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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
How does an ISFJ, as a sensor, learn to speak an intuitive language? I appreciate any input, particularly from ISFJs who have gone through this process.

It's been five very long and unhappy years since I first began my relationship with my ISFJ. At this point we're heading towards divorce because neither of us believe this gap can be bridged and haven't seen it happen since day one. From the beginning, I ignored my need for intellectual depth because he had so many other lovely qualities about him. I believe that in general ISFJs are lovely people.

I believe that regardless of being an intuitive, I can speak his language, which is essentially small talk. However, I have not yet seen him speak intuitively to me. Actually, let me correct myself. It happens several times a year for a couple minutes each at best. When I mean intuitive, I mean a certain intellectual depth. Where one considers possibilities and ideas and relates it back to themselves but with a grain of insight.

I've tried everything I could think of. In the beginning of our relationship, we argued daily. I think it was because I noticed that he would be emotionally (not intellectually) intuitive when we argued. But it was incredibly toxic. I was at my most fulfilled when he was at his lowest. I stopped doing that.

I tried being patient with him and praising him. While it seemed to make him talk more, he did not speak intuitively.

I tried denying that I had this need for depth for the longest time. I threw myself into my work and my friends. I thought talking to them would help satisfy this need. But no, what I long for is to have this deep connection with him. I want to be able to paint a picture of complexity with him, understand why and how he does everything, know every part of his mind. But every time I try to do so, every time I ask what is on his mind or what he's feeling, it's always, "Nothing." I am left with a blank canvas and it is so utterly dissatisfying. Anyone can know him on a superficial level.

I tried changing myself, only engaging in small talk. But I became profoundly unhappy... It was like my mind, the part of me that makes me feel most alive, shut down completely and I stopped thinking. When I would look at, for instance a wall, I would simply think "wall."

Lately, I've been asking him very pointedly, "What does this mean to you?" Because often if and when he rarely does talk, it will be like talking to a Google search engine, or a Wikipedia article. But for some reason when I guide him like this, he shuts down completely. I believe that I should not express my opinions, or any opinion aside from complete acceptance, even if I just really want to see how his mind works. It's just disappointing and frustrating because I've been withholding my opinions for so long, afraid that absolutely everything I do will make him figuratively bleed.

I'm tired of this lack of connection. While both he and I know that I can make him happy, I myself seem to be profoundly unhappy with this situation.

Any advice is appreciated. At this point neither me or the ISFJ believes this can work. I know INTPs and ISFJs have their cognitive functions in reverse, but while I'm starting to develop my Fe, I have not seen him move past Si or Fe. It almost seems hopeless. But I'd like to believe that there are other sensors who have gone through the same thing and that they know better than we do.
 

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Honestly, I think it really depends on the person. I know that as an ISFJ there are times where I can have some deep conversations with the INTJ I'm currently getting to know. I also can have deep conversations with my ISTJ friend at times. I find them both stimulating and fulfilling but I'm sure not everyone feels the same way about them.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Honestly, I think it really depends on the person. I know that as an ISFJ there are times where I can have some deep conversations with the INTJ I'm currently getting to know. I also can have deep conversations with my ISTJ friend at times. I find them both stimulating and fulfilling but I'm sure not everyone feels the same way about them.
Yes, I do believe it varies individual to individual. :( Another of my best friends is an ISFJ female, but we have no problem having deep conversations and she seems to enjoy them as much as I do. However, she's had a very different upbringing. She was raised by a professor, majored in English, then we met in law school. Being a female might also have a large part to do with that ability or perhaps the desire to connect.

However, for the other ISFJ, he was never brought up or forced to have these skills. He has been intensely private and quiet his entire life. Even the littlest things I ask, like "Why do you like X?" Gives me a "I don't know" or "I just like it?" response. I almost feel a sense of despair in that I may never be able to know him at a deeper level.
 

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I understand what you mean. I feel like if he cannot fulfill your needs and you've discussed it with (which it appears you have) him. Then the relationship cannot go anywhere. It may be time to call it quits and find someone who can meet those needs. Sorry.
 

