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I am an INFP female in a relationship with someone who I am very sure is an ISTP. From what I have read in general of the INFP-ISTP relationship dynamic, there are a lot of basic misunderstandings of the other's general personality traits and expectations. I am experiencing that right now... We're college age, I'm 19 and he's 20, nearly 21.

We started dating in mid-February of this year. So together for 6 months. We were going on steady dates about once a week and he pursued me pretty actively. He'd text me every night and make sure he got an answer from me. Then we finally had our first date and I was baffled because he was so quiet and dropped me off without so much as a hug. I was thinking, alright, he was cute but I'm certainly never seeing him again. turns out, I did. Although it took him a month to hold my hand or even kiss me. After that, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I didn't see it coming. That's the big issue though; the guy can conceal his emotions so well, I can't read him.

He does work about 30 hours a week, takes classes all year round, so he's busy but one other major problem is his father is so strict it makes it hard to have a relationship. We both live at home. He used to live on campus at a local university but got kicked out for partying so he had to start all over at community college. His dad was always weird; first time I came over he had to make sure it was ok, if it wasn't, we didn't go to his house. Then if we did go, he wanted me out by 10 or 11. Then when we were out and it'd be like 9:30 he'd get a call and say "Where are you, when are you coming home?" He used to blow him off... but now he seems to listen. Eventually, he thought his son's grades were slipping too far (which he has a decent gpa so I don't see what the stress is about) he decides he can't play video games past 10, or text me past 10. We broke the texting rule so he blocked my number. My boyfrien can still make outgoing calls to me but now he just won't call because he hates the "awkward silences" on the phone. He told me to wait until his final grades come in and then we'll text again.

When we are together, he's physically affectionate, helpful, fun, nice, and we've never really fought. He doesn't get jealous, possessive, or angry for trivial reasons. But he can't verbalize any kind of feelings. No "I miss you" or "you're special" or "I like you a lot." So of course that means there is no "I love you." I don't even know if he can say that. He has taken me out many times, made me dinner, cuddles me, is physically attracted to me, we have alot in common interest-wise, I've met his family and his best friend. He is a guy who is great when you're with him but he loves his hobbies and his alone time after work a lot. Video games, favorite movies, tv shows, "man time." I know this is an ISTP trait. He loves his space. He also says his dad makes it hard to hang out and I realize this, because his dad is hanging a lot over his head; his cell phone, his new car, living at his house as opposed to his mom's... His parents were never together when he was born; he told me recently he used to wish they were together when he was little. He is a lot more open than he was (he told me he is not open and is not vocal with feelings). He was an accidental child and the only one either of his parents had and neither had ever gotten married until late 40s... My boyfriend doesn't know what relationships even look like and being raised by a man in the military; no doubt there weren't a lot of I love yous in that house... We have talked and all he says is he wants to be with me, is into our relationship, doesn't want to break up, but he's in a tough spot right now. At the same time I just feel like a typical INFP... how can I understand him better when he wants his space and doesn't openly tell of his affections? So so so sorry this is so long. Please help if you can :happy:
 

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You say he's become more open to you, he'll probably become even more open with time I'm guessing. He may never be big on verbal expression of love, so you may have to draw it out of him when you need it (only if this doesn't annoy him or back him into a corner), or accept that is the way he is and love him anyways and recognize the other ways he shows he cares. As far as problems go, this doesn't seem to be a big one. Maybe spend time with your family with him and he'll start seeing a loving family atmosphere with often expressions of love? Or be the one to say it first and see if he can follow it up?
 

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there are a lot of basic misunderstandings of the other's general personality traits and expectations. I am experiencing that right now...

Yeah, it comes with the territory. ISTPs think very differently from INFPs, and vice versa, and frustratingly neither are great at verbalizing what's going on inside the head, or confronting each other, and that's what causes misunderstandings later on. I don't really think they stew or brood the way Feelers do, if they're silent... it's more like the silence equals them shutting off, and switching focus to something else. They do this with emotional and physical distress. So whatever you do, try not to approach them assuming that they're doing/wanting what you might think a Feeler would do or want. Generally they're not, and that constantly surprises me.

