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  1. #1
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    Default Si and Ni in dating? (INTJ me and ISFJ boyfriend?)

    I have a few questions about interactions with SJ's, particularly ISFJ's, but I would be interested in hearing from all of you.

    Beyond the obvious things like family and daily life, what sorts of things do SJ's like to talk about? Being an N, I find that there are many things I am interested in discussing and thinking about which really confuse, bore, or completely perplex him.

    Also, for those of you who have dated or interacted with N's in meaningful relationships, what kinds of things have you done to try and understand and engage the N ways of thinking?

    And, also, what are the effects on you when you do? Does it leave you drained in any way?

    It seems to me right now, we spend most of our time on the S level, and I'm wondering how we can even up the balance in that regard and spend a little more time in the abstract, theoretical and imaginative planes without causing him too much hardship.

    Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    I'm an ENFP dating an ISFJ and I struggled with communication in the beginning, too, feeling like most of our conversation was spent at S. It really made me stress at first... and it was very draining... I wondered how I could ever maintain that. But what happened for us was that the further we got into topics, and the more we communicated with one another, the more our discussion began to level S-N and the more we got fluent in code-switching. I think our timeframe was about 6 months at which I was really beginning to feel the strain of our different communication styles, and around a year where it really levelled back out to essentially being a non-issue.

    Now it's more like we can run S and N at the same time, seeing every object and subject in both perspectives. He still tends to talk in S and I still tend to talk in N, but it's like we've learned how to adjust our communication so that the other can see their perspective in it, and so that we can respond to one another in our own "language" and it's still totally understandable - though of course we still have to flesh certain things out for each other. It's just like speaking two languages in a bilingual community, and we each retain expertise of our personal native language. I see it more as a strength than anything now, though it'd be a lie to pretend like it's not occasionally still frustrating. That said, the times where it actually presents a problem have been becoming further and further fewer between.

    Don't get mired in the impression that SJs only like to talk about surface stuff - my ISFJ is deep into video games, urban history, coffee, world culture, languages, Roman civilization, and scores of other mutually interesting topics. He just happens to prioritize daily life, and ironically he's also hesitant about going into all of those personal interests with people out of concern for boring them or putting them off. It seems like Ns have a native gift for not really caring who we bore with our personal interests.

    My advice would be to engage discussions on the subjects you two find the most mutually interesting - the conversation will be led by that mutual interest and it will naturally overcome the native differences - in other words, the strength of your desire to learn/understand more will force each of you to open more to the other. If it's a struggle to find mutual interests, force yourselves into doing cooperative tasks - the most important element is the shared goal which will force and reward mutual communication.

    Good luck

  3. #3
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    ^ Skylights made most of my points redundant, but here's what's left of them, to supplement her post:

    - Most stereotypes about what SJs don't like to talk about, in my opinion, are untrue, with one exception: We really do feel the need for things to have a purpose and a point, that is, if not directly applicable in the real world, then can be easily rationalized into it. Even if that purpose is "because it's fun and I needed a break from work" -- that's still a purpose. But if it seems pointless, e.g. a debate for the sake of debate that isn't even fun, then we're not going to like it at all. I get along very well with Ns, but some of them -- NTs especially -- take a while to figure out how much I hate "pointless" conversations. But if it can be connected to a "relevant" thing in the "real world", then there'll be a point.

    - Regarding Sensors using N thinking, I'm a good example, if not representative of the general SJ population; consider that I'm on a typology forum, which a lot of Sensors would probably find "boring", "stupid", or "useless", for the reasons described above. I have a pretty easy time understanding the practical application of theory (for the most part), so I enjoy it here, and am probably an atypical ESTJ.
    HOWEVER... I think I'm a good example of what happens when a fairly intelligent SJ spends their entire life with Ns. Both of my parents are Ns, most of my extended family are Ns, and now most of my friends are Ns. I do speak sensor language, obviously, but now that I've adapted to N, I get easily bored by pure S. (My sensor friends are as S/N friendly as I am.)
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    ^ Sorry! And

    And personally as an N surrounded by Ss, I tire quickly of just N. I tend to prefer SJ conversation, since it's comfortable and constantly hooks me back into the present and concrete experience which I otherwise tend to miss out on. Not that I don't love diving into abstraction, but I feel tugged to return to S.