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That sounds to me more like his individual issue. I can sort of relate with a friend of mine, she is ESFP and has no higher education, but more importantly is not an inquisitive spirit at all and has next to zero interest in developing intellectually, which I've found other ESFPs to be. It can be frustrating with her because she has strong opinions and lots of ignorance, and when I try to break through her ignorance simply by introducing ideas and facts rather than telling her she's ignorant or anything, she is unmoving. It's like talking to a thick concrete wall.
I don't think you can change those characteristics in people, they might change on their own some time but you can never force changes of that nature. He sounds like he doesn't know himself even, and perhaps not willing or capable to look deeper.
Perhaps you should also look into Relation types, ISFJ-INTP are an Activity pair Relations of Activity between psychological ("personality") types
are you sure he's ISFJ?
 

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I do find it's much easier for someone with an intuitive dominance to communicate the sensory aspects of things then vice versa, because with sensory things, it's so much easier to fact check, and find out if you've come to the right conclusion on things, because your basing your thoughts on more objective data. Whereas with intuition, being speculative in nature, if it's low on your function stack, it's so difficult to feel any level of comfort in your ability to gauge the correctness of your conclusions. It takes a lot for, particularly a sensing dominant to not reject the intuitive side of themselves due to how uncomfortable it tends to make them.

I'm sure making that effort to mentally contort themselves into more intuitive thinking must be, at some level stressful for your mate if they're sincerely interested in pleasing you, and I would imagine that they are. I have one thought, but I don't really know how it can be carried out...can you think of ways to make intuiting fun for them? If people associate their inferior function with stress and pressure, it usually tends to make them push it further down and shut down a little. But if they can associate it with fun and enjoyment, it can develop better.
 

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How does an ISFJ, as a sensor, learn to speak an intuitive language? I appreciate any input, particularly from ISFJs who have gone through this process.

It's been five very long and unhappy years since I first began my relationship with my ISFJ. At this point we're heading towards divorce because neither of us believe this gap can be bridged and haven't seen it happen since day one. From the beginning, I ignored my need for intellectual depth because he had so many other lovely qualities about him. I believe that in general ISFJs are lovely people.

I believe that regardless of being an intuitive, I can speak his language, which is essentially small talk. However, I have not yet seen him speak intuitively to me. Actually, let me correct myself. It happens several times a year for a couple minutes each at best. When I mean intuitive, I mean a certain intellectual depth. Where one considers possibilities and ideas and relates it back to themselves but with a grain of insight.

I've tried everything I could think of. In the beginning of our relationship, we argued daily. I think it was because I noticed that he would be emotionally (not intellectually) intuitive when we argued. But it was incredibly toxic. I was at my most fulfilled when he was at his lowest. I stopped doing that.

I tried being patient with him and praising him. While it seemed to make him talk more, he did not speak intuitively.

I tried denying that I had this need for depth for the longest time. I threw myself into my work and my friends. I thought talking to them would help satisfy this need. But no, what I long for is to have this deep connection with him. I want to be able to paint a picture of complexity with him, understand why and how he does everything, know every part of his mind. But every time I try to do so, every time I ask what is on his mind or what he's feeling, it's always, "Nothing." I am left with a blank canvas and it is so utterly dissatisfying. Anyone can know him on a superficial level.

I tried changing myself, only engaging in small talk. But I became profoundly unhappy... It was like my mind, the part of me that makes me feel most alive, shut down completely and I stopped thinking. When I would look at, for instance a wall, I would simply think "wall."

Lately, I've been asking him very pointedly, "What does this mean to you?" Because often if and when he rarely does talk, it will be like talking to a Google search engine, or a Wikipedia article. But for some reason when I guide him like this, he shuts down completely. I believe that I should not express my opinions, or any opinion aside from complete acceptance, even if I just really want to see how his mind works. It's just disappointing and frustrating because I've been withholding my opinions for so long, afraid that absolutely everything I do will make him figuratively bleed.

I'm tired of this lack of connection. While both he and I know that I can make him happy, I myself seem to be profoundly unhappy with this situation.

Any advice is appreciated. At this point neither me or the ISFJ believes this can work. I know INTPs and ISFJs have their cognitive functions in reverse, but while I'm starting to develop my Fe, I have not seen him move past Si or Fe. It almost seems hopeless. But I'd like to believe that there are other sensors who have gone through the same thing and that they know better than we do.

