7 Ways To Care For The (Super Baffling) INTP

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on September 08, 2019

INTPs are an interesting bunch. We can be affectionate and wild one second, then completely disappear for the next several thousands. You may be a friend or family member to a particular INTP in your life. You might even be that very INTP, and are looking out to see how these suggestions rack up. (In that case, why hello there.) 

The erratic behavior of us INTPs may throw others off guard and boggle their minds incessantly. Yet through all of the inconsistency, we can be intriguing to some. Which is why others may find themselves trying to decode our behavior endlessly. Excellent. It’s one giant step closer to understanding the INTP: one of the most self-contradictory types from the world of personality.

How can you care for the (sometimes baffling) INTP? Handle us with care, and keep cool. The slow process of warming up begins shortly after. Now, add some patience—and we’re halfway there. Use the simple, foolproof steps below with discretion, and throw common sense out the window. Results will vary. Whatever happens, anticipate a dash of well-intentioned chaos.

1. Give ample alone time

As Introverts, we INTPs need time to recharge our batteries and be a complete hermit for a while. After that, we’ll be all revved up and ready to join the group and happily ‘do the social’ again. Quiet time is a must-have for all Introverts, and we’re right there in that camp. Remember, introversion falls on a wide scale. Some of us are die-hard social recluses, others can be mistaken as Extraverts. 

We’ll be busy exploring 20 different (and often unrelated) subjects at once. During this hibernation period, our focus will be almost exclusively directed towards our personal projects and research. Scouring the internet for esoteric information for days (or weeks) on end? Check. Losing track of time and day of the week? Absolutely. Being a straight-up bum? Smirks.

2. Reach out regularly

Yes, this seems contradictory to the point above—as expected. By regularly, that can mean once every few days. We can get super absorbed in whatever we’re infatuated by: mathematical art, astrophysics, tai-chi, game design, astral projection, lucid dreaming…the whole nine yards. Why are there only crickets and tumbleweeds on our side? Because we’re caught up in a blizzard of strange and outworldly ideas

And be prepared—we’ll inadvertently forget important dates like anniversaries and birthdays in the process. Friends and family are met with that same big, goofy smile each time it happens. Send us a gentle nudge, and we’ll manage to figure out how to redeem ourselves. Heck, we may even learn some of those powers over time, and reach out first (cue Jeopardy music). Eventually!

3. Make food (or teach us how)

As mentioned before, we INTPs are notorious for neglecting our basic bodily needs, like a well-balanced diet and sleep. Bring us homemade goodies or better yet—teach us how to make something edible (that tastes good). We’ll appreciate the thoughtfulness and try our best to reciprocate the favor in the form of dorky smiles and bad jokes.

As a plus, try to turn this into a bonding experience, as shared activities rank high as one of our preferred ways to demonstrate affection (i.e. quality time). Perhaps we’ll whip up something exquisite (or realistically, burn the oven down for the fifth time in a month). Whatever happens, we’ll all emerge with a whole new sense of connectedness. 

4. Suggest new activities

Our quiet-yet-exploratory nature is the side of the INTP the world sees. It’s playful, wide-eyed and open-ended. Variety in a controlled manner does wonders for strengthening friendships. Call it our reckless side, if anything. By blasting random ideas into the air, we can evaluate the feasibility of each one of them. 

Talk about possibilities. Lots of them. Keep those far-off ideas a’coming. We’re energized by the world of ‘what ifs’ and enjoy letting our minds wander to make tangential connections between marginally connected ideas and concepts. We enjoy ideation for the sake of it and appreciate those who can continue along and expand upon our thoughts.

5. Challenge our beliefs

Although we may avoid conflict in a general sense, we enjoy a good open-ended debate, free from emotional ripples and waves. Pique our interest for a wide variety of topics and keep us on our toes; second-guessing each sentence to be spoken. The more we have to disagree upon, the more likely something will shift in our complex mental frameworks. 

Here’s the deal: If we’re patient enough to listen to all of someone’s points in a discussion and offer suggestions or our own viewpoints, they can rest assured—as they’re definitely a trusted figure in our lives. If they’ve somehow managed to shift our beliefs or values in any way, then we consider them to be extremely important. 

