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16 Types

ISTP Relationships

How ISTP types approach relationships

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As much as ISTP types value their independence and enjoy their time alone, they benefit from companionship with people who share their interests and activities as well as with others who round off their lives.

ISTPs Attitude to Relationships

How do ISTP types approach relationships?

ISTPs date because they want to, not because they feel obligated, nor because well-meaning friends or relatives have convinced them that dating would be good for them. Between long periods of contented solitude during which they focus on their projects and hobbies, they typically engage in a series of brief but eventful and, often, physically intense relationships.

An ISTP type in dating is likely to:

  • Demonstrate who they are by engaging in activities rather than by talking about themselves.
  • Dress and behave in a casual manner rather than make romantic overtures.
  • Display a quirky and off-beat sense of humor as a sign that they are comfortable and enjoying their companion's company.
  • Communicate infrequently even when very interested in developing or maintaining a relationship.
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The ISTP remains true to themselves when dating and will not change who they are comfortable being just to seek and attract a lifelong partner.

ISTPs and Dating

How do ISTP types fare in the dating world?

ISTPs keep their relationships interesting with various adventures and explorations. They are usually attracted to people who have quick minds like their own and can keep up with all the activity. They tend to change partners almost as frequently as they find new interests, but as they mature, ISTPs tend to seek out partners who introduce caution and stability into their lives.

ISTPs strive to understand and accept their partners for who they are. The freedom to explore their own interests as individuals is important to them, and they appreciate partners who are also happy to live their own independent lives as well. They may not understand a more routine-oriented partner's need to uphold traditions, and they are unlikely to go along with a partner's plans simply for the sake of spending time together. An ISTP may demonstrate affection by spending time doing things they enjoy with their partners, but more often they show that they care by creating or repairing something useful for those they love, being helpful, or solving a problem.

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ISTPs like thier relationships to be interesting, so they will often seek partners that add a spark to their lives.

ISTPs are attentive listeners who believe that there is a solution for every problem. When they get emotionally upset, they usually process their negative feelings very quickly and return to a more equanimous emotional state. When expressing sadness, frustration, anxiety, or any other uncomfortable emotion with an ISTP, it is best to clarify whether a sympathetic ear or quick solution is preferred. ISTPs are capable of both listening supportively and offering solutions, but their default response is usually to try to solve the problem.

Info Table
Beneficial dating traits Negative dating traits
Positive approach to quickly resolving problems. Reluctance to share private feelings.
Respect for individual differences and freedom. May be non-committal and take an “easy come, easy go” approach to relationships.
Adaptable and responsive to a partner's needs when needs are expressed clearly. Slow to develop strong feelings, may lose interest before relationship deepens.
Caring for partners in practical and useful ways. Risk taking and lack of self-care can be difficult for partners.
Allow partners ample personal freedom. Shared environments may be unkempt or cluttered with ongoing/incomplete projects.

ISTP Partner Compatibility

Analysis of personality compatibility for ISTP types

ISTPs frequently form friendships and romantic relationships with ESTPs and fellow ISTPs. These relationships can be quite exciting and harmonious while they last, but these fun-loving partners all too often follow their own interests in diverging directions before a strong emotional bond has a chance to form.

For long-term relationships, ISTPs are most compatible with others who share their Sensing approach and Thinking orientation but bring a Judging mindset that grounds their shared life in day-to-day reality. Relationships with Feeling types can also be successful when the ISTP learns to allow that some decisions will be made based on how their partner feels rather than what makes logical sense.

Figure 1: ISTP partner compatibility

Percentage compatibility between ISTP and other types

istp compatibility

What this chart shows

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

  • 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.

  • 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 ISTP

How to have successful ISTP relationships

As capable and independent people who love to share their interest in a variety of engaging activities, ISTPs have a lot to offer. Both partners in a relationship can benefit from a stronger, more meaningful bond when effective communication is established and when ISTPs take the time to deeply experience their own emotional reality as well as that of their partner.

As an ISTP

  • green tick Do make an effort to bond with your partner through meaningful conversations as well as through projects and engaging activities.
  • green tick When meeting friends and family of new partners, keep in mind that they may value first impressions much more than yourself and conforming to this may help you get started on the right foot.
  • green tick When partners tell you about their troubles, determine whether they are looking for solutions or a sympathetic ear.
  • green tick practice observing your own emotional state and check in with your partner to ask how they are feeling. Allow your partner's emotions as well as your own to be messy, complicated, and unsolvable at times.
  • green tick Learn how much time and attention is enough to keep your partner satisfied and find a compromise if your needs are different.
  • green tick Use compassion and tact when letting partners know that you are ready to part ways because you see a different future.

Advice for Partners of ISTPs

How to win an ISTPs heart

ISTPs are active and adventurous people who have a wealth of knowledge and hobbies to share. Although it can take some work to get them to slow down and open up to meaningful connections, they have the capacity to be caring and attentive partners who get things done.

Being with an ISTP

  • green tick Allow your ISTP partner to take time and space to process their emotions alone when they need to do so.
  • green tick Keep in mind that ISTPs do experience emotions but they can keep their feelings private and guarded.
  • green tick Give your ISTP partner ample time to respond when you ask for their thoughts and opinions.
  • green tick Have clear conversations about your expectations, boundaries, hopes, and needs.
  • green tick When talking about problems that are bothering you, clarify whether you are looking for solutions or simply want to express your feelings.
  • red cross Don't pressure an ISTP type into making commitments and long-term plans. This is quite antithetical to their nature.
  • red cross Don't interpret long silences or reluctance to make long-range plans as a lack of interest.

ISTP Friendships

Principles of how ISTP types behave in a friendship

ISTPs usually define a friend as a person with whom they engage in fun and interesting activities or share hobbies and interests. As ISTPs are very independent people, emotional bonds, loyalty, and commitments to help each other through hard times are not necessary parts of friendship. Episodic friendships come and go in an ISTP's life as their interests and activities change. The majority of these casual friends are fellow ISTPs.

blue star

ISTPs will find making friends with other ISTPs suits their schedules and infrequent style of maintaining contact.

ISTPs do need other types of people in their lives, but they don't often reach out. When they do, their bids for connection are so subtly different from those of feeling and intuitive types that they are often missed. Emotional connection with ISTPs may take time and persistence to develop, but it is worth the effort. ISTPs deeply cherish the rare individuals whom they entrust with their feelings and can become devoted friends when they decide that a relationship is worth building and maintaining. When ISTPs open up they often reveal a wild sense of humor. Undaunted by the trials and sorrows of life, they offer their friends strong support in difficult times.

face reading open book

A strong ISTP friendship is a difficult one to secure but certainly one to value strongly for the intense support.

How ISTPs can Improve their Relationships with others

ISTPs becoming a better partner and friend

Although ISTPs are content to spend much of their time alone working on solitary projects, they do enjoy sharing activities, adventures, and humor with the people in their lives.

To improve their relationships with other people, they can:

  • Learn and practice the ways the people in your life communicate affection and caring.
  • Allow those you care about to express their frustration, sadness, and anxiety without acting on the impulse to offer quick solutions. Often, a release is more valuable than finding the right course of action.
  • Bond with people on an emotional level as well as through activities in order to maintain life-long friendships.
  • Don't dismiss feelings, either yours or those of the people around you, just because they don't make sense.


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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.