intertype relationships

Personality theory and behavioral models give us insight into how people will interact with each other--Socionics thus provides a framework for understanding the development of relationships between types. At a basic level, people with identical or complimentary functions will get along better than those with contradictory functions. By looking at each type's strong, weak, and vulnerable functions, we can predict the development of a relationship with another type.

There are sixteen core personality types meaning that there are 256 possible type pairings. However, from the alignment of type functions and attitudes, we can derive 16 distinct intertype relationships. The table below maps personality type pairings with relationship structures. Descriptions of these relationship structures follow.

INTj Ide Act Dua Mir Kin Be- Sem Su- SEg Qua Ext Con Bus Be+ Mge Su+
ISFp Act Ide Mir Dua Be+ Bus Su+ Mge Qua SEg Con Ext Be- Kin Su- Sem
ESFj Dua Mir Ide Act Sem Su- Kin Be- Ext Con SEg Qua Mge Su+ Bus Be+
ENTp Mir Dua Act Ide Su+ Mge Be+ Bus Con Ext Qua SEg Su- Sem Be- Kin
ISTj Kin Be- Sem Su- Ide Act Dua Mir Bus Be+ Mge Su+ SEg Qua Ext Con
INFp Be+ Bus Su+ Mge Act Ide Mir Dua Be- Kin Su- Sem Qua SEg Con  Ext
ENFj Sem Su- Kin Be- Dua Mir Ide Act Mge Su+ Bus Be+ Ext Con SEg Qua
ESTp Su+ MgeBe+ Bus Mir Dua Act Ide Su- Sem Be- Kin Con Ext Qua SEg
ISFj SEg Qua Ext Con Bus Be+ Mge Su+ Ide Act Dua Mir Kin Be- Sem Su-
INTp Qua SEg Con Ext Be- Kin Su- SemAct Ide Mir Dua Be+ Bus Su+ Mge
ENTj Ext Con SEg Qua Mge Su+ Bus Be+ Dua Mir Ide Act Sem Su- Kin Be-
ESFp Con Ext Qua SEg Su- Sem Be- Kin Mir Dua Act Ide Su+ Mge Be+Bus
INFj Bus Be+ Mge Su+ SEg Qua Ext Con Kin Be- Sem Su- Ide Act Dua Mir
ISTp Be- Kin Su- Sem Qua SEg Con Ext Be+ Bus Su+ Mge Act Ide Mir Dua
ESTj Mge Su+ Bus Be+ Ext Con SEg Qua Sem Su- Kin Be- Dua Mir Ide Act
ENFp Su- Sem Be- Kin Con Ext Qua SEg Su+ Mge Be+ Bus Mir Dua Act Ide

Further discussions of each intertype relation will be provided in separate posts. For now, I've provided some brief descriptions:

Ide - Identity

Identical relations, wherein both people are the same type, are characterized by partners very easily understanding each other. Intimacy or friendship develops quite quickly and partners often have many things in common. Issues arise from the fact that people of the same type share and strengths and weaknesses--while they understand each others' problems, they find it hard to help or concretely aid each other. Also, because identical types perceive thing similarly and pay attention to the same types of information, their relationship might stagnate.

Act - Activation

A relationship between activity partners will develop quickly and without difficulty--their function usages are complementary and additionally they share the extraversion/introversion preference so there are few barriers to intimacy. Partners provide each other with useful and interesting information and are able to give useful advice to each other. However, because partners differ in their judging/perceiving tendencies while both being introverted or extroverted, each person will find that they cannot fully rely or understand the other, leading to some problems.

Dua - Dual

Relationships of duality are considered ideal because perceptive attention (judging vs perceiving) is shared by both types and functional preferences are complementary. Each types leading/creative functions are the suggestive/mobilizing functions of the other, meaning that one person's strengths compensate for the other's weaknesses. Thus, dual partners have mutual understanding and can support each other without deviating from their natural behavioral states. However, because one partner is extroverted and the other introverted, initial contact and communication may require some effort.

Mir - Mirror

As in relationships of identity, mirrors, who share Ego functions, will have much in common and easily understand each other. However, because the leading function of one person is the creative function of the other (and vice versa), each person will attempt to shift the others' understanding to their leading function, leading to disagreements. Further to this, one type is judging and the other perceiving, which means that partners will work and perceive things in conflicting ways. Despite these conflicts, mirror partners can greatly enjoy each others' company.

Kin - Kindred

A kindred relationship is characterized by partners who initially seem similar but inevitably do not fully appreciate each other--they have the same leading function and thus focus on the same information and share many behaviors. However, their creative functions are in conflict, meaning that they have completely different approaches to problem-solving. Moreover, each person will believe their approach to be superior to the other's. Kindred partners can have engaging and heavy, even intimate conversations around their leading function, but will always face issues when attempting trying to understand each others' problems.

