INTJ: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This post is dedicated to my readers that want to understand INTJs, but are less familiar with Jungian cognitive functions. I understand that the functions are difficult for newbies to navigate, so I’m making your life easier.

Fact #1 People empty us.

When I say this, I don’t mean that we don’t value human companionship. In fact, I would argue to the contrary. However, our introversion causes us to drain our energy as we attempt to socialize. Our energy stems from within ourselves rather than from being with other people. We value solitude, silence and thought.

To us, silence truly is golden.

As a result, parties are definitely not our favourite place to be and when forced to be in such an environment, we tend to stick to the sides of the room rather than gravitating toward the centre. We are extremely conscious of our personal space and absolutely hate being touched (in any way, shape or form) without our permission. Likewise, incessant noise drives us mad, prevents us from thinking and makes us want to scream at everybody to “shut up.”

We find it astounding that some people can manage to say the same thing three times in different words or that someone can fill an hour of time with words that mean nothing. We value conciseness when it comes to speaking, such that we say nothing more than what needs to be said (and sometimes we can’t even say that much).

We are some of the world’s best secret keepers.

If you tell me something confidential, you really can trust me not to tell a soul –ever. After a fun night out, one of my friends always says, “now, you’ve got to remember not to tell anyone about this night,” to which I respond by rolling my eyes and saying “who’s talking?”

You may have picked up on the fact that the others always find out, but that it’s never me that does the telling.

Seriously, my lips once sealed are sealed forever (unless your life depends on it, and I’ve made a logical deduction that your life is worth more to me than my loyalty to the promise).

We are extremely hard to impress.

We are extremely logical thinkers and as a result, we analyze everything. If I turn on a recording of a Shostakovich symphony and find that it isn’t to my liking, I will turn it off and pick a different recording of the same piece, just performed by a different orchestra.

When it comes to argumentation, INTJs easily recognize fallacies (whether we say so out loud or not is an entirely different matter). We love and actually crave intellectual debate, such that we often engage in it without realizing that the other people present may not be in the mood for it. The result…people just think we’re being rude. In actuality, we get high off of intelligent conversation.

The downside to this is that our hard-to-impress side lends to us getting bored with people who don’t talk about anything we consider to be interesting. Small talk, the weather, celebrity gossip, etc. All quite possibly boring to us. 

The number one rule to remember when it comes to talking with an INTJ is never to be offended if we openly disagree with you. If we’re debating with you politely, it means you’ve caught our interest and we’ve judged you a good conversation partner.

A negative trait that comes with this, particularly for less-mature INTJs, is that stupidity can be extremely annoying to us, and we might not respond politely.

INTJ Problems that Nobody Else Understands

When it comes to more mature INTJs, I might explain this more specifically by stating that its more willful ignorance (not stupidity) that bothers us. I can stand a person who fails to see logic, but one who does so while insisting otherwise is completely out of the question. Those people, I won’t even bother expressing my true opinions to. I mean, what’s the point?

It’s people who want to be “one of the intellectuals,” but don’t have the discipline to educate themselves who bother us –the ones that insist they are right without providing any evidence, and who willfully ignore all the evidence that we give to back up our arguments.

We lead from the back, whilst letting others believe they are in the front.

This doesn’t mean that we manipulate people, although there are definitely some among us who do (I personally don’t condone such behaviour).

It means that while there may be an extravert at the front of the line, INTJs are silently leading from underneath and asking for nothing in return. In fact, we prefer our leadership to go unnoticed and as a result, we actually make an effort to keep it a secret. One excellent, fictional example of this type of behaviour is Bruce Wyane (Christopher Nolan’s version).

He puts up a front in public, pretending to be something he’s not, while his true leadership –all his positive qualities– hide beneath the mask of Batman. Dear friends believe that he is an idiot who wastes his time and has no leadership skills because that’s all they see of him, when in reality, he is something entirely different.

Bruce Wayne INTJ INFJ MBTI

It hurts to have friends and family see you that way, but still, we hide the good that we do underneath a mask of our bad qualities. We let others believe that they are the leaders, when in truth, it is us.

We are not easily offended.

In order for me to be offended, I must first value your opinion of me. It’s rare for me to grow close enough to someone that I actually care what they think of me (thus our tendency to hide our good qualities). That said, the few relationships that I have been blessed to cherish are highly valuable to me.

If a school friend tells me I’m a loser with no life, I probably won’t think twice about it, but the same doesn’t hold true if my Mom were to make a similar comment.

Ender Wiggin as an Asexual Character

Ender Wiggin is another one of my favourite fictional INTJs. He has a few select people whose opinions he values, but otherwise, he doesn’t care. His teachers turn him into a social outcast by making a favourite of him, but Ender reacts extremely positively to his peer’s negative treatment. While emotional personality types would fall into loneliness and depression as a result of such treatment, Ender really doesn’t care.

