The Inspirer and the Guardian
An Extraverted Relationship
Extraverted relationships tend to form around the objectives, values and external structures within the relationship space. Because these are defined by collective perception and agreement upon what appears as the world’s obvious and scarcely arguable realities, the nature of any extraverted relationship will depend very much upon how each person in the relationship thinks and feels about these things. The external world can be experienced and valued in many differing ways, and this means that each personality type will bring a different set of perceptions and behaviors into a relationship. These will sometimes automatically complement the way other Extraverted types see things, bringing an unusual breadth of perception to any situation, but sometimes they will antagonize those of another type, creating argument and disruption within any ongoing relationship, whether in the workplace, the family or between the sexes. Where such strongly positive or negative effects arise, they usually occur between those whose dominant extraverted functions are heavily expressed and insufficiently balanced by any strong inner awareness. Most of the time, however, the interplay between the dominant and the secondary functions of each participant stabilizes the relationship, enabling its ongoing development and allowing the most conscious value to flow from those within it.
ENFP/ESTJ Relationship Dynamics
This is one of those match ups which can get more complicated with each new development, especially for strongly expressing types. Partners with a good balance of functional expression will have an easier time, but the differences to be overcome in finding the right path together remain significant.
Almost every day we are faced with choices which will effect our life in some way. The choices we make will be those we feel are the best for this, our situation. And if we ask each of these partners: “what is for the best?”, we get two different answers, reflecting each type’s most comfortable sense of the world and their way of deciding for themselves how best to use their time and create their own personal satisfactions.
If we look at the “classic” attitudes and behavior of these partners, we see that to create the life which best feeds their differing needs requires two sets of ideals and focuses, sometimes mutually exclusive of each other. The ESTJ sets a high priority on security, stability and the maintenance of an organized, progressive and integrated life. The ENFP sets a high priority upon personal freedom, spontaneity and the search for the realization of ideals. For the one, the need to live a secure, productive and organized life bound by the constraints of commonsense reality is merely obvious – for the other, such a life would be no more than a background or starting point, which if continued unchanged could come to feel like a prison for their soul.
Feeling toned possibilities are the daily bread of the ENFP. But, while the possibilities they see are anyone’s, the tonality which colors them arises from the music of their own feelings, not just the rote learned tunes of society’s more conventional rationale. Thus, in seeking to fulfill their dreams or the dreams of others, they recognize a strong need for personal freedom – not only to express what lives within, but to act, to search, and to move constantly forward. This drive, and the feelings which energize it, express through every level of ENFP life. Every nuance of a situation is a chance to define further meaning, to enact inner feeling, to discover the energy of its further movement forward. The freedom to do this is essential, and if limited or shut down by circumstances, it can turn upon life in a kind of ruthless parody of itself, trying by whatever means to wring the last gasp of value – any value – from a situation which such activity then only makes more self defining and wretched.
For the ESTJ, careful, logical appraisal of every situation yields the most sensible way in which to enact change or to produce value. Proper structure, both of society and its environment is essential for life to grow in prosperity and contentment. For the ESTJ, things never work properly if left to chance. Possibilities, other than those which are reflected in the immediate situation, are excluded. It is the present situation and its immediate future which must be dealt with. The ESTJ knows that, at every level, there has to be an incorporation of the immediate needs demanded at that level. Every correct step taken leads to the right outcome. To achieve such outcomes, the ESTJ needs a wide canvas, over which they can paint a logical, coherent and organized picture of a good and useful life. If this canvas is shredded by circumstances, this natural drive for order is driven to focus ever more narrowly upon their life, where it now constantly meets its own unconscious foundations and those irrational parts of the psyche which cannot be ordered and in which logic cannot be found. At this point the stressed ESTJ will usually institute an ever more intrusive regime of control, attempting to exclude all possibilities of chance, irrationality or spontaneity. The enemy is now everywhere and must be conquered at all cost. Unlike Pogo, an overly strong and excusive ESTJ attitude must fail utterly before it can say “we have met the enemy, and he is us!”
