In any romantic or pair bond relationship, there are myriad ways that a couple communicates to each other. Words, actions, expressions, mannerisms… we’re looking for and sending endless signals to and from our mate.

And while there are a million things each person says (both verbally and non-verbally) every day, it could be argued that there really is only one thing we’re actually looking for: the answer to the question, “Do you love me?”

According to Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages” we all express love a little differently. In Chapman’s model, the 5 primary ways are:

  • Acts of Service
  • Quality Time
  • Gift Giving
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Physical Touch

(For a quick reference listen to the Personality Hacker podcast “The 5 Love Languages.” For more in-depth information, read Chapman’s book of the same title. It’s a great read – we highly recommend it.)

These are five very important modalities of communicating love, and knowing which one you and your mate favor can make or break the relationship. That said, while we communicate love in different ways, we are also looking for very specific markers that transcend the form of communication – we’re looking for specific criteria which means love to different types.

For example, we might have a “Words of Affirmation” Love Language and we’ll always feel good when someone praises us. But what are they praising us for? Does it match our internal ‘list’ of important things? For example, one woman might be over to moon to hear her husband praise her beauty to his friends, and another woman might feel marginalized.

How “Evaluation” Becomes “Love”

In our program Couples Mapping we discuss how different personality types both ask the question, “Do you love me?” and how they answer it, “Yes! I do love you!” Here’s where it gets tricky: each personality type asks it in a slightly different way, and concurrently answers it in a slightly different way.

A quick refresher on how the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types correlate to their 'decision-making' mental processes:

All FJs use the mental process called Extraverted Feeling, or “Harmony” to make decisions.

All FPs use the mental process called Introverted Feeling, or “Authenticity” to make decisions.

All TJs use the mental process called Extraverted Thinking, or “Effectiveness” to make decisions.

All TPs use the mental process called Introverted Thinking, or “Accuracy” to make decisions.

The “decision-making” mental processes (Harmony, Authenticity, Effectiveness, Accuracy) are ways we evaluate the world and determine their rightfulness, truthfulness and importance to us as people.

Every personality type has a tendency to overvalue their criteria, and unless you understand the concept of different types it’s very easy to assume others are using the same criteria to make evaluations and decisions. That is, if you’re an Effectiveness person it may be very difficult to understand another person who is using, say, Accuracy. When they come to a conclusion that favors conceptual analysis over what works, the assumption is that person is being short-sighted, and somewhat stupid.

Since we all do this (to some extent), in a romantic relationship this can be disastrous. On some level we ‘get’ that other people see the world differently than we do, but without a solid model these differences end up becoming gender stereotypes. “Women just want men to listen to them and not solve problems,” or “Men just want to be alone in their ‘man cave’ when they have problems.”

Since there is definitely a gender skew in personality types, these stereotypes play out often enough that we take them for granted. Real trouble surfaces when we’re a personality type not common to our gender but we’re still expected to play out the normal ‘script’. When our mate can’t ‘read’ or ‘predict’ us (or vice versa!) it can become a serious issue.

It’s a frustrating exercise trying to communicate love (and look for markers of love from your mate) only to watch the attempts fall flat. In most things to ‘fail again, fail better’ is a noble pursuit, but in love if we believe the answer to our question “Do you love me?” is “No” or “I’m not sure” too often, you can do real damage to your own heart and your mate’s.

Knowing your own decision-making process and your lover’s is a much easier way of being able to say clearly, “When I look for love, this is what I’m looking at.”

How “Harmony” asks “Do you love me?”Myers-Briggs types: ENFJ, INFJ, ESFJ, ISFJ

  • Do you feel connected to me?
  • Will you check in and make sure I’m okay?
  • Will you acknowledge and take care of my needs?
  • Am I safe with you?
  • Do you accept and approve of me?

How “Harmony” answers: “Yes! I love you!”

  • I will meet your needs before I meet my own.
  • I will check in regularly and make sure you’re okay.
  • I will do my best to keep morale up.
  • I will show you appreciation in whatever way I’d like to be shown appreciation.

How it can be misinterpreted by other types: Smothering, intrusive.

How “Authenticity” asks, “Do you love me?”
Myers-Briggs types: ENFP, INFP, ESFP, ISFP

  • Do you think I’m being real with you?
  • Do you trust my motives and my intent?
  • Will you support me no matter what – do you have my back?
  • Will you give me space to be “me?”

How “Authenticity” answers, “Yes! I love you!”

  • I will be patient with your honest expressions.
  • I will honor your feelings and identity, even if it’s a struggle for both of us.
  • I will hold space for you, and give you alone time when you need it.
  • I will have your back no matter what the fight is.
  • I will trust you have my best interests at heart.

