This might be why I have no friends…

Last weekend I met a woman at a Meetup who I really liked. She seemed to meet all the criteria for someone I would want to be friends with, and I could tell immediately that she was either an INFP or ENFP. We had a really interesting conversation about different theories of personal development and she told me about one theory I’d never heard of. (The specifics are not important to this story.) After she explained it to me, I said, “That’s really interesting; I’ve never thought of that before. But I don’t think that’s true.” I explained why I thought it was wrong and proceeded to tell her about a theory of mine that contradicted hers.

I realized much later that I was kind of being a dick.

While I was listening to her talk about her theory, my train of thought went something like this: “Hmm, that sounds really interesting. No, wait. That’s a logical fallacy. When she stops talking, I’m going to point that out to her and give her this piece of evidence that refutes her theory. She’s trying to be logical but her logic is flawed. This study she just mentioned probably didn’t even have a control group.” And then I responded by telling her these things, but not quite as bluntly.

Why do I do that? Why couldn’t I just be supportive while she was telling me about an idea she was excited about instead of shooting it down? It’s not like it really mattered to me whether her theory was correct or not. Why couldn’t I have been thinking, “Hmm, that sounds really interesting. It’s fun to talk about abstract ideas like this. This theory seems to be important to her, so I should ask her some questions to find out why. If she’s interested in this topic, I think she’ll also be interested in learning about X.”

There are two tracks of thought that follow from conversation. My brain drives the train of logic and reason, and I can’t jump off and find my way to the train of friendship and empathy. Even if I could, I wouldn’t know what to say. Especially when I’m with more than one other person, it’s so hard for me to speak up that pointing out when someone else is being illogical is often the only time I feel really confident jumping into a conversation. I wish I could think—and more importantly, converse—in friend mode instead of fallacy-finding mode all the time.

On the other hand, I hate the idea that I need to change my personality in order to be liked. I’m a Thinker, not a Feeler. That’s my personality type and there’s nothing wrong with it. And while I think I do need to learn to be a better Feeler, I also think Feelers should strive to be more logical thinkers. Otherwise it further reinforces the notion that some personality types are objectively “better” than others, which is not true. I’m completely normal for an INTP, and I shouldn’t have to bend my personality to others anymore than they bend their personality to me.

But on the other hand, it’s also completely normal for an INTP to have no friends.

Is there a way to be more likable while still being true to my personality? Are there better ways to harness INTP-ness for friendship that I’m not seeing?

10 thoughts on “This might be why I have no friends…

  1. As an INTJ, I feel your pain. When I am successful, it is usually by processing all my thoughts and then digging into the emotions. We can get there, it just doesn’t come first.

    1. Yes, thoughts almost always come before emotions for me, because I get to the emotions by thinking through them. I think that’s why I’m only able to dig into emotions with people I know really well, like my husband, because I don’t have to spend a lot of time analyzing their interactions and their meaning.

  2. I love reading your posts since many of them are Meyers Briggs oriented. I personally find Meyers Briggs helpful in many aspects of my life. One of them is relating to people. I am an ENFJ, so I naturally have good people skills, but even I will occasionally meet people who are on a totally different wavelength. Sometimes I can’t even put my finger on it, but they just grate on my nerves and we can’t seem to find any common ground. I recently found a guy on youTube named Michael Pierce who took my Meyers Briggs understanding to a whole new level. He really goes into the separate functions and how they manifest themselves in your thoughts and decisions. People think they are being completely rational/objective from their dominant function’s viewpoint, but, in reality, we’re all a bit skewed. Anyways, I’ve found his videos incredibly helpful in understanding types I have a propensity to clash with. Here is the link if you’re interested .

      1. I have two ESTP’s in my extended family who really get on my nerves. I recently realized my 7 year old daughter is an ESTP so I have to learn how to better relate to and understand their view point. I’ve also had problems with ENTJ’s and ESTJ’s due to their constant desire to control any situation they find themselves in. After listening to/watching Michael Pierce, I’ve come to realize how often I myself am subjective even when I think I’m being completely rational. He has interesting theories on how all four functions interplay in each type whereas I find that other Meyers Briggs enthusiasts simply concentrate on the two dominant functions with little thought on how the tertiary and even the “suppressed” functions have a lot of effect on the complete personality. For instance, Ti is my “suppressed” back seat function, but I personally find that my subjective Ti system lays the framework for how my Fe (dominant function) manifests itself. You may find that, as an INTP, you realize that your inferior Fe is the reason why you’re bothered you were kind of “dick” to the other mom you met. But I digress. Anyways, I hope you get some time to check Michael out and find some people with whom you resonate.

