Myers Musings: Matchmaking by Type


Inspired by comments from David Foster and Maurice on the possible evolutionary basis for seeking complementary (as compared to similar) types I decide to try my hand at Myers-Briggs matchmaking. There are several theories on type matching although all refuse to acknowledge sex differences. However tenuous my suggestions, I do at least consider that men and women are different, with different expectations.

This list is far from complete. Rather than attempt some overarching theory, I just tried to come up with some potential matches based on (dare I say it) intuition and some basic theory. The list is not meant to be comprehensive, it is not meant to be scientific. I assumed physical attraction, so focused on the personality issues. I focused on what would attract or hold people together rather than how they might negotiate that. If INTP appears to feature more, it is only because that is my type. You could map other types based on the type dynamics I described.

Basic Rules

Although neither scientific nor based on any coherent theory, I did follow some basic rules.

  1. Generally, it will be better if the man is the more extraverted in a mixed match.
  2. Having the man favor thinking and the woman feeling will likely be happier.
  3. Different preferences regarding S/N may be harder to bridge than others (e.g. T/F), but even here, mixed pairs can work.
  4. Type matches are not necessarily reversible; the type that belongs to the man and the type that belongs to the woman is important. Most type theory ignores the male/female dynamics.
  5. In the modern vernacular, I would be sexist. I assume the man should usually be the more dominant and logical partner. If introverted he should provide stoic calm, if feeling he should provide warm leadership, etc. Masculinity may be expressed in several ways, but whatever way type dynamics work, it is better if the man has the role most would consider masculine.

Example: The ENTJ/INFP match suggested by some may well work for an ENTJ male, but I really doubt and ENTJ woman would be happy with the more gentle INFP man (I have my doubts about the match in the first place).

Some Potential Matches

Given their high numbers within the population this is probably a common match. They are quite similar but with a different focus. As an xxFJ she will probably like to run the household and look after the social things (birthdays, inviting the neighbors around, etc.) As an xxTJ, he will be happy to manage the practical affairs (pay bills, home repairs, gardening, etc.). This is a very traditional setup, with little excitement or inbuilt tension. That lack of excitement or tensions suits them both. This is a relatively equalist union in that both have their roles with neither explicitly leader. The thinking preference probably helps the man take charge (or at least look that way), thus helping the woman feel secure.

Similar to the ISFJ/ISTJ match. He is the practical one, she is the friendly one. Think of her organizing a get-together while he tinkers in the garage or basement, and you have described this union. He may balk under her organization and she may become frustrated with his disorganization, but this can be a stable match.

Having a more extraverted female can work if she sees his quietness as solid and stable, not dorky and withdrawn, and he sees her as drawing him out while not overwhelming him. The introvert/introvert match is probably better, but I would not be surprised if there are some of these extravert woman/introvert man matches. If their social energy is not hugely different and she does not feel in charge, or actually take charge then such a match can work.

Should work as well as the introverted man/introverted woman matches.

Much like the introverted version, perhaps louder :/

Much like the introverted version, perhaps louder :/

At first it seems unlikely. What could the artsy sensuous woman see in the reserved egghead? What could the serious thinker see in the carefree artist? The answer is of course the natural tension of opposites. He can offer some stability to her turbulent world, she can bring him out if his head and into the world. His impassive demeanor allows her to express her feelings (he does not get caught up in them), her subdued earthiness brings him out of his shell. As two introverts, they will allow each other space and are less likely to intrude on those quiet times. As two perceiving types they will not seek to control the other, this is important, as neither type likes to feel controlled. While this match can work, it is probably unstable as the initial excitement may turn to wearing tension.
Technical Description:
The function preference for INTP is Ti>Ne>Si>Fe.
The function preference for ISFP is Fi>Se>Ni>Te.
Essentially, they each offer what the other lacks.

This is similar to the INTP/ISFP match. The ISTP man is attracted to the gentle romanticism of the INFP. The INFP woman can admire the stoic calm and practicality of the ISTP.
Technical Description:
The function preference for ISTP is Ti>Se>Ni>Fe.
The function preference for INFP is Fi>Ne>Si>Te.

