Understanding MBTI: Part II
Today I wanted to discuss the concept of compatibility with regards to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Essentially, out of the 16 personalities, there is a perfect compatibility match for each type. This has to do with what each type focuses on and how the functions themselves fit together.
For example, let’s use the type INTJ. The perfectly compatible personality for this type is an ESFJ. Here are each personality’s functions:
In this example, the INTJ uses Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking as dominant functions, or functions that it feels comfortable using. The ESFJ on the other hand uses Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing as its dominant functions. When together, each type is comfortable with what the other is not. It goes much deeper, however. The INTJ’s functions are all oriented in the opposite direction as the ESFJ. The INTJ uses IN, the ESFJ, EN. The INTJ uses ET, the ESFJ, IT, etc. This is critical to compatibility because there will never be direct conflict or competition within the function. Often, when we feel uncomfortable with somebody, from a personality standpoint, it’s due to their functions orientation in comparison to ours.
For example, Introverted Intuitive types (INTJ, INFJ, ENFJ, ENTJ) pinpoint their intuition looking at it in a very black and white way. They also want to be right and in control because of the serious nature of an introverted function. So when INTJ’s are working with other introverted intuitive types, there can often be a power struggle. Conversely, personalities that use Extraverted Intuition don’t look at intuition in a black or white manner and tend to be more open minded with their perspectives. They don’t try to ‘win’ or be in control. This creates a balance for the two types. This example can be used with any function. We feel most comfortable with people who do not look at things in the same way. This is where personality theory differs from common perception. Many people do in fact get along better with others who share similar interests; however, this is not true in terms of personalities. We want someone who can complete us, so to speak. We want someone who can do what we cannot. If I’m bad with money and thinking objectively, I want to be with someone who is good with it. If I’m bad opening up to others and expressing my emotions, I want to be with someone who is comfortable expressing themselves. It seems like common sense, and in a lot of ways it is.
To go a step further, the focus of each type is also critical to compatibility. For instance, as I mentioned in my last post, the first and third functions of each type are what we focus on. These are the two functions where we derive our energy. I’m an INTJ, so my first and third functions are Introverted Intuition and Introverted Feeling. So basically, I like talking about deep philosophical things as well as relationships. In fact, the only reason I’m so interested in personality theory and compatibility is because I’m an INTJ. Knowing what we are passionate about and what drives us is a great way to understand ourselves. It’s also an easy way to decipher what personality’s others have. There are so many variables to human relationships that’s impossible to have completely clear cut guidelines. There will always be exceptions, however I’ve found that at least 90-95% of marriages are perfectly compatible types, and honestly that may be understating it. You could argue that if 50% of marriages end in divorce, then being perfectly compatible doesn’t mean much. This is true to some degree. Your personality is only a small part of the puzzle. Maintaining a successful relationship requires constant attention and effort.
On a higher level, whatever relationship you find yourself in is perfect for you; otherwise it wouldn’t be happening. From this standpoint, be grateful for whatever your relationship is revealing to you about yourself. Even if you’re unhappy in it, life is giving you an opportunity to take responsibility for your choices. You always have the power to change and you’re never truly trapped. If you don’t feel happy with somebody, then leave. Otherwise, you’ll build more and more resentment towards that other person and will never find happiness as long as you cling to your relationship for inauthentic reasons.
Compatibility can really only go so far. It has its limitations. If taken too seriously, it can create a barrier to loving others unconditionally. For quite awhile, I used MBTI as a shield. If I pinpointed someone’s personality and realized we weren’t compatible, I’d be less inclined to try and build a relationship with that person. I’ve learned however through personal growth, that I only did so out of fear. By opening myself up and accepting myself for who I am, personalities have meant less and less in terms of how I relate to others. This is probably true with anything; there is no ultimate answer when it comes to spirituality, psychology, science, or philosophy. I feel this way primarily because nothing can come close to encapsulating the magnificence of the spirit and the divine nature each and all of us are connected to. There will always be an aspect to life that is unknowable and out of reach.
In my next post, I’ll begin discussing the levels of awareness and how our lives are reflected by the level from which we calibrate.