So you're a Feeler (F) type according to your personality test result. You’ve just joined a unique group of enthusiasts, optimists, nurturers and artists. Word on the street is that William Shakespeare was an INFP and Oscar Wilde an ENFP, so you’re in the company of giants.
Whilst settling into your newly realized identity, you may read personality profiles describing Feelers as emotionally driven people, befuddled by reason. People who rely solely on feelings as if logic doesn’t matter. Maybe you were surprised by this description. You admit that you may get worked up sometimes, but no one’s ever accused you of being illogical. And you got the Feeling preference?
Before you throw away your dreams of law school or tear the Spock poster off your wall, let’s clarify. You’re an “F” because feelings are important to you — not because they override your reason. While it’s true that some Feelers let emotion dictate their thinking, others channel their feelings differently. Cutting-edge logicians, scientists and lawyers land the F preference all the time. Just like that guy writing soulful poetry in the corner, who actually exhibits a Thinking (T) preference.
At this point you may be thinking, “I’m rational and sensitive. Maybe I’m just a Thinker who’s sensitive to other people’s feelings!”
Perhaps. They can look similar. In the spirit of completeness, we’ll compare and contrast with sensitive T’s when necessary. But first, let’s unpack the Feelings personality type. You’re probably a highly rational Feeler if you recognize yourself in the following.
1. Feelings don’t impair your logic, but you may not point out people’s logical fallacies because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.
Let’s say a loved one is talking about a problem and fires off a completely irrational statement. They turn and ask you what you think. Both a Thinker and a Feeler can catch the break in logic, but here’s where they might respond differently.
The Thinker might respond: This faulty generalization and mixed up reasoning are getting us nowhere, I can help! “Honey, let’s revisit that statement…”
The rational Feeler might respond: This person is talking in circles now. They seem too sensitive for a correction now, I can help! “Honey, let’s open up some chocolate...”
It’s impossible to say which response is better. The Thinking and Feeling responses are both kind, helpful, and necessary at times. And yes, sensitive T’s know when to listen patiently, too.
Here’s the difference. T’s have a natural inclination to put aside feelings and focus on logic. The tactful Thinker will curb their instincts so they don’t hurt someone’s feelings. Feelers, on the other hand, are naturally inclined to respect feelings. Some Feelers are so focused on feelings, they don’t notice when someone’s being illogical. Rational Feelers will always notice the break in logic. They just might decide to ignore it for now and circle back when the other person can handle it better.
2. In an argument, you might choose to follow the emotional dynamics over the verbal dynamics.
There’s a lot of moving pieces during disagreements — logical arguments, body language, tone of voice, and a whole bunch of emotions. Thinkers tend to absorb this information like someone reading a transcript. They focus on the flow of the argument and its logical fallacies, and they can spot a red herring in a verbal rant in a heartbeat. Rational Feelers are good at this too, but they might be more interested in why the person seems disproportionately angry, sad, or indifferent.
This keen insight into feelings can be good and bad. For example, it’s good when the Feeling radar spots someone’s broken heart masquerading as an angry, irrational tirade, and they tend to the hurt behind the faulty logic. Think Maggie Gyllenhaal bear-hugging a screaming Kirsten Dunst in Mona Lisa Smile. (There’s a lot more than a Feelings personality there. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a multidimensional gem in that film, but you get the picture.) Thinkers can respond sensitively too, but it’s a little harder for them to pinpoint the right emotion. It is second nature for most Feelers.
Here’s where it can be bad. Sometimes an F is too busy listening to their Feelings radar instead of listening to what the other person is saying. Their radar is never perfect, and Fs often later regret they weren’t listening well to another person. It’s all about balance.
3. If you hurt someone’s feelings when explaining your reasoning, you try really hard to make sure you’re both still cool after.
When Feelers think it necessary, they will point out reason and logic even though it upsets another person. However, it is extremely important to the Feeler that you both feel okay after.
Thinkers want to mend hurt feelings too, especially with loved ones. But even the sweetest, most sensitive Thinker might ponder a little more on whether they expressed themselves clearly or if they understood the other person correctly. Rational Feelers, on the other hand, make sure that good vibes are back in order. Feelers thrive on positive human connections — they’re like clean, unpolluted air to them. If something shakes up an important relationship, it will always get the Feeler’s full attention. They will expend a lot of energy trying to restore balance on both sides of the relationship.
4. You lead from the head as well as the heart. But maybe a little more heart.
Feelers tend to lead from the heart instead of the head. But if you’re a rational Feeler, you can balance both pretty effectively. You don’t see the heart as a substitute for reason, but rather as another source of vital information.
Intuitive Feelers (NF) and Sensing Feelers (SF) differ in this respect. NFs rely heavily on “gut instinct,” which is the street name for the subconscious mind. The subconscious is an enormous storage of data, and NFs are intricately connected to it. They’re capable of making some pretty accurate life decisions by relying on their gut. As a result, NFs often follow their heart because it has worked out well for them in the past.
Sensing types are acute observers. They are more aware of the subtle signals in expression and body language than the average person, and gather small, detailed facts in someone’s emotional response. To Thinkers, these observations might not obviously be part of a “logical argument” — some might even label them as relying on vague feelings. However, a rational SF clearly understands the power and limitations of their observations, and often reaches the correct conclusion when communicating with others.
What this means, dear Feeler, is that you’re probably not half Vulcan. But you’re not an emotionally driven, logic avoider either. As a Feeler, you still might feel the tendency to let emotions cloud your reasoning, but you have the ability to control that. If you find balance, you have the benefit of listening to both reason and emotion. That is a well-rounded life. As our beloved Spock himself said, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."