How to Survive Living with a Perceiver When You're a Judger

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on August 20, 2018

I'm a Judger, a.k.a a freakishly neat, compulsively organized, stressed out, OCD bore. Ditto my ENTJ husband.

So will someone please explain how we managed to produce an INTP teenager, emphasis on the "P"?

I get that teenagers can be irresponsible, unpredictable, moody, absent-minded, deeply protective of their personal space and relaxed about personal hygiene. But there's a big difference between dealing with the usual adolescent weirdness and dealing with the kind of adolescent weirdness that comes wrapped up in a personality that clashes with your own. And when it comes to living with someone – partners, spouses, children, roommates - the J/P dimension can certainly provide some explosive exchanges.

Basically, Judgers like plans, structure and organization, while Perceivers prefer to remain flexible, laid back and spontaneous. You know someone's a Judger when they're always on time (i.e. early), have plans set at least a week ahead, and get seriously wound up when you leave a pile of dishes in the sink. Perceivers are the ones who breeze through problems, have no set plans until around an hour before, and think that "dinner at 7.00" means opening the fridge door at 7.30 and realizing there's nothing there to cook. 

So how can a Judger live in harmony with a Perceiver without driving each other crazy? Well, you could try to make them all Judgey by enforcing, nagging, structuring, scheduling and being generally passive-aggressive while using phrases like "my house, my rules" and "if you don't clean that mess, I'm throwing your stuff out in the street."

Or, you could realize that it isn't right, it just doesn't work, and you must find a way to embrace the Perceiving aspects of your spouse/partner/offspring/roomie while acknowledging that you probably have enough Judginess for the both of you.

Here are my top tips for living with a Perceiver when you're a Judger, focusing on three major hot spots: mess, time management and decision making.  

#1: Don't Mess With Me

All teenagers are messy, right? Wrong! I wasn't. I've always needed things to be clean and organized or else I just can't think straight. It's like my environment has a direct channel of influence on my brain. My Perceiver's room, on the other hand, is a cesspit of filth. The floor is only visible if her monthly allowance is imminent, and then after much nagging. Worse, she really doesn't understand why I ask her to tidy her space - she knows where everything is, and that's good enough for her. And trust me when I say, this causes way more frustration on the J side of the fence.

Couples argue about tidiness/cleanliness more than anything else, according to just about every piece of research ever done on the subject. And if you're a J/P combo, you will never have the same standards in this area. Judgers see mess in snapshot - we look and see dishes in the sink, toys on the floor, laundry to be ironed and dirty streaks around the bathtub. These are problems that pull our focus, because Judgers like closure. Who can rest when there's a problem to be fixed?

Perceivers see the same image but in video. Sure, the house is a mess now, but in an hour or two the toys will be in the cupboard and the laundry will be pressed. The dishes will get done after dinner and the tub will be rinsed down after the kids have had their evening bath. For them, mess isn't a problem to be solved, it's simply a part of daily life. So, they relax and let the chores get done in their own good time.

How to cope?

To a Judger, a Perceiver will always be a slob. To the Perceiver, the Judger will always be a control freak. The secret to solving this conundrum is to accept this fact and recognize that there are limits on how much the other is capable of changing. In other words: don't turn the issue of housework into a battleground.

Perceivers won't have the same priorities as you, so be really straightforward about what needs to be done so you're not preoccupied all the time. A chores rota is a great idea. Include the items that are most likely to cause you stress, but try to build in some flexibility for your freewheeling Perceiver. For example, you could set out the chores that need doing that week, with a reasonable deadline. That way, your Perceiver can procrastinate as long as she wishes, but she will be super-busy on the last day of the week if she hasn't got her act together before then. 

Resist the urge to passive-aggressively clean around your Perceiver or hawkishly tut whenever they do the chores their way (and it's very, very wrong) – this behavior will not guilt the Perceiver into action. You'll just end up feeling resentful that you're doing all the work and your Perceiver will feel resentful that you're trying to control how and when the chores are done. If you can, give your Perceiver a place where you do not have a say – where he can pile up his papers and leave his things lying around.

If you're under stress and your J-ness is getting a bit OCD – something psychologists call psychorigidity – challenge yourself to be messy for a week. The experience could be really positive for you and bring some much-needed perspective to the situation. I for one am super-jealous of a Perceiver's ability to sit in a messy house, playing with her boisterous and filthy children, and not care one jot about checking things off a to-do list. But I sometimes need a reality check about this template for relaxed and carefree living.

