5 Experiences Every INTJ Has Had

IntrovertDear.com INTJ

The INTJ personality type is one of the rarest personalities. That makes it easy for us to feel like no one gets us, or understands the challenges we face. But in most cases, other INTJs have had startlingly similar experiences—and many of us share the same frustrations. Here are 5 experiences that you’ve likely had if you’re an INTJ.


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1. Being told to relax or cheer up when you already feel great.

INTJs spend a good part of our early life being asked what’s wrong, and a good part of our adult life faking smiles so we’re not asked what’s wrong. But we have a dirty little secret: nothing was wrong in the first place. Apparently, our faces look pretty not-happy even when we actually feel great.


This happens for a number of reasons:

  • We view emotions as private, and we generally contain our feelings, even positive ones.
  • We don’t see any practical use for acting super-hyper-chipper-cheerful.
  • The things that give us the most pleasure are purpose-driven activities, like research or designing something, that other people don’t view as “fun.”
  • We are more likely to be fascinated than happy.

As a result, INTJs often wear a serious expression that other people mistake for tension, worry, or distress. This manifests differently for men and women. As a young man, I was often asked if I was angry or told not to be “so serious.” It was fertile ground for people to jokingly pick on me. But INTJ women often get a reputation for being intimidating. For them, the serious facial expression and lack of hyper-happy-chipperness is seen as unfeminine, cold, and aloof.

2. You said something totally obvious, and everyone was horrified.

I imagine that conversation, for other people, is like a really fun game of Frisbee—you’re good at throwing, you’re good at catching, and even when you miss you just get a good-natured laugh. For many INTJs, conversation is not like that. For us, it’s like tossing the Frisbee and hitting someone in the face and then finding out that you actually broke their nose. As a bonus, if you go around breaking too many noses, people start to think you’re doing it on purpose.

This happens for two reasons. One, INTJs are good at seeing the underlying cause for something, or the long-term effect it will have. That means we often spot problems that other people aren’t aware of. Two, we wrongly assume that everyone prefers for their friends to be honest. When these two factors come together, it results in us saying something that sounds helpful t0 our ears but hits everyone else like an emotional cannonball.

Examples of things I have actually said:

  • I don’t think you should marry her.
  • He’s cheating on you.
  • The problem isn’t your boss, the problem is that you’re in the wrong career.

Of course, INTJs aren’t always right, and there’s no special glory in bursting people’s bubbles. But that’s the thing: we don’t do it for ego, or to prove a point, or to bring other people down. We often do it by accident, fully assuming that everyone else sees things the same way until we notice the horrified looks we cause.

3. You thought your friends’ plan was an actual plan.

Most get-togethers involve some planned activity. It can be as casual as game night or it can be much more structured, like taking a stained glass class. What INTJs don’t understand is that the activity is not important to most people—even though it’s the official reason there was a get-together at all.


It took me the first 17 years of my life to catch on to this. As a teenager I assumed that “do you want to go to the movies?” meant we would proceed directly to the cinema. I couldn’t understand why nobody else cared that we were just sitting around someone’s house, or that once we got underway we might get waylaid on a totally different errand. It didn’t make sense.

But to most people, any gathering is primarily about socializing, not about getting something done. INTJs eventually figure this out, and we may even learn to “fake it” by pretending to be as laid-back as everyone else in group outings. But this approach isn’t natural to us, and really, it stresses us out; it feels like a lot of our time (and others’) is being wasted.

4. You look terrible in literally every photo.

If you’re an INTJ, get ready to not get a lot of sympathy from anyone else, because everyone thinks they look terrible in photos. The difference is most people actually look fine, whereas INTJs look like monsters assembled from spare body parts.

Or at least our faces do. Many of us have absolutely no instinct to smile a big, cheesy smile when the camera is turned on us, because—see above—we think it’s okay to just feel happy without a big outward show of happiness. Our faces remain so flat and expressionless that it almost looks like we’re trying to grimace.

This flat face is so natural that it still surprises me when I’m told to smile—I thought I already was smiling! But then it gets worse, because then I try to smile, which makes me look like a hostage who was ordered to act happy for the camera.

