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ISFJs place a great deal of importance on their personal relationships. They're generally very giving and loving people, who place the needs of others above their own. They sometimes have a problem with becoming overly emotionally needy, and with keeping their true feelings hidden from others. They take their commitments very seriously, and seek lifelong relationships. ISFJs are extremely dependable, and put forth a lot of energy into keeping things running smoothly. They sometimes have difficulty saying "no" when asked to do something, and therefore may be taken for granted.
Each type has traits and behaviors that can strengthen their relationhips. Most ISFJs will exhibit the following strengths with regards to relationship issues.
The first step in overcoming our weaknesses is identifying them and recognizing them in our own behavior. Once we've done that, we begin to naturally correct our weaker behaviors in real-time. ISFJs may recognize some or all of the following behaviors that can negatively impact the health of their relationships.
"To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." —Rollo May
ISFJs are committed to their relationships. They have very intense feelings, a fact that is not immediately apparent to others because they tend to hold things inside themselves without expressing them, unless they have a strong reason to do so. Their intensity of feeling makes their intimate relationship their first priority in life, with the possible exception of God. They seek monogamous, lifelong commitments, and can be depended upon to be faithful and loyal to their partners once they have made a commitment.
ISFJs have a difficult time leaving a relationship which is bad, or accepting that a relationship is over. They tend to put all of the blame on their own shoulders, and wonder what they should have done to make things work out. If they have been loyal to their vows and have done their duties, they will be at a complete loss as to what went wrong, and will have great difficulty accepting the end. They are "true blue" lovers, and may even remain faithful to their deceased partners.
ISFJs tend to be very selfless, and to put the needs of others well before their own needs. This may backfire on them, if they get into a situation in which they are taken advantage of, and do not have a good outlet for their strong emotions. In this kind of situation, the ISFJ might bottle up their feelings inside them, and form strong resentments against others. The ISFJ should work on recognizing their own needs, and place some importance on meeting them, rather than always putting the needs of others first. After all, if you can't take care of yourself, how can take care of someone else?
Sexually, the ISFJ sees intimacy as a tangible way of strengthening their relationship bonds. They also see as something of a duty, and are likely to be more interested in serving their partner than in their own personal satisfaction. Although the ISFJ is not likely to be very wordy about expressing their love and affection, they're likely to do so through their deeds, and will deeply value their partner's responding affirmations.
The ISFJ is very warm and selfless. They'll put forth tremendous amounts of energy and time into doing what they feel is ther duty. What makes them feel best about themselves is when others show them their appreciation of the ISFJ. Consequently, the best gift that the partner of an ISFJ can give them is the expression of their love and appreciation.
ISFJs have difficulty with conflict situations, and would much prefer to just sweep things under the rug. Sometimes facing a conflict situation helps to resolve it, and the ISFJ should realize that the world will not end if they face the conflict, and express how they feel about it. A conflict situation is not necessarily a "problem" which needs to be gotten rid of, and it is also not necessarily the ISFJ's fault. It's a common problem for ISFJ's to not express their feelings until pushed to some limit, after which they explode in anger and say things which they later feel they shouldn't have said. These kinds of outbursts can be reduced by expressing their feelings on a more regular basis, rather than keeping them pent up inside.
In general, the ISFJ is usually a traditional, family-minded individual who places the comfort of their partners and families as their first priority in life. They're great for providing for everyday basic needs, and have a depth of caring which is very unusual, and not found in most types. They're highly invested in the health of their relationships, and will work very hard to make things run smoothly. They are dependable and affectionate lovers.
Although two well-developed individuals of any type can enjoy a healthy relationship, the ISFJ's natural partner is the ESTP, or the ESFP. ISFJ's dominant function of Introverted Sensing is best matched with a partner whose dominant function is Extraverted Sensing. More on ISFJ compatibility
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth...
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable." —Kahlil Gibran
Parenthood is seen as a natural state and duty to the ISFJ. They will give their children plenty of love, and be responsible about ensuring that their children have their practical needs met, and try to teach them the rules and observations of our society so that they grow into responsible and independent adults.
ISFJs may have difficulty administering discipline to their children, although most are able to overcome this discomfort because they feel it is their greater duty to instill their children with sound values. As individuals who value order and structure, they're likely to create well-defined boundaries and roles for their children to live within.
ISFJ parents have a very difficult time if their children grow into "problem" adults They tend to believe that it is their responsibility, and that they didn't work hard enough to raise their children well. This may or may not be the case, but usually it isn't. The ISFJ usually puts forth a lot of energy and effort, and doesn't give themselves credit for doing so.
In many ways, an ISFJ makes an ideal parent. Their children will not lack for structure, appropriate guidelines, or warmth and affection. Their children will remember and value the ISFJ parent for their warm natures and genuine efforts on their children's behalf.
Although the ISFJ is likely to place God and family above their friends in their priorities, they genuinely enjoy spending time with friends and colleagues, and especially treasure friendships of long-standing. In fact, ISFJs usually feel a strong need to talk problems and issues over with people before making big decisions, and many ISFJs seem to prefer to discuss things over with a friend, rather than a family member.
ISFJs enjoy spending time with most other types of people. They love to observe people's reactions and emotions in situations, and so enjoy being around diverse types of people. The ISFJ usually remains reserved around others, and does not open up very much. However, since they have a need to talk things over in order to make decisions, ISFJs do really need some close confidantes in their life. Their preference for these companions are other Sensing Feeling Judgers. They really enjoy and respect the company of Intuitive Feelers as well, but are not able to relate to them quite as well.
Friends of the ISFJ will value them for their warmth, dependability, their willingness to help out in almost any situation, and ther depth of emotional awareness and understanding.