If you’ve ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test, you’ve probably said, “Yup, sounds like me!” when scrolling through your results. Whether you’re an enthusiastic ENFJ or a quiet, nerdy INTJ, this test does a pretty decent job of summarizing how you process and interact with the world around you.
But why is it that I, as a twentysomething woman, get bug eyes and raised eyebrows when I tell people I’m an INTJ?
Apparently, “INTJ” and “woman” are cultural oxymorons.
INTJ stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, and Judging, as opposed to Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving. According to most MBTI studies, INTJ is the rarest female personality, given that INTJ women comprise only around 0.8% of the population. On the flipside, most women fall into MBTI categories exhibiting the complete opposite characteristics — particularly Extroversion and Feeling.
Thus sets the societal expectation for women everywhere. I’m painfully aware that, as an INTJ woman, who I am goes against the grain of widely-accepted female stereotypes.
For example, I prefer to let reason, not emotion, guide my decision-making. Parties are awful ordeals. Challenge and achievement motivate me like nothing else. My drugs of choice are problem-solving and abstract thinking. I’d make the world’s worst kindergarten teacher. Moreover, I’m fiercely independent.
I also sound like I just described a man.
While rare, INTJ women do exist, and they’re tired of dealing with society’s rigid expectations for female behavior. We’ll rejoice when the day comes that everyone can accept us for the women we are instead of wondering what’s wrong with us.
But until that day comes, we’ll probably continue to hear these 19 things that we’re positively sick of hearing:
1. “You’re so quiet!”
Unsplash – @laikanotebooks
Thank you for bringing my lack of verbal engagement to my attention. I mean, wow, I had no idea I wasn’t talkative. But seriously, can you find a more creative way to engage an INTJ woman than this mild accusation? What does one even say to that?
Ask me a question about a specific topic. “Calling out” quietness only alienates.
2. “You should smile more!”
Unsplash – @sammanns
Ugh — a command wielded at women everywhere. You know what the imperative “Smile!” really means? This: “Regardless of how you’re feeling, you should change your demeanor to suit my preferences for how women should behave in my presence.”
Bottom line: If you wouldn’t say this to a man — don’t say it to a woman.
3. “Are you okay?” or “What’s wrong?”
Unsplash – @kylebroad
If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that this world needs more empathy. So, asking someone who’s genuinely down if they’re okay is a good thing.
But assuming that something is always wrong with a woman who lacks a plastered-on smile or perpetually cheerful disposition? You probably need to temper your expectations of women.
4. “Wow! How did you know that?”
Unsplash – @priscilladupreez
I can’t tell you how many times my general knowledge or my comprehension of complex topics drew utter shock from men (and some women, too). As a woman with a true INTJ love for knowledge and the drive to pursue it, I’d appreciate if female intellect weren’t such a novelty.
5. “But aren’t you lonely?”
Unsplash – @giancescon
I often heard this when people learned that I lived alone in grad school, or when I mentioned that I enjoyed solitary activities. The truth is that INTJ women are incredibly independent and need to recharge after periods of social interaction, especially of the superficial sort. As they always say, no company sure beats bad (or draining) company.
6. “You should lean into your feminine side more!”
Unsplash – @septiansimon
Oh. My. Word. When will we finally “cancel” gendering personality traits?
What I really hear when someone offers this pseudo-advice is, “You should conform to female stereotypes.” Let’s face it: that advice hasn’t done women much good.
INTJ women’s characteristics often prove antithetical to those of the traditional female stereotype. But guess what? We like it.
7. “You should be more open.”
Unsplash – @thoughtcatalog
This comment almost always says more about the commenter than about the INTJ. While society generally considers women more willing to be vulnerable with others than men, not every woman operates this way. INTJ women aren’t incapable of vulnerability; rather, we’re extremely judicious about who we let into our lives.
Also, it’s not like we crave touchy-feely emotional connection with everyone we meet.
8. “You seem(ed) really standoffish.”
Unsplash – @eliapellegrini
Standoffish people do exist. However, many people mischaracterize introverted women this way when they fail to distinguish introverted observation from disdain or snobbery. As an INTJ myself, I’ve heard the “I thought you were probably a snob until I got to know you” a handful of times.
We often come off as standoffish to a culture that views extroversion as a barometer for kindness and amicability. However, these items don’t always correlate.
9. “Do you have any friends?”
