My Nemesis, the ESFP

In my last post, I noted that INTJs show they care by conducting research on their friends and love interests.  I was thinking about how others express interest/affection, and I was going to remark the following: “Notice how there’s no ESFP forum. They are all too busy dotting their ‘i’s with smiley faces to discuss their personality and various related issues.”

After I wrote that, I searched Google and actually found an ESFP forum. I was very amused at the differences between the INTJ and ESFP forums, which naturally reflect the very obvious personality differences in the authors.

INTJ and ESFP are terms for Myers-Briggs personality types. INTJ means Introverted-iNtuitive-Thinking-Judging, and ESFP means Extraverted-Sensing-Feeling-Perceiving.

The ESFP is the INTJ’s “anima” in type relationship theory, whatever that means. I know they are opposites on all four dimensions of personality, and they have a very hard time understanding each other. They probably annoy each other, especially if they do not understand and appreciate personality differences.

One of the first questions on the ESFP forum that I spied is, “Do INTJs make you sad?” This struck me as extremely humorous, as at least one ESFP has said that about me.

Also, half the postings have smileys in the title: “A question for ESFPs 🙂 .“ I mean, is that really necessary?

In a post entitled, “What is your biggest problem in life?” people responded, “due dates and procrastination,” “handling too much responsibility,” “head in the cloud questions [from Ns],” and seriously this was a reply, “Problems? What problems? I ignore them until they go away or blow up in my face.” Each of these replies was punctuated with several superfluous smileys.  Are these really the worst problems an ESFP deals with?  Really?

The INTJ forum has thousands of postings, scrupulously organized by topics such as “Relationships and Dating,” “General Sociology,” and “Philosophy and Ethics.”  The ESFP forum consists of a few dozen posts, randomly thrown on the site’s wall.

On the ESFP site, I noticed an awful lot of abbreviations like “u” (you) and “lol” (funny). The INTJs are articulate and precise, spelling out every word correctly and using excellent grammar. The ESFPs are imprecise and slangy.

I feel okay about picking on the ESFPs for several reasons: firstly, because I pick on myself and the general INTJ population; secondly, because they don’t like to read, and if they randomly came across my blog in a search for emoticons, they would be lost and confused and probably depressed, so they would quickly click back to adding flair on facebook; thirdly, they really don’t understand irony and nuance, so they probably wouldn’t “get” what I’m writing anyway.

EDIT 3/26/2012 – I appreciate the graciousness with which several ESFPs have commented on my post, a reflection of their personality type, I imagine.  The original post was written with a sense of irony and self-deprecation, but perhaps that did not come across well.  This edit is written in seriousness, though.  I love all the people in my life and the various strengths their personalities bring to the table.  I agree that my statements are not true of all ESFPs across the board.  I particularly envy the ease with which my Feeling friends strive for harmony in relationships and have natural empathy (in accord with one reader’s comment referring to emotional intelligence).  Thank you to all personality types for adding to the depth, richness, and complexity of humanity.

    • Fran Hartshorn
    • April 25th, 2010

    This is so funny. I think I was “diagnosed” as an ESFP, but I don’t really know how accurate the test is. I took it 3 times, and twice came out ESFP. The first time I came out something else, but didn’t think it was right, an I something something something. Can’t even remember. Anyway, your observation of the forum doesn’t sound like me at all. I hardly ever use emoticons or dot my i’s with smiley faces. I also rarely use abbreviations like u or lol. I can’t stand not spelling things out. Sometimes I do these things, but only in special/rare instances. I also think you and I get along great–I don’t think we annoy each other and we relate very well. Sooooo…I don’t know what it all means. I’ve come to the conclusion that I just can’t be “categorized” or put into a box.

    • tonjia rolan
    • April 26th, 2010

    Hahahaha. That was really funny. I am an INFJ. My son is an INTJ. We are perfect companions and get along swell.

