The Complete Guide to INFJ & INTJ Relationships
I’m an INTJ personality type. And, for most of my life, I felt like it was very hard to find a partner who really “got” me. That changed when I started dating an INFJ—someone who is like me in so, so many ways, yet as different as the sun and the moon in others. The relationship we’ve built together may not always be what people might call an “explosive” love, but it’s one of the happiest and most fulfilling I’ve ever had.
It turns out we’re not the only ones. While INFJs and INTJs can butt heads around our Thinking/Feeling divide, in many ways, we are drawn to each other. As a result, this pairing is a common one (as common as any pairing can be for such rare personality types). If you know an INFJ/INTJ couple, expect them to be together for a while—there is a good chance that wedding invitations are in the future.
What Makes INFJs and INTJs A Perfect Match?
Both INFJs and INTJs have Introverted iNtuition or “Perspectives” as their dominant mental process, which makes them brilliant, but also makes them quirky outliers who often don’t fit in. As a result, when an INFJ and INTJ meet they can easily feel like it’s the first time anyone has truly understood them.
Having a dominant Perspectives function in common also lets INFJs and INTJs dive deep into each other’s experiences. This mental process, which I liken to metacognition, is what allows human beings to step back and take a bird’s-eye view of the world, including how other people think. When Perspectives-dominant people are together, they find it easy to see past each other’s differences and identify underlying similarities. This is part of what makes these two types form such deep bonds, and why INFJ/INTJ relationships feels so smooth.
Other things that make this a great pairing include:
- The conversations never get old. Anyone who’s had a long relationship knows that, over time, you can run out of topics to talk about. But INFJs and INTJs always seem to have fuel for great conversation. Yes, things do quiet down after a few months—we’ve already heard each other’s funniest stories, after all. But with our shared love of learning, and the joy we take in connecting different ideas, conversation remains intellectual and riveting long-term.
- You can be quiet together. The introvert couple that stfu’s together stays together. It’s impossible to overstate how gratifying it is to spend time with my partner, doing separate things in complete silence. It could be reading, writing, or simply perusing our devices side-by-side; we’re both totally happy with quiet time. (The INFJ is more prone to breaking the silence with an amusing observation, while the INTJ will produce less frequent but far longer rants about something they just read.)
- These two types back each other up. If you’ve never experienced it, it’s hard to understand how meaningful it is to have a partner who supports your life goals. This may be especially true for INTJs and INFJs, who both tend to have big ambitions but occasional problems with implementation. Thankfully, the problems tend to be complementary: I can help my INFJ plan her work and troubleshoot problems, while she helps me take the social pulse of a situation and gauge whether a project will even find an audience.
Finally, as Introverts and Judgers, both the INTJ and the INFJ tend to have a reserved, “normal” exterior covering up a whole lot of iNtuitive weirdness underneath. Together, we get to let our quirky sides out and indulge our flights of fancy—without giving up our generally organized lives.
The Differences Every INTJ/INFJ Couple Must Navigate
All of the above may sound made in heaven, but every couple has their differences. While each INFJ/INTJ couple is unique, here are some of the differences I see come up most often:
INFJs care about people. INTJs care about knowledge.
About 60% of the arguments an INTJ/INFJ couple have boil down to one thing: the INTJ talking in blunt terms about ideas they think could be factually correct while the INFJ struggles with how those ideas impact them (or others they care about). INFJs tend to see the personal side of any topic and don’t enjoy discussions that ignore this side. INTJs, on the other hand, enjoy discussing the merits of the idea itself, in abstract terms, and treat the personal impact as a footnote. This can come off as deeply insulting, without the INTJ realizing why.
If you have been in an INFJ/INTJ relationship, you can probably think of many examples of discussions where this happened. They may have become heated—even though both people were “right” in some sense. INTJs take note: the Thinker/Feeler divide has nothing to do with how intelligent either person is, but it is a dramatic difference in worldview. It may be the single biggest source of conflict in any Thinker/Feeler relationship.
INFJs lift people up. INTJs criticize.
In general, INTJs can come across as overly negative, picking apart the inefficiencies or shortcomings of any situation, and this can exhaust an INFJ. Meanwhile, INFJs tend to put out a lot of reassuring, supportive words to those they love, and these words can seem insincere or meaningless to an INTJ—who would much rather get results than a pat on the head.
INTJs can see the future. But INFJs see the present, too.
INTJs primarily use Perspectives to forecast how a system will work, predicting problems before they arise and building elegant solutions long before they’re needed. We live almost entirely in the future. INFJs, on the other hand, key in on a deep level to the people around them, reading what’s going on behind the scenes right now. An INFJ learns early in life to trust his or her gut feeling about someone they meet, while an INTJ views hunches with suspicion (often to their detriment).
INTJs plan everything. INFJs learn by doing.
As an INTJ, it seems obvious to me that the “best” way to achieve any goal is to plan out the steps to reach it; the only potential downside is dragging your feet too long in the planning stage. But with my INFJ, I’ve witnessed an amazing alternative approach: rather than studying, learning and planning before acting, she simply looks for people who are already succeeding and copies what they do. This “learn by imitation” strategy means she can start a new project with nothing more than a vague plan, and—if she has good role models to look at—vastly outpace me at bringing it to fruition.
