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16 Types

ISFJ Relationships

How ISFJ types approach relationships

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ISFJs are routinely referred to as the ‘defender’. They protect others as well as themselves and they take this job very seriously. ISFJs are deeply emotional people who crave strong connections. They are often incredibly introverted and shy, however. This can make it hard for them to strike out into the world and find meaningful relationships with other people. They are guarded and often require a consistent and supportive presence in their romantic relationships as well as their friendships. ISFJ's struggle with relationships that are not deeply personal. They keep their social circles small and tend to have incredibly deep connections with those they trust.


ISFJs Attitude to Relationships

How do ISFJ types approach relationships?

ISFJs are called defenders because they are deeply loyal. They struggle to let people in and tend to form bonds with those that they feel a deep connection with. They are uniquely self aware and know that they require a lot of validation in a relationship, so when they find someone who provides that support, they open up to them completely. Once ISFJs form a close bond with someone, they will always fight for that person and for the relationship. ISFJ personality types are deeply empathetic and they are happy to pour their energy and time into the people they hold the closest.

An ISFJ type in dating is likely to:

  • ISFJs are not flakey and will always be there when a friend calls.
  • ISFJs do not tend to have a lot of relationships, but the relationships they do have are meaningful and fulfilling on a very deep level.
  • ISFJs have a hard time letting people see them for who they really are. They need trust and support from their friends and partners.
  • ISFJs hold their relationships near and dear to them. They view them as the most important thing in their lives and dedicate a lot of energy to them.
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ISFJs will always take into account the thoughts and feelings of their partner when making decisions.


ISFJs and Dating

How do ISFJ types fare in the dating world?

People who have ISFJ personality types are wholly dedicated to their partner's happiness. The ability to provide for their partner and keep them happy is at the top of an ISFJs priority list. They are incredibly giving in every aspect of a relationship and often prioritize their partner's happiness over their own. ISFJ's are very guarded. While they are very empathic, they don't always show those emotions on the surface. They don't like to start arguments and upset their partners so they may avoid conflict. This can lead to a buildup of negative emotions that explode under pressure. ISFJ's will give their partner the world, but they don't like to feel like their gifts are not appreciated.

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An ISFJ will never want to hurt their partner's feelings, and will struggle to be honest about something that is affecting them if they think revealing this will harm their partner.

Info Table
Beneficial dating traits Negative dating traits
ISFJs will always prioritize the well-being of their partners over almost anything else. They take their relationships extremely seriously and tend to put most of their energy into them. ISFJ's are extremely emotional, but can struggle to express those emotions. If their partners are not mindful of this, small disagreements can turn into something bigger.
ISFJs are extremely loyal. It may take a while for them to warm up to people, but once they do they will always have their partner's back. ISFJ's are very giving and kind, but they also require lots of validation. If they don't feel appreciated they can become bitter.
ISFJs make incredible domestic partners. They are very dedicated to their household and can be great parents. ISFJs will put their own needs on the backburner to make the people around them happy. If they are not reminded to take care of themselves they can burn out and become depressed.
ISFJs are stable and prefer stability. They are not flighty in the least and will seek out long term relationships over flings ISFJs have a tendency to build emotional walls around themselves. They are afraid of being taken advantage of and have a hard time allowing people to see the real them.
ISFJs are incredibly passionate in everything they do. They are also very intune with their partner's passions and will go above and beyond to support them. ISFJs require a lot of emotional labor from their partners. They require consistent, positive interactions to form bonds with others.

ISFJ Partner Compatibility

Analysis of personality compatibility for ISFJ types

ISFJ's struggle with being upfront with potential partners. These personality types tend to be hyper critical of themselves and are very aware of the things they are lacking in. ISFJs often fear that their potential partners might see them as a burden. This is the worst fear of an ISFJ personality type. They are naturally nurturing and kind and the last thing they want is to cause others stress or discomfort. However, being upfront with their needs is the best way for an ISFJ to ensure a stable, happy relationship.

Frequent communication is something that should be established early on in the relationship and ISFJs should let their partners know that validation is important to them. This need for communicating feelings is a big reason why ISFJ's should be cautious about dating other ISFJs or people with similar personalities. An inability for either partner to communicate their needs can easily turn into a toxic feedback loop.

