Monday, November 14, 2011

The INTP Experience - Chapter 1: Why Do I Feel Disconnected?

**This article has been moved to its new, permanent home at THE INTP EXPERIENCE. See you there!**


SzélsőFa said...

at fist i was like: man, are you serious?
at second... i was thinking about finding time to read your words, because they surely will be interesting.
i also did a simplified test, found here:
and found that i was inspector, that is ISTJ.

SzélsőFa said...

alright, i clawed my way through, with pleasure, i must say :) all these lines.
thank you for sharing and the great simile of gathering an ecyclopedia.
it is also an important observation that while we acknowledge the variety of people around us, we hardly recognize that different people tend to think along different patterns.
at the same time you are right about logic and predictibility. i doubt you could have come to a different solution, could you? :)
i mean everything must fit into a system, a pattern and you have seemed to find it.

the walking man said...

I suppose it a good thing to find a definition to hang on the side of whatever box you're in but personally I think that beyond a certain age you either decide to stay in your safely constructed ideation or move on to another.

I have great emotion and passion for people but I prefer to be left alone or to say it another way in most cases I prefer my own company without wondering or worrying whether people find me acceptable or not. In my own thinking I find that the not is more often than the do. but *shrug* I don't care, I live, I breathe, I make my way through the day as it unfolds before me, then I sleep.

the walking man said...


Furtheron said...

I'm an ENTJ - The Executive I believe is the moniker put on that. I remember reading stuff on this about 15 years ago and being frightened at how close it described me!

I think if memory serves we'd be the ideal matched couple!

Lee said...

INFJ?!?! hmmmm

Jackie Jordan said...

You are a man after my own heart. Personality placement tests intrigued me when I was a young man, but since I found they serve no useful purpose other than conversation pieces, I drifted away … My mate is the same personality type as I am; we are in the 1% category of the population. My type calls for achieving the end result, no matter what means or methods must be attained to complete the task. Recently, four months ago, I entered the online community in search of ‘something’. And, when this ‘thing’ never surfaced, I bailed from the blogosphere and settled into my comfort zone of things familiar to me – things that work. I have several WIPs which entertain me, and I have committed to finishing ‘another’ book only to be read by my family, mate and counterpart exclusively. A memento, a keepsake, a family heirloom is what I will create. Never have I had the slightest notion to publish, nor ever will. But, there’s one thing that I do have – a fantastic story. Yes, I am an INTJ and rationale is my master. “Whatever works – whatever it takes!”

Sarah Laurenson said...

INTJ here. And reading about myself helped me immensely in understanding why I was the way I was - especially at work. Sending same to my boss gave him quite the chuckle. I am well known there for my INTJ traits.

jason evans said...

Szelsofa, yes, this post is a bit long. ;) It tops out over 3,000 words. However, I wanted to do right by this topic. And yes, the article itself is very much an INTP creation.

Walking Man, I suppose of all our particular situations will greatly affect how we see our social situation. I do think that INTPs are a group that tends to feel a problem interacting in a fulfilling way. These issues are subtle, though. I should stress that people are far more alike than they are different. But the differences do matter.

Futheron, I read a bit about the INTP-ENTJ match-up, and it does make sense to me! I think that introverted thinking and extroverted thinking could be very complementary.

Lee, that's a fine idealist temperment that I know quite a bit about. :) Aine is an INFJ.

Jackie, your experience makes a lot of sense to me. I also think that the additional skills you've learned with age really show. I daresay that you would have presented differently and had different positions on these topics when you were a young adult.

Sarah, I'm always glad to hear when Myers-Briggs has been helpful for someone! There is a theory that Jung, whose theories Myers-Briggs was based on, was an INTP. The typology system itself appeals to me!

Precie said...

I always enjoy Myers-Briggs discussions...I'm always fascinated about how accurate they are. I have been and continue to be an INFJ, although some of my tendencies are context-specific (meaning that I think my "professor" identity is a little different from my INFJ nature).

word verification: reway
I think examining one's Myers-Briggs type is empowering...being able to identify one's strengths and weaknesses is the first step to maximizing what we do well and shoring up what we don't.


Anonymous said...

Great article. Wish it were higher on Google hits.

jason evans said...

