In the past few months, I have been studying Myers Briggs Personality Types as a means of developing and understanding fictional characters. Though the system is imperfect, the personality types can be really helpful to use as a basic foundation for creating a character. A few months ago, I wrote a post about how I outline my characters which includes using MBTI for each of my characters. Many other authors also find that the Myers Briggs Personality types are a great foundation for build characters, and many readers enjoy typing characters as a means of understanding them.
However, as I have been typing and looking up the personality types of different fictional characters, I found that one specific type was generally missing. The female INTJ is almost nonexistent in fiction. (No, Katniss from The Hunger Games series is not an INTJ; she is an ISTJ and clearly does not use introverted intuition as her dominant function.) However, it would be wrong of me to claim that female INTJs do not exist in fiction; there are a few out there. For instance, Moraine from The Wheel of Time series is an INTJ, but in general, finding a female INTJ in fiction is so (comparatively) rare that most people will not read or see a fictional female INTJ.
Though female INTJs are the rarest female type in real life (estimated to be less than 1% of the female population), I was disappointed that they do not have a better representation in fiction– especially when male INTJs, who are almost as rare (3%ish), are so popular (such as Mr. Darcy, Atticus Finch, Ender Wiggin, and Sherlock Holmes). Frankly, I think fiction is missing out on some interesting characters by ignoring the opportunity that female INTJs present.
But I am not surprised. As a female INTJ, I understand why it is so intimidating for authors to write a well-rounded female character with this personality type. The main issue authors face is confusion about what a female INTJ actually looks like. Since we are so rare in the real world and the INTJ personality type seems to contradict the average woman’s personality, most writers struggle to understand female INTJs well enough to write one. Hopefully, I can clear some of this confusion up with this post.
If you are not familiar with the INTJ type, please check out my post on INTJ characters in general. Also I would highly suggest reading Mandy Wallace’s amazing post about INTJ characters in general: The Character most Writers get Wrong and How to Fix It. If you don’t have the time to read another post or two, do not worry; I am explaining the basics below, but Mandy Wallace’s post has some great insite on INTJ as fictional characters if you have the time to read it.
As for specifically female INTJs, most people understand them even less. For instance, there are memes like this (as found on Pinterest):”INTJ Female: it’s like finding a unicorn– an EVIL unicorn.” (Another version of the meme said “a really intimidating unicorn.”) Or to quote the author of MBTI Fiction, “[as opposed to the fictionally popular male INFJ] female INTJs are considered an anomaly that you run away from.” (Yes, this was sarcasm– if you are offended, I suggest that you cease to be offended and simply understand the humor of the statement.)
I will admit that as an INTJ female, I found memes and comments like this to be highly amusing and even satisfying, but there is some truth behind the statements.
These comments are hyperboles– something that has been so exaggerated that it is hilarious, and writers should remember this: INTJ females are not (always) out for world domination. Also writers should realize that there is some truth to the statements (hence why they are funny.)
The key to writing any character is complexity, and female INTJs simultaneous have very few feminine traits and are still women. To write a female INTJ character, writers should focus on two foundations: the INTJ part and the “female” part. (Duh.) These two parts of the INTJ female both have to be apparent in the character for your character to be interesting and well rounded—even though, it often appears that the two parts of the INTJ Female clash.
So here are the three basic aspects of the female INTJ: INTJ personality, not your female stereotype, yet still a woman.
- The INTJ Personality: Even though they are female, these characters should still have the INTJ personality.
- INTJs are constant looking at the “big picture”– as in the universal big picture. We love thinking about how our lives related to the universe as a whole and how the whole of humanity interacts and exists. We love theories, and we love to plan. Your INTJ character will constantly be thinking about the ramifications of their actions and various theories about how the universe works.
- Your INTJ characters, male or female, probably will not like being around other people, be very reserved, and will only open up to a few people (literally a few people: three or four). We don’t like stupidity, and we are perfectly happy alone (though we do need one close friend.) Most INTJs will only truly open up around that one (or occasionally two) friend.
- Moreover, INTJs want everything to be explained through logic– however, we fully understand that some things like emotions cannot be explained through logic, and this irritates us to no end, so we tend to suppress/argue against our own emotions while simultaneously analyzing them and seeking to understand. So, outwardly, your INTJ character will probably appear unemotional to other characters.
- INTJs seek to understand everything, so we tend to chase after the truth in a way that abandons most social etiquette and tradition. Two ramifications of this are that we tend to be very blunt and essentially do not feel peer pressure. Also, we tend to be the smartest person in the room (statistically, this is true, by the way), and we know it. So INTJs often struggle with being arrogant or being perceived as such. However, INTJs also tend to be very aware of their own strengths and weaknesses– this can be a good thing because INTJs are constantly seeking to improve themselves; however, this becomes as issue when an INTJ accepts their bad behavior as simply one of their unavoidable weaknesses.
- Outwardly, INTJs can seem really unpredictable. However, there is always a reason behind what we do. INTJs love to plot and plan for anything and everything– from a remotely possible social situation to world domination. So we can appear very decisive when a problem is presented when, in reality, we have simply prepared for the situation before it occurred. However, we typically don’t articulate our plans to other people, so we seem unpredictable when really we have a reason behind everything we do. To be honest, INTJs really cannot be “random” and do not like the idea of being random.