After that, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I didn't see it coming. That's the big issue though; the guy can conceal his emotions so well, I can't read him.

After more than 2 years, I still can't always read my ISTP. In so many situations, he presents a calm masklike face. So I ask him -- is he feeling ______? Whatever answer he gives, it's likely to surprise and puzzle you in its simplicity. But generally, they don't have loads of feeling to analyze. Things are very cut and dry with my ISTP.

His dad was always weird; first time I came over he had to make sure it was ok, if it wasn't, we didn't go to his house. Then if we did go, he wanted me out by 10 or 11. Then when we were out and it'd be like 9:30 he'd get a call and say "Where are you, when are you coming home?" He used to blow him off... but now he seems to listen. Eventually, he thought his son's grades were slipping too far (which he has a decent gpa so I don't see what the stress is about) he decides he can't play video games past 10, or text me past 10. We broke the texting rule so he blocked my number. My boyfrien can still make outgoing calls to me but now he just won't call because he hates the "awkward silences" on the phone. He told me to wait until his final grades come in and then we'll text again.


I can't believe your bf's 21 and still under so much control by his father. Wow. I feel bad. You guys are technically adults now and should be expected to be responsible for your own choices. That must be putting a lot of stress of your boyfriend and your relationship. All I can say is, if you care about him, try to be patient and understanding until he's done with studies. At least his dad seems to want the best for his son. Maybe things will get better once he's out of school and financially independent.

When we are together, he's physically affectionate, helpful, fun, nice, and we've never really fought. He doesn't get jealous, possessive, or angry for trivial reasons. But he can't verbalize any kind of feelings. No "I miss you" or "you're special" or "I like you a lot." So of course that means there is no "I love you." I don't even know if he can say that.


Yeah... that can be bothersome sometimes. For me personally, such words confirm in a powerful way that my ISTP is still attracted to me. What you gotta realize, as hard as it is sometimes, is that that's how YOU express love. Through words, through tone of voice. It bubbles up from inside you and comes out easily. For ISTPs, that process is as awkward as drawing or dancing is for people naturally untalented in those areas. On top of that, they don't see the reason for it if the same care can be shown with action or some matter-of-fact like duh they're still with you.

My boyfriend doesn't know what relationships even look like and being raised by a man in the military; no doubt there weren't a lot of I love yous in that house... We have talked and all he says is he wants to be with me, is into our relationship, doesn't want to break up, but he's in a tough spot right now. At the same time I just feel like a typical INFP... how can I understand him better when he wants his space and doesn't openly tell of his affections?

I can relate to that too. My bf wasn't raised in an emotionally expressive family either. And he never knew his dad. His mother and brother, both INTPs, rarely talk to each other, let alone say I love yous. If your bf says he wants to be with you and not break up, oh he totally means it. It means he loves you very much. You'll have to do your best to empathize and put yourself in HIS shoes. The situation sounds almost like Romeo & Juliet, but this is what you have to understand: he isn't a Romeo. He won't do crazy things because he feels like it. :) He will do things because it makes the most sense. If his food and shelter and other benefits depend on obeying his dad, he won't sacrifice that until he can. So be patient. And maybe try not to worry so much about how devoted he is, and concentrate on being a fun person who enjoys her freedom and does what she wants to do, who by proxy relieves him of the stress he must feel already?

Just some thoughts.
 

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have you asked him to verbalize?

Often times we are completely unaware that people need to hear that. We certainly don't need to hear it so we naturally assume other people don't too.

Just remember, most ISTP's don't verbalize their affection because experience tells them that it will only make matters worse, or we'll get made fun of. Its terrible.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Whats there to overcome, his father? He sounds dependent.
This is true, perhaps the biggest issue in our relationship thus far is the whole father situation. I can't expect him to disobey when he is sacrificing his own comfortable living arrangements when he doesn't have the means to properly support himself. He is dependent at this point, because this area we live in is a dump to be frank, and unemployment is rampant around here. He's lucky to even have a job that works him about 30 hours a week... I just have issues with his lack of verbalization and keeping his space without communication at times. I'll have to wait another school year before we will likely transfer to the same university and can then be together... having trouble being patient... lol

