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nicole29's avatar

Would you consider these personality test results as potential relationship deal-breaker?

Asked by nicole29 (751 points ) February 11th, 2013

My boyfriend and I have some serious issues when it comes to communication. It’s not that I don’t try, but really just that our communication styles are different. He is incredibly logical, brief, to the point. If there is a problem, he will address it, and then will become irritated if it’s discussed further, as he sees it settled once the conversation ends. I, on the other hand, am more wordy – as in, I like to talk through a problem until resolution.

After a falling out this weekend, we are trying to put things back together. This morning, he sent me a Myers-Briggs personality test. I’m familiar with these, having completed the official one for school last year. I took it again, with the same results – ISTJ. He brought up the topic, saying how well the description of his results match (and always have matched) his personality. He thought that it might help me understand him better.

Every INTP description I’ve looked up is absolutely dead on to how he views life, reacts to situations, behaves emotionally (or rather, doesn’t show emotions at all). Eerily accurate. Also looked up our compatibility… out of sixteen possible combinations, he and I were listed as the worst possible partners. Go figure. I don’t much believe in the match-making, but can’t ignore this description (sorry for the length, it’s all relevant!)

“The largest area of potential strife in an INTP’s intimate relationship is their slowness in understanding and meeting their partner’s emotional needs. The INTP may be extremely dedicated to the relationship, and deeply in love with their partner, but may have no understanding of their mate’s emotional life, and may not express their own feelings often or well. When the INTP does express themselves, it’s likely to be in their own way at their own time, rather than in response to their partner’s needs. If this is an issue which has caused serious problems in a relationship, the INTP should work on becoming more aware of their partner’s feelings, and their partner should work on not requiring explicit positive affirmation to feel loved by the INTP.

INTPs do not like to deal with messy complications, such as interpersonal conflict, and so they may fall into the habit of ignoring conflict when it occurs. If they feel they must face the conflict, they’re likely to approach it from an analytical perspective. This may aggravate the conflict situation, if their partner simply wants to feel that they are supported and loved. Most people (and especially those with the Feeling preference) simply want to be encouraged, affirmed and supported when they are upset. The INTP should practice meeting these needs in conflict situations.”

I am not overly emotional, but don’t think that I’ll ever be able to be feel stable in a relationship where I don’t receive encouragement or affirmation.. or even empathy. Should I put stake in this? I normally wouldn’t, but I am having a hard time overlooking, as he specifically used it as a tool to describe how he feels/behaves. It’s been six months, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a challenge to handle his personality… but I do love him, and I’m trying. Knowing that I cannot be without an emotional connection indefinitely – is this a hopeless situation? I’m hoping that he will open up as he feels more comfortable – he has had a lot of conflict/pain in his life, which I know only contributes to this behavior… yet I do not want to waste either of our lives waiting for something that won’t happen. Any personal experience with a similar situation? What would you do?

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32 Answers

Unbroken's avatar

Ok here are some questions that popped into my head:

Do you believe he can work with you, meet you half way, especially if you asked him too?

Will you later regret not finishing this out and trying?

Are you willing to believe in possiblities?

Answer those questions you have your answer.

Aqua's avatar

The truth behind the MBTI is that any two personality types can make a relationship work. My fiancee and I only share 1 preference in common. The trick is to remind yourself that both his way and your way, while different, have value and that both are valid, meaningful ways. Understanding the differences in your personality types can help you both find greater acceptance, validation, and understanding from one another and recognize that you both have different (but sometimes predictable) ways of viewing things.

I would also suggest looking into the 5 Love Languages. It sounds like you may value words of affirmation more than anything. Let him know that, and if he’s the right one (and I use that term loosely), he’ll try to be accommodating and find ways to let you know that he loves you in the ways that matter most to you.

Counseling could also help you work through your differences. Especially if he’s had a traumatic or difficult past, he might need counseling to work through some of those issues. If you’re in college, your university likely has free counseling services. If the relationship is worth it to you, consider investing some time in counseling.

