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The Idealist Soulmate 229

seclusive and friendly Protectors (ISFJs) enjoy preparing a quiet place for
the high-rolling entrepreneur to crash.
Supervisors and Composers might well be mates of choice. Running
the establishment, keeping it steady, within the rules, on schedule, that's
what's enjoyable and satisfying to the expressive and tough-minded Super-
visors (ESTJs). And while they might hope to instill in the impetuous,
bohemian Composers some of their own respect for tradition, they might
also find in the reserved and friendly ISFP a mate who can help them
forget the great responsibilities they manage to accumulate.
Inspectors and Performers are likely to be most compatible. Here is
the seclusive and tough-minded Inspector (ISTJ), the model of trustworthi-
ness, thoroughness, and legitimacy, wanting to bring some accountability
to the Performer, while at the same time enjoying the outgoing and friendly
ESFP's vivacity and sparkle. How many times have novelists and playwrights
told the story of the "banker and the showgirl"?
However, if the Guardians' greatest chance for happiness comes with
Artisan mates, so does their greatest temptation to start up Pygmalion
Projects. Guardians take their family responsibilities seriously, just as they
take all of their responsibilities seriously, and when married to an impulsive,
unruly, devil-may-care Artisan, they see their duty quite clearly. SJs believe
in following the rules, in nourishing traditions, and in respecting order,
and they regard their efforts to reform their SP mates in the SJ image as a
necessary and a worthy, even a loving, attempt to make them over into
better human beings. Nor will Guardians give up on their Pygmalion Projects
when their Artisan mates get into trouble with excessive drinking, gambling,
philandering, and the like. Even in these abusive relationships, SJs are
extremely loyal and feel obliged to stand by their SP spouses and help
them straighten out. As a result, Guardians more than any other type can
be hooked into becoming the rescuer of addictive Artisan spouses.
All told, the Guardians' need to be of service makes them faithful,
steady, reliable mates, just as their hunger for membership makes them
loyal and hard-working supporters of all the established institutions in
their communities. Very simply, Guardians make up the solid, indispensable
foundation of our concrete world-they are truly the pillars who hold up
we do well to value their rock-steady support for
tradItIon and order In our more and more fast-paced, unstable existence.
The Idealist Soulmate
You are the call and I am the answer. You are the wish and I the
fulfillment. You are the night, and I the day. What else? it is perfect
enough. It is perfectly complete. You and I.
-D.H. Lawrence
Idealists approach mating quite differently from the other three temper-
230 Mating
aments. In their own ways the other types tend to be realistic about mating,
which is to say that Artisans, Guardians, and Rationals assume their mates
to be fallible, and they will go along with a good deal of compromise in
making their marriages work. Idealists, on the other hand, are singularly
idealistic about choosing a mate, and most often take up the romantic task
of seeking the perfect mate and the ideal relationship, what they call the
"love of their life" or their "one true love," joined with them in a match
made in heaven and creating a love timeless and eternal. In other words,
NFs are looking for more than life partners in their mates-they want soul
partners, persons with whom they can bond in some special spiritual sense,
sharing their complex inner lives and communicating intimately about
what most concerns them: their feelings and their causes, their romantic
fantasies and their ethical dilemmas, their inner division and their search
for wholeness. Idealists firmly believe in such deep and meaningful rela-
tionships-they will settle for nothing less-and in some cases they try to
create them where they don't exist.
Idealist Courtship
The Idealists' desire that their relationships be deep and meaningful
(that is, intense, enduring, and all-important in their lives) is very much in
evidence in the way they go about dating. NFs do not usually choose to
play the field to any great extent, but prefer to go out with one person at a
time and to explore the potential for special closeness in each relationship.
Never casual or occasional about dating, NFs typically look past surface
relations to more deeply-felt connections, and they lose interest rather
quickly with dates which center around social events and physical activities.
Idealists can enjoy this skin-deep sort of date for a while, of course, but
they usually try to find their own kind of enjoyment as the evening wears
on. At parties, for example, NFs will often look for a quiet corner where
they can talk with their date (or someone else) on a more personal, intimate
level. And at amusement parks or sporting events, Idealists will eventually
separate themselves mentally from the rides, the sights, and the action, and
begin to observe the people around them, wondering about their personalities
and fantasizing about their personal lives.
Indeed (and this surprises Artisans and Guardians), Idealists would
usually rather talk with their dates than do things or go places, although
chatting about concrete, literal, or factual things doesn't particularly interest
them either. Idealists want to talk about abstract matters-ideas, insights,
personal philosophies, spiritual beliefs, dreams, goals, family relationships,
altruistic causes, and the like-inwardly-felt topics that break through social
surfaces and connect two people heart-to-heart. NFs love to talk about
movies or novels that have touched them deeply, but they don't want to
describe the plot so much as discuss what the story suggests between the
lines, the aesthetic or moral issues involved, and how the characters' lives
symbolize their own experience or the wider experience of mankind. And
The Idealist Soulmate 231
NFs will talk enthusiastically about art, music, and poetry, particularly
about what a work of art signifies to them. The ability to communicate
comfortably with their dates in this imaginative, meaningful way most
often determines whether or not the Idealist can become serious in a given
Finding the rare person with whom they can share their inner world is
difficult for Idealists, a painful process of trial and error, and often they
vow not to date at all for periods of time rather than go through the search.