- INTJs tend to be very smart and can follow logical trains of thought very well. Also INTJs are incredibly imaginative and love to deal in the theoretical and abstract. In general, the INTJ is constantly thinking and seeking to understand the world through a rational, logical process, even if we are aware that it is impossible. Your female INTJ will always be working on some project and be working through some intellectual idea.
- Female INTJs do not think or act like the stereotypical woman (or even like most women in general)
- Most women tend to be more sensitive, emotional, and accepting of their emotions (this is not necessarily a bad thing—INTJ tend not to handle emotions very well). The INTJ woman completely defies this stereotype. I am convinced that all INTJs secretly hate emotions and have at one point wished that we were sociopaths, but we simultaneously understand the need for emotions in our lives and are even grateful for them on the very rare occasion. INTJ female will not show outward emotions—or at least, try her hardest not to– and will avoid any type of emotional situation. She also will make most of her decisions based on logic. To give an example, I recently cut approximately two feet of my hair off so that I had a short bob. When a kid asked why I cut my hair, I answered honestly, “This is more practical.” He did not believe me and insisted that there was some other reason (implying an emotional reason). It took me a while to convince him otherwise, and I pretty sure that he still did not believe me. But the real reason why I cut my hair was simple: short hair is more practical for my activities.
- Most people give into or at least feel peer pressure. However, INTJs honestly feel no peer pressure (don’t envy us too much– we have a whole bunch of other problems that more than make up for this.) For the woman, peer pressure has a lot to do with appearance. Why are essentially all women wearing makeup? Even if they say that they are not wearing it for anyone but themselves, they are still accepting the popular belief that makeup make them look prettier (trust me– no one wears makeup because it feels nice on their skin.) INTJ women honestly don’t care what other women are doing and thinking or what any man think of them. We don’t feel a need to look pretty, and some INTJ women simply don’t try to look nice. However, at the same time, INTJ women understand how useful doing their hair and makeup can be. People like beautiful people, and we understand this. So INTJ females may dress nicely to aid in their interaction with others so that they can accomplish their goals or because they enjoy the power that it gives them.
- INTJs hate trivial talk and activities. Your INTJ is going to hate chatting about the latest fashions, who has what boyfriend now, or “crushes”. Because we are strongly driven by logic, we don’t care about fashion, and we know the pattern of boyfriends (they tend to change with the seasons). Talk to us about radical, interesting ideas: politics, moral theories, the ramifications of scientific ideas, or the human condition. But save our sanity and leave your shoes out of this! Essentially, INTJ females don’t like the standard “girl talk” and dread the phrase. This also applies to activities: anything trivial, we don’t like doing. We will go shopping because it is necessary to live, and we will get it over as quickly as possible. There have been instances when INTJs have been known to neglect necessities if we are really interested in a project (for instance, some INTJ will forget to eat when engrossed in a project.) We secretly hate the monotone, daily rituals that keep us alive– even though we fully understand why we need to do them. That is all shopping is to us: a monotone ritual that keeps food in our mouth and clothes on our body.
- INTJ woman don’t flirt. Maybe, you could convince me that one might for manipulation, but INTJ feel very strongly about being themselves and tend to detest manipulation and lying, though they can be very good at it. But chances are that your INTJ female character will not even be aware when someone is flirting or interesting in her, and more than likely, your character will probably not be interesting in them. INTJ are attracted to intelligence and are highly selective about who they let into their lives—this leaves no room for flirtation.
- Female INTJs are still women
- Women can become very emotion according to hormonal cycles. The INTJ woman is no exception. However, when faced with the same intensity of emotions, we tend to try to distance ourselves from the emotions while analyzing the emotions and the cause. The key is that your INTJ woman will show no one what she is going to—we feel that emotions are very private and messy, and we don’t like sharing them with others. Of course, you can always force your INTJ character to share her emotions, but it would be a huge thing and would probably only happen with one other person (this is a great opportunity for a turning point in an INTJ character arc, but use this very sparingly or you will weaken your character). INTJs tend to understand the cause of our emotions really well since we love analyzing things. However, this really only makes emotions all the more frustrating because emotions are not rational. The emotional INTJ woman feels like an alien has taken over her body.
- Female INTJs are still attracted to men. However, we have a very realistic and logical outlook on romance—though we are simultaneously idealist. (See the trouble? Logical, idealistic romance.) Also, we tend to have very high aspirations and plans—way outside of getting married. So we prioritize those plans and tend not to pursue romantic relationships (until it suddenly happens, I suppose? I have no idea—I am not interested in romance right now. You will have to track down another female INTJ to figure this one out.) The statement can be generally made that INTJs tend to be attracted to other people based on intelligence and not physical beauty. The ideal partner for an INTJ is someone who can keep up with their ideas, has the same passions, and will work with them towards their goals.
Hopefully, this post has given you some idea and tips for writing a female INTJ character. I would love to see some more of them in fiction! Have you spotted the elusive female INTJ, or are you writing one? I would love to hear about it or your opinion on female INTJs in the comments.