    • Cassey
    • December 2nd, 2010

    Hi i read this trough a link in one of the forums at the personality cafe.
    I’m ESFP and yes i love using emoticons and half the time my grammar is very bad.
    i must say just cause it’s bugging i love reading anf my step dads INTJ and we get along fine.
    i have quite intelligent conversations with him which most the time i must admit does suprise my friend, in the topics i know.
    If i could spell perfectly all the time like i admitt almsot all INTJ’s can do i would!!
    i have a high respect for INTJ’s because of my expereances with them but i do feel sad that you think this way about the personality type.
    which leads me to want to know what first hand expereance do you have with ESFP’s?

    • Anonymous
    • June 10th, 2011

    I’m also an INFJ with a an INTJ son… can you email me? I have questions. @tonjia rolan

    • Cass
    • February 16th, 2012

    How do you spell that sound one makes when going like this: :-P!!!!

    -ESFP 😀

    • Lauren
    • March 3rd, 2012

    Hey, I’m right in between an ESFP and an ENFP, and while some of your observations may be true about some people with this personality type, I don’t think they’re correct across the board. I’m an English major, and I love reading and grammar. In fact, it’s my job to proofread writing.

    Some ESFPs may come off as ditzy, but we’re not all ridiculous. We liven up the world, yes, but that doesn’t mean we’re stupid. I appreciate you INTJs because you do help bring order and some logical thinking to the world, but it would be nice if you could appreciate the fun and postivity we bring as well. You might be depressed and cynical all the time otherwise. But I know you INTJs like to argue simply for the sake of the debate – so no offense taken. It takes both personality types to make the world go ’round.

    Also, I hate emoticons. Ick.

    • ezzy
    • March 24th, 2012

    I agree with Lauren. I am an ESFP, but I am also a research queen, highly articulate, avid reader, and a computer genius. I have a master’s degree in science. Personality type and the fact that we (ESFP’s) type with slang, and get excited about things and want to show it with happy faces, does not equate to intelligence… at all:-D

    I believe that ESFP are more intelligent because we are more in touch with our emotions!;-)

    • Rayn (sounds like “rain”)
    • July 19th, 2012

    I am ESFP (I’ve taken the test multiple times) and it’s more about how I’m drawn to people and I do enjoy having fun, but at the same time, I’m drawn to those who aren’t anything like me. No one wants mirror images. and I agree with Ezzy–personality types have nothing to do with intelligence. A dumbass is a dumbass no matter what.

    Also, my best friend is an INTJ and I don’t know where I would be without him. Everyone needs their animus/anima. 🙂

    • Rayn (sounds like “rain”)
    • July 19th, 2012

    @Rayn (sounds like “rain”)

    I am an ESFP*

    Grammatical error. -__-

    • sarah
    • August 2nd, 2012

    i am an INTJ , my mother and my sister and many other close surroundings are ESFPs..
    i can tell that my relationships with ESFPs are CRAZY!!!!!
    at the beginning it can be good and ESFPs sometimes feel attracted to INTJs. but the closer the relationship is(or it gets), the harder and more complicated it becomes.
    usually the ESFP in the relationship tries to get the INTJ out of the shell so the INTJ gets scared and try to avoid this relationship because the INTJ REALLY loves having his own privacy area.
    on the other hand the INTJ thinks that the ESFP is too shallow and superficial and when the INTJ comments or advises the ESFP objectvelly , the esfp takes it personally and become stubborn or agressive.

  1. I stumbled upon this page through Google. I know it’s a couple of years old now but for what it’s worth, here’s my two cents.

    I’m quite surprised at how often ESFPs get stereotyped as shallow, untrustworthy and unintelligent, especially by their opposites, the INTJ. Perhaps those stereotypes apply to ESFPs who haven’t matured emotionally, but as someone who sits near the ESFP/ENFP cusp, I can safely say most of those things don’t apply to me or other ESFPs that I know.

    Many of us use smileys but only where they help clarify the tone of an otherwise ambiguous statement. We may seem shallow or easily distracted but a lot of the time we perceive elements of another person’s personality so quickly that it happens unconsciously and we’re already adapting to meet the needs of that person. I know I’m not a big reader of books, but that’s more to do with books not generally serving my interests – I’m much more of a visual/sensory person (as sensing types often are) so I tend to be more interested in film or photography.

    As for intelligence, I’d suggest looking up Gardner’s theories on different kinds of intelligence.

