If you’re an INTJ personality type like me, you may have always struggled to find a partner who understands you. Many INTJs eschew short-term flings and hit the brakes at the first sign of infatuation — because we’re already wondering if it will work long-term. The INTJ is a rare personality type, and not many people “get” us. As a result, we are careful about committing and wait a long time to let you in.
When we do find that special person, we can still be an enigma. We will be a dedicated partner who supports you in achieving your goals. But we can also seem distant, quick to judge, and at times, clueless about others’ feelings.
So what should you know when you’re dating an INTJ? In true INTJ fashion, I’ve created a checklist of seven crucial items, based on input from a group of 25 INTJs:
1. We’re fiercely loyal.
Or rather, we’re methodically loyal. This is part of our wiring. From a young age, most INTJs have a hard time understanding when someone doesn’t really mean what they say. As adults, this translates to us being wary of people who don’t keep their word or follow through on plans.
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To us, honesty is not just ethical, but practical. Any dishonesty in a system means results cannot be predicted or trusted. A relationship is a system and we need to be able to project a strong chance of long-term happiness.
(Plus, many of us have been burned in the past. We let very few people into our “inner circle,” and when we do, we have high expectations. A single let-down can leave scars.)
Loyalty doesn’t mean just fidelity. We have a sense of personal dedication to our partner, and we expect to receive that in return. We want a partner who believes in our work, our goals, and our abilities. We believe competence and loyalty go hand in hand; we do not trust a partner who simply cheers for us if we cannot also count on their counsel and good judgment.
When we feel that you provide this, there will be no question of our loyalty in return. We are the type of partner who will drop everything and come to you in your time of need (or more likely, rearrange everything so nothing gets dropped). You can count on us.
2. We want you to succeed.
We show our love by helping you reach your goals. We view all problems as inherently solvable, including problems like lack of wealth, fame, or career success. We may or may not value the same outcomes as you, but if we know exactly what your goals are, we immediately become your COO.
(If the INTJ is immature, or if we don’t understand your goals correctly, we may come off as bullying you into something you don’t want to do. If you say this out loud, we will stop.)
Reciprocation is appreciated, but we’re also self-sufficient. All we really ask is that you understand how much our work means to us, and that you show your support. For bonus points, brag about us. We are bad at bragging about ourselves.
3. But please leave us alone.
INTJs need a ridiculous amount of alone time — possibly more than any other type. And alone time for us means time with no distractions. We don’t make small talk when we’re INTJing. This is how we create our vast plans or do our best work. Without it, we can’t accomplish things. And an INTJ who doesn’t accomplish things is like a plant with no water.
We know this can be off-putting. An INFJ recently told me, “When I’ve had a day to myself I feel recharged and I want to see my friends. When you’ve had a day to yourself I feel like you just want another day to yourself.” Make it a week, please.
There’s no way to change this about us, but we will make time for you if you ask. The secret is to make a plan in advance. We want to spend time with you, we just need to know when it’s coming so we can be out of our heads when it happens.
4. We “think” our feelings.
INTJs aren’t robots. We have deep and powerful emotions like any human. Sometimes those emotions even show up in sudden outbursts, especially if we feel a sense of violation or unfairness. But most of the time, we keep our emotions inside.
This is not a self-defense mechanism. It’s because INTJs view emotions as private. We don’t believe we have any business putting our emotions out in the public sphere, and it can be hard for us when others do so. (Many INTJs hate public displays of affection.) Plus, we know that emotions are volatile. We want to understand what we’re feeling before we act on it. In other words, we analyze everything — especially feelings.
When you understand this, you unlock a treasure trove of INTJ insights:
- Our first instinct in an emotional discussion is to ask questions. We’re gathering data.
- When you’re hurt, we want to figure out the cause and fix it.
- Reassuring language does not reassure us. Insights and solutions do.
- If we express our feelings, we’re only hypothesizing. We’re not sure how we feel.
- We need closure. We cannot be “over” a fight without closure.
5. You need to be a lot more blunt.
INTJs are so honest that we easily rub people the wrong way. But we’re not offended by bluntness in return. In fact, we prefer it. This is especially true from someone we love. Don’t worry about hurting our feelings — be brave and speak up loudly.
Did we hurt you? Tell us how. Do we have a bad idea? Tell us why. Should we change something? Tell us. We can take it.
This is so simple that I think some partners are scared of it. It sounds like a trick. We’ve all dealt with someone who says they want you to speak your mind, then blows up when you do. That person is not an INTJ.
To an INTJ, understanding and resolving a problem is much more important than avoiding confrontation. We view confrontation-avoidance as weak, and even deceptive. See the loyalty section above.
6. When we argue, it doesn’t mean we’re upset.
Most people argue to make a point, express anger or get their way. INTJs argue to test ideas.
We are perpetually kicking the tires on what we think we know. We don’t mind being proven wrong. We love being proven wrong if it means we learn something new. But sometimes we forget that not everyone feels this way.
If your INTJ critiques something you don’t want critiqued, it’s okay to tell us to stop. We’re not doing it out of a lack of respect. We’re doing it to help! But, if it’s a recurring problem, just remind us that sometimes you need to be affirmed. We’ll get better at it with time.
7. We’re hard to shop for.
A lot of INTJs told me no one gets them gifts that they really like. But, when I asked what kind of gifts they do like, there was no clear trend. The only trend was that INTJs are picky.
So, the best way to shop for an INTJ? Directly ask the INTJ what they want.
If that’s not possible, here are suggestions:
- INTJs like useful presents. We don’t value “symbolic” gifts like a scented candle or flowers, unless we happen to need that exact candle for our interior decorating plan.
- Most of us hate surprises. Especially surprise events. This is because we have a mental plan for every hour of every day, and a surprise ruins it. You might do better with half-surprises. Make sure we know something is happening Friday night, but surprise us with exactly what it is.
- Ask for options. We’ll happily give you a wish list. We still won’t know exactly what you bought us until we open the box.
- If in doubt, try consumables. A bottle of wine or a dinner out are great defaults. We will put these presents to use which means they’re valuable.
INTJs, what else should our partners know, and how many of these items ring true? How about the rest of you? Are you dating or married to an INTJ? Tell us what it’s like. What else do would you put on the list?
Want to be more successful as an INTJ? Our partner Quistic offers a course for INTJs looking to achieve their goals. “Best Practices for Leveraging INTJ Strengths (and How to Be a Likable INTJ)” is a four-part webinar from career coach Penelope Trunk. Includes access to a private Facebook group with nearly 200 success-oriented people of your type. Learn more about the INTJ course here.
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