What’s It Like To Be A Thinking Woman?

The PEOPLE Process Type Wheel

What’s it like when the world expects you to be one way, and you’re just the opposite?

What’s it like to often surprise people, or shock them? What’s it like to be a Thinking woman?

Growing up, you identify with boys and men.
Do you know a little girl who pals around with a gang of boys? She’s probably a T. Many T women said that when they were young, they played with the boys. “I was considered one of the guys,” says Julie, ESTJ. And the guys were the ones I did heavy-duty sharing with, not as feelings, but more as “What do you think about such and such?”

Even if they didn’t play with boys, Thinking girls usually enjoyed imagining themselves in the positions of men. “Even when I played with the girls, I gave myself the role of the father or the doctor,” says Madeline, INTP. And because they identified so strongly with the masculine role, their fathers were especially important figures in their lives. “It was pretty clear that the people who were out there using their T were men,” says Jean, INTP. “I valued my father’s role much more than my mothers.”

You don’t identify with girls and women.
“I never got along with my sister, who was sweet, lovable, and innocent – mama’s pet,” says Julie, ESTJ. “I teased the hell out of her and we fought all the time.”

Thinking girls, like Thinking boys, prefer competitive play and learning about how things work. But Thinking girls, unlike Thinking boys, often find themselves in the company of Feeling girls, where the talk and the play is non-competitive and concerned with how people work. And they don’t like it.

“I didn’t like “girl talk” about movie stars and periods,” says Jan, ISTP. “And even “women’s talk” struck me as strange. I’d listen to my mother and aunts talk about how they dealt with problems with their husbands and families and I’d think, “That’s so dumb, why would you do it that way?”

“I thought the girls were kind of flitty,” says Julie, ESTJ. “When people tell me things, I take it as a truth, but things were always changing with them, and I’d realize that they were talking about one of their feelings rather than a fact.”

You get criticized for being tactless and hard-hearted.
“Thinking is wonderful for work and study, for power and achievement,” says Madeline, INTP. “But for any kind of affiliation, it’s not always helpful. I frequently got into trouble for putting truth over tact.”

“I gave riding lessons when I was young,” says Jan, ISTP. “Once, one of the girls in my class asked me for help getting her stirrup fixed, and I told her to do it herself because I really wanted her to learn. “Don’t you think you were kind of hard on her?” a friend said to me later. Now my son is taking violin lessons from an ISTP woman. I’m real satisfied with her, but I had to laugh when one of the other mothers said she dropped her because “she was just mean!”

When a boy is tactless, parents can comfort themselves with “Well, what do you expect from a boy?” When a girl is tactless, there is no such comfort. Thinking girls are likely to feel the full brunt of their parents’ embarrassment at their remarks, or their parents’ hurt if the criticism is directed at them. Fortunately, most T girls have pretty strong defenses against people’s opinions of them.

Thinking girls tend to concern themselves about people’s feelings in their adulthood, when they can see a good reason to do so.

You don’t date much in adolescence.
Thinking girls may not be popular with the opposite sex in the early dating years. The boys are unsure of themselves at that time and look for girls who will make them feel manly. Thinking girls, even when they are very good-looking and interested in dating, give boys the impression that they are going to be judged on their abilities and intelligence. Thinking girls usually have to wait until boys have more confidence in themselves to get asked out.

“I tended to intimidate the boys in high school,” says Janice, ESTP. “Some of them told me later that they had been afraid to ask me out because I seemed aloof, like I thought I was too good for them.”

If they wanted to date in high school, Thinking girls usually hid their Thinking side. “I never talked about anything intellectual when I was dating,” says Kim, ENTJ. “I let the boys talk about themselves. I just needed to be loved and I liked the feeling of someone holding me.”

You can feel right at home with a T husband.
Marrying a Thinking man can be very liberating for a Thinking woman. In her own home, at least, she doesn’t have to feel like an oddball. But it can be good for her spouse, as well. Ruth Sherman did a study of 167 couples in 1981 and found that Thinking men living with Thinking women reported fewer problems in their marriages, and Feeling women living with Feeling men reported fewer problems.

“In my senior year, I met someone I really liked and I’ve been with him ever since,” says Julie, ESTJ. “He was an ISTJ, and he allowed me to be me. He liked my thought patterns and I heard him when he talked.”

