The Struggles of an INTP Girl

Years ago, I got the Myers-Briggs result “INFJ” on a free personality test.

I have retaken such tests throughout the years – through various sites – and have watched myself gradually “change” from INFJ to INFP to INTP.

This transition parallels my journey over the years toward becoming more comfortable and familiar with my true self, and learning to care less about mirroring other people or projecting a certain image to them (INFJ was the image I portrayed for a while. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being an INFJ! Just that it wasn’t really me).

I finally seem to be settling on INXP (about equally F and T). My most recent results are INTP.


INTP – Some Common Characteristics

As an INTP, I like my alone time. I think best and recharge the most efficiently when I am by myself.

This is true, in part, because I am an introvert, but also because my introverted thinking function desperately needs the alone time to process information.

In general, the INTP:

  • Thrives on space, autonomy, and latitude for creativity.
  • Often gets drained by social interactions, save, perhaps, with a few close friends.
  • May not always be aware of current social or fashion trends (though they often care about looking put-together).

Gender Expectations

As a woman, society (especially Western society) expects you to be outgoing and fairly talkative. That’s just what girls do, right? They’re the life of the party. It is generally expected that females will engage in small talk, keep the laughter going, dress and act “fashionably”, be tactful and agreeable, and not stir the waters.

Amenability tends to be higher on the list of social expectations for females than it is for males, and the female INTP is usually painfully aware of this expectation. But she also realizes that it may be a struggle for her to meet it. This can result in a lot of critical self-talk and feelings of shame.

Even today, women are expected to be pliable, emotional, to dress in a certain way, to talk about “girly” things (by stereotypical standards) – things like makeup, people, pop songs, pop artists, celebrities, etc. It is anticipated that they’ll be receptive and gentle, and pursue studies such as English, psychology, and music more than math, science, engineering, or technology (and don’t get me wrong, I do find the former three to be very interesting as well as the four latter. There’s nothing wrong with a woman liking English, psychology, or music. I just don’t believe women should be more strongly associated with or conditioned to pursue the former over the latter). Often, the female INTP diverges from these expectations and stereotypes.

The individualistic female INTP is likely to have her own set of culturally-deviant and relatively unpopular opinions about things. Affability is typically high on the list of social expectations for women. Therefore, for the female INTP to express her own opinions is to risk seeming “unfeminine” (i.e. disagreeable or b****y). Most INTP females do desire to maintain or gain friendships, and so, in the hopes of building or protecting such relationships, they refrain in social settings from showing a side of themselves that may, in their minds, cause people to shun, criticize, or dislike them. Consequently, the female INTP may speak very little.

In Nurture by Nature, authors Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger suggest that “Like other strong Thinking types, some INTP girls find themselves even more socially ill at ease than others their age because they are not interested in or adept at conforming to the socially expected “female” behavior and dress of their peers.”

The feelings of self-betrayal an INTP female experiences by choosing to repress those characteristics of her true self – combined with the feeling that she would not be accepted if she were to reveal her true personality and mind – may feed into the depression from which many females of this type suffer.

A great article on NT types and mental illness

When they do muster the courage to express their opinions, many INTP females are readily labeled as arrogant, condescending, or even vicious. An INTP female relative of mine has been accused of arrogance, simply because she does not hesitate to speak up when she has a dissenting opinion on a matter. She’s not trying to be condescending or rude, she just feels it’s important to be true to herself and not to be congenial to the extent of sacrificing her viewpoint.


Communication Struggles

Another reason the INTP (male or female) is often accused of arrogance is that he/she tends to utilize a wider vocabulary than the general population may employ – not necessarily in an effort to show off, but more from a desire to add color and depth to their language. They want to perfectly depict what they’re trying to say, and due to the affinity many an INTP seems to have for reading, they have the power to do so with their treasure trove of descriptive words.

In this regard, I’m a bit of an anomaly. In social, face-to-face communication, my vocabulary tends to come across as excessively infantile.

The reason?

