Ask INTJ: Socionics, Emotionally Connecting With Friends, and Sarcasm
I’ve answered this before. It’s going on the FAQ page once I get a chance to update it (which won’t be tonight, but soon.)
I’m aware that, according to Socionics, INTj’s ideal match is ESFp. However, Socionics is not the same as MBTI. There’s a lot of confusion on this point, probably because Socionics uses the same four letter code for their sixteen types.
Socionics was based on MBTI theory in much the same way that Braveheart was based on the First War of Scottish Independence. Sure, they include the same major events, and all the characters have the names of historical figures, but you couldn’t cite Braveheart as a source on your Scottish History midterm paper. Braveheart is it’s own, independent story; they’re different things.
Socionics uses something called Model A, which is based on Jungnian cognitive functions, but has branched off and developed into its own separate type theory. Basically, if MBTI is Judaism, then Socionics is Christianity. A person who tests as an INTJ in Myers-Briggs type theory isn’t necessarily going to type as an INTj in Socionics.
That’s not a criticism, by the way. They’re just different things, so you can’t really compare the two. I realize that some people find Socionics to be a better method than MBTI, and that’s fine, but I do not, and I have no intention to delve too deeply into Socionics on this blog.
That’s probably something a lot of INTJs have felt; I certainly have. The problem is that INTJs have difficulty making emotional connections with others. Often you end up with lots of people you like and enjoy talking to, but no one you would consider yourself close to. This is because INTJs don’t think in emotional terms, but emotional connection is the basis of all relationships.
This is what makes the INTJ/ENFP dynamic work so well, actually. ENFPs will go digging for your feelings, and are savvy enough to do it without it coming off as invasive. Generally speaking, anyone can know an INTJ exactly as much as they’d like to, but INTJs don’t just offer their their inner world to others — you have to ask for it. Other Thinking types will consider it presumptuous to try to discuss someone’s feelings if the other person didn’t bring them up first, and most other Feeling types will assume that they’re seeing everything that’s going on, and if you’re not sharing something, then there’s a reason you’re intentionally holding it back. ENFPs have no such hesitations, and treat your emotional world as an interesting puzzle.
But you probably wanted a practical solution here, yes? Well, unfortunately you’re going to have to act a bit unnaturally. At least to start with.
First, you need to offer a bit of yourself to the people you want to connect with. I have a little mental bag full of topics that sound very personal and emotional, but are, in fact, things I would tell anyone that asked. The story I use most often to build that initial emotional bridge is about when my parents cut me off when I was seventeen because they found out that I’m gay and I ended up living in my car. It’s a good story — full of romance and angst and self discovery — and also one that’s easy to tell because for many years it was common knowledge among everyone that I knew. I have quite a few stories that get the same job done, and I throw them out whenever they’re relevant in conversation.
Sharing personal information makes the other person feel like you trust them, and they’ll usually share personal information about themselves in response. This might be the most difficult part for an INTJ, but when this happens, actively listen to them. Talk about how they feel, and don’t try to offer solutions unless they ask for advice. Most importantly: don’t let your mind wander and maintain eye contact.
There’s plenty of science behind why sharing personal information is important for attachment. New York psychologist, Professor Arthur Arun, has been studying the dynamics of falling in love, and he conducted an experiment in which two complete strangers spend 30, 60, or 90 minutes sharing intimate details about their lives, then maintain silent eye contact for 4 minutes. After the experiment, many of the pairs reported feeling deeply attracted to each other, and one couple even ended up getting married. Obviously you’re not trying to get any of your friends to marry you, but making friends and developing romantic relationships is largely the same process.
Basically, you have to ignore your INTJ instinct when it tells you that nobody is interested in hearing about your feelings and personal life. We’re actually the weird ones in this case.
Everyone probably uses sarcasm to mask their insecurities to some extent, but honestly, I think INTJs use sarcasm as a social buffer. They operate differently than most people in the world, and are kind of in a perpetual state of frustration, so sarcasm allows them to express themselves without lashing out at people.
For example, a couple of weeks ago, I was at home alone when I thought I heard someone knock at the front door. I went to check, and there was no one there. We’d recently had someone break into our house, so this made me a little anxious. When I told my roommate about it later that night, she said “I didn’t want to tell you this, but the guy who lived here before us actually died inside the house. They found his body in your room.” Sarcasm to the rescue! Instead of asking in shock, “Are you fucking stupid?” I said, “Yes. Obviously I thought I heard a knock at the front door so the most rational explanation is that it was a ghost.”
Basically, INTJs use sarcasm to tell people they’re wrong when it’s not worth the energy to try to explain to them how and why they’re wrong. It’s a defense mechanism, but it’s actually far less abrasive than what the INTJ actually wants to say.
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