Each Myers-Briggs Type’s Fatal Flaw In Relationships (And What To Do About It)

Although it can be hard to have them pointed out to us, we all have a specific flaw that tends out to come out in our relationships. Most of us would prefer to turn the table on our partner when things aren’t working out, but it’s the ability to hold the mirror up to ourselves that will help to break our patterns. While it’s important to remember that we as humans are all more similar than we are different and that we can’t ever totally generalize, here’s a list of common fatal flaws for each Myers-Briggs type and what to do about them.


Fatal flaw: Idolizing partners

INFPs are sensitive and compassionate people, but when it comes to romantic relationships, they tend to put the object of their interest on a pedestal. As natural idealists who often can’t help but get lost in their dreamy vision worlds, it doesn’t feel totally surprising that INFPs often idolize partners, building them up in their heads, creating what they’d like for these people to be to them rather than allowing their partners to show them who they are. This tends to put an awful lot of pressure on an INFP’s partner, creating unrealistic expectations of them and often putting a strain on the relationship.

What to do about it:

Allow others to show you who they are before you start to decide who they are or who they could be to you. It’s hard, with an INFP’s very active imagination, tendency to fantasize and unrelenting belief in possibility, but it’ll allow the relationship to become the very thing the INFP fantasizes about most: real. At the same time, consider what your life might be like if you treated your partners more like friends and your friends more romantically. What might happen if you took your partner off the pedestal?


Fatal flaw: The desire to run

ENFPs are some of the most charming and charismatic people out there. But in relationships (if they can be found in one), ENFPs tend to get an undeniable itch to get up, get out, move on and find the next thing. In their pervasive desire to experience everything and attach judgment to nothing, they can’t help but start to feel bored, unable to deny their growing, nagging desire to run when things start to feel stagnant. Especially when their ability to wander starts to feel threatened, ENFPs tend to shut down in their relationships, sometimes disappearing altogether.

What to do about it:

Though it can be frustrating at best and damn near paralyzing at worst to have to attach judgment to anything, work on allowing yourself to decide how you really feel about people, places and things rather than living in a perpetual state of aimlessness, waffling between all the contradictory sides of any argument. Your empathic worldview will always be appreciated by those who love you, but your ability to be decisive, commit and follow through on your ideas and in your relationships will mark your growth. Understand that learning to be more decisive won’t threaten your freedom or ability to experience the world but rather actually – ironically – enhance your understanding of the world. It certainly can’t hurt to choose a partner who doesn’t threaten your sense of freedom, but also work to realize when and why you start to get that itch to move on to the next thing and whether it’s truly to your benefit.


Fatal flaw: The need to live by the “rules”

ISTJs value honesty and candor above all else, making integrity very important to them. The flip side of this though is that an ISTJ believes very strongly that there are a set of rules that they must live by and that to break any of those rules – even the smaller ones – would be disastrous. Pair this with their stubbornness over what they believe is true and a somewhat rigid tendency to make decisions based on the facts and you’ve got a recipe for a very calculated relationship where the ISTJ may have a hard time letting their guard down and showing their true self to their partners. Furthermore, in their desire to always live by the book, the ISTJ may choose partners that aren’t right for them because of their desire to do what aligns with the “rules” – to choose partners who are considered socially acceptable for them.

What to do about it:

Take a hard look at what you consider to be true and right – at the rules that you tend to live by. Do you end up neglecting other worldviews in believing only in yours? Do you end up in relationships that aren’t totally fulfilling, where your partner may feel misunderstood or unheard? While there’s something to be said about choosing a partner who will help you to see that you don’t have to be so concerned with everything being an achievement, this is work that really starts with you. Once you’re able to allow the possibility of other value systems and sets of rules as also being valid ways of living, you’ll be able to truly share your life with another person and the natural integrity that you bring to your relationships will shine.


Fatal flaw: The need to be right

ESTJs are loyal partners who will work hard to make their relationships work, but they tend to believe that they’re always right and – matched with their inclination to get into conversations where only they can win and the other will lose – that can put a lot of strain on a relationship. ESTJs are often not naturally in tune with others’ feelings, approaching their relationships from more of a logical, occasionally rigid viewpoint. In their eternal battle to be right more so than affectionate, an ESTJ’s partner may not feel like they’re valued in the relationship, which can create a lot of unintended conflict.

What to do about it:

Much of the time, an ESTJ’s desire to be right stems from their desire to control a person or situation. Your primary challenge will be to let go of a bit of that control in your external world, allowing yourself to be wrong some of the time and allowing your conversations to not need such black and white conclusions. You may also find that where you need to redirect some of that control is towards your inner world, which lends much better to you being in charge and is quite possibly in need of some TLC anyway. Every so often, let your guard down a bit and allow your life and the lives of those you love to not need to feel so structured and systematic. It’ll likely bring more balance to your relationship as well as a bit more positive affirmation to your partner.


