INFJ/ISTP Relationships

Hi all,

I am going to start a new series about different types in relationship with each other. Stay tuned for you and your partner’s type! This also applies to friendships, or familial relationships, but I am going to apply it to romantic relationships for purposes of efficiency.

A common pairing I have seen recently is INFJ and ISTP. The only type preference that these two types have in common is introversion. That means that there can be a lot of misunderstanding between these two types, and a lot of heartbreak and confusion can occur. The great thing about MBTI is that you can use it to understand your partner and figure out where they are coming from. So, let’s break down the three letters following introversion, and the primary & secondary cognitive function of each type.

First is sensing versus intuition. Each of these letters is the way the type preference gathers outside information. People using the sensing preference prefer to use their five senses and learn and take in facts and data. People who use the intuitive preference take in patterns and abstract details. They like to ask, “what if?” and theorize and then create conceptual ideas. Both types can be creative, but in very different ways. People who use the sensing preference are creative through touching, feeling and making things more beautiful than they were to begin with. They are also usually good at painting, and precise types of creativity. People who use the intuitive preference are creative through abstract concepts and ideas. They tend to be writers and create new ideas for their visions, versus using old methods. The easiest way to determine this in partnership is to how them a picture. If they list factual details about the picture, they likely have a preference for sensing. A person with a preference for intuition will see metaphors and a deeper meaning in the picture (whether it is actually there or not).

Second is thinking versus feeling. Each of these letters is the way the type preference makes decisions. A person with a thinking preference will decide based on efficiency and choose the most rational option. People with a preference for feeling will make decisions based on other people and how they may react to the person’s decision. Some people use BOTH preference letters in their decision-making process, but the way to determine which one your partner prefers is to pay attention to what instantly comes to their mind when you have a decision to make. Do they instantly think about how you will feel or think? Or do they worry about the most efficient approach first, and your feelings after?

Last is perceiving versus judging. Each of these letters is the way the type preference perceives the world. People with the perceiving preference are motivated by deadlines, and will wait until the last minute to start a project, even if they have been working it out in their head and thinking about it for a long time before beginning. A person with a judging preference prefers to complete things far ahead of the deadline, so that they can make changes if needed before the deadline. Waiting until the last minute typically causes judging preference types anxiety.

To dive into the cognitive functions, an INFJ’s first cognitive function is introverted intuition. This means that the INFJ takes in patterns and data and processes it internally. This leads to flashes of insight that usually look random to most people, because they don’t realize the INFJ has been processing things internally for a long time. This tends to be a subconscious process, and the INFJ will not likely realize they are doing this, so a lot of times a flash of insight can also feel random to themselves, unless they think back on patterns they have witnessed and put together. To conceptualize this, you can picture an evidence board, with string linking things together. That is how an INFJ’s mind works. An ISTP’s first cognitive function is introverted thinking. This means that ISTP’s first way of processing data is to line up data and facts internally. They may use this to estimate measurements and precision isn’t necessarily their strong suit because they base decisions off of internally processed facts, which may or may not be reality. They will make decisions based on gut feel coming from data that was processed through their introverted thinking. They will tend to like to read and learn a lot, as introverted thinking takes in a lot of facts and data, but they will only take in the data that makes sense to them. Again, I think it is important to note here, that because this is each type’s dominant function, the first cognitive functions tend be done unconsciously, this is not a deliberate act.

The secondary functions for each type: the INFJ’s secondary function is extroverted feeling and ISTP’s secondary function is extroverted sensing. Since these are both the first types extroverted functions, this is how each of the types will interact with the outside world, and this process is usually done unconsciously as well. This means that the INFJ will have emotions that they want to externally process with their partner, friends or through journaling. They also prefer external harmony and have a very hard time when they feel someone is upset with them. The ISTP’s secondary function is extroverted sensing, which means they enjoy activities such as driving, hiking, or working on cars. They will enjoy anything that is physical and engages the five senses. Because this is an extroverted process, they tend to like to do these activities with other people and meet people and discuss with them similar hobbies.

A lot of differences of opinion can arise with the cognitive functions. Because the INFJ processes things using intuition, they may come across as unqualified to the ISTP, and the ISTP may discredit the INFJ’s findings due to it not being based on the ISTP’s internal processing function. The INFJ may get upset with the ISTP for not wanting to theorize or discuss abstract concepts. The secondary function can cause issues when the INFJ tries to talk through their feelings, and the ISTP prefers to be working on a car versus talking about feelings. Which can obviously lead to hurt feelings from the INFJ, and frustration from the ISTP because they are unable to understand why the INFJ wants to talk through their feelings, as well as become frustrated that the INFJ may not have as much interest as they do in the physical, present moment. This is generic, and of course, all types can learn to do things differently, but most of these types experience similar issues in relationships with each other.

ISTP’s and INFJ’s may have very different interests, as the ISTP will enjoy physical hobbies, such as flying a plane, learning to drive well or fixing a part for a car, while the INFJ likely enjoys hobbies such as reading, yoga, or meditating.

The way to work through a lot of this is to just understand each other. If the INFJ wants to talk, the best way to engage an ISTP is to go for a walk or hike, and then ask them to discuss feelings. The ISTP is much more likely to oblige the discussion when their extroverted sensing is already engaged. Likewise, the ISTP can get the INFJ interested in their hobbies by also taking the time to indulge the INFJ and talking about abstract concepts once the INFJ has fully processed and formed an opinion on a theory or idea, or to discuss feelings every once in a while, without being judgmental and really just listening to the INFJ. The INFJ can understand that the ISTP may have processed a fact using their introverted thinking, and that may be why they are disagreeing with the INFJ.

I hope this helps some of you in an INFJ/ISTP relationship! Feel free to email if you have questions, or if there is a type pairing you’d like me to discuss next, or anything else!

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Happy Sunday!



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