Getting to Know You, Getting to Know Someone Like (or Different From) You

October 2011. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

It is interesting being in your 60s and suddenly finding yourself single and potentially in the dating world. So yes, that is me and this is my story, so far.

Exactly how does one enter into that world? With caution in my case as an ESTJ.

An NT friend has offered any number of books and strategies on the process. The stages of dating she described were most interesting, but rather X-rated, so I'll skip that description here. She has a quarterly dinner with friends in which they compare dating stories (I'm not sure about the X-rated parts) and whoever is voted as having the worst one, gets dinner bought by the others.

An SF friend has a group of friends who get together once a month, edit each other's dating website profiles, offer each other advice on who to date (often based on personal experience – he wasn't for me, but I think you'll like him), and encourage one another. The movie, "Must Love Dogs" sticks in my memory of how those profiles work – very entertaining and amusing.

A time-honored technique is the one where friends using their NF sides imagine various combinations of their single friends and introduce you. That was the one I used; since I had heard about him for years, I thought he might be a good, safe start.

And how does the Myers-Briggs® instrument fit into all of this, you ask? Of course, it plays a role since I would need to know his type. He admitted that when a friend asked him if he were dating, his reply was, "Yes, and she had me take a psychological test after the first date!" Okay, so the MBTI® instrument is not a test, but to those new to it and new to dating after decades, it feels like one. And it's true, I did send him my on-line testing link right away.

Of course, it has been enormously useful. I'm ESTJ and he's ENFP. We joke often about my desire to plan and his desire to go with the flow, but realize that with busy schedules we need some planning. Since he's a lawyer and I'm a psychologist, we've both had to develop S-N and T-F to a degree, which does help. I still take things more literally than he does, however. For example, one day he remarked that on his morning run around a lake, he thought of how nice it would be to share it with me. My response was that I hate running, so I'm glad he didn't. Of course, you just saw some T-F differences creeping in there too.

As a practical person, I've also hit upon another technique to checking out a date. It does mean attending "The Great Minnesota Get-Together," aka, the Minnesota State Fair, or a similar event in your community. There are lots of political booths at these kinds of events asking your opinions on any number of hot political issues. Just fill those out side by side and you'll learn a lot. (Whew, our politics agree!)

And then there are those quizzes on your favorite things in the State - there we diverged a bit, but that’s okay. Having different favorite state parks is not a deal breaker in my opinion.

And he showed me his feminist leanings when he picked the Minnesota Lynx as his favorite sports team "because it's the only professional women's team listed!"

It also didn't really matter to me that when taking quizzes on our knowledge of cows (yes, we are an agricultural state with lots of animal displays at the fair), he bested me. This process showed me how cooperative he was as well as how his logical mind worked - important characteristics for me to see.

I bet some of you reading this have your own stories and techniques. I'd love to hear them and how type fits in.