Most of us will have plenty of failed romantic relationships before we meet the One, and we likely will still run into problems after we meet the love of our life. But perhaps the craziest part of relationships? Instead of getting to the root of our romantic failures, we tend to relive the same issues over and over again.
Thankfully, you can start bettering your love life at any time, and your Myers-Briggs personality type might hold the key to understanding your romantic shortcomings. Here are the most common problems each type faces and must overcome, in order to have the healthiest and strongest love.
Note: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test that helps us to better understand ourselves and the people who surround us in our day-to-day lives. It tells us what we do with incoming information — how we process it and use it to make decisions. If you don’t know your type, a quick online quiz can help you find out. (Or, of course, the official assessment.)
ENTP: You follow your feelings straight into boredom.
When you meet someone who makes you feel even just a little bit, you dive headfirst into a relationship. You don’t think about compatibility, which is especially important for you; you need someone who will indulge your theories, debate with you, and offer endless insight into the world. Short-term, you love the chase and you love people who feel. Long-term, you need to find someone who you feel a deeper bond with, and that starts in the mind.
ISTP: You don’t want to be tied to someone.
The whole point of a relationship is to be your partner’s constant. But you sorta hate constancy, or having to sit still when you want to fly away. You always see a plus-one as baggage that will prevent you from doing exactly what you want to do. But this is why it’s critical that you look for people who share the same lust for adventure as you do — and not be drawn in by the fleeting whims of attraction to feely, intellectual types. That way, you’ll never feel weighed down by a relationship with someone who just wants to talk and have a lazy day watching Netflix.
ISFJ: You idealize your partner.
When you fall in love, you fall hard, and you frame your partner in this deeply angelic light. That person can do no wrong! Except, your significant other is … human. When you’re let down, you tend to take it really hard and have trouble bouncing back from the disappointment. Remember that your standards should be high when it comes to love, because you give that person a ton of your attention and effort. However, some standards you hold might be unmeetable.
ESTP: You don’t want to be consistent.
You are such a charmer! You love those who let you protect and cater to them, but you regularly forget their emotional needs especially when they’re “outta sight, outta mind.” You want to live completely in the moment, doing exactly what you want to do, so you sometimes blow off the people you actually care about — because, you’ll catch up with them soon. In reality, your unreliability is a bad habit you need to break if you want to have strong relationships. You get a lot from the person you love, because you’re highly extroverted, and your esteem is bolstered when you have a special someone to center you. That said, ask yourself if you are actually meeting your partner’s needs. Emotions matter. Sometimes, you steamroll ’em.
INTP: You wish relationships weren’t so feelings-oriented.
If you could design love and relationships your way, both concepts would be about finding a compatible mind-mate to show you new sides of the universe. All that said, you’re not good at dealing with the emotional side of relationships. Sometimes feelings need to be voiced just for the sake of open expression. If you don’t see a point to it, though, you want to move on from those discussions ASAP. Realize that most people deal with feelings by leaning on their partner. Listening and affirming their emotions can go a long way in keeping the peace.
INFP: You don’t explain your needs.
You know exactly what you’re looking for, and there’s a part of you that thinks when you meet the right person, you won’t have to explain a thing! Uh, no. In reality, even the person who knows and loves you best will still need to be told how to make you feel better, how to support you, and how to give you the necessary space to be yourself. If you’re hurt, you need to resist the urge to push your partner away. That’s, in large part, why you’re in the relationship: To open up, lean on your significant other, and get your emotional needs met.
ENTJ: You want control in the relationship.
You’re a natural leader, which makes you a formidable force in your career. However, you want to lead in your relationship too — which can frequently take the form of controlling your partner. You seriously don’t mean it! You just see all these ways your significant other could “improve” or “make the relationship/their life better.” In reality, relationships need to be safe spaces to make mistakes, reveal flaws, and not feel judged. Don’t jump immediately to critical feedback, but rather be the supportive shoulder first. Chances are your partner will ask for your advice when it’s really needed. (You are, after all, very insightful!) Just let your partner come to you.
ESFJ: You force relationships with people you shouldn’t.
You want to fall in love so much that you generally don’t think about your needs at all. You like someone and immediately chase after the relationship. All the while, you completely forget to do a gut-check; can this person actually meet your emotional needs? Is this person supportive? Responsive? Caring? Kind? Too often the answer is no, all across the board. In your next relationship, focus on choosing someone who is supremely emotionally available to you. Love will feel so much better if you find someone who cares to the same extent that you do.