Precie, I agree about the empowerment. A great deal of strife in our lives is from miscommunication and the failure to understand the differences in the each other think. Myers-Briggs helps to cut through that confusion.

Anonymous, I'm glad you found it! The article is getting better footing on Google. With a good number of key words, it comes up on the first page of results. Thanks for reading it! Hopefully, a few folks will link to it.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post. The encyclopedia analogy captures the INTP mindset, as does the use of humor as a conversational test -- or, I guess I really mean, it captures mine.

jason evans said...

Anon, I was hoping to strike a chord with other INTPs. :) Thank you for letting me know! It's quite a journey, isn't it?

teri said...

I am an INTP female. It has been a relief to find people of similar mind and thought as sometimes I have felt very disconnected and disjointed from those around me - especially other females. Thank you for this post.

jason evans said...

Teri, it must be especially confusing to grow up an INTP female. Our first bonds with peers are mostly same sex friends. At least boys in U.S. culture aren't supposed to be very emotional, so the difference is not so stark at first. But it does gnaw just the same. My younger daughter is an INT, I think. We'll see about P/T later. Right now, people find her interesting. But as I myself know, interesting isn't the same thing as connected.

I hope you find a place that you can understand and feel happiness in. (A grand wish, I know.)

Jenni Meleha Levine said...

I absolutely love your article!

As a 26 yo female INTP, I definitely struggle with this sense of disconnect in my relationships -there always seems to be a lack of something that leaves me feeling empty....even with my best and closest of friends. The reality is that at the end of the day, my best and closest of friends hardly ever feel that best or close. The only friendship I've had that lent some sense of relief to this was with another fellow INTP.

You're example with the INTP encyclopedia is so great!...and really helped to finally identify not what is missing, but why and how it is missing.

My question is: Now that we understand why this happens, is it something that we can actually change?

Since we base our sense of self and belonging in our understanding of that around us, we inevitably are led to believe that we don't truly fit in with those around us....because, well... the fact is that we really are different. And even if in reality it turned out that we actually aren't, it wouldn't matter because we would still see ourselves that way.

This dynamic isn't ever going to change- people aren't going to magically start being more INTP, and we aren't going to stop realizing the disconnect the creates for us. So, if this is our reality then aren't we ultimately doomed a life filled with underwhelming relationships?

Is there a way that we can stop seeing ourselves as different....or perhaps learn to not feel empty because of that difference?

Any thoughts?

jason evans said...

Jenni, great to hear from you!

The very first step in gaining any ground on feeling less isolated is understanding the forces behind the problem itself. Without that understanding, the possibilities for miscommunication, tangents, wild goose chases, and red herrings are almost infinite. People miscommunicate all the time. It's the rule, not the exception. It's as if you try to hand someone an apple and they think you're showing them the cool new watch on your wrist.

That said. When I was your age, I wasn't really seeing the problem clearly. I knew I was different, but I thought that if I worked hard enough, delved into people enough, searched far enough, I would find the connections I wanted so much. Unfortunately, all it did was cement my difference all the more firmly. The isolation only got more sharp.

I do have some thoughts to offer you. Try to be very aware of when you feel good with people you spend time with. Maybe you like going out and having a drink with Jane and venting about the world. Maybe you like playing chess with Tom or debating philosopy. Maybe someone has strong feelings for you for a reason that you don't really value the same way, but there are nevertheless times that you truly enjoy being with them. Begin to focus on these times and associate them with the individuals. Those things are good and should be valued. And it's okay to value them even if the rest of the interactions with the person are underwhelming. You can even limit your interaction with those people to those times and stop trying to dig things out of them that aren't there. It's a mosaic approach--accepting a myriad of good things from life as a whole, rather than trying to get the whole from any one person. Also, try to see yourself as the best friend you can have. Try to see sharing as not essential. (A tall order, I know.)

Honestly, while this approach yields helpful results, it has a downside too. It tends to polarize your world. Rather than having this hope that you are going to find the right people or cut through the noise with people you already know, it puts the good things in one pile and the emptiness in another. In any given moment, you are in one condition or the other. Being on the empty side feels worse. That's the price you pay for enhancing and valuing the good. However, if there enough good, your life will have a nicer glow to it that feels good even when you're on the empty side.

