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I've been noticing something for the past few years, and recently I was able to put it into words. When my ISFJ partner and I are both stressed and feeling at our worst, that is when the other truly understands us.

When the ISFJ becomes stressed, he taps into his Ti and Ne and becomes very thoughtful and intuitive. I feel like I understand him the most then. Meanwhile when I become stressed, I tap into my Si and Fe. My thoughts shutdown completely, and I only feel. He relates to me the most then.

The problem is that I believe each of us encourages the other to stay in these stressed states. For instance, he will allow me to stay in my blank feeling state for days instead of encouraging me to solve the problem. This is starting to seem very concerning and toxic to me.

The feeling I get from this relationship is that when we are at our best, we can be complements and life can be rather peaceful. But on the flip side, we can bring out the absolute worst in each other and maintain that state for quite some time.

At the same time, I generally appreciate when he is in his feeling state because it's not something I readily understand. And he appreciates when I can explain things to him, even though he won't add to the conversation. I would like to believe that this means both of us are teaching the other to be more well-rounded people, and that eventually both of us will be able to reach out to each other.

But at the moment it looks rather unbalanced to me. It is very much like both of us are reaching out to the other as an adult, him with his Si and Fe, while I'm blinking there like a child, just noticing that I indeed have feelings. And meanwhile I'm doing the same to him with Ti and Ne. It almost feels like a parent-child relationship and I would much rather it be a partnership of equals. I don't know if that's possible but I would like it to be.

Any thoughts or experiences with healthy vs. unhealthy INTP-ISFJ relationships? The healthy versions would be especially nice to learn about.
 

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I won't say that I have a total solution, but I will say that tapping into both of your inferior functions constantly will be exhausting and draining if you use them too much. I think that the ideal solution is not to reject the last 2 functions when thinking but rather to use them in moderation with your first two, Ti-Ne and for the other person to do the same otherwise you'll be overwhelmed. It's just never going to be easy when you have to solely use your inferior functions, it will be draining. So I think you have to communicate that way a little bit, but not *too* much.
 

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Healthy parts of a relationship I had with ISFJ:

1) He showed me how to enjoy various traditions like valentine's day, christmas, easter, thanksgiving, etc. I had no clue. He would plan out many components and leave enough empty spaces (for lack of better words) so that I could fill them up with my own style and imagination. Because it was all so new to me, I loved it and really enjoyed it. He made sure that it was always something we did together as a couple, rather than just because he wanted it. He also went out of the way to ensure that my own traditions (things I had long forgotten) were included in the relationship. I loved that about him because I'd never have done that on my own.

2) He was incredibly romantic. The most romantic person I have ever encountered. Always took me out on dates, picked me up, dropped me off, cooked for me all the time, bought me romantic things like diamonds, chocolate, flowers. Took me shopping, etc. I felt incredibly spoiled.

3) Very forgiving of my then-growing Si. I was sometimes forgetful. There was the time I was stuck downtown at work with 3 dollars in my purse and forgot my credit card, so I couldn't pay for anything. Couldn't commute home. He picked me up, didn't say anything, and we went on to have a fun evening.

4) Incredibly protective. At one point, I acquired a stalker. When the first incident happened, BF was at martial arts class. I messaged the first person I could (a close friend who had texted me for unrelated reasons), then my mother (after I was safe). Then I called ISFJ after his class was over. He was bothered that he wasn't my first line of defense. He felt that it was his duty to protect me. He couldn't do that if I didn't ask him to in times of crisis. He wasn't irrational about it because he could see why I couldn't have contacted him, but I understood where he was coming from. I felt incredibly cared for.

Even after we broke up, he was the one who was concerned that I had to interact with the former stalker once again. He wanted to know how I planned to take care of myself and asked if I needed help. The ENTJ guy who was pursuing me at the time didn't notice or care.