  5. #5
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    ^ Sorry!
    Don't be! It's a(n indirect) compliment
    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    And

    And personally as an N surrounded by Ss, I tire quickly of just N. I tend to prefer SJ conversation, since it's comfortable and constantly hooks me back into the present and concrete experience which I otherwise tend to miss out on. Not that I don't love diving into abstraction, but I feel tugged to return to S.
    Does your ISFJ feel the same way about NF conversation, now that the two of you have been together for a while? If the two of you have NF friends, do you notice him interacting with them differently/better, since you sorted out your N/S communication issues?
    ~ g e t f e s t i v e ! ~


    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"



    ESTJ - LSE - ESTj (mbti/socionics)
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    want to ask me something? go for it!

  6. #6
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    - Most stereotypes about what SJs don't like to talk about, in my opinion, are untrue, with one exception: We really do feel the need for things to have a purpose and a point, that is, if not directly applicable in the real world, then can be easily rationalized into it. Even if that purpose is "because it's fun and I needed a break from work" -- that's still a purpose. But if it seems pointless, e.g. a debate for the sake of debate that isn't even fun, then we're not going to like it at all. I get along very well with Ns, but some of them -- NTs especially -- take a while to figure out how much I hate "pointless" conversations. But if it can be connected to a "relevant" thing in the "real world", then there'll be a point.
    This!

    Personally, I'm of the attitude that some people, regardless of type, just don't understand the difference between talking to someone and talking at someone. I really can't for the life of me understand what is so difficult about engaging someone and asking them questions about themselves. I dunno, maybe this is an Fe thing for me but it just doesn't seem that difficult.

    My suggestion would be to jettison whatever stereotypes you have about SJs and bloody talk to them. ASK him what he likes and dislikes, ask him why he likes and dislikes those things. I promise you'll get a conversation about it pretty quickly unless he's incredibly shy or has a very low self esteem at which case you've got a bigger problem than lack of things to talk about.

    Looking back on a lot of the conversations I had with my INxx ex-girlfriend, I realize she seldomly engaged me...she just pontificated to me. She just kept going on and on and on about what she thought about something and not what I thought about stuff. It irks me now, looking back on it, because it sent so many confusing signals to me back then. I remember at the time feeling like I wasn't sure just how interested in me she really was, given how little she asked me about me or asked me how I thought or felt about things.

    Everything was always about her and that was a massive turnoff for me. But I know she didn't do this because she was a bad person or anything, I'm just not sure she understands how to engage people (that, or she just wasn't really interested in me and so didn't ask. Who knows).

    My 2 cents as an ISFJ male/
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  7. #7
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    Skylights-- It is good to know that it is possible for that aspect to level out, and for both parties to understand each other better. I also really like that you presented some good strategies for achieving that balance.

    I, too, find a certain amount of S conversation refreshing and grounding, and it is also interesting to see that my inferior function, Se, is improving a little the more time I spend around him. I am noticing little things in shows that I have watched many times that I have never noticed before, and am remembering some things without effort better (like where I set my keys down, for example).

    That is a good question, btw, that you pose to Skylights. I will be interested to see the answer.

    EJCC-- The thing that might surprise you about NT's, is that we greatly dislike pointless conversation as well. I think the issue is less that we enjoy pointless conversation, and more that S and N have widely disparate views of what constitutes "pointless." However, you do give a very good window into the SJ mind.


    Tinker, though it could be that she was just self-absorbed, it could also be something else. It can be difficult to figure out what really constitutes meaningful conversation for you guys, and I know that it has been hard with my new boyfriend, because there comes a point where it begins to seem like if you keep asking questions, that he'll figure out that you're struggling and "fishing" for things to talk about that interest you both.

    The other thing about N's, especially NT's, but I imagine there is a good bit of this going for NF's as well, is that we long to be truly understood. She might have thought that she was sharing herself with you through her thoughts, and increasing the bonding between both of you (though, to be fair, she should have also searched out your thoughts, unless she thought that you would naturally include yours in response to hers and it would be a dialogue? In fact, that would be something that I would tend to assume, is that a mistake? Do I need to constantly draw him out? Will he not understand that I am naturally curious regarding his thoughts on any given subject?)