Not convinced? I asked members of an INTJ Facebook group I’m in to send me their selfies. Here are pictures of actual INTJs “smiling” for the camera:

IntrovertDear.com INTJ introverts smiling at camera

The reason INTJs look this way is complex. It’s partly because a genuine smile uses muscles around the eyes, not just the mouth. A fake smile uses just the mouth muscles. So, on one level, INTJs look weird on camera because we’re faking our smiles.

But the real mystery is why other people don’t look weird. If we’re all just putting on a smile for the camera, shouldn’t everyone’s smile look fake? But it doesn’t, because for most people, one of the following things is true:

  • They’re enjoying the moment or squeezing in with their friends for the photo, so the smile is real, or
  • They’re putting on a smile not just by moving their face muscles, but by conjuring a warm thought or feeling that makes their smile genuine.

It’s that second trick that INTJs have to learn in order to become photogenic. And I definitely haven’t learned it yet.

5. Knowing a better way, but absolutely no one believes you.

Some friends once invited me on a beach trip to go swimming. When we got there, however, the weather was much cooler than expected—maybe 68° Fahrenheit and breezy. Everyone was bummed because it was too cold to go swimming. But as the resident INTJ, I volunteered a little-known fact:




“Right now the water is actually warmer than the air, which means it’s going to feel amazing as soon as you go in. We should do it.”

Everyone booed me. It didn’t matter how I learned this information, or the fact that I was actually correct—they were all set to throw in the towel (literally, I suppose) and sulk over to a restaurant. Fortunately I’m devoid of social graces, so I cajoled, pleaded, and argued until my friends decided to go in just to indulge me.

Which was followed by:

“Oh my god! It’s really warm in here!”

“Wow, this feels nice!”

“Someone get the beach ball!”

This is easily the experience that unites all of INTJkind. You have a piece of information that could substantially improve a situation, you share the information, and no one believes you. And there are no good options: either you argue like a pushy jerk, or you let someone’s day be ruined by their problem. It’s an experience that most INTJs have every single day.

Again, INTJs don’t feel this way because of ego or because we think we can never be wrong. We’re wrong plenty. But the main thing we spend our time doing is learning new stuff. That pastime may come with plenty of downsides—like having few friends or having no idea how to read social cues—but it also comes with the huge bonus of legitimately knowing better ways to do things. If only people believed us.

Of course, there are ways to get people to accept your ideas as an INTJ. It just gets exhausting having to go through the same process of convincing people every single day.

INTJs, what are some of the experiences you find yourself having over and over? Have you experienced the ones I described above? And how do you deal with them when they come up?  retina_favicon1

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Read this: 7 Secrets About Dating an INTJ Personality Type



51 Comments

  • Diogenes says:

    The whole “knowing a better way and no one believing you” situation is a constant with myself and family. 48 years and you would think they might start to ease up, but since I am also the ‘baby’, nope, not gonna happen.

    • I find the same thing. Years of acquaintance do not make people more disposed to believe your ideas, no matter how often you’ve been right; if anything it just makes them more wary of having to get your opinion at all. Hashtag annoying.

  • Scott says:

    Interestingly, it took me 29 years and getting a job I thought I needed as a bartender in the central part of a very large city to figure some of this out.

    The ‘smile more/be happy’ metric plagued me so horribly (customers, regulars, and coworkers) that I ended up leaving, quite unceremoniously, in utter frustration.

    My INTJ smile is also quite awful to most people.

    I’m glad I found this site today.

  • Alex says:

    Very good article! I remember many years ago when I was young that a neighbour told me “why so serious? Smile!”, and after a moment he said “don’t you want to smile?”, and I thought I was smiling a lot since his first asking, hehehe 🙂
    Again, I liked very much this article.

  • I can absolutely relate to every one of these – most frequently throughout my life, I’ve experienced #s 1 and 3. However, most recently #2 has become a bit of a burden for me in my professional life. It’s funny that I guess my friends and family have always just chalked it up to “oh, that’s just Matt” or something. However, in recent years, I’ve done consulting work which forced me to be client facing and this candor was often not received well. And, it’s been the worst when answering questions my clients have posed to me. I have to think about how other people might phrase things for nearly every statement I make or answer I provide in a client meeting.