6. Give honest advice*

(*) Fine print: When we openly ask for it. If we trust someone enough, we’ll thoroughly consider their suggestions and—wait for it—even their emotions. By taking into account their personal values and history together, we can process the gentler (touchy-feely) side of decision-making. Challenging? Yes. Worth it? Time will tell.

When we’re standing at forks in the road of our lives, sometimes we’ll consult an outside perspective on major decisions. It takes a hefty amount of maturation and self-development to get to this point. Once a trusted figure in our lives gets promoted to the advice-giving role, they can kick back and relax. We’ll continue to reflect upon new situations and understand why others do things the way they do.

7. Stay optimistic

Optimism is contagious. We gravitate towards those who can naturally lead us to the sunny side. Particularly those who are filled with goodwill and the ability to lighten up the atmosphere, while keeping conversations engaging. Positivity is a virtue of ours, as we strive to figure out ideal conditions to nurture and grow its presence. 

Sometimes, we find ourselves down in the dumps with little to no clue on how or why. Reading our own emotions (and finding the right words for them) is akin to talking to a brick wall; met with a lack of a response; a stony silence. It’s an ongoing learning experience, which takes decades to grasp and fully come to good terms with. 

The takeaway

A recap of suggestions to care for the ever-so-baffling INTP:

  • Give us alone time

  • Reach out regularly

  • Make food or teach us how to

  • Suggest new activities to do together

  • Challenge our beliefs in a diplomatic debate

  • Give honest advice when we ask for it

  • Stay optimistic through it all!

With the optimal amount of distance and connection, the friendly neighborhood INTP will manage to stick by you through thick and thin. We’ll continue being the mystery bags that keep throwing others off, though (tongue-in-cheek). Prepare to be surprised by the pool and depth of emotions we’re capable of feeling. 

Have you ever encountered wonky behavior from an INTP? What were your strategies to communicate more effectively with them? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Lily Yuan

Lily Yuan is a personality psychology writer who tests as INTP and constantly questions her type. Learn more at www.lily-yuan.com. Explore her blog at www.personality-psychology.com.

More from this author...
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.


C.B. says...

These are all very good points! My husband is an INTP, and all of the above sound actually pretty solid- I would also add- let your INTP lead on somehting you can do together- like watching Star Trek or playing a favorite (computer or gameboard) game together- Mention that you would like to spemd time- straight up- and then let the INTP decide what you can spend time ON. They'll feel like they have a bit of control in an otherwise chaotic world of people and emotions.

Also C.B. (not verified) says...

I saw the initials and thought "oh f#@× what did I say. And was quite relieved.

Your comment provides me with further evidence and hope that there are infact women who will pair with us INTP weirdos. Thank you!

T (not verified) says...

Great tips, thanks!

Mike (Intp) (not verified) says...

Absolutely correct! 

Zde (not verified) says...

INTP is the total meaning of a VERY confusing friend. They sometimes become so negative that I don't know what the hell is happening with them. Or is it my fault as INTJ?

INTP said I had breached the forbidden line, but the INTP did not tell me anything about the line when I already said that I don't know what the heck the person mentioned.

I had been evading all of the forbidden acts the person told me, yet the INTP said I had breached it. I also not familiar with how INTP keeping informations so as usual I asked the INTP question for discussion, but this time the INTP suddenly said that I destroyed every data her mind had been built like a solid rock, and now she must searched for every pieces of information again.

The INTP acted so confusing, darkly emotional, sarcastic, mean, self-criticizing, and sometimes too irrational. The person is too suspicious for anything, reading between the lines, and telling me everyone is disappointed. Sometimes they are too emotional, and I don't know why. They can't be reached when in Emo rage, suddenly missing like a wind with no reason why my chat ignored, and this particular trait is a very damaging trait for a relationship.

This INTP accusing me had hidden agenda by befriending her, as in her mind; an INTJ like me that is soaring high over everyone and respected like an eagle is not genuine, while she is like a fish on the pond that is susceptible to being prey of me. Idk why she thinks like this, but she had been bullied by everyone in her life, including her mom. I thought that being NT makes her more rational to accept life challenges, but noooo. She complained all the time and poured all her negativity on me. Apparently only INTJ and ENTJ had the capability of rationality of accepting life.