How it can be misinterpreted by other types: Passive, self-absorbed

How “Effectiveness” asks, “Do you love me?”
Myers-Briggs types: ENTJ, INTJ, ESTJ, ISTJ

  • Will you handle things – can I rely on you?
  • Will you make my life easier, can I relax knowing you’re “on it?”
  • Will you support my career and/or goals and be self-sufficient?
  • Are you loyal?

How “Effectiveness” answers, “Yes! I love you!”

  • I will be endlessly loyal on principle.
  • I will educate myself on you and learn how you operate.
  • I will take pride in you, boasting about your accomplishments even before my own.
  • I will protect you.
  • I chose you. I continue to choose you. Case closed.

How it can be misinterpreted by other types: Controlling, distant, “unromantic”

How “Accuracy” asks, “Do you Love Me?”
Myers-Briggs types: ENTP, INTP, ESTP, ISTP

  • Do you think I’m totally competent?
  • Are you impressed with my performance?
  • Do you trust that I’m not lying to you or B.S.’ing you in any way?
  • Does it make sense that you love me? That you stay with me?


How “Accuracy” answers, “Yes! I love you!”

  • I will be rigorously honest with you. If I have a ‘wandering eye’ I will tell you, and provide a solution.
  • I will gift you with my precision. I will learn you and give high performance at all levels.
  • I will protect you from others, but not from yourself.
  • I will never judge you. Instead, I will be there for you when things go bad, no matter why they went bad.

How it can be misinterpreted by other types: Harsh, insensitive, cold

Did this resonate with you and what you know of your type? Were you able to spot your lover’s decision-making criteria, and how can it help you communicate to them that you love them in a way that’s meaningful to them?

Let us know! Leave a comment and share your experience.


Interested in gaining deep insight into how you and your lover operate within your relationship? Want to get to the next level of intimacy on a deep, cognitive level? This article is just a taste of our full course “Couples Mapping: Personality Types in Marriage & Relationships."


How does each personality type ask, Do You Love Me? #MBTI


  • Justine
    • Justine
    • December 8, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Hi, I’m an INFJ – I recently listened to your INFJ-related podcast episides and I love what you’ve been saying about developing Harmony being crucial to the well-being.
    I found that while I myself mostly avoided the pitfalls of active victimhood and depression (only by a hair, phew.) that might only have been because of my family putting so much importance on developing coping skills through struggle (basically: very early on I had to face whatever problems I caused, learn to problem-solve and develop a belief “I can manage.”).
    What I know however is that I am much more productive once I developed Harmony, since it made for so much of moodiness/brooding and downtime that wasn’t effective and conflict avoidance. I wish I had worked on that earlier, it would have changed a ton in my life. Keeping up with daily work/university course work has been a struggle and caused me to seem ‘flaky/unreliable’ or often underprepared even if listening to lectures and taking notes has been a pleasure and my essays have been (after simplification) outstanding.
    I am so grateful for you helping out INFJs out there to do the Harmony work early.
    In fact if there’s a thing I would say to all INFJs – journal and then read the journal entries to yourself. Out loud if possible. Best start of working on Harmony.
    Second – meditation helps. Both a fun time for Sensing, a Harmony “stress-reducer” and Perspectives developer – second only to writing.

    I think it would be great if you mentioned how powerful a combo can aligning your Harmony and Accuracy make. I know you talk about using it in the right context, but mostly it’s intimacy/play. I have only enjoyed absorbing knowledge after I found a career that’s satisfying – based on human values, communication and championing others. Before I liked fiction novels with great examples of relationships and complex characters, but then immediately I became a voracious reader of not just psychology books, but business and marketing books as well. Previously the process of acquiring pure knowledge – history, biology, but also large portions of vocabulary of any language – has been more of a reactive one, rather then proactive. In fact I think that INFJs who are not allowed to explore a bit a la Sensing and notice what makes them energized, what is the pay and day-to-day feeling of the career like, what’s their preference for learning – shouldn’t go to University, or they will have quite a difficult time.

    Now, mind you, before university I was perfectly fine and would probably have been fine for most of University with great grades, but when you combine the Accuracy methods of learning not being developed and Harmony’s tendency to want to please people and say yes to too many taxing appointments, tasks and projects – any INFJ will easily have a meltdown, I know I certainly have been in some rough and deep waters owing to that.
    Language learning came the easiest to me (Perspectives has a knack for observing and practicing/writing according to grammar rules, I found Accuracy much less happy to practice orally or in writing, and once I started reading books vocabulary got into a pattern over time).

    There’s also the tricky matter of believing in your skills. It doesn’t just take acknowledging and developing Harmony, but also the confidence that what you have is marketable. I make myself go out of my comfort zone and listen to ENTJs and ISTPs for business savvy, they are… harsh but effective in their ideas, and got me committed to not staying in academia, or being a language tutor.