ESFP: You dislike the mundane.
You need constant entertainment — whether you’re calling your friends, going out on the town, or booking a travel excursion last-minute. While everyone loves your zest for life’s exciting moments, sometimes you drive your relationship partners crazy by ignoring the mundane tasks of life. Try setting aside regular time with your partner to take care of the yucky stuff, from paying taxes to cleaning out the garage. Then you can do something fun! There has to be a work-play balance for your whole life to thrive, and you can’t leave it all to your significant other.
ESTJ: You don’t open yourself up to hurt that could sidetrack you.
You have a ton of friends and bring a lot to the table that would make you an amazing relationship partner. However, you have this idea that your goals and love can’t really coexist — which leaves you feeling a bit lonely. You have flings, but you purposely avoid people who might require more of you. Next time you encounter someone who you just click with, don’t walk away. Give it a shot. The right relationships will actually inspire you and make you a more productive human being. If it’s going in the wrong direction? Just move on!
INTJ: You expect suitors to prove themselves to you.
If there’s one thing you lack, it’s true vulnerability. You are serious and focused, always looking to expand both professionally and personally, and in the process you act “too busy for love.” You typically entertain only those who chase your mystery (hey, ESTPs, ENFPs and ENTPs!), and it’s not that these are bad matches. It’s that you’re very slow to warm up, and everyone has a line. When you don’t open up and allow yourself to be vulnerable to a relationship partner, that person is going to think you’re not interested. Speak up. Say what you feel. Let yourself feel and fall in love.
ISTJ: You’re rigid in your approach.
You really enjoy when things are streamlined, organized, and uncomplicated. The big problem? Love is none of those things. You’d rather follow a very traditional dating trajectory: get to know someone, ask him or her out, become exclusive, etc. However, the right person for you could fall into your life in the most unexpected way. Take more risks. Ask the person out, or pursue the long-distance relationship with someone you’re crazy about. Love isn’t a straight line, as much as you’d like it to be.
INFJ: You don’t understand your needs.
You love people, but most significant others leave you feeling just a little bit empty and a lot misunderstood. While you understand people to the highest degree, you don’t understand yourself, your emotions, and your needs very well. Because of this, you tend to let partners choose you instead of the other way around, because you don’t have much romantic direction. Date more and filter better, looking for someone who has the depth to “get you” and the desire to take care of your emotional needs — especially if that person is also a living mirror, helping you see your own feelings (and their effects on your life and others’).
ENFP: You act chill and repress your feelings until you burst.
Of all the types, ENFPs act the most carefree. However, you’re actually not carefree at all. You feel deeply, you want everyone around you to succeed, and you bend over backward to understand your romantic partner. That said, you rarely feel your significant other does the same for you. Why? Because you expect your partner to know how to be warm, fuzzy, constantly giving, and catering to your emotional side — yet don’t speak up when you’re hurt or need something. Talk with your partner when you need extra support, instead of ignoring the growing cloud of feelings hanging over your head. It’s invisible. No one can see it. Manage your emotions calmly with your significant other, before they lead to outbursts that may cause rifts in your relationship.
ENFJ: You overanalyze interactions.
You’re really good at reading people, and you can usually pick up on what your significant other is feeling. However, you’re not always right about the source of those feelings. There are definitely times when you think something is wrong and that you’re that something — but you’re often wrong. Maybe your partner had a bad day at work, for instance, or is just in a frustrated mood. Unfortunately, you are just hyper-aware of your partner’s emotions, because they inform your own, and you tend to overanalyze and worry instead of simply asking if you can talk about it. Get to the bottom of negativity you feel through open communication; don’t let your worries quietly escalate and turn into passive-aggressiveness or unnecessary fretting.
ISFP: You don’t put in a lot of effort.
You are such a deep romantic. You dream about love, write about love, create art about love … but you think of love as a noun and not a verb and frequently consider the related emotions to be more of a private thing. You forget that a healthy relationship with your significant other requires active effort too, not just an unspoken bond. Try communicating love through actions and words more often — clean up his office when he’s slammed and hasn’t gotten to it, grab her favorite takeout, or simply make an effort to express verbal appreciation more often. Most any partner you pair up with will need more active forms of love than you do. So try to speak those love languages a bit more.
Jenna Birch is a journalist, a dating coach, and the author of The Love Gap (Grand Central Life & Style, January 2018). Her relationship column appears on Yahoo every Monday. To ask her a question, which may appear in an upcoming post, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “YAHOO QUESTION” in the subject line.
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