship easier to navigate on the whole. Sharing absolutely no function pair in common is a set-up for a relationship that’s going to require a great deal of work on the part of both partners in order to understand and appreciate one another. Additionally, in my experience having conflicting judging function pairs is more problematic than conflicting perceiving function pairs (i.e. partnering an Te/Fi with an Fe/Ti is usually more problematic than partnering an Ne/Si and an Se/Ni).
That said, INFJs seem to do well with NTP types, either INTP or ENTP, thanks to shared judging systems (the Fe and Ti combo, just in reverse). Additionally, the preference for intuition creates a special bond with respect to discussing the metaphysical and theoretical together. INFJs have also been known to partner with ENFPs, INFPs, and sometimes ENFJs. Because intuition is so dominant in INFJs they are usually fairly reluctant to get involved with other S types (though, again, there can be an intense initial attraction to Se dominant types thanks to the inferior function). They can usually maintain a fairly positive friendship/acquaintanceship with STP types, but it’s not likely to extend into a successful long-term romantic relationship.
Lastly, I would say it’s very uncommon to see an INFJ partner with an Si type. This combination is the most likely run into problems because the gap in understanding between INJ and ISJ types is almost too great to overcome, at least not without a great deal of work. As it usually happens though, Ni and Si types tend to have such an aversion to each other at first meeting that it’s unlikely they’ll have the initial attraction required to get a romantic relationship off the ground anyway.
What advice can you give INFJs looking for the ideal relationship?
I would say that INFJs may actually need to be wary of searching for the “ideal relationship” as such thinking tends to fuel the perfectionism that can get INFJs into so much trouble. INFJs have lofty ideals where people are concerned. The truth is that while this is genuinely well-meaning, it can have very damaging consequences if not properly balanced with realistic expectations. INFJs put high standards on themselves and they expect the same from their partners. But people are flawed (goodness knows the INFJ isn’t perfect either), and they will fail to satisfy the INFJs ideals from time to time. When something (or rather someone) doesn’t live up to their expectations, particularly if they are in the grip of Se, they can be incredibly condemning.
For this reason it’s important that INFJs not put too much emphasis on outcomes, or physical manifestations, when it comes to what they expect from their partners. Here is an example where an “’A’ for effort” really goes a long way, even if the execution is flawed. INFJs (and NFJs generally) may need to learn to be more forgiving and less stringent when it comes to their expectations. It has often happened that a partner, under the constant critique and tutelage from the INFJ on how to be better in the relationship, walks out because they can’t handle the constant feeling of failure. Of course, this only seeks to confirm the INFJ’s suspicions that the partner was not, in fact, up to the “ultimate” standards placed before him/her. If the INFJ continues in this way it’s unlikely that (s)he will ever find a suitable partner.
Instead, INFJs do better to select a partner with great potential and willingness to learn and grow. This means finding someone with the qualities mentioned above such as a lack of ego-defensiveness, openness and honesty, etc. These foundations are good enough to qualify as “ultimate”, and I believe the will to learn should be valued above performance on any of the INFJs’ given “stress tests”, as I like to call them. If the INFJ and his/her partner share great potential (i.e. a good foundation of communication and patience) with a shared desire to work toward the “ultimate” relationship (even if this a relatively illusory end goal, like a limit approaching a defined point but never actually reaching it) that is the ultimate relationship.