I don't have an elegant solution yet for all. No grand unifying theory. But maybe that's our nature. Maybe, in the end, the hunger and the search are the most burning desires that we want to share with someone else.

Tamala said...

Thank you for this post. I bookmarked it several days ago and have read it more than once. It puts into words so perfectly what I have really been struggling with.

I am a 39 y.o. woman who is very INTP. I have always struggled so much with my inability to connect with people. I grew up very isolated with atrocious social skills and in my early to mid thirties really studied and analyzed how to interact with people (socialize the INTP way! ). I have made a real effort to get out more and meet people but the last year or two it has become very clear to me that there is just something missing. I am thinking about what I am doing when I am interacting with someone and not feeling it in the moment the way most ( I almost put "normal") people do.

After about a year of almost hermitude besides work and family, I am trying to be more social but with a lowered expectation of what I can achieve.

I like many aspects of the way my brain works. I am always interested in the world and get such pleasure out of observing patterns and figuring out things but I have sometimes wondered why the difficulty connecting with others couldn't have been paired with the ability to switch off loneliness.

jason evans said...

Tamala, I'm no stranger to what you're feeling. I've put a huge amount of effort in trying to step outside of my natural perspective as an INTP and to escape some of the traps that INTP-ness sets for us. But that said, I wouldn't trade being an INTP. I feel like it's a real gift. Anyway, I wrote this post not only to share some of those insights, but to let other INTPs out there know that they aren't alone. I get the sense that my post gave you some solace, which is wonderful. People are landing on this post. People are searching for "INTP isolation" on Google, etc. So again, you're far from alone.

I would offer some of the same thoughts I gave to Jenni above regarding rolling back some of that loneliness. You're right. Just because we're INTPs doesn't mean that we don't feel just as much as others. INTP doesn't erase emotions. Try to really be aware of those small moments when you enjoy someone's company. I can't solve the million dollar question for you, because I still struggle with it myself, but the discrete moments of happiness do add up. The pieces of frienship and comraderie do mean something important (even if our rationality wants to pick away at them and de-value them). And in the end, there ARE INTPs out there that feel the same way. At least there is solace that we aren't crazy or defective. ;) Stay strong.

Anonymous said...

thank you for articulating this experience. I have had many conversations with entp and infjs on this subject and their insights have been quite valuable. wirh an s mother and an n father i understoodthe many of these dichotomies long before i found myers briggs. MB really helped be understand the disconnect I felt with other N's. to be an emotional introvert and a conceptual extrovert is tricky. I have fed my need for discourse by trying to surround myself with other N's that can give me some of their available "server time". they have limited tolerance for our exploration but will join us on occasion. I would like to find a community of intps to occasionally explore ideas in greater depth and without the attendant niceties of my other social relationships. while I'm dreaming I'd like a few of those participants to have natural art/ humanities leanings. am I the world's only non sci intp?

jason evans said...

Anon, tricky indeed. That word fits well.

I think our particular brand of energy/intensity *is* our social nicety. It's grinding when it's absent and bonding when it's there. As for non-science INTPs, I know what you mean. When I was young, I was very sparked by science. Now, I value art and expression even more highly. This blog embodies that side of my brain.

Lani D said...

Great article; thank you. I identify with the INTP profile, and had always thought my introversion explained this "disconnection". As I came to understand the functions better, I found myself psychoanalyzing my colleagues, and realized I was actually searching for another NT to connect with, and with whom I could share stimulating conversations.

But through the careful observation of others, I have also become more aware of communication styles. I have learned a lot about myself simply by reflecting on interactions and discussions with an ISFP (opposite functional preferences). She marvels at how composed I am after emotional stressors like criticism or the death of a patient (we are nurses), and thinks it is a good thing, as she believes she is overly sensitive. On the other hand, I recognize that I am lacking her sensitivity and awareness of other people's emotions, and therefore, come across cool and occasionally blunt.

In order to connect with others, we need to be able to understand them and communicate well; look carefully at their S/N and F/T dynamics (what kind of information they are interested in and how they process and judge this information). This may even lead to personal growth as we strengthen our least preferred functions to support our dominant ones.

I look forward to your subsequent posts!

Anonymous said...

