Why INTJs Don’t Respond Well to Teasing

Good news, everyone!

So, originally, this blog was about why INTJs don’t get jokes, which I’m sure raises a few eyebrows amongst you. Now, true, there are times when INTJs miss a joke, but most people who know them would say that they can be an entertaining sort. (Their sarcasm is unparalleled.) But, since I had most of a blog written that was about why INTJs don’t get jokes, I’m not about to waste it. So, what did I do?

Well, while I was writing under the initial premise, most of my points were written about certain jokes not being funny because I was butt hurt over them. I realized that putting out such a piece would either make me look like a wimp or misrepresent INTJs worldwide. INTJs are not wimps, but one of my original points related to hazing, which is a form of teasing, and INTJs are not fond of it. But, why? Why do INTJs not respond well to teasing? Well, here are a few answers for you.

1. Who Do You Think Are?!

The first, and biggest, reason why INTJs generally don’t respond well to teasing is because we’re not close enough to the teaser. Look, INTJs can be teased, and we will tease back—we can even counter-tease if we know someone well-enough—but generally, INTJs recoil, deadpan, death stare, or threaten when they’re teased. This is usually because the teaser is not close enough to us to get away with that sort of behavior. The relationship just isn’t there or doesn’t support it.

INTJs only allow those closest to them to tease them, or those who suck at it and are easily countered. Some may say this is egotistical, but INTJs would say to tease someone who doesn’t want it crosses their boundaries and is therefore harassment, which is disrespectful. And as we all know, INTJs are very big on respect. To not show them some level of respect when they’re not bothering you is a huge no-no, and if you’re not close to them, then you may never get close to them after pulling this stunt.

2. That’s Not What Happened

Another reason why INTJs may not respond well to teasing is because the particular matter on which they are being teased is not based in fact. True, some jokes are ridiculous and absurd, but in order for teasing to be at its most effective, it has to be based on some kernel of truth.

For instance, one time I went to my friend’s gun club and tried trap shooting. I was the only one on the line and the instructions were easy enough. Say “Pull!” and shoot the disc. Well, after a while, all the discs started coming out of the machine pre-broken, which makes for poor shooting. An investigation was performed and it was revealed that the throwing machine did indeed need repairs. Following this incident, my friend started teasing me that I had broken the machine. I may have laughed the first time, but every time after that, the joke became exponentially less funny. Sure, I was the last one to use it, but I never touched the machine—not even during the investigation—so there’s no way I could have actually broken it. This is a case where the joke was not based in fact, and as a result, became annoying after its first telling. 

3. You’re Not Wrong

Friends tease each other—it’s something that happens. Although, it’s usually meant to take the piss out of them and not done to remind them of any of their actual problems or insecurities. Those who say something that comes too close to comfort is usually rewarded with a deadpan expression or even a furrowed brow.

One time, I was with a female friend of mine who mentioned that I was single and made a joke as to why I was single. I don’t remember what the reason was, but I do remember not reacting, which disappointed her. She admitted to trying to rile me up, but it seemed I took the joke completely in stride. That’s not actually what happened. I was simply not riled up because her comment was accurate—she wasn’t wrong. I was single for that reason. The tease was too close to the truth, and because INTJs value truth, I had no justification in getting riled up either way for any reason. So, I didn’t.

4. If You’re So Smart, Let’s See You Do It

One of the most amazing things about INTJs is that they seem to have an endless supply of secret talents. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors of an INTJ suddenly busting out some incredible dancing skills or the like when that sort of thing doesn’t seem like their thing. Are they naturally talented or a savant? It’s possible as INTJs do have incredible talents for mimicry and can nearly duplicate any motion or movement they’ve only ever seen once. But, in this case, that’s not what’s happening. What happened here is that no one knew the INTJ could dance because the INTJ never mentioned they had started dancing or taking lessons. They didn’t let other people see how rubbish they were at it, so they didn’t give a demonstration until they had perfected the skill. INTJs are relentless perfectionists and hate being anything less. So, you can imagine how they might take criticism when they’re trying something new and they are not immediately good at it.

