Intuitive Birds of a Feather
Sensing types outnumber us intuitive types. Depending on which expert you ask, the percentages can range from something as benign as a 60/40 split that intuitive types quickly overcome when they attend college in greater numbers to an 80/20 split that puts us in the extreme minority as outcasts and sole visionaries. The imbalance makes sense from an evolutionary biology perspective. One NT witch doctor or architect or scientist can improve the lives of an entire village. Similarly a community only requires one NF priest or diplomat. We need far more SPs to build and SJs to maintain the novel visions of the intuitive types.
This perspective does little for the young intuitive. Regardless of the actual numbers, many of us feel alone and very different as we grow up. When we do find an individual or a small group that understands our needs, interests, and unique communication style, we hold on to those dear friends for life. It takes us longer to develop those attachments than it does sensing types anyway. We cannot let such a valuable commodity go.
As an ENTP, I feel particularly lucky to have so many close intuitive friends. Outside of a couple of close family members, I have met all of them since I started college. We seemed drawn to each other from the start. It always feels strange to meet a fellow intuitive for the first time. You quickly realize that you don’t have to break down your communication. You don’t have to dissolve your sentences into their simplest parts. They already understand your penchant for theory, analogy, and the abstract. A fellow intuitive readily dives into the deepest and most complex aspects of life.
I first noticed the overwhelming numbers of intuitive types in my life when typing my groomsmen for my wedding in May, 2012. In selecting my groomsmen, I tried to find men that I had shared great experiences with, the people who appear in the pivotal and most exciting moments of my life. I could easily road trip fifteen hours in a Toyota Corolla with any of them. I would entrust my life to them. My best man is an INFP. My other four groomsmen type out as an ENTJ, INFJ, INFJ, and INFP. Another friend I considered for that task also types out as an INFJ. He couldn’t make the wedding because he had already committed to a mission trip to Kenya for the two weeks around the wedding.
Expanding to my small bachelor party adds one ESFP to the mix. This might seem like an anomaly, but NTs still like to keep an SP or two around. The NFs fulfill my vital mental needs, but sometime I just want to do something wild and crazy. I often like to get my hands dirty and let my utilitarian nature roam. SPs don’t require a deep conversation; they incite me to action. I also appreciate the charming ESFP propensity to offer you the shirt off their back. When my bride suffered a flat tire while driving down the gravel driveway to our outdoor wedding site, the ESFP had the spare tire on the Oldsmobile before I even knew we had an issue.
Still, my half of the wedding party shows a surprising number of INFs. We balance each other out quite well. They appreciate my carefree charisma. They love the fact that they never have to struggle to understand two simultaneous conversations when they talk to me. Many INFs pick up on both the said words and the often contradictory feelings and body language in a conversation. ENTPs require no guess work. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I say what I mean. I prefer blatant honesty and I remain hopelessly unpracticed in deception.
As an extrovert, I thoroughly enjoy the way INFs make me feel like the only person in the room. They always give their full and undivided attention. They show great interest in nurturing my personal growth. They always know how to ask the right questions. As an ENTP, conversation with INFs feels effortless, organic.
The relationship works so well that I married one. My beautiful bride is an INFP. Sometimes I want to go party when she just needs to stay in for some quality time and neither of us can arrive on time for anything, but we communicate incredibly well and we share the same imagination and lust for life. I couldn’t imagine life with anyone else.
Breaking down her bridesmaids shows a complementary trend to my groomsmen. As an INFP, Angelica selected an INTP, ENFJ, INTP, ENTJ, and her sister (an ESTP). As an NT I selected four NFs and an NT. As an NF, my wife selected (outside of the obligatory family choice) three NTs and an NF. She met three of the four selections during college or afterwards. When thrust into new social environments where we could freely choose our interactions, we both gravitated towards complementary temperaments.
The trend continues when I expand the sample to all of my closest family and friends. I feel very blessed that I was raised by an INFJ mother. I remain fairly close to my ENFJ sister (the same ENFJ as my wife’s bridesmaid: they roomed together in college). I enjoy fishing, yard work, etc with my ESTP dad, but I have a difficult time with our telephone conversations.
My full list of close friends, the friends I would most want at my birthday party and see on regular basis, comes out thus: INFP, INFP, INFP, INFJ, INFJ, INFJ, INFJ, ENFJ, ENFP, ENFP, INTP, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, ESFP, ESFP, ESTP, and ESTP.
Adding my wife and family, that comes to 13 NFs, 4 NTs, and 5 SPs. Most impressively, I have as many close friends that I identify as INFP (4) or INFJ (5) as entire other temperaments. This constitutes a small miracle when you consider that INFPs only represent 4% of the population but 19% of my favorite people. Even more incredible, estimates suggest that INFJs make up only 2% of the US population, easily the rarest type. I shouldn’t know one, much less five. This couldn’t happen if ENTPs didn’t share a special relationship with INFs.
If you expand the sample to my next largest social circle, you find the first ISxP and the first SFJs. I can maintain a congenial and professional relationship with such people, but we come from completely different worldviews, especially the SJs. I find the SFJs enigmatic. They express similar feelings towards me. They possess such contrary values and lifestyles to my own.
You won’t find an STJ in any of my preferred social circles. They remain as much an enigma to me as their SFJ brethren, but instead of well-meaning feelings, the STJ uses Te (extroverted thinking) as their primary judgment function. This results in their frequent attempts to impose their logic on the external world. To the more libertarian minded NTP with our live and let live philosophy, this comes across as incredibly bossy. We resist the STJ’s attempt to tell us what to do. They see our problems with authority as a threat to social order.
I don’t always resist Te. I appreciate the forward thinking, well-planned Te of the NTJ. The STJ just seems to draw the bulk of their data from tradition, social opinion, and personal history rather than the keen insight of the NT. I try to make peace with all people but NTPs and STJs are probably just better off staying away from one another.
We build relationships based on common interests and communication. It makes sense that we gravitate towards those complementary personality types and avoid those with which we share nothing in common.