We won’t chase your love.

INTJs are often portrayed in fiction as mechanical, lacking feelings and bearing little-to-no sex-drive. Contrary to popular belief, we do actually experience emotion and attraction, although I would definitely agree that many INTJs (myself included) are asexual. If we are interested in being friends with or dating someone, we’ll put forth some effort, but if the other person isn’t interested, we will often walk away unaffected.

The reason is simple and based purely on logic. While highly emotional personality types might chase someone’s companionship, INTJs recognize disinterest in another individual. Following this recognition, we literally make a logical decision to accept what we can’t control.

INTJ: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

You can imagine how very freeing this trait can be. It saves us quite a lot of heartbreak and emotional turmoil, although it’s a little bit more difficult to do when it comes to relationships that we’ve already built. For instance, if my already-established significant other were to decide to leave me, I doubt I would be able to apply this type of logic to prevent myself from emotionally shutting down. However, when it comes to the majority of relationships –we have so few of them that we actually consider to be true— walking away is the easiest decision in the world.

This is not to say that we won’t always be there for you if you decide that you need us. We understand when to back off. If you decide to come back, or that you need us, we will often readily be there to support you, unless we perceive you to be taking advantage of us. 

We are probably analyzing you.

Yes, we are introverts who interact little, but we actually have an astute understanding of human nature and human motives. People think that INTJs lack social skills, but in reality, we have excellent social skills. We just happen to be very selective about who gets to see those social skills. People often view us as distant, rude and mysterious characters, and that’s definitely how we’re portrayed in movies. Ironically, everyone seems enchanted by fictional INTJs, but in real life, we’re pretty invisible, mostly because INTJs are featured in fiction, whereas the opposite is true of life. Nobody is there with a camera highlighting us, and so we fade into the periphery. 

INTJs naturally make a lot of enemies because while we understand other people quite well, they don’t make an effort to understand us.

As proof of how well we understand people –everyone in my family (parents included) comes to me for advice on how to get along with the others in the family. They ask me questions about their communication styles and their heart’s deepest desires because they know that I understand how each person’s brain works.

INTJs naturally analyze other people’s behaviour (not necessarily in a bad way). We watch what you do and you say, and we use that knowledge to logically deduce the workings of your brain. It is this that allows me to know when people are lying, when people are hurting and when they are happy –all without ever asking them or anyone they know.

This is another reason that we don’t have many friends –because we don’t need to ask questions to know who you are. We draw logical conclusions from hearing you speak and from observing your actions, but because we aren’t always good at asking social questions, people naturally assume that we aren’t interested in them and as a result, most seeds don’t grow into friendships.

We are terrible at expressing our own feelings.

While we may understand other people very astutely, I cannot adequately express to you how hard it can be to reveal true feelings to others. Often times INTJs are viewed as very robotic because of how vastly bad we are at this, but deep down we experience emotions just like everyone else. The difference between us and your average person is that we fight against our emotions –whether it be anger, fear, happiness or love. We fight against any form of emotion, even when we don’t want to.

But even despite all of our fighting, there are times when we genuinely want other people to understand how we feel. The problem is, we’ve grown so accustomed to fighting against our feelings that when we try to expose them to others, it always comes out wrong.

People end up misinterpreting our intentions because we just honestly have no clue how to show, let alone tell what we feel.

We are strict non-conformists.

Nikola Tesla once described his personality with these words: “Anti-social behaviour is a trait of intelligence in a world full of conformists.”

It’s easy to deduce from that fact that we comprise only 1-2% of the world population. We are different from the majority. The very fact that we don’t care what other people think of us lends to our lack of conformity.

Our logical side makes us stop before we break the rules and read them thoroughly. We want to understand the norms that we are breaking and yet conversely don’t actually care what people will think of us for doing so. It is simply that we wish to have a good reason for breaking the rules prior to doing so.

Interestingly enough, I think that most INTJs actually pride themselves in being non-conformists (though we grow to care less about this as we mature). We love to think outside the box, to be different than everyone else, and that is partially why we often hide our good qualities –because everyone else wants to showcase them. We like to have secrets, things that set us aside from everyone else and make us islands unto ourselves.

We quickly recognize underlying patterns that nobody else does. 

While you’re still running around looking for clues, we often already have the answer, but deliberately don’t say it out loud just because we find it satisfying to keep secrets. Consider once again, Sherlock Holmes and his ability to solve cases long before the police even piece together the clues and notice how often he refuses to spill information about these cases to anyone else, even after he’s known the answers for a very long time.

The reason that we’re able to recognize patterns so quickly is that we typically look at both the big picture and the small picture. We analyze the little details while never forgetting how it relates to the overall problem. Meanwhile, we also make sure to compare our big picture to millions of completely unrelated variables, which eventually leads us to make connections that to anyone else might seem impossible. 