You say he's become more open to you, he'll probably become even more open with time I'm guessing. He may never be big on verbal expression of love, so you may have to draw it out of him when you need it (only if this doesn't annoy him or back him into a corner), or accept that is the way he is and love him anyways and recognize the other ways he shows he cares. As far as problems go, this doesn't seem to be a big one. Maybe spend time with your family with him and he'll start seeing a loving family atmosphere with often expressions of love? Or be the one to say it first and see if he can follow it up?
I have had talks with him before about it and I probably didn't go about it in the right way, I would get all worked up and then just spill everything on my mind and that could certainly be off-putting for someone like him. He says he is just not open, not vocal and that's how he has always been. Everyone around me just doesn't understand though they're all like "why doesn't he say." They just don't see him the way I do; he's simply different than anybody I've been with, I'm just trying to adjust. I have become more accepting of it, but I would love to be comfortable with it. But he certainly is making progress in the opening up area, maybe it just needs more time. If worse comes to worst, I will take initiative to be more verbal if I have to.

I can relate to that too. My bf wasn't raised in an emotionally expressive family either. And he never knew his dad. His mother and brother, both INTPs, rarely talk to each other, let alone say I love yous. If your bf says he wants to be with you and not break up, oh he totally means it. It means he loves you very much. You'll have to do your best to empathize and put yourself in HIS shoes. The situation sounds almost like Romeo & Juliet, but this is what you have to understand: he isn't a Romeo. He won't do crazy things because he feels like it. :) He will do things because it makes the most sense. If his food and shelter and other benefits depend on obeying his dad, he won't sacrifice that until he can. So be patient. And maybe try not to worry so much about how devoted he is, and concentrate on being a fun person who enjoys her freedom and does what she wants to do, who by proxy relieves him of the stress he must feel already?

Just some thoughts.
Your reply was great, Seamaid, I appreciate your level of insight on this greatly! I think it opened my eyes even more to what I tried to get myself to realize but let my emotions and imagination run away with the ideas and slander them. I should know by now that he isn't the same as me; he is a quiet, logical, practical person who doesn't see the value in mushy-gushy irrationality. In fact, I respect him for that because he always has a cool face on even though I know he's stressed out. He always said his number one best quality was his ability to use logic. I don't want him to sacrifice his security for me, though everybody else says he should if he wants to keep me. I am the opposite; I'd be a mess if I were him. What I do notice is when things go bad, he won't want to talk. If he's been quiet, there's a reason, but it's not a complicated one. He sees things like here is the problem, here is the solution. I see things there is a problem, oh crap what do I do, what if this happens, or this? Imagination going WILD. I do ask questions now and when I used to before, earlier on, he wouldn't divulge much. Now if I ask "What was it like growing up for you?" he tells me. Or how his parents acted or whether he wished for certain things to be different and now he will admit things. That's why I feel he has made progress with me. At first when his dad would call and be rude to him about being out with me he'd say "Oh nothing" when I'd ask what he said... now he admits the tension. I just need to be patient and not let my insecurities take over because even though my intuition is usually right... in his case it's always WRONG. lol I think I've made progress with him and that in his own way he has become closer to me, which should make me feel better, not worse.

have you asked him to verbalize?

Often times we are completely unaware that people need to hear that. We certainly don't need to hear it so we naturally assume other people don't too.

Just remember, most ISTP's don't verbalize their affection because experience tells them that it will only make matters worse, or we'll get made fun of. Its terrible.
I have asked him maybe twice in the entire time we've been dating that I dont hear him tell me how he feels about me enough. So then he would say "Oh but I like you a lot, I really do" in that moment and then go on to explain "I'm not an open or vocal person." So usually he'll tell me point-blank what he feels for me during the discussion and then I don't hear it again. I will tell him nice things to his face and he'll be beaming with happiness, smiles all around but he won't reply... something tells me he just isn't comfortable with it. Or if I say he's cute or attractive... I get a sort of weird reciprocity. For example if I tell him he's sexy lol I get something later on like "you always turn me on" so while I can say the word, he merely skates around it's meaning.

Thanks for the replies, guys!
 

