Of course it is true that type alone does not in itself determine if two people make a good match. Far from it. The systems detailed here are the ones that have been observed and postulated by professionals in the field.
I have heard some people say that they don’t think of Jungian typology as a very good evaluator of romantic potential for a given match. And while it’s true that there are many areas of a relationship that cannot be examined via the Jungian typology I can tell you for certain that there are some patterns out there which the Jungian typology makes it very easy for you to grasp. In this article I will present three matchmaking models that will outline these patterns so that you can easily recognize them yourself.
First off, before we start I’d like to take a moment to voice a word of warning: I know that there are several double-Introvert couples out there who are convinced that Introverts belong together. I am going to contradict you on this one and some you are probably going to be appalled by what I have to say. So if you know this is a sore spot for you, I recommend that you pick another article rather than I force anything upon you.
After having ploughed through dozens of psychology books and case studies, and having been witness to a good deal of relationship trajectories as well, it is my clear-cut impression that there exists a natural attraction between Introverts and Extroverts and that the day-to-day dynamics of any relationship are at their best when the relationship features this Introvert-Extrovert split. But while attraction will get the relationship off to a good start, attraction does not forge a good relationship in and of itself.
As far as long-term potential goes, the most important aspect of a relationship is simply that both members of the couple are “seeing things the same way” or “coming from the same place”. When translated into Jungian typology language that means that S or N should be the same both members of the couple. The rationale here is that in a romantic relationship a Sensate and an Intuitive will all too often end up differing over simple everyday occurrences whereas people who share an S or an N might not always agree, but at least they will see things the same largely the same way and understand where their partner is coming from.
Thus when looking at romantic relationships through the Jungian typology, opposing Extroversion and Introversion and shared Sensing or Intuition are the two principal prerequisites for a happy romantic relationship. – Well that and Champagne ;-)
The first model we’re going to look into is derived from the excellent material over at Personality Page. If you are new to Jungian typology, or simply want to get underneath the skin of a certain type, I can highly recommend their material. Especially the “personal growth” subpages should come in handy for the in-depth study of any given type.
The people at Personality Page match types according to each type’s dominant function. If you don’t know the concept of dominant functions already, this site provides explanation of the dominant functions which I recommend that you look into at some point in order to familiarize yourself further with the idea.
Personality Page’s Formula
The dominant function should be shared by both members of the couple. But functions must be oppositely directed, that is, Dominant Extroverted Thinking wants Dominant Introverted Thinking etc. This allows for two ideal matches pr. type.
Personality Page’s Results
ExTJ and IxTP (Dominant Thinking)
ExFJ and IxFP (Dominant Feeling)
ENxP and INxJ (Dominant Intuition)
ESxP and ISxJ (Dominant Sensing)
If you are not in the habit of seeing x’s in Jungian types, an x simply means that x can be either letter on that particular dimension. So according to the above formula an ENFP could pair up with either an INTJ or an INFJ and similarly an ISTP could have either an ENTJ or an ESTJ.
This model has its daring points: Most notably, can a relationship that overarches the Sensing/Intuitive chasm remain happy in the long run? – And are the heartfelt ideals and subjective meanings of Introverted Feeling (IxFP) really the best match for the always socially proper and popular attitude of Extroverted Feeling (ExFJ)? Unfortunately, I cannot offer you an easy yes or no. These are the weak points of an otherwise excellent model.
Now let’s look at a model that has a different take on these weak points.
The next model which we’re going to look into was coined by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates in their 1978 book, Please Understand Me. The book was an amazing success in its time, having sold nearly 2 million copies at the close of the 20th century. Most people who are seriously interested in the Jungian typology have read this book or its rewrite, Please Understand Me II, at one point or another, and a lot of Keirsey’s notions and ideas are floating around the net where they are used interchangeably with the classic Jungian typology conceptions. As similar as these two systems might seem, however, there is a minor difference between the two that most people are not aware of which means that the two systems only have about 75% compatibility.
That’s because the theoretical basis of Jungian typology is Jungian type functions whereas the theoretical basis of Keirsey’s matchmaking is the theory of temperament. As coined by Keirsey, the temperament theory holds that two dimensions of any given type will essentially determine the core of one’s personality and essentially supersede the other two. These letters are SP (Artisan Temperament), SJ (Guardian Temperament), NF (Idealist Temperament), and NT (Rational Temperament) respectively. Where the Jungian typology uses Jungian functions in its matchmaking, Keirsey instead uses temperaments in his matchmaking, saying SP-Artisans and SJ-Guardians want each other while NF-Idealists and NT-Rationals want each other.
Keirsey then goes on to list the specific cross-temperament matches that he regards as optimal for each type. He does this according to the formula below.
Opposites attract but the perceiving function (that’s S or N) must be the same.
INFP (Idealist) and ENTJ (Rational)
INFJ (Idealist) and ENTP (Rational)
ENFJ (Idealist) and INTP (Rational)
ENFP (Idealist) and INTJ (Rational)
ESTJ (Guardian) and ISFP (Artisan)
ISFJ (Guardian) and ESTP (Artisan)
ESFJ (Guardian) and ISTP (Artisan)
ISTJ (Guardian) and ESFP (Artisan)
Now here we have some pairings that you would probably never see from a classic Jungian typology scholar. That’s because Please Understand Me does not operate with the Jungian system of dominant functions for each type which we looked into earlier. In some cases, disregarding the system of dominant functions has largely no consequences on the recommended matches but in other instances this brings Keirsey into a direct clash with the classic Jungian system.
