There’s a stereotype that the INTP is the weirdest, most socially awkward type of all the 16 Myers-Briggs personalities, and to be fair, that’s often true. It’s also true that “normal” people can be bewildered by an INTP’s behavior. No matter who the INTP in question is (a friend, partner, parent, or love interest), here are seven things about INTPs that will make you understand us better or help you figure out if someone is an INTP:
1. We really are nerds. This can mean anything, but overall it manifests in the form of a great obsession about a certain topic. For example, I’m obsessed with Jungian typology, and I talk about it any chance I get. A less socially apt INTP can talk your ear off without realizing you’re not interested in the slightest. While some people take things personally, we INTPs value honesty, so just tell us you’re sick of hearing about computer processors and ask us to find a common topic. Hint: we have many different interests, but we tend to disdain gossip and superficial conversations.
2. If an INTP develops their inferior function, Extroverted Feeling (Fe), they can be quite helpful and considerate. But we may show it in an unconventional way, like making sure your computer’s antivirus software is up to date. Likewise, Fe also helps us be perceptive of others and know when somebody is faking it. For this reason, we dislike societal rules and traditions (for example, how one should dress or behave in certain situations, which seems inauthentic). INTPs who have not developed their Fe may express things in awkward ways or at inappropriate times. Think sending flowers and being a bit stalker-ish, because they’ve learned in a movie or somewhere that you “shouldn’t give up” when you love someone. Other types can do that, too, of course, but it just seems that INTPs are one of those who have a harder time learning what’s appropriate and what’s not.
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3. Although we might appear cold or distant, we like affection and feeling appreciated—just not cheesy overly romantic stuff. That goes for friends as well. Simply saying, “Thanks bud, that was nice,” is way better than cheesy texting about everlasting friendship, complete with heart emojis, which can seem insincere. Although we’re “thinkers,” we do feel, and sometimes we even cry… but unless you’re really close to us, you probably won’t see that.
4. We can talk about almost anything and help you see a different point of view. Mundane daily things, deep philosophical or moral issues, and even relationships are fair game. If you need to get out of a rut and see things in a new, fresh way, we’re the ones to go to. Also, we can provide you with many different ways to solve a problem, but don’t expect us to make decisions for you. This ability to see things from different perspectives makes us really bad at actually making decisions. But don’t keep coming back to us with the same problems that you know how to solve but are unwilling to do anything about. We can provide advice, but we’re really not the best people to console and comfort you.
5. We need friends who see the best in us. You might see us as really smart and full of ideas, but we often have chronic issues with self-esteem and feeling inadequate. Our tendency to procrastinate doesn’t help with setting and achieving goals either. So we are very much in need of friends who see the best in us and can help us see that something is possible, and on the other hand, bring us back to earth when our ideas are flying a bit too high. Also, we tend to hide it, but we do have a need for acceptance and appreciation, and it can be hugely motivating to us if someone we respect likes our work.
6. While probably one of the least sportsy types, we benefit from certain kinds of physical activities (especially since many of us spend most of our time in front of screens). INTPs can enjoy either very individualistic sports like running or outdoorsy sports like hiking and cycling. Getting the INTP out of their den can be good for clearing up their head, getting new ideas, and also bonding with friends. Some INTPs can be very methodical about exercise; they make charts and set strict goals. It’s just important to keep us going, so if you’re the friend of an INTP and you also need to exercise, you can invite your INTP friend for something pleasant and not (too) competitive.
7. Not all of us are mad scientists or computer geeks. And vice versa, not all scientists and geeks are INTPs. So if you don’t know somebody’s type but suspect they’re an INTP, look at how they talk and react in conversation. INTPs tend to take pauses and really think things through before replying. You may even see our gaze going up when we’re deep in thought. Being introverts, INTPs are not very keen on speaking in large groups or having to make up our minds quickly—we need time to ponder. However, if we’re confident about a topic, we may spew out many, many things, sometimes unrelated to the topic we’re currently talking about.
INTPs are known to be loyal and trustworthy people who are funny, quirky, smart, always ready for a deep conversation about life, and great to have around—sometimes even at parties! Just not too often, please. We can truly be a friend or partner for life.
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