Guest article: Detective ENTP and the mystery of Fi
I have a confession to make: When it comes to love, I am a completely broken human being. Or, to put it another way, I am an ENTP.
To an ENTP, feelings are a mysterious, tasty substance from another world, an ability both enticing and elusive. Introverted feeling (Fi) is something that ENTPs experience and use, but they don’t use it as much as Fe, that externalized social politeness (which ENTPs hate using but still use quite frequently). For me, this is a processing flaw, a bug in the system that should be corrected with a decent Fi patch. After all, Fi is great. It’s the gooey source of real feelings, rather than polite obligations. It’s the romantic and adventurous sense that gets you into — and out of — all sorts of trouble. It’s the stuff that makes ENFPs and INFPs, the manic pixies of the MBTI world, wander off in search of ice cream and come back a day later, having fallen asleep in a bean bag chair at a furniture store. In Portland. And you’re like “What the fuck, dude?” but you can’t stay mad at them because they brought you a magazine they stole from a train along the journey home and it has an interview with that one band you like.
Now, the second part of my confession: I am actually kind of an unfun person, secretly. I plan shit and get shit done and shit. I worked hard through school, and pish-poshed the silly kids who didn’t, and instead went to drinking parties and had sex with each other. Silly sex-havers, my Ti-riddled brain thought. After all, who had time to enjoy youth when there was stupid, inane (read: “important”) school shit to care way too much about?
Then I graduated, thrust from a cold and uncaring academic world into an even more cold and uncaring real world. My still-warm corpse was chucked into the jaws of the greatest financial catastrophe since the Great Depression, which, in turn, led to a great depression in my chemical brainparts. However, the encounters and events from this period led to a startling bonus achievement: I unlocked Fi. Like a fucking superhero, I now had the twin powers of thinking and feeling. It wasn’t easy, but I had managed to combat my natural ENTP tendencies and unlocked the power of real, deep, profound feeling, appreciation of impulse and adventure, and yes, that ever-elusive superpower: love.
Of course, that’s where everything fell apart. You see, I have a lot of Fi kicking around there, which makes me an unusual ENTP. In fact, I’m damn close to an ENFP in a lot of ways, after years of careful Fi ninja training. But none of that magical gooey feelingsy stuff could disable the hard-wired thinkin’ (Ti) that, when paired with my dominant intuitive functions (Ne), does an awful, cruel, unspeakable thing: it rationalizes, analyzes, and desperately, desperately attempts to explain the emotion.
No matter how hard I train, Fi is always run through a filter and converted to Ti. And this is a dirty filter, like when you decide to make next-day coffee but you’re too lazy to wash the pot, or when you try to run that Windows XP game through Parallels on your Mac and for awhile it seems the same, at least until you start playing for real, and SimCity crashes because there’s too many buildings and you decided to conduct an in-depth analysis of your transit system. Or when you run a high resolution recording through a bitcrushed sampler and it sounds like static gibberish.
An 8-bit rendition of a symphony. That’s Fi experienced through Ti.
So, yeah, consider emotion a vexing topic for the ENTP. Here I’d thought I’d figured it all out, learned to have fun, and embraced the spontaneous adventure… but my Fi to Ti converter can only compress so much data at once. Unfortunately, love overloads this converter entirely; resource limits are hit, key functions begin to go offline, and eventually, the system shuts down entirely. Real love is an intense and pure emotion that overwhelms any person, but my ENTP brain in particular tries to make sense of it, analyzes it in depth, and spins out completely, creating a powerful feedback loop in such situations. It’s cute, mostly, but it’s also exhausting. Here are some practical examples of an ENTP in love:
Perhaps this is somewhat true of anyone whose emotions are essentially snared in the typical trap, cliche as they may be. ENTPs in love will even analytically and self-awarely decry how silly we are being. However, that doesn’t stop us from being overwhelmed; after all, we aren’t used to strong emotions that we can’t control, dammit!
But an ENTP in love is also the most amazing thing. We remember meticulous tiny insignificant details about everything that we put together in brilliant ways. And ENTPs fall into real, almost permanent love in the rare and beautiful event that you connect with your extraverted intuition. Ne is the most beautiful thing we have; it’s pure, honest, and incredibly easy to link up to those who have it. Ne is a fountain of ideas and a special way of looking at the world; those who possess it are already in the ENTP’s good graces, and those who forge a deeper connection with it are the people who the ENTP will regard with undying love for decades, requited or otherwise.
We don’t pay for dinner, or if we do, we never make you feel like it’s out of any obligation or debt or desire to bang you. And if you do let us bang you, be prepared for the most awkward evening — since an ENTP enjoys learning new systems in an intricate way, that first sexual liaison is going to be more about discovery than about physical gratification. For an ENTP, sex with a new person is a lot like learning to ride a bike all over again, except with sex. It’s exhausting, and the pressure is high; so high, in fact, that the evening not ending in sex is probably a good sign, at least if your personal ENTP love interest can’t stop talking or — more telling — encouraging you to talk more.
The problem, however, is thus: I largely don’t go out on dates. “Dating” – the contact sport, will-we-or-won’t-we, senser-type approach to finding people that interest you – is wholly uninteresting. Sure, it’s something I tried out, and it’s something that lots of intuiters and sensers alike (particularly the non-damaged, self-assured ones) engage in. Sensers in particular have seen lots of TV shows that involve dating rituals and are generally pretty good at going through the animalistic motions that lead to empty sex. And I think everyone of every personality stripe can vaguely agree that, although inexorably linked, sex and love are different things.
Unfortunately, the ENTP’s unusual combination of Ne+Ti raises the stakes drastically when it comes to love. We can have fun with lots of people, and can even date lots of types of people, ever-adaptable. However, someone that an ENTP can connect with via Ne is a stimulating, inspiring, paralyzing rarity. Due to the natural tendency to analyze, overthink, and rationalize everything (which, when paired with the irrational beautiful perception of the world that Ne affords, becomes counter-intuitive intuition itself), I find myself instead inhabiting the natural ENTP space of carrying an idea out to completion.
And, I mean, it’s terrifying. My core functions that usually enable standard ENTP traits like peerless brilliance, razor-sharp wit, and modesty (and also self-awareness, ha ha) conspire in the emotional atmosphere to create a perfect storm of sexual neuroses. Like, if Wikipedia was actually an online encyclopedia of psychosexual misery the entry for ENTP would totally say:
Dominant: Ne (Extraverted iNtuition) – Ne finds and interprets hidden meanings and effortlessly identifies complex interrelationships between ideas, people, and intangible reasons the ENTP is inherently unlovable.
Auxiliary: Ti (Introverted Thinking) – Ti seeks precise answers to complex questions, causing the ENTP to overthink even the slightest and most minute gesture from a potential mate, destroying any chance of decisiveness.
Tertiary: Fe (Extraverted Feeling) – Fe seeks social connections and desperately wants to be loved, but is governed by propriety. Fe seeks validation and permission to proceed, resulting in many years of forced celibacy for the ENTP.
Because of this paralysis, senser-types have the upper hand on us, always. And this sucks. The ENTP is an amazing human being; brilliant, analytical, creative, and larger-than-life. If an ENTP possesses self-awareness, we can truly be superhuman in our generousness, empathy, and love. The problem, though, is getting there. Here are some illustrative differences of the handicaps the ENTP faces in the mysterious world of the human heart:
As you can see, ENTPs are quite naturally creatures of grandiose plans and visions. This is our handicap, and it hurts, a lot, when the stakes are so high. After all, if the stakes weren’t that high, there’d be no point in getting involved, right?
Now, you might be reading all of this existentialist bitching and get the wrong idea about all this stuff; this isn’t a case of “nice guys finish last”. To the contrary, really, ENTPs are kind of dicks when we want to be. We’re tenacious, fiercely logical, and good at staying relevant. The scenario as described above may very well end in the ENTP’s desired outcome, if approached with a substantial amount of patience and tenacity on the ENTP’s part.
That’s where the strengths of the ENTP (even the neurotic ones like me) can help to prevail in love: through tenacity, patience, analytical empathy, and, most importantly, the adaptability of the subject. If you’re lucky enough to snag an ENTP who isn’t a total dick, you will likely see these things immediately.
Ultimately, real, true love is a project for the ENTP, one that we embrace with that analytical, detailed, thorough nature. This stems from the desire to build something of quality rather than something that is simply there for the sake of being there. In the same vein, that may also be why it hurts and paralyzes so much. After all, feelings can’t be rationalized away or compartmentalized or organized in a flexible way to complete the project on time. They’re messy, pure, alluring, exciting things, and things we don’t fully understand. ENTPs are more inclined to pull out a chart (figuratively, or possibly literally speaking) to trace the origins, potentials, and outcome of such feelings, all project-management style.
In the end, it seems that, in spite of all my crafty labor on the subject, I still suffer unnecessarily from the stray overtones of feedback in that Fi=>Ti filter I convinced myself I’d developed successfully. Perhaps someday I’ll tweak the code, optimizing performance, or I’ll have to heed the very, very good advice that an ENTP fears the most: find the courage to turn the filter off, cut the crap, and just fucking kiss already.