Articles like this may help too. If you are both willing to compromise, sacrifice for each other, and establish healthy patterns of communication, it can definitely work.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you both have different, but equally valid needs. For the relationship to work, you both need to feel like your needs are being met. You might want to both take some time to think about those needs, write them down, and find compromises that you can both agree on.

JLeslie's avatar

If you don’t feel supported and calm in the relationship then maybe it won’t work. Not feeling emotionally connected doesn’t sound good to me. Does he not seem genuinely interested in your happiness? Is he passive aggressive? Won’t discuss things, but you can tell by his actions bits of anger and frustration are seeping out in various ways? Would you say he uses the silent treatment? I hate that. My husband comes from a passive aggressive silent treatment family and I find it disgusting and very difficult since my family is the opposite. Not communicating feels like withholding love to me. Thank goodness my husband never does that silent thing for more than a short normal amount of time (I think he needs to cool down) and then quickly wants to clear the air and make things better.

However, I will point out most men want to just fix something and be done with it. They don’t understand talking for the sake of venting. My husband jokes that he is going to make a wordometer like a pedometer and when a woman reaches 10,000 words for the day she has to shut up. It is a fact on average women speak many many more words than men each day. When I need to talk talk talk about something that is bothering me I often need to turn to best girlfriends. But, if it is an interpersonal issue between the two of you as a couple, and not just a problem you are having in your life in general and want to be able to discuss it with your boyfriend, then I think that is a significant problem. It really is true that being able to communicate is important.

augustlan's avatar

I would view the results as a starting point, not a deal breaker. Armed with information on yourselves, you can work on your relationship and try to get it to the point where it meets both your needs to a larger degree. Willingness to work on the situation and compromise will be more important than your innate traits.

Sunny2's avatar

It definitely could be a deal breaker. You do not have to marry a man just because you love him. You may always love him, but living with him for a lifetime doesn’t bode well if he isn’t interested in learning as much about you as he is interested in you learning about and adjusting to his personality.

Bellatrix's avatar

Myers Briggs is not a predictor of relationship failure. It is actually a bonus that you are having these discussions now. You can both learn to understand and hopefully manage your different communication styles. It’s only a potential deal breaker if you don’t feel motivated to work through these differences.

My ex and I didn’t really understand our very different communication styles until the problems had reached the point where neither of us felt inclined to work through them. I hope you and your partner can use this information effectively.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Maybe break up with them for believing in personality tests, cut them loose so they can go join scientoloy and be at one with xenu.

Shippy's avatar

The fact that you are aware of the differences in communicating styles should negate any fears you have about communication.

whitenoise's avatar

Don’t attach so much (if any) credibility to Meyers Briggs. These tests are foremost amusement and at best a tool to start a discussion.

You need to see if you want to be in that relationship and for what reasons. Same for him. Then you need to see what you need to to do to stay in it, if you so want.

My view would be that if you are seriously considering to break up over a Myers Briggs test, you probably should. Not because of the test results, but merely because you would let them prevail over your feelings for him. This doesn’t indicate we’ll for those feelings.

ucme's avatar

I can’t abide “personality tests” it’s like some horrific vision of a bleak future, Big Brother meets I Robot.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The fact that you are talking about “deal breaker” while you are “talking through” the answer makes me think there a big doubts on your mind about the relationship.
I see the MBTI as his way to get to a resolution by an “answer on paper”.
He is looking for succinct answers, while you are looking for a twelve page essay answer.
He is looking for definite answer and you are talking “maybe”.

JLeslie's avatar

I have more to say after reading the additional answers that have been posted. I agree that I would not let a personality test dictate whether to stay together or not. However, personality tests usually reinforce what we already know about ourselves. If the tests reveal many things we did not know about ourselves or that we disagree with, that is a whole different problem of possibly having a distorted perception of ourselves. Myers-Briggs is used by a lot at companies to help coworkers and managers better understand each other, because we don’t know coworkers the way we do our family members. It helps a manager clue into what might be a better way to manage their staff to be happy and most productive.

