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I was hoping you guys could help me with something. My father and I always seem to be butting heads about something. It seems like we just can't see eye-to-eye on just about anything, we're just so different in many ways. It's caused us quite a few problems in the past. We both love each other, and I know we both want a better bond, but we really have difficulty making it work.

So here's the jist. I'm an INFP, and he's an ISTP. One of the major disconnects that I have read about with ISTP's is that we share very few common interests. We can usually have great, deep conversations, but sometimes it's like walking in a minefield for both of us. He's very black and white about things, where as I see grey everywhere.

Another issue is that I crave strong emotional bonds, and I find him to be very distant emotionally. Honestly, I barely feel like I know the 'real' him and I'm his son. It hurts when I feel like he won't connect with me emotionally or share his feelings, but I know he doesn't feel things as intensely as I do.

I see him as stubborn, selfish, and cold and he sees me as naive, unrealistic and emotionally unstable. The way our minds work just seem so foreign to each other.

So... my question is this. How can we better relate to one another? Have you ISTP's dealt with INFP's before? What advice can you offer me on how to better understand him so I can see where he's coming from on things? I appreciate your input!
 

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Omg. One of my closest friends is INFP and your post rings true with something I am dealing with concerning her. Firstly, I admire her idealism, low key super positivity. She is always trying to improve herself and her outlook on life. I have been open to her way of thinking and have even tried to adopt a lot of what I saw as positive in her outlook on life. I'm cool with different opinions and can see value in different approaches to different problems.

One area that is a complete blind spot her in relating to me is what I call mirroring. I am not like her and have different ways of handling things. Black and white? Yes. You see, we have strict values that we live by. A do unto others sort of mentality. Much like yourselves. Where we differ in our approaches is when we are slighted. If someone is bothering her, her first question is "how can I see that this person is being affected by abc and that is in turn affecting the way they view me and therefore I can disconnect my negative reactions from them".

WHEW. We don't do that. If someone is being a dick we call them out and think this is perfectly fair. Ill give concessions but keep crossing a line with me and I will let you know you have. I'm direct, fair and don't hold grudges. I don't do passive aggressive. I'm very much tough love and see there is just as much value in that as lovey-hippy-love (her kind). They both have their place but when her type doesn't work then it's time for my type. She doesn't like this.

This INFP has told me that I am not "listening" however this is not true. I am aware of her POV. Yet, I find her very close-minded toward my POV because it doesn't jive with her way of thinking. BUT that doesn't mean my POV is false or "less right" than hers. In fact, INFPs are usually taken advantage of because they make so many conditions for others behaviors. It comes from a good place but sometimes you guys can learn from our ways just as we can from yours. I find this INFP is sometimes too busy telling me what works for her that she fails to view me as another person entirely (mirroring) and that comes off as dismissive.

Its just the "this is the way it works for me so you should adopt it and if you don't then you aren't as enlightened " it is a turn off. Maybe put your preconceived notions of what love, and caring look like TO YOU and see instead that the ISTP might show considerable loyalty, fairness and steadfastness to you in it's place and those things mean as much to him as your definitions mean to you. In fact, we feel things very deeply - perhaps more than most think we do and more than we want to. Its internal. For some reason, our faces and language do not show this. See through his eyes just for a minute. If he is trying as well then you will meet halfway. LISTEN more and delve. If you want to know why we think a certain way we usually explain our thought process. Provided you ask us about our thoughts not our feelings. You see our feelings in our thoughts. Not the other way around.
 

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You may not realize it, but your ISTP father does love you.

ISTPs just don't vocalize those feelings, taking them as a given rather than a privilege. To his logical mind, you are his son, ergo there is no need to go out and play catch in the yard (or whatever counts as father-son bonding these days). That alone is enough.

If you want to understand your father better, you need to stop expecting him to communicate on your terms. We express love by doing favors for people, or - heavens forbid - actually seeming to give a shit when they're upset. Not through making them a heart picture out of macaroni and glitter every day.
 

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I don't really consider myself a black-and-white person at all. I'm very subjective, and see all sorts of shades of grey. However, I have noticed that I can be very terse with my ENFP sister, and I have a feeling she might see me as black-and-white. But really, when I get like that, I'm usually on the defensive for some reason or another. I feel like she's on the attack when she starts telling me what I should or shouldn't do, or what's right and wrong and I have to spell things out very literally for her. My language morphs from "I guess I can see that point of view" and "To each their own" to "I don't agree." or "That doesn't make sense." or "If you do this, I'm going to do this."

So is it possible your dad may be on the defensive for some reason? Can you sense it in his posture/body language? If so, I would work on just creating a more peaceful, trusting environment between you two. Try to steer clear of talking about your relationship for a while (if you have at all), and just keep the topics light. Try to be aware of your own attitude when you go into any conversations with him and make sure it's generally positive -- if it's not, he can probably sense something is wrong even if he doesn't know what. Ask him about his interests, and eventually start asking about his opinions on certain topics. When he expresses his opinion, leave it at that. Don't agree or disagree, just express appreciation for it. Eventually, he may chill out a bit. And maybe after that, bonding can begin :)
 
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So... my question is this. How can we better relate to one another? Have you ISTP's dealt with INFP's before? What advice can you offer me on how to better understand him so I can see where he's coming from on things? I appreciate your input!
The simplest way to start is to put aside your expectations of what an ideal father should be (or even what an ISTP-INFP relationship should be like), and to start to view him as a human being with his own preferences and views on life- to learn to appreciate his viewpoint whilst retaining your own identity as well.