Another seemingly unlikely match that type dynamics explains. Essentially her strong process “mothers” his weak one. His strong process “fathers” her weak one.
INTP: Ti>Ne>Si>>Fe
ESFJ: Fe>Si>Ne>Ti
The “parenting” is comfortable because her strong process is a more feminine one, while his is a more masculine one. The expected sex roles are not upset and each supports the others weak point. For the ISFJ match the type dynamics are similar but less differentiated, however they do have the introversion match.
INTP: Ti>Ne>Si>Fe
ISFJ: Si>Fe>Ti>Ne

Another seemingly odd match explained by the type dynamics described above.
INTJ: Ni>Te>Fi>Se
ESFP: Se>Fi>Te>Ni
This may be reversible, in that the man could be the ESFP and the woman INTJ. This is probably because there is no sex role associated with iNtuition versus Sensing the way there is for Thinking and Feeling. If he is dominant enough, the ESFP man may well be the INTJ woman’s ideal. Perhaps all her shit-testing gives him the drama he needs. Although quiet, the INTJ man probably has enough strength of will to keep the ESFP in line and feeling secure.

That is all for now. I will probably add to this over time. I might add some based on the female perspective (e.g., what the hell do we do match with an ENTJ women?) Other topics could include same type matches (for example Hope has a happy marriage to another INFJ. I am not sure two INFPs would work as well.)


12 Responses to “Myers Musings: Matchmaking by Type”

  1. dana Says:

    my husband and i are ENTJ (him) INTJ (me) and our temperaments seem to work out quite well, the E and I complement each other and we are almost the same person otherwise–on’s list of myers briggs pair relationships we are listed as each others “pal”
    [DU An ENTJ male is one of the few types that can handle an INTJ female. I am not sure why I did not include that match in my list.

    Do two TJ (especially NTJ) not clash with both wanting their own way, and being certain they are correct]

  2. dana Says:

    nope, kirk/spock relationship–having demonstrated his capacity to lead and gained my admiration i am content to follow–the key is that we agree on all core values so i trust where he’s coming from
    [DU: That makes sense. I ran out of energy before adding a section on TJ matches, but would have said what you did: If the two share beliefs and ideas and the man can offer leadership the match can work. If they differ in beliefs or expectations it may become an exhausting (to this INTP anyway) battle of wills. In that case the man would need to very dominant.]

  3. maurice Says:

    Again, interesting. My wife and I are actually complementary types- although I’d be guessing as to hers, since I’m not sure she’s ever taken the test. I am an ENTP (strong in each) and I’d guess she’s an INFJ. Maybe midway between N and S, perhaps. It means we’re complementary in a lot of ways, and that means we recognize the other’s strengths. (She does the taxes.) The E/I thing causes more friction than I expected- I always want to be out on the town and she wants me home at 6:00. Meeting new people, hanging out in groups. etc. annoys her and attracts me.
    [DU: Although they often match, the MBTI I/E letters do not always coincide with the more classical definition of Intro/Extraversion. You could have two E types but with very different social energy. I know one ISFJ (I suspect) woman that seems quite social (the FJ) part, but those events she organizes end early with what is essentially a “thanks for coming. It’s been great. Good night” My guess that is her social side (FJ) battling with her introvert side.

    I understand your difficulty though. Two hours in, you are just gathering steam, and she wants to go home. Still, it is probably better that it is the man (you) rather than the woman (her) that has the higher social energy – for all the balance of power/dominance/leadership reasons.

    I am not a killjoy, try not to be a party pooper, but I do follow the introvert maxim that the best large party is . . . the one that has just been cancelled. Perhaps there is potential for a iPhone/Android app that rings the introvert’s phone two hours into a party. The introvert can say uh huh!, look concerned, and say I am on my way. He then issues his regrets and leaves. In fact I would call it the Iphone.

  4. Hope Says:

    “I am not sure two INFPs would work as well”

    Actually I think they would. NF types tend to take a liking to each other easily (as I recall 4 of the Girl Game contributors were NFs, 3 INFJs and 1 ENFJ), and likewise SJ types understand each other very well.