  • Isa Martínez says:

    I laughed a lot with everything you describe because it’s sooo true!! Especially number 2. You said something totally obvious, and everyone was horrified… That has actually brought me a couple of problems before, even though I never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. Since as INTJ’s we’re very sensitive -even if we don’t show it- I can tell when I’ve said something “wrong” -which is usually not wrong at all, but people find it harsh. That’s especially hard when you’re a woman, so I try to think -even more- before I talk seeing the kind of people and environment I’m in. If I perceive beforehand that my opinion would be a problem, I keep it to myself.

    Still, it gets better with age, since I have to say I’m happier now with who I am than before 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Ruth says:

    Andre, thanks for the article, as these have come up over and over again in my life! Over the years I’ve come up with ‘survival tips’ for each one, which I thought might be helpful to others: 1) I wear a Mona Lisa smile. Not only does it help people relax around me, the physical act of it puts me in a better mood; 2) I keep my own counsel, and only share those shockingly obvious statements when someone has asked for advice and is clearly open to suggestions. Otherwise, it’s a waste of everyone’s time, and we INTJs are all about efficiency; ) 3) I’ve learned to not get attached to a particular outcome, and found I am happier and more present; 4) I surround myself with loved ones and/or people who make me laugh, otherwise l, yes, my photos look so horrible people laugh at them/me; 5) leading by example has proven the most effective way to influence others, so I might be the first one into the water!

  • L.W. says:

    1) Yup. I’ve been told since childhood, “you’re always so serious”. I’m just deep in thought, really just leave me alone (hard to do/be when you’re also the middle child). 2) Me – stating the obvious only to look around at my co-workers’ horrid expressions, whereas I follow up with, “What?! I just said out loud what everyone was thinking”. Doesn’t make me popular, but I don’t really care. 3) I learned this at a very young age too; that’s why I will only go to the movies or theme park, etc. with only one other person. Movies: only one other person is allowed to go – if they don’t talk at all to me during the movie. At a theme park: If there are more persons present, then the whole day is spent either finding the other people in the party, or deciding where to eat next. Complete waste of my time and money. 4) Had to practice this one a lot. Some say I look just fine, but I see where I’ve moved my chin/neck up, opened my eyes a little wider, and showed my pearly whites (goodness knows I’ve spent enough money on dental care). 5) A secret favorite. I’ve had to develop a social catch-all phrase in a joking manner (which drains me): “Really, haha, don’t do it that way and make me say ‘I told you so’!” What I really am thinking is ‘you morons, I’ve tried it that way before, it won’t work; and stop calling me a stick-in-the-mud, etc…’. See? I told you it wouldn’t work. Now I’m known as the know-it-all.
    Lastly, thank you SO much for this article, you totally nailed us ;-).

  • bgadke77 says:

    Great article.. thank you sooooooooooo much.

  • MT says:

    Lame! Why would an INTJ need to share experiences in a thread like this? A means to connect with other INTJs? Why would, or should any of us care!? Ha.

  • salma says:

    For the second time now a teacher has pointed out to me that i never smile or that i am too quiet.The smiling part is what takes me by surprise cause in my head am thinking all those hours you’ve spent teaching me you’ve never seen me smile even once? and just yesterday am an intern btw- an engineering intern,a forklift had a problem and after the technician explained what was happening i turned around to me fellow intern and said we should change the water separator all the while skipping how i came to the conclusion and after spending 5 good hours in the sun another technician suggested we check the separator and after doing so discovered the thing was clogged and we had to change it.My fellow intern of course didn’t want to admit i was right he just said that i was being lazy and wanted the easy way out LOL.

  • Michael says:

    I have a question…What is your definition of ‘looking terrible’ in photos?
    I mean, one need not to have a smile on his/her face for a photo to be considered a great one. A person can have an intense look on their face and still have a photo not look terrible, according to me anyway.

    Do you mean to say that only those photos where people are smiling are good or great photos?

