The Scientist and the Idealist
An Introverted Relationship
Introverted relationships tend to be quiet, with far more going on under the surface than would be apparent to an outside observer. Sometimes this surface breaks and these relationships can explode into furious times of creative activity or passion, when the true thoughts, feelings and needs of partners can express in powerful ways. At rare times this can open a schism which can break a relationship apart, but normally it results in a cathartic re-establishment of balance and a return to quietness, achieved through a mutual work of creative adjustment to each partner’s previously private ideas, emotions or personal directions. On the whole, introverted relationships tend to be secure and mutually beneficial where the partners have deep feeling for one another or a shared interest in outcomes. Because of their natural tendency to keep to themselves those things which might create friction in their outer life, introverts of the most diverse character and interests can work well together and easily form harmonious relationships where a common goal or life direction exists.
INTJ/INFP Relationship Dynamics
This relationship can work smoothly, without needing serious care or maintenance, or it can work like a pair of unmatched gears, where each rotation produces a grating cycle of disconnection and reconnection which, if continued for any length of time, eventually wears out both.
Intuition is one of the key factors here, and how its images are considered and employed within the opposition of feeling/thinking creates the challenges for this relationship. This opposition of functions is mitigated, and often made positive, by their crossing between introverted and extraverted attitudes in the partners.
As is the case in all relationships, each partner’s level of self awareness will make a great difference to the way functional differences work out and the strength of their effects upon the relationship. Another key factor here will be the kind of relationship, i.e. whether romantic, a workplace partnership or a bond between friends.
Emotional factors are always in play at some level regardless of the nature of the partnership. Here however, there will be a sharp difference between those partnerships of a romantically involved nature and all the other types of relationship. With both parties preferring honest, matter of fact expression, the emotional waters here only become murky when romance enters the picture.
What might lie beneath the surface is, of course, another matter, and between these two types romantic involvement often builds from otherwise ordinary and platonic workplace or social relationships.
With no real clash of dominant functions here, opposition only arises between INTJ secondary extraverted thinking and INFP primary introverted feeling – a mix which often places the rational objective of INTJ thought outside the INFP area of affective shadow, and thus able to activate their intuitive function beyond its normal supportive mode.
In much the same way, INFP introverted feeling can register with the INTJ as an object of consideration rather than affect, making mutual understanding between these types arise more easily than it would within an INTJ/INFJ relationship.
Nevertheless there remains a general difference of attitude here which does affect close or romantic relationships. INFP desire tends to be for fulfilment within a romanticized and often fantasized ideal where inner feeling drives gratification needs. This can mean the more sensual and earthy aspects of a sexual relationship can be wanting, leaving it somewhat bare and devoid of charm - something which can leave INTJ desire out in the cold or even repelled by a kind of biological naivety or crudeness on behalf of the INFP, particularly when INFP intuition is relatively undeveloped and directed only towards personal gratification.
Conversely, the INTJ penchant for purely sensual gratification can be a problem for the INFP when they find no reciprocation of their feelings within romantic or sexual encounters – in this case usually with an INTJ who has not developed their thinking sufficiently to recognize and incorporate the needs of the other.
Outside of physical relationship there will be a vast area of possible common interest between these two, particularly in those areas where idealism, the search for meaning, or a general striving for understanding or excellence meet reality. Both types tend to set their standards by personal rather than collective notions and these can often be higher or more individually demanding than generally expected. Either type is quite capable of setting goals far beyond their capacity to reach, simply because only such goals appear to them as meaningful or worthy of attainment.
Abstract, idealistic thinking fuelled by intuitive imagery can project a mythical, heroic image of our inner self or that of another into the world. This places our limited human capabilities into endless opposition with an ideal we can simply never live up to. When we strive for impossible perfection, even high levels of achievement, feats of extraordinary judgement or unique moments of invention measure only as failure, and there is ever the danger here that one partner will measure the other by the terms of this mythical quest.
