INTP Relationships

From a female INTP’s perspective.

See also The Struggles of an INTP Girl.


family of INTP stuffed bears
Photo credit: Pexels

In familial relationships, the INTP tends to:

– Limit emotional expression

– Limit eye-to-eye contact (not necessarily all the time, but especially when thinking out loud or sometimes when making own point).

Eye contact provides the INTP with new information from the other person which the INTP must then process. This outside information can be a distraction while the INTP is attempting to process and articulate their own thoughts.

– Be non-committal. This may play out as not wanting to verbally say “OK, I’ll do the dishes later or vacuum the carpet” (even if the INTP really is planning/hoping to get around to it.) Often, the INTP may be afraid of “promising” or committing to something when they aren’t 100% sure they’ll be able to follow-through.

I do this a lot. I evade commitment to the degree that I can (but not in everything. I’ve worked 2-3 jobs, depending on how you count it. So I’ve had to make some commitments).

But the desire to avoid commitment does not necessarily arise out of irresponsibility, so much as it does out of a desire to be dependable. Essentially, if the INTP is unsure whether they’ll truly be able to be depended on for a given thing, s/he sees no point or reason in assuring someone else that s/he will.

The INTP typically takes commitments very seriously. This is actually a sign of honesty and reliability, but is often mistaken for irresponsibility, laziness, confusion, indecision, or low enthusiasm (which is not to say that the INTP cannot possess these traits or characteristics, just that this particular pattern of behavior is not necessarily indicative of them).

Sample conversation:

Parent: “‘Morning! How ya doing?”

INTP: *Shrugs shoulders* “I’m fine.” *maintains placid, inexpressive countenance* (Because…why smile? I’m still waking up, and I don’t have any energy to seem extra happy. 😛 )

INTP: *Begins to wash dishes*

Parent: “Hey, could you grab the mail when you leave or on your way back later today?”

INTP: “Um…I’ll try to remember.” (INTP’s way of saying, essentially “yes”, without actually committing. [Knowing me, I would forget, too, so this is a disclaimer of sorts. It’s not that I’m lazy and can’t be troubled to get the mail.])

I try to reserve commitment for very few things in life. Things like marriage (should that ever happen).


INTP friendship
Photo credit: Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash

In friends, the INTP values intellectual acuity, openness, honesty, transparency, authenticity, logic, and knowledge.

The INTP – while typically in need of considerable alone time – usually still values friendships (due to extroverted feeling), and will likely be drawn to “geeks” (I feel like I can safely use this word because I am a geek of sorts 😛 ), mavericks, philosophers, seekers (of various sorts), and the honest and unassuming.

The INTP generally loves interacting with people who are open-minded (see Big Five “Openness” trait), nonjudgmental, creative, quirky, and rational.

(The above statement may be more true of young INTPs. The INTP sometimes picks an ideology to stick with – and advocate staunchly – in later years.)

The INTP is not necessarily drawn to people who are “cool” in the popular or traditional sense, but rather has his/her own definition of “cool”.

“Cool” to the INTP is often equivalent to “real”, “smart”, “logical”, “kind”, “compassionate”, “informed”, “insightful”, “reflective”, or “questioning”. The INTP is likely to choose friends who possess some or most of these qualities.

Romantic Relationships

INTP romantic relationship
Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

According to

Actually, INTPs don’t have any problems getting married.  In fact, one study found that they are more likely to get married than almost every single other introverted type (Otis & Louks, 1997).  If you have ever worried about being alone and unloved forever because you are an INTP, you can probably stop now.  Being “different” won’t prevent you from getting married.  Unfortunately, it may result in you getting married more times than every other introverted type (Otis & Louks, 1997).