Unsplash – @omarlopez
What a rude question. Yes, even INTJ women have friends. While no INTJ woman would describe herself as a social butterfly, this rare personality favors keeping a few close friends over maintaining a wide network of casual friends and acquaintances. We’re drawn to those who respect our need for alone time while providing us with an outlet for meaningful intellectual discourse, but we find that few people meet this important need.
However, the friends we do have we hold very dearly.
10. “Why would you get a [insert advanced degree/certificate here]!?”
Unsplash – @juanramos
It’s 2020. Women are equally capable of obtaining and using things like advanced degrees. But some people still can’t fathom how a woman could be passionate about professional or academic achievement.
INTJ women are naturally driven and creative individuals, and we find meaning in intellectual pursuits. We also need our communities to respect — not ridicule — those aspects of our nature.
11. “Why are you single?”
Unsplash – @joshuarawsonharris
All throughout college, I got the dreaded “Why are you still single?” question, as if the asker were trying to diagnose an illness. When it comes to finding partners, INTJ women do tend to have a harder time. Finding someone who acknowledges who we are and isn’t stuck in traditional gender expectations can be tough, and we’re not ones to settle.
12. “I have the perfect guy for you!”
Unsplash – @priscilladupreez
…The dreaded follow-up question to #11. The short reply is: No, you don’t.
If there’s one thing an INTJ woman hates, it’s a blind date — especially if it’s set up by a friend who doesn’t quite “get” you. Moreover, singleness isn’t necessarily a void we’re trying to fill. Who says it’s a problem, anyway?
13. “Why don’t you try it this way?”
Unsplash – @mimithian
Okay, hear me out. Sharing new information isn’t inherently negative, and neither are helpful intentions. But one of our biggest peeves is when people fail to understand our reasons for doing things a certain way. If I get from point A to point B, every step in between is calculated to the nth degree.
INTJ women are excellent problem solvers. Throwing in flippant suggestions that fail to take into account all the planning, factoring, and scenario testing we’ve already completed is so frustrating!
We know you’re trying to be helpful — but don’t be offended when we shoot down suggestions that we know won’t work.
14. “I didn’t see you at [insert non-mandatory social event]!”
Unsplash – @milansurbatovic
No, you didn’t. And that was my intention.
Contrary to typical expectations of women, INTJ women do not, in fact, like to attend social events indiscriminately. Our time is valuable to us, and if we don’t need to be somewhere — we probably won’t be. Plus, pointing out our absence doesn’t make us wish we attended; actually, quite the opposite.
15. “You’re so serious all the time.”
Unsplash – @andreyzvyagintsev
I’ve heard this since I was a little girl. I’m not even sure what “serious” means in this context. Not smiling? Not laughing? Able to see a task to completion? I’m at a loss here.
The other INTJ women I know hear this all the time, too — yet again another phrase belied by conventional expectations for female behavior. And another phrase men probably don’t hear.
16. “Laugh a little!”
Unsplash – @alexischloe
Similar to the “Smile!” imperative, this saying commonly graces the ears of INTJ women. The truth is that we’re not as easily entertained or humored as other types. We appreciate intelligent humor and even tasteful dark humor, but not every joke passes our bar for “funny.”
And don’t get me started on the obligatory courtesy laugh — it ain’t gonna happen.
17. “But most women…”
Unsplash – @chrismurray
Please, spare me your exhaustive knowledge of who and what a woman is supposed to be — especially if you’re a man. Why, oh why, do you feel the need to inform a woman about … women? INTJ women know they don’t fit the traditional female mold, and we’re fine with it. So don’t talk to us like we’re women who forgot how to “woman.”
18. “But women are supposed to…”
Unsplash – @devn
Oh, goodness. We’ve gone from descriptive to prescriptive. If there’s anything an INTJ woman hates, it’s being told to fit into a socially-constructed box.
I’ve hear “Women should” statements from both men and women in response to a feminine stereotype-defying personal fact I share. It’s as if they expect to hear, “Oh, my mistake! I’ll alter my life accordingly.”
Women are individuals, too — not exact replicas of the same prototype.
19. “I’ve never met an INTJ woman. Are you sure you’re an INTJ?”
Unsplash – @timothydykes
There’s too much to unpack here. INTJ women loathe questions like this because such questions reveal not only the asker’s ignorance about women, but their skepticism of any information beyond the outside their personal experience.
Although INTJ women are uncommon, they still exist. And no, they’re not malfunctioning.
No matter your personality type, you deserve acknowledgment of who you are, and, most importantly, you deserve respect.Next