Reflection Cube

Three-dimensional thoughts

Tag: Personality type

distortions - factors that can skew MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Jungian personality type test results

Five Factors that Could Skew Personality Test Results

Have you taken a 16 personalities test multiple times throughout your life, only to get varying results for your type? Maybe even from the same website or test?

Let’s examine some factors that could potentially skew test results.

Please note: I had some difficulty locating many sources/references for this piece, and so most of this information is simply my observation/opinion. If you are aware of any articles/resources on factors that can affect or alter Jungian personality readings, please let me know in the comments or via email. I’d love to know! 🙂

#1: Social conditioning and cultural upbringing.

(Can affect F/T expression to a degree.)

If a girl has been raised constantly hearing the messages “girls are sweet”, or “it’s always ladylike to share and let others have their way”, or “why don’t you come up with a compromise?” then they might act like feelers, even if they in fact are not. Many “MBTI” tests measure levels of agreeableness, selflessness, deference, or people-pleasing tendencies in order to determine whether someone is a feeler. However, if these are learned habits, or have been adopted because that’s how one is taught they’re “supposed to be” – rather than how they naturally are – then this could result in a higher scoring in the F direction and away from the T direction (as these traits are viewed on the scale as polar opposites and mutually exclusive).

Growing up, some girls don’t feel as safe saying “No” to the degree that many of their male friends/brothers might. Perhaps one reason for this is because they tend to be, on average, smaller and weaker physically, and therefore potentially more vulnerable to the consequences of refusing to acquiesce to others’ wishes.

This may lead them to compromise and act agreeable (like a “feeler”) more as a survival tactic, or because they’re afraid of getting punished or bullied if they don’t. In terms of emotional and physical survival – especially while young – they don’t exactly have the “upper hand”. So they act nice in order to be safe. And in the process, they learn compromising, self-deprecating, and “agreeable” behaviors.

Some “feeling” girls are actually Ts who have made a calculated choice to act kind and “feeling” in order to survive and be accepted and safe in family or society.

In the same way, if a boy grows up learning “boys are tough” and “boys don’t cry”, then he may have learned to suppress and stuff his feeling side, even if he is very much a feeling type (unfortunately, emotions are often associated with “irrationality” or “not thinking”. While emotions can be irrational at times, this is not a reliable or 100% accurate association to make).

Indeed, feeling types often seem to be a little gentler temperamentally. It’s possible that out of emotional “sensitivity”, the feeling male may have endeavored to hide a part of himself that others didn’t want to see, or for which they (peers, parents) would have punished him in some manner. He concealed this side of himself for emotional, social, and perhaps physical safety (especially as a child, because some children get punished or scolded for crying). Thus, his behaviors and approach to life come through as less “feeling” on a 16 personalities test.

#2: An inaccurate view of self.

Perhaps we view ourselves as being more objective than we really are, or more warm, friendly, and agreeable than is truly the case. This could skew our results in favor of T or F, respectively.

Perhaps we think we’re more “Intuitive” or “Sensing” than we really are. If we inaccurately perceive ourselves as highly open, inventive, or abstract in our thinking – and we answer accordingly on the test – we could score more strongly as Intuitive. If we erroneously think we recall visual details well, or are particularly observant, practical, or concrete in our thinking, this could skew results in favor of Sensing.

Note: I know some pretty open and innovative Sensors and some pretty realistic and observant Intuitives. I also know some “feelers” who are incredibly solid, rational thinkers, and “thinkers” who can be emotionally expressive. Could it be that they got the “wrong” results on the test, or could this simply be “proof” that the 16 personalities system is incredibly limited in its binary measurements of human personality? Perhaps it is possible to be both Intuitive and Sensing? Both (and equally and highly) thinking and feeling?

What do you think? Or how do you feel about this? 😉

#3: A propensity to answer questions in a way that seems “best” or “ideal” rather than in a manner that is authentic to self.

Perhaps we think it’s better to be an E than an I, so we answer accordingly (if we can accurately read where the questions are going).

This test-taking method only serves to confuse us and others more, and keep us from discovering our true selves – our real strengths and weaknesses – which keeps us from leveraging or compensating for them accordingly.

Long-term, there is no true benefit (but possibly harm) in answering as we think we “ought” rather than as we think we “are”.

#4: Social roles, responsibilities, duties.

(Such as “mother” or “software engineer”).