    The only thing is, there aren’t very many NF men at all.
    [DU: My thinking on the INFP/INFP match was that they might both remain too much in their own worlds, neither one intruding on the other. In addition, two NFPs might let practicalities slide, neither one keeping track of things such as bills, repairs, and (heaven forefend) social obligations. I would have expected the same pattern to hold true for two INTPs.

    That said, I could see two NFs who do click forging a far deeper, perhaps even mystical, connection. Two NTs might form a similar, but more intellectual, connection; spending long periods discussing and arguing their ideas.]

  5. Hope Says:

    Oh and check out this article:

    “Men who were INFPs, INFJs and INTPs most often married a female with the same psychological type. Women, on the other hand, who were ENFJs and INFJs married men with the same type.

    “Our research and the overall trend,” said Dr. Marioles,”supports the likelihood that people are more likely to be attracted to and marry someone of the same type then they are a person of the opposite type.”

    Women were dissatisfied with the marriage most often (33 percent) when they were married to a man who was an INTP; 31 percent were dissatisfied when they were married to an INFP; and 22 percent were dissatisfied when they were married to an ISFP.

    Only 13 percent of the men were dissatisfied when the women were an ENFJ and 12 percent of the men were dissatisfied when the women were an ENFP. Myers-Briggs types give some insight into partner satisfaction.”
    [DU: Interesting artcicle. Thanks.

    I can understand how a woman might become unhappy with her placid and neglectful INTP. The classic INTP would forget birthday and anniversaries, not always be emotionally expressive, and might lack the more direct leadership that some women need (they tend to be easygoing when no principle is at stake). The INFP would be similar (while they are a feeling type, they may be more reserved in expression of those feelings).I am also not that surprised that NFJ women would keep their man happy, because they would almost be the opposite of the NTP: mindful of his moods and needs, more attentive to birthdays and anniversaries, etc.

    I am surprised at the like with like matches, as I figured they would lack the gentle tension and mutual support of mixed-but-complimentary matches. Perhaps the natural differences between men and women mean that there is that tension/support dynamic amongst similar types. That seems to be the case with you and your husband; both INFJ, yet he expresses it a little differently.]

  6. Myers Musings: Myers and Me « Default User Says:

    […] Default User Currently in beta test. « Myers Musings: Matchmaking by Type […]

  7. Vincent Ignatius Says:

    I’m an ENTJ and my serious girlfriend is an ESTJ. She’s stronger on E than I am, and I’m stronger on T than she is. We’re about the same on J.
    I definitely provide the stoic calm to her emotional freak outs, she is very submissive to me, and I am very dominant with her.
    [DU: I would have worried about two TJ types getting into battle of wills. It seems that you have worked it out with your woman the way Dana has worked it out with her man. It does seem reliant on the man being dominant enough, and the woman being willing to submit to his leadership (even when her own TJ may offer different solutions).

    I will (eventually) update this list with themes from the comments.]

  8. Vincent Ignatius Says:

    It’s not Dana. Dana is an ENFJ. Less E than me though.
    [DU: I was referring to Dana another commenter here and at Roissy’s et al. I realized some time after writing my reply that it might not have been clear. What I meant was that Dana had worked it out her man and you had worked it out with your woman. I apologize for the consfusion.

    I edited the original comment, so that (I hope) it is clearer]

  9. Anonymous Says:

    this was incredibly unhelpful for an estj woman. id find another hobby.

  10. anonymous Says:

    infp woman dating an entj man here – never been in a better relationship ^^

  11. anonymous Says:

    What about an INTP woman? Who is out there, right for her? Definitely not a Te type, in my experience; certainly NOT a Te-dom! Also, not an “Edmund Bertram” either …!!!

  12. Anonymous Says:

    As an INTP women, I must say that this is a bit biased. But I guess everything is a bit biased… I really appreciate you coming at this from a different less popular point of view, but the least you could do is try to make this a little unbiased. Your basic rules or starting assumptions have no proof or facts behind them. They are merely your opinions, and yet you base the rest of this paper-thing off of them. You tried to make an educated guess on what types would make a good match. I would like this more if it wasn’t corrupted by odd assumptions. I have read other pages trying to make a guess at what types would be suitable for each other, and they based them off of things like n and s differences, and the levels of communication between fi users and fe users, and some even did surveys, but you based this off of gender stereotypes and your own beliefs.

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