How INTPs Can Tell They’re In Love (with Tips)

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on June 30, 2020

From the joy of a sweetheart’s embrace after weeks of being apart to the familiar smile of a long-time friend, INTP personalities deeply cherish true love. We may have the reputation for being relationship-shy and emotionally indifferent but actually, INTPs take their relationships very seriously. It’s just that we prefer long-term, monogamous relationships masquerading as a friendship over the flashy types of romance that other types may prefer. 

Where INTPs fall down is self-awareness. These types often struggle to recognize when their friendly feelings for someone have morphed into something more. With the Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function in the inferior position, INTPs can be oblivious to their actual thoughts about a special person until much, much later...

...sometimes when the other party has already moved on!

The INTP in love

Here’s a quick recap of the cognitive function stack for the INTP personality type:

  1. Introverted Thinking (Ti)
  2. Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
  3. Introverted Sensing (Si)
  4. Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

In relationships, where it’s generally required to admit your feelings and show them to the other person, we typically use our extraverted functions -- namely Intuition (Ne) and Feeling (Fe). For INTPs, this manifests as the classic goofiness we show when they’re comfortable with someone, through and through. During the early stages of a relationship, we can appear to have an ongoing list of ideas of activities to do, which can captivate others!

Through conversations and familiarity, we gradually reveal our analytical (Ti) and nostalgic (Si) sides. These are oriented inwards, as they are introverted functions. Slowly but surely, if we are in love, we’ll share these usually secluded thoughts and viewpoints of life in general. If we take your advice into consideration, you can be sure we respect you a lot.

The problem is, taking someone’s advice doesn’t fit the classic definition of romance—it’s certainly not as obvious as looking at someone with hearts in your eyes! Often, the object of the INTP’s affection hasn’t got the first clue what’s going on. And most times, the INTP hasn’t worked it out either.  

So what are some telltale signs that an INTP is waist-deep in love? Let’s explore them.

Taking a keen interest in your interests

Has your special person got a favorite band or obscure hobby? You know you’re in love (or heading there) when you’re getting to know those interests in greater detail. You may have 42 of your own side topics that you’re working on at the moment, but when you care about someone, you will be sure to make space for their interests as well. 

So, if you suddenly find yourself stuck in the vacuum of über-strange videos (hello, that side of Youtube) when you couldn’t have cared less before, then this may be your low-key way of getting a special someone’s attention without seeming overbearing.  

Replying back in a timely fashion 

INTPs are notorious for being lazy texters and socializers in general. It could take us days to get back to someone or worse, we spend so long composing a detailed answer that weeks or months pass before we’re ready to respond. And then we’re so ashamed that it took so long that we ignore the message altogether and pretend the whole thing never happened. 

With a special someone, however, we’re all over those messages. There are some urgent feelings to get out here, despite our best efforts to downplay them. 

The bottom line? We’ll make an effort to reply back promptly, even if it takes nonsensical randomness to do so. And if you find yourself confessing your feelings through memes, that’s a sure sign there’s some romance going on.  

Making an effort to hang out, in the real world

For an INTP, alone time is our prime time and our happy hour. If you find yourself inviting a special person to hang out with you, and you’re happy to share ideas and brainstorm with them, then you’re definitely interested. But at this point, the two of you could be just friends.  

Actually going out? Two completely different stories. If you’re ready to be seen in the real world with a special someone; if you’re introducing them to your other friends, then it’s probably serious. 

Showing you our weird side...bit by bit

INTPs are not big on small talk but most of us are mature enough to know that we have to do it, even if it feels like pulling teeth. And most of the time, we’re capable of holding a conversation that is both level-headed and entertaining.

However, if anything romantic is on the horizon, our cool goes right out the window. Sometimes this works in our favor, other times, it’s game over. Conversations can get quickly weird if we feel comfortable in someone’s presence. We’ll also ask a flurry of questions and hypotheticals to gauge compatibility. Which can be deeply odd for the other person if they’re not expecting it—don’t put them off before you’ve even begun!

Foolproof tips to navigate those blurry love feelings

Now that you’re sure you’re head over heels for this special someone, what can you do about it besides daydream maladaptively? 

Here are some easy and no-fuss tips:

  • Write those feelings down. Brain vomit, all of it. Get the glorious mess out of your brain to make room for more effective thinking.
  • Talk it out with a close friend. Listen to advice, then formulate your action plan. Write this down and adjust if necessary. 
  • Start with shared interests. Then, deepen conversations (with gradually increased frequency) from there.
  • Maintain a stoic approach. Emotions operate on an ebb and flow, and sometimes it takes months—or years—for them to fully mature. Give the relationship time to develop.
  • Partake in a shared activity outdoors as a small group with this special someone. This lets you both deepen and widen your relationship; a win-win situation.

Summing up

From taking less than five days to reply back to messages to making an effort to get out the door and spend quality time with our loved one, there are various unconventional things that INTPs do to show their love. 

Although romance and emotional expression can be downright challenging for this type, time and compatibility will tell in the end. After we’re committed, you should both buckle up and prepare for a (quietly) wild ride!

Lily Yuan

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

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.


AndreaF (not verified) says...

Imagine a slightly terse tone here:  " Talk it out with a close friend. "

So many advisories offer this option and some of us actually don't have such a being.  Really.  Truly.

If you were to imagine an Introvert a lot more introvert than you are - what are some effective strategies?

yeehawegg (not verified) says...

The way this called me out,,, damn

Ri (not verified) says...

Yo! That first paragraph under Replying back in a timely fashion!!! I laughed so loud! Facts!!! You hit the nail on the head with that one!.. and the brain vomit thing, very good advice. I prefer it than talking to a "friend". I mean come on, what is that anyway?

You Only YOLO Once (not verified) says...

This was surprisingly pretty accurate. I have always had a hard time figuring out my feelings and also spent alot of time dismissing them too. This made me realize that the person I thought was just a really close friend is actually someone I'm interested in. (Which kinda freaks me out tbh, cause I didn't see that coming). It's probably too late though cause they've moved on if they ever felt the same about me, but at least now I know for the future. 

This helps so much more than tv shows and movies since I've never seen a character fall in love with someone like this, so I really appreciate you writing this article!

Greygem55261 (not verified) says...

I'm surprised. I have few close friends I frequently chat with, and I do engage in all of those acts with them. I believe it's just the friendship, but love? It's gotta be complex than this.

Unidentified INTP (not verified) says...

Interesting article. Very interesting. Accurate, for me at least.

I wonder about the idea of romance, though. For me, I would almost prefer that the person I like remain my friend rather than try to get into anything. I prefer a very intimate kind of friendship with only a few people (big surprise, an introvert doesn't want a lot of friends, throwing you for a loop aren't I?), but that really takes me as far as I want to go in a relationship. I like this person a lot, but this person has some pain and says that romance really isn't something they want, and I've realized I'm happy with this.

The beginning of this article describes the INTP preference in relationships as "a long-term, monogamous relationship masquerading as a friendship," but maybe that's not quite it. Maybe it's "a long-term, monogamous friendship masquerading as a relationship."

If the main thing I want is access to a person's mind, why go any further than friendship?

Friendship may be the furthest that I need to go, and it may be deeper than any 'romance.'

Just thoughts, and these may only apply to me, but it's interesting to consider

Share your thoughts


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