It's hard for me to tell which of these two things is happening (and it may be a combination of both): Is he simply not interested in talking about the topics that you are, or does he not trust you enough emotionally to share his thoughts with you?



There are a lot of people that I know who never see a lot of the "depth" that I have because I never talk to them about it. I keep a lot of things private because I never know if what I'm interested in will be something another person is, and I always hate the idea of boring someone.

I have an INFP friend who at first thought that I wasn't particularly interesting, and he probably thought I only cared to talk about "small talk". But after we got to know each other and found some common interests, he was surprised at how much I had to say about them. But I didn't share a lot of that until I trusted that he was interested in hearing what I had to say and that he wouldn't judge me for my thoughts.



However, there are a lot of topics that I'm just not interested in talking about for the most part, and I'll only do it if I have to...and even then, it's not an enjoyable experience, it's a chore.


Having Ne as a bottom function, the idea of creating new ideas or speculating about possibilities is not something I really ever spend time thinking about. It's just not fun to me. It feels like a whole lot of work to get a result that doesn't mean anything to me. It doesn't in any way make my life feel more enjoyable or better.


Now, this doesn't mean that I don't care about those topics at all. But where I tend to find more enjoyment is hearing ideas from others and identifying the pros and cons of them.


I think this is where the strong difference between Ne and Si comes out. Being an Si dom, I like to deal with the past or what we already know. I like to focus on the details of it and to analyze it. I like to see what works and what doesn't. I like to hone down an idea to the details to make it perfect.


This is why a lot of times Ns feel like Si users are "shooting down" their new ideas. To be fair, sometimes Si users are particularly stubborn and shut down any new idea, which is one of their faults. In addition, sometimes they focus so much on the faults of a new idea (out of an aim to fix them), that it comes across as an Si user being overly critical and not thinking it's a good starting point or overall idea, even if they actually do like the idea.

So that's why I don't like "small talk" being viewed of as what Ss like to talk about. At least for Si doms, I like to view it as that we're interested in concrete topics and all of the details of them. We like to study what's already known down to the finest detail, and we study it in great volume and depth.

However, if we feel like the other person doesn't care about the topic as much as we do, we won't share those thoughts...at least ISFJs won't. ISTJs (and probably the two ESJ types to a degree) are more likely to share their thoughts and not care if the other person is bored by them.

For example, I have an ESTJ friend and we're both really into fantasy football. We can talk about it for hours on end. We study all kinds of stats and information and "speculate" on making smart choices. I personally don't view it as "small talk".

But I don't talk about it to anyone else about it because I know they dont' care about it at all and find it to be a pointless, stupid topic.



My best friend is actually an INTP, but we rarely have "deep" conversations either. However, where we connect is by playing strategic board games and other activities where we get to have fun using strategy. We also joke around a lot, which helps. But I think he gets his desire for talking about new ideas and speculating on things from other people.


But there are also times where we do have those conversations, and like I said before....it's mostly him sharing his ideas and me offering my opinions and insights on them. He never really asks me to come up with my own new ideas.


So with your ISFJ, there are certain things he's never going to be interested in talking about, and forcing it out of him will just be frustrating for you both. If those are the topics you need to talk to him about, then the relationship just isn't going to work.

However, if it's merely a trust issue....if it's just a matter of the two of you not having found topics that you're both interested in and feel comfortable sharing your thoughts on....then if you can reach that point, it could work out.


And that's why I can't say for sure, because I don't know which of those two that it is.




I do find it's much easier for someone with an intuitive dominance to communicate the sensory aspects of things then vice versa, because with sensory things, it's so much easier to fact check, and find out if you've come to the right conclusion on things, because your basing your thoughts on more objective data. Whereas with intuition, being speculative in nature, if it's low on your function stack, it's so difficult to feel any level of comfort in your ability to gauge the correctness of your conclusions. It takes a lot for, particularly a sensing dominant to not reject the intuitive side of themselves due to how uncomfortable it tends to make them.

I'm sure making that effort to mentally contort themselves into more intuitive thinking must be, at some level stressful for your mate if they're sincerely interested in pleasing you, and I would imagine that they are. I have one thought, but I don't really know how it can be carried out...can you think of ways to make intuiting fun for them? If people associate their inferior function with stress and pressure, it usually tends to make them push it further down and shut down a little. But if they can associate it with fun and enjoyment, it can develop better.