Get out of my head! ...wait really please don't. This concise description (yes I said concise) says so much! I'm a 36 y/o female INTP and only learned about MBTI a year and a half ago. I wish I knew about this a long time ago! Even at my current age, your blog seems highly relevant because in some ways I feel I am just now developing myself instead of trying to be like everyone else.

Gabi said...

This is wonderful. :D
It's interesting how much of that I related to.
I can also spot what differences I have since I was an INFP for a while and have relatively strong feeling stuff.

jason evans said...

Lani D, I feel like the basic nature of our differences aren't as stark as we tend to think. It's like being right-handed or left-handed. On the surface, a right hand is totally different than a left hand, but we still have that non-dominant hand and use it. An F person is just using a internal, visceral process to orient to the world, while a T is using abstractions. We just build abstractions in the extreme and use them to (attempt to) understand everything. Including psychoanalyzing coworkers when we don't seem to naturally relate to them. :)

jason evans said...

Anon, it's nice to have someone in your head, no? :) It's a big, gorgeous place, but it sure would be nice to have some neighbors.

MBTI helped me a great deal too. I wish I learned about it when I was in my late teens or early twenties. There was always an undercurrent of feeling out of phase.

jason evans said...

Gabi, sometimes we do seem to drift. However, I trust that a solid dominance will come into focus for you. Your F could be stronger than most T-types, but still ultimately be less than your T function. Or vice versa.

Anonymous said...

It never fails to astonish me how the MBTI is precise. The more I read about INTP's way of thinking and lifestyle, the more I see how they are similar to me, a fellow INTP. Great article.

joel said...

Thanks so much for this post! I'm a 20 year old INTP male and I really can identify with the disconnect when making friends. Started a new job recently and making friends there was EXACTLY like how you described about the encyclopedia sharing.

Btw is it an INTP thing to prefer making friends with a specific gender? I find I make friends with females a whole lot easier (unless the guys are geeky and I can connect with them on an intellectual/geeky level). Or is it just an INTP guy thing like my ego prevents me from acknowledging to other guys that I don't know everything (i.e. my encyclopedia is not complete yet and I need them to fill in some of the blanks)?

Anonymous said...

You, author, really did a nice job getting through some things we know and then a unique thought -- possibly even a solution regarding relationships that I was slowly coming to (I'm 40 now), but you articulated.

We spend so much time avoiding, , trying to extract and ignore those pesty emotions. If we instead focused on using our problem-solving skills to predict and rationalize the emotions of others, we'd find them less challenging and disconcerting.

It helped to learn that my ESFP boyfriend has no hope of ever understanding me, so it's up to me to figure out his emotions and maximise them.

That's what I got from it.

x01660 said...

As a 23 year old INTP facing most of these issues, I want to give you my sincere thanks for publishing this in a way that us INTPs get. I'll be taking pointers from this, and hopefully be able to interact a little more proficiently with the entity known as "people". :)

jason evans said...

Anon and Joel, I think I responded to your comments in my later post. If not, my apologies! BTW, Joel, I think INTP males are easier on women because there are other ways they want to be around them. It's easier to form friendships, because there is a different dynamic and different expection. Also, rationals are drawn to feeling types. Problems grow over the long term, however. We still ultimate yearn for a mindmate.

Anon, I think that's what I've turned my energy to. Instead of seeing humans and the world as two separate sets of problems, I've turned my mental processes to deconstructing myself and others. The articles reflect some of that process.

x01660, you're very welcome. :) I too wish that there weren't so many stark differences between people. I guess that's what makes it interesting, though.

The Generalist said...

I, too, am an INTP (although I am becoming increasingly bored with Myers-Briggs). Even the style of writing here resonated with me more than usual.

You hit the nail square on the head here, especially with regard to getting a hunch that we are sometimes used as entertainment. Very frustrating. Want to flip tables.

Good to get a sense of comradery. Looking forward to future posts.

Hmm. It seems that halfway through my post, I switched to a more condensed manner of speaking. Then reverted back to right last blerb. Then flopped again to comment on reversal.

The Generalist said...

Also, what you said about compiling a sort of encyclopedia and the desire to collaborate with others resonated strong for me as well. While my life has so far been relatively uneventful and painless, I have a pretty good idea of what are good and bad ideas. It's like I gain experience vicariously (such-and-such a course of action, inasmuch as I have observed it, never works, and I shall therefore avoid it). Certainly saves a lot of trouble, not having to experience everything firsthand myself.

