Isaac and I lounged on opposite couches in our living room, tears rolling down our faces from laughing so hard. It was near midnight, way past my bedtime, but we couldn’t stop reading, it was just too good. It felt like someone had spent a year studying my husband in his natural habitat and wrote a three page report on his behavior, characteristics, mannerisms, and idiosyncrasies. No, It wasn’t his horoscope. It was a website that gives full detailed explanations and descriptions of the Myers-Briggs personality types.
We have both known our four-lettered personality types for awhile, I learned mine in therapy and he in business school (haha), but we’ve never sat down and talked about them. When Isaac asked my dad permission to marry me, our personality types was one of the topics discussed because my dad knows the importance of understanding your mate’s personality type. He couldn’t have been more right.
I have known Isaac for over five years, in fact we have been together or spoken to each other every single day since we met in August 2007. Sitting across from him the other night reading about his personality made me realize how deeply I do know him, yet how much more there is to learn.
After finishing his analysis and then reading my personality type’s description, we both had an AHA moment. We realized that every single fight we have ever had can be traced back to a simple conflict in our personality types. His personality type, INTJ, is very business-minded, logistical, practical, and strategic- not a whole lot of feeling or emotion involved in decisions. INTJ’s are often referred to as “the scientists.” My personality type, INFP, is known as “the idealist.” INFP’s are known for wanting to understand the human condition, the desire to make the world a better place, and relying heavily on intuition and feelings. Yep. That’s us exactly.
Learning about personality types made me realize that couples who try to change each others habits and seemingly unpleasant characteristics are not only doing a pointless task, but they are trying to change a personality type. It’s not right, it’s who your mate is!! It seems so wrong to try to change it, as opposed to understand it, learn from it, and either love it or leave it.
If you’re not familiar with these four-lettered personality types, here is a breakdown:
E=extroverted vs I=introverted
- Act first, think/reflect later
- Feel deprived when cutoff from interaction with the outside world
- Usually open to and motivated by outside world of people and things
- Enjoy wide variety and change in people relationships
- Think/reflect first, then Act
- Regularly require an amount of “private time” to recharge batteries
- Motivated internally, mind is sometimes so active it is “closed” to outside world
- Prefer one-to-one communication and relationships
S=sensing vs N=iNtuition
- Mentally live in the now, attending to present opportunities
- Using common sense and creating practical solutions is automatic-instinctual
- Memory recall is rich in detail of facts and past events
- Best improvise from past experience
- Like clear and concrete information; dislike guessing when facts are “fuzzy”
- Mentally live in the future, attending to future possibilities
- Using imagination and creating/inventing new possibilities is automatic-instinctual
- Memory recall emphasizes patterns, contexts, and connections
- Best improvise from theoretical understanding
- Comfortable with ambiguous, fuzzy data and with guessing its meaning.
T=thinking vs F=feeling
- Instinctively search for facts and logic in a decision situation.
- Naturally notices tasks and work to be accomplished.
- Easily able to provide an objective and critical analysis.
- Accept conflict as a natural, normal part of relationships with people.
- Instinctively employ personal feelings and impact on people in decision situations
- Naturally sensitive to people needs and reactions.
- Naturally seek consensus and popular opinions.
- Unsettled by conflict; have almost a toxic reaction to disharmony.
J=judging vs P=perceiving
- Plan many of the details in advance before moving into action.
- Focus on task-related action; complete meaningful segments before moving on.
- Work best and avoid stress when able to keep ahead of deadlines.
- Naturally use targets, dates and standard routines to manage life.
- Comfortable moving into action without a plan; plan on-the-go.
- Like to multitask, have variety, mix work and play.
- Naturally tolerant of time pressure; work best close to the deadlines.
- Instinctively avoid commitments which interfere with flexibility, freedom and variety
(All of this info summarized came from here)
So while you may be able to look at the descriptions and make a guess about what your four letters are, it’s not really that simple. The real Myers Briggs test is very long and complex. I have done shorter knock off versions of the test and they never come out right. Here’s something cool, Isaac and I have two of the rarest personality types! Only about 4% of the population are INFP’s and only 2% are what Isaac is, INTJ.
Some famous INFP’s include JK Rowling, Edgar Allen Poe, John Lennon, Tim Burton, Louis CK (is it weird that I’m honored to share a personality type with Sir Louie?), Jane Goodall, and William Shakespeare.
Some famous INTJ’s are Jane Austen, Stephen Hawking, James Cameron, Karl Marx, Mark Zuckerberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Rumsfeld, C.S. Lewis, and Thomas Jefferson.
Isaac and I both agreed that learning more about our personality types helped us feel a lot better about ourselves, and frankly our entire existence and meaning in life. We felt like we fit perfectly into neat little boxes and groups, that we are functioning exactly the way we’re supposed to. While I don’t believe one should necessarily seek validation in life, it gave us validation.
Reading about my INFP personality type made me feel better about my unusual tendencies and “Courtney norms.” For example, from personalitypage.com, we read:
“When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet.”
Isaac’s mouth fell open and he said “oh my God, that is you. THAT IS YOU.” I had to laugh and agree completely. YAY!! I feel less crazy if scientists and psychologists have made that claim, it’s not just me being sloppy and aloof. Aaaaaand then I stopped laughing when I read this:
INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don’t give themselves enough credit. INFPs may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards are likely to be higher than other members’ of the group. In group situations, they may have a “control” problem. The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives.
That’s me. That one little paragraph is me, wrapped up pretty and tied with a bow. I can’t tell you how good it felt to read that. Control issues are something that my counselor and I talked a lot about in therapy. I don’t have control issues in the sense that I try to control what Isaac does or what my friends do, I’m really easygoing as far as that goes, but I have control issues where myself is concerned. That’s why my panic attacks started years ago, because realizing I was out of control of my body and my spontaneous allergies freaked me the eff out. I still don’t like it, but that is life. I’m not in control and I hate it, but I have learned to deal with it.
I continued reading my INFP portrait and smiled when I came across this:
INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkward and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they’re feeling on paper.
Ahhhh, more validation. Maybe that is why when my therapist suggested writing years ago, it wasn’t a coincidence. He knew my personality type and knew what writing would do for me.
I highly recommend taking the Myers-Briggs test and figuring out your personality type. It can help you recognize your strengths and weaknesses. It can also give you incredible insight into your significant other and help both of you work through difficulties together.
In addition to figuring out why we butt heads on rare occasions, it also gave Isaac and I a greater appreciation for one another and for how well we do get along. We know that we are good together, but this helped us understand why we are good together. INTJ’s can have a hard time expressing themselves, INFP’s don’t you people to express themselves, they know how you are feeling before a single word is uttered.
Finding out your personality type is like being given a cliff notes/cheater’s guide to your life. It gives you insight and the ability to know why you do what you do. It can help stop problems before they start and, I believe, help you find true happiness with yourself and those around you.