While ISFJs shouldn't necessarily always avoid similar personalities when dating, they should look for a partner that compliments them where they fall short. A more extraverted partner could help balance an ISFJ personality type in social settings and help take some of the social pressures off of them. They should also seek out a partner who is going to understand their nurturing nature and their need for validation. This can help an ISFJ personality type avoid feeling taken advantage of in a relationship.

Figure 1: ISFJ partner compatibility

Percentage compatibility between ISFJ and other types

isfj compatibility

What this chart shows

This chart shows an estimate of the compatibility between ISFJ types and other types. We see that ISFJ types are most likely to be compatible with other ISFJs, and least likely to be compatible with an ENTP. This 'like-minds' effect is often the case (see Figure 2 below).

Notes:
  • 1. n=3297
  • 2. Population: Global
  • 3. Live dataset last updated:
  • 4. The questionnaire asked participants to select the traits that they favor when thinking about their ideal romantic partner, and the traits were mapped to each of the 16 types.

Figure 2: 16 type model partner compatibility

Percentage compatibility between the 16 factor model (Myers Briggs®) types

mbti compatibility matrix

What this chart shows

This chart shows an estimate of the compatibility between Myers Briggs® types. Our research shows that the strongest match is usually with someone of the same type. Another general pattern we observe is extraverts are generally more compatible with other extraverts, and introverts are more compatible with other introverts. This data supports the adage "birds of a feather flock together” and discredits the often-quoted mantra "opposites attract".

Across almost all types, the most compatible combination is with someone of an identical type. Within this general trend, the degree of compatibility varies slightly. For example, the compatibility between two INFP types is very high (at 95%) whereas the compatibility between two INTJs is 86%. The only exception to the observation that the best match is with someone of the same type is for ESFP types. The researchers note that ESFP types do still strongly favor other extraverts.

Notes:
  • 1. n=3297
  • 2. Population: Global
  • 3. Live dataset last updated:
  • 4. The questionnaire asked participants to select the traits that they favor when thinking about their ideal romantic partner, and the traits were mapped to each of the 16 types.

Advice for Dating as an ISFJ

How to have successful ISFJ relationships

Dating is difficult for everyone, but ISFJs might find it even more difficult due to their shy nature. ISFJs should never compare their own romantic interests to the interests of others. ISFJs are passionate partners and bring a lot to the table when it comes to relationships. Like everyone else, ISFJs do have flaws but their positive traits far outweigh the negatives. Focusing on these positive traits can help ISFJ personality types find compatible partners.

As an ISFJ

  • green tick Do lean into the desire to take care of other people. This nurturing nature is highly sought after.
  • green tick Do let your partner see your passions. It can be tempting to dampen our passionate nature for fear of being perceived as too eager, but this rarely happens.
  • green tick Do create a safe time and space for two way communication. Setting time aside specifically for talking about your relationship can help ease any stress that might be brewing.
  • green tick Do take advantage of online dating. Using these apps and websites can help you form strong bonds with people and help you feel more connected before you meet in person.
  • green tick Do communicate your love and affection for your partner. Physical affection is not always the best stand in.
  • red cross Don't take care of others at the expense of yourself. In order to care for the people around you, you need to make sure that you are taking care of your own needs.
  • red cross Don't let your feelings go unheard. If you are having strong emotions you need to communicate this to your partner so that the issues can be addressed.
  • red cross Don't let your desire for commitment over shadow your interest in someone. It may not be in an ISFJs nature to take a chance on a fling, but it might just be what you need.
  • red cross Don't assume that what you are doing is not appreciated. Your partner more than likely appreciates what you do. When you are not feeling appreciated bring this up to them in a calm, neutral setting so that you can discuss it.

Advice for Partners of ISFJs

How to get an ISFJ to like you

ISFJs make ideal partners for people who are more outgoing and would prefer to not be a homemaker. ISFJs can be the nurturing force in their relationships, though they often consider themselves high maintenance. ISFJs don't require a lot of material things, but they do expect their partners to be available, affectionate and consistent. ISFJs require observant partners and partners who will challenge them to grow. People looking for short term relationships should steer clear of ISFJs as they are rarely interested in anything that is not intended to be long term.

