INFJs in Love


Isabel Myers (INFP) married a man named Chief, an ISTJ and a good man.  They were happy together, but according to Isabel's own type theory they weren't predicted to be perfect for each other.  Later on, Myers said that if she had known about type theory, she probably wouldn't have married Chief.  Hm!  There is a lesson to be learned here: type is not everything, nor should it be the decisive factor in choosing your lifemate.  Take it from the founder of type herself.

Then too, the connections between type, attraction, love and marriage haven't been well studied yet.  (The question is more complicated than you'd think.)  You can read about this question and the various attempts to answer it here.

The Idealist Temperament and Love

Do opposites attract?  Not always! Tieger and Baron-Tieger (2000) found that Idealist-Idealist pairings have an average satisfaction rate of 73%--the highest attraction rating for all the NF pairings, and almost the highest possible satisfaction for all pairings. 

  • Idealists were 73% satisfied with Idealists.
  • Idealists were 64% satisfied with Rationals.
  • Idealists were 51% satisfied with Artisans.
  • Idealists were 46% satisfied with Guardians.

But satisfaction between the temperaments was not equal.  Seen from a reverse perspective, here is how Idealists are viewed by the other temperaments:

  • Idealists were most satisfied with Idealists (73%)
  • Rationals were second most satisfied with Idealists (65%)
  • Guardians were third most satisfied with Idealists (58%)
  • Artisans were fourth most satisfied with Idealists (54%)

As a further note, the Rationals had a higher satisfaction with an NF mate than with any other temperament.

Isn’t this a fascinating mess of information?  Let’s put it into context.  Green = Guardian, Blue = Idealist, Purple = Artisan, and Teal = Rational. 

  • SJ x SJ    79%
  • NF x NF    73%
  • SP x NT    73%
  • SJ x SP    71%
  • NT x NF    65%
  • NF x NT    64%
  • SP x SJ    63%
  • SJ x NT    62%
  • SP x SP    59%
  • NT x NT    59%
  • SJ x NF    58%
  • NT x SP    54%
  • SP x NF    54%
  • NT x SJ    52%
  • NF x SP    51%
  • NF x SJ    46%

Now, it is a mistake to generalize by temperament--it’s frequent that types will go counter-temperament, and temperament is not the definitive factor in explaining type-based behavior most of the time (CITE)--but since we don’t have anything better to go on... So just remember: These observations are generalizations that may or may not apply to all Idealist types. 

Ever since Keirsey published Please Understand Me II in 1998, it has generally been accepted that the Rationals are the best partners for the Idealists.  This appears to be true--at least from the Rational point of view.  The Idealists, however, actually tend to be more satisfied with other Idealists.  

But Rationals are the second favorite choice for the Idealists.  Indeed, NF-NT and NT-NF satisfaction rates fell within 1 percentage point of each other--a very equal evaluation indeed. 

Idealists gave the lowest ratings of all to Artisans (51%) and Guardians (46%). It seems that Idealists strongly prefer other intuitives.

One further thing that should be noted here is that the Idealists reported a broad range of satisfaction compared to other types.

  • Idealists: 46% - 73%  (27 percentage points of difference)
  • Artisans: 52% - 73%  (21 percentage points of difference)
  • Guardians: 58% to 79%  (21 percentage points of difference)
  • Rationals: 52% - 65%  (13 percentage points of difference)

Compared to other types, the Idealists appear to have the most to lose if they make a wrong choice.

What Types do INFJs Prefer?

About all we can say is that a study of 800 people (which didn't include very many INFJs) found that female INFJs tend to be slightly more likely than average to pair with INFJ males, and that the amount of attraction between INFJ-INFJ pairings was particularly high.  INFJs are also slightly more likely than average to pair with ESTP Promotors.  But as one of the rarer types, INFJs simply aren't well-represented enough to say.  For the rest, we are left with theory.

As mentioned earlier, the study found a slight preferential relationship between INFJs and ESTP Promoters.  Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, this is one of the two "ideal" types predicted by Keirsey in the original version of "Please Understand Me."  (In the next version of the book, he changed his theory in accordance with his new view that Intuition and Sensing should match up between partners for the best results, hence only the ENTPs are listed.)  The question is, do INFJs choose ESTPs because they actually prefer ESTPs, or do they choose them because ESTPs are common and ENTPs are rare?  Commonality implies a wider variety of choices and better opportunities for good type development.  Rarity implies less choice, and it is often harder for rare types to achieve good type development.  Hence the supply of "good" ESTPs is much larger than the supply of "good" ENTPs simply because there are more ESTPs than ENTPs. 

It's hard to say. 

Unfortunately, INFJs tend to be the type which is least satisfied with their marriage/intimate relationship.  INFJ males were also the type second most likely to be satisfied with the relationship, when their spouse actually was not.  Some extra attention to mate selection and marital satisfaction would probably be a good precaution here. 

One question that many people have is, "Where can I find an INFJ?"  Your best bet is the local writer's group, which is likely to be a hotbed of NFs.  (Do a Google search for "Writers group Your_City_Name_Here" to find a group near you.)  Alternately, you can take a creative writing course at a university.  A survey of one creative writing course found that about one quarter of the group was INFJ.  They're not hard to find, if you know where to look.  And, if you're depressed about how rare INFJs are said to be, take comfort; it's possible that they may not be as rare as originally thought (see The Rarest Type?).