To me, if the OP is wondering if she can spend the rest of her life with someone with this personality, that is a big red flag. It seems to me this is aside from the test, but what she was wondering already. Her boyfriend is trying to explain himself with a test, and although I can appreciate the value the test has, the test can be very interesting, I learned things about my husband when he took the test. In fact, one of his coworkers who became our friend described my husband with adjectives I never would have used, which was very interesting to me how different he might be perceived by others and at work. But, to me her boyfriend using it to explain himself is to me him saying, “this is how I am, accept it.” But, I am making some assumptions in there that obviously could be wrong. And, let’s not overlook that it seems ironic someone who has trouble with communicating is using a questionaire to communicate.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I took a personality test for a job or two – I’ve never had a man send me one to determine our relationship compatibility. This seems odd – is this an interview? That in itself might be a deal breaker to me. Those things don’t measure relationship success.

If you feel unsupported emotionally and you two have communication barriers, that’s a big issue. If you can’t communicate, it might not be a good match.

I’d be more concerned that this is such a big issue at only 6 months. I always say the first year of a relationship is easy and the hard work starts after that. If it’s hard work from the beginning, I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. That’s for you to decide.

I’d be cautious about picking apart a fairly new relationship with a personality test. There are better ways to determine if the relationship will work or not.

rojo's avatar

Maybe I view it a little differently.

From my point of view, while he sent you the test ostensibly so that you might “understand” him better; it was actually a “take-it-or-leave it” ultimatum.

It was his way of saying that this is the way he is; he sees no problem with the way he is (it is valid and justified, look he has a scientific paper to prove it); he has no intention of trying to change and because of his pesonality type he is unable to understand you; that if you want to be with him you need adapt to him and to adjust your way of thinking.

If you can deal with this, go for it. If not I would begin to look elsewhere.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Love doesn’t know what a personality test is. But sending you one to evaluate the relationship sends up one heck of a big red flag.

marinelife's avatar

I think you know yourself and your partner. You know what he can give you and what he can’t. He is unlikely to change. If you want more, you should break up with him.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Myers Briggs, 4 steps more in depth than a horoscope reading.

cazzie's avatar

I do not put much into these ‘personality test’ things. I think they can be manipulated and such, but as you describe him and as you explain how he sees himself, I am, indeed seeing red flags as well.

You have to realise that he will never be able to emotionally support you or be sympathetic in any way. He won’t be able to read when you need a hug or just a quiet ear. He will have unusual reactions to your need to hear him say, ‘I’m sorry’ and will, more than likely, belittle your feelings and emotional responses. He will not share your priorities and he will be unable to understand your disappointments. He will put his hobbbies and interests in front of yours and will be a lousy father if you have children. When you suffer severe loss in your life, (like losing a parent or a good friend) he will not know what to do to help or comfort you. He will manipulate and use you and have no awareness he is doing so because he will justify it on an intellectual basis, disregarding any negative effects it will have on you. If you know you can live without these traits in a ‘boyfriend’ then, good luck to you, otherwise, kiss him good bye and move on. If you leave before the basis for friendship disinegrates, you could at least preserve a friendship. People like your boyfriend are limited in their ability to build intimate relationships. Don’t sacrifice your own happiness and needs because you stand in awe of his intellect and his ability to teach you things and the amazing conversations you have together. There is more to intimacy than that.

I married a man like this and my life is incredibly lonely. He was very good at first because I was one of his ‘interests’ when we first got together, but then he soon moved on to something else.. and then something else, as this type of person does. I have held in there for 10 years, but have now had enough.

Good luck, in what ever you decide to do.

Coloma's avatar

I am a huge fan of personality typing and yes, there IS much truth in these tests.
I am a female ENTP very rare for women and my ex husband was an ISTJ. We are divorced.
haha
Yes, he was very poor at showing emotions and empathy and while NTP’s in general are known to be rather emotionally self contained as a female ENTP I am very warm and am able to express my emotions.