Be(+/-) - Benefactor/Beneficiary

The benefactor-beneficiary relationship is asymmetrical, meaning that it only works while one person is in a superior position to the other. The benefactor's creative function is the beneficiary's suggestive function, which allows the benefactor to provide support to the beneficiary. The beneficiary's leading function appeals to the benefactor but ultimately can be ignored, leading to the benefactor's impression that the beneficiary is not adding anything to the relationship. While the benefactor is in a superior position (socially, financially, etc), these types of relationships can be smooth. However, the benefactor will eventually become tired of feeling like they are the only ones adding any value, while the beneficiary will resent the benefactor for feeling this way.

Sem - Semi-dual

In relationships of semi-duality, partners have complementary leading functions, which allows for a fair amount of mutual understanding as well as great interest in the other person. However, they have opposite expressions of their creative function (e.g. introverted intuition vs extraverted intuition), which creates problems when partners are working towards a shared objective. While partners do not entirely dismiss the other's approach, they will, at times, find themselves suddenly disappointed by their partner's behavior. But because of their complementary leading functions, they will, as a rule, draw back together again with the same intensity they did initially.

Su (+/-) - Supervisor/Supervisee

As in benefactor/beneficiary relationships, the supervisor/supervisee relationship is asymmetrical and thus works best when one person is in a superior position (socially, financially, work hierarchy etc) to the other. The supervisor's leading function is the mobilizing function of the other--thus the supervisee feels pressure from the supervisor. Meanwhile the supervisor, attempts to use their leading function to aid the supervisee, but finds that their support is not necessarily wanted and can thus feel put off. In spite of these problems, people in this type of relationship find themselves drawn to each other--the supervisor still wanting the aid the supervisee and the supervisee looking for approval from the supervisor.

SEg - Super-Ego

In super-ego relationships, both partners share the introversion/extraversion attitude as well as the judging/perceiving preference, which generally lends itself to mutual respect. And because their functional preferences are opposite each other, partners in a super-ego relation can initially find each other quite interesting, from a distance. However, when becoming more familiar with each other or when attempting to work together, the opposing functions lead to [potentially major] conflict and disappointment. Thus, relations of super-ego can only work when partners maintain psychological distance.

Qua - Quasi-identical

Quasi-idential partners are both introverted or both extroverted, and they work with the same functions, except through opposing attitudes (e.g. one partner prefers introverted feeling, the other prefers extraverted feeling). This leads to partners having shared interests and similar problems, yet leaves openings for misunderstanding and attempt perceptive correction between them. As in super-ego relationships, as partners draw closer together, they realize how different their thought processes are. However, there usually is no outright animosity in quasi-identical relationships, the hang-up is in misunderstanding as opposed to believing that the other is purposefully antagonistic.

Ext - Extinguishment

Similar to the quasi-identical relationship, partners of extinguishment work with the same functions through opposing attitudes, leading to shared interests. Because of this and the fact that both partners are judging or perceiving, they are drawn to each other and can get along reasonably well. However, after becoming close they will often find themselves frustrated by each others' perspective and approach to problem-solving. Relations of extinguishment are also notable for having extra problems when the partners are in the presence of other people--they can find themselves competing to influence the interaction from their own perspectives.

Con - Conflict

As implied by its name, conflict relationships represent the worst possible pairing, wherein both partners' strong points align with each others' vulnerable points. From a distance, the differences in personality of a conflict partner can be attractive at first. But when attempting to work together or become closer, the differences in functional alignment flare up--partners will find themselves disappointed or completely put off by the others' behavior as well as unable or unwilling to help them with their problems.

Bus - Business

People in relations of business are functionally aligned with the exception of their leading function. While this in itself can cause some problems, because both partners share introversion/extroversion, judging/perceiving, as well as their creative function, they will generally get along reasonably well, finding that they have similar problems and similar ways of thinking. The difference in leading function acts as a barrier to full intimacy and can increase tension in disagreements--however disagreements are generally few and far between.

Mge - Mirage

Mirage relationships are similar to semi-duality in that partners will find themselves drawn to each other and be able comfortable in the relationship. Because they complementary creative functions they will have plenty to talk about and will be impressed by each others' accomplishments. However, when they attempt to work together, the opposite attitudes in their leading function (e.g. introverted vs. extraverted feeling) will cause problems, with partners unable to understand and possibly rejecting each other's core motives. As in semi-duality, mirage partners will generally find themselves drawn together once again after these conflicts.

Further reading:


  1. I agree with most of what I've read. Just one thing--Im an INFJ and the only ESTJ I've known was AWFUL--we HATED each other! How can it be that we should have gotten along???? Maybe she's another type and I pegged her incorrectly.

    1. hi anonymous, thanks for the feedback. just some thoughts --> for infj's within socionics, the theory suggests that they will get along best estj but worst with estp. this is because the infj's functions (e.g. extroverted intuition, introverted feeling) perfectly complement estj's (introverted sensing, extroverted thinking) but clash spectacularly with estp's (estroverted sensing, introverted thinking). it can be a fine line between love and hate though, because estps and estjs (or infps and infjs) can appear very similar at a surface level. happy typing~

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