7 Hard Truths About ISTJ Relationships

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on November 24, 2019
Category: ISTJ

Loyal and loving, cupcake-baking ISTJ smart girl seeks educated gentleman for romance and adventure. Must appreciate traditions and family values. Ethnicity irrelevant. Kindly submit recent photo with reply. Grammar and punctuation will be evaluated.

Dear gentleman in question, let’s hope you have acquainted yourself with the Isabel Briggs Myers’ system of personality typing before replying to my ad. ISTJ relationships can be wonderful and rewarding and set you on the fast track to happiness if you know the tricks to woo my heart. But if you aren’t prepared for some of the hard truths about dating an ISTJ, even the most promising relationships can derail.

1.  Respect is a requirement

The grammar and punctuation bit is my way of ascertaining your attention to details. It tells me whether, if I make a request, however odd, you will hear and respect it. Also, as much as I’d like to say I’m wrong, can you think of a better way to prove that you are, in fact, educated?

Flip side: This request is a two-edged sword for me because it feeds into my tendency to be a perfectionist. Honey, I will be judging your grammar so hard. Sorry/not sorry. You were warned. However, it’s also the frosting on my cupcake and if you comply I will be tossing sprinkles into the air like confetti.

2. Late means no second date

If we decide to meet for coffee and you show up late, there won’t be a second date. I value my time. Disrespect it, and my irritation is not something that caffeine will soothe. Your attractive excuses will fall flatter than the foam on my latte because the fact is, you’re a shmuck.

Flip side: If I’m running late, there is a 99 percent chance I will text you and cancel, in order to avoid the uncomfortable reality that I am a shmuck. The guilt is real, and for the sake of amore, I will sincerely attempt to reschedule. This translates into loyalty and if our romance blooms into something beautiful, I will have your back, deliver on my promises, and prove that I prioritize our relationship.

3. Honesty is always the best policy

The photo request is a test. If you show up for our first date and are twenty pounds heavier or anything other than your photograph, I raise an immediate block. Honesty is always the best policy and I need to know who you are, warts and all. The internet exists. I will find out.

Flip side: I wear minimal make-up and I’m an open book because I want you to meet the real me, too. Nothing is more frightening than authenticity but sometimes, the truth will set you free. Loving me for who I am is a gift I won’t take for granted.

4. When I say adventure, I don’t mean backpacking across Nepal

Adventure is such an ambiguous term. Let me clarify it. We are not going to jump from an airplane on our first date. Or any date. Or ever. We are not going to the casino and make it rain. Touring a museum or taking a hike is more my style and using the port-a-potty is as daring as I get.

Flip side: I will miss out on fun activities that I never knew I loved unless you gently encourage me to try new things. Gently. Expect me to look before I leap over a waterfall, dash through a haunted house, or swoon into your arms.

5. My approach to risk is analytical. Deal. 

If we do try new things outside of my comfort zone, expect my approach to be methodical and cautious and possibly just a little bit boring. I will ask a lot of questions before hand. I will do a lot of internal processing afterward. I might appear aloof, unimpressed, or even unhappy, but don’t panic. It’s my way of trying to categorize and process the experience in my head.

Flip side: The look of sudden surprise and delight on my face in uncharted territory is priceless and worth the wait. It’s frustrating that I can be my own worst enemy, overthinking an opportunity into oblivion and there are many things I have never tried because of it. You might be the prince with the magic flying carpet. Help me trust you.

6. You have a role in this relationship and I expect you to take it seriously

Open the door for me, hail my cab, carve the turkey. I love the traditions that hold together relationships, families, and societies. If you have no traditions, expect me to create some. We will celebrate Chinese New Year, even if you’re Russian and I’m Irish.

Flip Side: If you ask me to change a tire or kill a spider, expect push-back. It’s not that I can’t. But hey, that’s your job.

7. Hands of a gentleman, kiss of promise

Public displays of affection are not in my romantic repertoire. Very few people are allowed into my personal space and hanky-panky will occur in…additional personal space. Now, if you were to “pop” the question in a timely, tidy, traditional way, exceptions could be made.

Flip Side: Restraint is sexy. Expect me to not have any…once we are in our personal space. ISTJs were designed for a long, steady, heat-producing love instead of the flash-in-the-pan theatrics of other personalities. A Jane Eyre instead of Scarlett O’Hara. I am the substance behind the sparkle.

Jolie Tunnell

Jolie Tunnell is an author, freelance writer and blogger with a background in administration and education. Raising a Variety Pack of kids with her husband, she serves up hard-won wisdom with humor, compassion and insight. Jolie is an ISTJ and lives in San Diego, California where she writes historical mysteries. Visit her at jolietunnell.com

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


Gangari the Wanderer (not verified) says...

Not that this isn't mostly on-point, but this would make more sense if written from the perspective of a man.  There just aren't that many xxTJ women out there.  Or even xxTx women, for that matter.  A woman is FAR more likely to encounter an ISTJ man than vice-versa, and even if a man DOES encounter an ISTJ woman (you lucky dog, you), he is statistically FAR more likely to naturally understand her by being a similar personality type (most WOMEN, however, are NOT xxtx's, and will almost certaily require coaching upon encountering an ISTJ man), but whatever.

DMK (not verified) says...

Hmmm, your post seems a bit smug. It would be nice to see from where you base your "statistical" opinions (yes, I am one of those "rare" ISTJ women). From what I can find online, ~16% of men and ~7% of women are classified as ISTJ. It does not seem to me that ~1/3 of women ISTJ's compared to male ISTJs is all that "rare".  

S. E. (not verified) says...

As an ISTJ woman, I'm very happy to have found this post. I've never been in a relationship or even asked out on a date, but I've always liked the idea of the traditions that occur in the dating process (opening the door, bringing flowers, etc). They're often considered old-fashioned and out of date now, but I've always wanted to experience them.

I can also vouch for other things on this list, such as checking grammar and spelling, disliking lateness, and having personal space respected. I've gotten a lot of criticism about that in the past, but I'm learning to accept it as who I am, and I'm glad to see a post from a fellow ISTJ woman who can validate this. Thank you for writing this!

Jolie Tunnell says...

You are so welcome. Understanding and accepting what makes us happy is key, how else will people around us know what that is unless we speak up? A confident woman who can celebrate her truths is attractive! It's clear from the preveious gentleman's comment that an ISTJ woman is worth seeking out (that lucky dog!). Shine bright!

E -J05 (not verified) says...

As an ISTJ male, can confirm there are some relatable traits there:  being late, lazy, can't spell, dishonest or flaky are some pet-peeves for sure!  I find other introverts interesting and relatable, mostly.  Talkative extroverts tend to test my patience as well.  Worst of it is probably the online dating scene; tough to find compatible matches, even more awkward when they say "looking for someone to make me laugh."   Sorry, I do have a sense of humor for sure, but I'm not a stand-up comedian and I really hate the thought of using a one liner pickup line.  Story telling- erm maybe, but still feels a bit forced at times.  What to do I guess; yeah I can be a bit dull - but will be your best friend for life if you'd let.  

Jolie Tunnell says...

This sounds familiar! ISTJs hate being put on the spot to entertain, even though we can be wicked funny. My article "Four ISTJ Personality Traits That Always Seem to Get Overlooked" mentions our delicious sarcasm and wit, and extroverts are rewarded once they give us the time and space to demonstrate it organically. Everyone needs a laugh, even you...I'd suggest a date to the circus or the latest rom-com movie to get the smiles started.

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