Functional Pairs

The Shadow Relationship

Shadow relationships are really different because they’re not so much bonded to each other as they overshadow each other. This happens to such an extent that the less dominant party in the relationship becomes practically invisible to the person who identifies with the more dominant one.

Shadow Relationships

E. Feeling: “How can I create social harmony?”


E. Thinking: “How can I get tasks done?”

I. Feeling: “How can I maintain personal authenticity?”


I. Thinking: “How do things really work?”

E. Intuition: “What are the possibilities?”


E. Sensing: “What is happening now?”

I. Sensing: “What is the precedent?”


I. Intuition: “What is the deeper meaning?”


  1. Feeling versus logic are very different in that logic is impersonal, critical, and mechanistic whereas feeling is personal, empathetic, and references emotions.
    However, the Extraverted Feeling and Extraverted Thinking both focus on the external world, breadth of application, standards & rules, organizing, getting things done, verbal expression, and quicker implementation over accuracy.  They have a lot in common!
  2. Introverted Feeling and Introverted Thinking are both in-depth, analytical, subjective, iterative, improvisational, and tend to value accuracy over implementation. They also tend to be slower in arriving at decisions than extraverted deciding functions. So, again, we have two deciding functions that are highly similar, but one uses impersonal logic whereas the other uses feeling.
  3. Intuition and Sensing are very different in that Sensing is concrete, verifiable, and experiential whereas Intuition is pattern-connecting, theoretical, and conceptual. Extraverted Intuition and Extraverted Sensing both focus on the external world, are divergent, breadth oriented, spontaneous and novelty driven. Introverted Intuition and Introverted Sensing both focus on internal cues, are convergent, and depth-oriented.

It's like the functions in a shadow relationship take up the same processing space. How they process is highly similar even though the qualities of what they’re processing are very different. The dominant function in the shadow relationship almost completely absorbs the capacity to be conscious of the nondominant one. Nevertheless, the nondominant shadow function does exist, even though it is largely hidden from view.    

Sometimes we think of the shadow relationship as one where the shadowy partner is like a house elf that comes in and does all the cleaning when the house owner is asleep or in the other room. If the owner is aware, then they will notice the good work done and find some way to acknowledge the house elf. But if the house elf continues to do its work unnoticed, then a mighty resentment, even hatred, can develop. At this point, the elf will do its best to undermine whatever it is the owner wishes.