Anonymous said...

41-year-old female. As I read this, I felt completely, utterly understood. Other INTP descriptions haven't quite matched up, yet you described me to a T. And so when you turned to other people and relationships, I waited for the inevitable conclusion (which I have come to as I aged)... and waited... and then the article ended!

Here is my inevitable conclusion: what makes other people feel good ends up being the same thing that makes us feel good: positive attention. We all want someone paying attention to what we like, and then GIVING it to us. Two things in particular make us fail at relationships: 1. We enjoy a really different type of attention from what other people enjoy, so we often fail disastrously at figuring out what motivates them (this is where your article seems to be going at the end). Similarly, they usually fail at pleasing us. 2. Many of us are so completely self-centered, even if we do figure out what people want, we forget to DO it. As a result, many people don't like us and don't bother doing what we want.

Everything in this article is about me: how I think, what I want, what helps me to do this weird thing called "feeling." That's a pretty self-centered approach (and maybe why the article resonates so well). Through introspection, I know a lot about myself, and have identified a lot of patterns about myself; therefore, I am one of the most interesting things in the world! If your desired outcome is to "understand what the actions of other people mean and how to predict them" (i.e. make them more interesting to you), then that's only the first 10% of the story. We can't stop with "oh! now I understand why he wants that silly thing!" We have to take the next step and actually GIVE them the silly thing. Over and over, despite being bored with it. We have to sacrifice our own desire to do what makes us feel good (think, understand, find new stuff to understand), and take a moment to do something that makes someone else feel good.

This can be boring and tedious (especially if there's no sexual motivation). But it leads not only to being able to keep people around long enough to understand them, but also to some weird other feelings, like connectedness and mutual caring. Weird, pleasurable, and... interesting.

Anonymous said...

To be fair: I haven't read your blog - I got to this article from a link. I look forward to reading more of your insights, and realized that you may well have addressed my thoughts in other writings!

jason evans said...

The Generalist, one of the things that has struck me is how resonant I feel with all the INTP commenters. I didn't flinch at all with your shift to a more condensed style. I get it! As for being the entertainment, I do agree that the dead-end road of being the entertainment is pretty grinding.

Anon #1, first, that's very gratifying to hear that you felt understood here more than usual. If nothing else is gained, that's a major accomplishment on both sides.

I would argue that understanding our own motivations, and those of others, is a huge hurdle to overcome. It's worth more than 10%. I've found that it's rarely attempted or successfully done by other types. Which leads me to my ultimate take on your points. On the one hand, I agree with them completely. Once we have the information, we need to execute. Over and over. But that's a one-sided equation. Where is the reciprocation? We can't be the paternal/maternal ones solely responsible for making relationships work. That's where the long grind can get very long indeed. In my second article on overload (and my soon to be completed third on relationships), I freely admit that I don't have the grand unifying theory on how to be happy as an INTP. I do have some imperfect improvements to suggest. Those will increase happiness, yes. But will we achieve the nirvana we're unconsciously driven to achieve? I honestly don't know. We might be too alone for that.

jason evans said...

Anon #2, you're certainly welcome to explore the creative anchor of this blog, but it's not required! I'm just happy that you landed here at all. Welcome!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to contribute a few thoughts about the internal emotional world of the INTP as only bourne of my own experience and natrual inclinations.

Upon inspection and identification with the Jungian description of INTP, I find that too often we are described as being devoid of emotion or emotionally cold which isn't true in the least bit.

I think that emotions of empathy or compassion are (if evoked) easier to sit with as they do not require introspection and are more so the result of external factors. This also stimulates the "cascade of thought" to troubleshoot the problem that caused said trouble for the the one who initiates an empathetic emotional response, so humanitarian fields such as nursing can be suitable as it demands problem solving through empathy. It also demands adequate people skills which is a separate entity I care not delve into here.