Fatal flaw: The “door slam”

INFJs tend to be very secretive and private, withholding parts of themselves even from their romantic partners (if they’ve allowed themselves to have one). For the INFJ – often gentle in disposition and naturally a protector – relationships are intensely meaningful. It’s perhaps because INFJs are so slow to truly trust someone that they’re quick to pull back from a relationship once they feel that trust has been even slightly broken. While it’s very black and white in thinking, an INFJ might entirely cut someone out of their life. After having invested so deeply in another – after having allowed their identity to become even remotely entwined with another – the “door slam” is their last effort for control, to reclaim their lives (and arguably their sanity) after having put what they feel is too much of themselves into another person.

What to do about it:

With trust at the root of an INFJ’s desire to “door slam,” what you most need to work on is having boundaries. Once you’re able to associate having compassion with having boundaries, you’ll learn that even being gently let down by your partner doesn’t have to be world-ending, because your investment in your partner will come from a place of healthy interdependence rather than a more dangerous loss of self. You won’t have to toe the waters of a relationship anymore while waiting for shit to hit the fan, because you’ll know that even if you and your partner hit a bump in the road (and you will), you two will be able to work through it.


Fatal flaw: The desire to save

ENFJs are incredibly kind and giving in their relationships – but often to a fault. The ENFJ tends to overlook their own needs in their pervasive attempts to save everyone else. Their rescuing behaviors are their way of looking for their own value and satisfaction. In their desire to never see the people they love fail, they tend to take over others’ tasks, believing this to be helping them. However, the further the ENFJ gets from taking care of themselves, the more the ENFJ loses touch with who they truly are and distances themselves from the ability to have a real, genuine relationship.

What to do about it:

At the root of an ENFJ’s desire to save is often a desire for control. When they feel as if their own life is unable to be neatly and tightly controlled, they look to control the lives of others. Though your intentions are noble and I’m certainly not advocating giving up altruism altogether (the world might fall apart), try spending more time paying attention to your own needs. Rather than living in a constant state of concern over whether those you love are living how they “should” be – or living in a way that stacks up to your moral code – try to take a step back and simply observe and analyze, accepting how things are for yourself and accepting that things may be different for others, that they’ll need to learn their lessons on their own time just as you need the same.


Fatal flaw: Avoiding commitments

ISTPs enjoy living in the present, feeling as if they aren’t committed to or tied down by anything or anyone. While there’s nothing wrong with needing space and freedom, the very exciting, often intense ISTP may take it to an extreme. They very much prefer an unstructured life – associating routine with rigidity or feeling like a prisoner in their own life – and when their partners express frustration over their desire to live day by day rather than commit to the long-term, an ISTP may make a break for it rather than sticking around to make it work. For the ISTP, personal satisfaction may often be their primary goal, no matter the costs to others, and this can be very difficult for their partners who may start to feel like their needs aren’t seen as important.

What to do about it:

At the heart of your desire to avoid commitments is likely the fear of losing yourself by integrating your life with another’s – the idea of losing your independence is downright suffocating. For you, it may just be a matter of slowing down. Rather than constantly trying to infuse excitement and disruption into your life by any means necessary, consider how your partner feels when you prioritize your own needs and desires over theirs. While it’ll be to your benefit to choose a partner who respects your need for space and maintains their own sense of independence in the relationship as well, learning how to stick to your commitments and at the same time stay in the present will be your challenge.


Fatal flaw: Going too fast for anyone to keep up

For the bold and sociable ESTP, it’s their fast-paced life that’ll make it hard for them to settle into a true, genuine relationship – and hard for anyone interested in them to keep up. ESTPs can be reckless in their constant need for new experiences and new conquests, and their tendency to see others as a means for their own gratification can leave their partners feeling like objects. While ESTPs do often crave a meaningful relationship, their fear of not being “good enough” if someone were to see their true self and their pervasive desire to be perceived as “great” by all who meet them are paradoxes that do not nicely coexist – so the ESTP tends to abandon the former desire in favor of the latter, which to them is safer. This can be endlessly frustrating for their partners, who want nothing more than for the ESTP to show more of their true self.

What to do about it:

At the heart of an ESTP’s often risky, fast-paced behavior is insecurity about what lies below their surface. While many ESTPs are outwardly fun and exciting, they harbor an inner darkness about their imperfections and tend to keep all signs of them locked away. Your task in having a real, genuine relationship will be to first turn off the world and get into your own space, teaching yourself how and when to be introspective, that being alone isn’t something to be afraid of, that your flaws are friendlier to face than you think. Then your task will be to share more of your true self with others, to allow a special few to scratch the surface of your seemingly pure-fun life.


