ISFJ in Relationships
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What is an ISFJ?
ISFJ stands for:
Thought to be the most common MBTI type for women, the ISFJ is often known as the protector; responsible, kind and dedicated. They are equally easy-going and structure-loving. ISFJs take order seriously and strive to keep it. They do what they think is right and take a stand when they see something wrong.
As introverts, they enjoy time alone and prefer a smaller circle of friends. Their sensing trait means they focus on facts and details. They are feelers who value and understand emotions, and judgers who enjoy structure and organisation.
ISFJ Common Traits
- Reserved, but warm after opening up
- Observant, with a great eye for detail
- Dislikes confrontation
- Dislikes change or straying from tradition
- Devoted to loved ones
- More extroverted than most introvert types
Along with their four-letter description, each MBTI type has a ‘function stack’, which goes into more detail about how their personality specifically works. The ISFJ function stack includes Si-Fe-Ti-Ne.
Introverted Sensing (Si), the ISFJ’s dominant function, causes the ISFJ to place importance on facts over theories and emotions. Their inner world is an organised library of information and experiences. Si does this categorising, and decides what is important, therefore creating the ISFJ’s beliefs (which can often be seen by others as black and white). Si loves the familiar and can be very traditional. In fact, ISFJs are very protective of tradition, striving to keep things in the structured, familiar ways they like. They aren’t adaptable, and they don’t like opening up to alternatives. Because their sensing function is dominant, ISFJs are grounded, living in the present and observing what’s around them. But they also live in their internal ‘library’, going over past experiences, thinking about their beliefs and traditions, and enjoying making connections that strengthen their beliefs.
Extroverted Feeling (Fe), the ISFJ’s auxiliary function, controls how an ISFJ interacts with the people around them; being the primary reason for their ‘protector’ label. Fe takes in feelings from the external world, and less so from within. It’s empathetic and helps the ISFJ understand what people are thinking and feeling. Fe creates strong gut instincts about people and is great at reading body language. With this focus on others’ emotions, ISFJs can be self-sacrificing to ensure that social interactions run smoothly. And because their feeling is directed outward, they can sometimes struggle with their own emotions, needing support from others.
Introverted Thinking (Ti), the ISFJ’s tertiary function, is logical and questioning; constantly working to uncover truths, gain helpful information, and analyse their Fe-driven beliefs. Like Si, Ti is organised and driven by facts over feelings. Rather than clashing with their empathy-driven Fe, introverted thinking actually balances the ISFJ. They are both analytical and empathetic.
Extroverted Intuition (Ne), the ISFJ’s inferior function, is where ISFJs have great ideas. Although Ne is the weakest function, it can use the ISFJ’s stored information to solve problems where others may not make connections. Ne focuses on possibilities, working in the subconscious of the ISFJ’s mind (which is usually grounded in the external moment) to create ideas. An ISFJ can work with their Ne and understand it better to help them make better decisions.
So, now you know what an ISFJ is, how does this relate to their relationships?
ISFJ Relationships: Communication Style
As already mentioned, ISFJs are very empathetic and strive to create social harmony. However they can also be self-sacrificing, not communicating their own needs, or being overly quiet or positive, to maintain peace. The ISFJ tends to feel better after sharing their emotions with others, and they require a strong support system.
In general, ISFJs prefer listening to speaking, and prefer to keep attention on others. They’re private and don’t want a lot of praise. In a conversation, they are most interested in finding out about the person they are talking to, and helping them in some way.
If someone has a problem, an ISFJ will be there to support them – but they need support in return. ISFJs need to learn to communicate how they feel so they can receive that support, as not everyone has their empathetic intuition. For friends of ISFJs, it’s always important to ask them how they are and show your support for them.
They will speak up to protect others, but since they dislike conflict, they might not always give accurate feedback to people if they think it could offend them. They don’t often stand up for themselves. And although most of the time an ISFJ will seem optimistic and fun – to help cultivate social harmony – around close friends they will be more honest with their emotions. This means sometimes ISFJs can be ungenuine and become bitter by bottling up their feelings.
ISFJs also ask a lot of questions, due to their logical, connection-seeking nature. They want to fully understand things. A good way to encourage genuine dialogue with an ISFJ is to ask them questions in return and give them space and time to answer fully. They’re more likely to be open to talking about theories, or projects they’re working on, than emotional topics. Once the ISFJ gets talking, they may seem to over-explain things, but this is only because they are so detail-oriented and want to ensure that they are understood fully.
