Some people consider dating a phase of life when you can play the field, while others see it as an opportunity to find “the one.” Whatever your approach to dating life is, we meet different personalities and find ourselves clashing or complementing them. We discover things we never thought possible, learn our breaking point, and hopefully — someday — find someone we’re compatible with.
As an INFP, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, dating an ISFP made me feel like a fish out of water, but spending time with him allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and grow in different aspects of my personality.
I met my longtime boyfriend at work where I was a writer and he was a graphic artist — I know, the stereotypical INFP and ISFP! He stood out from the crowd, perhaps because of his vibrant energy. At office parties, he would be the one to make everyone laugh. In other peoples’ eyes, he looked like an extrovert, but, being an introvert myself, I recognized the signs that he enjoyed his alone time. He loved his corner cubicle. He stayed in his seat for eight hours straight without talking to anyone. He rarely joined others at lunch. He always needed time away from the crowd.
ISFPs are known to live in the moment. In our four years of being in a relationship, I didn’t know he was an ISFP until recently when I started reading about the MBTI personalities. The moment I read the ISFP description, without a doubt, I knew he is one.
So, here are my experiences dating someone with “the Adventurer personality.” A disclaimer: Not all ISFPs are the same, and four letters can’t sum up all that we are. Nevertheless, here’s what I experienced.
(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)
What It’s Like Dating an ISFP
1. The relationship moved fast.
He loves spontaneity, and we went from coworkers to lovers almost immediately. As someone who lives in the moment, he wanted things to happen now — and he wanted me to be his girlfriend at the moment he asked me. Due to his keen observation, he got the signals I was into him, too. At first, I insisted on friendship, but he challenged me asking why we should go through that stage if we could jump right into romance. With his irresistible charm, I agreed.
In typical INFP fashion, I had in mind the ideal progression of a romantic relationship, but ultimately, I was happy I didn’t insist on it when I met him. My relationships before him followed my so-called “dating tradition,” and nothing lasted more than six months. It opened me up to the idea that not everything I thought was right for me was actually right for me. Not all connections are built over time — some just hit you right off the bat.
2. Prepare to be spoiled.
I was a spoiled girlfriend. His enthusiasm did not end with his hobbies; he brought it into our relationship. He was very caring and showed it in his actions: surprising me with gifts, staying during my nasty dysmenorrhea, calling every night to make sure I got home safely — you name it, he did it. He could be that boyfriend of any lady’s dream.
And he did not need to be told what I wanted. Due to his observant quality, he often knew it before I could say it. He was not only spoiling me, but also those people close to him — our friends at work and his parents. He even gifted one female colleague a chocolate after he learned that her own boyfriend never got her one. I was not jealous but proud.
He did not mind the price tag of his gifts. Learning about his tendency to spend mindlessly, I knew I needed to do something to prevent this from happening or else he would clear his bank account. I told him that he did not need to buy me gifts all the time. I even told him that gifts were acceptable on special occasions but not on random days. At first, he was offended because he thought I was rejecting his means of showing me his affection. But after some talk and assurance, he eventually learned how to minimize his overspending on gifts.
3. Show your appreciation.
When he bought me gifts, he would not ask for something in return, but what he wanted was to see I was happy about it. He wanted to see me have the same enthusiasm when I opened the panda tumbler as he had when he was buying it. Once, I failed to smile when I got a gift from him, and he immediately asked if I didn’t like it. I insisted that I did, but he pouted like a child all night!
Like many INFPs, I’ve never been physically expressive. When I was young, I never initiated hugs or kisses. I expressed my appreciation through poems. I wrote a poem for my mom when I was a teenager to thank her for being strong enough to avoid divorce with my dad — and she took some lines literally.
When I was with my boyfriend, I learned how to practice showing what I felt. I conditioned myself to smile and kiss him whenever he did something for me. I was able to do that at home, too. I learned that not everyone can understand my metaphors, and sometimes I have to communicate with people in their language.
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4. You might have to act as a financial advisor.
My new boyfriend was not well-off, but he probably could have been if he weren’t spending his paycheck on anything that caught his interest. Having the mantra of “living in the moment,” he never minded about the price tag as long as the item made him happy. Once, I nagged him about buying $200 shoes when he just bought an almost identically priced pair two weeks prior. He always reasoned that he was happy with the purchase, and he could earn the money later on.
He was not a big spender for himself only. Whenever we went out, he picked the expensive restaurants “for our experience,” and I quote, “We don’t have to be rich to get into these restaurants. We just have to dine there once so we experience how it feels to go on a fancy date.”
But he’s not materialistic. He doesn’t value money. The things he buys are not for possession, but for the experience. Those limited-edition retro shoes? It’s not a collection for him. He bought them because they gave him nostalgia. He once told me that he viewed money as a tool to achieve the experiences we need in life.
However, he learned a hard lesson when he was suddenly let go at work. He did not have savings. He was forced to live with his parents for a while until he got a job. I lectured him about the importance of savings. Whenever we were together, I set the budget and insisted on splitting the bill.
5. Be a wise hermit.
Despite his cheerful attitude, he could be insecure at times. As an artist working in the corporate world, it was a struggle for him to keep up with the never-ending demands and harsh criticism coming from the people around him. He could easily get upset if the executives didn’t approve his designs. He could immediately dismiss one colleague as overbearing if he was asked to revise the fonts.
This was when my INFP trait shined. I would speak on behalf of these people. One time, he was complaining about the CEO’s executive assistant micromanaging him. After listening and agreeing with him (because he needed to feel I was on his side), I tried to put myself in his colleague’s shoes. I told him maybe she was just afraid for both of them to make mistakes, and she was trying to ensure quality. After all, she was the one facing the CEO and would immediately receive the reprimand. This appeased him, though he could still be irritated at times.
He is also my own wise hermit. Recently, I went through a career crisis. I was promoted but my situation became toxic. When everyone else told me to endure because they said it was normal, he told me to follow my heart. He knew that I never wanted to work in academia, so he urged me to explore other opportunities. While others were telling me that I would be immature to leave my managerial position and hefty paycheck, he said I was brave to not listen to the crowd and live a simpler life.
I was glad I listened to him. It was the best decision I’ve made in my career so far.
A relationship takes teamwork. Our differences allow our weaknesses to be the other’s strengths. Our complementary qualities help us navigate our lives with better understanding.
But it’s not always smooth-sailing. We clash at times, but these moments teach us to be humble in the end, because we learn to accept that we’re not all-knowing individuals. We need relationships with people who are different from us to live our lives to their fullest potential.
You might like:
- 7 Things ISFPs Absolutely Hate
- How to Balance Socializing and Alone Time When You’re an ISFP Who Needs Both
- What Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Personality Type Is Lying About
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