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Idunno what to tell you. We don't vocalize it. Verbalizing my emotions almost feels like I'm putting on a jacket filled with lead weights. It just drains me. So if he says ANYTHING, be sure to appreciate him for it. My last relationship I gave up giving comments because she "didn't believe" me and then things went downhill from there.
 

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Idunno what to tell you. We don't vocalize it. Verbalizing my emotions almost feels like I'm putting on a jacket filled with lead weights. It just drains me. So if he says ANYTHING, be sure to appreciate him for it. My last relationship I gave up giving comments because she "didn't believe" me and then things went downhill from there.
I can see what you mean about "not believing it." It's just that I guess when you do say it and the other person isn't used to you saying anything of the sort, they think it was forced. Which in the case of ISTPs, it likely is in some regard. So in that case, I don't want to force him to do anything. I think what I need to realize is his lack of commenting does not equal "I'm not into you." I just talked to him last night over facebook chat and I looked for him on there because he hadn't called in a few days so I thought if he's online, now's a good time to talk. So we did, and he stayed on and talked to me pretty late (which he never stays on facebook that long) I think it was because he just feels so much more comfortable talking through text. He is just a subtle person... like before I told him goodnight, I said "glad I got to talk to you without making you miserable talking on the phone" and he said "talking to you is never miserable." I wasn't expecting it but those kinds of things reassure me now, they're just low-key though and don't leave him feeling vulnerable I suppose? I know I need to start appreciating what he DOES say. I also think ISTPs are some of the most honest people... which I admire in you guys.
 

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I think what I need to realize is his lack of commenting does not equal "I'm not into you."
This is a huge thing to realize and accept about your ISTP. It's natural for most types to assume that contact/proximity equals affection. ISTPs are a different breed in this respect. My ISTP can be out of contact for a week or more and it doesn't mean anything except that he's been busy (parents in the hospital type busy).
 

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This is a huge thing to realize and accept about your ISTP. It's natural for most types to assume that contact/proximity equals affection. ISTPs are a different breed in this respect. My ISTP can be out of contact for a week or more and it doesn't mean anything except that he's been busy (parents in the hospital type busy).
I'd say that's my biggest issue... I just let my worst thoughts get the best of me. He doesn't see me for like a week sometimes and I see him again and everything will be just fine. So I know it's just the way he is, really. He only stopped talking to me as often because of my phone number being blocked. I know he's restricted so I think really, it's my insecurity getting the best of me and my imagination getting in the way of the truth. I suppose I really need to chill out and just accept that he's a different person than I am used to, period.
 

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I'd say that's my biggest issue... I just let my worst thoughts get the best of me. He doesn't see me for like a week sometimes and I see him again and everything will be just fine. So I know it's just the way he is, really. He only stopped talking to me as often because of my phone number being blocked. I know he's restricted so I think really, it's my insecurity getting the best of me and my imagination getting in the way of the truth. I suppose I really need to chill out and just accept that he's a different person than I am used to, period.
I did too at first. Re-frame your thinking in this respect. It's really really worth it.
 

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I did too at first. Re-frame your thinking in this respect. It's really really worth it.
I really need to, and I need to get busier! How did you do it? There is one thing he's been doing that drives me absolutely nuts right about now... he called me like once a day when my phone number first got blocked... then it was once every two days for about a week... then it went to four days no phone call so I decided to text him from my mom's phone and he answered right away and I asked him if he'd like to come over and he came right over, things were just like they always were. Then he leaves says "I'll talk to you later" and then three days later there still isn't a call! I got on facebook chat and that's how I talked to him and he tells me goodnight after about a 3 hour conversation and then says "Talk to you tomorrow." Oh look... it's tomorrow and there is... no call and he's not on facebook. Those things really bother me... I wish he would not say that if he wasn't intending to do it.
 

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I really need to, and I need to get busier! How did you do it? There is one thing he's been doing that drives me absolutely nuts right about now... he called me like once a day when my phone number first got blocked... then it was once every two days for about a week... then it went to four days no phone call so I decided to text him from my mom's phone and he answered right away and I asked him if he'd like to come over and he came right over, things were just like they always were. Then he leaves says "I'll talk to you later" and then three days later there still isn't a call! I got on facebook chat and that's how I talked to him and he tells me goodnight after about a 3 hour conversation and then says "Talk to you tomorrow." Oh look... it's tomorrow and there is... no call and he's not on facebook. Those things really bother me... I wish he would not say that if he wasn't intending to do it.
Yes, same here. The no contact thing drove me nuts too. I did the same thing you're doing - came to this site and started asking questions. I got some really great advice from the guys here.