As you might guess from that particular fact, INTPs can have problems after the honeymoon.  Marioles et al. found that partners of INTP males had the lowest marital satisfaction of all types.  Nor do INTPs themselves seem satisfied; another study found that INTPs have the fourth lowest satisfaction with their marriage/intimate relationship. (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk & Hammer, 1998).  (This isn’t as bad as it sounds though; Intuitives were generally less satisfied than Sensors, and INTPs were quite close to the midrange values for Intuitive satisfaction.  However, INTPs were the least satisfied of the Rationals.  Note also that some NFs were far less satisfied.)  According to Marioles et al.’s study, in only about 1/3 of INTP marriages were both partners satisfied.  Also, INTP males were the type/gender combination most likely to be satisfied with their marriage while having a partner who is dissatisfied (this phenomenon did not hold true for INTP females).  Female INTPs tended to be married the fewest number of years of all types….

Although I haven’t actually been married or in a relationship (which I guess would sorta fit with INTP stereotypes, wouldn’t it? 🙂 ), I can share – anonymously and generally – some of my awkward experiences with people I liked or who approached me.

I used to “reject” or avoid getting closer to guys who I was pretty sure from the outset I wouldn’t marry. This is partly due to my unique/unconventional upbringing, but also because I saw no point in becoming emotionally close to someone with whom I could not see “a future”.

I was also afraid of “sending the wrong message” to guys by hanging out with them.

I was even cautious and reserved around guys I liked. I had trouble initiating conversations.

And even when guys initiated conversations with me, I generally didn’t know what to say back. So I was basically silent, or mumbled out a few (probably stupid) words in response.

Needless to say, most of my interactions with males (and females, for that matter) – especially in my teen years – were short-lived. 🙄

In more recent years, I’ve learned that it’s actually okay to have male friends. (I know…shocking!) This has been a wonderful discovery for me, as I often tend to connect better with men.

I’ve also learned that it’s okay to flirt with guys I like and want to get to know better. (My definition of “flirting” is probably different from most people’s, but I’ve still come a long way from “not flirting at all”, haha).

INTP Romantic Relationships – Health and Longevity

Kroeger and Thuesen (1996) noted that INTPs have significant difficulty ending relationships, but if they do decide to end a relationship, “hell would freeze over” before the INTP will take back their ex.  Those breaking up with an INTP should be aware that it may be hard, if not impossible, to get them back.  Kroeger and Thuesen also noted that INTPs may be somewhat inconsistent in their preparations for events like anniversaries or birthday parties.  I.e., they may put things off until the last minute and end up snatching a gift from the Walmart jewelry department on the way home.  It doesn’t mean that the INTP doesn’t care, but rather that there were too many great ideas floating around in their head, and the time drifted by until they were shocked to discover that there was no time left.  At this point the purchase of a gift becomes an emergency rather than the thoughtful expression the somewhat embarrassed INTP had originally intended. –

(Yep, I definitely tend to procure gifts for people last-minute, and it’s generally not because I don’t care about others, but because I got so focused or distracted [depending on how you look at it] with something else (thoughts, ideas, work, business-related stuff, reflection), that I simply forgot. Or I overestimated the amount of time I had to accomplish things. :/ )

Keirsey suggests that although the NTs may need reminders to pay attention to their relationships and family life, the NT’s spouse may not be willing to give such reminders, reasoning to themselves, “It isn’t real love if it is given under duress.”  The Rationals then continue obliviously on with their projects, and cannot understand when their spouses finally tell them they are cold or uncaring.  “How can they think I don’t love them?” the Rational wonders incredulously.  “Isn’t it obvious?” –

I might be a little more conscientious than most INTPs (although I still scored fairly low in Conscientiousness on the Big Five). This may be because I’m a female, and often, women are raised to be more aware of household needs and duties.

Girls also more often tend to be assigned and/or assume responsibility for younger siblings (at least when parents are away). So they grow up feeling that they must be aware of needs around them (and perhaps naturally are more aware, though that is debatable).