    There is a lot that goes into taking a good photo – such as angles, lighting – but attributing bad photos to a person’s personality is quite the stretch.

    One can have a dour look on their face and still look good on photos.

    • I agree Michael. There are great pictures where the person looks serious, intense or caught up in doing something. I think the point is that in group pictures we stand out as the only one not smiling which makes us look dour by contrast.

  • Alana says:

    Point #3 is so accurate it hurts. I have never seen or heard this point articulated before reading this article. I was literally pointing to my computer screen going, “OMG yes!!!” while reading it.

    It has always bothered me when people don’t stick to a plan, however informal the plan may be. If someone invites me over to listen to music, that is exactly what I expect to happen. Watching movies, playing games, and sitting around talking was never in the plan-so why are we doing these things?? Lol!

    • Sandra says:

      Alana, I had the same response. #3 explains SOOO many situations in my life. I only wish I had found this our years ago. It would have significantly improved social situations for me if I had known what to expect.

      All of these have me totally nailed. All my life I have always told people that my brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s but I didn’t know how or why I was different. I feel so relieved after reading this and understanding myself so much better.

    • Thanks Alana. I’m glad to hear you liked it so much…. I feel your pain so much 🙂

  • Karol says:

    I can relate to almost everything you wrote (except #4 – I look surprisingly good on some photos 🙂 ) . I am nearly 30 years old and I am struggling my whole life with #5. It makes me very sad every time this happens. I have good intentions, I want to help someone, but people think I am grumpy a**-hole. I think that time they waste on criticizing me could be spent on thinking instead.

  • Eva says:

    ”We don’t see any practical use for acting super-hyper-chipper-cheerful.” – The best and the most simple way to express how I feel. I need to print that on a shirt 😀

  • Suzan says:

    Oh my goodness, the smiling thing! It’s the bane of my existence!! I can actually do OK in photographs because I am conscious of the need to smile, but in other situations- well!

    People who know me well don’t seem to be bothered by it- they have seen me laugh, smile, etc. The thing I’ve never understood is why it is OK for a perfect stranger to remark about my facial expression, or lack thereof, and some are extremely rude about it. After all, I don’t tell perfect strangers to comb their hair, wash their face, brush their teeth and use mouthwash, etc even if my perception is that those things are badly needed.

    I understand exactly the feeling that “but I AM smiling”! In fact, a few years ago I had a button that had a picture of a serious-looking cat and that very phrase. Unfortunately that seems to happen most when I am working and I have actually had issues with bosses over it. They just CANNOT understand that what feels like a smile to me evidently does not look like one on the other side of my face. They don’t understand that I can do my job or focus on putting on a social smiling face, but not both at the same time. I also have difficulty understanding why, when they pay me for my brains, skills, and abilities, my facial expression should matter one whit (although that “I: word- intimidating-has been thrown around a few times). When I am just being myself, why should YOUR feelings be MY problem?? I’m not the cause of your insecurity, that lies within YOU.

    This is one of the best INTJ articles I’ve read. BTW I want that shirt too: “I see no practical use for acting super-hyper-chipper-cheerful. Have a nice day!”

  • All of these are true for me, but #3 made me laugh. I never dated much because too often guys would ask, “Do you want to go out for coffee?” And, you know, I don’t drink coffee. So why would I do that?

    • Mitchell Hennessy says:

      I’m 33 years old, going on 34 in the beginning of ’17, and it almost literally took me 31 years to finally understand that when my female friends/acquaintances exclaim “I’m hungry” while either during a phone conversation or in person, that I was supposed to take that as a clue to invite them to go grab something to eat as a response…

      …however, my replies would usually be (and still are most of the time — partly out of spite) along the lines of “you have a fridge full of food; seems like that’s a problem that’d solve itself” or “Okay. Go eat then. You’re grown. No one’s stopping you”.

      I, thankfully, eat many meals in precious solitude.

  • Becky says:

    I actually was written up at my job one time because I wouldn’t be smiley and chipper all day long. I ended up leaving that job fairly soon after. Also have been told many times that I’m unapproachable. At 64 I’m just done caring.