Rewind the clocks back several years and we have a perfect example of this exact occurrence. I was at my uncle’s house for a family get-together. My uncle is a gamer and had a flying combat simulator for the PS2. I had never played the game before and so it took me a while to get used to the controls. One mission saw you flying over a fleet, and a couple of times, I came too close to the aircraft carriers. I came so close in fact that my other uncle felt it humorous to taunt me with “Are you trying to land?” In addition to that, my younger cousin, who was better at the game, taunted me with “Come on, baby” every time I failed or struggled with something.

The reason this sort of teasing bothered me—and why it still bothers me today—is because I was striving to do my best and the jokes, which felt more like ridicule, reminded me of the fact that I wasn’t. Not to mention the complete disregard of the skill I did have despite the little experience I had with the game. I felt that that sort of skill should have been recognized. As it was, my skill was mocked, and I was pissed.

5. Not Interested

The last reason I can think of as to why INTJs don’t respond well to teasing is because they’re just not interested. I hate the stereotype that INTJs are buzz-kills, but it is sort of true. Nothing exciting or interesting ever happens when I’m around, and all my friends seem to have more fun when I’m not. It’s almost as if my presence negates the possibility of fun. But one of those ways people try to have fun is by teasing each other. Sometimes teasing friends, family, or a significant other is fun. INTJs themselves even enjoy teasing others, but often times, they’re not interested in being the butt of a joke. As a result, they’ll just ignore what was said to them or, if they really don’t like the comment in question, they’ll leave.

As for where this bitterness for being the butt of the joke comes from, I think it again has to do with INTJs trying to be perfect. Besides pursuing perfection for the sake of truth and ultimate efficiency, we also pursue it because we want to be above ridicule. As I’ve said in other blogs, INTJs actually don’t like conflict or debate (despite being very good at playing devil’s advocate). Arguments and the like are hugely inefficient and are therefore unnecessary. All that matters is the truth—the ultimate right. And if an INTJ can be right all the time, that’s the preferred state of existence. So, if an INTJ can be perfect, they can’t be ridiculed, only praised. Sure, INTJs are always working to be better than they were, but that doesn’t mean they like the criticism which implies they are currently imperfect. And sure, you can learn a hundred lessons from being wrong and learn nothing from being right, but being right is a reward far greater than those one hundred lessons.

How Does One Tease an INTJ?

So, after going through the list, this then begs the question can INTJs be teased at all? Generally, no. There are a few people who can, but if you’re not a part of our innermost circle, we won’t want you to tease us. Whether that makes us egotistical, sensitive, or controlling, we don’t really care. You’re allowed to think whatever you want, and INTJs are strong enough to exist without you. However, if you just can’t help yourself, well, then, heed what I said above. And if you don’t, then I guess you won’t have INTJs in your life for very long.

But, what do the other INTJs out there think? I am just one man, so I could be wrong, and it may only be me who can’t take a joke. Other INTJs out in the world, sound off in the comments please.

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5 thoughts on “Why INTJs Don’t Respond Well to Teasing

  1. Sou INTJ e todos os pontos da lista batem com a minha reação às provocações. Uma boa parte não expresso, mas pode ter certeza, por dentro eu rebati, mas para evitar conflito desnecessário, ou fico calada ou simplesmente vou embora. Atualmente, só tenho uma amiga realmente próxima, os demais são colegas.

  2. To be fair, most people aren’t that funny. Oftentimes people laugh at jokes because they value their relationship with the jokester, don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, etc.

    Also, a lot of mean-spirited jokes aren’t really jokes – they’re delivery mechanisms for a truth someone would rather deliver / test out with the benefit of plausible deniability. In those cases, one’s instinct may be to kill the joke in an effort to invalidate it, but that often doesn’t lead to best social outcomes. If you can laugh it off, play into it, or better yet, turn the joke back around on the person, you short circuit any insult *and* come out looking more socially attractive.