Additionally, I am (supposedly) high in Agreeableness (Big Five trait), and this motivates me to complete tasks in order to maintain harmonious relationships with loved ones (because if dissonance arises in relationships, that pricks my Neuroticism [another Big Five trait in which I’ve scored moderate or high, depending on the test]).

(In case you’re wondering, 16 personalities and The Big Five tend to correlate pretty well, although they each provide slightly different angles or views of a person, and most people seem to have a preference for one system over the other.)

All that said, INTPs with high neuroticism (low emotional stability and/or wellbeing) may be motivated to be more aware of household tasks, because they will pay for it (socially and relationally, and consequently emotionally [neurotically]) if they don’t keep up with certain duties or meet certain expectations.

This may be why some female INTPs (women tend to be higher in neuroticism) tend to seem more “responsible” or “less laid back” than the stereotypical INTP. They want to maintain harmonious relationships, at least for neurological self protection (if nothing else).

That said, securing and sustaining romantic relationships may be a bit more of a challenge for the INTP female than for most females, as INTP traits tend to defy the “feminine norm”. INTP girls often end up confusing or disappointing potential companions, because they’re not perceived to be as “feminine” as many would hope or expect them to be.

Female INTPs are often mistaken for being angry, cold-hearted, arrogant, impolite, or unemotional.

Few people muster the courage to traverse icy lakes, shattered bridges, and fiery castles to discover the depths of the female INTP – her mind, her soul, her heart. Often, these treasures are hidden from public view.

The majority of girls (at least in Western culture) seem to know how (and want) to make themselves known (which reduces the requirement for cunning exploration on the part of potential lovers).

Not so with the female INTP.

According to Dr. A.J. Drenth on Personality Junkie:

At some level, INTPs feel like they need people and want an intimate relationship, while on another, they are afraid of losing themselves and their cherished freedom if they commit.

And this ties in to the whole “responsibility” thing. When an INTP is on their own, they can focus all they want on their work or subject(s) of interest. Which means they’ll basically do it all day, every day (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but not much). However, the Fe (extroverted feelingalso yearns for emotional connection, and as the Fe tends to be underdeveloped – because it is the INTP’s inferior function – its whims and impulses can lead the INTP into dangerous or poorly matched relationships, as the Fe function is craving emotional satisfaction only and is separated from the logic and rationality typically characteristic of the INTP.

At the same time, however, the INTP highly values independence of thought, and may view some relationships – with “feelers” or other “thinkers” – as a potential threat to that.

INTP Romantic Relationship Choices

While the ISTP seeks novelty in the material realm (Se), the INTP seeks more abstract sorts of novelty (Ne). Hence, INTPs look for partners who are intelligent, creative, and interested in personal growth. INTPs may struggle to maintain interest in those lacking sufficient intelligence, open-mindedness, or interests in intellectual or psychospiritual explorations. INTPs are especially drawn to those who have knowledge or interests in their own specialty area, making way for a sort of co-exploration of truth. INTPs enjoy discussing their interest areas and seek a partner who can stay apace with them in theoretical conversations. For these reasons, INTPs are typically better matched with another Intuitive type. – Dr. A.J. Drenth

The only counterargument I’d make here is that there are certain Sensors (S types) with whom I’ve found I connect pretty well. Namely, ISFPs. They seem like the most intuitive or open Sensors to me.

I have an ISFP relative and an ISFP friend – both of whom I seem to connect with pretty well.

I have not found quite the same connection with some other S types (but I don’t have enough data on all S types [such as ISTP] to be sure which types of Sensors I’d get along with the best).

ISFPs have a reflective side (Ni – or introverted intuition), and often seem to enjoy discussing ideas. They also tend to be safe people with whom the INTP can explore, express, and develop their inferior Fe (extroverted feeling) side, as most ISFPs are generally kindhearted and not pretentious or manipulative.

This INTP – ISFP connection seems to be particularly successful between a female INTP and a male ISFP.

An INTP female relative of mine also has a very good friend (male) who is an ISFP.

