When it comes to type compatibility, most Myers-Briggs theorists speculate that dating one’s four letter opposite leads to more conflict than harmony in the long-term. Others have theorized that four-letter opposites create balance for one another and make excellent partners. This week I asked 25 Myers-Briggs enthusiasts to open up about their experiences dating their own four letter opposite. Here’s what they had to say.
ESFP with INTJ
- “I’m an ESFP married to an INTJ… The biggest challenge we face is that we are basically opposites! I’m a very typical ESFP – Parties, people, spontaneous. My husband is a pretty typical INTJ – Alone time, planning, etc. I think our relationship works because we are both willing to find the balance. While I hate to admit it, I do sometimes need to unplug my brain and focus on who *I* am outside of just being the party person, being married to an INTJ “forces” me to do that. For him, he gets to learn how to be flexible! All in all I think it works really well, my weaknesses are his strengths and his weaknesses are my strengths!”
- “I’m an ESFP and I dated an INTJ for about 7-8 months. Despite the “opposites attract” thing being kind of cute and helpful for both of us at times, we ultimately ended our relationship because our personalities just weren’t compatible. I need a lot of emotional support and validation in relationships and he couldn’t meet those needs because it wasn’t in his nature to constantly provide emotional support and validation.
We fought a lot because I always felt like he wasn’t doing enough to show that he cared about me, and he would get frustrated because he knew that he cared, but it wasn’t natural for him to go out of his way to talk about his feelings and show me- from his standpoint, I should have known that he loved and cared about me because he wouldn’t spend time with me or be in the relationship at all if he didn’t. We truly loved and cared about each other a lot, but we couldn’t reconcile our differences in personality enough to make each other happy without compromising who we were as people.Looking back on it, our relationship helped him open up more and become more honest and tolerant when dealing with his own emotions and those of others, and I think it helped me understand that not everyone operates the same way that I do, and that doesn’t mean that they are wrong or inferior for being different. It did, however, help me realize exactly what I need in a relationship, and unfortunately this was a case where loving each other just wasn’t enough.”
- “INTJ here with an ESFP. It’s rocky on good days, but in a challenging way. We really have to look outside our own box everyday and sometimes every convo. MBTI really helped with that. There are innate issues like personal space or communication. I’ve never been as loud as I have been with my ESFP. I feel like I have to be or he doesn’t understand my point of view.”
- “I’m an INTJ, married to an ESFP. He’s nurturing and I’m practical. (We don’t have kids yet, but I imagine that dichotomy will come in handy when we do.) He’ll ask me if we have any plans on a given day, because I always know our schedule weeks, even months in advance. He convinces me to go out and explore the world during our free time, and to visit friends we haven’t seen in a while. Those are things I probably wouldn’t do one my own. He knows how to calm me down when other people stress me out, and he always understands when I need to take some time for myself and go for a run or a swim to process my emotions. We don’t really fight very often, but I think that’s because we are so used to the other person’s differences. I don’t always understand him and the way he thinks, and vice versa, but we both appreciate that our lives (and ourselves) are better because of each other.”
INFJ With ESTP
- “I am an INFJ who dated an ESTP for five years. It was a great relationship with lots of passion and excitement. The ESTP really helped bring me out of my shell and pushed me to try things I would normally avoid, such as clubs, big parties, and risky activities. It really changed my perspective on life and I am grateful for all the time we spent together. The main challenge we faced was he was frustrated with my unwillingness to try things, and slight pretentiousness with finding activities like partying a waste of time. I would be frustrated with his inability to plan past the next week or dig into deeper, philosophical and hypothetical subjects. We made it work most of the relationship by throwing each other a bone. I would attend parties, but it was completely ok with my ESTP if I left early or hid outside for people breaks, and my ESTP would keep me stimulated by talking about here and now subjects we could both dig into, such as current events, pop culture, and politics.”
- “INFJ here who was with an ESTP for almost 2 years, and it didn’t work. Pretty much for all the reasons you’d expect. There may have been some times we brought out the best in each other but they were few and far between. He would get irritated when I didn’t want to be around others 24/7, he had no concept of needing to recoup after social gatherings, he wasn’t into deep conversations unless he was drunk. I couldn’t keep up with his extraversion. I am very goal-oriented and he couldn’t even make plans for the next day. I would erroneously assign meanings to actions of his that he wouldn’t even remember doing. I had high expectations for him and he would keep things from me when he knew he hadn’t met them. I think what attracted me to him was his ability to live in the moment, something I strived for theoretically and came up short on my own, but could accomplish with him. However, all in all, it was a disaster, and true to INFJ form, I couldn’t leave until he left me first. And it took forever to get over. I don’t think I will knowingly get involved with an ESTP again.”