Of course levels of mental and emotional health and maturity can make all the difference in an individuals ability to integrate their inferior functions. If you study the Enneagram testing you will find the varying levels of health for each individual type, ranging form unhealthy, low to average,and peak health.
I will say that as an NTP you will NOT get any intellectually satisfying conversation or sense of connection from most of the SJ personalities.

I have a female friend that is also an ISTJ and while she is a very honest, hard working and loyal type, she is not a deep thinker and our conversations are dull and stilted primarily revolving around her day to day routines and events and people in her life.
ISTJ’s are concrete thinkers and NTP’s are abstract thinkers.
As an NTP you WILL be adjusting your communication to the SJ’s level rather than the other way around.
They do not consider musing about the mysteries of the universe or other “impractical” topics that have no bearing on their concrete reality.

My ex husband drove me crazy with his complete lack of depth, imagination and passion for anything,other than making money. lol
I would take these results seriously and I have gotten flack from others but you betcha’, IF I ever was to consider another relationship I would have my potential partner take the test and yes, it would, absolutely, influence me as to whether or not I would pursue a relationship with this person.
As an NTP you are a creative and deep thinking type and you will most likely not feel a rewarding connection with an SJ.
SJ’s want work mates and NTP’s want mind mates.

If both parties are extremely healthy you might be able to make a go of it, but since your basic functions of how you see the world and process information are so different it will, most likely not be ideal.
My ISTJ friend really bores me to death with her endless rambling on about what I consider mundane daily life stuff. She is incapable of sustaining or initiating any conversation above and beyond her basic routine and daily to do list.
If you thrive on lively conversation and are a hyper curious type, an SJ is not going to fulfill your need for a more in depth level of connection.
ISTJ’s are often rather OCD, anal retentive, very perfectionistic, controlling and prone to black and white thinking,
Not an ideal match for the more abstract, free spirited and insatiable knowledge seeking NTPs.

geeky_mama's avatar

When my husband and I began dating (nearly two decades ago now) we both had recently taken the Myers-Briggs and were both “INTJ”.

Having two relatively judgmental people in a relationship is not ideal..but we adapted.
It took some effort on both our parts, some counseling and learning how to communicate..and also as time passed we learned to better meet each other half way. (Granted, when I talk about time passing..I’m talking about a decade of married life.)

Also, over time when we’ve retaken the test we’ve both scored differently. (Sometimes he scores as an “E” rather than an “I” for example.. but the “J” is always there. Over time we’ve both ended up with more “F” (“feeling” aspect) in our scores, too.)

Myers-Briggs aside, what you describe from your boyfriend also sounds like a very typical Minnesotan man, period. Many native Minnesotans (of Scandinavian descent) are very conflict adverse. They are so adverse to conflict or discussion that they’ll literally shut down or seek to physically avoid it.
I learned very early on in my marriage that if we had a difference of opinion, fight or misunderstanding and I continued to pursue (talk it out) my point of view that it would only make things FAR worse.
I can’t tell you the number of times he would say: “I’m done.” and I’d say: “No, I need you to hear me out.” He literally couldn’t do it. Through therapy we learned to set a time at a future date when he’d hear me out, or I’d write it down and email it to him and he could process it later.. and forcing me to write it out also made my points more succinct, which probably helped him, too.

I see it now with my daughters (ages 11 and 15), too. Dad (my husband) will tell them “no” and they’ll continue to whine or wheedle or explain why they should have/do/get “x”.
I’ll warn them: “Stop. Stop now, the more you talk about it the less he’s likely to hear you or agree with you.” ...but it’s not an innate skill or style of communication. (They are their mother’s daughters..they want to explain their line of reasoning, why they they’re actually right and he’s wrong, blah blah blah.)

