Relationships are the central concern for the existence of the intuitive feeling (EMPATHIST) type. Values are what matter in life.
As an EMPATHIST you strive for a special union, a mystical connection, a knowledge of the other that is so profound that words aren't needed for communication. The EMPATHIST wants to make a mystical connection with one special partner: growing, learning, understanding, maturing, as a continuous process throughout life.
Coming to know oneself, coming to understand one's needs, one's fears, one's strengths, one's intuition, one's sensitivity: that is the mission of the EMPATHIST.
The EMPATHIST spares no time, energy or commitment in relationships. The EMPATHIST will compromise all other parts of life for the sake of caring, for the sake of satisfying the life-mission.
The EMPATHIST hopes to find a partner to share life's journey. The EMPATHIST seeks a fellow pilgrim open enough and flexible enough to encounter self and mate without pretense or facade, to embrace the unfolding process without reservation, to love unconditionally, to accept another totally and to be accepted in return.
The EMPATHIST generally sees this lifetime as an interlude, a preface to some more cosmic form of existence and being.
Joan of Arc was an EMPATHIST. They thought she was crazy and they burned her at the stake. EMPATHISTs: take this as a serious harbinger of the fate that befalls you idealistic souls who search for a flawless relationship, especially with any of the other temperamental types!
The EMPATHIST is romance personified. The phrase ``falling in love'' was certainly coined to describe this type. Love may come with a glance, a single word.
The object of an EMPATHIST's affection will be called ``dear'' and ``honey'' and original pet names. ``I love you'' will punctuate each phone conversation and note. The EMPATHIST wants to spend every moment with the loved one or at least a lot of time. Taking care of the mate is a reflexive activity for EMPATHISTs, and gift giving is a natural part of any EMPATHIST love relationship.
The EMPATHIST is usually more interested in romantic possibilities than in the day-to-day reality of relationships. Thus, when disillusionment strikes, when the relationship degenerates to humdrum predictability and staleness, the EMPATHIST may immediately begin eying the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Then the honeymoon is usually over for good!
The EMPATHIST can use that characteristic sensitivity to tune in to every ripple of mood and sentiment in a mate. Or the EMPATHIST can become destructively hypersensitive and suspicious. In the course of any relationship, both modes usually occur.
For the EMPATHIST, sex is fraught with meaning. The EMPATHIST overwhelmed by love aches for union. The EMPATHIST, angry about some routine matter, can't think about sex. Everything must be right, the mood, the setting, the person. Sex may always be an on-again, off-again thing for EMPATHISTs in the usual up and down love relationship.
The EMPATHIST's conflicts with all the other types will revolve around definitions of the words relationship and love. The EMPATHIST's meaning for these terms is central to the EMPATHIST identity. The EMPATHIST's frustration and pain over missed communications and hurt feelings are totally incomprehensible to all the other types.
A chronically broken heart is a way of life for many searching, seeking EMPATHISTs.
When Like Likes Like, or
When (NF)Empathists Mate
Stolen glances, romantic meetings, exotic flirtations, painful infatuation, smoldering passion, shivering sighs and shuddering palpitations, willing self-disclosure, tearful pledges of commitment, intense intimacy, and almost mystical fireworks are t he way EMPATHIST-EMPATHIST love relationships begin.
Disillusionment, hypersensitivity, hurt feelings, tears, a cosmic sense of abandonment, and a broken- hearted depression which can be alleviated only by a new romance: that's how EMPATHIST- EMPATHIST love relationships end.
To EMPATHISTs, love is such a roller coaster that other types must wonder if the ``goin' up is worth the comin' down,'' but that's the way passion operates among these temperamental types. These are the relationships that F. Scott Fitzgerald herald ed.
When EMPATHISTs mate, their shared idealism is usually involved: a common quest, a spiritual commitment, a philosophical common-ground.
Relationship, per se, usually is a conscious focus of life, as is the exploration, expression and perfection of self. Combining those two objectives often presses EMPATHIST mates toward a continual redefinition and reworking of the relationship: a process of evolution and growth.
With such change comes a sense of excitement, aliveness, newness; with it, also, comes some degree of turmoil and discomfort.
Growth is the goal, the process, the pitfall and the glory of EMPATHIST-EMPATHIST matings.
When two EMPATHISTS are in a situation which allows them to share their intuition and feeling, they are happiest. That's when the relationship usually works best: sharing a spiritual experience, critiquing a play.
Unfortunately, most real-world relationships involve a certain amount of ``taking care of business'': attending to the sensing and thinking demands of society (working for a living, washing dishes, doing laundry, taking out trash, paying bills, keeping the car running and the house repaired, going to the grocery, the cleaners, the PTA, and such). So, in a typical pair-bonding situation, EMPATHIST couples need to volunteer for, delegate, or otherwise cover the reality chores of living together. And that's not usually an easily hurdled obstacle.