When I’m around people (especially several people – or someone I don’t know well), my thinking brain turns off. This means that my introverted thinking is suppressed while I employ my extroverted feeling function (which, in Myers-Briggs lingo, is an inferior function for the INTP).

In social settings, I can become very distracted from my thinking world (which is introverted) as I study people and absorb the emotional vibes in the room (extroverted feeling and extroverted intuition). Because my thinking has gone “out the window”, I project myself as dull, bored, absent-minded, or reserved. Introverted thinking is suppressed as I overwork my weak extroverted feeling function. I may also become overwhelmed by all the input from my extroverted intuition, as I try to figure out how to handle or respond to all that information. (Extroverted intuition often picks up on unspoken messages, but the agony for the extroverted intuitive is that you then want to respond to those unspoken messages, rather than the spoken. But to do so [for example, to ask someone why they’re sad when they’re smiling broadly] could present socially awkward situations.)

Another reason my words can assemble rather oddly is that I must consider every possibility, permutation, or possible negative ramification of any course of action, when it comes to anything. This thinking pattern is characteristic of the INTP. So in the course of conversation, when I am trying to speak my mind or respond to someone, I constantly have a filter that’s vetoing everything I want to say, because there’s always a problem (in my mind) with the words I’m about to utter. I conclude that a given phrase will sound less than tactful…too snarky…sarcastic…bossy…insensitive…dumb…delusional…. So I say nothing. Or very little.

I apply the same filters to my demeanor and facial expressions. If I seem too happy and “smiley”, then no one will think me credible. But if I seem too solemn and serious, everyone will think I’m no fun, or that I’m upset all the time (often, men can get away with seriousness – or the appearance of it – more easily than women can).

Once I’ve filtered out essentially every possible thing I could communicate – and every possible way I could communicate whatever’s left to say – I’m left with a very childish, stunted verbal and facial “vocabulary” with which to express myself.

For example, the other day, a friend was sharing some sad news from his life with me. Here is a rough recounting of the split-second mental conversation I was having with myself, plus an abbreviated, rough recounting of my actual conversation with him:

Him: Bad news….

I should express my sadness. I feel really bad for him, and I want him to know that I do. (Although, tbh, I also feel kind of relieved for him, in this case.)

I was actually already aware of the thing he just told me, because I overheard it in his conversation with someone else earlier. So I can’t act surprised and say “Really? Wow!” or “What?!?!”, because this would suggest that I didn’t previously know about his misfortune, and I want to be honest.

“Gosh!”

Okay, that sounded stupid.

“I’m sorry.”

Ask him how he feels about the situation. If he sees it overall as a good thing.

“So are you…happy about it…or…?”

Relieved. You meant to ask if he felt relieved to some extent. Not “happy”. I can’t believe you actually did that! That’s a stupid thing to ask when someone’s hurting!

Smile. You can’t seem too sad. Guys hate it when girls pity them. At least, most guys do. So you should smile and act like it’s no big deal, to send the message that you’re not worried for him, he’ll be fine, you know things will work out, you don’t pity him or think less of him for what he’s going through.

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, smiling while discussing his hardship?!?!

Speak! Say something! Don’t act like an idiot!

“I’m sorry…but…um…also happy for you?”

You idiot! You already said you were sorry! And ‘happy’ is such a boring, nondescript word. You sound so juvenile!

But…I just don’t know what else to say. All my words have abandoned me.

Look at his face now. He thinks you’re weird. He’s trying not to show it. But he thinks you’re slightly demented. Shame on you. You’ve smiled too much, and sent the message that you don’t care, and you don’t know how to comfort a hurting person. You asked stupid questions like ‘Are you happy?’ See how eager he is to leave?


Interactions With Other Females

In social discourse, the INTP analyzes and dissects everything thoroughly. Not to sound sexist – against my own kind, no less! – but I’ve noticed that in some female circles, this thorough dissection of topics is often not very welcome. The INTP female can be made to feel embarrassed for adding a more “serious” tone or analytical dimension to the conversation. Because of this, she may feel that she needs to alter her natural form of communication, in order to fit in and not feel awkward or make others feel awkward. (And don’t get me wrong – I have a couple girl-friends with whom I connect pretty well, and I really am grateful for their friendship. Not trying to make generalizations about females here.)