You have to realize and accept that he doesn't need to speak to you every day in order to continue to have feelings for you. If you look at it a different way that's more about you than it is about him. He's just living life doing his thing with no clue that you're sitting at home obsessing. You need to do the same. Get out an make plans with friends to do stuff. Invite him along occasionally, if you're doing something you think he'll enjoy (but don't get upset if he doesn't go - it doesn't necessarily mean anything).

As for how I did it - I just did. I told him that it made me feel like a stalker when I was the one who always initiated the conversations. I felt like I was bothering him and I didn't like that so I was going to just wait for him to get in touch when he had the time. Now it's about 50/50 who gets in touch with who, even though I usually have to wait longer than I'd like for him. I'll pm you if I think of anything else.
 

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Haha I can relate to his behavior a lot, this is one of the reasons why I tend to have extrovert friends because they will usually initiate contact. I dont contact people because I usually assume that they are busy and that Im perfectly fine with spending my time alone. However, this doesnt mean that Im not thinking about you throughout the day either.

If I had no interest then I wouldnt even reply. Dont mistake that with not initiating.
 

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Yes, same here. The no contact thing drove me nuts too. I did the same thing you're doing - came to this site and started asking questions. I got some really great advice from the guys here.

You have to realize and accept that he doesn't need to speak to you every day in order to continue to have feelings for you. If you look at it a different way that's more about you than it is about him. He's just living life doing his thing with no clue that you're sitting at home obsessing. You need to do the same. Get out an make plans with friends to do stuff. Invite him along occasionally, if you're doing something you think he'll enjoy (but don't get upset if he doesn't go - it doesn't necessarily mean anything).

As for how I did it - I just did. I told him that it made me feel like a stalker when I was the one who always initiated the conversations. I felt like I was bothering him and I didn't like that so I was going to just wait for him to get in touch when he had the time. Now it's about 50/50 who gets in touch with who, even though I usually have to wait longer than I'd like for him. I'll pm you if I think of anything else.
Truest thing ever. That's why you (Chelsaroo and myself) have to find a pursuit that you're so passionate about that it absolutely consumes you. If you're able to live in the moment pursuing this other passion, you will better understand why the ISTP is out living his life and not constantly thinking of his significant other.
 

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You say he's become more open to you, he'll probably become even more open with time I'm guessing. He may never be big on verbal expression of love, so you may have to draw it out of him when you need it (only if this doesn't annoy him or back him into a corner), or accept that is the way he is and love him anyways and recognize the other ways he shows he cares. As far as problems go, this doesn't seem to be a big one. Maybe spend time with your family with him and he'll start seeing a loving family atmosphere with often expressions of love? Or be the one to say it first and see if he can follow it up?
Go for the latter! If you try to draw it out of him you will end up with a very frustrated ISTP. He might do it at first to try to please you but it will backfire on you. You don't want him to say the things you want to hear, but the things he feels (or thinks), right?

Whenever I have been asked over and over again whether something is nice or whether I don't miss/like/love/care about someone I get really annoyed and most of all just want to say NO! Not because I didn't miss/like/love/care about someone, but because I am sick and tired of being forced to express it over and over again. I have now come to the point where I either ignore the questions or reply that I already have answered the question once.

If you learn to appreciate your ISTP and the way he works, I believe you will feel very comfortable around him. Just don't think he is hiding a lot of feelings - he's a thinker!
 

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Haha I can relate to his behavior a lot, this is one of the reasons why I tend to have extrovert friends because they will usually initiate contact. I dont contact people because I usually assume that they are busy and that Im perfectly fine with spending my time alone. However, this doesnt mean that Im not thinking about you throughout the day either.

If I had no interest then I wouldnt even reply. Dont mistake that with not initiating.
^^this! /10char
 
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