    A scientist working on the Manhattan project famously teased Albert Einstein for being a slob, saying “A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.” Einstein joked, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?”

    1. Yes, I can see that. Although, if memory serves, this blog was difficult to write as I wasn’t exactly sure how to explain the issue I was having. I’m still not sure if I know how to explain it. I may still be unpacking my feelings about these jokes, or maybe I just can’t get on board with things that generally fly in the face of rationality. Absurdist humor can be funny, but absurdist teasing, especially when there’s no precedent set for the joke, often falls flat with me because there’s no logic to the joke or previous set up.

  3. That’s fair, I understand. I also take my time refining different ideas or concepts, and it can be especially hard when navigating emotion. You’re far braver than I in allowing that process to be public, but thank you – it’s fascinating to see your thoughts evolve over time. Funny enough, Einstein also said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” 😉

    One thing I don’t think you considered in this post was complimentary teasing, such as Chuck-Norris-style jokes (i.e., “Brian’s muscles have muscles”). For example, I maintain an ongoing joke with a coworker about how stealthy I am. I accidentally snuck up on him once, and ever since he teases me about being a ghost, ninja, etc. every time I see him. I don’t mind being cast as some supernatural badass, so it feels fun and not disrespectful.

    I think this distinction is significant because every example you’ve given above is a joke that diminishes instead of elevates. Even if your friend joking about you breaking the trap machine was relatively harmless, it implies some sort of wrongdoing on your part and could potentially be taken seriously by someone else missing the proper context. As I was saying before, a lot of people aren’t great at telling jokes or teasing, but they manage to take it in stride. My guess is that INTJs struggle with “negative” teasing because it runs directly counter to what they need out of a relationship. From what I’ve seen, INTJs put an incredible amount of time and effort into competency and self-sufficiency, but they don’t receive much recognition or consideration outside of the workplace. Skills don’t directly translate to social currency, so they struggle to find acceptance in many cases. If a friend or acquaintance then teases them, it is likely to make them feel misunderstood because the person is either undermining a core part of their identity (Fi) or ostracizing them for some perceived slight to the group (Se). I suspect if those concerns were emotionally addressed, teasing would no longer be an issue.

    1. That third paragraph is incredibly insightful, and I think it does touch on some of my conflicted feelings. Sure, I can understand that my friend is telling a joke, but I’m still negatively impacted by it. Why? Because I didn’t actually do anything to cause the breakage of the trap machine, so it does reflect poorly on me despite me not having done anything wrong. Being recognized for what I do, and what I do well, does mean a lot to me. So, any sort of criticism, especially unfair criticism, does irk the hell out of me. Like, my coworker criticizes the way I do some things because he thinks I don’t think through the process because I don’t do it as efficiently as he does it. He forgets though that he’s been doing the job nearly 10 years. Add to that, I’m not exactly fond of certain aspects of the job, so if there’s no rush to get something done, I prefer to work at my pace. His criticisms are especially bothersome because I am constantly thinking about what I’m doing–I just don’t always arrive at the best way to do something the first time or I arrive at a different conclusion than him. Anyway…

      Your last insight into how skills doesn’t translate into social currency and finding acceptance in the social world and how that undermines our identity and ostracizes us is spot on. It is a great source of frustration for me.

      As for your point on teasing that elevates, I’m not sure that would work for me. I can’t speak for all INTJs on this, but the reason why it wouldn’t work for me is because it would depend on the context of the elevating joke. If a friend dubbed me a ghost or ninja because I was able to sneak up on him, the only way I may like future teasing about that is if I intended to sneak up on him. If it was pure coincidental, then I wouldn’t be as receptive to it. If anything, I might turn the joke on him and say he needs to pay more attention to his surroundings.

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