Even if this pair shares its introversion or extraversion, and even if both are judging and feeling, the personality differences between the INFJ and ISFJ temperaments are worth examining.
The sensing-judging partner sees life as a series of duties, commitments, responsibilities, obligations, habits, ``shoulds'' and ``shouldn'ts'', rules, procedures, schedules, facts and figures, hierarchies, rituals, and authority structures.
The intuitive-feeling mate bridles at authority, and even the implication of structure in a relationship is a bit unnerving to the autonomy-loving INFJ. Relationships, feelings, ideas, causes, freedom, sentiments, passion, love: that's what INFJs are made of!
The INFJ is creative and spontaneous.
The ISFJ is traditional and organized. The INFJ is spiritual and mystical.
The ISFJ is practical and sensible. The INFJ isn't, period.
The INFJ thinks in terms of tomorrow and forever. The ISFJ thinks in terms of history and today.
This is a combination which offers challenges for both parties, but these two may form a powerful team if they learn to work together and if they ever come to understand that they will never see the world through each other's eyes, and they aren't likely ever to remake each other into a carbon copy of the self!
The relative importance of WORK AND RELATIONSHIPS demands examination if the ISFJ/INFJ relationship is to be understood.
To the sensing-judging type, life and duty are synonymous. Work plays an important part in the picture.
To the intuitive-feeling type, life and relationships are synonymous. Work is certainly important, but the INFJ conceives of work differently: as a gift to humanity, service, communication, art, inspiration: an act of creation to bear witness to the fact that the INFJ once lived.
To the ISFJ, work is work. You do it right and on time and you get paid for your contribution, and the well-oiled machine of society cranks on.
To the INFJ, work must be meaningful: both personally fulfilling and impactful on others. Punctuality, reliability and steadiness are not basic parts of the INFJ personality, although they do figure more strongly in the habits of the folks who prefer judging.
The ISFJ sees life as a traditional script of well-defined characters. The ISFJ believes, earnestly, that people have roles to play in life, and that each must take a part and play the role predictably, dutifully and conscientiously or the play will bomb and society won't function.
To an INFJ, that view is mechanistic and deadly boring.
The INFJ believes that caring and acceptance and flexibility are what's required to make the world run smoothly. INFJs don't see world crises as anything other than the multiplication of individual relationship problems. INFJs believe that love and acceptance of others can move mountains.
To a ISFJ, that view is unsupported fiction, a nice fairy tale, but totally unrealistic. And, the ISFJ hastens to point out, fairy tales don't make the mortgage payment!
The ISFJ is an honest, responsible mate, who relates to the partner cooperative. FAIRNESS is an important concept to the ISFJ mate.
If the ISFJ is a thinker, logic is paramount in determining what is fair. If the ISFJ is a feeler, emotions and values figure strongly in that determination. Needless to say, the INFJ and the feeling ISFJ have an easier time in a partnership than the combination when the ISFJ is a thinker.
Commitments and obligations are taken seriously by the ISFJ. Promises are not broken casually or capriciously. The ISFJ is trustworthy and takes pride in that characteristic. The ISFJ has a long memory for others' irresponsibility.
The INFJ sees commitment at a more spiritual level. If the INFJ is always twenty minutes late picking up the ISFJ mate, the INFJ has a hard time understanding the ISFJ's anger and resentment.
The INFJ sees the ISFJ as hopelessly stuck in the here-and-now, unwilling to look beyond today's ``Do It'' list (with its little neat boxes for checking off the day's tasks) to the real meaning of life and love.
ISFJs tend to parent their INFJ mates, particularly when the ISFJ is a thinker and the INFJ is a perceptive type. To listen to a conversation, you might think that nursery school is in session. The ISFJ checks up on every ``assignment'' of the INFJ's day, particularly in the financial and bill-paying realm.
For the ISFJ, this seems necessary, because the INFJ shows, again and again, that inattention to detail is a basic feature of the INFJ personality, and that thinking is not a comfortable mode of functioning for this mate.
The ISFJ knows that the INFJ doesn't think that punctuality is terribly critical, in general, and the ISFJ knows that something as boring and impersonal as bill-paying may just slip the INFJ's attention until a payment is long overdue.
The ISFJ knows that the INFJ doesn't like to balance the checkbook, even though judging INFJs are more likely to force themselves to attend to such matters. The ISFJ knows that the INFJ might overdraw the account not by self-indulgence but by picking up an expensive present for the (frustrated and sometimes inappreciative) ISFJ mate!
The thinking ISFJ, particularly, can parent the INFJ into becoming even more irresponsible, even less conscientious, since the ISFJ isn't usually good at doling out praise and appreciation when the INFJ is dutiful. (``Reward people for just doing what's sensible and right?'' hoots the ISFJ, incredulously.)
That brings up another serious issue for the INFJ/ISFJ combination: APPRECIATION.
INFJs give it lavishly. INFJs need it desperately. And ISFJs just don't congratulate, appreciate, thank or otherwise acknowledge anything other than herculean accomplishment. In the INFJ/ISFJ relationship, the INFJ is likely to remain needy, hungering for approval and gratitude.
When it comes to spending MONEY, ISFJs and INFJs have both similarities and differences.
ISFJs may agree with INFJs that expenditures for the home are important, and that durable, good-quality pieces should be selected, to be carefully maintained for as long as possible.
But, in general, ISFJs favor saving money over spending it, and there are times when the INFJ will regard the ISFJ as stingy, too conservative, and not at all giving and generous.
The ISFJ hates to borrow, charge, or rent. The ISFJ would rather do without. For all their idealism and periodic shunning of material needs, INFJs do tend to use money (real and potential) impulsively, buying as emotion moves them.
The ISFJ is a bit of a pessimist, always looking for the worst to happen and conscientiously planning against that dark day. INFJs are not security-minded, as a rule, and they tend to save little as a nest egg or a rainy-day fund.
Attitudes about EDUCATION may come into coINFJlict between the INFJ and the ISFJ.
The ISFJ is quite practical when it comes to learning and training. The ISFJ seeks an education in order to work, to learn a skill, to master a field of knowledge so it may be applied.
The ISFJ studies mostly by memorization of facts, and this type is most comfortable in fields which minimize theory, extensive reading, and all but the most straight-forward kind of writing.
ISFJs work hard at school, finish, and apply what they've learned to earn a living.
The INFJ, of course, is just the opposite. The INFJ learns to learn, without much attention to whether the learning may ever be applied, whether it may ever earn an income. The INFJ does not enjoy learning by memorization, but excels at theorizing, reading and writing and the more creative the topic the better.
The INFJ sees life as a continuing learning and growth experience, a laboratory in which learning about humanity and learning to exercise interpersonal skills is the name of the game.
A classic interchange between an ISFJ and an INFJ mate is this:
- ISFJ: You've been in college for six years now.
- INFJ: Yes, and I've just found this wonderful sociology professor.
- ISFJ: I thought you were majoring in anthropology.
- INFJ: I am. And psychology.
- ISFJ: And now sociology.
- INFJ: It's just a class.
- ISFJ: When are you going to finish your degree?
- INFJ: I still have three freshman courses I haven't finished yet. I just hate required courses. One of them is math. I hate math.
- ISFJ: When are you going to finish your degree?
- INFJ: I'm thinking of changing my major.
- ISFJ: Hopefully to something that will train you to do something.
- INFJ: Social ecology. It's a little of this and a little of that.
- ISFJ: What does a social ecologist do? Where do they work? How much do they make?
- INFJ: You're a stick in the mud. I'm going to my encounter group!