For NFs, dating someone means more than physical fun or social experience;
it is an opening of their heart and mind to the other person, in some cases a
baring of their soul, and carries with it both a promise and an expectation
of deep regard and mutual understanding. And because they are offering
so much of themselves to the other, and expecting so much in return, NFs
are highly sensitive to rejection, and can be deeply hurt when spurned by
another, or when having to break off a relationship themselves. The trauma
of breaking up can be so difficult for Idealists that at times they will avoid
getting involved with others for fear of things not working out, or, at the
other extreme, they will remain in a relationship longer than they should
just to put off the soul-hurting scene of rejection.
However, once the special person comes their way (the man or woman
of their dreams), Idealists can be carried away with their feelings, and give
almost all their attention to pursuing the relationship. For the NF, not just
a compatible marriage but an all-consuming, undying passion is in the
offing, and so the courtship becomes the center of his or her world. Just as
the possible rather than the actual lures NFs in other parts of their lives, so
do the possibilities in relationships inspire them, and they see in each new
relationship the potential for bringing them the perfect love that will fulfill
them completely. Idealists have a flair for dramatizing their courtships,
and they spare no effort or flight of imagination to win the heart of their
loved one. Often a story book flavor permeates their courtship behavior,
and NFs are not afraid of using imaginative language, even poetry and
quotations, to give voice to their feelings. NFs can also be romantic when
expressing love through gifts, though they are likely to present the gift in
private, and to select with extraordinary care something with special or
even symbolic meaning-a beloved piece of music, a favorite book of
fiction or poetry, a treasured picture. In a sense, Idealists go about turning
their courtships into works of art, which is not surprising, since one of the
arts at which they are most skilled is that of creating the romantic relationship.
Idealist courtships are marked not only by romantic gestures, but also
by the idealization of the relationship. In the early stages of a romance,
both NF males and females are likely to be blind to flaws in their beloved,
and to believe in the illusion that life together will proceed happily ever
after the details of this happily ever after are rarely explored in
depth). IdealIsts hold dear a compelling though often vague inner-vision of
what their ideal mate will be like, and they tend to project this vision of
232 Mating
perfection into their all-too-human loved ones. Thus, at the slightest sug-
gestion, NFs will see soulfulness and poetic sensitivity in the people they've
fallen in love with-whether or not they are indeed soulful or poetic. At
the same time, NFs believe that everyone has the potential for spiritual
growth, and in many cases they intend to use their love to develop this
latent mystical side of their mates. Needless to say, most human beings
cannot live up to such romantic ideals, nor will they often sit still to have
their spirituality nurtured in such a way. Many Artisans react with good-
natured sarcasm, many Guardians seem impatient with such foolishness,
and the Rational view of this attribution of soulfulness is often skeptical at
best. Idealists who attempt to make their loved ones live up to their ideals
are sooner or later faced with disillusionment in their relationships.
Although many Idealists are reluctant to admit it, such romantic projec-
tion-and such disillusionment-are most often a problem in cases where
there is a strong sexual attraction. Idealists can be deeply divided about
their sexual feelings. On the one hand, they insist that sex must be an
expression of love rather than lust. Even the word 'sex' seems a little
crude to the Idealist; 'love' puts the relationship on a higher plain. But
make no mistake, for all their other-worldliness, NFs are very intimate,
warm, even passionate people who are highly responsive to physical beauty
and sexual attraction-to Paracelsus, remember, they were Nymphs. Now,
the problem for Idealists is that, with their rich fantasy lives, they tend to
idealize physical beauty and to project their own poetic nature into the
object of their sexual attraction. They also tend to romanticize sex as
soulful communion. In other words, NFs tend to fall in love with a dream
of beauty and passion, only to be rather painfully disillusioned by the
flesh-and-blood imperfections which they eventually encounter in their
loved ones. Many NFs are not fully prepared for the moment of truth when
they come to see the imperfect reality of their lovers, and some relationships
are unable to survive the truth. Fortunately, both male and female Idealists
have a capacity for deep affection and caring over and above sexual expres-
sion, and out of this capacity can grow lasting, intimate relationships.
Curiously, it appears that female Idealists are able to sustain the roman-
ticism invested in a relationship longer than male Idealists. Generally speak-
ing, once the physical relationship is consummated, NFs of both genders
feel deeply bonded with their partner and are certain the relationship will
be blessed with eternal bliss. But for the male NF, anticipation can be
more attractive than consummation, and the love which he believes will be
perfect and undying can to seem ordinary and in the
harsh light of everyday reahty. And so, after the phYSIcal SIde of the
relationship has lost its mystery, some male NFs can become disinterested
and hunger after another fantasy, feeling (if only in
inations) to pursue the dream of a larger-than-hfe goddess who ,,:111 satIsfy
all their desires and be wife, mother, and mistress to them. Ideahsts, as do
the other temperaments, want a certain amount of variety and change in
The Idealist Soulmate 233
their lives, but the other temperaments will often seek this through adjustment
of living routines, travel, new social or recreational activities, new fields
of study, and so on. The male Idealist is most vulnerable to seeking variety
through searching out a new person to love, and thus a danger he faces is
that he will move from relationship to relationship, rather than make the
necessary effort to develop the one he has.