Questing for some godlike state of understanding or ability through the unfolding of our own nature is one thing, but hoping that it might be achieved through the added dimension of another person’s life is just foolish, and a real danger in this relationship if, knowingly or unwittingly, either sets goals which rely for their attainment upon the strivings, desires or talents of their partner.
The meeting of minds here can be extremely creative where the two partners have strong intellects and high achievement needs. The only real danger being that which can come from a loose grip upon day to day realities - something which can indeed become tenuous when high energy, creative interaction is the main fuel of this relationship. The sidewise looping between thinking and feeling here usually pulls things back to ground level, however. It would be unlikely for these two people to trip together very far into some romantic or fairy tale fantasy without one or the other becoming suddenly aware of the impracticality or absurdity in their position, at which time they will quietly back off the stage for a break back to normality.
Altogether this is an easy cross gender relationship; it’s most likely expression between INTJ male and INFP female. Single gender friendships and partnerships will be even easier, as the danger of any mutual tendency to create castles in the air will be much less. It is, however, not a likely partnership for business, with economic and organizational demands more likely to create problems than harmony.
The problems or effects which can arise from the blind side of this relationship will be quite visible and manifest mostly in the real world. Essentially they will be physical and spatial in nature and relate not only to the person themselves but also to their environment and the ways in which they manage their physical reality.
Their will be differences in the reason for these things of course, but when added together the result will be an obvious “untidy” slant to this relationship which others can easily see, but which the partners here seem to care little about.
The real danger in this is the tendency for things to “get out of hand”, usually as a result of ignoring basic chores and maintenance or “making do” for so long that when the crunch finally comes it can be far more irritating, destructive or costly than it needed to have been.
This danger applies not just to the day to day environment in which these two people live, but also particularly to their personal physical self. Excessive internal stress and unnecessary self reliance often lead to unhealthy habits, poor diet, weight problems, lack of exercise, and a personal environment in which things left undone or left unused pile up in disarray. The personal environment of either of these types can easily reflect and indicate the level of neglect and stress they place upon their physical selves, and in a relationship where such things arise on the blind side, there is a significant danger that neither will consider them significant, either to each other or to the quality of their life together.
Making it Work
As with all relationships, the depth and number of any problems which arise due to type differences depends very much on the self awareness of the people involved. The amount and type of effect produced will also vary depending upon other factors such as the work, social relationships and particular personal interests of the partners.
In this relationship it will be important that both partners have at least one strong common interest outside the usual ones demanded by ordinary day to day collective life. Building a new home or raising a family might be common interests, but such things are usually unable to contain or involve an inner life whose satisfaction depends very much upon abstract imaginative and creative factors.
Without such creative common interests, this pair always remains in danger of falling into that kind of stifling co-dependency which limits and negates rather than promotes imaginative and creative self expansion. Whilst this danger normally only exists for those involved in cross gender life partnerships, the need for mutual interest remains even between friends, who should ensure that their relationship is fired by things which stir the imagination and activate all parts of the personality.
There will be a strong need for the INTJ partner in this relationship to develop an awareness of the way inner feeling dominates assessment in their partner. While an almost alien notion to comprehend for dominant thinking types, for the INTJ, feeling is accessible to a certain degree through its reflection within their own self evaluations. Strong introverted intuition signals many feeling valuations, tagging them as reasons and effects and passing them to thinking as meaningful data.
Whilst often stumbling over feeling as a kind of unfortunate intrusion into what would otherwise be a reasonable and easy path through life, the INTJ at least recognizes and thinks deeply about feeling in others when they begin to open themselves to its equivalence as a means of assessing value, particularly within the introverted attitudes of their partner.
