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.
Although neither scientific nor based on any coherent theory, I did follow some basic rules.
- Generally, it will be better if the man is the more extraverted in a mixed match.
- Having the man favor thinking and the woman feeling will likely be happier.
- Different preferences regarding S/N may be harder to bridge than others (e.g. T/F), but even here, mixed pairs can work.
- 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.
- 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
ISTJ and ISFJ
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.
ISTP and ISFJ
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.
ISTJ/ISTP and ESFJ
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.
ESTJ/ESTP and ISFJ
Should work as well as the introverted man/introverted woman matches.
ESTJ and ESFJ
Much like the introverted version, perhaps louder
ESTP and ESFJ
Much like the introverted version, perhaps louder
INTP and ISFP
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.
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.
ISTP and INFP
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.
The function preference for ISTP is Ti>Se>Ni>Fe.
The function preference for INFP is Fi>Ne>Si>Te.
INTP and ESFJ
Another seemingly unlikely match that type dynamics explains. Essentially her strong process “mothers” his weak one. His strong process “fathers” her weak one.
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.
INTJ and ESFP or ESFP and INTJ
Another seemingly odd match explained by the type dynamics described above.
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.)