Additionally, the INTP usually strongly dislikes drama. This can make her unpopular among some of her female peers, if she does not wish to discuss or engage in the drama. Her choice not to engage can result in the INTP female becoming the butt of other female peers’ jokes (because if you’re not the one picking on people, you get picked on). This is not, of course, to say that all females are high-drama, histrionic, or bully types.

For some reason, the INTP female tends to end up with more male friends (which is totally cool – some of my dearest friends are male). However, she might wish for some female company with whom she can connect as well, but without fear of judgment or of being thought excessively weird for a girl.


 

Are you an INTP? Share your experiences and struggles as an INTP in the comments below!

Do you know an INTP? Let me know about your experiences with the INTP(s) in your life. What’s your personality type, and what’s it like relating to an INTP from your perspective?

Please keep the conversation cordial and uplifting. 🙂 ❤ I reserve the right to delete comments.

 

26 thoughts on “The Struggles of an INTP Girl

  1. I have never taken the Myers-Briggs test but I can relate to a lot of what you are saying…not all. Having grown up around five brothers, I learned to express myself well if I wanted to be respected for my opinion. My father never made me feel inferior because I was a woman and expected me to defend my beliefs in a well-thought out way. I have never fit in to the female stereotype, and used to feel there was something wrong with me. Now, I know it is because I didn’t have that for a role model.
    Best wishes as you grow, change and accept yourself!
    Valerie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Valerie! Thanks for reading and sharing! Yeah, I think growing up around more of a male presence can have the tendency to influence our personalities as well. I have two brothers.

      Can definitely relate on the feeling of “Is there something wrong with me?”, and am really sorry to hear you had to go through that. 😦 I think this kind of self-doubting question can be especially tough for women, because there is more of a cultural push for them to blend in or conform to certain social standards. When they don’t, this can result in embarrassment or social rejection from some other girls. (This is not to downplay mens’ struggles at all.) Thanks for reading and sharing! ❤

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  2. An INTP, eh?
    Between your Introverted Thinking and your Extroverted Intuition (INTP’s top main “functions”) you are well-equipped to A) think deeply and then B) consider possibilities.

    Here is yet another batch-of-info/website on the 16 Types: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/portraits.html

    Thinking of all the things that *could* go wrong (maybe) can make anyone doubt themself. But take Heart, its also quite possible that by your own nature, you may think things through and look at them deeper than many others. And so, let *them* worry about how stupid their ideas or opinions may be, because who knows? They may not have even thought things through as far as you have.

    Another site/place I enjoy for Myers-Briggs Personality Types is to go to Youtube and type-in: Living My Purpose and INTP (or whatever type). Mike Adams (not me) I think gives good info on all of the profiles/types. Good to look at more than one source.

    I have been wrestling for a long time with what type I am. Sigh.
    Like an INTP, I like precise definitions to whatever I’m talking about. But from reading the profiles about INTP’s online, I feel I’m likely more outgoing. An ENTP? The Lawyer/Debater part fits me and so does the more outgoing, but I also think I have better follow-through and I’m not as bothered by routine as they are. An INTJ? Hmm, i do have fun reading, learning, gaining knowledge and more understanding, but—I’m just not always scheming to make a long-range plan that will revolutionize whatever. And I’m more sociable than they seem to be. An ISTP? Parts of this fit. Wanting to be competent. Good at something. Having space. Independence. Solitary pursuits. Understanding how things work or what makes them “tick” (but I’m more into that with people, than things), but maybe not as quiet as most ISTP’s. ESTP? Naaah, I’m not so focused on physical everything, being a daredevil, extreme sports, etc. I have also come out as an INTJ before. But overall, I feel the ISTP profile probably fits in the most areas. So for now, I’ll be that. I need alone time to recharge (the I part), I like SPECIFICS! (the “S” part), I want things to make sense and preferably, be logical/efficient. And i like to keep my options open, P.