If we contrast the needs of the ENFP with those of the ESTJ we have a conundrum worthy of note, for it has a significance in our world far wider than the personal. Essentially it is the difference between those for whom the world is an expression of life, and those who see the world as an expression of universal law. It is the difference between the ideas of those who champion native forest and the ecological understandings of the logging company. It is the difference between those who believe children learn best by discovery and those who believe they learn best by careful schooling. And it is essential to realize that none of the worldly outcomes these differing attitudes engender are necessarily “right” or “wrong”; in certain situations and for different types of people, they can be either, or both.
What this comes down to in ordinary daily life, is a strong and often quite opposed difference in the way each type understands structure. For the ESTJ structure is a natural necessity. Good outcomes are the product of a logically created, organized structure, whether this be mechanical, spatial or the structure of a group charged with the process of enacting some productive value. For the ENFP, structure is something which merely conditions the possibilities of the moment. Rather than its temporal and logical value, they notice only its archetypal form, and the possibilities which can unfold from such form. For the ESTJ, a good structure ought to be permanent, for the ENFP it is no more than a worthy transient; something which can be left behind once it has fulfilled its purpose..
In daily life, even at their most petty and insignificant level, these differences can play out in the most frustrating ways. And when these differences enact within more important areas of life, such as a new direction the relationship might take or the rearing of children, then strongly expressing types can quickly learn that there is indeed a level of difference at which it is impossible to compromise.
While the differing directions thinking and intuition engender can usually be brought together through the mediating effect of a shared value system, these partners share no function which might mediate their differences. So when there is a problem, the tendency is then for each to attempt its solution in their own most natural way.
If the problem is one of design, structure or the organization of a system, the ESTJ will sort it soon enough. But when it has a human context, their attempted solutions often only increase the problems. The most typical instance is that of trying to organize everything. The ESTJ will try and create a situation in which everyone feels secure and knows the “proper procedure” for dealing with any problem. The ESTJ is usually blind to the fact that their rigid organizing is only bringing the situation into line with their own thinking. Rather than sensing an improvement, those around them can feel the original problem remains untouched, or worse, is now paved into its so called solution. Consequently, they are even more inclined to rebel, or “act up to the part” in an attempt to demonstrate the ultimate irony of a solution which actually institutionalizes the problem it was supposed to solve. As many organizations have found out, “working to rules” can be just as disruptive as workplace anarchy.
For the ENFP, problems are often dealt with by “letting things happen”. For them, things will work out for the best if you just keep moving towards the goal. Strategies only slow the game down and limit the possible outcomes. “Get up, get over it! Move down the field! Onward and upward! You can do it!” But they don’t realize that how they might play the game just won’t work for everyone. Some players need to know exactly what they should be doing. They need strategies in case things don’t go to plan. The ENFP just wants everyone to go for it, but more than half end up either frozen to the spot or running all over the field.
There is no doubt that these two could learn a lot from each other, and each could certainly use a smattering of the other’s talents, particularly when things aren’t working out too well. But how do they get this to happen?
These two people really have two ways they can choose to make a life together work without their differing needs creating an endless tug of war. They can organize their worlds in such a way that each only touches the other where needs and desires combine, or they can develop awareness. Through proper understanding both of self and each other, they can become able to support each other’s differing needs, and on a level where both achieve greater satisfaction from the relationship than would otherwise exist.
The greatest difficulty blocking the path to self awareness for the strongly expressing ESTJ is the very fact that our civilized, consensus reality is mostly structured to accord with extraverted sensing and thinking attitudes and logic. Real world “commonsense” is ESTJ commonsense. Anything which insinuates itself between the layers of this commonsense is automatically suspect. Much of the strong ESTJ world view stands or falls by the fact that it is “out there” and has little to do with their own unconscious perceptive biases, while other people’s reliance upon feeling and intuition is “merely subjective” or “irrational” It’s hard to recognize a need for greater self awareness when the wider social and intellectual consensus constantly reinforces and justifies your own general attitude.
For the strongly expressing ENFP, the idea of self awareness is all too often confused with some idealized system in which they find what they believe to be satisfactory motives for everything. Having absorbed or created this grab bag of answers is then equated with “having greater awareness”. Quite often this process is engendered by the misguided notion of inspiring greater awareness in others, missing the point that the real demand is for the individual to come to truly know and understand themselves as a human being. Scratch any strong minded ENFP crusader and under the surface of their all consuming drive to change the world you will usually find an “ism” or “ology” which provides all the ready justifications for their often irrational need to constantly search for something more or better.