As for more personal emotional tormoil or what not, I think when younger it was of an ability to not identify with or recognize an emotional response evoked by the external world, so the idea of this "function" being "underdeveloped" perfectly describes this. The lack of emotional maintenance over time will take it's toll, I suppose, and will surface eventually most likely during major life transitions that force one to be introspective. Probably introspection is also underdeveloped as these relms are filled with thought. This also makes it difficult to identify what it is you are "feeling" firstly, which, then incampacitates expression. I think sometimes our feelings are somewhat like inanimate objects that sort of creates an essence that is very hard to identify. The inability to explain this to others is like feeling trapped inside your head with no way to escape. Perhaps writing is a way to personify these inanimate objects as the use of metaphor can express that which you cannot logically discern and certainly cannot explain.

Meanwhile, during the process of "feeling" especially if it becomes taxing or draining to do so, the most natural way to "deal" is the same mechanism as removed emotions; troubleshooting. This can become a dire quest, for in order to solve the problem, you must first identify why you are in said emotional state. If you never once were very introspective, and years later experience some sort of crisis, you are forced to sift through the years and psychoanalyze...yourself, comparative to a chicken running in circles with it's head cut off. Literally, when the head is cut off the whole system wobbles in some disorderly, chaotic fashion because you are left with these emotions to have to identify and then solve, because I do believe that emotions can properly be solved.

This is long, sorry.

A Fellow INTP said...

Hi Jason,

I just wanted to say thank you. What you've described has been swimming around in my head for quite some time, and it's nice to have someone articulate it clearly. Saves me the trouble of writing that part of my encyclopedia myself!

I've...intuitively, I guess?... implemented your plan of finding pleasure in specific types of interactions with people without ever really defining why I was doing it. I can definitely relate to the sadness that comes with knowing that such interactions, pleasure producing as they are, can never progress further. It makes me think that I'm using people. And, really, I am. But should I feel bad about it? Aren't they using me too?

Honestly, the part that gets to me the most is the innate feeling (yes, feeling) that eventually I'm going to come across a person that doesn't just put away their encyclopedia after a month, or a year. Or ever, for that matter. I always have this child-like hope that when I truly connect with someone that THIS is going to be the time. It never is. I know you've stated that you have no grand unifying theory, but perhaps it is something to consider. Does that hope ever go away? And, if it does, is that a good thing?

I've never known another INTP in person (not to my knowledge, anyway). And after all this time, I wonder, was I just not paying attention? Was I so zoned out socially that I missed my chance? I hope that it is not so. Alas, I must find my contentment in the very, very few INFJs, INFPs, and ENTPs I know.

Huh, I just realized that sounded depressing. It wasn't intended to be so. Seems more like stating fact at this point.

Anyhow, well written, Jason.

jason evans said...

Anonymous, very well said. I have theory that everyone's typology is driven by opposites (or avoiding the negative). Perhaps we don't rely on thinking because that's our positive preference. Perhaps we do it because we flee from the negative way we view emotions as an indication of truth. Maybe the idealists rely on feeling because they have difficulty ordering their thoughts and that isn't a nice state to be in. We turn to thinking because we trust it. It feels safe and competent. Emotions...don't. We feel very strongly, but those emotions never sit entirely comfortably. Even the really good ones feel a little scary underneath.

jason evans said...

A Fellow INTP, love the comment about not having to write that chapter of your encyclopedia yourself! Yes, that was my intent. Something to give to you. To lighten the load. There's one section of the book you can just take and fit it into the grand, overall structure.

I don't see collecting our pebbles as using people. Honestly, I tend to see it as the opposite. We do all of this mindful work to create these nicely constructed relationships, but it's generally not reciprocated. I don't see any evil intent of the part of others, but I think we're the ones used.

I know that child you're talking about. No, I don't think he or she goes away. At least mine has proved resilient. Sometimes I wish he wasn't.

Hannah Elise said...

*shudder* I'm married to an INFJ and I'm pretty sure my father-in-law is an ENTJ. Can I just say that ENTJs make me want to crawl into a hole? No offense. They want to know what you think about something, or how you view it, even if you're still gathering information to -form- a belief about a "Truth" as it were, and won't stop badgering you ... I, on the other hand, do not like to share information that I do not feel like I have a full handle on yet, or about which I am still forming a hypothesis, etc... but clamming up makes it seem like I am admitting that he is right when I generally do not agree with him, but also seems to give him the impression that I have nothing logical to back up something I might be thinking. Thus, I dislike interacting with him. I feel cornered.