I’m not a mother, so I don’t speak from personal experience here (only observation), but it seems that most mothers continually have a lot on their plates. An INTP mother (especially a stay-at-home INTP mom) could potentially operate more like an ISFJ at times, because #1: she has to be focused on the concrete and sensory world most of the time (and especially so with young children) [Sensing], #2: she is likely to reach emotional breaking points from time to time (or, like, possibly every day) due to intense stress, and therefore appear (and feel/be) more emotional and anxious than might be typical for her [Feeling], and #3: she has to constantly engage in planning and implementation of those plans (not only for herself, but for her child(ren)), in order to survive life and help her family survive it [Judging]. 🙂 And while INTPs tend to be known for absorbing lots of information, a stay-at-home INTP mom is likely to have little time for reading.

Therefore, a person could potentially be mistyped if their personality is being evaluated in a season of unique/particular social obligations or role(s).

#5: Poor mental health.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles can alter one’s emotional and rational state tremendously, and have the potential to skew, at the very least, the F/T or E/I results.

Perhaps an “introverted thinker” is in the middle of a completely undesired divorce, and in this season of insecurity and pain is desiring the closeness, company, and approval of others more than would be typical. If a test is taken at this time, it is likely to yield a more EF (extroverted and feeling) view of the IT (introverted thinker) than it otherwise would, were they in a relatively low-pain season of life. Perhaps the IT’s natural inclination would be to spend most of their time alone, but in this season, they particularly crave the emotional support of a social group.

This is not a comprehensive list. If you’ve thought of any other factors that could cause an inaccurate slanting of one’s personality type assessment, please add them in the comments!

INTP Functions

INTP Relationships

The Struggles of an INTP Girl

Signs an INTP Might Like, Like You

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

signs an INTP likes you and might be interested in you - bear holding heart

Signs an INTP Might Like, Like You

Is your crush an INTP? Wondering if the interest might be mutual?

None of the following clues can be considered absolutely indicative of an INTP’s interest. However, if you see many of these signs in conjunction, there’s a good chance that they may like, like you (or “at least” consider you an inspiring friend or acquaintance).

They study and strive to become proficient/knowledgeable in your field of expertise.

If an INTP likes you, they often want to understand the depths not only of who you are, but what you know and the areas in which you shine. They’re attracted to your mind and the prowess you display in your element, and they want to be a part of it. Because to be a part of it is to be a part of you.

Be it chemistry, cooking, business, or massage, an INTP may very well apply themselves to master – or at least decently understand – the things of interest to you.

Actually, this is how I learned the violin. I once had a crush on a dude who played tons of instruments, and I wanted to be like him, so I bought a cheap violin and some educational materials and started learning. Who would’ve known that such a pursuit would actually lead to a passionate love of the violin, and further down the road, the opportunity to participate in an orchestra? 😮 My crush on that guy transformed into a crush on the violin, which lasted even after this fellow moved away and (I think) almost relinquished his dedication to playing or mastering musical instruments, and after I gradually moved on.

They talk to everyone but you at a social gathering.

Generally, the guy I like will be the one in the room I struggle the most to talk to (especially initially). If I like you, it’s pretty much a given that I already respect you. And if I respect you, then I don’t want to mess anything up in your presence. Goofy, I know. It’s not like you or I are perfect, so why should we hope to appear perfect, or put the other on a pedestal? When I think about it that way, it helps me to remember that you’re human. And then sometimes I can talk more, but it still sounds awkward and stilted.


They stalk you online to discover anything they can about your work,  passions, and philosophies.

Definitely done this! 😳

Unfortunately, this clue may not always be so accessible to the stalkee. How would you know if someone is shadowing you online unless they tell you they are, or frequently engage with your statuses/posts/profiles?

They start hanging out in social settings where you are more than they used to or than seems typical/comfortable for them.

Spending extra time in public can be draining for the INTP, especially because of their function stack. Some INTPs struggle to use their dominant function (introverted thinking) very well when in social settings, so if they’re making more time to participate in social gatherings where you are, there’s at least something or someone keeping them there. Either they find the company of your group to be particularly intellectually stimulating, or there’s another interest – possibly a person in that group – that’s capturing their attention and undivided focus. (Or both could be true.)


They start wearing the same piece of clothing all the time after having an extra positive experience with you when wearing that article.

Okay, maybe this is just me. 🙂 But I am an INTP, so…this is true of at least one INTP. 😀

And it could be a totally quirky, stupid, or practically ugly piece of clothing. But if the INTP has reason to believe that you prefer seeing a given shirt or jacket on them, the concern of quirkiness or frumpiness will go out the window, and they’ll wear it to death in the hopes of a continuation of positive connections with you.

