Social Issues

5 reasons why everyone needs an ISTJ friend

So I’ve been working on outlining a few heavy and serious posts but I have a migraine today and don’t really feel like writing about what the emphasis on procreative marriage does to Christian theology or how purity culture affected my views of marital sex, so instead I’m doing a Myers-Briggs post!

A word on personality tests like Myers-Briggs: I’m not totally convinced of how accurate these things are, but I have found the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs personally helpful. It was nice to have some parts of myself that I’ve been critical of affirmed in a positive, healing way. Some things are actual problems, and some things are allowed to be personality quirks, and figuring out the difference is a relief.

However, in all the articles I’ve seen float about the web on how awesome ENFJs are (seriously, do ENFJs own the internet, or is that just me?), or how to love your ISFP friend, I’ve never bumped into one on ISTJs. So I’m writing one. Because we’re amazing. Even if we’re supposedly the Stannis Baretheons, Owen Larses, and Severus Snapeses of the world (upside: we’re also the Spocks of the galaxy, so).

1) We’re Extremely Dedicated

One of the more complimentary nicknames for ISTJs is The Duty Fulfiller (less flattering ones, in my opinion, include The Judge and The Inspector). This comes out in a variety of ways, including the fact that we keep our promises, are among the most responsible people you’ll ever meet, and that we are reliable and dependable. But when it comes to our friends, we plain just do not give up. Ever. Once we’ve decided you’re our friend, that’s basically it for us. You’re our friend, and we will cross hell or high water for you. It might take you a while for you to cross that line from “person I don’t totally hate” to “yes take all my kidneys,” but once you do, you’ll never experience loyalty like you will from an ISTJ friend.

2) We’re brutally, terrifyingly honest

How is this a good thing, you wonder? Why would anyone want a “terrifyingly” honest friend? Well, we’re more than just straight-shooters. We don’t do cloak-and-dagger stuff, passive-aggressiveness gives us hives, we don’t leave hints and clues and expect you to just intuit what we’re thinking (the reverse is also true: if you don’t tell us something, we’re guaranteed to have no idea what your problem is). If we have a problem, we’ll either a) know it’s a big enough deal to tell you or b) swallow it and let it go.

The best thing about all of this is that you’ll never be left wondering where you stand with us. There’s no “oh you’re just saying that.” You can trust us to mean what we say. So when we say you’re awesome, we like you, we think you’re smart and pretty and courageous– it’s the Lord’s honest truth. Also our advice is awesome and everyone should take it.

3) We play by the rules

Remember all that talk about being dependable? Well, in friendships, it also means that not only do you have a loyal friend for life, you’ve also got a friend that abides by traditional social codes and mores. We value things like civility, patience, and we definitely do not do things like stab you in the back. Betrayal of any kind is anathema to everything about who we are.

Another upside is that you know we can be trusted to do our best to embody the concept of friend. We take our commitments seriously, and when we say you’re our friend, we do our best to act like it. We defend you to others who are gossiping about you. We’ll bring you chicken soup when you’re sick. If you need to us to drop everything and come right then, we’ll be there in brightest day and blackest night.

4) We see and remember everything

This is the the “sensing” part of ISTJ coming out. And I do really mean everything. Depending on the way our individual brain works, we’ll remember all the addresses of every place you’ve ever lived, all the phone numbers you’ve had, your birthday, your pet’s birthday, your mother’s birthday, the anniversary of [Important Life Event]. We know all your preferences– your coffee order at your favorite coffee shop, your favorite song to listen to when you’re angry, that poem you once mentioned got you through a hard time in your life.

We also keep track of all the wonderful, meaningful, amazing things you’ve ever done or said, and we love you for it.

Also, we know where all the skeletons are in the closet of the person you despise, and we know where the bodies are buried.

My favorite part of remembering everything is that I am a fantastic gift giver. No, seriously. I am the Best Gift-Giver In the Entire World. You exclaim over that adorable hat? We remembered that hat come Christmas. You once mentioned years ago on a whim that you wanted peonies for your wedding centerpieces? Well, if we ever have a reason to buy you flowers, it’ll be peonies.

Obviously, right along with “remembers everything” is “incredibly observant.” We notice you, and we’ve made you important enough to where we pay attention. We have a lot of things flying at us that it can get overwhelming at times, but you– you are the priority, and everything that happens to you matters to us. You can count on us to say “hey, what’s wrong?”