As I open up to INTP, the person thought me as being whiny, while all this time, I only joking around as I finally warmed up to someone. INTP can't get the joke and then complained why I'm being whiny. Seriously, INTP is so so confusing and tend to making me angry for no reason. I even considering to doorslam the person now because I don't like being ignored all the time and only accused bad things that I don't do as INTJ. It's enough that I tend to see myself as a bad person, now this INTP telling me I'm bad with no logical reason. Now I must not tell her my problems as she will see it a childish act? What is the point of one-sided relationship like that? I give but I required something in return too. INTP can't see whether someone is genuine or not, so sceptical, and they will drain your willpower to succeed.

So my advice for you fellow INTJs who want to be succeeded in life (in age 20 or above), do not befriend INTP. They will only loaded you with negative crap, and you will get nothing in return (after a long time investing on this relationship you will realize this) beside their occasional nagging to waste some of your money that you had been investing for the future.

Dreamer87 (not verified) says...

INTP has tendencies to be avarice (holding on to what's left, or overly trifty) or being reclusive, these they do to conserve energy because they see world as overwhelming with limited resources, and they spent many times & energy living inside their heads. That explains why you feel you dont get much in return from long time of relationship. Sometimes I think the only person fit for INTPs are extroverts, particularly ENFJ, because they have ample abilities and energies to reach out, create hype mood, and also being happy with other friends. Enfj can also helps them realized their potentials. My advice for you as fellow introverts is to get on their mind side. Chalenge their views, make constructive discussions, express your desires, but keep the one you want the most to yourself. Let INTP guess what it is and be intrigued. Ask what they want to do on their birthdays, hint what you'd like to do on yours. Because if they feel grateful, they'll do the same next year. Give them leadership position occasionally, even though it's hard for them, give it as a challenge. Intps are a warmest machine, give them chance to be competent, they'll become friends for life. 


Guest (not verified) says...

Your intp friend was damaged. Like if you use the enneagram system they were low on self actualization slider, she was being paranoid of everything. Sure, if it was negative like that you should separate from them. 


You shouldn't close doors on all future INTPs because of that one. I (intp) have had a lot of intj friendships. I don't consider myself particularly positive but I think I had a more positive outlook on life/status of planet than them (to counter the negativity aspect). I remember at my very worst I might have been how you described but I matured and got my help. Some of my intj friends were very confident people while some of them were depressed and abused people. The most damaged of them were very negative and painful to be around, in general it's bad to be around someone who pulls you south because of their problems. Leave her but don't leave all people. I had recently very bad intj friendship and I might rant like you have. But my other friend took test and is intj also and is nothing like that, with the emotional blackmail and all. I had to reconcile those feelings that you can resent someone for being a certain thing but realize someone you like is the same. A healthy intj is good, a healthy intp is good. And then the nuances of personhood go beyond that. 

Jim999 (not verified) says...

:") currently i have an intp crush.. And im an intj aswell. I relate to it so bad lmao but the difference is, i just knew her last year, not so long. Shes always gone and ghost me and i tot she really tryna test me or playin wimme. She was upset and angry at me once while i thought i was just joking. My best guess is this person just havent mature enuf to handle her emotion so i forgave her. Idk she always gone on the middle of convo and chat so often so im stepping back amd thinking im being ghosted. But then again few hours later she replied like nothing happen lol my expectation and excitement abt her are gone.. She got no feeling at all lmao. My advice for anyone intj who have intp crush will be pls be more patient and lower ur ego and expectations bcoz intp are super lazy :"). They easily blame anyone for anythinf but realize they wrong when u able to prove it, if u cant prove it yet better stay quiet and see.. Very very very stubborn introvert, lack of executions.

Zde (not verified) says...

Seriously, when I see INTP now, it's rather very impossible for the person to be what they dreamed in life. INTP complained that she didn't like being expected to be something yet also want to succeed like others. She also didn't like to please anybody. She thought me befriend her is in order to help her succeed and that is an act of treason. She is afraid of her future, but she didn't want to be successful. Or try to not be bullied. Or being respected as she always complained being bullied then poured all the negativity, pain, anxiety to me. Strange because the root of the bullying act is because she can't stand for herself.

I see her problem, I tried to fix it. That is my INTJ animal instinct. I tried to mend things that is broken. I fixed people's problem. I give practical advice. I give a boost of supporting hands. I helped her to be more realistic and rational. Make a plan and making things orderly. I told her to stop imagining what can be happening, just do it. Just stand up and be strong. It's as easy as just doing that, yet when she enters a problem she becomes so defensive as accusing me that gives the advice is misleading and manipulating her into doing things. She can't see which one is the good manipulator and which one is not. They will imagine you as this A person and when you acting out of the A factor, she will accuse you of trying to manipulate her.