Fatal flaw: Difficulty expressing feelings

INTJs tend to be quick-thinking, strategic, determined and confident in all their pursuits – but when it comes to matters of the heart, they may as well have woken up naked in a rowboat in the middle of the Pacific with no one else in sight and not a single oar. Suffice to say, it’s a challenge. INTJs will find that logic and rationale aren’t always the most crucial ingredients in forming a genuine connection with another. Because their approach to communication is so embedded in critical thinking and analysis, INTJs tend to have a hard time expressing their feelings and consequently their partners often feel judged. Especially if the their partner isn’t someone who values order in the same way they do, there will often be an undeniable disconnect in the relationship that brings a lot of distress to both partners, even if the INTJ won’t know how to express that.

What to do about it:

The sooner you’re able to accept that not everything has to make sense – and the sooner you’re able to accept that those who are governed more by emotions than logic aren’t wrong or inferior to be that way – the closer you’ll be to allowing yourself to tap into the more restrained parts of yourself. Try to be less dismissive of others’ ideas and use more judgment against your own; your belief system isn’t necessarily wrong, but you may also discover that neither are others’. In time, you just may find yourself more able to express your feelings without all that need to back your claims up with proven facts.


Fatal flaw: Tendency to prioritize achievement over everything

For the ENTJ who takes on an intensely intellectual way of looking at the world, it’s their tendency to prioritize achievement over everything that puts a lot of strain on their relationships. Whether intentional or not on the part of the ENTJ, most partners just won’t be able to keep up – or measure up. ENTJs may become frustrated when situations require feelings more so than logic, as they don’t nicely align with the ENTJ’s preferred tactics of arguing with, intimidating, challenging and confronting others. Their partners may, as a result, feel unheard or neglected, especially if they’re not naturally as assertive as their ENTJ counterpart.

What to do about it:

It definitely can’t hurt to be with someone who’s able to go toe to toe with you, even proving you wrong occasionally, but the bulk of the work ahead of you needs to start with you. It’ll first be important for you to try to view situations from others’ points of view. While it may be endlessly frustrating, learning to recognize and endorse that some situations necessitate feelings more so than logic will help you to connect with your partner on a deeper level. And don’t worry – you won’t lose your assertiveness or ambition by becoming a little bit more of a softie (and I’ll never ask you to refer to yourself as a softie). If anything, you’ll find yourself able to connect more authentically with a greater number of people, and that’ll only help with your desire to achieve.


Fatal flaw: Neglecting personal needs in favor of serving others

ISFJs are incredibly patient, supportive and reliable, but they’re often in a rush to fall in love. Something about having a partner seems to be very validating for the ISFJ. Where this gets dangerous is when they attach quickly and become self-sacrificing and overly subservient to the others’ needs. The ISFJ may tend to not pay enough attention to their own needs in a relationship as a result and then pent-frustrations build inside of them as they become more and more unable to express their needs. While their partner likely won’t mind feeling catered to, it may become a source of strain that the ISFJ grows attached to them so quickly, and the undeniably lopsided levels of investment between the ISFJ and their partner will often produce an unbalanced relationship.

What to do about it:

Pay more attention to your own needs; it’s not selfish and it will actually ironically facilitate the ability to have a real, genuine connection with someone else, as it will create healthy boundaries. Also try to recognize that part of your frustration with others likely stems from feeling like you are constantly giving so much more than you are getting back. While it can be hard to accept when you’re someone who naturally wants to give so much, work to understand that your partner has an innate tendency to put themselves first – that it’s simply their human nature, just as you have yours – and that just because they’re concerned with all of the things they have going on doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.


Fatal flaw: The need to be needed

ESFJs tend to be extremely loyal, caring and responsible, but the flip side of these admirable traits is that they feel a strong need to be needed. They want their partners to depend on them wholly and without restraint, and to show just how lost they’d be without their ESFJ. Over time, this need may become exhausting for an ESFJ’s partner, as no amount of compliments will likely ever be enough. This tends to put a lot of strain on the relationship, but for the often status-conscious ESFJ who worries how others might perceive them, issues may get swept under the rug, denial the go-to coping mechanism. The ESFJ, who may become spiteful when others challenge that their way of living may not be best, will always find justification for their own behaviors in an eternal effort to protect and uphold that they’re doing something “right.”

What to do about it:

At the root of the ESFJ’s need to be needed is often insecurity and issues of self-worth. The ESFJ wants so badly to be seen as good in the eyes of others that they’ll go to incredible lengths to serve others. While it’ll be to your benefit to choose a partner who’s equally supportive and caring, it’ll first be important that you work on accepting and embracing your imperfections, allowing them to be a part of your schema and outward image rather than trying to appear without flaws. Once you’re able to accept all parts of yourself, you’ll find yourself more able to love yourself. And once you’re more able to love yourself, you’ll find yourself wanting to be with someone rather than needing them to need you.