INTJs prize efficiency. INFJs prize comfort.
While an INFJ and INTJ’s personalities are similar, the minutiae of how we live our lives are almost completely different. When I leave the apartment, for example, I make sure the key is in my hand before I get to the door; my INFJ waits till she’s there and then looks for it in her purse. In the car, I give most of my attention to driving efficiently—for example, switching lanes ahead of time to go around someone who’s making a left turn. My INFJ takes no particular steps to get to where she’s going faster. Instead, her attention is on the conversation, music, or something else enjoyable. In almost everything in life, she will choose comfort or ease of convenience over pure efficiency, and I will choose the opposite.
What happens when INTJ/INFJ couples fight?
Because of their dominant Perspectives function, INTJ/INFJ couples actually have the power to prevent small peeves from turning into big fights, especially if they are a little older and have learned the power of compromise. But no couple is perfect, and fights happen. What’s fascinating about this pairing is how they happen—and how they can be salvaged.
In general, whether a disagreement turns into a fight depends on which mental processes the couple uses to address it. For both the INFJ and the INTJ, the Copilot process is the ideal decision maker. For INFJs that means Extraverted Feeling (“Harmony“), and for INTJs it’s Extraverted Thinking (“Effectiveness“).
Here are the complete car models of both types:
When a disagreement comes up, and both partners use their Copilot functions, they’re likely to defray it with no major argument. The INTJ, for example, might think, “If I just give in on this, our plans for tonight won’t get derailed,” leading them to compromise—a perfect use of Effectiveness. The INFJ might think, “Arguing about this will be disruptive and cause me stress, and I don’t want that,” and make a similar small sacrifice. The result: no fight.
But sometimes one or both partners won’t stay in Copilot mode. This could be for several reasons:
- They had to make too many small compromises already, and decide to dig in their heels.
- They’re stressed or defensive because of something else—a bad day at work, for example, or following a difficult diet.
- The issue that comes up is so big and stressful that one partner (or both) automatically go into defensive mode.
When this happens, the INTJ/INFJ couple will fall into their 10-year-old mental processes. An INTJs 10-year-old is Introverted Feeling (“Authenticity“), which involves getting indignant and feeling violated. An INFJs 10-year-old is Introverted Thinking (“Accuracy“), which involves second guessing the truthfulness of every statement.
In other words:
During a fight, the INTJ becomes the Feeler, and the INFJ becomes the Thinker. And they are both incompetent at these roles.
The INTJ will start to rant about the unfairness of the situation. They may construct elaborate metaphors or hypotheticals trying to make their feelings understood. They could try to turn the tables and argue that they are the victim in the situation, even if they were actually the one who caused the initial slight. They will cast blame on their partner.
The INFJ will start to demand answers to impossible questions: Why did you say this and not that? They may revisit the timeline of who said what and who said it first. They can dig into a vast repository of past slights, quoting something their partner said years ago as proof that the partner is lying or wrong. Rather than just arguing about the current situation, they will question their partner’s intentions in the relationship itself.
How to Resolve an INTJ/INFJ Fight
There is a way out of these fights, but it’s hard to implement in the heat of the moment. It involves physically separating. This wouldn’t be a good idea for every couple, but INFJs and INTJs are both Judgers and they both need resolution in the fight—a noble instinct that, unfortunately, leads them to keep arguing until someone gets hurt.
If they can force themselves to physically separate, however, it’s impossible to keep arguing the point. Instead, they have to go over it again and again in their own heads, alone. This is the ideal circumstance for their dominant Perspectives function to take over. Perspectives is a slow, contemplative mental process that’s excellent at analyzing things. If the INFJ and INTJ can just be alone for a while, they will essentially meditate on what happened and see the other person’s point of view.
I call this approach “kicking it upstairs,” because it returns you to your Driver process. Getting out of the 10-year-old mindset is incredibly hard in the heat of the moment because you’re defending against each new statement from your partner. Once you’re alone, however (and your phone is silenced), you have no new stimuli. It’s much easier to get into the reflective mode of Perspectives because it’s the only source of new revelations about the conflict.
Only after this “cooldown” period will the INFJ or INTJ return to their Copilot process. It’s after an hour apart that I can say to myself, “The health of our relationship is a lot more important to me than winning on this issue. The effective thing to do is to compromise.” I find that my INFJ is much more caring afterward, too.
The one catch with this approach is that you can’t use it as a weapon. Neither an INFJ nor INTJ will react well to their partner walking out on them mid-argument—they will feel betrayed. Instead, you have to agree in advance to use this process the next time you fight, and then someone has to invoke it when the time comes. Emphasize that you’re excusing yourself so you can have a chance to think and that you want to cool down and approach the issue from a better place.
As a whole, an INFJ/INTJ relationship is extremely fulfilling, and it tends to be a smooth one. Are you an INFJ or INTJ who has dated the other type? Are you in a relationship with one right now? What do you feel pulls you two together—and what are the biggest stumbling blocks?
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