It may just be your father but tbh ISTPs do not really live in the extremes of a black and white world though we do have a personal code that we stick to, come what may- but it is really circumstantial in most cases. It may seem like we're inflexible from the viewpoint of an INFP but you really need to learn to differentiate a personal perspective from that of an objective perspective. What you may view as black, may just be a really dark shade of gray to him- the difference lies with your inner idea of what the definition of black should be vs what his definition of black is.

Accept your differences and appreciate him for being him, if he is a healthy ISTP, in time he should learn to accept the boons of your viewpoints as well (if he doesn't already do that in some way). The key to getting an ISTP to understand where you're coming from is to learn to compromise. Acknowledge that there is no right or wrong, only pride and perspective, and posit your opinion as a possibility but not the only reality. This way his mind remains open and ready for exchange, instead of defensive and critical- allowing you to transmit your ideas instead of being shot down before you can even explain yourself.

When you go hard, the ISTP goes hard. When you go soft, the ISTP goes soft as well. They mirror your intensity and conviction, so be aware of what state you're in when interacting with him.

Furthermore ISTPs take questions of capability and self-awareness very seriously. It is really part of our problem-solving core that we see the people around us as works-in-progress, and if we can predict the potential for problems in your future, we're sure as hell going to make sure that you're ready for whatever may come. And part of that is by testing your understanding about life and its problems by taking a contrary stance to whatever extreme you may chose to lean towards, to help balance you out and lend some realism to your idealism- not really to kill it completely, but to toughen it up and make it more durable.

As for the emotional bonding, unfortunately this is a really subjective thing and it is highly likely that he'd never give you the kind of emotional security that you seek. But to be honest, the kind of emotional reassurance that an INFP needs can only be found within the INFP themselves and no one else. Just as the lifelong purpose an ISTP seeks comes from deep within and can never be found outside of themselves.

So firstly, perhaps you should ask yourself why do you require further emotional validation from him? What exactly is it do you require from outside yourself- and is it possible to obtain it? Is the reassurance you're expecting realistic / warranted or is it out of irrational fear / desire for the ideal you hold in your heart?

You really need to differentiate idealism from reality. Match your expectations to your present standards of reality and you'd be less apt to feel discontent or unhappy. I'm not saying that you should turn into a doormat if he is a shitty dad, but you shouldn't expect him to be Jesus either.
 

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try getting in a near death experience with him, it would probably change the playing field a little. bonding through fear is a very valid thing
 
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I don't really consider myself a black-and-white person at all. I'm very subjective, and see all sorts of shades of grey. However, I have noticed that I can be very terse with my ENFP sister, and I have a feeling she might see me as black-and-white. But really, when I get like that, I'm usually on the defensive for some reason or another. I feel like she's on the attack when she starts telling me what I should or shouldn't do, or what's right and wrong and I have to spell things out very literally for her. My language morphs from "I guess I can see that point of view" and "To each their own" to "I don't agree." or "That doesn't make sense." or "If you do this, I'm going to do this."

So is it possible your dad may be on the defensive for some reason? Can you sense it in his posture/body language? If so, I would work on just creating a more peaceful, trusting environment between you two. Try to steer clear of talking about your relationship for a while (if you have at all), and just keep the topics light. Try to be aware of your own attitude when you go into any conversations with him and make sure it's generally positive -- if it's not, he can probably sense something is wrong even if he doesn't know what. Ask him about his interests, and eventually start asking about his opinions on certain topics. When he expresses his opinion, leave it at that. Don't agree or disagree, just express appreciation for it. Eventually, he may chill out a bit. And maybe after that, bonding can begin :)
Wow. Great distinction there, Steph. When we get 'black and white' we are in a defensive position. I didn't realize that until I read your post. Also, your conversation "replies" are spot on. Lol.
 

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Wow. Great distinction there, Steph. When we get 'black and white' we are in a defensive position. I didn't realize that until I read your post. Also, your conversation "replies" are spot on. Lol.
If you believe in the whole 8 function hierarchy (The 16 Type Patterns) instead of the top 4, ISTP's have Te and Si as their 5th and 6th function. Since some believe your 5th function is your "opposing" function, and your 6th your "critical" function, we may come off as very STJish if we're feeling critical or stubborn. I'm not sure if I buy into the lower 4 positions all that much, but at least the 5th and 6th functions seem to apply to me pretty well. It's entirely frustrating too, because when I get that way, I know I'm not myself. But if I get to that point, it required a long, tense relationship with someone to get there, and it requires a lot of will to come out of it.
 
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