    Another thing I’d love to mention is:
    There’s this trend of INFJs feeling “unique” and “misunderstood” in profiles out there.
    This is also where Harmony comes in – INFJs with more developed Harmony I think will know how much work and emotional discipline and responsibility for your gift it takes, and I think wouldn not brag about uniqueness. Rather, I certainly have said this more than a couple of times in the past : “I have been dealt a powerful card, and using it wisely will require thought, caution and practice. That is not something I’d wish on just anyone.”. My friend, who’s an ENFJ in my opinion has had just as much a challenging time with her more pronounced Harmony.

    Second – the feeling of being misunderstood has mostly been gone from my life once I decided to be less private and joined an organization focused on communication. I will never have a wide network of friends, I believe strongly in quality over quantity, but those few who are around me have been a blessing.
    The only time the “misunderstood” feeling creeps in is with intimate relationships.
    What I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is that developing Harmony has a catch-22 at the beginning. To me it seemed at first like so much of a burden to explain to anyone the complex concepts/perspectives I have in my head or the experiences I go through, and the language used to describe the experiences INFJs go through can be woo-woo like you mentioned.
    The complexity, tendency to deliver in monologues to flesh out the concepts/perspectives and the language made me very self-aware and to not want to cause anyone the high brow or a wrinkle on a forhead from analysing – that’s Harmony. Oddly, probably together with Accuracy it caused me to look for the right person to share with, and many were disqualified. And once you speak out as an INFJ I think you expect a reciprocally complex, monologued commentary or care for the language used to not hurt your feelings when giving feedback. That is not the case, and I wish I’d shared earlier without as much regard for the listener’s feelings, or choice of the right listener, and prepared myself for the many ways Accuracy and Efficiency based feedback will shock me. Eventually I know I have learned to distinguish who is the person I can share Perspectives with (a combination of testing (Sensing) and knowledge (Accuracy) and developing Harmony) and managed to have better control over the structure and length of the monologues. I wouldn’t have without repeated practice.

    My last point would be about the functions and how they ask and answer love. My ENFJ friend who has Harmony as her driver fits your description of how she asks and answers love.
    However… I’d like to point out that from my experience I have used a combination of Perspectives and Harmony for how I ask and answer love. While Harmony may cause my ENFJ friend to bake cookies for her coworkers, light up after I check in with her or my ESFJ mom, who’s also got a Harmony Driver, to put her family’s needs before hers, I have done it differently.
    A good phone call for me is not about a check-ins but a cool new insight from a friend, a story I could find interesting or this exciting new person who’s delivered a great TEDtalk.
    I send out any materials, books and articles or invites to workshops that help others with their interests,
    I light up after somebody checks in with my concepts – when someone takes the time to observe how my concept work evolves or notices a shift in my direction or has a suggestion for doing something that could further my abilities.
    Putting someone’s developmental needs above mine is easy – a mentoring/coaching session late Sunday evening or early Monday morning is not uncommon for me to give. I will comply with any requests to have a deep conversation, provided I know the person is someone looking to get a better sense of happiness in their lives. I certainly get energy when Perspectives and Harmony is lined up like that. Phonecalls from the same person about the 5th-10th time they face the same problem, without any reflection will have me wanting to end quickly or to set a boundary. But when faced with baking, baby-sitting or walking the dog – I will even grumble and begrudge a little on the inside the time I could spend on writing an email, taking notes or reading. I will still do the deed with zest and zeal but it will not energize me.
    I’ll agree with the fact that while the methods are more Perspectives-customized there’s still this point where Harmony tries to reciprocate attention with how I meet my needs, so there was a lot of unwarranted championing and deep conversation where I should’ve relaxed around someone. In time, I learned to not only not take this fact of life personally, but to see the different ways people like to have their needs met, and to know that it’s not about reciprocating equally but in an equally meaningful way.

  • Karen
    • Karen
    • November 20, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you for this informative article. My dh and I are both Accuracy. Two of our children are Effectiveness and don’t get bumped around so much, but our Authenticity kids have not been so lucky. The INFP seems to fare much better, seems to be more expressive about her personal needs and intent on having those met, but our ISFP carries it all inside. Knowing these things will allow me to communicate without being asked. Thank you.

  • Tasha
    • Tasha
    • October 27, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Aww, this was such a good post :) As an INFP, I always thought I was too passive with my significant others and especially my friends. I allow them to me who they are and make their mistakes, even if it’s out of character, but I always have their back and I always forgive. Its funny how we are wired to be a certain way and instead of celebrating it, we can sometimes be over critical of ourselves :) :)

  • John
    • John
    • October 25, 2015 at 7:45 am

    As an infp male, I must say that this scary accurate! Not just for me, but my experiences with the
    Other 15 types! Personally,I prefer my fellow NFs or isfp and esfp.

  • Sarah
    • Sarah
    • March 29, 2015 at 6:08 am

    Oh. My. Gosh!!!!

    This is so crazily on point!! Duuuuuude. I can’t believe it. I’m sending it to allll of my MBTI-educated friends!! Aaackkk

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.