#2: What Do You Mean, I'm Late?

Ah, the perennial problem. Judgers place a high value on being on time. We set alarms and reminders  and check the clock when a deadline is coming up. We are spectacularly good at estimating how long something will take, and will never leave ourselves just 10 minutes to complete a 30-minute commute no matter how optimistic we are about the traffic. In fact, we're more likely to leave 20 minutes earlier than we need to "just in case." Some of us – I'm looking at you, SJs – might even do a dry run of an important journey, like getting to an interview, just to make sure that we will show up on time.

Perceivers, on the other hand, take a much more flexible approach to punctuality. Meaning: they are almost pathologically late. Unlike Judgers who really don't like the approximate or the unexpected - hence the focus on clock watching - Perceivers are constantly taking in information about what's happening around them, processing it and responding to it in real time. They might be on time if nothing interesting is happening. But it's more likely that they'll lose themselves to more exciting pursuits such as scrolling through Facebook, watching an interesting news item or having a conversation with someone they bump into along the way.

As Judging types, we feel more than a twinge of irritation when someone we live with is habitually late for shared appointments. The precise flavor of this irritation depends on your personality type. NTJs, for example, see tardiness as inefficient and illogical, and will judge a Perceiver harshly for wasting their time. STJs and SFJs, being models of conscientiousness and reliability, will also view the Perceivers' tardiness unfavorably as it implies a lack of respect and self-discipline. ENFJs and INFJs may be more forgiving, but in their book punctuality is a way to show consideration and appreciation for others. Making people wait (again and again) implies a lack of consideration, and NFs may take it very personally.

How to cope?

First, admit the truth. It's hard to be a Judger living with someone who isn't a Judger. If you think otherwise then – I'll say it – you're wrong. A Judger cannot help but feel that a person should be organized, considerate and careful which, to us, means punctual. We don't want to think of someone who is content to change plans on a whim. It's wasteful.

Now we have that out in the open, the only real solution to to admit that you're strong in this area and your Perceiver isn't. If there's somewhere you absolutely need to be as a couple or a family, or plans that absolutely need to be made, it would be putting everyone at a disadvantage to ignore this reality just to avoid crushing the Perceiver with your J-ness. So you may just have to take charge in this area. Either that, or lie to your Perceiver about when something starts.

Take care though, that you're not perpetuating the stereotype that Judgers do not know how to have fun and we all walk around with sticks up our butts! Try to spot when you're being too obsessive and realize that a little flexibility, which may not square with your plans, can have pleasant results. Studies have revealed that persistently tardy people are more creative, more optimistic and less prone to stress. Can you combine your expectations to get some of these benefits?

#3: Who Decides What's Best For the Kids?

If you're living together as a J/P family, there's a good chance that some of your arguments will be about the right way to bring up the kids. But even roommates have some fairly important decisions to make. How to split the bills? What are the rules on music/ guests/ gorging down your roomie's food? What happens if you need to buy a new washing machine? It doesn't matter if the issue is front page news or immaterial. Whenever there's a decision to be made, the door is opened to opposition, defensiveness and hurt feelings.

Because they extravert their decision-making more immediately than Perceivers, Judgers have a habit of making quick decisions, becoming attached to those decisions (even if they're wrong) and barking orders so that things gets done and the Judger can reach that all-important closure. This is especially true for ETJ types, who may come across as offensive or domineering when it comes to decisiveness. But even introverted Judgers can be very assertive in a decision-making situation. Judgers cannot bear to wait around for things to be done, so we'll always step up to the plate and make the tough decisions when everyone else is hesitating.

For Perceivers with equal responsibility for decision-making, this is a bit of a nightmare. Perceivers try to avoid making snap decisions and don't communicate strong conclusions like a Judger would. A Perceiver is far more likely to offer up observations and possibilities than firm conclusions. They don't experience that inborn sense of urgency about making a decision and will always wait for enough information before pressing forward. Cue: verbal fits of rage that your Perceiver is stuck in an unproductive loop of procrastination and a key decision is still hanging over your heads!

How to cope?

Of course, you could put your arguments forward, withholding judgment, and then give your Perceiver time to process the situation the way she needs before negotiating like two adults trying to reach a mutual outcome.

Or, you could ask the magic decision fairy to intervene. Which one will produce a better outcome? Answers on a postcard please.....

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.


Melissa Mitchell (not verified) says...

This article was very informative, I’m a strong enfp and living with and isfj husband. I see so much of what’s written in our life. I wish my husband would read this lol 

Mack Vann (not verified) says...