  • srbowm says:

    Being the baby or middle child has NOTHING to do with people not believing your ideas. I’m the oldest of a very large family. Siblings more than ten years younger than me have adopted the general family position that I’m pretty stupid and that my ideas are not to be trusted. If my ideas prove to be right in some spectacular way, as they have a number of times over the years, I’ve learned to take credit in silence lest I be subjected to a heap of verbal abuse. I’ve spent hours just now reading Introvert, Dear articles–I think I read all the INTJ articles–and found them very helpful in understanding these day-to-day problems in relationships. I’m nearing sixty, a female INTJ, and very happy to live alone with my dog, saying hello and chatting only with the people who treat me right. It’s been a very long and difficult road, given a mother who saw it as her lifelong task to remake me in her own image–ESFJ, I think. She ridiculed and mocked me for my ideas as far back as I can remember.

  • srbowm says:

    I’m not sure where my comment went but I can’t find it and will repost from memory as best I can. You don’t have to be the baby or middle child for people not to take your ideas seriously. I’m the oldest of a very large family and siblings more than ten years younger than me have adopted the general family position that my ideas are stupid and not to be trusted. If any of my ideas turn out to be right in a spectacular way, as they occasionally have over the years, I have learned to take credit in silence lest I get heaped with verbal abuse. I spent hours just now reading Introvert, Dear articles–I think I read all the INTJ articles–and found them very helpful in understanding these day-to-day relationship problems. I’m nearing sixty, a female INTJ, and I am very happy to live alone with my dog, saying hello and chatting to the people who treat me right. It’s been a very long road, given that my mother took it as her lifelong task to remake me in her own image–ESFJ, I think. She ridiculed and mocked me for my ideas as far back as I can remember.

  • srbowm says:

    Webmaster, feel free to delete my second post and this one. I don’t know what happened but don’t need two posts saying the same thing on here.

  • Mitchell Hennessy says:

    The “photogenic effect” phenomenon is on-point. I literally burst out laughing when reading that. In my 200+ Instagram pics, there are less than 5 pictures of me in them — one’s my profile pic, which is too small to make out clearly, and the other one is from a friend’s/family’s wedding last year where I almost broke my subconscious, but clearly-captioned “no smile rule”. The other two are “throwback” pics of me as a young child.

    I’ve always felt weird being in pictures, so I spend most of my life behind the camera rather than being in front of it.

    I have to say, after reading this and many other articles on being an INTJ, and after learning I am one years back, it’s made my adult life (slightly) easier to navigate, because I know why I am who I am and do what I do.

    My long time friends still may not fully “get” me, because I still get frustrated by #3 often and it’s annoying as hell, but when I’m too blunt for polite society, they now just bemusedly say “that’s just Mitch…” and laugh things off.

    …and I still find myself saying “see? no one listens to me…” often.

  • Lauren says:

    These were good. I can relate to all of them, but I have learned pretty well how to smile for the camera (and for my kids, I’ve heard it’s good to smile at your children, so I try to work on that! LOL).

    I especially remember being constantly cajoled by my family to “perk up!” “smile!” and “look excited for once!” This was particularly troublesome at Christmas when I would genuinely be excited and thankful for a gift, but my family wasn’t convinced by my chill demeanor. Of course, there were plenty of times I said “thanks” just to be polite but couldn’t hide the fact that I really didn’t like what I was given. Amazon wish lists to the rescue.

    The other thing I would add is that I’m so good at deadpan jokes that even my husband isn’t sure all the time when I’m joking and when I’m not. It’s somewhat convenient, actually, that I can hide my sarcasm effectively when I want to. But it also stinks when others think I’m just stupid because they don’t believe me that the off the wall thing that I said with a straight face was a joke.

  • Paula says:

    Get out of my head 🤓

  • Tracy Hall says:

    Hi Andre

    I stumbled across this site after a friend sent me a link. I saw your name as one of the authors and wanted to check it was actually you – we’re Facebook friends after meeting at the first World Domination Summit! Small world 🙂

    I’m an INFP but still resonate with elements of this article. Plus it’s always really interesting to learn about others’ perspectives of the world.