One of the first major adjustments that occurs in most EMPATHIST pairings is that one (or both) of them appears to change type. The one who's less gung-ho as an intuitive may be transformed into an (SP)REALIST or an (SJ)LEGALIST. The one whose preference for feeling is less strong may take on the robes of the ``thinker.'' Pretty soon, you might be hard-pressed to recognize them as EMPATHISTS.
Then, you can bet, one or both feels compromised, dishonest with the inner self, and resentful of the other and of the relationship. ``The grass is always greener'' phenomenon may strike particularly hard when two EMPATHISTS try to carry on a long-term relationship.
Ah, but in its moments of glory, the EMPATHIST couple is the stuff of which sonnets are written! Since communication skills are peak for this temperamental type, speech and writing about love's ups and downs are likely to be part of the relationship : poems, notes, letters, and heartfelt telephone conversations may punctuate the days and nights.
Communication, in a general sense, is of interest to the EMPATHIST couple. Critiquing plays, stories and novels is an accepted dinner-time conversation, and the fine-honing of personal philosophy is usually somewhere at the heart of these sharing experiences. Do EMPATHISTS talk (and talk) about their relationship? Do they breathe?
Two EMPATHISTS together may become ``self-actualization'' junkies: following one personal development or spiritual training experience after another, sharing meaningful books and films, following after one or another guru. When there's no money in the budget for frills, there may still be funds for group therapy or private counseling sessions. The quest for self and identity is unceasing for many, if not most, EMPATHIST types, especially when they can feed off each other's energy and commitment.
In a connected relationship, EMPATHISTs tend to ponder the meaning and significance of every gesture, posture, glance, expression, word and silence. EMPATHISTs, in their own unique way, probably ``work'' at love more than any other type, and when carried to extreme the continual analysis of what everything means can be exhausting, even to another EMPATHIST! It may be very difficult for two EMPATHISTs to ``lighten up'' when it comes to just enjoying a relationship.
In their most intense state of connection, the EMPATHIST pair is almost psychic: anticipating each other's mood swings, wants, needs, fears, dreams, thoughts and aspirations, without ever speaking.
As one EMPATHIST woman put it: ``We have our hard times, sure, but we have times together when we breathe in rhythm; I feel his thoughts. I hurt with him. I sense his joy. And he's capable of feeling me the same way. We can tell each other our deepest thoughts. I wouldn't trade that kind of connection for anything!''
But, when the magic needs a tuneup, the dark side of that EMPATHIST sensitivity may rear its head. Suspicion, paranoia, hypersensitivity, and other products of runaway imagination may pollute every interaction, color every communication.
``Somehow, she got the impression that I was having an affair. I wasn't. I told her I wasn't. Then she got angry because she could accept the fact that there was another person, but not the fact that I was lying. Except there wasn't another person, and I wasn't lying.
''For one crazy minute, I thought it might be easier to lie, tell her I was having an affair that she was right and make her feel better. But I didn't, because I don't like to lie to her!
``Now she says she thinks she knows who the person is a good friend of ours and she's going to confront her. But I'm not having an affair! Now what do I do? When she confronts our friend and she denies it, she'll just assume that it's another lie! I can't win!''
These are some of the troublesome typical pitfalls of the EMPATHIST-EMPATHIST pairing, but we've only been looking at the aspects that are generated by the ``temperamental cornerstone'' of iNtuition and Feeling. As we said in the ``Introduction to Insight,'' these are important characteristics, but not the only ones.
First of all, the partner whose preference for intuition is stronger may see the other as a sensor! And the partner who's most comfortable with ``pure'' feeling may regard the other as a hard-hearted thinking type.
In other words, EMPATHIST couples who differ markedly in the strength of their preferences for feeling and intuition may actually regard each other as ``foreign'' types!
Other important conflicts and misunderstandings may revolve around the dimensions of judging-perception and introversion-extraversion.
For example, an EMPATHIST who prefers judging may consider a perceptive-type partner to be unclear on personal values or inadequately committed to the relationship or to other ``causes.'' The perceptive, in turn, may call the judge narrow-minded and rigid, both in terms of defining the relationship and pursuing personal goals. In either case, they may minimize their areas of compatibility and focus instead on their differences.
By the same token, introverted EMPATHISTS may find their need for peace, privacy, and personal territory continually violated by extraverted EMPATHISTS, whose requests for socializing, contact, conversation, compliments and other strokes and feedback are frustrated by introverted partners.
Neither may recognize the other as a kindred soul because their needs for interaction are so different.
The significance of differences along the introversion-extraversion dimension cannot be overstated. Even though they're both EMPATHIST temperamental types, an ENFP and an INFP represent vastly different personality styles in a close relationship. And an ENFJ and an INFJ may have to work very hard at understanding each other's needs even though they have three out of four of the personality factors in common.