The INTJ normally practices feeling through action, relating it via virtually anything but direct vocal expression. Intuition cannot speak, but it does note all values, whilst thinking is a vocal act, even when done internally. INTJ difficulties with feeling types stem not so much from any inability to respect or understand feelings as values, but through their natural mode of expression, which tends to confront rather than allow feeling values. So, possibly the only thing an INTJ needs to do is not so much find a way of feeling more deeply or expressing it more directly, but to re-configure thinking and shut down the “anti-feeling” circuit which mediates so much of their vocal expression.
For the INFP there will be a need to overcome to some degree their natural resistance to that logical analysis which denies, modifies or reduces the value of their feeling based judgements, particularly those only supported by intuitive insights. Intuition is a great presenter of information and data but does not discriminate, thus INFP types always run the risk of letting strong, intuitively supported feeling valuations lead them through the looking glass, where they can often remain unmoved or annoyed by any suggestion that implies they might be living in wonderland rather than reality.
In areas of strong common interest, co-operative partnerships between these two can radiate creativity – sometimes to the extent that it can be difficult to nail any one particular idea down. Areas of focus here tend to be from oblique positions rather than opposing or aligned, so there will be a particular grouping of ideas which fit both attitudes sufficiently to satisfy the needs of each, yet will remain wide enough to make firm choices difficult. This dynamic will show itself in many other areas as well, usually with the result that compromise positions on particular lifestyle and other choices in the relationship will often be necessary. The important thing here is for the partners to find those positions where a “cup half full” feeling is obtained for both, rather than either feeling that their needs are not being sufficiently addressed.
- Your partner does not so much express feeling as allow it to direct what they express and how they assess things. Sometimes discovering just what your partner is feeling will require you to be somewhat more attentive and less dismissive of the natural intuitive understanding you have in this regard. You usually “know” how others feel, but you tend to dismiss such immediate understandings for a reasoned approach which tries to pass the feeling or emotional side by. You need to practice acting directly upon your intuitions in this regard instead of passing them to your naturally pragmatic thinking for processing. By being more spontaneous in this regard you can approach the inner life of others in a way which needs less time and none of the endless roundabout of conversation or argument which often ensues when you try to reason your way past another persons feeling valuations.
- Extraverted thinking provides your access to the world at large, and mediates your communications with others. While it also shields both them and yourself from the raw effects of your inner perceptions and images, it also tends to modify the way in which you accept information from others, quite often getting in the way of direct communication by demanding real world, hard edged data on or about things which have no such direct relationship to the state of the outside world. Dealing with your INFJ partner will not be a problem if you realize this process is unnecessary and that you can action directly through intuitive understandings which you might normally hide from other types.
- Your partner needs to feel they are important in your life. Unlike other types, where this need can present as a demand for gratification or constant companionship, with your partner it arises as a feeling need which requires acknowledgement of their ideas and emotions. Simply by taking the time to acknowledge these things through your actions and expression will make a great difference to your relationship. Remember, you too need this acknowledgement of your importance to others; many of your actions are performed in the hope that they strike chords inothers, so it is worth remembering that the kind of input that empowers you is not a one way street. The golden rule very much applies here. If you can learn to just speak the things you feel, then you will be surprised at the resulting effect it has upon your relationship.
- Sensation for both you and your partner is fairly simple stuff. It can also be the place where a lot of petty or simplistic argument can come from. The sort of stuff you would have been better off just keeping to yourself. Things here pretty much boil down to the “what I like” and “what I don’t like” department, with a fairly narrow margin of awareness for other’s tastes and differences of opinion. It is a basic area where things need to be sorted early into “yours, mine and ours”. Both of you need to agree to disagree about your dislikes and likes and not interfere or remark upon such things, whilst the shared area needs to be cleared of all disagreement on tastes, looks, personal affects etc. One thing you are both going to have to be clear about is the need for tolerance of each other’s personal ways, habits of dress and any lack of concern for the merely material, as neither of you are likely to be particular in this area.