    • ST
    • September 8th, 2013

    I’m an INTJ and my stepson is an ESFP. I’m here because I’m trying to learn anything I can to help our relationship. He thinks in a completely different way than I do and it’s tough to understand. He always wants to see the latest movies, knows all the action hero’s, their history’s, what company owns them and in my mind I’m thinking, “I’ve got real things to do, this is make believe and of no significance to life on planet earth.” “Let’s learn how to use a telescope, build something, take something apart…… He’s not interested. It’s like we’re both very creative but in polar opposite ways.

    • Anonymous
    • March 26th, 2014

    i’m an INTJ, and I have a mother, and a roommate who are ESFPS. They are a nightmare. Sure they have a personality that is open and fun, but I see them nothing more but tertiary friends. ESFPs are very irrational, and they act upon emotion. This leads me to believe that this type is not as intellectual as some of them may say they are.

    • Emma
    • June 23rd, 2014

    I’m an INFP, and I have a friend who’s an ESFP and another who’s an INTJ. My interactions with them differ greatly, but I’ve said to both that I’d buy a ticket and bring popcorn to see them interact.

    I always imagine that they’d get bored or fed up with each other. They’ve got various interests in common, but the INTJ will only engage in social interaction if he can learn from it, and the ESFP (who’s actually got a strong introvert side, leaning towards E) interacts if she can be entertained. The biggest thing is she’s very in touch with her emotions and handles them wonderfully, but he refuses to acknowledge the existence of his feelings.

    But just FYI, they’re both big bookworms. ESFP reads Jane Austen like it’s Dr. Seuss. The “not good at reading” stereotype, I think, is about as accurate as the “blondes are dumb”. Possible, but not inherent.


    • Joann
    • August 17th, 2014

    You are tending to not only over generalize ESPFs but also to cast them/us in a relatively negative light. I am an ESPF and my best friend is an INTJ. We are very different. I think the reason our relationship works (and it is rocky at times, believe me), is that we are both curious about what makes the other tick. So there is a mutual respect for the other’s personality type.

    You said you were being self deprecating in your post. It didn’t come across that way to me; it came across as fairly negative toward ESPFs. I am assuming you did not intend this, so no hard feelings. Just a little feedback. By the way, in response to your opinion (stated as fact) that ESPFs “…don’t like to read…”, and in general are somewhat shallow, I am an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction. I have two teaching credentials, special education and English (imagine that) and am very close to earning my masters in education. I say this not to toot my own horn (yeah, I know, we ESPFs are quite into ourselves) but to demonstrate that generalizations, in the form of expressing opinion as it is fact in a public venue, might call into question one’s own motives. My experience with INTJs is that they do quite a bit of thinking before they opine. Your post does not fit that trait. But alas, another generalization, eh?

    • Morningstar
    • December 13th, 2014

    The ENFPs are the natural mate of the INTJ. They share none of our senses but iNtuition. Because of this, they balance us out. Intuition is the foundation needed for a relationship to grow with an iNtj.

    Sensors live in another world than intuitives.

    INTJs best matches are: eNfp or eNtp

    ESFPs are mouth-breathing idiots; the whole lot of them. Date, work with, or friend an eSfp and get ready to start plotting unique ways of ridding yourself of them (see: murder faked to look like suicide).

    • Morningstar
    • December 13th, 2014

    If you like eSfps, you are most likely an iStj (not an iNtj). ISTJs and ESFPs make perfect mates. They both share Sensing as their primary function. The rest of the functions between them compliment themselves.

    • Anonymous
    • April 30th, 2016

    Being an ESFP, I actually DO love to read. I love to process and understand difficult topics as well, although I do type out my honest thoughts and opinions using emojis to show my emotions because I have them LOL :))) And yes, I am extremely offended with your post although your latest edit gave you some sort of saving grace. I hope that you truly understand that it is important to appreciate and respect all personality types, instead of stereotyping people and post hurtful, cynical remarks about them. Perhaps because you are an INTJ and you could care less about how your words might make others feel and even find ESFP’s adverse reaction funny. Nonetheless, we all have strengths and weaknesses so please do not look down on others 🙂

    • June
    • September 12th, 2017

    Now I see where the superiortity complex stigma comes from.

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