J or P – The 4th Letter in the Myers-Briggs Personality Type

I took a class on the opposite J and P preferences this past weekend, which is the 4th letter that makes up a Myers-Briggs 4 letter type. I’ve always known the main differences between the two, but it was fascinating hearing it articulated, and also hearing from sets of people in relationships, and how each type preference deals with things within different relationships/type pairings. A very big moment of clarity/reminder for me was when it was mentioned that people with the J preference find joy in the completion of tasks or projects, but people with the P preference find joy in the processing of the project or task. My friend Beth, who is an INFP, described it as people with a P preference are uncomfortable when a project is finished, because the joy for her in doing projects actually lies in the doing of the project itself. Whereas for a person with a J preference finds the joy in the completion of the project and feels more comfortable when tasks are marked off their to do list. 

Now, the J preference and the P preference can cause contention even in the best of relationships. For example, my significant other has a P preference, and he loves the freedom to make a decision in the moment versus in advance. So, I might make a reservation for a restaurant a week in advance, but he’d prefer to see how he feels on Friday night, and go where the night takes him. I also want to make it clear that you are not “stuck” in your type either way. Sure, a person with a P preference can make a reservation, and a person with a J preference can certainly go with the flow and decide on a restaurant 15 minutes in advance. The fun for me (a J preference) lies in the planning. I enjoy planning out a vacation, finding all the local fun spots to go and reserve them in advance to make sure we get a chance to go to them. Patrick enjoys have a basic structure for a trip, but prefers to go into a situation with the option to meet a local, have them tell us a fun place to go, and then having the flexibility and the freedom to go do it in that moment, in whatever order feels good. I am less able to flex like that, and prefer to know what I am going to be doing each day, and possibly even longer in advance. I would plan a trip a year in advance, and that would be fun and satisfying for me. That typically does not satisfy the P preference. 

Now for a P and a J preference pairing in a relationship – there was some great advice given. For example, if a person with a J preference would like a decision made quickly, like what to eat for dinner or where to go, the person with the J preference can give the person with the P preference three options, and let them chose from those options. This satisfies the person with the J preference who is hungry and ready to eat now, and it also satisfies the person with a P preference, who needs to feel like they were presented with options and not pigeon-holed into one thing. If the person with the P preference can allow the person with the J preference to make more of the decisions and the plan, and just go along with the plan, this can satisfy both types. Also, vice versa, the person with the J preference can attempt to every now and again go with the flow, and do what the person with the P preference thinks is a great idea right there in the moment. 

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