5) aware of my physiological needs in ways I wasn't. I didn't know you are supposed to go winter gear shopping in fall, stock up on certain snow day supplies long before snow forecasts, etc. He not only took care of his stuff, but he also proactively made sure that I was always taken care of. Food? Check. Clothing? Check. Safety/security? Check.

6) There were so many relationship things that I didn't know how to do. He taught me.

7) Fashion. We're both image types, so appearances matter. He's a 2w3 and I'm a 3w4. We both loved dressing up and going out to be seen. I'm interested in the theory and meaning of fashion whereas he wasn't. But it's something I think about on my own, not something I really discuss.

8) Similar levels of intro/extraversion. We talked about that in the beginning, not in MBTI words, but just discussing our needs. Although we went out a lot and enjoyed being seen dressed up, we rarely went out to interact with groups. We were mostly just doing our own thing. That's the right balance for me. I had an outgoing job, so I just wanted to relax in the evening. I wanted to relax at home, but if someone did all the driving, planning and minimized the social interactions, I didn't mind going out to eat.

I was sort of avoiding making friends at the time. He was really encouraging (slowly but consistently). When I couldn't go out with him because I made plans with new friends, he would become excited.

9) We could be very goofy together. We had some good times. Anyone watching it would have thought we were nuts.

10) By the time we met, he had already grown into his Ti. So we had stuff we could discuss like investments. He was much more of a nerd than I am. He's into engineering and all that. I'm more interested in the business side of things. That being said, the conversations sometimes felt stifled. I have a ton of intuitives in my life, so it was OK at the time.

11) I'm future-oriented in a certain way. He was too. But his was different. He planned the future of the relationship, our kids (I forgot what he had named them), marriage, how we would grow old together, etc. Honestly, it was a relief. At that time, I was happy to let someone figure it all out.

12) We're still on friendly terms. We chit chat occasionally.

13) There were some systems I was somewhat obsessed with. I'd try to explain it to him but they were pretty difficult. Months later, I'd have forgotten that I had tried to teach him. Eventually, during an unrelated conversation, he would string together some random words from my systems and unexpectedly throw them into a serious conversation with a serious face. Even though he didn't get it and he knew he didn't get it, I still enjoyed that humorous side of him.

___

Negatives I could live with:

I didn't care that he didn't meet my Ti needs so much because I do it mostly inside my head. It is so instinctive that I'm unaware of it. But I needed Ne to be met at a higher level, not just goofiness or exploring new places. Also, he wasn't all that open to critique. He felt like I was insulting him when I was really just pointing out a flaw in his system (ironically, ENTJ was sensitive like that too). He also believed that he was always right (often was, but hardly always). He was too giving with his loved ones. I had to make him stop being generous when people took advantage of him. So those were all problems, but I could have lived with them.

What really bothered me was:

1) the codependency (possibly because he was SX first). He wanted to spend 5 evenings a week together. I needed my space to read and just think. He was a serial monogamist. I sometimes felt that he was with me because he was afraid to be alone.

2) the cheating. This isn't an ISFJ thing. This was his trait. That was what really ended us.
 

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Hello! I've been married to an INTP for nearly 8 years now. I totally get what you mean by meeting each other when we're stressed. With my stress- I tend to bottle up my Ti-Ne. I just want to be alone and deal with it on my own, but my INTP helps so much in that he wants to hear all of it- it doesn't burden him like it does me. I think the issue is we're so used to dealing with our inferior functions and not bothering others with them- my INTP hates his Fe but I think it's great! My INTP says his Si-Fe isn't functional, he just hides and talks to himself when it happens. I can tell when something is bothering him and so I always talk to him about whatever it is. I think that's really what helps- communication. Asking the INTP questions really helps. Same with the ISFJ- asking what they're thinking about etc. I don't think we encourage one another to stay that in our inferior functions- but I do think we have to personally want to be okay and be willing to ask for help and allow the helper to help. We have to open up and that's the hardest part.
Best of wishes!!!
 
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