A Lesson in ISFJ Relationships: Appealing to Your Partner’s Instincts

isfj-relationshipsFor the ISFJ, relationships provide the opportunity to “serve” others and bring out feelings of happiness in those they really care about. The four traits that compose this Myers-Briggs personality are: introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging. This supportive and selfless persona accounts for almost 13 percent of the population. While ISFJ relationships may not be the most intense and action-packed, they do tend to be very stable, traditional, honest, and long-lasting.


ISFJ Characteristics


isfj-protectorISFJ is primarily defined as being a caring, supportive, and selfless personality, which is why this persona carries the nickname “nurturer.” This sort of individual is driven by the introverted sensing trait, which manifests as the ability to absorb concrete facts from the environment, mull over them internally, and then form an opinion or decision based on their own internal reaction. Conducting one’s self primarily as an introvert does not necessarily mean that this person would abstain from social interactions – quite the contrary. ISFJ likes to watch people and take in their surroundings. From an outsider’s point of view the ISFJ may appear to be daydreaming or simply uninterested in the goings-on, but in reality this individual is internally processing everything that takes place.


Another side effect of being driven by the introverted sensing trait is that this person has a wonderful memory when it comes to information that they feel is important to them – usually in regards to their own strict system of values. It is not uncommon for an ISFJ individual to remember details about a person or a situation that others would grossly overlook, such as a facial expression, a comment, or even the pattern on an individual’s clothing. This intense form of recollection can even trigger emotional and physical responses from this character as if they are re-living the entire memory. A “nurturer” tends to rely on this gift as a means to help guide their decisions and actions in future situations. ISFJs are the epitome of learning through experience and will rely on past situations in order to avoid an undesirable outcome or to reenact a positive one. Once ISFJ has formed a solid opinion or feeling in regard to an experience, they are unlikely to change their mind unless they are given very sound evidence in support of an alternative measure. The same applies to an ISFJ’s opinion of people; after forming what they believe to be a very accurate picture of an individual’s personality, they are unlikely to change this interpretation without a groundbreaking new experience to disprove the initial opinion.


“Nurturers” have a profound respect for tradition. By ISFJ’s logic, many existing structures remain in place because they work. Government, laws, and even social etiquette are a few examples of such systems. Their deeply-seated respect will ensure that ISFJ does not willingly break the law or go against what they believe, according to their system of values, to be right. “Nurturers” believe deeply in the value of hard work and once they have set sight on a specific task they will try everything they can to see it through to the end. This type of person is also a wonderful organizer and can systematically execute daily tasks. These individuals may end up in clerical or administrative environment or one more appealing to their supportive nature, such as teaching, child care, or social services.


This individual carries a lot of emotions of which they are constantly aware. They also have a decent ability to pick up on the emotions of others. Being a typical introvert, ISFJ will not openly share what they are feeling or thinking. They tend to hoard their own feelings and concentrate on helping those around them. ISFJ will go to great lengths to ensure the happiness of the people they care about and will most often neglect to satisfy their own needs. Being vocal about feelings of unhappiness or discontent is not in the nature of a “nurturer” because they primarily don’t want to burden others with their own internal struggles. Although ISFJ may be able to pick up on the emotions of others, they do not necessarily talk about them, although they can be trained to if pursuing a career in counseling. If something is upsetting a companion, ISFJ will typically use actions to try to make the individual feel better. In a relationship, “nurturers” strive to keep a partner happy and aim for an overall accepting and harmonious vibe.


male-female-symbolsISFJ Relationships


ISFJ relationships are best described as being traditional. A “nurturer” takes commitment very seriously and if he or she enters into a relationship then it is a given that it will be a monogamous and serious endeavor. A responsible companion, ISFJ tries very hard to ensure that the relationship reaches as high a standard as possible. That is not to imply that they are overly strict, but they tend to take on more than their share of the work in a relationship in an attempt to utilize all of the potential within the connection. For a “nurturer,” a relationship is highly regarded, much in the way one would value religious morals, and ISFJ will try very hard to make a relationship work before parting ways. The latter will only occur if the “nurturer” is completely sure that it cannot work out, and even then he or she may not be the one to instigate the separation.


Although ISFJ may lack the desire to verbally portray the strong emotions that they carry inside, they do try to convey their feelings through action. They will often do things for their mate in order to please them or to receive a positive, appreciative response. The ISFJ has a strong need to know that they are loved, appreciated, and accepted by their mate. If they do not receive enough positive input regarding their role and efforts in the relationship then they will begin to feel as though they have failed. If this were to go on long enough, ISFJ will eventually live in an internal world of self-blame.


A “nurturer” receives a lot of gratification from pleasing their companion. Although a relationship can definitely benefit from this form of symbiosis, it can also be spoiled if used the wrong way. ISFJ will do anything to succeed at making a partner happy and having a long-lasting relationship. If a companion were to take advantage of ISFJ’s nurturing instincts, he or she may intentionally abuse this trait in order to get what they want. As a “nurturer” abhors confrontation and arguments, they may not bring this issue to light thus suffering silently for an indeterminate length of time. When the nurturing instinct is used maturely by the ISFJ and appreciated and respected by their mate, this service-driving impulse can make for a wonderful dating relationship, marriage, and family.