I agree with your assessment about Ss and Ns feeling differently about how they can talk about S and N topics.

The only thing that I've noticed on top of that is that Ns tend to get more bored and impatient when discussing the details of those sensory topics, whereas I know that I as an Si user can completely immerse myself in them and get endless enjoyment out of it.


For the last part of it, for me what makes talking about an "N" topic more fun is for it to be something that's not as serious. One thing I've talked about with my INFP friend is how I don't care about politics much and he doesn't care about sports. I like discussing and speculating on sports because I know it's a topic that doesn't really matter...who's right or wrong doesn't make a difference, really. But with politics, everything feels so serious. This is why he doesn't like sports and does like politics, whereas I feel the exact opposite...I like having a more relaxed topic.


Also, what I've noticed is that my Fe makes me value cooperation more than competition. The board games I like playing most with my INTP friend are games where we cooperatively try to win or beat an opponent. I enjoy those more than ones where we go against each other. The reason why is that since he tends to be better than I am at strategy, he tends to beat me more often...which gets frustrating for me because I tend to feel stupid in that area. When we have a cooperative game, I feel like we bounce ideas off of each other and I can learn from him with less pressure...we win or lose as a team.




So I agree with your idea about stress and pressure. This is particularly true for ISFJs because of their Fe making them feel very self-conscious in those stressful situations.
 

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You say 'speak intuitively' but you mean, intellectually, right? It sounds like you're bored out of your mind and you wish your partner was more interested in discussing topics and 'going there' like you can. Or maybe you just want him to speak more often in general?

This is probably an issue of taste and willingness to accommodate. You have yours and have known about his before y'all got married, so putting it all on him when you've known that he can't [or won't] fulfill that need seems unfair. Add that he's likely feeling inadequate when you ask him pointed questions. The way you wrote it makes you sound like a teacher talking down to a five year old.

Do you know if he has some trauma around learning in his past?

I understand the need for mental stimulation and knowing that your partner thinks as well, but it seems like a waste to divorce over it if everything else is OK.
 

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I went on a date with an ISFJ once. She was a remarkable listener, she praised my "deep perspectives", and I, well, I thought she was... acceptable. But I really need more "intuitive language" to spin back to my direction for a working romantic relationship. It would undoubtebly frustrate me in the long run if the other person didn't. I think this "intuitive language" of others is a quite standard condition for INTPs in the mating game.
 

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Long ago, I bought a very adorable little reeve's turtle. He was very happy living in his fish tank until one day, he tried to escape out of it. I guess he was unhappy because it was too tiny. I changed for a bigger one, and he never tried to escape anymore. I guess he is happy again, for now.

On a side note, I've seen lots of video on youtube about people living in those tiny tiny houses. It's not an obligation, it is a choice they made to be happy.

What about you, what will you do to become happy, again?
 

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ISFJ's are stubborn and don't want to be changed. They also tend to have low IQ's so there's not much point in reasoning with them.
 

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ISFJ's are stubborn and don't want to be changed. They also tend to have low IQ's so there's not much point in reasoning with them.
It may not be that the ISFJ doesn't want to change, but perhaps that you lack the intelligence and capability to actually persuade the ISFJ to do so.

As demonstrated by your post, your own emotional intelligence and social etiquette is quite...underdeveloped, so I wouldn't be the one to throw the first stone:exterminate:

Keep in mind, ISFJs do better in academics than the other 15 types on average, so there goes your idea of ISFJs having a low IQ.

You sound like such a lovely individual, by the way:rolleyes:
 

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It may not be that the ISFJ doesn't want to change, but perhaps that you lack the intelligence and capability to actually persuade the ISFJ to do so.

As demonstrated by your post, your own emotional intelligence and social etiquette is quite...underdeveloped, so I wouldn't be the one to throw the first stone:exterminate:

You sound like such a lovely individual, by the way:rolleyes:
Did you have anything of essence or did you just want to rant?
 

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Did you have anything of essence or did you just want to rant?
Same goes for you boo boo. Did you have anything of essence or did you just want to rant?

