8 Ridiculous Rules About Dating a Rational

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on November 06, 2017

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!

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a B2B tech copywriter and the editorial director here at Truity. When she’s not writing to a deadline, she’s geeking out about personality psychology and conspiracy theories. Jayne is a true ambivert, barely an INTJ, and an Enneagram One. She lives with her husband and daughters in the UK. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

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.


David Sweatt (not verified) says...


Your communications have enriched me.  I sometimes send  them to another INTJ friend.  I have considered setting up a blog or website to put kernals of importanr, to me, observations about society,public affairs, liberty and faith and their intesection.   I flatter myself in believing that I make connections among these items that are novel,  and sometimes illuminating.


A retired commercial banker and  entrepreneur I live with my lovely wife Sally in Greenville,  South Carolina.


Would you be able to help me develop my internet presence and edit my drafts?




David weatt

Simon P says...


This really is a precious article. I can't agree more on what you're saying. When I read it, I know  why I broke up with my previous girlfriend.

Really great job, and I am looking forward  to read more  from you!

A.C. (not verified) says...


Thank you. ENTJ, INTJ, INTP, and ENTP personalities are fascinting to me. I am grateful for your illuminating article.  

Smartypants (not verified) says...

I'm sure it wasn't even meant to be taken with a grain of salt. But why would anyone want to bag such a smug douchebag? Seriously. 

Michael of Michigan (not verified) says...

I can see how that seems kinda smug and douchey (especially 3 and 4), but it doesn't have to apply that way. As an INTP, this was how I read this article:

1. Rationals want to have a real, organic relationship, not one made from society's cookie-cutter assembly line.

2. While they wish they did, rationals have no idea how to flirt and will drive themselves crazy trying to figure it out. Because of this, they feel cornered when expected to flirt or flirt back.

3. (With a little comical overstatement) For a Rational, intimacy involves sharing and exploring thoughts and ideas, so if the only type of conversation they can have with their most intimate partner is futile and empty (i.e. Coke vs. Pepsi or Ohio State vs. U of M (sorry lol)), a Rational will feel as though their partner either rejects or cannot access what they feel is the richest and most important part of them.

Personal note: A Rational probably does not need their partner to carry and lead the conversation or even have any sort of mastery of the topics (though that may be a plus). It is generally enough just to be willing to listen, think, reply, and follow their line of reasoning while adding questions and thoughts of your own to enrich the flow of thought (it is even better if genuine interest is taken in the topics). I knew a woman who had little familiarity with any of the topics she and I discussed, but her interest and willingness to follow the line of thought and contribute with observations and thoughts of her own was incredibly attractive.

4. For similar reasons as Number 2, Rationals are not comfortable with expression of feelings. Often this discomfort may come from inarticulateness or from the feeling that direct statements or displays of affection from them would be trite and gaudy, so a Rational will either avoid the topic or attempt to convey their feelings subtly to protect them from insipid vapidity. In order to deal with this tendency, a partner would either have to have "thick skins and tremendous self control" in order to need much less affectionate expression, be able to interpret subtle hints, or (depending on the individual) help the Rational to feel comfortable making simple expressions of affection and assure them that these expressions are appreciated. Note: even after this last option, expression may still come less often than from other personality types merely out of preoccupation.

5. Enjoying and being accustomed to being absorbed in their own thoughts (and the level of isolation/individualism that it entails), a Rational may find it difficult to focus externally for extended periods of time (as is necessary to maintain constant interaction with another person). They will also likely desire to enact these ideas or engage in an environment where the Rational's abilities can be used to bring about meaningful results. A Rational does not mean to reject their partner, but merely desires to have an individual identity as well.

6. (Similar to Number 1) Rationals naturally focus on concepts, ideas, and principles rather than societal norms, expectations, and the passage of time. This can make them very absent-minded and forgetful of events and practices that most people consider to be important. A Rational may also forget that particular days are special to others - either because they become absorbed in their thoughts or because, in their conceptual perception, particular days (as concepts) have no emotional quotient assigned to them based upon their placement upon the Gregorian calendar. (I, for instance, frequently forget my own birthday if not reminded, and do not consider it especially important for others to remember it.) It is also possible that a Rational may simply overthink these events, and so (for reasons similar to Number 4) avoid or neglect it (consciously or subconsciously).

7. Rationals want their relationships to work (not be dysfunctional) and want to make them as good as is practically possible. They reason that this is the right thing to do for both parties of the relationship, as both will suffer from either a dysfunctional relationship or from a painful breakup after an emotional investment. It is necessary for them, then, to look past their emotions and determine which potential partners they can offer a functional relationship to and so spare the others from the disappointment of a later breakup and/or the pain of a turbulent relationship. The Rational does not wish them ill, but merely determines that this relationship is not what either one of them needs.

8. While rationals are hard on ideas, they are tolerant on people. They will bludgeon an idea to death trying to get it just right, but do not expect perfection from people, and are willing to accept people's quirks and faults.

Keep in mind this is only MY take on it. I may be wrong, and other Rationals will have their own interpretations.
Also note that the way that these personality types manifest will vary depending on many influences including environment, ideology, religion, philosophy, and education.

