@Stephen, thanks for the advice and encouragement. I tried looking at them both, and to be honest, I still identify with both INTP and INFP -- I'm either 1) a relatively-stoic INFP who loves logic , cares a lot about being competent, tries to communicate ideas very accurately (to the point of nit-picking), and enjoys working with complex systems, or 2) an empathetic, relatively-sensitive INTP who's really in touch with her emotions and doesn't mind occasionally going out of her way to keep the peace. I'm leaning towards INTP right now, partly because 1) I used to be completely unable to express myself, which is typical of immature INTPs, and 2) I had a mind-mate once, and he was an INFJ. That seems to be one of the more common types of mind-mates for INTPs, according to what I've been reading on INTPcentral. (Of course, INFJs and INFPs could frequently be mind-mates too. I have to do more reading to be sure – and of course, that’s my evidence-based INTP-ish-ness coming out.)
For anyone who's not familiar with that phrase, mind-mate doesn't mean soul mate. It's not even necessarily romantic. It just means that you've found someone who really GETS you, who's on the same page, line, sentence, word, and wavelength as you. I dated my mind-mate for a few years, and having someone who understood my thoughts and feelings really helped me get used to expressing myself. It felt wonderful to be so connected to someone and to be understood, especially because I had been pretty isolated for most of my life. I’d had friends, but I had never felt like I could share the things I really thought or felt – especially because many of my thoughts weren’t in word-form until someone asked the right questions. After a while, though, there were some problems:
1) It got boring. My ex and I shared so many thoughts that after a while, it seemed redundant to talk about many things. (Then again, most people in LTRs probably don't have new stuff to talk about every day.)
2) It got invasive. My ex and I agreed on so many things that, when we disagreed on some moral or practical issue, he was CONVINCED that there was something wrong with my thought process. Sometimes he would try to pick me apart to figure out the flaw. When I tried to force the issue, he would get so mad that he would shut me out completely and then get angry again if I tried to bring it up after a cool-down period. (We once had a fight like this when I asked him not to leave raw meat partially unwrapped in the fridge. I don't want to get food poisoning, and even if it's unlikely that it would drip onto my other food, it wouldn't take that much effort to put the meat into a ziplock bag! Plus, I don’t want to reach into the fridge for my milk and end up with blood on my hand. It was absolutely ridiculous.)
Anyway, regardless of our issues, I grew a LOT from that relationship. Now I can ask for what I need. I’m comfortable putting my thoughts and feelings into words, even if no one asks the right questions (although of course it helps).
Sorry for the ramble. I guess my point is, THAT’s a big part of why my current relationship feels so… different. I got used to conversations with my ex, which were essentially mind-melds. With my ISFJ boyfriend, our conversations aren’t mind-melds, but they’re still beautiful, vulnerable, playful, and sometimes intellectually stimulating. I love him. I really appreciate the ways in which he’s different from me, and I like the fact that he can respect my thoughts and feelings without having to understand EXACTLY how they got there every time. It’s nice to have some mental privacy and relaxation!
My real concern is this: my ex and I, once we were past the initial limerance part of the relationship, stayed close by discussing ideas, deeply, on a regular basis. We would get into mind-meldy conversations on innovation, ethics, what this person’s motivation must be, how I could have phrased something differently to make someone feel just a little bit better… a very specific type of analysis. I know that my current boyfriend and I won’t be able to have conversations like that nearly as often. With us, they maybe happen once a week, which is fine so far, except on weeks that it doesn’t happen. By the end of, say, two weeks with no intellectual connection, I feel like I’m very alone and almost on the verge of tears… but I know that we both have to study, and that these types of conversations don’t come naturally to him, and that I don’t want to seem too needy. So I wait a few more days to see if it passes. If it continues for a few more days, I usually have to come to my ISFJ (crying) and explain what I’m feeling. He’s always very attentive and apologetic, and I try to make it as painless as possible by reminding him that he’s a good boyfriend and that I appreciate him. I always try to give specific things that I would like for him to do differently. For example: “When I mention some thought that I just had, it’s ok if you don’t have anything to say most of the time, but every now and then, I want to hear what you think. Even if you need some time to think, it’ll really help if you tell me your thoughts later. It’s fine if most of the time, you just say “oh”…. But for me to feel connected, every now and then, I need to be reminded of how your mind works.” After that kind of conversation, things are normally sunshine and rainbows for a long while.
That conversation has only happened twice, but we’ve only been together for about 10 months, and it’s starting to seem like a once-every-four-months phenomenon. I’m not really sure whether that matters, but it’s always really distressing to me when he gets “distant” (for lack of a better word) for such a long period of time, and I know it’s hard on him to feel like he’s not meeting my needs.
Does anyone have any insight here? I’m scared that if we end up in a really committed relationship, that this will eventually get worse. My parents have an awfully similar dynamic, and I’ve always sworn that I’d avoid that type of marriage like the plague. But, unlike my dad, my ISFJ knows how to make his partner (me) feel better, so there’s that.
That's good. I get the impression that he wants to be appreciated, so whenever I have appreciative thoughts (which is pretty often), I try to share them with him; hopefully that helps.
Originally Posted by 21%
Sometimes his 'obvious' requests are really subtle! It's actually kind of sweet when I'm able to pick up on them, though. (Hopefully I always pick up on them! Every now and then I ask whether there's anything I could do differently to make him happier, just in case.) And he does sometimes make genuinely obvious requests.
This is one of those things where I'm split. I can be really oblivious to emotion in people that I don't know very well. Once, I was in a meeting, and my boss mentioned something that really upset one of my co-workers. When my co-workers and I left, we took a long elevator ride and walked quite a ways, and other co-workers had already started quietly asking her what was wrong, before I noticed anything -- and she was about to cry! I felt awful for not being more considerate.
Originally Posted by 21%
On the other hand, with my closer friends and significant others, I think I usually notice when something is wrong. Once, my ISFJ mentioned that I always seemed to know when something was wrong, so there's that. And as a matter of principle, I always try to respect people's emotions and to empathize. I mean, brains aren't always rational. Just because you KNOW something is ok, that doesn't mean that your brain will let you feel that way. Neurotransmitters don't always do what you want them to, so when someone is upset I usually try to understand and be a source of comfort. I know that's what I want when I'm upset. (That seems like a combination of Thinker/Feeler to me. What do you think? I work in the world of emotion, but it makes sense and feels right because of science... but then it gets reinforced again because of feelings.)
Yay! That's the impression I've been getting too
Originally Posted by 21%