I mean, you are in the ISFJ forum complaining about ISFJs, most likely stemmed from real life ISFJs (that you probably mistyped anyways) in your life that is causing you bitterness and foaming at the mouth.
 

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Same goes for you boo boo. Did you have anything of essence or did you just want to rant?

I mean, you are in the ISFJ forum complaining about ISFJs, most likely stemmed from real life ISFJs (that you probably mistyped anyways) in your life that is causing you bitterness and foaming at the mouth.
Case in point.
 

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Thread Warning


Time to cut it out.

Avoid being personal. Thanks
 

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ISFJ's are stubborn and don't want to be changed. They also tend to have low IQ's so there's not much point in reasoning with them.
my ex was as smart as me and driven to be successful, she most likely will meet her goal.
 

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Not quite the same thing, but having an ISFJ mom I too found arguments the only time something of depth would emerge, but not because I’d pick fights, but because my analytical style was interpreted as argumentative, and my tendency to try and look beneath the surface questioned her cherished status quo. And so I found myself stifled. It was not until I was much older that I realized my style was not inherently ”argumentative” or contrarian. Other people found it interesting and stimulating, much as other people find the “fact dumping” of some Si types interesting. The fact dumping is so annoying to me that it would make me angry. I’ve had to develop patience with people rattling off information that feels uninteresring and pointless to me, especially facts about people.

I often can find common ground by speculating on people’s emotional motivations or psychology. That’s probably more INFP territory than INTP, but it allows for a more conceptual, global approach to the concrete talk ISFJs often like. They’re pleased because you’re talking about some current happening but you get to explore different interpretations of it. Is it possible to present your insights in a way that doesn’t seem challenging to whatever he is blathering on about? That way you get to be you and he gets to be himself.

I do think N types develop more skills in “sensing communication styles” simply because we are forced too. We have to adapt somewhat to the majority style. However S types are sometimes “forced” in some way to develop N style communication. My mom also has developed more ability there because she has family members who operate that way, in particular me. I still rub her the wrong way a lot when I question assumptions about reality. She shows more patience with my philosophical rambles than she did when I was a child. I think she realized I’m actually insightful. If he doesn’t make effort to know and appreciate who you really are, then maybe it’s just not a good relationship.... or maybe you need to seek certain stimulation elsewhere.

The main obstacle I still have with ISFJs is they don’t stimulate me much. Even if they engage with my more preferred style, they then tend to be too agreeable, not offering anything but agreement (that Fe consensus seeking). If they do offer an opinion and you counter it, they take it personally. I don’t know the way around this. I think it’s important to be able to be yourself in a relationship.

Anyhow I brought this up as a contrast.... so to address your situation.... I don’t think this is all ISFJ issues or N vs S stuff, although some of it is. I get a sense that he is somewhat emotionally unavailable. You’re lacking intimacy with him. Your whole complaint boils down to that. I wouldn’t characterize ISFJs as people who don’t want or need or cultivate intimacy. One thing I wouldn’t accuse my ISFJ mom of is avoiding intimacy. Honestly this sounds more like a complaint about a stereotypical man issue than one about ISFJs.

It’s possible because of your previous fight picking that he doesn’t feel comfortable opening up with you. You noted he would show some emotional depth, and that’s really the variety of depth ISFJs tend to have, but like anyone, that vulnerability will require a feeling of acceptance. Couple that with the ISFJ tendency to be sensitive to disagreement and you may have someone avoiding emotional honesty for fear you might turn it into a debate. Generally, if you want vulnerability from someone, then you have to go first. Then you have to reinforce whatever you get in return. So don’t try and pull stuff out of him, but model expressing opinions without conflict, aka not being defensive, but vulnerable. You definitely shouldn’t stifle yourself. Sometimes INxPs may just have to work on being less raw because it looks combative to some people. When Fe isn’t a strength it can seem like Fe style diplomacy is stuffing down genuine emotions and opinions, but it’s not. You can be honest and open and not be abrasive, but that often feels scary because it’s vulnerable. Maybe it’s too late for that, but perhaps worth a shot.
 

