Relationship difficulties and Te function location


I was reading through some old threads and saw Prax’s response to some of Erika’s comments about what she wants in a relationship. While I have no desire to resurrect hurt feelings, I would like to tall about the theory behind these comments.

I think Prax is essentially saying that people with Te in the last two function places (7th and 8th) are not likely to have long term success in relationships without further development of that function. I think she was reacting to a lack of healthy Te and associating it with Erika’s relationship problems.

I also saw John commenting that he wasn’t divorcing his wife because he realized that no matter what he did, she was committed to him. Which sounds like another form of unhealthy Te that is typical of ENTPs. A “don’t you set/enforce boundaries or tell me I can’t do something and I’ll love you” form. Not so healthy for the other person in the relationship… and probably why they end up with INFJs and ISFJs more than INTJs.

Thoughts anyone on the ability or likelihood to have healthy relationships as related to the placement of Te in the function stack?




Not come across this as an issue before, but may I provide a counter-example?

As an INFJ, I have Te as my 7th function, and though it can cause me issues in my daily life (it seems to operate sporadically and unreliably in one of two stereotypical modes: Trickster/Superego), I have been in a successful relationship with my partner for over 26 years. I also have strong and loving relationships with my immediate family, and a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, many of whom I’ve known for many years.

Of course, my partner is an ENTP, with Te as his 6th function. And our respective difficulties with Te are probably one of the major sources of friction in our relationship, but it’s no worse than any other of the petty annoyances that couples learn to live with. Our knowledge of type dynamics helps enormously here, I have to say.

My partner’s Te is stronger by far than mine (as it is his Id function) so he does most of the “big-picture” long-term planning and organising of matters Te-related, including finances, routine maintenance of cars/properties etc, and other logistical matters. And I am eternally grateful to him for this, as I am truly incompetent in those areas. Even though he is proficient at these tasks, I’m still aware of how much energy he has to expend when dealing with anything Te-related, and also how emotional and sensitive he can get if something isn’t going well, or if he thinks I’m being critical of his efforts.


My share of the organisation is mainly in matters more Fe-related, such as remembering birthdays, organising social events, and general domestic chores such as cleaning and tidying and weeding the garden (not 'cos either of us care very much about tidiness, but out of a shared Fe-desire to keep our house and garden presentable for visitors and guests)


Stewart, thanks for your reply. However, I think your relationship and perhaps you yourself are more the exception than the rule and many INFJs have difficulties in intimate relationships (family, romantic and very close friendships). I know that this is a problem for me at times and I tend to go to extremes with setting boundaries in relationships (not strongly enforced boundaries to vanishing or leaving with few steps in between). I also have had a close INTJ friend comment on my lack of effective boundary setting in my ENTP relationship, similar to Prax’s comments.

It may be that the problem is a combination of where Fi and Te are in the function stack rather than just Te. However, Fi has been covered so thoroughly in Blake’s blogs that I was thinking it would be interesting to look at Te.


I am afraid I have a lot less experience with relationships than you or most of us here. May I ask you what exactly you mean by “effective boundary setting” in a relationship? A very foreign concept to me (no surprise). I’m just curious as this could apply to me.

The only insight I can add about Te in relationships is that someone I know who does use Te effectively (an INTJ) suggests to have a top 3 list of things that is most important to you and your life and a top 3 list for what you desire (or would NEVER tolerate) in a partner or spouse, and then stick to those lists. Keep vigilant and be objective as much as possible so your attraction/desire does not cloud your eyes to the truth. If a very important standard is not met or an unforgivable trait has been revealed, don’t plan on staying for much longer.

For some reason, I think that his advice could be helpful for INFJs. But to what extent they should implement it, I dunno. I think INFJs would prefer to stay open-minded about potential partners, so the lists may sound stringent…so the list should be a good and simple filter set with generally broad and absolutely essential values. My problem is that I’m bad at sticking to a set of rules I make. I always make tons of rules for myself only to break them. Rules themselves are a temptation for me to fall and make a mess of myself. But through a lot of suffering, I am getting better and better, stronger and stronger, as I realize that I personally would prefer sticking to a reasonable set of rules than to be a mess and suffer.

The other thing is that said INTJ is a big lover of holding all your emotions in…Keep them bottled up! I don’t think it is the best advice for an INFJ but I think it could apply for the most extreme cases, like when an INFJ is really just about to snap and scream or do something that shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone. I guess the strategic poker-face act, is probably a combination of Te aux-Fi tert. Approximate words from said-INTJ: “If an argument hits, don’t lose your shit and start yelling. Don’t even open your mouth. Stop. Concede if you will. Make every intention to shut doors even more softly. Make every intention to move a thousand-fold more slowly. Don’t reveal a single indication of anger. Hold it, and speak to the other when the heat dissipates and things are a bit cooled down.”

I think an INTJ’s or ISTJ’s willingness to stay rational and in control is probably a huge boon to preserving long-term relationships. Relationships are probably a lot less exciting like this, keeping yourself collected and strategic with one’s personal relations…but yeah, long-term relationships are more about lifetime partnership than excitement, heat, and erotic love, I guess. Requires strategy over caving into irrational emotions. Or am I wrong? I think my INTJ dad brainwashed me with this approach to “love.”