While the idea that the unconscious psyche have an effect upon the individual just as great as that of the objective outer world has long been recognized by our medical professions, our churches and courts of law, this truth has scarcely made any impact upon the consensus world of day to day living. The very fact that the subjective world is often the bête-noire of the extraverted person ought to give them pause, to recognize and understand why this should be so. For it is from the unconscious that the dynamics of their own less adapted functions project outward onto a world they believe to be purely objective, where “subjective” interpretations only come from “other people”. While an understanding of these psychological dynamics and their effects, if made even dimly conscious, can bring better balance to the way any strongly expressing type habitually understands the world around them, to the one sided consciousness, such change, or any situation in which the potential for such change might exist, is usually seen only as a threat.
For the ESTJ the most common and most inimical threat to their conscious attitude comes from the feeling side. For them, their own feelings transmute into consciousness as raw emotional energy, and this is then how they tend to categorize the feelings of others. Doing so allows them to reject the input of feeling by deeming it as little more than the expression of “irrational” emotion.
For the ENFP, the most destabilizing and threatening effects upon their personal equilibrium come from the sensation side, particularly any form of physical “sameness” or limitation of their freedom of action. Also, through its effect of confining ideas to rigid logical structures, they see limitations with any purely thinking approach to life, as if strict logic itself posed a threat to their own personal freedom and values.
Making it Work
Except for those chance meetings of particularly opposed minds, most types can get along together at first acquaintance without too much trouble. But when each person sees the world and their place in it in a very different light, continuing to get along can be a problem. Friends tend to accustom themselves to each other’s peculiarities, and, unless they live together, are rarely negatively affected by each other’s personal traits. Real difficulties between people with incompatible needs only begin when they try to create a life together under one roof. Home is where everything gets down to the nitty-gritty. The fact that things seem easy when everything is going nicely for both, but quickly turn into “tit for tat” nit-picking when anything goes wrong, is one of the “just so” stories of relationship psychology.
If we look into the crucible that is the emotional relationship between two people who have chosen to live their lives as one, we see in miniature all the effects created by the difference between the attitudes of these two types. These differences can have crucial effects upon all the relationship dynamics between these partners, including intimacy. There is no part of life where the need for personal choice is excluded from the ENFP attitude, just as there is no part of life where a concrete sense of correctness does not matter to the ESTJ. If we look at how these drives or needs play out, we can see that the real issues between these types derive not so much from any conflict between particular personal needs, but a conflict between two general guiding attitudes, to which all needs, desires, ideas and their various expected outcomes must first conform.
The reason for this is simple enough. The automatic and completely natural immediacy of the strongest function moulds the impact of every psychic datum as it is presented. All conscious perception must first pass the ESTJ thinking test, while ENFP intuition never stops scanning data for intimations and possibilities.
These two people’s eyes are ever on differing aspects of a situation, which, in itself, is not necessarily a problem. The real problem arises when they themselves become the object of each other’s judgments and perceptions. We all know how easily a conversation can turn. From a casual and impersonal mutual assessment of some objective occurrence, it can change in a instant to one where personal subjective measurement of each other’s attitude takes over. Suddenly, we find ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to go, where we now wish we hadn’t said anything at all. If such things happen at the outset of a relationship, then all is well. Because with some increasing self awareness and understanding they will be overcome. If however, this kind of situation is still playing out after some time together, then change becomes harder to achieve and even less likely as the years roll on.
Let’s take a typical relationship. You, an ESTJ and an ENFP, have got together, and you’re rapidly moving towards a strong, emotional connection which you do not want to damage or lose. Prospects for the future are being considered, even if at this time only privately. Now is the time to ask the really essential questions. Yes now, even while you are wandering about in a fog of love struck happiness and believe all is right with the world. Silly to even think that anything could ever spoil this; that the way you feel together now will ever change. Right?
Wrong. If you do nothing, if you do not realize that relationship demands self understanding, if you make no effort to create an attitude space for real development, then… yes, things are going to change. The shine is going to wear off eventually and the real metal is going to show through. No point in trying to polish up later; you can’t consciously re-create something you had no control over in the first place. That was a gift, and something you have to learn to use and develop. You won’t be able to re-make it if you break it.