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Not quite the same thing, but having an ISFJ mom I too found arguments the only time something of depth would emerge, but not because I’d pick fights, but because my analytical style was interpreted as argumentative, and my tendency to try and look beneath the surface questioned her cherished status quo. And so I found myself stifled. It was not until I was much older that I realized my style was not inherently ”argumentative” or contrarian. Other people found it interesting and stimulating, much as other people find the “fact dumping” of some Si types interesting. The fact dumping is so annoying to me that it would make me angry. I’ve had to develop patience with people rattling off information that feels uninteresring and pointless to me, especially facts about people.

I often can find common ground by speculating on people’s emotional motivations or psychology. That’s probably more INFP territory than INTP, but it allows for a more conceptual, global approach to the concrete talk ISFJs often like. They’re pleased because you’re talking about some current happening but you get to explore different interpretations of it. Is it possible to present your insights in a way that doesn’t seem challenging to whatever he is blathering on about? That way you get to be you and he gets to be himself.

I do think N types develop more skills in “sensing communication styles” simply because we are forced too. We have to adapt somewhat to the majority style. However S types are sometimes “forced” in some way to develop N style communication. My mom also has developed more ability there because she has family members who operate that way, in particular me. I still rub her the wrong way a lot when I question assumptions about reality. She shows more patience with my philosophical rambles than she did when I was a child. I think she realized I’m actually insightful. If he doesn’t make effort to know and appreciate who you really are, then maybe it’s just not a good relationship.... or maybe you need to seek certain stimulation elsewhere.

The main obstacle I still have with ISFJs is they don’t stimulate me much. Even if they engage with my more preferred style, they then tend to be too agreeable, not offering anything but agreement (that Fe consensus seeking). If they do offer an opinion and you counter it, they take it personally. I don’t know the way around this. I think it’s important to be able to be yourself in a relationship.

Anyhow I brought this up as a contrast.... so to address your situation.... I don’t think this is all ISFJ issues or N vs S stuff, although some of it is. I get a sense that he is somewhat emotionally unavailable. You’re lacking intimacy with him. Your whole complaint boils down to that. I wouldn’t characterize ISFJs as people who don’t want or need or cultivate intimacy. One thing I wouldn’t accuse my ISFJ mom of is avoiding intimacy. Honestly this sounds more like a complaint about a stereotypical man issue than one about ISFJs.

It’s possible because of your previous fight picking that he doesn’t feel comfortable opening up with you. You noted he would show some emotional depth, and that’s really the variety of depth ISFJs tend to have, but like anyone, that vulnerability will require a feeling of acceptance. Couple that with the ISFJ tendency to be sensitive to disagreement and you may have someone avoiding emotional honesty for fear you might turn it into a debate. Generally, if you want vulnerability from someone, then you have to go first. Then you have to reinforce whatever you get in return. So don’t try and pull stuff out of him, but model expressing opinions without conflict, aka not being defensive, but vulnerable. You definitely shouldn’t stifle yourself. Sometimes INxPs may just have to work on being less raw because it looks combative to some people. When Fe isn’t a strength it can seem like Fe style diplomacy is stuffing down genuine emotions and opinions, but it’s not. You can be honest and open and not be abrasive, but that often feels scary because it’s vulnerable. Maybe it’s too late for that, but perhaps worth a shot.
ISFJs are a certain kind of private, different from the IN or NF kind of private.

They don't like exploration or abstraction; and challenging an idea to pick it apart -- either to see what it leads to, or to see what makes it tick -- is anathema to them.

Even constructive criticism can be taken as a personal affront.

For the care and feeding, toss a jumble of facts in front of them, and ask them to mold a workable concrete plan working with, or working despite, those facts. Be sure to praise them and pat them on the head for their resourcefulness and dependability.

The conflicts mentioned on this thread, remind me in a way of the conflicts which might come up between an SX-dom and an SO-dom in a relationship: the SO feels stifled, crowded, pressured, the SX feels that they aren't getting the juice, the life, the sap which feeds and drives the other, and so feels slighted.

The best thing I could say to the OP, is concentrate on your strengths together, and realize that -- just as, say, an INFP doesn't understand timeliness, or an INTJ doesn't grok nuance, an ISFJ just doesn't have much to work with when it comes to profundity and philosophizing. It's not something they're _refusing_ to do.
 
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