Again, I think sometimes INFJs do need to explode at times, so I dunno how much one should implement the INTJ method for successful relationships. But a bit, at least. The simple rule outlined above may be good to follow when horrible Fi id wants to burst and scream and make collateral damage. Followed by sublimation of Fi into Fe artistic expression? Dunno.

Anyways minimal control over Fi may be helpful as INFJs probably don’t realize how much they hurt their closest ones with their unpredictable storms or even moody silences; they seem to unfairly inflict their hurt or anger on innocent beings. And it even feels like a betrayal to others, considering their seemingly nice and placid surface appearance to those that are not close to them. So personally, I am striving to work on controlling my temper a bit. Seeing other INFJs hurting my loved ones pushed me to do this. Best to practice temper control along with being with someone who can better tolerate storms when they go loose (one of the attributes on my list).

So…I’m sure I did not really help you in the way you would have liked? I am probably already telling you something you know, so perhaps I sound preachy coming from my inexperienced self…Sorry if I did.

What are your thoughts to these bits of Te/Fi approach to relationship tactics?

Would love to hear what other INFJs have to say about this.


This is a marvelous summary of the essential dilemma we INFJs face when trying to use our Te function directly. Like all the other 7th stack-position functions, it creates a double-bind situation, trapping the subject (either ourselves or others around us) in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t set of criteria.

I mentioned the dual natured “Superego/Trickster” qualities of the 7th function, and your example demonstrates how this can play out for IXFJ types. The Te-Superego guilt-trips us with a long list of “shoulds” and “must nots” and is the prime source of INFJs over-perfectionistic traits. It internalises the sense of feeling different and inadequate from the rest of society (exaggerated in our case as we are one of the rarer types) and presents us with an absurdly long and detailed set of demanding and restrictive “rules” to follow.

I don’t know about other INFJs, but my Superego uses a whiny, droning, and highly self-critical internal voice to get its way: “If you can only stick to these 1001 Rules of Perfect Behaviour, other people will finally see what a Good Person you really are…”

But the Te-Trickster ensures that the Rules are impossible to follow, being innately contradictory and unrealistic:

“I must put others first at all times”
“I must take better care of my own needs”
“I can finally sit down and relax when I’ve finished writing my novel, tidying the house from top-to-bottom, consoling my friend over her marriage break-up and doing two solid hours of Bikram Yoga…”
“I must get at least 8 hours of decent sleep every night to avoid these recurring headaches and muscle tension…”

This is how the unholy Superego/Trickster double-act sets us up to fail, and boy does it love to gloat and shame the instant we fall off the wagon!


Our Te functions must be talking to each other because mine has been telling me to go to Bikram yoga too…along with everything else I’m supposed to be perfectly doing


Thanks for your response–I don’t have any answers as of yet other than to keep developing myself through Fe and hope that as I become stronger, Te becomes stronger too ;).

What you said about INFJs and rules is where they have problems when it comes to raising little children as well as in their relationships with people who don’t have healthy Te. And probably with keeping themselves healthy so they can be a good partner–not taking on too much or giving too much of themselves to others.

I think I’ve dealt with this in the past by trying to surround myself with people who had healthy Te levels to compensate for my lack thereof. But that doesn’t always work and makes me dependent on them. I’ve been working on teaching myself to be more aware of my body when I’m stressed or unhappy and then retreating from any outer demands by doing something that makes me happy–loving myself.


Does your Te look something like this when it’s in full-on Moral Crusader mode:





Lol—no. You have some kinky superego stuff going on there


It’s more like I’m the Pea in the “Princess and the Pea” story and must remove all these mattresses (tasks to accomplish) from on top of me to breathe/be successful/happy


OMG, I can’t believe you used the “Princess and the Pea” story! I often joke with my ENTP partner that my sensitivity makes me like the Princess in that story; unable to sleep due to a tiny pea buried under layers and layers of mattresses…


I have a hilarious free app on my iPhone called the Shame Bell:

It’s rings the bell when you shake the phone, and when you tap one finger on the screen Septa Unella says “Shame!” in a condescending tone. Tap with Two fingers and you get “Confess!”. Three fingers and the High Sparrow himself utters one of a range of judgemental condemnations: “Secrets!”, “A Sinner Comes Before You!” and (my personal favourite) “Fornication!”.

Needless to say, it was my ENTP partner who found this app in the first place…


I am in complete denial that I am anything like that…as I deal with my “hanger” issues and lack of good sleep bitchiness


That is awesome. I have not laughed that hard in a while


As an INFJ, I think this is great advice if the list is made from the INFJ’s actual experience. Otherwise, not so much.

Of course, this then means the INFJ needs to go out and actually experience. Hmmmmm…

I don’t think bottling up feelings is good advice for INFJs though. That sounds like a great recipe for an Fi explosion later. That’s exactly why it happens, using Fe to perform an artificial emotion rather than express the true one, so then the true emotions get bottled up…

I think Te in relationships for INFJs is the same as having Te minimums elsewhere. The short list of must-haves/dealbreakers would be a good Te minimum to check in with from time to time. Most of it should be Fe though. Does this feel good and in flow? If so, great. If not, use Ni/Ti to analyze, and back to Fe to try and resolve. Something like that.


Huh, my ENTP-ex had the same app! Go figure!


After much head-scratching, I finally understood what you meant by “hanger” issues. In my defence, it’s been a looong week and my poor exhausted inferior Se is refusing to cooperate: