For years now the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has played a part in so many discussions around the ways we understand ourselves and others. With sixteen possible types made up of four letters each, the Myers Briggs can give us an entire language to unpack our different preferences and styles.
The first letter, either E or I, indicates whether someone is introverted or extroverted. This helps explain where they draw their energy, how much alone time they need, and even whether they’re more likely to process information by sharing with others or by looking within. The second letter, either N or S, stands for iNtuitive or Sensing. Intuitive types are more concerned with the big picture than details, enjoy thinking about the future, and conversing about big, abstract thoughts. Sensing personalities thrive on the details, the concrete facts they can see and perceive, and tend to depend on their memories of the past to guide them in the present. The third letter, F or T, signifies whether someone makes decisions relying on their Feeling, emotional intuition, or prefer to rely on their logic or Thinking. Last, J or P stands for Judging or Perceiving. Js tend towards making a plan before taking action, prefer structure to chaos, and feel more comfortable with black-and-white information. Perceiving types, on the other hand, are more comfortable with improvisation, preferring to see how things go rather than establishing a firm absolute game plan.
The ways that these four letters combine can help inform us on the unspoken ways we operate, how our expectations from life differ from others, and how our needs manifest themselves. I’ve found that the Myers Briggs is especially helpful for the language it gives us to define our differences; so many conflicts are easily resolved when we’re able to understand where our personalities differ. As a P, understanding that my J friends will be more comfortable if I give them a concrete time to meet up rather than playing it by ear has made it easier to be a good friend to them. In relationships, the Myers Briggs can help us understand expectations that we’ve always assumed were universal; being able to get to the bottom of these personality differences will only make it easier to communicate with a partner or loved one.
If you don’t already know your Myers Briggs type, you can take the test here and then read on for more information about your type!
ENFP- The Campaigner
Creative, impulsive and intuitive, ENFPs hate feeling bored or boring and love having someone to bounce their long list of ideas off of. Because ENFPs can often get caught up in their own reveries, they value having someone around who’s flexible enough to follow their whims while still being grounded enough to remember to pay the bills.
INFJ- The Advocate
Intentional and wise, INFJs remain deeply rooted in a wealth of intuition which serves them and allows them to advise others. INFJs spend a lot of energy trying to maintain order in their lives and better themselves, so they find a lot of value in people who carry a lightness with them. People who are more spontaneous allow INFJs to disengage from their ordinary routines and relieve them of the pressure to always do their best. This pairing also means that the INFJ’s hardcore planning skills will never go unappreciated by their easygoing partners.
ENFJ- The Protagonist
ENFJs are almost always the caretaker in any given group, watching out for everyone’s needs even if it gives them a slight reputation for being bossy. ENFJs will often take on the burdens of everyone around them without ever complaining or drawing attention; because of this, they need someone around they can trust to take the wheel for a few minutes while reminding them the entire world isn’t on their shoulders.
INFP- The Mediator
Dreamy, introspective and thoughtful, INFPs excel at finding common ground with everyone while deeply valuing their own inner worlds. INFPs don’t always feel like their ideas warrant sharing and keep the bulk of their creativity between themselves and their journals, so finding a partner who encourages them to share and validates their interests is especially important for this type.
ENTP- The Debater
Charismatic and argumentative, ENTPs will often shy away from intimacy to avoid clouding the dynamic, irreverent persona they’ve constructed around themselves. They value people with thick skins and broad interests that they’ll never tire of talking to— and if they can find someone grounded enough to convince them that vulnerability isn’t a death sentence, all the better.
INTP- The Logician
INTPs’ skill for improvisation means they’re often trapped inside their own heads, thinking about all the possible choices they have ahead or rethinking ones they’ve already made. They’re at their best with a partner who can help them live in the present and draw them out of their mind palace for at least a little while.
ENTJ- The Commander
Competent, visionary and brimming with leadership skills, ENTJs excel at having a plan and knowing exactly how to execute it. A partner who respects an ENTJ’s independence, while pursuing their own passions, is a must for this type. There’s nothing more attractive to an ENTJ than a partner with a drive and a vision of their own.
INTJ- The Architect
The most introverted type in the MBTI, INTJs are known for requiring a lot of alone time and space to pursue their interests. To someone who doesn’t know them well, INTJs can appear cold and uncompromising, but the truth is that INTJs can just take a while to warm to someone before trusting them. It’s an honor to be let into an INTJ’s carefully guarded inner world; an INTJ’s ideal partner is someone who loves them with patience, makes them feel safe, and knows not to take any requests for alone time personally.
ESFP- The Entertainer
ESFPs have an almost magical ability to create fun wherever they go, and enjoy nothing more than getting their loved ones involved. Because they’re always chasing positivity, it can be a challenge for ESFPs to process negativity and conflict, or even sit still for long. The ideal partner for an ESFP will appreciate their fun-loving side while still affirming that they don’t have to always be entertaining to be loved.
ISFP- The Adventurer
Fiercely individualistic, ISFPs love experimenting with their look, creative outlets, and anything else- usually from the comfort of their inner sanctum. ISFPs value relationships where their creativity is treasured and supported, but where they never ever feel pressured to show something off before it’s ready.
ESFJ- The Consul
Caring and detail oriented, ESFJs worry about others like it’s their full time job. Their tendency to prioritize closure might make other types feel put on the spot, and grey areas are not their strong suit. Because ESFJs are so good at following up with close friends, they tend to be the initiators in their relationships. This means that when someone makes the effort to approach them and care for them instead of the other way around, ESFJs take notice.
ISFJ- The Defender
ISFJs are usually more than content to stay on the sidelines, supporting their loved ones in their ventures and always ready to lend a hand. That makes a partner who recognizes their contributions and actively appreciates their presence is especially valuable to an ISFJ.
ESTP- The Entrepreneur
ESTPs are best embodied by the quote: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Extroverted and energetic, ESTPs are always looking for the next exciting thing. They place major stock in a partner who’s able to keep up with their frequent epiphanies and schemes while having a cool enough head to talk them out of the craziest (or most illegal) ones.
ISTP- The Virtuoso
Being both naturally noncommittal as a P and detail-oriented as an S, ISTPs usually find themselves bouncing around from interest to interest, preferring to try their hands at many things rather than gain expertise in one. These same characteristics mean that ISTPs expect the outside world to change as much as they do. ISTPs often have a hard time placing trust in any situation, be it personal or professional, as permanent. The best partner an ISTP can have is one who’s consistent and trustworthy while not making them ever feel trapped, allowing the ISTP to finally add them to the short list of “constants” in their life.
ESTJ- The Executive
Strong leaders with great organizational skills, ESTJs love nothing more than assembling people to serve a larger purpose. Their organizational tendencies extend into their personal lives, where ESTJs feel most comfortable with clear intentions, overt labels, and an abundance of communication. An ESTJ’s ideal partner is someone who’s content to let them do the planning (whether it’s date night, a trip, or the chore chart) and promises never to leave them in the dark about how they’re feeling.
ISTJ- The Logistician
Pragmatic and grounded, ISTJs are usually very good at efficiently running their own lives. Because they’re so self-sufficient, what they need from their partners is less on the practical side. Instead, they benefit best from partners who know how to break them out of their routine (with due warning of course) and get them to have fun they didn’t write into their schedule.