Conversations about abstract ideas and theories will be a struggle for an ISFJ, since they would prefer to focus on real, solvable problems. But the ISFJ can become a better communicator by learning to be more open, assertive and honest with their feelings.
When an ISFJ helps someone with a problem, they appreciate being appreciated. That means thanking them for their help and showing that you’re listening to their advice, or otherwise accepting their efforts. An ISFJ will take offense when their help is not wanted or unappreciated. Although ISFJs don’t like a lot of praise, small affirmations of their abilities, and appreciation of them, goes a long way. Criticism can hurt the ISFJ, so always make sure to speak to them kindly and constructively.
Make a connection with an ISFJ by being the first to open up. For example, in a professional setting, make a meaningful, personal connection by telling them something about your home life. Whether that’s your family, a hobby, etc.
ISFJ Dating and Compatibility
ISFJs are known as the ‘mother-like’ personality type for a reason. Their dedication to protecting and helping those they love is a major component of all their relationships, romantic or otherwise.
Because they aren’t always good at expressing feelings, romantic partners of ISFJs should look at their actions rather than their words. Appreciating the way they take care of you, and returning the favor, is a great way to make them feel good and sure of the relationship.
As you become closer with an ISFJ, they will show their more authentic side. The people they let in are of utmost importance to an ISFJ – they are fully devoted to romantic partners. This means they are typically looking for long-term, traditional relationships. ISFJs can improve their relationships by being more open to sharing their emotions and being honest, and making sure they are appreciated.
In arguments, the ISFJ may panic and not communicate effectively. In romantic relationships, they should prioritize honesty and not shy away from conflict. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s sometimes necessary.
When they stay quiet about their needs, they can become bitter. ISFJs must remember that not everyone values helping others the same way, so their actions might not always be reciprocated. If they don’t communicate that they’re upset about this, their partner won’t know anything is wrong.
They can also be shy in flirting or asking someone on a date. ISFJs can benefit by putting themselves out there more and remembering that failure is okay. If you’re hoping to date an ISFJ, you may be confused as to whether the ISFJ is interested or not, so it’s important to just ask.
ISFJ Top Romantic Matches
All Myers-Briggs types can establish good romantic relationships, with maturity and good communication, but some types are more likely to be drawn to each other based on compatible traits.
Since ISFJs prefer to listen than talk, aren’t great with sharing their emotions, and take a while to open up, they could struggle to form a relationship with types that are introverted and not empathetic.
Therefore Extroverted types – ones who talk a lot, understand emotional needs, and are happy to take the time to get to know people – are the best for ISFJs. The top romantic match for an ISFJ would therefore be an ESFJ. This type has similarities to ISFJs but balances them with their extraversion.
Some other good matches:
- ISFP – balances the ISFJ’s organization with adaptability
- ESFP – known as the life of the party, can be great at getting ISFJ out of their shell
- ISTJ – both practical, traditional and organized
ISFJ Relationships: Parents & Children
ISFJs are known as one of the best natural caregivers. They are devoted parents – nurturing and attentive, and always ensuring their children’s needs are met. Their children are given great structure and taught the rules and expectations of human life in our society.
A struggle for ISFJ parents can be discipline. They feel uncomfortable with conflict, and when it comes to their children, they want them to be happy. Therefore speaking with the child about their mistakes, or punishing them, can be very difficult. ISFJs have to remember that this is an important part of parenting, and there are gentle ways to approach discipline to ensure it is only a positive experience for the child.
ISFJs want their children to grow up to be independent people who can perform well in society. They see parenting as a tradition they must uphold – a duty they are happy to fulfil – and will do their best to do the job well. Not just because of the expectations, but because of their devotion to their family.
ISFJs are extremely protective, which can be a good thing for children – as long as it isn’t too much. Healthy and clear rules and boundaries are good, but not when they are to such an extent that the child starts to resent the parent. It is best for ISFJs to find balance in this respect.
If the child grows up to be untraditional, or problematic in society’s eyes, the ISFJ parent can feel as if it’s their fault and they have failed. This usually isn’t the case, and the parent must remember to let go of their rigidity and let the child express themselves authentically.
As children, ISFJs will be self-sacrificing to make those around them, including their parents, feel better. Make sure you give them space to share their true emotions and goals, and because they’re introverts, give them sufficient alone time. Teach them that their needs are important, and how to communicate how they feel effectively.
See our list of books for the ISFJ Personality Type that can help you with relationships and other life aspects.
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