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!