The female Idealist does not as often demonstrate this loss of interest;
on the contrary, she is likely to increase her dedication after the physical
relationship is consummated. She becomes more and more devoted, con-
tinuing to romanticize the relationship and to believe in its perfection, to
give small transactions profound significance, to dramatize ordinary inter-
actions with her mate, to be willing (like so many NF fictional characters)
to die for love. She seldom seems disappointed in the sexual act; orgasmic
response on her part can be seen as secondary compared with the more
selfless pleasure of giving herself body and soul to her mate, and she can
satisfy herself by exploring the emotional intimacy of sexual intercourse.
For the male Idealist, restlessness can set in as a result of familiarity,
whereas an indispensable part of the female Idealist's mating identity is
the image of falling in love once and for a lifetime. The fact that this does
not always work out does not seem to negate the possibility of the dream
coming true.
However, in the 1960s and 1970s a striking phenomenon occurred,
perhaps arising from the female Idealist's ability to imagine a more perfect
mating relationship. The group that spearheaded the sexual revolution was
largely made up of female Idealists (particularly the ENFP Champions).
Thus, it was the female Idealists who said "No!" most loudly to the double
sexual (and other) standards in society, and who became most militant in
demanding equal rights in the bedroom. Somehow female Idealists decided
that selfless devotion to their mates was not enough, and that a better,
more satisfactory relationship with men could be actualized. They seemed
willing, in ever growing numbers, to take whatever risks were necessary to
find that better relationship, either in or out of a legal contract. In fact,
more and more the NF females seemed reluctant to tie themselves down to
a traditional legal arrangement, putting off the urging of their housemates,
asking that both wait until she was sure she was doing the right thing.
More and more NF females seemed willing to bear their children outside a
legal marriage and to raise them alone. This is not to say that other types
were not also involved in this liberation movement, but it was the NFs,
along with a small number of NT females, who provided the vanguard of
the Instead of being ready and willing to die for love, these
IdealIst females seemed to be willing to live for the possibility of finding a
more fulfilling way of relating to males.
But, then, most Idealists-sexual revolutionaries or not-regard the
social conventions of marriage as less important, and far less sacred than
their personal commitments. Like the Guardians, Idealists are
234 Mating
about having moral sanction for their actions, but with a difference. While
Guardians tend to put their trust in institutional authority (including church
authority), and thus care a great deal about licenses and wedding ceremonies,
Idealists are apt to follow their innermost feelings and personal religious
convictions, and thus will consider themselves married when they're sure
that deep bonding has taken place with their mates, and when private
words of devotion have been exchanged. For many NFs the arrangements
and formalities of wedding ceremonies can seem a needless burden, when
the mating of souls and the personal vows are the important things. Reserved
NFs, in particular, are often embarrassed to express their private feelings
in public, and can become quite flustered at the altar, the meaningfulness
of their vows so overwhelming them emotionally that they seem lost in a
blur during the ceremony, and not able to find themselves again until
alone with their mates afterwards. This is not to say that Idealists will try
to avoid walking down the aisle, but only that they do not always need this
sort of external moral authority to sanctify their relationships. If need be,
NFs will go along quite happily with the wishes of mates (or parents) for
traditional wedding ceremonies, and they will find enormous significance
and holiness in the rituals. Some outgoing NFs will even look forward to
their weddings, though this is likely because they've taken a hand in
creating non-traditional ceremonies, writing their own vows, for instance,
and selecting unconventional readings and music for the occasion.
These Idealists, warm, generous, vivacious, soulful, personally consci-
entious and interpersonally sensitive, are quite attractive to the other tem-
peraments. Artisans feel some kinship with the Idealists' romantic or poetic
sense of life as a work of art, and can feel morally uplifted by the ethical
dimension that NFs bring to their relationships. Guardians, on the other
hand, feel secure with the Idealists' powerful sense of life's moral serious-
ness, and can feel livened up a bit by the enthusiasm and creativity with
which NFs throw themselves into things. However, it is the Rationals who
are most attracted to Idealists, for not only do they share the NFs' abstract,
introspective cast of mind, and thus have someone interesting to talk with,
but they truly admire the NFs' emotional sparkle, their personal warmth,
and their insight into people-traits that the phlegmatic NTs often note are
poorly developed in themselves.
Idealist Married Life
Whatever the mix of personalities in their marriages, however, both
male and female Idealists are likely to be a source of continuing love,
support, and understanding to their spouses. In the affective areas Idealists
are without equal, bringing to their marriages an extraordinary sensitivity
to the moods and feelings of their mates, and an unsurpassed ability to
communicate emotionally. Both NF females and males seem to have their
antennae always alert to what others are feeling, especially when this
involves hurt and conflict, and they characteristically respond to their