- “INFJ here. I was briefly in a relationship with an ESTP, and it was very fun while it lasted. Dude knew how to have a good time, and his charm really swept me off my feet. Plus it was so refreshing to have someone come out and so directly pursue me and let me know that I was what he wanted. No head games at all, it completely disarmed me.
But things started to break down pretty quickly, when the con artist part of him started to become more apparent. Also, I think he felt intimidated and/or frustrated by what he called my “intellectualism”, my tendency to over-analyze everything. And to be fair, I was a bit of an emotional hurricane during this time, and was not in a good place to handle things, so ended up withdrawing when I think he would have liked things to continue. In any case, it was definitely an interesting experience. It helped me explore a side of myself that I very rarely let out of the box.”
- “I am an INFJ and my fiance is an ESTP. The biggest difference is that I am often emotional and seriously struggle to just let things be while he is able to watch movies, hear awful stories and have terrible nightmares but still be okay. I hold on to things. I am cautious and think about things while he is more of a risk taker. He grounds me but is still spontaneous. He likes to care for things and people. A huge struggle that I’ve learned to just deal with is that if I see a chore to be done, I will do it then and there. He will get it done but on his own time. Which could mean hours later. I am more proactive and a planner. He is more logical yet laid back.”
ENTP With ISFJ
- “ENTP here. I’ve had plenty of romantic dealings with ISFJs. They like to have clear and succinct thoughts directed toward them. Being ENTP, I can kinda do the Ne-Ti rambling and making connections to everything to demonstrate the validity and intellectual nature of my thoughts. At times, it’s appreciated, but also intimidating or hard to follow or both. Considering that they were all more traditional women, pursuit is very important to them. I think one thing I like about them that can also be difficult is they have a strange tug-of-war between having autonomy but also being nurturing in that, and at times their independence can get in the way of secure attachment when they’re so dependent on Si guiding their thoughts. The health of the person is stupidly important to for both parties to feel they can explore the relationship further. I think there’s at times this strange poetic admiration of admiring strengths of each other, but it’s difficult to meet in the middle if there’s some sort of other obtrusive physical or mental hangup preventing that from happening.”
- “ENTP and I was married to an ISFJ. Needless to say, we are divorced. The I/E divide I can deal with because I think I’m a very introverted extravert. But the S/N is a total deal killer. Even the F drives me nuts sometimes but I can appreciate it. But the S/N…never again. I am dating an INTJ which is a great fit in this relationship (except that INTJ’s can analyze everything under a microscope and I’m too busy tossing out my next group of ideas…) though he has a better grasp of F then I do and that helps. But it’s the NT/NT that I’m really attracted to. I think another ENTP would be fun as well.”
INTP with ESFJ
- “I am an INTP and my long-term boyfriend is an ESFJ. I love that he will do anything for other people, and I wish I was more like that myself; that is why I was attracted to him in the first place. I have to remember that we respond to struggles differently though, so that I don’t get overly logical and shut him out. But honestly, I think making my opposite-type relationship work is just about both of us being kind, patient individuals who always want to see things from someone else’s perspective. That can apply to any Myers-Briggs type pair.”
- “I’m an ESFJ married to INTP – it helps that I over communicate as it makes sure we talk about issues rather than him letting them ruminate. Great to have his big picture thinking to balance out my tendency to get caught in the details (and them feels!).”
- “I am an ESFJ, and though it’s not a romantic relationship, my best friend and roommate is an INTP. One big problem that we face is our disagreement on the importance of cleanliness, but we meet in the middle! I try not to freak out about a little clutter, and she tries to keep the room in order! Also, I tend to go out a little more and she likes to be alone in the room more than I do! But sometimes I get her to come with me and other times she gets me to slow down and stay home. Lastly, we have very different stress habits. I overreact about every problem, and she underreacts. But she calms me down, and I help her care more! We have many personality differences, but for the most part, they balance each other out!”
