A reader asks “What do you think about a (F) 4 and a (M) 5 in relationship?”

It is not the best use of the Enneagram or any model of personality to use it as a predictor. However the Enneagram can be a resource to understand a particular dynamic that may be currently influencing the interaction between two people or that might potentially influence their relationship. Don Riso and Russ Hudson talk about Levels of Development for each type. All types can be in relationship with any other type. The biggest influencer is the health of an individual. Health in this sense has to do with what level of development the person “hangs out in” the most – how aware they are about the impact they are making on others, how mindful they are in the present and how much they take responsibility for their actions. Anyone addicted to the hero, villain or victim role can prove toxic to any relationship.

Most of the time people don’t drive out the Enneagram in their everyday conversations about how they are getting along. When something does arise that interrupts the connection or natural flow between two people, the Enneagram shines a bright light on what is in play and can show a way to shift the energy of what is happening.

Both Four and Five are withdrawing types, so they can be caught up in their own interior world. For the Five that world is one of intellectual abstraction. The Five pulls back from the impingement of emotional entanglement to observe and gather information. The Four is all about understanding the territory of the heart and the subtleties of emotional tonality. The trick is to find the way into each others world. The Four will need to give space for the Five and modify their considerable demand for attention. Consider the alternative – the more the Four demands a “connection” the further the Five retreats to protect their need for the safety of emotional detachment.

The Five can benefit hugely from understanding the world of feelings and learning to recognize and stay with their own feelings. While Fours and Fives are on the opposite poles of emotional connection, they have the most to learn from each other. This pairing can go either way ending with both parties contracting further into their own interior realm or meeting in the middle and consequently balancing out their own tendencies.

For more information see Helen Palmer’s “The Enneagram in Love and Work”. Riso and Hudson have a rich on-line resource for members.

As a final comment – my aunt once gave me a life lesson for which I am grateful. She questioned me about the word “relationship”. She said that it was LOVE that mattered. That shifts the conversation and the kinds of things that matter, where you focus your attention and what you are willing to do to nurture the love.

Category: Other Assessments / Relationships
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