However, about that extroverted feeling:

In selecting an intimate partner, INTPs should be careful not to imbue their emotions with too much weight or decision-making power. I say this because INTPs’ emotions, whether positive or negative, emerge from their least developed function (Fe). Their inferior Fe makes INTPs prime targets for being unconsciously wooed or manipulated, especially by Myers-Briggs Feeling types. It is therefore important that INTPs not give their Fe the upper-hand in selecting a long-term partner. Despite conventional wisdom that suggests that everyone should just “listen to their feelings,” this is not the best advice for T types, especially T dominants. While having positive feelings toward an individual is certainly important, INTPs are better off using their top two functions (Ti and Ne) to determine the potential merits of a given relationship in light of their personal goals and values, as well as typological compatibility. – Dr. A.J. Drenth

INTPs must be careful not to trust their emotions, but also not to suppress or ignore them. It seems to me that most INTPs err on one side or the other (trusting emotions too much or completely stuffing them). It is important to express and listen to our emotions, but also to realize their limitations and regularly examine their legitimacy.

But the truth is that INTPs’ struggle with their inferior function is no worse than the struggles of other types with theirs. The primary difference is that INTPs’ inferior issues carry direct implications for their relationships. The struggles of other types might be more personal (which will naturally, even if indirectly, impact the relationship), whereas INTPs’ issues, because of their Fe inferior, are often interpersonal. – Dr. A.J. Drenth

And “personality compatibility” is not everything:

A caveat.  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. –

To sum it up:

INTPs have the potential to be great partners. Their love for learning, new challenges, and personal growth can help succeed in their relationships and to integrate their Fe. The key question is whether they have the courage to face their fears and spend time seriously exploring the foreign land of their inferior function. – Dr. A.J. Drenth

INTP Relationships in General

As an INXP or just barely an INTP – and an empathic female (so socially conditioned but also naturally more emotionally/relationally perceptive [perhaps due to empathy/neuroticism]) – my relationship struggles may have been somewhat tempered/diminished compared to those of the “typical” INTP.

However, this is not to say that I haven’t had my share of relationship issues. One problem I’ve fallen into is “going with the flow” in a relationship for a long time, and only gradually beginning to realize (or at least acknowledge) that my values have been compromised in some way, in an effort to maintain harmony, make something work, or minimize personal anxiety.

Once this realization moves from my subconscious brain to my conscious brain, I gather the “boldness” to approach or challenge someone (or something I’ve been supporting), or express my discomfort with the way things are going/happening. The other party is often then confused, thinking that “we always had the same values”, or “saw eye-to-eye on things”.

What is happening here? My Agreeableness (inferior Fe) and/or Neuroticism (probably linked with Ne [extroverted intuition] and maybe Si [introverted sensing] and also Fe) were originally motivating me to “make things work” with someone, but sooner or later, I returned to my introverted thinking (Ti), reevaluating what I was doing and why I was doing it – and to my shadow function, Ni (introverted intuition), which is good at reflecting and exposing one’s integrity or lack thereof in life decisions.

Ti (introverted thinking) may also sometimes be blind to certain ethical or moral concerns in decision making, so it’s possible that Ti itself (my dominant function) led me to make some of these poor decisions, because I was using a certain “logic” or “rationalization” in making them, but ignoring values (Feeling).

The Struggles of an INTP Girl.

What’s Your Personality Type?

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

4 thoughts on “INTP Relationships

  1. Pingback: How the INTP’s Function Stack Plays Out In Real Life – Reflection Cube

  2. Pingback: Five Factors that Can Skew Personality Test Results – Reflection Cube

  3. I hear you. As a married INTP female I find myself constantly feeling inadequately equipped to fulfill the conventional role. Frustrating for both parties, needless to say. Even having known my husband for as long as I have, and being as ‘old’ as I am, still struggle with my Fe which in turn stunts any hope of effective communication.

    Thank you for sharing this post! 👍


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