  3. I laughed when I read this because, as an INTP woman, this sounds very familiar. These are the kinds of interactions I regularly have with my husband, also an INTP. We usually enjoy these conversations, but they can sometimes get too intense…. ultimately providing hilarious stories upon reflection. Like the biggest fight we ever had, which was over a disagreement in a hypothetical trial design. 100% true story.

    But I’m here commenting because I don’t do this with everybody. I don’t even really want to and I definitely don’t have to. At a some point in my life, I realized that “going there” in lighter or newer social interactions really wasn’t enjoyable for either of us and I wasn’t coming away from these interactions feeling socially fulfilled. It just shut everything down. I recognized that I have social deficets pretty early on and have been trying to learn and change through observation and self-regulation ever since. I don’t think it is going against or changing my true nature; I think of it as continuous learning. Sometimes, instead of dwelling on an inconsequential logical fallacy, I focus more of my drive to analyze on the dynamics of the interaction itself. This is not always easy for me to do, but I find that it leads to higher quality social interactions.

    Also- I really struggle with this idea that personality is fixed. I think we are finding more and more that personality is more fluid and changeable than we once thought. And Myers-Briggs seems like such a silly test to hang your entire existence on. Psychologists, particularly the more academic and reseach-focused ones, don’t take it very seriously. I read your posts and the one thing I desperatly want to say — and have struggled for a long time with whether it would be productive to do so because I realize that this idea is very central to you — is that you are not bound to this concept of your personality. If you find this fulfilling and enjoyable and functional then by all means, find a way to work around it or make it work. If it’s not totally working for you, maybe there are some ways you can adapt.

    1. I agree that personality is not immutable, but I think personality type, which is one part of personality, does not change much throughout life. One can certainly develop skills in other areas which are not in one’s personality type, but it takes work and self-awareness, and that’s where MBTI comes in handy.

      I think my social development has actually happened backwards. In my younger years I worked really hard to assimilate socially, and I did it pretty successfully, but it was very unfulfilling to me. So for the past few years when it comes to social interactions, I’ve focused on doing what comes naturally to me and prioritizing my own fulfillment more than others’ expectations. My social skills have definitely regressed as a result of not really caring about it. But I’m realizing that I do need to bend a little in order to find common ground, so that’s what this post is about.

      Analyzing the dynamics of the social interaction is also something I enjoy. For me, the hierarchy goes something like 1) analyzing what the other person is saying; 2) analyzing the dynamics of the interaction; 3) analyzing the emotions and motivations of the other person; 4) caring about and engaging directly with the emotions of the other person. The first time I meet someone I’m only able to get to step 1 or 2, and it’s only after knowing someone extremely well that I can get to step 4 easily. The problem is that manifesting step 1 can really alienate people and prevent them from wanting to interact with me again. Of course I’m able to “fake” interest in people’s emotions and mask my personality type in general, but I have no interest in doing that anymore.

  4. I can relate to some degree. I’m INFP or INTP (I always got those different results with little to no preference in F/T). I often spot some logical flaws when someone talks to me, but I just keep it to myself, unless they ask spesifically for my opinion. I would rather point to the logic alone rather than put possessive label to it (like saying ‘there’s something odd about that idea’ instead of ‘your logic has flaws’) so they will be less attached to it and won’t feel the need to defend it out of emotional bias.
    And the other thing I like to do is to counter their own logic with questions, so in the end they will be the one who admit their own logical flaws, unless they’re so stubborn in defending it, then I won’t bother anymore.
    These approaches never fail me so far.

  5. I’m new to this site and I’m enjoying reading your frankness. I am an INTP and a mother of 4, originally I was searching for articles on how to parent in this modern world when FE is not you primary (or secondary…. or tertiary) function. I love my kids but I’m not in many ways able to be a supermom. I’m too selfish. I’m okay with that, but I’m still trying to find a balance- hence my search and reading your blog instead of washing dishes.
    Now my response to your article, it’s so fun to read about you experiencing what I experience too. Pointing out logical fallacies are FUN. Not because we are jackasses (though to some truly obstinate people that is fun too), but because talking about why it’s a logical fallacy is fun. Finding someone who does not react emotionally to being told they are wrong is refreshing and no, you do not need to change who you are. Someone will understand at some point that you are not trying to be offensive, in an academic setting, pointing out a logical fallacy is completely acceptable. Also, a person does not need to change their opinion just because you poke a hole in it- if their argument/opinion/ideas are built on a logical fallacy you would be a bad friend to allow them to tell other people whatever they were telling you. Ultimately a person can accept your input or not, it’s up to them, but opinions should be allowed to be tested, refined if necessary and defended if they refuse new data. There’s nothing wrong with that, then again- this is one INTP to another.

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