8 thoughts on “INTJ: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

  1. Interesting. I will think on that.

    I never thought of bluntness that way, but it seems a better way to look at it than I have always done. Thinkers can be such enjoyable people sometimes, we do enjoy your kind we just can’t necessarily figure out how to connect with you, we want to though.

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  2. What sort of things would an intj apreciate if I tried to be understanding or comforting to them? How does one comfort you lot or show understanding and care?

    There doesn’t seem to be anything ugly in here directly… thought I’m sure on an experiential level this stuff can get ugly. I can see why they fetish you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually had written this post around 6 years ago and never posted it, funny enough, so it’s a bit different to the way I write now.
      This is a great question, and not one I really get very often. At least in my experience, people (including therapists) tend to overestimate how we’re doing and may even think we’re completely fine when we’re holding back tears. Assumptions that we’re fine usually make things worse––so it’s better to ask how we’re doing than try to guess based on how things look. We find it extremely helpful (because of my Te function) if people use evidence to comfort us. Saying “everything will be fine” isn’t enough, and we may actually argue with you if you do this. Evidence can look like pointing out specific comments other people have made that can bolster our confidence, or drawing upon science to indicate that things in the future aren’t likely to be as bad as we think. This also means that if people say one thing and do another, we’re going to rely on the latter to make our judgements. So if someone tells us they aren’t mad at us, but is behaving like they are, we won’t believe them.
      If we’re emotionally overwhelmed and/or dissociating, activities that stimulate our Se function are going to help pull us out of that. Help us use our five senses in some way. Every INTJ will have different preferences––some hate hugs, some are ok with cuddles from people they trust––so you’ll want to ask before touching us, but if it’s tolerated, it can be quite helpful. Alternatively, going on a walk and listening to the birds, or interacting with pets, can be another way to do this.

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      • So… ask how you’re doing, inquire, don’t take outside appearances for face value, ask what’s wrong….
        Don’t try to get you to talk about it…? What about listening?
        Use evidence and Te… um, engage.
        Engage on some physical concrete level with you rather than the personal Fi dom aproach? Do I just go for it and ask what’s wrong directly and try to be blunt and invite them to bluntness too…

        How do I find out what’s wrong if there’s something wrong with my Intj? If they don’t trust me yet have I just got to wait?

        Also my intj co author said he gets a sense of being heard when he talks to me because of how I engage with what he says. Is this… this is good, right? I’ve done something right here… I dontnknow how to phrase the question about this… but there’s a question and idk how to ask it. We have a business relationship, but we’ve chatted about interesting things a lot and have come to a good understanding of our position. Do you think when an intj says they have a sense of being heard when talking to you that they’re being vulnerable somehow, like what do I do with that information. I feel like it means something but idk how dto see. It’s possible I’m over thinking it, but I’d like to be friends with him someday and things like this could come in handy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think everyone should ask before touching others but that’s something to keep in mind when I eventually make friends with your type in real life. I don’t know any real life intjs. Thanks for the info!

          Liked by 1 person

        • I often find blunt questions about how I’m doing relieving. If I’m not ready to talk about something, I’ll just say so. However, not all INTJs have developed those boundaries, and some might not want to be asked bluntly. If you’re concerned about that being a possibility, you can always add an addendum to your question—like “if you don’t want to talk about it that’s quite alright.”

          If the person doesn’t trust you yet, waiting is always going to be part of the game. However, you can certainly do things to show them you’re trustworthy. Find out what they value and honor those values.

          About your co author — I would say that’s definitely a good sign. When I’ve told people I feel heard by them, it does feel vulnerable to me. But it’s also often an INTJ’s way of complimenting you. They’re telling you they trust you and that they value your relationship—that you’re a good listener. Take it as a compliment!

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          • Okay then.

            Hmm, that’s a good point.

            Okay then! That’s good! Good to hear.

            I’m concerned about them going to college at such a young age that they are, and I’d like to voice this somehow but I don’t know how to. Without me giving you apny other information about the situation, would you generally advice me to be blunt with things like this? I’ve found that they intuitively catch on to things not explicitly said, so I’m just weighing whether to indirectly ask about it that could open more smoother conversation, or just be blunt and go for it.

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          • I recall being overloaded with advice when I left home to attend college (also at a very young age) and I didn’t appreciate it because a lot of it came from a place of fundamental misunderstanding of who I was and what my values were. That, and I wasn’t asking for advice, so it felt condescending and I necessary. I think avoiding those types of things is probably most important, and being direct is one way to help with that. If you’re direct, you can specify that these are your worries and not necessarily reality/advice, or that you don’t intend to control their choices. Then it can be a productive conversation about emotions, rather than a tense one where you both think you’re talking about different things. Being blunt doesn’t always have to make conversations more complicated. The whole point is to make them more emotionally and socially efficient.

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