This should be required reading for all Js ....   



HopeFloats 72 (not verified) says...

Wow.  I live with a J.  I am a P (although the older I get the more I tend to lean into my J, simply because I can't remember like I used to...ah, aging!).  We parent 2 P-teens as well.  The youngest is much more used to his J parent and knows to "snap-to" when the barking of orders begins. The oldest, well, he will not budge when he's decided to take his sweet time and do things on his schedule.  It causes a lot of tension at times.  

One of the main reasons I started studying Personality Types was to improve my own understanding of why people do the things they do, and how they come to make the decisions they make.  This article quite possibly is the most informative and concise explanation of how/why J's and P's do the things they do.  In everyday life, these completely opposite ways of viewing the world can cause so many issues, and in my own relationship when there is a problem it's usually because of this difference.  I'm so much more relaxed and laid-back about how I do life, and for my wonderful J partner it can bring on a lot of stress, which I honestly do not want cause.

It goes both ways.  There are times when I wish my partner could step back, take a breath and ease up on everyone.  It's like unraveling a very tightly wound ball of twine.  That stresses the rest of us out, too.  I try to be cognizant of my partner's need to be ultra-prompt (one of our biggest arguments was about being on time-it was a major blow-up) because "on-time" for him means 20 minutes early.  On-time for me means I'm walking in the door of my destination about 2 minutes before everything starts.  (Hey, in my mind I'm a little early!)  It has come up more than once in the time we've been together.  I work very hard to accommodate this need for him, but 20 minutes early to me is just...obsessive and excessive.  In my field, if someone showed up 20 minutes early it wouldn't be considered a good thing, just complete overkill.  (Who are you trying to impress?  Now I have to babysit you for 15 minutes...)

As for dealing with the kids, I'm a very relaxed parent in comparison to my partner.  My way of dealing with issues that arise is to sit down with my kiddo and discuss how we got into whatever situation we're in, what we can do to change it and essentially collaborate with him (my son) to work out something that will actually WORK for him, and bring the changes I want to see.  I give him a lot of room for input and ideas (and he often has good ideas about how we can make changes) which, I know for my partner is completely foreign.  He commands.  His word is the final word.  If he says XYZ is the way this is going to go, then he fully expects that XYZ will be followed to the letter by the offending child.  If it isn't, then this is considered sheer rebellion and utter disrespect.  I don't operate that way.  I would much rather come to a mutual agreement and give them time to adjust and make the changes, which can't always be instantaneous.  That's just how people are.  Instant improvements/changes don't usually happen.  I'm sure that J folk really hate that about the rest of us!  

You can happily live with a J, as a P if you're willing to see things from their point of view and hear them out.  Flexibility and adaptability are strengths P's have in abundance and I think it's easier for us to adjust to our J folk in general.  My J partner is open to bending, especially since he is also a Feeler and wants everyone to be happy and satisfied.  You just have to be open to their suggestions, and understand that for a J, a lot of our P traits make them temper it when it's needed and influence them to step out of their little J boxes and relax when the opportunity arises.  In my experience, anything I can do to give my J space to breathe and shake off some of his natural tension and stress (J's are tightly wound, IMO) the happier he is, even if it does make him a little uncomfortable at first.  He does see himself relaxing and the benefits of taking a step back at times.   It's not easy for him, but he does reap great benefits when he does it. 

Don't give up on your P/J relationship.  Just find a way to compromise and build on the solid foundation you already have.  It can be done, and done well!

Maggie Strout (not verified) says...

Spot on!

I’m a P married for 33 yrs to a J. He has learned to add 15 min to our departure time before telling me about it. It’s not lying. It’s understanding how the other person’s brain works.  Thanks for the great article. 


Marnesha Davenport (not verified) says...

  1. Most importantly teenagers do have they moody ways it depends on they situation or what they go through. Teenagers have remarkable ways of creativity. Some teenagers are irresponsible, some not. Its depends on what type of environment or what kinda personality the person may have.

Jaki102 (not verified) says...

Interesting writing!  Being a P myself I find it to be quite on spot. I also find it strange that all the responses so far are from “P” types. Could that be because we are spontaneous?  Perhaps we don’t need to make an appt to read an email directing us to this article ?

Max Pierson (not verified) says...

Superior introvert + J is a wretched mess. EP's should all marry each other and hire a J to come once a week and go all OCD on their house... Yesterday I gave up on trying to keep an INTJ happy, I tried to keep an INFJ happy for decades and it was a continual uphill struggle. I left her behind with no forwarding address and was happier living in my car! (I missed the dog though)

Diana47 (not verified) says...

