5 Things the INTJs in Your Life Wish You Knew About Them

an INTJ personality hides behind a leaf

For an INTJ, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, it’s easy to feel misunderstood. The stereotypes about us are that we’re robots and mad scientists. And in reality, we sometimes can come across as overly harsh or uncaring (without meaning to).

But INTJs also make great friends, coworkers, and significant others, and we really do care deeply about the people around us. If you have an INTJ in your life, here are five things we probably won’t tell you out loud — that will really help you understand us.

(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality test.)

What INTJs Wish You Knew

1. Planning might stress you out, but it makes us more chill.

I think most people in the world feel over-planned. They’ve got too many things to do in any given day, they’re not sure how they’ll ever get it all done, and often they just want to blow it off and do something spontaneous.

Now reverse everything in that sentence, and you understand INTJs.

Being “judging” personalties, INTJs thrive on planning. This isn’t just some neurotic tic; we use our checklists and schedules to get a lot done — and it helps us manage stress. The flip side is spontaneity itself can be stressful for us. Perhaps the worst thing you can do to an INTJ friend is show up at their house unannounced. Second worst? Invite them out — only 45 minutes before you want to meet them.


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2. You can change our minds. Really.

INTJs are known for being debaters. When we’re young, we do this relentlessly (we may have been that annoying kid who argued just for fun). As we get older, we may lose interest in debating just for the heck of it, but we still subject every new idea to intense mental scrutiny. We don’t accept anything as truth until we’ve taken a thorough look under the hood.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not flexible. Quite the opposite: the whole reason we’re arguing with you is to test out your idea. Yes, I get that this can be annoying, but it means we think you’re onto something. Or at least we’re willing to hear you out. If we already knew your idea was flat wrong, we wouldn’t bother to debate with you.

The INTJ’s motto could very well be, “strong opinions lightly held.” If we talk through your idea and find out it’s right, we may admit we were wrong on the spot and join your side. But don’t expect this to happen too often; remember what I said about taking a thorough look under the hood?

3. Yes, we do want to be invited out. But we might not go.

Two months ago, I met a fascinating ENTP personality type who is basically everything I want in a friend. We have the kind of conversations where every other sentence is an “aha!” moment, and I hope we’re friends for life. But I have already turned down at least nine spontaneous invitations to hang out with him.

Why? Well, it’s related to #1. Let me explain.

It’s not because INTJs are unsociable, and it may not even have to do with recharging our introvert battery (or at least, it’s not only that). Rather, it’s because we tend to schedule our downtime almost as tightly as our work time. If I finish my work at 5 p.m., I probably already have plans for my gym time, my creative writing time, and my reading-a-book-while-eating-dinner time. Each of these things matters a lot to me, and if I skip them for something else on a whim, I feel like I failed at something important.

With that said, every INTJ is going to be a little different, and every INTJ prefers different “downtime” activities. But it’s safe to say that most of them are focused on learning, creating, or meeting personal goals. These aren’t hobbies; they’re things we consider as important as work or friends.

Eventually I will see my new ENTP friend again (preferably when we’ve planned it at least a few days in advance). But until then, it’s nice to just be invited out. He doesn’t hold my past cancellations against me, and he makes it clear that he really values my company. This is something INTJs don’t get often, and it feels good.

4. We show our love by helping you get stuff done.

In his book, The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman suggests that there are five main ways people express their love: physical touch, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time together, and acts of service.

Recently, I asked a group of about 20 INTJs to take Chapman’s love language test and find out their love language. Every single one of them had “acts of service” as either their main love language or their secondary one. (There was one exception to this trend, but she later decided she was not INTJ.) This means that having an INTJ in your life can come with a tradeoff: on the one hand, we may not coo with sympathy when you’re having a bad day. On the other, we will help you destroy that bad day and have more better days. 

As an example of what this looks like, here’s a quote from a friend who’s dating an INTJ man:

“It was Christmas Eve, and on top of family obligations, I was still working on a past-deadline project for my job. I told my boyfriend how stressed out I was, and all I really wanted was a hug. Instead, he thought for a minute, took the shopping list, and proceeded to do every errand on my plate — so I could finish my work. It ended up being a really good Christmas.”

5. When we have a problem, we don’t want to be comforted — we want a solution.

The funny thing about our love language is it goes both ways. Every INTJ has had the experience of telling a friend or loved one about a problem they’re dealing with, only to have the friend respond with kind words and a sympathetic touch on the shoulder. Sweet, right? Yeah, except it leaves the INTJ wondering how long we have to hold the hug before we can start making a list of possible solutions.

We’re not curmudgeons. We know these sympathetic gestures are expressions of how much you care, and that you want us to feel better. It’s just that what actually makes us feel better is seeing a way forward.

If you have an INTJ in your life and they’re having a bad day, it’s cool if you want to hug or reassure them. Although we may not express our feelings readily, deep down, we need to know that we’re loved and cared for, too.

But once that’s over, try saying this:

“How can I help you fix it?”

I guarantee your INTJ will be happier.

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Andre Sólo is an advocate for introverts and highly sensitive people, and the co-founder of Highly Sensitive Refuge. He writes about heroism, spirituality, introversion, and using travel as a transformative practice. In 2013, he released Lúnasa Days, a novella set at the height of the Great Recession. Reviewers have described Lúnasa Days as "a masterpiece of magical realism." In his spare time, he pesters his cats, makes up stories, and swears he's fixing his bicycle.