    #INTP, #ISTP, #ENTP, INTJ, #Myers-Briggs #PersonalityTypes #16Types #Psychology

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  5. Nach

    I totally agree with the part about being ”picked on”. This happens most of the time with ESFx women in my case.

    I had an ESFJ barking at me because she was rambling about other people for a good 5mins non-stop and I told her ‘still gossiping’? She was just venting bullsh*t drama that she had created in the first place and I wanted some quiet. Also, I had another incident with another ESFJ who kept butting in my chilled conversations with ISxPs guys with bullsh*t small talk in such a loud voice, just for the sake of getting some attention, only to ignore the said ISxPs and pianote on her phone when they scrambled an attempt to small talk back. Total rude/brash attitude if you ask me. People say INTP women are quietly ‘masculine’, but I find that often ESFJ women are worse than these manner-less male frumps with a penchant for tackiness.

    As for ESFPs, I have experienced their passive-aggressive snarks too often for me to keep track of it. One said things such as ”I’m not good at pretending I have no social skills (like you)”; another snapped ”They keep teasing you about your cooking skills…I know my hair doesn’t look good but I cooked this wonderful curry the other day…”. More shockingly, my own mother threw something like “Hmph! You like to show off too much.” the ONLY time I wore make up and a tight fitting dress. Each time I’m like ”WTF? If you think you suck, how am I to be blamed for getting on with my own sh*t?” Worse thing is the next time around, these ESFPs suddenly start to do/say/wear things that they previously “singled me out” for…go figure.

    Bottom line is, ESFx women repel me. I don’t go out of my way to avoid them, but I probably show zero patience for their manners in my demeanor, so they conveniently stay away from me.
    All is well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Nach! I’m so sorry to hear that you had those experiences. 😦

      Little annoys me more than when people blame someone else or gossip about them, regarding something that stemmed from the drama or problems that *they* created in the first place. 😛 Uuggghh.

      Very true, other types are capable of being as rude – or more rude – than the INTP. And generally, when the INTP presents as cold, impolite, or uncaring, it’s not because they’re *trying* to be. On the other hand, when some other types (who are, at least in terms of stereotypes, generally considered to be “more socially skilled or aware”) are rude, I sometimes feel (rightly or wrongly) that they should’ve known better.

      At the same time, it seems that some (though not all) of the ESFx people I’ve interacted with (especially ESFPs) have also had relatively short attention spans (though I don’t want to make generalizations). Sometimes, it’s hard to know whether the ESFx is intentionally ignoring me, or their brain is just zoning out because they ran out of “focusing juice”.

      However, it does seem that these types tend to be more engaged when the conversation pertains to them personally (though I suppose, to a certain degree, the same is true for most of us).

      It’s interesting to me how ESFPs and ISFPs seem like night and day. While my deep connections with ESFPs tend to be few, I generally connect very well with ISFPs. They often seem to have a stronger “N” side, so that might be why. They also tend to be excellent listeners, and to enjoy give-and-take in conversations. 🙂

      Wow! You’ve had some pretty savage things said to you! 😦 Grrr. Is your mother is an ESFP? (Gathering this from the paragraph in which she was mentioned.)

      Interesting that those ESFPs started to copy you. That piece of info – combined with their comments – suggests to me a measure of jealousy or insecurity on their end. They liked what they saw in you, and secretly, perhaps, wanted to emulate your actions/appearance/demeanor, but they had to tear you down first for having something they didn’t have (or didn’t think they had) and wanted. Just my speculation from the bits and pieces of information you’ve shared. 🙂

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    2. trishaw70

      It’s not surprising that you’ve had unpleasant experiences with ESFJ’s as well as ESF’s in general. They’re the exact opposite of us INTP types. I had an ESFJ as my supervisor at one point and she was the one who sent us the MBTI test from the “16 Personalities” website, supposedly as “just a bit of fun”. Can’t say I had any problem with her because she was always professional and polite, though we probably would never have gravitated to each other as friends outside of work and I’m okay with that.