I observe the tone and hue of my interactions with people and, rightly or wrongly, sometimes connect the nature of those interactions (at least in part) with what I was wearing. I learn through observation what colors or styles on me tend to (possibly) irritate others, and which ones tend to make me appear more approachable or competent (or whatever message I’m trying to send). If I like you, and we have an especially warm or memorable interaction when I’m wearing a particular clothing article, then chances are I’ll keep wearing it every or nearly every time we see each other. 😀

Stuffed bear holding heart

Pixabay photo (CC License)

What’s your personality type, and what are some ways you slip someone a hint that you’re interested – intentionally or not (besides actually telling them or asking them out)?

Please see disclaimer.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

INTP cognitive function stack in real life

INTP Functions

Short Preface

“INTP” is not a label. Nor is any Jungian type. These letter combinations are simply tools for better understanding one’s actions, subconscious and conscious thinking patterns, filters for receiving information, and processes for making decisions.

Human personality is way more nuanced and intricate than four letters can possibly represent or capture.

If you’re an INTP (or even if you’re not), maybe some of these experiences will sound familiar. Or maybe they won’t. 🙂 Let me know in the comments what parts sounded similar to or completely different from your experience!

Introverted Thinking (Primary/Dominant Function or Driver)

Introverted thinking is something that rarely shows up in public for me. However, if I don’t have the chance to exercise my introverted thinking (Ti) and realign with it frequently in solitude, I begin to feel dead inside.

Thus, I love to spend time alone thinking internally or out loud. And almost without fail, I feel refreshed after doing so.

Many a fiery emotional episode in which extroverted feeling (another function) took the reins has been quelled by the soft, steady rain of thinking in seclusion – reflecting on a situation objectively and connecting with my “inner self”.

Introverted thinking is very difficult for me to express in public, because I am in an extroverted setting, and I therefore call on my extroverted functions for support, which necessarily requires the suppression of some other systems, including introverted thinking.

This is unfortunate, however, because thinking is my strongest function. When my most seasoned warrior is out of commission, things get awkward. Which means that basically every social setting has the potential to be awkward for me and/or for others, because Ti is MIA. I transform into a very boring conversationalist, because what is there to talk about if practically no thoughts of any depth are accessible?

For this reason, I communicate with others the most deeply and articulately in writing, and second-best in a one-on-one setting with one soul which has been discovered to be deeply kindred with my own. Once this discovery of connectedness, similarity, and unity has been made, the need to act extroverted evaporates.

Once barriers have been removed and we begin to feel like the same person – or at least two deeply merged personalities – then the extroverted shields and props begin to crumble, and introverted thinking can make an appearance, leading to deeper sharing.

The problem is, it is often very difficult to discover such similarities in another person in the first place, if sharing the depths of one’s soul and one’s most complex thoughts is not the default mode for the INTP.

The INTP often faces a dilemma, in that they can sometimes only share with another once some form of sharing has already taken place – enough to create a bond.

What has been helpful for me here is that I am often “bolder” online or in instant messaging than I am in person, so on the few occasions that I am introduced to someone online or I have the opportunity to engage in lengthy conversations with someone through instant messaging, establishing a connection is more likely. This is how most of my (relatively few) deep connections have come into existence.

Extroverted Intuition (Secondary Function or Co-Pilot)

Extroverted intuition is a handy tool in social interactions. It aids me in reading the meaning of words, unspoken messages, and the body language of others in social settings. Usually (though likely not always) I can catch or realize retrospectively when I have offended someone, even if they deny it.

However, this can also be a painful function to have near the top of the stack, because you often feel like you’re jumping inside the heads of other people, and this can result in information overload. Additionally, you can sometimes sense when other people are concealing the deep, dark, hurting parts of themselves, and that is painful to watch – especially as someone who values authenticity and freedom to express oneself and share one’s problems.

Of course, I certainly respect a person’s right not to share their struggles. But if they seem like a captive to their problems or they appear to fear rejection or judgment from me, it hurts, because I want them to feel free to share with me and to know that I’m safe and I’ll understand. But sometimes, I don’t know how to tell them that without making them feel uncomfortable or putting them on the spot (again, social verbal ineptness from weird function stack).

Introverted Sensing (Tertiary Function or 10 Year Old)

Referred to sometimes as the “10 year old” (see Personality Hacker), the tertiary function is often less mature, and should generally not be the driving factor or primary influencing force in major life decisions.

