"Hey what’s your Myers Briggs?”
Although it sounds like a casual question, I take Myers Briggs types very seriously. If we’ve spent any amount of time together I’ve probably either asked you this question or secretly been speculating about whether you are an “E” (extrovert) or an “I” (introvert). Understanding your type helps me to relate to you better, love you better, and better navigate your pet peeves. All around it's just a helpful insight into your person. There have been times when you might have been able to call it my unhealthy obsession with personalities. Particularly in romantic relationships, I enjoy calculating my friends and their significant others compatibility or whether me and my current love interest are compatible.
Is it possible that people are only capable of falling in love with a specific “type”?
Should we be testing our romantic partners “type” and end the relationship now if it is destined for failure?
If you’re asking yourself at this point, “what is Myers Briggs?” In short it is a theory of personality types in which each individual is said to fall primarily into a series of four dichotomies. Do they gain their energy as an Introvert (I) or Extrovert (E)? Does their brain view the world intuitively (N) or through the senses (S)? How do they make decisions primarily? Through their feelings (F) or thoughts (T)? Finally, do they plan their actions as judgers (J) or perceivers (P)? (Curious what type you are? You can take the test for free here)
In theory, the perfect relationship is between people who are just similar enough while still maintaining differences. Ideally you would share being intuitive or sensing with your partner so that you would think similarly. The Myers Briggs test will generate “ideal matches” for your personality type. Your "ideal matches" usually have the converse of at least two of your traits, with the most ideal match being the converse of three. For example, I am an ENTJ which would make my most ideal partner in theory an INFP.
For a time, I believed I could only ever be happy in a relationship with someone who had this ideal personality type. There was no way I could make something work that was not perfect and I searched high and low for this “ideal” person. Over time, however, I’ve been realizing that while it is easy to sterilize people by placing them neatly into preassigned boxes, that is not reality. An “INFP” as such does not exist. The human person has depth I will never fully comprehend, and while I may understand them as a particular “type”, that person is not exclusively a type nor can be categorized and written off by a theory.
Through my studies of Dietrich von Hildebrand, all my carefully organized ideals and categorized groups of people were overturned from their boxes. In one place he says, “[when] someone who, in a developing love relationship, turns the beloved person into an object of psychological research, observing his behavior and with great interest registering the result of his observation. Such an attitude, again, is fitting for an experimental psychologist confronted with his subject but is entirely out of place in a lover.” (3)
A person cannot be reduced to their psychological action, because they possess an unrepeatable individual soul.
I’m more and more convinced that while personality theories explain some of the natural levels of man, whether nature or nurtured, they do not go beyond the natural in man to encompass the supernatural aptitude. Boxing people into a type fails to recognize that man is a free being capable of acting towards a supernatural end, which is union with Christ. Since all human persons have this supernatural end, a relationship should be built off of the ability to chase that end together. Perhaps an ideal personality would be the ideal means of doing that. However, I do not believe we need to limit ourselves to only entering into relationships with a particular type.
It is this pursuit of constant transformation that is the mark of the Christian. Dietrich says, “All true Christian life, therefore, must begin with a deep yearning to become a new man in Christ, and an inner readiness to ‘put off the old man’ – a readiness to become something fundamentally different.” (4)
Are we prepared to allow ourselves to become something fundamentally different? In proclaiming that only a certain type of person can satisfy me in a romantic relationship I limit the power of love and I limit the transformative power of Christ to make every man new. Through pursuit of virtue, and a deep real relationship with Christ, man becomes more than his fallen human nature.
In the pursuit of a romantic relationship our first question should not be “What is your Myers Briggs?” a pitfall into which I regularly fall. Rather, we should be asking ourselves if this person pursues virtue in a similar way that we ourselves do. Do I genuinely will the good of this person? Do they genuinely will my good? Together, will we seek transformation in Christ? It is these types of questions that are in reality the recipe for a perfectly imperfect relationship.
(1) Image one
(2) Image two
(3) Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ, pg. 57
(4) Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ, pg. 1
(5) Image three