    Great article.

    Cheers, Tracy

  • Wendy says:

    Wow great article!
    When I was working in a large city, walking to work , I would frequently get told by strangers to smile. I find this very confusing I don’t feel like I’m frowning and I don’t understand why people would comment on a stranger’s facial expression !
    At 40 years old, I have only gotten much better at pictures in the last five years. This might have to do with my daughter pulling me into a lot of selfies. It sounds weird but I practiced smiling ahead of time before I went to my DMV picture and then tried to reproduce the depth of smiling that I thought looked good, while at the DMV .
    I was recently given 2 pictures of me in groups as a teenager in the early 90s, and I was the only one in either picture to have a weird expression. Even in early childhood I never quite have a full smile . This was very interesting I’ve never thought about it as an aspect/symptom of my personality.
    I’ve definitely felt as I’ve gotten to be a 30+ year old, I’ve gotten better at figuring out how to show people that I am friendly. It’s not exactly an act, but more of an exaggeration of how I feel which lets them know my thoughts about them. I have learned this by copying some of my more gregarious friends, and how they show connection such as a touch on the arm or something . It has greatly improved my success in my computer field to have some social skills and the INTJ analytics. I find it easier to be this way at work in the tech field, than in school situations for my kids events . I think that is because at work, everyone is an introvert practically . At social events I don’t dare try to “fake” extrovert with extreme attention seeking extroverts around, it’s not worth it.

  • Tabitha says:

    Examples of things I have actually said:
    To my brother: “I don’t think you should marry her.” (a day before the wedding in which I was a bridesmaid)
    About my children: “I wish I hadn’t had them.” (I meant in the context that they weren’t planned the way I wanted, not that I wished harm on them. Found out years later that that offended the woman my brother married against my wishes, and she held it against me for years.)
    Yesterday: “I think Pastor Norm is actually a psychopath.”
    Hmm. I guess I can see why I repel a lot of people…

  • George says:

    You have clearly explained about INTJ experience ..I too had all this experience with my friend ..It’s hardly to understand my friend. Nowadays i am going through all INTJ blog..

  • Jen says:

    Being in theater really helped/helps me. It taught me how to empathize but, of course, I still think about whether the empathy is deserved or not. Because, let’s face it, people, by-and-large, are stupid and often deserving of their misfortunes.
    Yes! Being called a “pushy know-it-all” in some form or another. Sorry for being able to put 2 and 2 together and wanting to warn you about the cliff you’re headed towards. And most still couldn’t admit I was right after they’re in the midst of the carnage. Not that I need or want the validation, I just want everyone to learn from mistakes by admitting them and then working to avoid the same mistakes in the future. It spares from others around us from being sucked into senseless, avoidable, turmoil.

  • sister2sister2sister says:

    Very nice article! Re: #5…Pam Knight for President of the United States 2016…no votes but one…they don’t know what they’re missing…;) #2…As POTUS 2016, there will be NO PUBLIC SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS!!! #3…Same as #2! Hahaha!

  • Mark Ramsey says:

    I never like all my pictures because I have long eyelashes for a man + I’m INTJ. Very few of my pictures one can visibly see the whites of my eyes. Throughout my scholastic years and in my corporate life, I have constantly been accused of either being always sleepy or sleeping because of my long eyelashes.

  • debi says:

    Coworkers at a previous job would refer to me a Spoc since I never smiled and always had a flat expression. I would tell them that I was smiling on the inside.

  • #2 reminds me of the the time when our dear friend was spending the night at our house the night before his wedding. I looked at him and actually said “If you can put up with her, so can I”. I did not understand the weird look I received from him, but years later I realized what a callous thing that was to say. At the time it was the perfectly honest and natural thing for me to say. I am an INTJ. And I should mention that his marriage only lasted 3 years, and 8 years after my insensitive remark, he & I were married and we are blissfully happy after almost 20 years. He is an ISTP.

  • Unfortunately in some respects I’ve devolved into that INTJ who thinks most people are fracking morons deserving of the consequences of their ignorance. Help me!

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