Introverted sensing is the part of me that loves candlelight, the smell of warm, homemade apple cider, the beauty of quiet, sparkly winter nights, and perhaps even the nostalgic, chilling feeling of imagining myself living in a different era.

However, you can probably see why this corner of my world wouldn’t be the most reliable one from which to draw information for factoring into weighty decisions. This doesn’t mean it can’t play a part at all, but it is important to be aware of which pros and cons in decision making might be based on – or distorted by – Si (introverted sensing), and to remove the distortion if possible, or otherwise assign a lesser weight/magnitude to those pros and cons.

Extroverted Feeling (Inferior Function or Three Year Old)

Extroverted feeling is my inferior function. It is the part of me that craves harmony, seeks to please others, and can render me prone to fearing social disapproval or rejection.

This part of me fears both being unloved and being disrespected (the latter actually a bit more). When either of these things (emotional needs [need for love] or physical/emotional/mental boundaries [need for respect]) seems to be violated, my extroverted feeling tends to show up. And blow up.

Usually, “blowing up” manifests for me as desperately searching for a place to be alone and cry incessantly until I’m physically incapable of doing so anymore.

For some INTPs, a blowup of extroverted feeling involves shouting, lashing out, or making rash statements – external responses contrary to the nature of their otherwise generally calm demeanor. My reactions tend to be internal, but nevertheless very out of control.

Extroverted feeling is also the INTP’s weakest tool (but only tool besides extroverted intuition) for really interacting with society in a “socially acceptable” way. Hence, the stereotypical social struggles of the INTP (a stereotype which my experience and personality happen to match).

Social settings require the INTP to either not talk or “perform” or “be on” at all, or else to overexercise their extroverted feeling function, which can present as extreme awkwardness and/or excessive friendliness with little depth of conversation. The INTP is operating in a gear that is relatively unfamiliar and weak for them.

In my social interactions, I mostly smile, laugh, nod, say “Mmhmm”, listen, and ask questions (when I can think of them). My dominant Ti (mirror function of inferior Fe) is forced to take a backseat until I am alone again.

Are you an INTP? Did any of this resonate with you and your experiences? Or sound way different?

Not an INTP? What’s your personality type, and how does your function stack play out in your life?

INTP Relationships

The Struggles of an INTP Girl

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

INTP relationship

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

Girl resting on cracked cement

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.


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. 🙂 <3 I reserve the right to delete comments.


What’s Your Personality Type?

For years, I’ve been fascinated with the study of MBTI personality types.

While I’m not a big fan of assigning labels to people – as individuals are so much more complex and diverse than 16 groupings can possibly represent – I have found the knowledge of a person’s personality test results to be invaluable in helping me understanding how to connect with them, and gaining insight into why they do what they do. The Myers-Briggs system has aided me in cultivating more compassion and acceptance for people with personalities very different from my own.

Depending on the website you read or the online test you take, you may get various generalized labels associated with your letter combination (on one site, ISFP = “Artist”, whereas on another site, ISFP = “Adventurer”).

Free (unofficial) Personality Tests:


What’d you get?

Read a brief description here about your personality type result(s).


Photo by Derek Huang on Unsplash


Below are some single-word descriptions of each type from and


INTJ => “Architect” / “Strategist”

INTP => “Logician” / “Engineer”

ENTJ => “Commander” / “Chief”

ENTP => “Debater” / “Originator”

INFJ => “Advocate” / “Confidant”

INFP => “Mediator” / “Dreamer”

ENFJ => “Protagonist” / “Mentor”

ENFP => “Campaigner” / “Advocate”

ISTJ => “Logistician” / “Examiner”

ISFJ => “Defender” / “Defender”

ESTJ => “Executive” / “Overseer”

ESFJ => “Consul” / “Supporter”

ISTP => “Virtuoso” / “Craftsman”

ISFP => “Adventurer” / “Artist”

ESTP => “Entrepreneur” / “Persuader”

ESFP => “Entertainer” / “Entertainer”


Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

If you don’t like the one-word description(s) you got, don’t take them too seriously. There is so much more to you than even volumes written on your type could cover. These labels don’t really mean much, unless you find them to be accurate to you and encouraging. 🙂 No two people within any of these categories are the same, or capable of being depicted by single words.

Feel free to share what type(s) you got in the comments below!


Photo by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash

Enjoyed this piece? You might also like:

The Struggles of an INTP Girl

The Beauty of “Weird”

What’s Your Love Language?

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved





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