I think this post proves, whether correct or incorrect, that I am definitely a Rational. :P

Guest (not verified) says...

This fits me to a T! Thanks for you interpretations. I am starting to feel more comfortable with my ENTJ personality (especially when it comes to dating) and taking it with a little bit of humour and cutting myself some slack for not being able to be all lovey-dovey (:D) definitely helps!

iadala (not verified) says...

Not a douchebag...? Just different. It's not like we don't appreciate our partners, we just do it in a less obvious way. Doesn't mean other ways are wrong.

Me2 (not verified) says...

Smartypants -- seriously, if you don't get it, it's because you're not going to be good enough for us. Simple as that. Don't waste our time thinking you're cute

Void (not verified) says...

Something to be aware of is that NTs are almost always despised and bullied in society - as you have done with your comment (no judgement, we're all used to it).

Because of our inclinations we can create fairly elaborate explanations for our difficulties when it's really just that we have an unfair advantage in an arbitrarily dysfunctional education system; an experience which teaches everyone to hate us, and us to believe and explain our own exception irrespective of how it might hurt us.

The underlying truth in this article is a belief in our own isolation. I tend to agree with the author although would also observe that she is an INTJ. Have a look at Loco7 and Michael of Michigan's answers for an elaboration of our diversity.

At some point in the future, we NTs will probably liberate the world from the industrial stratification of society (with energy of the NFs and the diligence of the sensates) and we won't be reviled as artificially elite when we'd still do what we do irrespective of its status in society.

Loca7 (not verified) says...

I consistently score as ENTP on tests and I can safely say that very little of this actually applies to me, the only part really being the one about having engaging conversation. I’m a very emotionally in-tune and expressive person who greatly enjoys discussions on feelings and thoughts. I would also consider myself a romantic early bloomer and a chronic flirt (I will flirt with almost any girl wether I find them attractive or not). I do occasionally forget important dates in relationships but that’s because I’m absent minded and a bit of a space cadet. Overall this really isn’t reflective of me as an ENTP.

Void (not verified) says...

I agree. There is a heavily cultural assumption in the article - that the functions underlying intuitive thinking correspond to rationalism. Rationalism itself is a subject worthy of debate for us and is probably not something we would adhere to except as a useful tool.

It's a bit different for ENTPs - this article might more be a warning about how we can inadvertenly hurt people.

Also, 16 possibilities hardly encompasses the diversity of humanity.

Meme (not verified) says...

I completely agree. This applies to Intjs, Entjs and somewhat to Intps, but Entps, nope. We are killer flirts and fine with feelings(to a point)!

domingo (not verified) says...

Ikr.I'm an ENTJ and it isn't very accurate for me either

Aish (not verified) says...

I agree with the article, something I really wish I could word up this nicely to my "Feeling" companions who are steps away from deeming me a douchebag (like Smartypants? hahaha), I have to say I genuinely struggle with wording my thoughts.

I believe an NT type could easily understand this, either as their perception or an impression, and to those who don't and have decided to join the bunch that once again ridicule us, I'd just like to tell this.

It's fine with you expressing we're unworthy to get in a relationship with, I respect your opinion, but we bring a crucial quality to our relationships, and thay is an open, unbiased mindset that's willing to grow and evolve with you (which I personally believe is a key essence of successful relationships, but is often overlooked for that it isn't a dramatised aspect, often it's been lived and learnt).

If you think we aren't your cup of tea in relationships for our loving style, that's alright, it's a preference, but that doesn't make us douches. We're both harder to love and lose, that's a type, just like yours is another.

pbjnmelk (not verified) says...

Totally disagree with #2, A+ in flirting, super easy to throw superficial compliments at someone, ppl luv tht ;)

Since there are 4 types of Rationals, not all of these can be applied to one. 

tanstaafl28 says...

Actually, not all of this rings true for me. I am an ENTP (Enneagram 5w6). I started writing (bad) poetry as a teenager. I made incredible mix tapes for girls I liked. I have an almost-savant talent for remembering dates (I was always good in history classes as a result). I do not do well with emotions, but I do like to flirt (if she's a witty conversationalist). I am most certainly sapio-sexual. I am attracted to women who have minds and aren't afraid to use them. I am revolted by needy or clingy people. I expect a certain amount of independence. I also prefer if our skillsets are complimentary rather than absolutely identical. I hope this helps clarify some things.   

Doug23 (not verified) says...

I am about as INTJ as one can be. Reading this is both reassuring (familiar) and discouraging (also familiar). I have never understood the ‘how’ when it comes to expressing my romantic / sexual interest in women - and [sadly perhaps] at 46, have yet to do anything to show a woman I want ‘more’ than friendship with her. I have many female mind mates, all 100% platonic - few of whom over the years I have been very interested in. But I’ve never said / done anything to express this. In all honestly I don’t feel I’m any closer to being able to express romantic / sexual interest in women than I did 25 years ago, and at this point sense that in all probability I’ll never be able to. I’ve never actually tried to do so mind you, but then again, no matter how many books I read / videos I watch, I still have no idea *what* to do, or *how* to do it - these things are practically nonsensical to me. Sad - perhaps - but as a rational being, this is my reality whether I like it or not. C’est la vie.

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