“There are only certain men that can get along with me,” says Kim, ENTJ. “My husband (also a T) is one of them. He’s never intimidated by me and we have some terrific sparring on an intellectual level. Sometimes the two of us come home and think “Are we the only people in the world who are sane?”

But even with a Thinking man, there is still the possibility that the T woman may become so engaged in a career that her husband feels that he is secondary, and although women are prepared to feel that way in a marriage, men are not.

But you can learn a lot from an F husband.
Thinking women and Feeling men have the same conflicts as Ts and Fs everywhere. “I’m married to an INFJ,” says Karen, ENTP, “and we have problems helping each other when we’re down. When I’m down, he tries to tell me nice things to make me feel better about myself, like “You’re sweet.” I don’t want to hear that. I want him to ask me questions and listen to me until I can figure out how to solve the problem. Then, when he’s down, I try to address his problems when all he really wants is warm assurance that he’s a valuable person.”

Besides the usual problems between Ts and Fs, Thinking women married to Feeling men may have a few more because of the confusion of their roles in the family. No matter how informed we may be about people and their differences, we all still have ideas of what our spouses “should” do for us.

“I get very resentful when he won’t be assertive,” says Karen, ENTP. “There are times when we reverse roles,” says Sue, ISTJ. “For example, when we moved, my husband panicked and wanted to call an electrician in to hang the light fixtures. But I got out the ladder and the tools and put them all on with dimmers. I know our role reversals would bother me more if I didn’t know type.”

There are many times when Thinking women married to Feeling men think they are both better off because of the way they balance each other. “I’m very career oriented,” says Dawn, INTJ, “and I think that if I were married to a T we’d be like two ships passing in the night. But my ESFP husband keeps calling me back to our relationship. For my psychological health, I know I need relatedness, so I welcome his demands.”

You tend to compare yourself to Fs in motherhood.
Thinking women have an edge in motherhood about half the time, because about half the time children need an adult who can detach themselves from the emotions of the moment and look at things objectively.

“I really like the kind of mother I am,” says Jan, ISTP. “I talk to the children in a respectful way. I’m fair, honest, and consistent about enforcing the rules. I can help them analyze their problems and see the consequences of what they do. If I went down a list of what makes a good parent, I could check most of them.”

“Listening has always been my strong point as a mother,” says Lucille, ENTP. “I made a point to drop what I was doing and listen when my children needed to talk. I was good at helping them analyze their problems, and view them in a more positive light. And when they would get angry at me, I wouldn’t get angry back. I could stay calm and give them an opportunity to explain why they were upset.”

Even though Thinking and Feeling women have the same amount of natural talents for motherhood, nowhere is the temptation to compare yourself to Feeling women stronger than in the role of mother. Probably the biggest problem for Thinking mothers who work outside the home is the temptation to give so much to their careers that there isn’t enough left for their personal life. Finding a balance between work and family is especially tricky for them.

You find the greatest satisfaction in the work world.
In her work, the Thinking woman can point to actual products that she has created, to objective evidence of her skills. She can attach a dollar amount to her value. In fact, in an article published in volume 13 of The Journal of Psychological Type, on type and gender, Jean Stokes points out that without such healthy outlets for Thinking, it can become “nagging, nit-picking, critical in extreme.”

“It wasn’t until my children were grown and I entered the business world that I really discovered my strength,” says Lucille, ENTP. “I could finally let go and be analytical and objective and not always have to be thinking “Will this offend someone?”

“There’s no question in my mind that it’s more difficult to be a woman, even a Thinking woman, in the work world,: says Madeline, INTP. “There’s an assumption that a woman is emotional, unreliable, fuzzy-thinking.”

And in maturity, you realize you didn’t get such a bad deal.
In maturity, we hope that people will come to accept themselves for what they are. “I’ve become more comfortable about being a T woman since I’ve been able to put a name on it and recognize that I’m a minority,” says Virginia, INTJ.

In maturity, we hope that people will have increased understanding and tolerance of the people who are different from them. “I’ve come full circle with Feeling women and feel a sisterhood with them now,” says Jan, ISTP. “I can understand and value the way they make decisions when I used to think they were dumb.”

In maturity, we hope that people will begin to develop the sides of their personalities that they didn’t develop in youth. In maturity, we hope that people will pass on what they have learned to the young, and by their example make it easier for the next generation.

In maturity, we hope that people will bring peace to some of the wars within themselves. In the case of Thinking women, that they will be able to see that perhaps they have had richer lives because they were “different.”

 

 

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