Fatal flaw: Resistance to others’ worldviews

With their ability to make and analyze complex connections, INTPs are amongst some of the greatest abstract thinkers and innovators. But with the high level of importance that they place on truth and intellectualism, INTPs can often be resistant to others’ worldviews, especially those who value emotion and subjectivity as integral parts of formulating a belief or opinion. An INTP may be perceived as condescending or unsympathetic towards their partners with their quickness to dismiss and reject any viewpoints that don’t align with their own experiential understanding of the world. Partners of the INTP may feel like they’re doing all the work in the relationship – and they probably are. It’s not always for lack of interest so much as it is that the INTP’s partner likely has more of an emotional investment in them than the INTP naturally does in them. This can create a lot of discord in the relationship.

What to do about it:

The INTP learns best from experience. Though you’ll likely be resistant to truly getting out of your comfort zone – which is to say not just trying something new that’s actually just another opportunity to exercise a skill you already have – try taking on new experiences that will help you to understand situations before making judgments about them. What might it be like to approach something or someone new with emotions and subjectivity? In doing this kind of work, you’ll be able to bring a more empathic worldview to your relationships, and while your partner will certainly love your intellectual side, your ability to connect with them emotionally too won’t go unnoticed.


Fatal flaw: Unreliability

It’s not so much that the ENTP wants to be unreliable as it is that the ENTP has got a lot going on. Knowledgeable and curious, ENTPs are natural risk-takers, constantly brainstorming ideas and – more so than almost any other type – actually acting on their visions, often without thinking much about consequences or how those who love them might be impacted. Though their charismatic nature and quick-witted cleverness will attract many, it’s their tendency to not want to feel an obligation to others or as if others need them that can make their partners feel neglected in their relationships. For partners who require a lot of attention and validation, the ENTP’s unreliable and occasionally “selfish” nature will put a lot of strain on the relationship.

What to do about it:

For the love of God, do not stop saving the world. But know when you need to work on creating balance. While you’ll do best alongside a partner who values independence and can assert themselves, it’ll also be important that you learn to self-monitor. Knowing when to check in with your partner and see how they’re feeling can do a lot for upping for your reliability factor. If you can show your partner that they’re just as important as everything else that you’re taking on, they’ll be willing to stick it out while you’re out there being Batman. At the same time, carefully consider who you choose as a potential partner. You’re likely someone who easily connects with a lot of people, and with your desire to prove a point occasionally at the forefront of your actions, you may find yourself in relationships for the wrong reasons.


Fatal flaw: Tendency to check out

Most of us don’t particularly enjoy criticism (and those of us who do have worked damn hard to become that way), but for the ISFP, criticism is downright debilitating. It’s the very thing that sends them off into their own little bubble-wrapped world, a place that almost denies the existence of others and offers protection from what they feel is threatening them. This can be particularly frustrating for the ISFP’s partner, because conflict is inevitable in relationships and the ISFP tends to perceive it as a personal attack. When the ISFP checks out, they often become oblivious to their partner’s needs and look to the external world as at fault for their problems, which can put a lot of strain on the relationship.

What to do about it:

Though it’s extremely challenging, try to look at criticism as less of a personal attack and more an opportunity for growth. Understand that in life, conflict is inherent and impossible to avoid entirely, and that by disappearing when things get tough, you’re doing yourself a disservice as well as shutting out those who love you. Also work to understand that opinions and worldviews that don’t align with yours aren’t intended to be threatening or an indictment of your character. The more you work to internalize this and the more you allow your partner to be at your side while you work through it, the stronger a bond you and your partner will feel.


Fatal flaw: Impulsivity

With their tendency to place a lot of importance on social interactions and their excellent people skills, ESFPs are bold and original, often taking in all that there is to do and see. The other side of this is that they may be impulsive in their relationships, running from one person to the next at top speeds, quick to drop the last for the new. It’s not so much for a lack of interest as it is that it’s difficult for the ESFP to focus when there are always so many shiny, new things around them to catch their eye. This can leave their partners feeling confused and abandoned, especially for those who place more importance on order and intentionality than their ESFP counterpart.

What to do about it:

You’ll definitely need a partner who’s worth slowing down for, who challenges your impulsiveness with their natural inclination to carefully observe before reacting, but that doesn’t mean it’s all about finding the right person. There’s work to be done with you as well. Try to focus on increasing your self-understanding, to make time to be introspective. With your natural desire to avoid concrete judgments about yourself (or anything), this might feel particularly challenging, but work to understand that you’re not losing yourself or becoming someone else in becoming less impulsive, but rather just expanding your understanding of the world.Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Thought Catalog writer Heidi Priebe explains how to manage the ups, downs and inside-outs of everyday life as an ENFP in her new book available here.


I’ve got the same Myers-Briggs type as Hitler and bin Laden, but also Gandhi. It’s been a confusing existence.

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