[INTP] Why INTPs Struggle With Communication in Relationships

Why INTPs Struggle With Communication in Relationships

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This is a discussion on Why INTPs Struggle With Communication in Relationships within the INTP Articles forums, part of the INTP Forum - The Thinkers category; ...

  1. #1
    ESTP - The Doers

    Why INTPs Struggle With Communication in Relationships

    Why INFPs, INTPs, & ISPs Struggle with Communication in Relationships

    A.J. / NOVEMBER 11, 2011

    INFPs and INTPs excel when it comes to preserving external peace. They are masters of outer adaptation and can readily blend and mesh with others. Despite their knack for maintaining external harmony, many INFPs and INTPs unwittingly fail to develop intimate and effective communication in their relationships.

    To understand why INFPs and INTPs struggle with communication in their relationships, it helps to understand the structure of their functional stack. For all IP types, their extraverted judging function (Fe or Te) is in the inferior position. This means that it is the most childlike, least used, and least developed of their functions.

    Extraverted Feeling (Fe) and Extraverted Thinking (Te) are the functions that allow us to verbally express our convictions or judgments. They also grant a sense of interpersonal control and confidence. Unlike Judging types, for whom Fe/Te is either dominant or auxiliary, IPs feel relatively powerless when it comes to influencing othersí behavior. Especially early in their development, it feels unnatural for them to direct or manage others. IPs can also find it difficult to verbally express themselves in a confident and coherent fashion.

    INFPs and INTPs also prefer to avoid direct conflict if at all possible. Direct conflict with another person person requires IPs to confront their own inferior function, including its attendant fears and insecurities. For IPs, fear of conflict with others and fear of their own self is often one and the same. This is why many IPs test as Enneagram Sixes (6), Nines (9), or even Threes (3), types which are notorious for avoiding genuine introspection because of the shame or anxiety that may emerge. Instead of authentically confronting others or taking an honest look at themselves, many IPs work hard to distract themselves from their inner fears while also striving to avoid conflict in the outer world. Avoidance/distraction may take the form of procrastination or neglecting certain responsibilities. Rather than meeting their obligations, IPs may burn time watching television, surfing the Internet, or playing video games as a means of distraction. Such behaviors serve to soothe or stave off feelings of anxiety associated with directly facing and participating in life.

    Action Rather than Words & Passive-Aggressiveness

    When INFPs and INTPs feel compelled to express themselves, they often do so through action rather than words. Since their Sensing function, which can be broadly conceived as representing action, comes prior to Fe/Te in their functional stack, it feels easier for IPs to express themselves through action rather than words. So rather than expressing their love or apologies verbally, IPs will often do so by way of action.

    A less healthy form of action that is common to all IP types is passive-aggressive behavior. Rather than directly confronting a perceived problem, passive-aggressiveness (P-A) involves the expression of frustration in indirect and underhanded ways. For instance, rather than directly dealing with a relational grievance, IPs may intentionally stay late at the office as an act of rebellion against their partner. Since IPs feel they cannot directly control or change their partner by way of extraverted judgment, they use P-A antics to exercise their inner will and independence. By staying late at the office, for instance, they may be effectively saying, ďIím tired of you trying to control me. I want you to know you canít control me. I am stronger than you think I am.Ē IPs who otherwise feel helpless or powerless may see P-A behavior as the only way they can preserve their sense of independence and personal control.

    Harmony versus Intimacy: A Point of Confusion for Perceivers

    It is all too easy for INFPs, INTPs, and ISPs to equate relational harmony with relational health. While external harmony is often part of a healthy relationship, it really has little to do with genuine intimacy or effective communication. Developing genuine intimacy can be quite painful and difficult, requiring frequent confrontations with oneís own and oneís partnerís fears, insecurities, and ego issues. When couples are working through these issues, moments of disharmony are all but inevitable.

    This represents a potential trouble point for relationships involving two Perceiving types. If both partners are merely adapting or compromising, rather than insisting that their concerns be voiced and addressed, they will fail to develop true intimacy, effective communication, and relational satisfaction. It is easy for Perceivers to slip into relational complacency, and once these patterns are in place, it can be a long and arduous road to real intimacy. Moreover, since Perceivers are prone to codependency, they may be too afraid to sever an unhealthy relationship. Ending a relationship requires a hefty measure of extraverted judgment, which, as weíve seen, can be extremely difficult for IPs to muster.

    General Recommendations

    Because it is unusual for IPs to develop their Fe or Te prior to their late twenties, I cannot help but question whether these types should consent to marriage at younger ages. This is borne out by research that shows that couples who marry prior to the age of twenty five are far more likely to end up in divorce. Holding off on marriage seems especially wise for IPs considering the great difficulty they have in ending unhealthy relationships, let alone the legally and publically endorsed institution of marriage. The fact that INFPs and INTPs rarely know what they want to do career-wise before age thirty can only serve to exacerbate relational difficulties.

    In order to meet the tall challenge of communication in their love relationships, INTPs and INFPs need to choose their partners wisely. INTPs, in particular, should seek a partner who is open enough to understand and even appreciate their subversive or off-the-wall ideas. Typically this involves pairing with another Intuitive type. Pairing with another Intuitive can help INPs trust that their partner is being genuine and not merely feigning interest in their ideas. Choosing a partner who has relatively few ego-defense issues, or at least is eager to work on overcoming them, is equally important.

