Back to Harmony: Resolving Relationship Conflicts with Thinking Personality Types

Kyle’s avatar

Thinking and Feeling personality types are often discussed as being rational vs. emotional, but I think that’s a risky, inaccurate oversimplification. Rationality and emotionality are part of all personalities. Yet it’s a solid point that, broadly speaking, Thinking and Feeling types tend to be attuned to different aspects of perception, expression, and communication.

Nowhere is that more obvious than in a romantic relationship, especially when couples get upset with each other. Here, we’ll explore how Thinking types are likely to approach relationship conflicts – and some helpful ways to get back to harmony with the Thinking partner you care about.

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The Thinking Personality’s Reaction to a Spat

Thinking personality types can be emotional, retreating into hurt silence, lashing out in anger, nursing a grudge, or displaying other behaviors in response to a fight with a loved one. But that said, they’re more likely than Feeling types to try to distance themselves from their emotions during such moments. They may have varying degrees of success, but it’s a prime goal, and it can show – you may expect them to pick up on emotional cues that they don’t or to express things that they won’t.

If you’re in love with a Thinking type, their somewhat arm’s-length approach to emotion can make it seem as if they’re devaluing your feelings – or their own. Their emotional reserve may come off as uncaring, but it may just be their processing method as they try to sort through confusion, stabilize themselves, and search for a positive solution. They often need to fit things together in a logical way before they can let go of negativity and be open to warmth and intimacy.

Communicating with Thinking Personalities

It’s important to be honest, and you have a right to tell your Thinking partner how you feel. But when you also expect (or demand) that they show a particular response to you, it may make resolution and healing more difficult. You might just end up pressuring them to fake emotionality, which can make them feel alienated. But if you encourage and accept their natural way of communicating, you’ll get to the true heart of the matter.

Thinking personality types may seem to focus more on the details of what was said or done than on underlying feelings or meanings, but they’re not necessarily trying to be avoidant. They genuinely value surface facts as having great meaning, but you can still spot subtler things underneath. Argumentative responses may be driven by basic feelings like insecurity, confusion, or hurt – and defensiveness may even signal remorse that they aren’t sure how to express.

Finding a Path Forward with Thinking Personalities

One way to start resolving conflict with a Thinking type is to distill the situation down to basic facts, lay them all out, and invite your partner to participate in finding a solution. That speaks to their sense of logic. Chances are both of you want to work things out, and that almost always means taking some time to process your feelings – partly by talking together and partly in your own minds.

During that process, Thinking personalities are more likely to make progress if they don’t feel assaulted by emotion – either their own or someone else’s. If they’re allowed to face and resolve issues in their own way, they will. You can make your needs and expectations known and then see what they come up with – their actions will speak volumes, even if they don’t always seem very emotionally engaged.

Love in All Its Forms

A fight between romantic partners can take many forms, but the motivations and needs that cause it tend to be basic – as are the things that can bring about resolution. Everyone wants to be valued, respected, and loved. Offering each other patience, understanding, and forgiveness is an important part of healing from disagreements, but the most powerful thing of all may be making each other feel loved.

Thinking personality types, however, may not seem fiery and passionate, or even warm and cuddly. Their way of expressing love may be more literal and verbal, or they might show it through acts of practical service. Getting back to harmony with a Thinking type doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for the form of love you want, but it may require that you also learn to appreciate love in the forms they’re most able to offer.

Final Thoughts

Resolving a relationship conflict is almost always about resolving an emotional conflict – problems are easier to solve when you’re not so upset with each other. That requires being willing to acknowledge, respect, and process feelings on both sides, and as a Thinking personality, I can attest to the value of that.

To develop better emotional communication with the Thinking partner you love, offer them a clear and easy path to be open with their feelings, and reward them for doing so. I promise you that it will make it easier to navigate and solve any relationship problems you have together, in a way that respects both your personalities.

Further Reading