Being with an ISFJ

  • green tick Do be upfront and honest about the kind of relationship you want. ISFJs are creatures of habit and they tend to take people at their word.
  • green tick Do encourage them to grow. ISFJs can easily fall into routines and may even fall into a slump without realizing it. Encouraging new hobbies and interests can help them avoid this.
  • green tick Do communicate gratitude verbally and often. ISFJs struggle to read emotion. They can be rather reserved and so they require frequent verbal praise rather than small acts of thanks.
  • green tick Do allow them to take care of you. ISFJs are in their element when they are taking care of people.
  • red cross Don't take their nurturing nature for granted. Any partner of an ISFJ needs to understand that they are happy to take care of them, but that needs to be returned with recognition and affection.
  • red cross Don't be too critical. ISFJs struggle with criticism. If it is offered gently and constructively, ISFJs are happy to receive feedback, but being criticized in public is a good way to shut ISFJs down.
  • red cross Don't feed into emotional outbursts. ISFJs can often keep their emotions under the surface and they tend to ignore problems until it reaches a boiling point. If an ISFJ reaches this breaking point it is better to let them simmer down before having a conversation about what is bothering them.

ISFJ Friendships

Principles of how ISFJ types behave in a friendship

The combination of traits found in ISFJ personalities makes them wonderful friends. ISFJs love to shower the people they love with praise, are always happy to offer support, and are extremely loyal. However, ISFJs often struggle to open up. They tend to be extremely shy and have a difficult time being vulnerable. This includes not always telling their friends what they need emotionally, and struggling with accepting help. A person seeking to befriend an ISFJ must show them patience and handle their vulnerability correctly; this will help build trust, and once trust has been secured, an ISFJ will be a true friend.

blue star

An ISFJ will often put the needs of their friends before their own.

The best way to befriend an ISFJ is through regular conversation and time spent together. ISFJs often come off as shy and quiet at first, which may make them seem standoffish. As a relationship builds, they will begin to open up, sharing their kindness and compassion with others. They are rarely the type to ‘let loose,’ except in small groups of their closest loved ones, and tend to keep their inner circles small to avoid being overwhelmed.

ISFJs strive to learn how to support the people they love, and will always be ready to lend a helping hand, even if it means going out of their way. Some might take advantage of this, using the ISFJs altruism to their own benefit; this is where the ISFJ must learn to stand up for themselves, cutting these people out in favor of friends that give them just as much love and support as the ISFJ offers.

Friends of the ISFJ should be aware of the ISFJ's dislike of conflict; they should try to make sure that the ISFJ they love isn't suppressing their own feelings to avoid a disagreement. Additionally, ISFJs need support in return. It's easy to forget that people who offer so much positivity and kindness may not always get it in return, so friends of ISFJs should go out of their way to let their friend know how important and loved they really are.


How ISFJs can Improve their Relationships with others

ISFJs becoming a better partner and friend

The majority of stress around social situations is often in an ISFJs own mind. This personality type is very introverted and struggles in large crowds of people. They tend to have a judging personality and fear that other people are the same. They tend to keep to themselves and go out of their way to please people. This fear of judgment and obsessive people pleasing can lead to a lot of pent up emotions. In order to have fulfilling friendships, ISFJs should be a little less harsh on themselves and others. They should also communicate the fears and anxieties that make social situations difficult.

As an ISFJ this is what can be done to improve relationships with other people:

  • ISFJs should push themselves to get out of their comfort zone. Despite the uncertainty, ISFJs should seek out relationships and situations that are a little uncomfortable. This risk can pay off in big ways.
  • ISFJs should consider being more open with their feelings. This can help clear up a lot of misunderstandings before they can turn into big problems.
  • ISFJs should always assume good will. They shouldn't assume that people are judging them or taking advantage of them.
  • ISFJs should set boundaries. Setting boundaries can be difficult for a nurturing person but doing this can help avoid those feelings of being taken advantage of. It also allows them to make time and space for themselves.
  • ISFJs should let their caring and loving traits shine. People will be drawn to an ISFJs nurturing and empathic nature.

 


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Ellie Simmonds, MSc

University of Bath, Psychology

Ellie Simmonds, MSc in Psychology from University of Bath. Ellie is an associate lecturer on psychometric assessments and has extensive knowledge of the 16-type model.