So... I really don't think INTP/ENTJ is "the ideal matched couple." Then again, I am forming a Truth based off of numerous interactions with just -one- ENTJ, as I am just learning how to "type" the people in my life, so... maybe a more experienced INTP can chime in on this one.

jason evans said...


I don't have extensive experience with ENTJs, but in my limited experience, I think the rub comes from Te (extraverted thinking) versus Ti (introverted thinking). ENTJs seem to have this powerful drive to order the outside world. However, from my INTP viewpoint, it looks like they want order for order's sake. They seem to lack a compelling reason to create order. They miss the big picture. A little dab here and little dab there in exactly the right places achieves much more than buckets of unnecessary order.

You can probably turn the tables on your father-in-law by digging under his obsession with answers now, now, now. It could be his Te function craving order and structure (at the expense of truth). Start pulling him back. Why is an answer now so important? Making mistakes because of insufficient information is wasteful and inefficient. Don't burn energy by chasing your tail. Take the time to be right.

As for INTP/ENTJ as couples, I can see each pushing the other, or drawing each other to a central point between Te and Ti. We can benefit from more order (sometimes it really is good, even if it's not completely right), and they can benefit from more observation and analysis to anchor their efforts. We can make a good team. When it's going well, ENTJs can form a deep trust for INTPs and their observations as a check and balance on their efforts.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm 30yo male INTP, software engineer from Singapore.
Can you share your thoughts on Travel, quiet me-time, procrastination and work/career?

I'm not quite sure if I do enjoy travel, since I find the planning and packing a hassle. But I did enjoy the cool weather and open landscapes and hills when I was in Japan (Hokkaido) 2 years ago. I find it really hard to get started on another trip, and even harder to find friends to go along with. Never had a big circle of friends even in school, but working has taken a further toll on the count..
Do all INTP get really cranky when they don't get their daily dose of quiet me-time? I find myself really drained at the end of a a work day as the open concept office has too much hustle and bustle. I need a lot of quiet alone time to recharge, there's not enough hours in the evening for me to recharge fully each workday...

Is procrastination a individual thing or common in INTPs?

Lastly, is it normal to get bored of work after a few years? I would prefer to stay a techie rather than move up to management, are there INTPs who enjoy management instead of the interesting technical problem solving part?

Sorry if I sound a little messy, I'm trying to get these questions out of my mind before hitting the sacks. ~DR

Anonymous said...

I'm an INTP female. I like the encyclopedia analogy--that is totally right! It's difficult to deal with the whole feeling different thing, but its a growth process to adjust to others personalities.

By the way--INTPs make GREAT yogis :)

Anonymous said...

Me again!...the way I see it is there's nothing an INTP loves more than a challenge and figuring out how things work. Figuring out how to relate to other people is just one of those challenge I think we need to embrace.
And one more great thing to do to deal with our challenges of being stuck in our heads is to come more into our bodies. In other words, get physical! I do yoga and it's fantastic for my intp mind :)

jason evans said...

DR, I definitely think that INTPs need quiet time. Especially if they spend their day getting drained by interfacing with non-INTP-resonant types. I know I can start to feel cornered and claustrophobic if my tolerance tank runs empty. As for switching jobs and getting bored, yes to that too. Once we figure out something sufficiently, we need to move on. We need the next challenge. If we don't, we'll have no energy except discontent.

jason evans said...


I totally agree with you that INTPs can derive great benefit from turning their "figuring it out" toolkit towards themselves and other people. Often, though, INTPs don't consider that possible. People seem illogical and not subject to patterning. But that's false. People are hard to deconstruct, but they are ultimately systems too.

Yoga seems like a great way to turn off the thinking/analyzing functions and concentrate on pure sensation. A wonderful exercise for building more awareness of our feeling side.

Crys said...

Thank you, first of all. I needed to read this. The past month and a half has been spent reading up about INTP behavior and characteristics so I can discover myself. I'm blogging about my INTP observations and overall philosophies and ideas in my own blog. it feels great to know that I can get insight from somewhere.

jason evans said...


Glad to see INTPs reaching to others! We need some more community. We need to have each other's backs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you! Not only did this crack me up, it finally made me feel UNDERSTOOD!

jason evans said...


That's what I like hearing more than any else! I've very glad you feel that way. Stop by any time.