  8. #8
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Netochka View Post
    Tinker, though it could be that she was just self-absorbed, it could also be something else. It can be difficult to figure out what really constitutes meaningful conversation for you guys, and I know that it has been hard with my new boyfriend, because there comes a point where it begins to seem like if you keep asking questions, that he'll figure out that you're struggling and "fishing" for things to talk about that interest you both.
    I don't see this as a bad thing personally. It's all part and parcel of the process of getting to know one another. In time, the need for questions and talking will subside as he'll begin to figure out your patterns and your ways. IMHO, however, I think S's and N's are very impatient about this sort of thing when dealing with people are who the opposite of their N/S type - they want to feel that bond of connection so quickly and they don't realize that with the opposite N/S type it doesn't work that way. We see the world in fundamentally different ways so a bridge is going to have to be constructed and that takes time

    Quote Originally Posted by Netochka View Post
    The other thing about N's, especially NT's, but I imagine there is a good bit of this going for NF's as well, is that we long to be truly understood. She might have thought that she was sharing herself with you through her thoughts, and increasing the bonding between both of you (though, to be fair, she should have also searched out your thoughts, unless she thought that you would naturally include yours in response to hers and it would be a dialogue? In fact, that would be something that I would tend to assume, is that a mistake? Do I need to constantly draw him out? Will he not understand that I am naturally curious regarding his thoughts on any given subject?)
    This I think is a classic example of talking AT people and not TO them. While certainly I might feel compelled to weigh in on a topic if I'm knowledgeable or feel strongly about it but that isn't always the case and if you continue to barrage me with information without really making any sort of effort to seek out my thoughts or opinion on the subject, I'm going to start to feel like you're not interested in me but in whatever topic you're talking about and that will turn me off VERY QUICKLY.

    She often told me that she was trying to get me to understand her and the truth is I DID understand her - what I often had difficulty with was the fact that her actions weren't matching her words and that's *REALLY HARD* on Fe-users because it screws up our perceptions and our ability to understand you.

    I strongly suspect she was either lying to me or she was lying to herself and trying to convince herself of one thing when in reality she felt something else.
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson

  9. #9
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Netochka View Post
    EJCC-- The thing that might surprise you about NT's, is that we greatly dislike pointless conversation as well. I think the issue is less that we enjoy pointless conversation, and more that S and N have widely disparate views of what constitutes "pointless."
    My point exactly -- which is why I defined "pointless" in my post, and put it in quotations. (Must not have been clear...)
    Quote Originally Posted by Netochka View Post
    However, you do give a very good window into the SJ mind.
    Glad it helped!
    Quote Originally Posted by tinker683 View Post
    This I think is a classic example of talking AT people and not TO them. While certainly I might feel compelled to weigh in on a topic if I'm knowledgeable or feel strongly about it but that isn't always the case and if you continue to barrage me with information without really making any sort of effort to seek out my thoughts or opinion on the subject, I'm going to start to feel like you're not interested in me but in whatever topic you're talking about and that will turn me off VERY QUICKLY.
    ^ IMO this may have less to do with type and more to do with maturity level/experience/practice*. I used to talk at people. A lot. But then, especially when you hang out with people who are more withdrawn, or when you want to get to know people who are more withdrawn, you learn to ask questions. That's all it takes! You really can't presume that your desire to hear another opinion is implied.

    *Much like active listening: something you have to learn, over time.
    ~ g e t f e s t i v e ! ~


    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"



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    want to ask me something? go for it!

  10. #10
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post

    ^ IMO this may have less to do with type and more to do with maturity level/experience/practice*. I used to talk at people. A lot. But then, especially when you hang out with people who are more withdrawn, or when you want to get to know people who are more withdrawn, you learn to ask questions. That's all it takes! You really can't presume that your desire to hear another opinion is implied.

    *Much like active listening: something you have to learn, over time.
    Quite true my lovely! I should have stated as much. I do see this happening though a lot when N's and S's talk to each other: One side presumes the other will express themselves in a way they understand and when they don't behave as expected, they make assumptions about why that may or may not be true.

    It's the difference between " I think [X] is stupid" and then adding nothing further to that and "I think [x] is stupid. What do you think about it?"

    The first is a statement and may not make the listener think he's being asked to respond in someway. The second statement ends with a question and beseeches a response from the listener.
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson

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