ENFJ with ISTP
- “I’m an ISTP and my boss for the past 12 years is an ENFJ. We need to work hard to understand each other, and we don’t have a ton in common, but we know we need each other. We value each others’ strengths and skills and complement each other very well. The funny thing is that we have both scored really high as Maximizers in the Strenths Finder, and I think that really helps!”
- “I’m an ENFJ married to an ISTP for 15 years. For the most part, it’s pretty well balanced. He makes me stay home more and I get him out of the house. The problem is that as an introvert, if he loses friends, he doesn’t replace them. I’m the only adult he talks to currently that he’s not blood related to and it makes me crazy. I can’t be the only one he depends on for socialization. He’s freaky smart and mechanical, but cannot manage to do daily tasks, like his brain can’t function on such a low level. It’s a very passionate pairing, but both of our feelings can get hurt easily. I’m the first to communicate that, and I only know of his feelings after I make him angry or upset enough to just tell me.”
INFP with ESTJ
- “I am an INFP who dated an ESTJ for about a year. It was great at first, I liked how take-charge he was and we both worked hard to understand each other. But eventually I realized that he was only going to be happy as long as I was going along with exactly what he wanted. He was so logical that it was maddening after a while and it started to feel controlling. I do think his heart was in the right place though and he’d be a great boyfriend for someone else. I just realized I really need to be with another NF.”
- “A friend of mine (INFP) was dating an ESTJ. It did not work out. Main issues were regular misunderstandings (nuanced communication, unrelated mind jumps vs direct communication). The ESTJ was confused by the INFP’s indecisiveness and playful ideas and suggestions whereas the INFP had difficulties understanding the no-nonsense-attitude. The male ESTJ was behind 2 years age-wise, probably that is why the usual dominance was balanced out. Apart from that they had several common interests and many interesting, deep conversations. It could have worked out somehow, but probably it is easier for NFs to feel connected to the core.”
ISFP with ENTJ
- “I’m an ISFP and I dated an ENTJ when I was younger. He was really honest and straightforward and that was great because I’m not usually one to make the first move. But after a while I couldn’t handle the constant criticisms and lectures. He brought out my temper, which isn’t easy to do and I don’t like that part of myself. Overall I think it’s a good relationship for self-improvement but I wouldn’t date another ENTJ. I’m with an ISTJ now and we balance each other out really well.”
ENFP with ISTJ
- “I am an ENFP and he is an ISTJ. The main challenge I face is that we are complete opposites. I am extremely sensitive to everything, and he is not. I care about everything, I study a lot and talk about everything. Meanwhile he, only laughs about stupid things and makes fun of everything. BUT he pulls me down to earth. He makes me understand that we are all different and that it is okey to be like that. He never gets my hints, but he tries SO HARD to make me feel cared and special. That it is worth it. We accept each other differences and we don’t expect to change each other. Because then it wouldn’t be fun to discover so much different stuff anymore.”
- “I am an ENFP, he is an ISTJ. We are complete and total opposites in every possible way you could imagine. He hates change and travel and has a very rigid way of thinking (in my opinion) and doesn’t like anything spontaneous. I am obviously the opposite and it feels sometimes like he is holding me back.
It is a balance in that I let him do what he likes and I do what I like. I am fiercely independent and love being around friends and don’t necessarily want a love interest who wants to be around me 24/7. I would get bored… so, in that way, it works. However, it also gets lonely sometimes and I long for a partner in crime for my adventures.We do have some interesting conversations, but he also doesn’t talk much. So, when I can get him to talk, they can be very interesting as our views, while the same (both liberal etc.) are still SO different as we are coming at things from such different places.”
- “My ISTJ husband is very action oriented, he could spend all day doing errands which I hateeee whereas I can spend all day reading an interesting book or researching/learning more about something weird like the Fermi paradox. We understand that about each other now so we just give each other space for those activities when needed.