This totally captured the struggle I felt as a P teenager (and even 20 something) living with my almost-certainly J dad. (My mom is more of a borderline J/P, so we didn't have as many of these clashes.) I think it would have helped us then to be aware of personality type theories and our own leanings, instead of wondering how the other person could be so inconsiderate. I constantly felt controlled, and yes, judged! Sometimes it still puts a strain on our relationship, though he's mellowed some over the years. 

Dionne Paige (not verified) says...

I think that the thing that we need to remember whether we are a P type or a J type is that it all comes down to different priorities and perspectives. Reading this article from a J is very interesting because I can feel how hurt and disrespected the writer feels when the house isn't kept tidy. Being a P, I tend to feel hurt and disrespected when I am criticised. I am not the least bit offended if someone is 20 minutes late and will often tell them not to rush but I am deeply offended if someone puts me down, criticises me or tries to change me. I have learnt however not to take things so personally and the best way forward is to treat others how they want to be treated rather than how I want to be treated. Seek first to understand then you will be understood is the path to least resistance. It sounds counterintuitive to seek to understand the other person when we are trying to get our needs met but I have seen the most stubborn teen respond to this approach when nagging has failed. 

Louka (not verified) says...

Interesting that all the responses are from P’s!

Would be good to hear what a J thinks of this article.  


RJ (not verified) says...

I think it's interesting how many P's responded as well!  I'm a J working with a boss who is P.  I'm in a situation where I oversee several different programs who share the same space.  Some of them regularly upset other patrons and my fellow coworkers by leaving the building messy and damaged.  Instead of being allowed to use my strengths to externally organize the situation to everyone's benefit (yes with clearly stated policies and reasonable consequences), my hands are tied.  I'm allowed to smile while people rage at me about it and say crap like "Kids will be kids!"  Then turn to the offenders and gently say "Hey that thing you did the other day [that I asked you not to do] actually caused such and such problem for these other patrons, FYI."  I feel bad for the complainers because I know how they feel and sympathise. But, I have no way to fix the problem.  I feel so helpless.

I am afraid I will be blamed for the behavior of the people I'm supposed to be managing and this situation will hurt my career.  I am afraid we will loose business.  I'm afraid our facilities will become irreparably damaged and unusable. I'm afraid my boss doesn't see what's going on as a problem which makes me feel like I'm being gaslit.  I guess my main problem is I have no idea how to handle the complaints. I think she just wants me to verbally placate and then verticle file it.  That contradicts my value system, so I'm in a tough spot. 

In the article, I appreciated the reminder that Ps need more time to think through things before making a decision. 

RJ (not verified) says...

UPDATE:  I think I've solved my particular riddle (maybe). I do my best to keep Ps and Js out of each others hair.  Focus my organizing energies on the Js and shrugg off the random things that will continually come up with the Ps.  Complainers can get my boss' vision parroted to them.  If anything major blows up, she can figure it out.  I'm not joy-killing the Ps or betraying my fellow Js.  So, I'll have my P hat and J hat that I can switch between depending on who is speaking with me.  I hope I can pull it off.

Razvan Popescu (not verified) says...

as the model is cool and serves well to get you to play and accept reality, the goal should be growth.  
an evolved human will have strong flexibility. thats our main trait. 
discussing priorities is a matter of vision (logic + creativity) , if you understand the full equation for something, and determine its ideal to do it, you will do it.  
its like coming with 1 mil bucks to any wild P and telling him to clean the room. he will do it ..  
Ps are the evolved species here ) but their limitations are due to priorities, which are only normal, considering the superficial philosophy we have.  

so, focus on your attributes, and keep growing ) dont accept the status quo  

that would be an ENTJ + INTP (switching between the two per context) being 

JaimePf (not verified) says...

Fantastic stuff. I'm a J and out youngest daughter is a J while my husband and oldest daughter are Ps. I've really calmed down my neatness over time, but being able to realize this is just part of my personality and Ps traits are just part of theirs really helps me know neither of us is crazy :) lol

Kim Jacobson says...

I laughed so hard at the accurate points made here! I'm an ENFP married to an ISFJ and I couldn't help but read most of the article out loud to my husband. Such great insights and so fun to read! 

Gabsgati (not verified) says...

If you want to be taken seriously, try to use mental illnesses like OCD less frequently. It aids to the stigma and gives a false impression of what the disorder actually is. 

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