Keep in mind that “observant” and “perceptive” are not the same thing. We’ll notice, we just might know what we’re noticing. We’ll ask, but you’ll have to tell us.

5) We’re the best freaking planners ever

Yes this means that spontaneity isn’t really our scene. Just don’t expect us to be thrilled with anything that involves the words “carefree,” “spur of the moment,” or “carpe diem.” However, give us the time to plan for an event and it will be baller. We are the best researchers, so we will find the cutest little bistro and brunch spot you’ve ever been to. We’ll know about that tiny little hole-in-the-wall shop that has everything you’ve ever wanted inside.

When you’re with us, everything will probably go smoothly. We’ll have obsessed over every single last detail, from making sure the conversation is sparkling to every single last dietary need is met. Everything is done as far in advance as possible, and you’ll be left with nothing but bringing the vegetable tray. We’ll know exactly how much time we’ll need from getting from point A to point B, and we’ll know how to make sure everything gets there. Ever want to take your friends on a road trip? Ask an ISTJ to come with you, and you’ll have every campsite/hotel/hostel/restaurant/gas stop accounted for with six different possible routes.

And we’re introverts– so while we are the Preparedness Royalty, you know you’ll be at the center of our attention. You’re our friend, and we did it for you when we would literally rather die before doing it for anyone else.


Anyway, those are just some of my observations based on various ISTJ profiles and what I’ve personally experienced. ISTJs need all the love we can get on our moisture farms and potions dungeons.

Photo by Bailey Weaver
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  • Kennedy

    Ah, awesome! I wish I had that planning ability. Or the hatred of passive aggressiveness (well, I do hate it, but I have trouble being confrontational). I definitely have found my Myers-Briggs result to be weirdly accurate. I am an INFJ. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing Samantha!

  • notleia

    INTJ, here!

  • Gloria

    I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test several times and I seem to fluctuate between INTJ/ISTJ. So while I’m good at 1, 2 and 3 of your observations, I am horrendous at 4 (I can’t remember things anymore – stupid Meniere’s and PCOS) and somewhat ok at 5 – but I won’t have the 6 alternate routes.

  • Timothy Swanson

    I’m the same as Gloria, on the borderline between INTJ and ISTJ. And yes, I can plan a trip like nobody’s business. Or a dinner. And if you want to add your kids to my five for the day, you bet I’ll take them well in hand. But yes, brutally honest.

    You mention Snape. We borderlines are either Snape or Malfoy. But we all know that quiz was written by a bitter ENFJ. πŸ™‚

  • disqus_uuXdtQA4eh

    hahaha, yes, this is so true! Also, you may enjoy this thread πŸ™‚

  • According to every test I’ve taken, I’m on the line between INTJ and INFJ. As a scientist and a writer…I suppose I’m okay with that. πŸ™‚
    Anyhow, enough about me. I love this article. I now know much more about my ISTJ friends. πŸ™‚

  • I liked my ISTJ friend so much that I married him, and all of these are so true! He remembers every conversation we’ve ever had, buys me the best presents ever, and is one of the most true and loyal souls I’ve ever known. He also planned a killer honeymoon in Scotland for us. I’m an INTJ, so we fully understand the “villainous mastermind” in each other and choose to view those attributes as a good thing.
    I agree with you on these tests being helpful. The more I’ve read about my personality, the more I wish I had understood it at a younger age. So many moments of “holy crap, THAT’S why I’ve always done that thing!” I think that as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to not try to improve as a person, it can be so insightful and freeing.

    • My partner’s an INFJ. We frequently joke that if we manage to have children they’re all going to be super-villains.

      • Beroli


        Somehow, I think Samantha and Handsome’s children* will be an entirely better class of supervillains than that.

        *I know how much you want biological children, Sam, and I hope you can have them, but if you adopted, your children still be very lucky to have both of you for parents.

  • AuntKaylea

    I’m an INTJ. Very High N and very high T. I still consider myself an evangelical; however, I have increasingly felt shamed for how I’m wired within the church – and therefore have not attended a church for a little over a year at this point (catalyst was an incredibly painful experience.)

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing. I’m not exactly sure where I will land, but I am captivated by your thoughtful analysis and have to admit I have been craving more intellectual dialogue about such things for years.

  • Rachel Rose Oginsky

    I’m so glad you highlighted ISTJ!! As a female ISTJ, I’m used to getting the weird looks when I’m unemotionally attached with my life. Love it!