Three Mistakes INTPs Make in Relationships (and How to Avoid Them!)
INTPs, often referred to as the “Architects,” are one of the rarest types in the Myers-Briggs system. Making up only 3.3% of the U.S. population, INTPs are known for being innovative, analytical, and creative. They enjoy designing and configuring systems, grasping underlying principles, and figuring out connections between ideas and events in the outer world. When it comes to understanding theories and models, INTPs have elegant, ingenious minds. However, no personality type is without its own set of weaknesses. INTPs, just like every other personality type, have their own tendencies in relationships that can cause problems or conflict. What are those tendencies? How can you avoid them? Let’s take a look!
Mistake #1 – Unwillingness to be Vulnerable
INTPs tend to be on the private side, keeping their emotions firmly locked away unless someone has earned their absolute trust. Because Extraverted Feeling (or “Harmony” as we call it at Personality Hacker) is their 3-year-old function, INTPs can become sensitive about what others think of them and insecure about showing their emotions. They want affirmation, approval, and love just like everyone else does, but they tend to feel unsure about where they stand in relationships or how much of themselves to show. As a result, they often refrain from revealing their true feelings. This can result in missing out on relationships because potential partners weren’t clear about their interest. It can also result in loneliness and poor communication in partnerships and marriages.
How to Avoid This Mistake:
In order to avoid this mistake, it’s important to know why you’d want to risk vulnerability in a relationship. It’s easy to think of vulnerability as a negative thing – something to avoid at all costs. According to Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, vulnerability is “the key to having closer, more intimate, and ultimately more satisfying connections with other people.”
But what is vulnerability? In short, vulnerability is about expressing the most important and authentic parts of yourself with someone else. This can be scary to do because you risk rejection or shame; What if they don’t like your views? What if they look down on your past mistakes? What if they aren’t open or affirming in return? These questions (and more) are why so many people avoid vulnerability. However, the outcome of avoiding open self-expression and authenticity is loneliness and a feeling of isolation and invisibility in a relationship.
Here’s what you need to remember: When two people are emotionally intimate and authentic with each other, sharing their hurts, fears, worries, aspirations, and passions, they become more resilient, connected, tolerant, and kind to each other.
5 Steps Towards Positive Vulnerability:
- Don’t ignore your own feelings. Let them happen to you. Pause and reflect on them. You can’t express your feelings if you don’t even know what they are. Give yourself time to consider them before reacting to them.
- If you’re unsure what your feelings are or what they mean, try journaling them or talking with a counselor to find clarity.
- Find a time when your partner is at rest, undistracted, and calm before discussing your vulnerabilities and other important topics. Let them know that you’d like to talk about some important things, preferably without phones, tablets, or TVs on in the process.
- If you’re scared, admit it. Acknowledge your gratefulness for their time and ask for their patience as you work out your feelings.
- Let your partner know that they don’t have to have an immediate response to what you’re saying. Just tell them you’re trying to be as honest as possible with them and be more open. Your goal is connection, not to have an immediate “fix” for anything.
Mistake #2 – Seeing Your Partner as a Puzzle to Figure Out
In relationships, all of us enjoy being the object of our partner’s affection. Those deep, intimate talks and soul-searching questions can make us feel a strong sense of intimacy. However, many INTPs tend to struggle with making their partner feel analyzed in a less-than-personal way. They are deeply curious about their significant others, asking questions, trying to solve problems, trying to “figure them out.” While this can be fun in bits and pieces, it can also make their partner feel pieced apart, nervous, and even de-humanized at times. When a partner comes to an INTP with a problem, the INTP might start “solving” them rather than showing empathy, concern, or connection. They might critique their partner too quickly, especially when they perceive there are any logical inconsistencies in their actions or words. It’s important for analysis not to become too intrusive or nitpicky.
How to Avoid This Mistake:
The most important thing to remember is that each human has countless experiences and traits that make them a completely unique individual. Unfortunately, none of us will ever be able to totally figure out another human being. This realization can be a tough pill to swallow sometimes (I know it is for me!) but it’s also vital to your happiness. Being able to show empathy and allow your partner space to be themselves without feeling picked apart is essential in a happy relationship.
A few quick tips for demonstrating your empathy:
- Practice active listening when your partner comes to you. Look them in the eye and let them finish their sentences.
- Paraphrase what they’ve said back to them to be sure that you understand their meaning or intention.
- Withhold judgment or criticism as you gain a deeper understanding of their perspective and where they are coming from. Unless your partner is being emotionally or physically abusive or doing something reprehensible or manipulative you should try to hear them out before offering criticism or advice on a situation.
- Be your curious, analytical self, but don’t make assumptions or snap judgments if at all possible.
Mistake #3 – Obliviousness
According to a survey about attraction, satisfaction, and psychological types of couples conducted by the Journal of Psychological Type in 1996, 33% of male INTPs were satisfied in their relationship whereas the woman was not. 0% of female INTPs were satisfied in their relationship whereas the male was not. The 33% of males was the highest percentage on the “obliviousness” index of any of the types. When I surveyed INTPs from my email list about their biggest relationship struggles, many responded with “Obliviousness.” Why is this a common struggle?
Let’s start by clarifying something. INTP men are certainly not trying to be oblivious to their partner’s needs or happiness. They have a great deal of compassion and a strong urge to take care of their significant others needs. However, INTPs are also extremely independent. They crave solitude, freedom, and the ability to let their mind wander in a thousand different directions. They want to piece together theories, explore philosophies, tinker around in their rooms or workshops, and simply imagine. This level of independence and self-containment can make them lose sight of the things happening around them. They can miss out on details like a partner’s slump at the dinner table, the dishes collecting by their side of the bed, or a child who is reaching out but feeling disconnected. Over time this can lead to a build-up of resentment or frustration by partners or families of INTPs. But it isn’t hopeless – and you certainly aren’t doomed to obliviousness as an INTP!
How to Avoid This Mistake:
As an introvert, and especially as a thought-intensive INTP it can be difficult to look outside when the inside world is so fascinating. Practice intentionally pausing every day, multiple times a day, to tune into your partner. How was her/his day? What is his/her body language telling you? Is there a way that you could help him/her? Make a mental note whenever your partner talks about what makes them happy. Keep track of things like favorite foods, drinks, colors, movies, books, etc,… Remembering “favorites” can help you to show attentiveness and care for your partner. Before you go to bed at night, let your partner know something positive you appreciated about them that day. Tell them you love them (if you’re at that level in a relationship). Don’t expect your partner to ask for help every time they need it, but look for ways that you can volunteer to help without having to be tracked down.
Summing It Up…
As an INTP you have countless gifts and strengths in a relationship. This article is focusing on common weaknesses, but it certainly doesn’t mean that’s all you have to offer. In fact, you might not struggle with these things! Don’t let yourself get frustrated with your weaknesses – work on them, yes, but also remember your many strengths. INTPs like you are often creative, imaginative, ingenious, thought-provoking, and open-minded. You can show your partner new ways of seeing the world and solving problems! Take heart and be encouraged. None of these possible mistakes are a recipe for relationship failure, especially if you work to solve them.
If you’d like to find out more about your INTP personality type, be sure to check out Joel and Antonia’s INTP personality course!
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