- Your strength is more inside you than without, and you are always strongly attuned to the emotions of others, which you often take on board almost as if they were your own, quite often in the belief that you are either the rock which grounds them, or the soaring bird that can lift them into the sky. In many ways this is true, but you must realize that the differences you make in your partner’s life are not always outwardly visible and are rarely mentioned by them. That is their way. Your INTJ partner is commonly matter of fact, even hard and unemotional on the outside and in their dealings with the world, but something of a love sponge underneath, and who can only work at their best when they feel they are both cared about and understood by others. Don’t let their demeanour or apparent lack of concern put you off, as they are “always on” inside, and your input into their life will be appreciated, perhaps not through words, but through an ongoing practical regard which, if measurable, would speak volumes about who is the most important person in their life.
- Thinking in a purely logical linear way is not your strongest ability, with intuitive ideas figuring more within your dealings with abstract facts and the realities of the outside world. This kind of thinking works for you as it leads you toward those areas of value where certainties of the moment lie. Your partner can miss this entirely, and you will need to recognize that what they see in the moment may not contain those values; that the present moment for them might have no feeling value whatsoever, and that they might regard your enthusiasms with a somewhat jaundiced eye unless they can “think’ their way to understanding them. Make sure you always provide the steps along the path: let your partner know what is working within you and “where you are” in the moment. This is particularly important in another way too, as your INTJ partner seeks resolution and understanding of others at all times. Without input they find themselves overburdened with images arising from their own uncertainties and this can strongly affect their quality of life, work and mood.
- You have a tendency to align yourself with an image of how things ought to be between yourself and others, sometimes skipping over the realities for the sake of holding onto this ideal. Things don’t often work out this way in day to day life and other people’s ideal images of life will not be necessarily similar to your own. You will need to come to terms with the realization that your INTJ partner’s ideals of life do not normally place other people’s interests or feelings high on the list of importance. Not because they do not care about or value such things, but because the impact of their intuitive/thinking approach to life is extreme, and tends to turn their ideals away from others and towards and inner vision in which all things are either mysteries which need to be understood, problems which need to be solved or strange new paths which need to be followed. To this inner vision, other people often exist only as things which need to be dealt with, sorted into their proper places and allowed to simply be; expected in the main to be responsible for their own needs and to live their own lives. This need is so strong at times that your INTJ partner will be unable to function if they feel you are not able to flow with your own needs. Many INTJs simply cannot be happy in an environment where others are disturbed, unhappy or in constant need of reassurance or care. So more than anything else, be yourself, do your thing and do not expect your partner to live their life through you or your focused interests. They cannot, but they will be happiest when you are doing so.
- Criticism of the negative or emotional ad-hominem kind is a danger in all relationships with INTJs, who take such remarks as destructive killers of feeling. Fortunately you are a person whose comments will rarely be regarded in this way, but it is worth recognizing when your partner seems down or seems to have become very cold towards the world, that they could either be feeling a strong sense of rejection from another person or group, or worse, rejection within their own mind through a process of self criticism which is extremely destructive in this type. When your partner is down, it will nearly always be due to a feeling of loss through rejection or lack of worth to either themselves or others. The key to unlock this is often simple activity or the input of strongly focused creative ideas which stir them back to reliance upon their own skills. To be given a task by a friend or to be needed by them is worth more than any words of comfort to an INTJ in this situation.
Some relationships produce gold which can be seen; produce wonderful gardens or cities where people can walk in splendour. Here we have a relationship where the gold is hidden and the gardens exist in another place and time. For some, such things are of little value and seem to hold no real meaning, but for the two people here the reality of such things cannot be questioned, nor indeed even spoken of to the extent to which they fascinate and are visible to the mind. Once this connection is established, once the worlds within are opened to each other, these two people can share a life of poverty or endless difficulty without noticing the things which they lack in the real world. What they see together and what they are able to maintain between themselves can be far greater in its extent and its power to promote quality, inventiveness, creativity, intellectual stimulation and unconditional love than anything available to them in day to day outer life.