While two individuals of any type combination can make a relationship work or fail, research conducted on committed couples shows there is a definite trend in the personality types that are drawn to each other, and in the type combinations that last longest in a romantic partnership. At PersonalityPage, we call these types "natural partners."
Outside of natural partner pairings, it's especially important for an ESFJ to partner with someone who can respect their strong connection with the vibe of their social group, and their need to live in accordance with social values. The dominant Introverted Thinking types ISTP and INTP might find the ESFJ's need to be socially acceptable baffling, while the ESFJ may dislike the Introverted Thinker's extremely logical approach to everything, and their general lack of concern over social norms. To a lesser degree, the dominant Extraverted Thinking types (ESTJ and ENTJ) might also present a challenge to the ESFJ, as two dominant Extraverted Judgers will almost always vie for control in a relationship. The shadow type for an ESFJ is ISTP. This type pairing is typically challenging.
The Intuition/Sensing preference is a special case in relating—strongly expressed Intuitives relate better to other Intuitives, and strongly expressed Sensers related better to other Sensers. If the ESFJ has a strongly developed secondary function of Introverted Sensing, they are likely to do better when paired with another Senser.
How did we arrive at the conclusion that ESFJs are the natural partners of INFPs and ISFPs? Through empirical evidence, research, and a thorough understanding of the sixteen personality types and the personality functions that drive them.
In Jungian terms, personality "functions" refer to the four core traits: Intuition (N), Sensing (S), Feeling (F), and Thinking (T). The term "attitude" refers to the direction of the function, i.e. Introverted (I) or Extraverted (E). The ESFJ has a dominant function of Extraverted Feeling, a secondary function of Introverted Sensing, and a Judging orientation toward the external world.
Our natural attraction to people who share our dominant function, but who use it in a different direction works very well for us. We not only flip-flop the Introverted or Extraverted trait, but we also flip-flop the Judging or Perceiving trait. In this way, the partner that we choose for ourselves will have a very different approach to dealing with the world. If we are laid-back and indecisive, our partner will be structured and decisive. If we are reserved, our partner will be outgoing. Natural partners complement each other, and challenge each other in healthy ways. But for all of their apparent differences, natural partners share the same dominant function, which instills them with similar ideas about what's truly important in life. They will experience a feeling of being on the same level.
Of course there are many things that influence a relationship's success or failure, such as family background and intelligence. Recent research shows that the number one cause of long-term success for a couple is that they treat each other with respect and kindness.
Although we believe firmly that this model works well to help in finding and maintaining healthy relationships, it is important to remember that it's just a tool. We offer guidelines to help you understand the kinds of things that you value in a relationship, rather than guidelines that you need to follow strictly. It's important to remember that there's no such thing as an effortless romantic partnership. But undoubtedly, some are easier than others.