The disputed matches are ENTJ-INFP, ENFJ-INTP, ESTJ-ISFP, and ESFJ-ISTP. As you can see, the problem is still with whom you match the eight types that use either T or F as their dominant function.
Finally, I want to present to you a third model seems to be catching on amongst a lot of people lately. It was coined by a friend of mine and I will refer to it as Eva’s Model in recognition of her. Although I do not completely agree with this system I must say that it does have a certain beautiful logic to it and people seem to be acknowledging the model’s verisimilitude in several different contexts.
Here, exactly half the results are in concordance with both Personality Page and Keirsey while the other half end up contradicting Keirsey while aligning themselves with Personality Page’s recommendations.
1: Like Personality Page, the dominant function should be shared by both members of the couple. The functions should be oppositely directed, that is, Introverts go with Extroverts and vice versa.
2: Like Keirsey, the perceiving function (that’s S or N) must be the same for both members of the couple.
3: Unlike Keirsey, the judging function (that’s F or T) must then differ, if possible.
ENTJ-INTP (Dominant Thinking – different F and T not possible)
ESTJ-ISTP (Dominant Thinking – different F and T not possible)
ENFJ-INFP (Dominant Feeling – different F and T not possible)
ESFJ-ISFP (Dominant Feeling – different F and T not possible)
ENTP-INFJ (Dominant Intuition – F and T differing)
ENFP-INTJ (Dominant Intuition – F and T differing)
ESTP-ISFJ (Dominant Sensing – F and T differing)
ESFP-ISTJ (Dominant Sensing – F and T differing)
As you can see, half the types do not have the possibility of crossing over and are thus prevented from meeting condition #3 above. That’s because half the types also use their judging function (F or T) as their dominant function. In these cases condition #1 and #2 jointly overrule condition #3.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a judging function dominate ones personality, though. In this case it merely prevents a T/F-crossover which, according to this theory, makes for a slightly less colourful relationship. As the suppositions behind E’s model would have it, the benefits of a T/F relationship would be the property, that each member of the couple has his or her own “sphere of assertion” so speak: The Thinker says “this is our truth” and the Feeler says “these are our values”. This setup has each member of the T/F relationship contributing to a different sphere within the relationship, thereby ensuring a certain measure of equality as compared to the T/T or the F/F relationships where both members of the couple are competing for influence within a single sphere.
In discussing these I’d say that I think you need to allow some elbow room for your personal history to exert its influence on your choice of partner, even when matchmaking through the Jungian typology. You probably know two or more persons of the same type. Ask yourself: How identical are these two persons really? Sure, there may be a lot of conceptual similarities but once you look at the tangible manifestations of these similarities you’ll probably see that their preferences manifest themselves in different ways. One ISTP might like Chess while another likes Backgammon, one ISTP might like crime novels where the other likes historical fiction, one might like redheads where the other likes blondes, and one might like cuddly, vulnerable women while the other likes headstrong, methodical women.
As such, I find it problematic to talk about just one optimal match; as every psychologist can tell you, we are bound to form idiosyncratic psychological preferences during our formative years. These preferences lie outside of the Jungian typology model while still affecting the individual psyche including, quite possibly, its romantic orientation and compatibility as well. For instance, I personally find the thought of an intellectual partner very sexy although, obviously, not everybody does ;-)
Now, as we have seen, Keirsey’s model and E’s model do not leave any room for personal preference beyond what they believe to be “written in the stars” typologically. In other words they allow only one match per type and sure; you might argue that one preference is relative you could start arguing that all preferences are really just relative, ultimately discarding typology entirely. To me, that would be like saying that if you apply A you must also apply B, C, D, E… the entire alphabet. A common fallacy, really; it’s much like saying that if you believe in imprisonment as a punishment for crimes you must always applaud the life sentence, no matter the crime.
What I want to do is to trim away whatever parts of a theory you could reasonably regard as theory for theory’s sake. Odds are that if you are reading this article you are probably already somewhat picky about your choice of romantic partner anyway.
As I explained above, Keirsey recommends a T/F-crossover for all his matches while E. recommends it 50 % of the time. In their eyes, a T/F-crossover is thought to prevent a power struggle within a given relationship, giving each member a sphere to dominate. It must be noted, however, that society, and particularly Western society, is structured in such a manner that the domain of Thinking all too often supersedes the domain of Feeling. So while the T/F-difference might in theory decentralize the power structure of any given relationship, the reality will all too often see the Thinker laying down the headlines of the relationship and the Feeler being left with whatever morsels the Thinker cannot immediately incorporate into his or her system of thought. Hence I do not view the absence of a T/F-crossover as a detractor at all.
I do on the other hand agree that a romantic partnership where S or N is not the same for both members of the couple is likely to end up with one or both members of the couple feeling deprived somewhere down the road. – Even if the types with a dominant T or F function do have an easier time surmounting the S/N schism than the types with a dominant S or N function.
To me, the Judging/Perceiving makeup of a given relationship is largely inconsequential as far as the concerns for the well-being of a relationship go. A difference in this dimension, with one Judger and one Perceiver, is probably preferable but ultimately also unnecessary if both members of the relationship are willing to put some effort into the relationship and their respective personal development. It should then constitute an interesting and by no means insurmountable challenge.
Again, of course it is true that type alone does not in itself determine if two people make a good match. Far from it. The above systems are the ones that have been observed and postulated by professionals in the field.