Rationals are one of the four Keirsey temperament groups, comprising the personality types ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP and INTP. These temperaments share the qualities of being abstract thinkers who approach situations in a theory-focused, pragmatic mode. Getting a Rational to open up and show their tender side can be as challenging as the toil of Sisyphus ... and one that you might just find intriguing.
How do you connect with a partner who is known more for his brilliant mind than his brilliant romance? Here are 8 ridiculous but essential lessons for dating Rationals.
#1: Accept that they are romantic late bloomers
On paper at least, Rationals are the type least likely to want to put a ring on it. That's because they often don't appreciate, or choose not to follow, cultural norms that dictate when and how one should date, marry, have children and so on. While they may be interested in someday achieving these milestones, they're usually in no particular hurry for love. Carpe diem types may be appalled at the lack of momentum, but if you're dating a Rational, you've got to let love blossom in its own sweet time.
#2: Flirting feels faintly disgusting to them
Rationals watch others flirt with a combination of envy and disgust. Most of us are too socially clunky, too straight-talking, or too emotionally fortressed to get all cutesy with the casual touches and fluttering lashes. Plus, since no two people flirt the same way, there are a million ways to overthink things, get your wires crossed, or make moves on someone who really isn't on the same romantic page as you are. It's a nightmare.
How, then, to flirt with a Rational? The simple answer is don't. Be straight. Be obvious. Don't play games. Giggling nonstop makes you look insane. We'd prefer it if you just talked to us.
#3: You won't get far without great conversation
When Rationals are ready to (finally) play the field, they will scan it first for interesting people. Ideally, they're looking for someone with great conversation topics ranging from the inane (food, movies) to the sublime (the mysteries of the universe). Long story short: if you can't perform intellectual backflips and debate a whole range of castles-in-the-sky ideas, then you probably won't get very far with a Rational. They want a mindmate, not a soul mate.
#4: They won't talk about feelings
Rationals clash with every other temperament type in the way they communicate their feelings. Whereas others are inclined to open up about how they feel, often with great warmth and empathy, Rationals will struggle (and neglect) to put those emotions into words.
How a Rational expresses herself depends on her personality type. INTPs and INTJs, for example, have a tendency to overestimate their partner's grasp of nuance - they expect you to pick up on the smallest subtleties and might get passive-aggressive if you miss what they're failing to communicate. ENTPs and ENTJs, on the other hand, will debate a 'feelings' situation to death (specifically, digging through all the facts and iterations) leaving you feeling bamboozled and bemused. Either way, you probably will end up feeling as though your emotions are not recognized or reciprocated.
I'm not saying that Rationals won't support you if you need a shoulder to cry on. But if you enjoy emotional expression, public displays of affection, or epic outpourings of feelings, it's probably best to avoid the level-headed Rational. We look for partners with thick skins and tremendous self control.
#5: They will have outside commitments that interfere with the relationship
Rationals are deeply autonomous people - they might love your company, but they will never need you in a codependent, all-consuming, clingy type of way. We have our passions in life and we expect you to have yours. We feel suffocated by less independent types who insist that couples should do every little thing together.
This is a hard lesson for 'all-in' types to learn, but Rationals always come with baggage in the form of outside commitments. Trust that your partner is not pulling away from you. They just need to have a few projects they can excel at on their own.
#6: They'll forget your anniversary
Rationals are the least likely type to remember anniversaries, birthdays and other important milestones, and they're even less likely to present you with a meaningful gift. INTPs in particular are inconsistent in their preparations for significant events and may end up snatching an emergency gift from Walmart on the way home.
If you're a type that likes surprise getaway weekends (Artisans) or thoughtful declarations of affection (Idealists), then you're going to be seriously disappointed the next time an important date rolls around. On the plus side, Rationals do tend to be the most steadfast of partners. You might not get a luxury city break for your anniversary, but at least you'll get an anniversary.
#7: Prepare for regular quality control
Rationals take extra care to monitor the quality of their relationships. In fact, you'll often find them theorizing about the status of the relationship, and how they can make the necessary adjustments to keep the relationship happy and healthy. If any flaw is detected, the Rational will fix it or they will delete your phone number. They won't make a show of it. They'll simply weigh you up against whatever it is they need from a relationship - intellectual stimulation, fidelity, independence, humor - and they won't waste time dating you if they don't see a future together. It sounds harsh, but Rationals rarely lose their objectivity among the heady rush of chemistry and hormones.
#8: They're not looking for perfect
While Rationals are hot on quality control, they know that people are fallible. They don't place unrealistic expectations on people and they don't expect their partners to be perfect. Their preference is for macro over micro, theory over details, and for the big picture over the specifics. As long as you check the major boxes, a Rational really won't care (or at least will tolerate) that you turn up half an hour late or leave your dirty clothes on the floor.
Unlike Idealists who often take up the romantic task of seeking the "love of their life," Rationals understand that no one has one true love, and that compromise goes a long way towards making a relationship work. To an NT personality, the good stuff will always outweigh the little frustrations here and there. That's the logical way to approach relationship decisions. It's what a Rational does.
At the end of the day, once we have found a worthy partner, we will move forward with confidence and gusto. You just need to get our attention, stay interesting, tolerate our ineptitude with feelings and voila! You've bagged yourself an NT!