If you’re an INTJ personality like me, you may have always struggled to find a partner who understands you. Many INTJs eschew short-term flings and hit the brakes at the first sign of infatuation — because we’re already wondering if it will work long-term. The INTJ is a rare personality type, even among introverts, and not many people “get” us. As a result, we’re careful about committing and may wait a long time to let you in.
(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)
When we do find that special person, we can still be an enigma. We’ll be a dedicated partner who supports you in achieving your goals. But we can also seem distant, quick to judge, and at times, completely clueless about others’ feelings.
So what should you know about being in a relationship with an INTJ? In true INTJ fashion, I’ve created a checklist of seven crucial items, based on input from a group of 25 INTJs.
Secrets About INTJ Relationships
1. We must be able to count on you.
Or rather, we’re methodically loyal. This is part of our wiring. From a young age, most INTJs have a hard time understanding when someone doesn’t really mean what they say. As adults, this translates to us being wary of people who don’t keep their word or follow through on plans.
To us, honesty isn’t just ethical, but practical. Any dishonesty in a system means results cannot be predicted or trusted. A relationship is a system, and we need to be able to project a strong chance of long-term happiness.
(Plus, many of us have been burned in the past. We let very few people into our “inner circle,” and when we do, we have high expectations. A single let-down can leave scars.)
Loyalty doesn’t mean just fidelity. We have a sense of personal dedication to our partner, and we expect to receive that in return. We want a partner who believes in our work, our goals, and our abilities. We believe competence and loyalty go hand in hand; we do not trust a partner who simply cheers for us if we cannot also count on their counsel and good judgment.
When we feel that you provide this, there’ll be no question of our loyalty in return. We’re the type of partner who’ll drop everything and come to you in your time of need (or more likely, rearrange everything so nothing gets dropped). You can count on us.
2. We show our love by helping you reach your goals.
People of the INTJ personality generally show their love by helping others reach their goals. We view all problems as inherently solvable, including problems like a lack of wealth, fame, or career success. We may or may not value the same outcomes as you, but if we know exactly what your goals are, we’ll become your COO.
(If the INTJ is immature, or if we don’t understand your goals correctly, we may come off as bullying you into something you don’t want to do. If you say this out loud, we will stop.)
Reciprocation is appreciated, but we’re also self-sufficient. All we really ask is that you understand how much our work means to us and that you show your support. For bonus points, brag about us. As introverts, we’re bad at bragging about ourselves.
3. But please leave this INTJ alone.
INTJs need a ridiculous amount of alone time — possibly more than other introverted types. And alone time for us means time with no distractions. We don’t make small talk when we’re INTJ-ing. This is how we create our vast plans and do our best work. Without it, we can’t accomplish things. And an INTJ who doesn’t accomplish things is like a plant with no water.
We know this can be off-putting. An INFJ recently told me, “When I’ve had a day to myself, I feel recharged and I want to see my friends. When you’ve had a day to yourself, I feel like you just want another day to yourself.” Make it a week, please.
There’s no way to change this about us, but we’ll make time for you if you ask. After all, INTJs need close relationships, too. The secret is to make a plan in advance. We want to spend time with you, we just need to know when it’s coming so we can be out of our heads when it happens.
4. We “think” our feelings.
INTJs aren’t robots. We have deep and powerful emotions like any human. Sometimes those emotions even show up in sudden outbursts, especially if we feel a sense of violation or unfairness. But most of the time, we keep our emotions inside.
This is not a self-defense mechanism. It’s because INTJs view emotions as private. We don’t believe we have any business putting our emotions out in the public sphere, and it can be hard for us when others do so. (Many INTJs hate public displays of affection.) Plus, we know that emotions are volatile. We want to understand what we’re feeling before we act on it. In other words, we analyze everything — especially feelings.
When you understand this, you unlock a treasure trove of INTJ insights:
- Our first instinct in an emotional discussion may be to ask questions. We’re gathering data.
- When you’re hurt, we want to figure out the cause and fix it.
- Comforting language might not reassure us, but insights and solutions do.
- If we express our feelings, we’re only hypothesizing. We may not be certain of how we feel.
- We need closure. We cannot be “over” a fight without closure.
5. You need to be a lot more blunt.
INTJs can be so blunt that we sometimes rub people the wrong way. But we’re not offended by bluntness in return. In fact, we often prefer it. This is especially true from someone we love.
Did we hurt you? Tell us how. Do we have a bad idea? Tell us why. Should we change something? Tell us. Most INTJs aren’t great at reading subtle cues — which is why appreciate when people are direct about their thoughts.
This is so simple that I think some partners are scared of it. It sounds like a trick. But to an INTJ, understanding and resolving a problem is much more important than avoiding confrontation. We view confrontation-avoidance as weak, and even deceptive. See point #1.
6. When we argue, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re upset.
Most people argue to make a point, express anger, or get their way. INTJs argue to test ideas.
We’re perpetually kicking the tires on what we think we know — and we don’t mind being proven wrong. In fact, we love being proven wrong if it means we learn something new. But sometimes we forget that not everyone feels this way.
If your INTJ critiques something you don’t want critiqued, it’s okay to tell us to stop. We’re not doing it out of a lack of respect. We’re doing it to help! But, if it’s a recurring problem, just remind us that sometimes you need to be affirmed. We’ll get better at it with time.
7. We’re hard to shop for.
A lot of INTJs told me no one gets them gifts that they really like. But, when I asked what kind of gifts they do like, there was no clear trend. The only trend was that INTJs are picky.
So, the best way to shop for an INTJ? Directly ask the INTJ what they want.
If that’s not possible, here are some suggestions:
- INTJs like useful presents. We don’t value “symbolic” gifts like a scented candle or flowers, unless we happen to need that exact candle for our interior decorating plan.
- Most of us hate surprises. Especially surprise events. This is because we have a mental plan for every hour of every day, and a surprise ruins it. You might do better with half-surprises. Make sure we know something is happening Friday night, but surprise us with exactly what it is.
- Ask for options. We’ll happily give you a wish list. We still won’t know exactly what you bought us until we open the box.
- If in doubt, try consumables. A bottle of wine or a dinner out are great defaults. We will put these presents to use, which means they’re valuable.
INTJs, what else should our partners know, and how many of these items ring true? What else do would you put on the list?
Want to be more successful as an INTJ? Quistic offers a course for INTJs looking to achieve their goals. “Best Practices for Leveraging INTJ Strengths (and How to Be a Likable INTJ)” is a four-part webinar from career coach Penelope Trunk. Includes access to a private Facebook group with nearly 200 success-oriented people of your type.