Female INTJs: Don’t Underestimate the Silence

Written by Elizabeth Nichols

Anyone who has done group/partner projects in school can appreciate that picking the wrong partner can be miserable and costly towards your grade. In my experience, I was usually the one responsible for the success of my group projects, as I tended to be one of the smarter people in the room. I learned to find partners I could depend on to work, so at least I wouldn’t be dragging dead weight. I know how this sounds, but I swear I’m not that obnoxious.
I cannot stress how important it is to have a good surgery and anesthesia partner in vet school. I didn’t know when I chose mine that she was an INTJ; that only came out weeks later after I guessed her type. I did, however, know this classmate to be hard-working, intelligent, and trustworthy, which had been enough for me to select her for such an important assignment. I was happy that she chose me as well, because I had already observed her work ethic and competency. In a refreshing turn of events, I was going to be able to learn a lot from her.

I (INFJ) have a lot in common with her: a fierce independent streak, a quiet exterior, and a shrewdness when judging character. These commonalities are also why it took us virtually 3 years as classmates to know each other even a little bit. The first thing I noticed and appreciated was her intuition. It was palpable when we talked, and I found myself telling her things I didn’t tell others. I could sense her strength, and I instinctively felt I could trust her. I also noticed that she and I shared an air of aloofness despite our friendly and approachable nature.

Although at this point I feel confident in my ability to contribute to our surgical team, I didn’t feel that way initially. She probably thought she got the raw end of the deal; I wouldn’t blame her. The first time we worked anesthesia together, her rationality and attention to detail kept our patient alive while I shut down, completely overwhelmed. I have learned to be detail-oriented and comfortable with numbers, but it is not intuitive to me. I would much rather focus on the big picture. Now knowing that my partner is an INTJ, it all makes sense. I’m sure she wanted to stab her eyes out when I had to do our pre-surgical calculations 3 times before getting them right, then still couldn’t understand her explanation of the patient’s fluid usage rate. Let me be clear: this sense of being slower to catch on is not a feeling I am used to. I’ve read that INTJs are known to be “the smartest in the room,” but I think INFJs feel that way to a degree as well. I’m not comfortable being the one that needs help.

I am married to an INTJ, so I’d like to think that I understand them well enough. My husband is a more mature INTJ in terms of age and development, and he has worked to overcome many of his weaknesses. Still, he confesses to me that social interaction is difficult for him. I find this to be the case with my partner as well, and I’m empathetic not only because I can feel that from her, but also because I also have to force myself to be sociable. Being an INFJ helps me navigate the social waters a little easier because I can read the temperature of a room, but I’m still not overly social. My husband has been polished through his experiences to the point that I didn’t believe him when he first told me he didn’t really enjoy interacting with people. Further proof that it’s a skill that can be learned.

It seems the perception of female INTJs is that they’re cold, unemotional, and lack empathy. I find my partner to be a gentle soul, but I know she doesn’t show that to everyone. She is the owner of 4 dogs, 3 cats, and 2 ferrets, all rescues– we are kindred spirits in this realm as I have 5 animals myself. I’ve never met anyone who was like me about animals, especially a Rational(NT) (my husband loves our circus because he loves me, bless him). Not only does she have more pets than me, hers are far better behaved, and their routine much more organized. It probably goes without saying living with multiple animals in a small space requires a certain organization, which I believed I had managed to achieve at home. That is, of course, until I went to her house to observe her feeding process for her animals. Organized chaos is what she calls it. Of course, I know about chaos — with 2 dogs and 3 cats, I thought I’d seen it all. But unlike in my house, where dogs and cats are fed separately, hers all eat together in the same room. Her dogs stand obediently in front of their full dishes, waiting for her permission to eat. I was dumbfounded and, honestly, embarrassed. This sort of thing does not happen at my house, at least not without substantial effort. I left there humbled, possessing a new appreciation of the “systems building” of the INTJ.

I look forward to the growth of our relationship, knowing that we can learn from and trust each other. She continues to surprise me, and I feel lucky that she’s let me into her world. In order to really know an INTJ, I guess you have to be quiet long enough to actually listen to them.

About the author

Elizabeth Nichols

INFJ married to an INTJ. Fan of personality theory since 2014. Currently in my third year of veterinary school and oldest in my class at 35. Have a B.S. degree with a double major in Public Relations and Professional Writing, minor in Journalism. Follow me on Twitter @elinich.

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