    IPs will also benefit from analyzing their past relationships to see where they have failed to be forthright in their communication. They need to develop a sensitivity to and awareness of when their own ego is trying to protect itself or assert its independence by excluding their partner from their internal processing. INPs need to use their Extraverted Intuition to process ideas with their partners rather than relying exclusively on their introverted functions.

    For introverts to feel whole, they must be willing to extravert their thoughts, feelings and judgments. Self-actualization for IPs involves reconciling their dominant Ti/Fi with their inferior Fe/Te. This requires relinquishing some of their independence (I) and learning to be vulnerable, open, and forthright with others (E).
    apathy, Mendelevium, TiNeSi and 11 others thanked this post.



  2. #2
    INTP - The Thinkers

    Oh, God, I get so anxious when I have to confront people. I'm actually fairly confident interacting with people (I interview pretty well and can do "confident and charming" if needed) but I can't apply that to an intimate relationship.

    With my ex, people would sometimes assume that I could convey something unpleasant to him because I was his girlfriend and I'm supposed to be able to talk about stuff like that...No. Not. At. All. He was the sweetest guy and wouldn't have gotten mad--but I just could not open my mouth and make anything that might cause controversy come out.

    It felt like a huge step yesterday when my boyfriend told me he thought one of my shirts was ugly and I told him flat-out that it was one of my favorites. ...And you know what? The earth didn't crumble and we actually laughed about it.

    I hate to disagree with people, and that's probably because I don't feel confident in my skills to maintain a relationship and connect to someone else. It's that dratted Fe you were talking about.
    apathy, Kilgore Trout, bengalcat and 1 others thanked this post.

  3. #3
    INTP - The Thinkers

    ah but as far as i see INTPs are good controller of their wives! :P

  4. #4
    INTJ - The Scientists

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverRose View Post
    For introverts to feel whole, they must be willing to extravert their thoughts, feelings and judgments. Self-actualization for IPs involves reconciling their dominant Ti/Fi with their inferior Fe/Te. This requires relinquishing some of their independence (I) and learning to be vulnerable, open, and forthright with others (E).
    All I want is most of the time is to feel whole! But externalization is so difficult...especially when you've got so many things on your mind and you're paranoid about people because you're not confident. This is probably - hopefully - the worst case scenario, and I really wish there would come a time when I hit that age thirty mark and tell myself one afternoon, imagine my teenager/young adult self looking at me right now! Actually, I wonder if this is more of what an idealist would say?

    I feel like the right motivation for any INTP - I'm venturing out here - to try to connect their Ti with Fe is to do it for somebody they love, genuinely love. Ironically, this person hasn't come along for me yet. The good partner described in the original post - do they exist? Haha. I understand day to day why people say true love is like feeling complete, like there is a hole in your life being filled. Understanding the idea of true love in theory, though, I hope is more than just preparing for the opportunity. I'd like to say it's awareness.
    apathy and Ellis Bell thanked this post.

  5. #5
    INTP - The Thinkers

    Some very good points. I really need to improve my communication in relationships.

  6. #6
    Unknown Personality

    Well, this explains why when I was younger I had to switch the channel or leave the room if we were watching a movie when the climax was about to occur, or the conflict addressed. It terrified me, and to this day I had no idea why!! It's interesting that that particular fear is related back to shame of self and fear of failure, but at the same time it makes perfect sense. Thanks for this article!
    Rakshasa and nahuel_89p thanked this post.

  7. #7
    INTP - The Thinkers

    Quote Originally Posted by Cari Knip View Post
    Well, this explains why when I was younger I had to switch the channel or leave the room if we were watching a movie when the climax was about to occur, or the conflict addressed. It terrified me, and to this day I had no idea why!! It's interesting that that particular fear is related back to shame of self and fear of failure, but at the same time it makes perfect sense. Thanks for this article!
    Huh, that's interesting. I was just thinking about something similar that with me today. I hate suspense in movies - if I'm going along trying to figure out the story it's all good, but not if I know what bad thing is going to happen and I'm just waiting for it. I also really don't like waste or loss. A spilled ice cream cone or something seems to distress me much more than it does other people, and maybe that's just a dislike of conflict connected to inferior Fe.
    Ellis Bell and Cari Knip thanked this post.

  8. #8
    INTP - The Thinkers

    Quote Originally Posted by Cari Knip View Post
    Well, this explains why when I was younger I had to switch the channel or leave the room if we were watching a movie when the climax was about to occur, or the conflict addressed. It terrified me, and to this day I had no idea why!! It's interesting that that particular fear is related back to shame of self and fear of failure, but at the same time it makes perfect sense. Thanks for this article!
    I'm glad I'm not the only person who does this, I always paused and calm myself down and than watch it, I can only endure this in the movies when I have no remote to press pause and I do not feel like getting out of my chair lol.
    Cari Knip thanked this post.

  9. #9
    INTP - The Thinkers

    I am a walking nexus of conflict. I quite enjoy it, actually. It makes me feel more dynamic, and able. More intelligent. However, I've never considered that the generalization that INTPs are likely to develope codependency is their fear of conflict. I've a bit of a codependency problem myself in a successful relationship. I shall have to continue analyzing that in myself.

  10. #10
    INTP - The Thinkers

    I think I messed up my relationship because of my inability of dealing with negative, albeit rational and possibly normal, feelings about my relationship. Instead of communicating it in a healthy way I behaved in PA ways by 'getting back' at my girlfriend, creating distance and an atmosphere not conducive to a healthy relationship.


 

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