Righto. Second draft distillation time.
There are a few phases, each with its own lessons. I'll try to interrelate them as well as they'll allow. Keep in mind I'm just talking about myself here, but much of this may be more broadly applicable.
I am really, really bewildered when people show attraction to me, especially without obvious reason. This isn't a self-image thing; I'm fond of my appearance, I deliberately dress well, and I know that I'm bright and creative. What I don't get is the attraction thing. It weirds me out, because that's not generally how I look at the world. If a person has a pleasing face or manner, I may notice on some level. Normally I'd have to sit and focus on her to come to a decision, though. And then I'll shrug. Well, that's nice, I'll think.
I'm out to be inspired. As excited as I am when people respond to the ideas I've put a bunch of time and energy into, I'm sent head over heels when someone leads me down a new avenue that I hadn't noticed, leading to either a revelation of my own or a spontaneous revelation on her part, that I can trace and absorb into my own worldview.
For me, social interaction is all about expanding my perspective on the world. Anything, anyone that can give me this, and simultaneously validate my own observations, captures my undivided attention. Ideally, both she and I will become bigger, better, wiser from our interaction.
So it takes a profoundly unusual person -- a person excited by abstract and unusual concepts, and who can relate whatever she learns to her own individually developed perspective about the nature of the world -- to knock me wholly out of reason and caution, in the sense that people typically think about romance. In thirty years only one person has ever done that, and for everything she had going for her, she inadvertently ruined it by raising my self-preservation alarms.
It's not impossible to burrow into my graces, given enough time. Just be there and be sincere for long enough, and affection (if not outright desire) will start to drip out all over. But there are two big walls to get past: a lack of innate romantic compulsion, and a deep sense of skepticism toward others and their potential motivations. Why, I ask, is this person talking to me? What does she want? You have to show me that you aren't just here to use me for something that I can't begin to comprehend.
[Aside: one of my closest friends right now is a girl (ISTP) who works at the cafe around the corner. I've known her since late 2007, but it took us over half a year to formally introduce ourselves -- and then most of the rest of the year to see each other outside of that environment. Then there were a few months of fretting over why she kept calling me and complimenting me and touching me. Now that we've clarified where our feelings stand, we've become very goofy together.]
I'll do everything in my power for a person in my confidence, simply because it never occurs to me not to. But the slightest hint that I need to justify myself, as eccentric as I may be, and I become an iceberg. I expect honesty and transparency and a deep earnestness in everything, because that's what I spend most of my energy trying to offer. And it does take so much energy!
So you can imagine how offended I become when this dedication is questioned, or this unspoken contract of innocence is breached. It's just... icky. And I don't have the leftover energy or wherewithal to deal with it.
Well. That was fairly long again! I think it may clarify a bit of that trademark INTP reticence, though. And it may suggest a few pitfalls to avoid.