Friday, July 5, 2013

Dating with Myers and Briggs

Twice in my life I have started a new job and been asked to take a Myers-Briggs personality test.  The first time the company used the formal Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) instrument.  Most recently, the minister at our church handed me a sheet of 4 cartoons and asked me to pick which person in each box was most like me.  As Rev. Davis said while handing me the cartoons, "It's important to know who you're working with."

Yes, it is.  It's also not a bad thing to know who your friends are.  One of the reasons Tom and I got along so well together is that our "types" had so much in common - I am an ISTP and he was an ISFP.  The ISP in both types means that we were both introverts, more interested in process and accepting things as they are than in closure and searching for hidden meanings.  I was the thinker, who anticipated and solved problems; Tom was the feeler, who taught me to live in the moment and kept us connected to the other people in our lives.

Now that I'm dipping my toe back in the dating waters, I'm wondering whether I should start carrying that sheet of cartoons in my back pocket, or at least somewhere in the depths of my purse.  Separating the extroverts and the thinkers among us from the introverts and the feelers is usually fairly easy, but what about the sensers vs. the intuitives, or the judgers vs. the perceivers?  I'm not sure I could sustain a relationship for more than half an hour with an ENTJ without feeling steamrollered, and having me around for very long would probably drive an INTJ nuts.

Getting to know anyone is a long-term process, and the danger in dating is becoming hooked on an isolated attractive aspect of the other person before the discovery process reveals basic incompatibilities.  Unfortunately, people answering probing questions about themselves, whether in person or in an online dating service questionnaire, tend to shade their answers to sound as alluring as possible.  I think they'd be less likely (and less able) to do that with the "pick a cartoon" testing method, and it's certainly faster and simpler than weeks of "getting to know you" Q&A.  (If you have read my personality type summary by now, you can see how this preference reflects my thinker bias.  Let's eliminate as much of that time-consuming fuzzy-feelie stuff as possible.)

It all boils down to this: who is that guy I shared dinner and a fireworks display with last night?  Inquiring minds want to know.

"Instead of labeling a person and putting value judgments on his or her behavior, you can learn to see your partner’s behavior as reflecting personality type, not something designed to offend you. Many couples even learn to see the differences in a humorous light." ~The Myers & Briggs Foundation,  Couples and Personality Type

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