In regards to a permanent relationship, “nurturers” make excellent spouses and parents. They have a special dedication that goes beyond duty and tradition. This sort of person genuinely enjoys making a contribution to a relationship, be it marriage or parent-child, and seeing the fruits of their labor manifested. They are pleased to see to the everyday physical and emotional needs of their family and will typically keep a clean, well-decorated home and go to great care to provide nutritious (but tasty) meals that the family will enjoy.


compatibilityCompatible Personality Types


Two Myers-Briggs personalities that seem to get along best with the ISFJ type are ESFP (extraverted, sensing, feeling, perceiving) and ESTP (extraverted, sensing, thinking, perceiving). Extraverted personalities tend to be better at initiating a relationship and can fill in the gaps where an introverted ISFJ may struggle to initiate conversations. Extraverted sensing, as displayed by ESFP and ESTP characters, will also appreciate and practice the use of solid facts when gathering information, forming opinions, and making decisions. The judging trait in the ISFJ persona means that the individual likes order, rules, and planning. Perceiving traits come in handy in an ISFJ relationship because they bring flexibility to the table and are able to allow the ISFJ individual to take care of the tasks that make them more comfortable, such as managing plans and nurturing their partner/family.



Relationship Guidance for the ISFJ


As a “nurturer,” you love to support and encourage your companion, but you are likely to do so at the expense of your own feelings and happiness. It would probably not be uncharacteristic of you to do something to please your partner that, at the same time, isn’t what you want. In order to have a healthy and thriving relationship – which is what an ISFJ genuinely wants – you have to learn to be more adamant about seeing to your own needs. You do not have to stop “serving” your partner, and in fact to do so would probably make you feel miserable; but it will be necessary for you to learn to voice your concerns, feelings, or ideas so that your own happiness can be achieved. Besides, this will also help your companion to see beyond your inner shell and gain the opportunity to do things that please you and satisfy your needs. Determine what your goals are and share them with your partner. If you can’t bring yourself to talk about such a personal topic then consider writing a note or leaving hints to your partner through your actions. For instance, if one of your biggest dreams is to visit Australia, consider hanging a calendar or pictures of Australian attractions around the house. For movie night, suggest a film based in Australia or that features an Australian actor and casually mention that you’ve always wondered what it would be like to visit the country.


One issue that might cause a hiccup in an ISFJ relationship is your difficulty in seeing the value of new processes and methods. In your opinion, if something works then you simply stick with it. This can be frustrating if your partner is intent on trying new things. You can usually be swayed to change your mind if you are given concrete evidence that another method is just as good as or better than your previous one. Give your partner the opportunity to sway your opinion. You may also struggle to traipse into unfamiliar territory and may dig your heels in when a companion suggest you try something new. This behavior is definitely going to hinder your mate if he or she is the sort who likes to explore innovative or intriguing pursuits. Try to loosen up as much as possible and remind yourself that new doesn’t necessarily mean bad or inefficient (as long as you are not being asked to compromise a treasured value or do something that you feel is wrong). Also, consider that your willingness to try new things may happily take your partner by surprise. He or she will appreciate you having overcome such a personal obstacle and then you can bask in your mate’s contentment.


tipsTips for Dating an ISFJ Personality


Having a relationship with an ISFJ individual is usually very rewarding. Your partner loves to perform tasks that they feel will make you happy, and often their assessment of what you want/need is fairly accurate. In this area you will likely find a great deal of satisfaction. It can be easy to become reliant and expectant of such activities, but try to remember that your partner takes great care and pride in the things they do for you and it is important that you frequently show your appreciation and affection. If you are of an extraverted nature, be verbal about your pleasure and appreciation. Comments like, “It was so thoughtful of you to drop off my favorite coffee this morning. You’re the best,” or “I really enjoyed the meal you made tonight; I can tell you worked hard on it,” will let your mate know that their efforts are not going unnoticed. If you prefer to express yourself through action, like your companion, then consider surprising them with flowers or set aside time to snuggle on the couch; ISFJs are particularly fond of romantic gestures (even those that seem clichéd to other personality types).


Always bear in mind, especially in the early part of a relationship, that “nurturers” hold traditional values in the highest esteem. They tend to take things slowly and may refrain from physical affections, especially sex, for a while. Try to exercise patience and understanding but don’t be afraid to initiate a bit of contact every now and then. If your companion seems to shy away when you lean in for a kiss, he or she simply may not be ready for that level of physical contact yet. If they seem amenable to the action then go for it. Learn to read your partners body language but remember that facial expressions are often not a good indicator of an ISFJ’s feelings, as they are very adept at hiding their emotions from others. It also doesn’t hurt to try to emphasize your own traditional values. For instance, talking positively about your family shows that you treasure the old-style bond of a family unit. ISFJ will naturally find this attractive as they highly respect such values.