Communication: sometimes still an issue when it comes to him addressing relationship problems, which I just have to keep annoying him to get him to open up about. But I really feel like he’s “stepped up the ladder” in terms of talking and speculating about weird things that I enjoy. This just took time and an open mind on his part. Just as us Intuitives have learned “how to speak Sensor” (just from being around S so much in daily life) I think that they can do the same!Routine: this might seem really mundane but he’s very routine so he’ll eat literally the same thing every day for months straight until he finds a new thing he likes that he will then proceed to eat for months straight, etc. So my solution was to sign up for Blue Apron that way we have variety 3 days a week. Also he goes on all my weird little adventures with me… for example he was right there when I decided we should sell all of our stuff after grad school and move to South Korea to teach English.Anyway, I feel like we really balance each other… if it wasn’t for me he’d be eating chicken and rice every day whereas if he wasn’t in my life I’d probably never have any toilet paper!”
- “I am ENFP married to and business partner with ISTJ for twelve years. Our mutual love and striving for our business keeps us together and our roles fill each other’s holes. This is also the case with parenting. He has given me so much freedom that I can’t push against anything and that keeps me to him. I have been completely faithful to him (surprise) but before him I was flitting around to experience everything and everyone. I love him for his endearing ISTJ traits – his love of history and his honour and his punctuality! He can’t give me the (emotional) support I need and that has been my self-growth to learn to believe in myself.”
- “I am an ISTJ and I’m in a long term relationship with an ENFP. I’d say that our biggest challenges include not interpreting situations the same way, leading to arguments, me being a little too responsible and naggy for his liking, and him taking things a little too personally. I feel that to overcome these things, just as all couples do, we have to keep the lines of communication open at all times and be very willing to compromise or make sacrifices to our pride or ego. If you really want to be with someone, you have to work towards it!”
- “I’m an ENFP who dated an ISTJ. At first it was great. Our opposites were attractive until about 3 months in. I began to resent his rigidity, lack of spontaneity, and in my opinion, dullness. I know he had issues with me as well, however they didn’t come out until after we broke up. Overall, we couldn’t communicate. I would try, he wouldn’t listen, to which I would tell him and he agreed but it never changed. And I dug deeper into a hole. In the big picture, we just had different styles, which are tangible to me now after learning more about MBTI. I thought I was crazy for not being able to make it work with him as he was (is) one of the best people I have ever met. Ever. Now I know. Now I understand. Now I trust my gut much more.”
- “I am an ENFP. My first love was with an ISTJ. We were on and off for 3 years. It was magnetic and electrifying and changed my life. He was a great listener, calm and steady but showed his creativity through arranging carefully planned dates and gifts. He taught me the value of consistency and loyalty and helped me live more in the moment. I made him cry and get in touch with feelings and inspired him to dream bigger in his life.
I loved him truly and deeply but I had a nagging feeling that if I married him like we were thinking about I would be settling. The N and S divide was too great. I remember having a frank discussion with him about our future. I told him that I didn’t feel like we could have as much deep conversation like I wanted and I also felt like I wanted more adventure in life. He told me begged me that we could go to counseling and that he could do those things. He felt like there was something wrong with him. At the very beginning of our relationship when I was still very much entangled in the fundamentalist church I grew up in. I would tell him that he was not “spiritual” enough. I mistook my N function as a sign that I was more devout. Later I realized that his ability to be in the moment was just as spiritual as my existential struggling.
I wish I could tell him now that it wasn’t his fault that it was just our Myers-Briggs types working against each other. That he didn’t need to change a thing. I still have a bittersweet nostalgia when I hear his name but I know I did the right thing. I am now married to an INTJ and its beautiful and crazy hard trying to get along but I feel like I am living out my life purpose better with him. When I met my husband, there was a calm quiet knowing that this was my path. No fear or anxiety even when conflict arose. With my ISTJ first love, there was an amazing rollercoaster of experiences and feelings but knots in my stomach constantly when I thought about our future.
I found this quote on Personality Junkie in an article called “ENFP Relationships, Love, & Compatibility” that sums my ex and I up. “Early in their type development, ENFPs may be attracted to the stability and consistency of SJ types (i.e., ESTJs, ISTJs, ISFJs, ESFJs), especially those who display similar values and worldviews. This is due to the fact that SJs outwardly embody the ENFP’s own inferior function (Si), which they instinctively sense is an important element in their journey toward wholeness. And while ENFPs may experience satisfying relationships with SJs later in life, following years of growth and development, pairing with SJs in their younger years often proves unsatisfying, once the initial infatuation has worn off. It may even stifle the personal growth and type development of both partners as they go about “crutching” each other’s inferior function.” – Quote by Dr. A.J. Drenth.”