      One of the worst experiences I’ve had was working with an ESFP but to be fair she had some issues. She was incredibly needy and being in her company was draining. And manipulative. Like you, I showed zero patience for this woman but that just made her push harder. She’d make a point of asking me for help with a work question when I stood up to visit the bathroom or get myself a coffee, usually waiting until she saw I was ready to walk out the door before making her “request” and on one occasion then baited me by saying, “You love helping me, don’t you?”. Since I didn’t want to enable her by giving her the response she wanted, I tried to avoid the issue because I knew she’d make a scene by crying loudly, disrupting everyone from their work. The nature of the work we did required deep focus and attention to detail.

      Other strange behaviors; when someone went to get a coffee or tea, she’d expect them to offer to get her a beverage as well and when another of my colleagues dared to say no she started arguing with her. She’d be offended whenever she sneezed and nobody said “Bless you” to her. One morning I walked in to work and greeted everybody in general, then answered a question from the colleague who sat across from me and she must have been jealous that I was “choosing” to have a full conversation with that woman and not with her, because just I was getting ready to start on my work, she came up behind me and accused me of not greeting her at all. She’d disclose things which about her life which were intended to give her an image of being colorful and unique but really showing her true colors, such as how her (then) husband-to-be brought her to meet his family and later told her that his mother had warned her that he’d chosen a very high maintenance girl (obviously proud of being high maintenance. Or how when she visited her sister’s family she’d insist on hugging and kissing her nieces and nephews even though they tried to run away, pronouncing dramatically, “I’m a very affectionate, tactile person”.

      And of course, whenever she had one of her crying jags everybody had to run over and comfort her. If anyone else was visibly upset or crying at work, she’d always make a point to be the first to comfort them so whenever I was feeling stressed or upset I was all the more determined to keep it to myself.

      The funny thing is, the avatar of her personality type on the “16 Personalities” website does look somewhat like her, though the character of Cheeky Hobson in Footrot Flats bears a closer resemblance. And that quote by Marilyn Monroe preceding the full description of her personality type on the website; “I’m selfish, patient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you surely don’t deserve me at my best”….that’s uncanny.

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      1. Hi trishaw, thanks for sharing! Sounds like you’ve had an “interesting” experience with an ESFP. While I’m sure not all ESFPs are that manipulative or high-maintenance, it somehow seems that the most toxic personalities are not only generally the ones we find the most memorable, but also the ones who tend to approach us the most and get woven into our lives! While certainly not all ESFPs are that high-drama, it does seem to me, from casual observation, that narcissistic and highly dramatic personalities more often tend to fall into the ESFx realm. Thus, I’ve sometimes succumbed to the trap of stereotyping ESFxs by the most prominent and toxic ones. In a similar way, I think that, while not all xNTPs are sadistic or psychopathic, sadistic and psychopathic personalities more often tend to type as xNTPs (and perhaps are truly overrepresented in that crowd). (This is just my anecdotal observation.)

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      2. trishaw70

        Thanks for you thoughts, Kate.

        You’re right, I’m sure that not all ESFPs are that manipulate and high-maintenance, but emotionally unhealthy ESFPs often exhibits these traits and this lady definitely had her problems. She made a point of letting us all know that she suffered from depression. She was on meds for her condition and when she actually remembered to take them she was almost aggressively cheerful. I’m not sure whether she was a full-blown narcissist but definitely high drama; in fact, she displayed a lot of the traits of Histrionic Personality Disorder. My ESFJ supervisor, however, seemed to be a more healthy, balanced version of her MBTI type.