Lest you think this is all a negative trait..I’d also like to point out to you that my husband has the uncanny ability to hear something I’ve said, in passing, maybe once like: “Hmm, it might be nice to have “x””...and he will research the best one at the best price, buy it and present it to me (long after I’ve forgotten ever mentioning it) and I’m stunned and amazed at his ability to predict my needs and wants. He really is hearing me the first time. And, truly he does do things (both little & small) to please me all the time.
My favorite recent example is that once my job switched to a work-from-home position, after years (over a decade) of my getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to catch the train or bus to work, he told me to sleep in and he’d get up and pack the kids’ lunches each morning. He said: “You deserve to get to sleep in after all those years.”...Better yet? Each day when I wander into the kitchen at 8am (and he’s been up since just before 6am) he’s made my iced tea just the way I like it (with a slice of orange and lots of ice) and it’s sitting there waiting for me on the counter. (My iced tea = my caffeinated beverage of choice. Think of it like your morning coffee.) Nothing makes me feel more loved.

So in short:
1. Myers-Briggs test results can change over time, don’t rely only on that (not a deal breaker)
2. If your communication styles are at odds, you BOTH need to learn new skills. His willingness to meet you half way (or warn you when he can’t hear it then, or to accept that you will need to discuss it at a later time so that you feel heard) will show you how invested in the relationship he is.

nicole29's avatar

@Coloma I am the ISTJ – wasn’t sure if you got that.

Thank you for your input though.

Coloma's avatar

@nicole29 Well…again, it is not etched in stone, and actually the INTP’s are quite different than us ENTP’s,much more emotionally reserved. Also it is the levels of maturity and health too. I think I have only known the more unhealthy types of the SJ personalities so I try not to be biased.
Us ENTP’s have plenty of flaws too. After all we are all, only human.

I can have such an intensity to my energy that I can overwhelm others with my ability to hop form one topic to another and the more energized I get the more ramped up I get. lol
However, I have found these tests to be very spot on and do think they are great tools for self and other discovery. :-)

nicole29's avatar

Thank you for all of your responses. He told me this morning that he just meant the personality stuff to be a good tool for understanding each other.. and not to turn it into a negative thing. But the more I read, and hear.. the more things make sense, and the more I feel that there are things I cannot change about my personality – I am practical, and structured, and traditional. If he isn’t willing to change, or meet me in the middle, it will never work. How he handles discussing this will be a huge indicator of where it is headed.

Coloma's avatar

@nicole29 I think it is important to not make anyone bad or wrong in these situations. Incompatible does not mean bad or wrong and changing our basic functions and world views are not going to happen. You can’t change anybody and especially not hardwired ways of brain functioning. Good luck to you.
It’s okay to be incompatible with someone, it is not okay to beat them up emotionally because of differences.

JLeslie's avatar

I believe his intentions are good.

burntbonez's avatar

I think he is telling you this to indicate he wants to learn to make the relationship better. You have to work with to help him understand the things you need. You also have to learn the things he needs. This way you can both help each other understand better.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No, I wouldn’t. And I’d be pissed he’s sending me this personality test bs instead of communicating with me, whether he can or not.

jerv's avatar

This must be your first time ever dealing with a male.

It’s also possible that he is autistic, but even us guys on the spectrum can be good husbands if you can tolerate our eccentricities. Then again, even normal guys prefer solutions over conversations, and what’s resolved is best resolved as dwelling on the past means nothing is ever done.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I was thinking he likely has asperger’s, but does the diagnosis matter?

zensky's avatar

I must say the 5lovelanguages thingey is a crock of shit.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie Not much, except insofar as sometimes understanding why someone is the way they are makes them easier to deal with, and that applies to all personality traits regardless of whether the reason is in the DSM IV.

Unbroken's avatar

@zensky Agreed!!

But I found The Dance of Intimacy to be realistic and practical. I also like how the author states that self help books come should be taken with a grain of salt or two including hers. Harriet Lehrner I believe was the name.

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