INTP is so delusional. I repeat, INTP. Is. Delusional. Not. Rational. They are logical but not realistic. So don't ask them for advice as I don't know how to put up with these folks. I don't know how people able to deal with these people for a long time.

INTJ: I had a main goal and I want to achieve it. By breaking it into minor goals, planning detailed scenarios, and now working on it. Checked and solved, now time to move. INTP: I had a main goal and I want to achieve it. But I don't have minor goals and I'm fine with it. (*someone tried to help them in this) Well there are many ways to Rome, I don't like compromised myself to others and exposing things. Maybe someday.

There you can find an INTJ taking classes and honing their life skills to mastery, asking people, gaining connection, and upgrading their database everyday. While INTP is sitting on their home, reading 30 tabs of wikipedias, playing android games, puzzles, doing their parents' household chores. I also think that MBTI mean nothing now as it can't help any relationship become better, or anyone become better, as it can only stand for self-identification method, nothing more.

Scott (INTP) (not verified) says...

You would probably prefer the insights from Socionics. Its inter-type relations system predicts the complaints you appear to have towards each other. MBTI does a bad job in this regard even though it has the same underlying basis. Personally, I don't think either of you acted in what was necessarily a reprehensible way - just an incompatible way. The sooner that is realized, the sooner you (both) can let it go.

Suz (INTP) (not verified) says...

Zde, sounds like you have 2 problems. Firstly, sounds like your INTP has issues that are not related to being an INTP (e.g. being bullied). Having been the (marginally) less neurotic one in an INTP-INTJ relationship I can assure you that INTJs are also capable of being totally illogical (whilst insisting on being fully logical at all times). Try to have some sympathy with your INTP for their difficulties rather than judging them for not being you (yeah, I know, you're an INTJ, but try - just because something is your 'animal instinct' doesn't mean you have to do it, especially since you have surely experienced that most human beings with problems want someone to listen to them, not tell them what to do).

INTP stress response is usually either to release uncontrolled emotion (we can't help it, we hate doing it, and sometimes don't even realise we are doing it) or to avoid everything. Rest assured my INTJ also had their own unhelpful stress reaction, as I'm sure do you, as do all types. If you can't understand this (temporary) reaction for what it is, or somehow see it as a failing in your INTP (they probably see it as a failing too) then maybe the relationship isn't going to work out. Especially if you are actually provoking the stress response with your actions, which is the implication.

Secondly, hating to plan and then execute is not 'illogical', it's just how INTPs are. Being a P type is often frustrating in a world of Js. We see that it would be great to want to plan everything and then execute the plan and not find the whole act of making a plan and then carrying it out to be exhausting/stressful/ohmygodno - in the same way that Is see the way it would be helpful in life to be an E and not be massively exhausted by interacting with people, since life often involves a lot of people. None of this is a matter of logic. By the way, INTPs also tend to find that being a P type has some benefits, like experimenting with new things and ideas, being generally laid back and easy to get on with, not being a robot, that kind of thing. INTJs can usefully co-exist with INTPs with a bit of mutal respect and get a lot out of the relationship, but if you treat your INTP like you are always right and they are always wrong, I can see why your INTP would feel bullied and manipulated.

I have personally found MBTI very helpful in getting on with other types because it helps me to understand how they will react differently to me and see that there is value in difference, rather than characterising people different to me as 'wrong', which is the approach you seem to be leaning towards.

Dreamer87 (not verified) says...

Maybe it's not you, it's the stress. Let her thinks what she likes. Don't fall into debate of whether your intentions are genuine, let your action speaks of them, but honestly though, if it drains you so much. Just get out.

Sheddweller (not verified) says...

I don't know if this is an INTP trait or another personally aspect but deadlines are murder. I prefer what I deliver to be correct (to my standards) and driven by a date. I need a lot of lead time to process all of the aspects of what I've been asked to do.

Also, I already have a big picture, prioritized to-do list, probably in my head. Telling me I need "to-do" something is going to lead to trouble. Ask me, that allows me to reprioritize, but i will need to know the importance of the request in relation to the big picture

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