Type or Not Type: Relationships

When it comes to MBTI® type, there is one area people ask about above all others, and that area is relationships. Type can play a huge role in relationships, from romance to family to friends to coworkers to casual acquaintances. It can improve communication and help us understand another person’s way of being. That being said, I’ve noticed a trend in MBTI® relationship inquiries. Often, the issues people want me to help them “fix” with type are not issues that are caused by type. Let’s face it, when you get REALLY interested in Myers-Briggs®, you may almost start to think that it can explain everything, but that is a slippery slope that may lead to explaining away issues that really need to be dealt with head on using therapy, good old-fashioned confrontation, or some other method.

Below are some questions I have gotten on a fairly regular basis, along with my take on whether these are likely to be resolved with type or if something else may be going on. Some of these questions are lighthearted, and some address some very serious issues. These are not meant to diagnose any potential issues or to dictate what you should do in your relationship. They are simply meant to provide a new perspective on some common relationship issues.

“Are people of my type just not dateable? I can never seem to find the right person!”

Not Type – You may or may not believe that there is someone out there for everyone, but I promise you that people of every type find relationships and are “dateable”. Many issues could be playing into this, but the first that comes to mind is where you’re looking for dates… For instance, if you don’t like alcohol or crowds, the coolest bar in town is probably not where your ideal mate is waiting. Consider who you are and who you’re looking to meet, and go to the appropriate places or online dating sites (which you shouldn’t knock until you’ve tried). Waiting for a great relationship to come along can be frustrating, but all is not lost.

“Why does my partner always want to tell me how to fix situations when I am just venting? It’s frustrating for both of us.”

Type – Of course, this situation may be caused by something else, but this is a classic example of the clash of Thinking and Feeling preferences! Thinking types like to fix problems that they see, while Feeling types sometimes just want to vent their frustrations without being told what to do next. Communication can ease this clash by setting up ground rules. Talk with your partner about communication styles, and agree on actions. If you’re a Feeling type, try starting the conversation by asking for what you need. Either say, “I really need to just vent now”, or “Can I get your advice on something?”. If you’re a Thinking type, try saying, “Would you like advice, or would you just like to vent?”. As long as these statements and questions are said respectfully, they can really help this common relationship woe.

“My partner is constantly yelling, angry, saying mean things to me, making me feel bad about myself… and has even gotten physical a few times. My partner’s type is —-, and I am a —-. How can I fix this?”

Not Type – This is abuse. It is not your fault, something deeper is going on, and it is not connected to type. If you are being abused, reach out to a trusted friend or family member, call the local police, seek individual and/or couple’s counseling, and/or reach out to The National Domestic Abuse Hotline. There are people who want to help you through this.

“My spouse loves to go out to a lot on the weekends, but I really love to stay in or hang out with a couple of friends. What can we do?”

Type – While there could be other reasons for this conundrum, you’ll often see this issue in couples where one person prefers Extraversion, while the other prefers Introversion. Neither individual is wrong for wanting what he or she wants, in this situation, but this can lead to conflict. Consider discussing a hybrid schedule with some out and about activities for the Extravert and some more low-key one-on-one time for the Introvert. Many couples find satisfaction in doing some activities together and some separately for the sake of each partner’s needs being met. Just make sure to talk through your needs respectfully to find a solution that works for you both.

“My type is —-, and I am really worried about my —- spouse because of the frequent going out, getting drunk, and using drugs. What can I do?”

Not Type – Substance use and abuse are not issues of type. If you feel that your spouse or partner has a substance abuse issue talk with him or her about the issue and consider seeking professional help to deal with the problem.

“Why does my partner like to plan everything? It’s frustrating because I really just want to get up and go, at least sometimes!”

Type – Oh, the classic Judging and Perceiving battle rears its ugly head! While this issue could be caused by a deep need to control situations that springs from somewhere other than type, most likely the planner is a Judging type who sees the plan as part of the fun, while the Perceiving type sees the plan as sucking out all of the fun! To fix this, talk out your needs and wants, and figure out a happy medium that works for you both. Perhaps the planning, or lack thereof, of date nights is alternated between partners to allow both sides room to express their organizational styles. Maybe some activities can have the big items planned (ex. dinner at the restaurant that gets booked a month in advance), while leaving the details to chance (ex. what movie to see when there are several things out that sound good). With a little work, this “problem” can end up helping each partner grow.

“I want to get married, but my partner of 6 years doesn’t want to. Is it because my partner is a Perceiving type? I’ve heard they don’t like to make decisions.”

Not Type – Ok, so there is something to be said for Perceiving types liking to keep their options open, but there are PLENTY of people who prefer Perceiving who are happily married. There are also PLENTY of people who prefer Judging who do not want to get married. If you find yourself in this situation, something else is going on, and the options for what that may be are vast! Marriage is not for everyone, so this could be a simple preference. You could also be looking at a situation where your partner is afraid to get married after seeing so many marriages go wrong. Other fears could be of marrying the wrong person, being a bad spouse, not living up to expectations, losing freedom, the relationship changing, and so on. So what do you do? Well, if marriage is something you really want, it’s probably time to talk it out to see where you both truly stand. Then you can make a real decision.

“Putting together furniture from a box is torture because I always want to read and follow the step-by-step instructions, while my spouse seems content to wing it and make the furniture look pretty much like the picture on the box! There shouldn’t be this many parts left over, and it’s making me crazy!! Help!!”

Type – Well, I suppose this could be a matter of being some sort of furniture savant, or it could be the old stereotype ringing true that men don’t read directions, but this is more than likely an issue of Sensing (the step follower) and Intuition (the picture gist imitator). Compromise can be tough to come by on this issue, but you may consider giving the Sensing type time to read through the instructions before starting, then guiding the Intuitive type through what he or she runs into trouble. You could go with the step-by-step method and utilize the Intuitive skills when the awful instructions inevitably fall short, or you could decide to let the person who the project means the most to take the lead. No matter which way you go, just remember that putting furniture together is almost never pleasant, and it may be better for your relationship for you and your partner to unite as one force against the boxed nightmare!

“I know that Intuitive types are always thinking about new possibilities and the future. Is that why my partner can’t seem to stop cheating on me?”

Not Type – No. Cheating is not caused by being an Intuitive type, and it is in no way limited to people of any type. This is another instance where something deeper is going on. It’s time for a conversation and possibly individual and/or couple’s therapy are in order to work through issues and decide on next steps.

“I think my partner loves me, but sometimes doesn’t act like it, maybe seeming annoyed with me too often or giving me explanations for things that don’t make sense. Do I just feel this way because my type is —-?”

Not Type – This is a trust issue, not a type issue. It is time for a deep talk about trust and concerns, whether you have a tough time trusting or there is something going on that isn’t trustworthy. You may consider individual or couple’s therapy to work on these issues.

Of course, this is just a short list of relationship issues, but hopefully it does its job of helping to decipher the difference between type issues and other issues in relationships. If you have a questions you would like me to anonymously answer on this page, feel free to contact me with the question. For more tips on using type in relationships, check out Relationships and the 8 Preferences and the relationship sections in each of the 16 type descriptions.


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