So what are these questions? First, you must know what it is you need from a relationship. The answers to this question are not selfish desires, but essential knowledge. If you do not know your own needs except through some hazy fog of things you believe about yourself, then you need to get down to some real self understanding. The fact that you are reading this means you have taken at least the first step. So many people do not realize what they need because they do not understand what they need and why they need it. Through your type you will recognize some of the basic demands of your own psychic make up. While the strength of type needs can be mitigated to some extent through a widening of the personal perspective, they nevertheless must be satisfied. They cannot be set aside, neither for the sake of some compromise situation, nor to suit the demands of others. To a strong degree, type needs are absolutes of our personality and their fulfillment is essential to both mental and physical well being.
As an ESTJ, you need to be able to organize and order your life. Both at leisure and at work, you need “food for thought”: things happening which require your analysis and input. You need to be “out there”, involved, and to be recognized for your time, your ideas and your increasing skills. To a great degree, your living and working space should reflect this, and you expect others to respect your need for both social and physical life to reflect an ordered, rational integrity. A relationship with another might cause you to change some of the ways in which you fulfill these basic needs, but it should not inhibit the natural flow of your energy toward their fulfillment.
Much flows from such self understanding, in particular the next question: what can you bring to your partners life? Well, you might say that you can offer strength, security and the mental capacity to overcome problems and organize things so that life flows with the least difficulty. These are the obvious answers which flow from your strengths. But what about your weaknesses? These you also bring into a relationship, and they, too, have just as great an effect upon your partner as your strengths. Your greatest weaknesses flow from your inability to recognize and understand the rationale of feeling, while the rest flow from your insistence on dealing with things from a purely concrete vision of the present. You find it hard to attach or “get into” the human side of things and also miss a lot of the anticipation and excitement that both spontaneity and the exploration of the unknown can bring to life.
As an ENFP you need to explore, to discover meaning and value in all things, particularly the meaning you can actually create, not only with others, but also out of your own explorations of self action. You need the freedom to do this, to make connections, to discover new paths, to find the peaks of life’s abundance. Where possible you like to show others, to lead them toward the same vision and purpose you see. You expect others to understand your need to follow your vision and to recognize that your lack of attachment to any one particular way of life flows from your drive to constantly seek further value for yourself and those around you.
You would expect a partner to see that you bring choice, possibility and affirmation into the relationship. Your gifts would be your readiness and openness to new and exciting ideas, and your preparedness to move with the changes and work together to find the fulfillment of your combined desires. Your partner is, however, also going to come up against the limitations and weaknesses that you bring into the relationship. Along with the good bits, they will also have to deal with your frustration at any form of inertia or stagnation; your fear of purely sensual activities, particularly those which lock you into a place and time, and your distrust of anything which might detract from or oppose your personal feeling values.
In both cases, the real problem that arises from the negatives here, is that both are usually activated via a strong emotional aversion and their expression rarely allows for easy conciliation or understanding. Try and weave any kind of web, mental or physical, around an ENFP and you will have a fight on your hands. Try and take down an ESTJ with over rationalized feeling or force them to walk blindly into a future they cannot plan and you will get an more than just an argument. These sensitivities and fears must be dealt with at the outset of any relationship. They must be understood, and hence prepared for, by both partners.
“Right thought, right action, right outcome.” These words of the Buddha are a mathematical equation which can apply to any attitude. To make them work for us, we have to know what “right thought” is in the first place. For our purposes, the right thoughts for an ESTJ are those which bring to mind the limitations and difficulties your partner might have in dealing with your logically structured needs. For an ENFP, the right thoughts are those which bring to mind the difficulties and limits your partner finds in dealing with your need for boundless expression and freedom from constraint.
All things flow from this, right down to the arguments about why the washing hasn’t been put away or why the car keys must always be on the hook in the kitchen. There is simply no easy way out of the problems here, nor can an endless list of what to do and how to do it produce any value unless the two people concerned have already worked out the basics of getting along. The real key here is that perfection is not on the table, that we are human and we must allow for each other to be who we are and what we are. If we can do this without compromising ourselves, then we have achieved the one real quality that creates a good relationship. The rest is then whatever love can bring.