How Attraction works in Myers Briggs or MBTI
This theory discusses how attraction relates to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI) system.
- The general trend in Myers Briggs is that opposites attract in everything except the Sensor/iNtuitive character trait. Here THE SAME attracts each other. N’s are drawn to N’s. S’s are drawn to S’s.
This is not to say that Sensors and iNtuitives can’t be happily married (forever after ^^) and have a very successful relationship together. An INFP and an ESTP can be a very good combination. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. But in most cases the INFP has so much personal depth (and probably troubles) that the ESTP just can’t relate to.
The INFP has some strong cerebral components (right brain half based so more art than mathematics). The ESTP’s are very smart in their own way but not “cerebral”.
On another note, the single best source of information I’ve found regarding attraction and Myers Briggs is the chapter “mating” in David Kierseys book “Please Understand me II”. I really recommend it.
Certain temperaments attract each other
What is generally accepted is that certain temperaments attract eachother. Obviously ANY type can live in a awesome relationship with ANY other type, BUT there are trends. The tendency goes NT’s and NF’s attract eachother. SP’s and SJ’s attract eachother.
Considering how few N’s there are, the tendency for NT’s + NF’s to attract eachother is quite remarkable. There are so many other things factored into attraction. It is amazing to me that this SINGLE trait (temperament) has such a strong effect on who we choose. David talks alot about this.
I fully believe that these temperaments are drawn to eachother as many credible people have stated this AND I have seen it in the real world, with my own eyes, which is of high importantance to me.
Introverts and Extroverts attract each other
David Kiersey also mentions that Extroverts and Introverts are drawn to eachother. He does not talk so much about this but I would like to. What I have found in both temperament and E/I is that if you account for short relationships (say 3+ months), the pattern isn’t strong.
If you account for relationships lasting 12 months or more the pattern is stronger. If you only take MARRIED couples it is even stronger. The definition I use for myself is 2+ years, disregarding marital status.
I find that people who do not get along very rarely are together for more than 2 years. That is also the reason a strong pattern emerges at this number.
Extroverts with Extroverts
Here, apparently, opposites attract. I have no exact number, but I do know it is uncommon for two extroverts to have a long relationship. The times I have seen it one of the extroverts have been very calm. Like unusually calm for an extrovert. That way the relationship will not burn itself out and they will not overstimulate eachother.
Introverts with Introverts
At times I see two introverts together. I was in a 9 month long relationship with another introvert. The problem we had was that no one would bring the problem “out into the open”. We would just sit in incredibly long silences and nothing would happen. Even though we both knew something was wrong.
In relationships I believe it is the extroverts role to bring up many issues. Basically just start talking about them so they can be dealt with. It can also happen that the introvert sees the emotional reaction on the extroverts face (extroverts tend to have livelier facial expressions) and that sparks a conversation.
Extroverts are very good a “pinging back” information, giving some kind of response. If there is no pinging back and forth of information between partners problems are hard to solve. Also, sometimes the solution lies in quiet introspection, which introverts are good at. Sometimes it revolves around “trading” information back and forth, which I think extroverts are very good at.
The vast majority of relationships I’ve seen lasting 2+ years have been between an Introvert and an Extrovert.
Thinkers and Feelers attract each other
I’m not sure how commonly known or accepted this is. But in my surroundings, I’ve only seen one relationship lasting 2+ years (and they live in different parts of the house now) where there wasn’t a feeler with a thinker. Thinkers go with feelers. Feelers go with thinkers.
I also posted about this before on the forum and almost all responses regarding long-term relationships conveyed a thinker with a fellow feeler. This correlation appears to be MUCH stronger than the E/I correlation. Personally, I’ve found ONE other feeler for whom I had attraction. So it’s not a rule but a strong tendency.
Regarding introverts, I find many I am attracted to personality-wise. (I’m an INFP)
Thinkers and Feelers & Temperament
In the NT/NF temperament this trait is BUILT INTO the temperament itself. So an NT/NF match with automatically be a T/F match. This is interesting.
Think then of what happens with SJ’s and SP’s. SP’s attract SJ’s, and the other way around. BUT thinkers attract feelers. Extroverts attract Introverts (less strong tendency, but very present).
This means that for my ESFJ friend, there is ONE type of the sixteen types witch match in all three categories. His girlfriend since 6 months is a ISTP. Which I think is not a random event.
Same goes for all SJ’s and SP’s. There is literally one combination that hits on all three categories. So take a male ISTJ. What, according to theory, is his best match? An ESFP.
My ESFP friend, the two long relationships of his life (2 year each) were with an ISTP and an INTP. The ISTP matched him in E/I and T/F, but not temperament. The INTP matched him in T/F, and E/I but not in temperament.
You will often see that people dating have at least two of these three things in common.
What this means for NF’s and NT’s
What does this mean? For me as an INFP, an ENTP AND ENTJ will match me in all three categories. To my first-hand knowledge I am most attracted to ENTP’s. I never meet ENTJ females so I have no practical knowledge about that.
I WILL say I am very attracted to ESTP’s. Anecdotal evidence in my life exists of this. An ESTP will match me on the E/I preference and the T/F preference, but not on temperament preference. 2/3 there.
Judgers and Perceivers attract each other
Judgers and Perceivers attract each other, quite strongly. MBTI Author and expert David Kiersey also mentions this.
If two perceivers form a relationship, usually one of them has Judging tendencies and will excaggerate that quality and take that role in that relationship.
If two Judgers form a relationship one of them will tend to be “mellow” and laid back, toning down it’s Judging tendencies.
For SJ’s and SP’s the J/P preference is built into the temperament, so it’s natural they attract each other.
I’n an INFP and I’m very drawn to INTJ’s and ENTJ’s.
When Temperaments Find Each other
What I’ve found (which is super-interesting to me) is that when the same temperaments form partnership, they always differ on E/I + T/F. I know a relationship between an ISTP and an ESFP. It’s over now but lasted 7 years. Same temperament, different E/I dichotomy and different T/F.
It can be mentioned that he is an unusually calm SP, and she is very energetic (which SP’s usually are).
What Kierseys says here is that generally, marriages between the same temperament leads to “unhealthy duplication and mirroring”, and a predictability that is boring for both partners.
When Intuitives unite with Sensors
It is not uncommon at all for an intuitive to marry a sensor. I know some VERY successful relationships between a sensor and an intuitive. How is this possible? Supposedly they speak a different language.
The pattern I’ve found here is that the intuitive tends to be extraverted, and the sensor introverted. Being introverted gives the sensor depth, and being extroverted gives the intuitive less depth. That way they can meet eachother half-way.
Imagine a INxx with an ESxx. INxx’s are deeply cerebral. Extroverted sensors aren’t cerebral at all – there is a clash of depth here. An ENJF and an ISTP can speak the same language. The ENFJ does not feel misunderstood of its deep cerebral qualities, because the ENFJ does not have deep cerebral qualities.
I find that ENFJ’s and ENTJ’s do pretty well with sensors, as they are focused on results in the real world, something sensors can relate to.
I also find that sensors who do well with intuitives are ISxP’s. ISTP’s and ISFP’s do pretty well with intuitives (especially if extraverted) and can match their depth.
This concept of depth is interesting. If the depth of two individuals are about the same they do not live in two completely different worlds.