        I’m not surprised by your observation that the most toxic personalities are the ones who we remember the most, because another article I read (probably in Psychology today) stated that all humans are hard-wired to remember our most negative experiences in order to keep ourselves from being burned again. That said, while I won’t assume that all ESFx’s will be toxic for me to be around (if I actually knew their MBTI; it’s not exactly the first topic tend to discuss), my visceral reaction would be to back away and run like hell from anyone who seems needy, dramatic and/or high-maintenance.

        I haven’t heard about sadists and psychopathic personalities being mostly xNTP types but it’s an interesting thought and confronted me with my own dark side. I took an online test for psychopathy and got a normal result but, to be honest, the psychopath in me emerges when I’m sufficiently provoked (e.g. over a long period of time and escalating to the point where I can no longer ignore it), especially a drop in empathy to sub-zero levels and sadism kicking in when I reach my snapping point. And what hurts an ESFx most? Being ignored.

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  6. Wow, you really hit the nail in this post! That remark about the constant critical self-talk is really all I ever do (hence my blog). And, by the way, so glad you’ve brought up the fact that it’s not unusual for an INTP female to be the butt of her peers’ jokes, simply because she doesn’t engage in their drama. All through my youth this was a thing and I never could understand why. Later on, I grew more backbone and learned to retaliate with a witty reply that made people eat their words without necessarily insulting them. After having been the butt for so long, I must admit it was a rather powerful feeling to discover and dissect patterns of people’s behavior and, especially, moments of insecurity and deflection/projection. It has, on the other hand, also made me more aware and critical of my own patterns, so there’s that. Anyways, thanks again for the accurate and sincere post and keep up the good work!

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  10. Guillermo

    Dear Kate,
    I am sorry you had a rough time growing up and are feeling out of place with your peers. However I have some advice for you which you are free to follow or ignore. I am an INTJ and also had trouble making friends when I was a boy since everybody else seemed immature and dull. I tried changing myself so I could have more friends but that only led to me being dishonest with myself and attracting people I was not willing to befriend. My advice is stay true to yourself, you are the strongest version of yourself when you play to your strengths. By not acting as you would normally you are not showing others your true self, so those who are looking for honesty in a friend, regardless of harshness, do not see you as a potential friend. Thus you should start by accepting the fact that you are different and embrace your true self, for others will only like you if you like yourself first. Also, many of the people Who surround you May end liking you more when you are yourself. It took me a while to make friends who accept me as I am, but I can call them friends with much more confidence than those Who accept me for being something other than myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Guillermo. ❤ In recent years especially, I've been blessed to build friendships with some really awesome people, who accept me for who I am, awkwardness and all. 😀 Thanks for reading and sharing.

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  11. Dorkanista

    Yup you are definitely an INTP! I can tell by your writing voice! Haha. I totally identified with your article, even going through a cycle of being miss-typed. The social struggle is for real. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Megan

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. Always nice to hear there others in the same boat. I don’t know how old you are and hope you’re not offended if I say it sounds like you’re young and I know from experience things will get easier as you get older. I’m in my early 30s now and still learning but it’s a lot easier now than when I was in high school, college, and shortly thereafter. I’ve tested as an INTJ, ISTJ, and INTP, depending on the test and stage of life I’m in. I’ve been trying to just not care about what others think of me while simultaneously attempting to form friendships over the years and it’s definitely gotten easier. I’ve found my – admittedly very small, but it’s probably better that way – niche in the world and have a few good friends that I see infrequently (but social media helps with keeping in touch). Anyway, very few in my general acquaintance really get me, but I’m confident and have my good friends and things are going pretty well. I hope for the same for all of you someday.

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  14. Kori

    This was incredibly clarifying! As a woman I have been identifying as an INFP, which I do seem to resonate with highly. However, I have always toggled between INFP and INTP, often referencing articles and descriptions of both and usually resonating with both. The way in which you described Ti “turning off” and being replaced with Fe in social situations, leaving me nearly speechless and paralyzed is super eye-opening. It relieves my confusion around why I internally feel that I have a understanding of the group dynamics but cannot seem to accommodate the energy or social ques of everyone. Thanks for the insight!

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