Everything You Need To Know About Being An Enneagram Type 4
Who doesn't love a good personality assessment? The Enneagram is a popular personality system that categorizes people into one of nine types. As for type Fours, these people are the individualists of the Enneagram. Here's everything you should be aware of if you (or someone you know) is a Four.
What to know about type Fours.
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Fours are known as the "individualist," and they desire an ideal world, certified Enneagram practitioner Ryan Lui tells mbg. "Fours see the world like the glass is half-empty—and they want the glass to be full. What they really want in life is for life to be complete."
These people are also very independent and free-spirited at heart, relationship coach and Enneagram educator Julie Nguyen previously wrote for mbg. "Since their identity is generally composed of their feelings," she says, "they are driven by what feels right in the moment, which can leave a trail of half-finished projects in their wake."
- Desires: for life to feel complete, to be unique, beauty
- Fears: being alone or unwanted, being average, their current life being all there is
- Weaknesses: self-centered, envious, dramatic
- Strengths: self-aware, passionate, introspective
Common traits of Fours:
- Authenticity: Not only do Fours value authenticity, individuality, and originality—but they embody it too. Lui notes these people really like feeling unique and want everything in their life to be particularly meaningful and beautiful.
- Emotional: "Fours are emotional characters," Lui says, which can play out in their work and relationships but can also lead to emotions that may be too intense for other people at times. "Fours tend to get swept away in their daydreams and feelings, which can unmoor them from reality and leave them seeking heightened emotional states," Nguyen adds.
- Romantic: These people are romantics in the sense that they're idealists, and they're acutely aware of how good things could be. "The problem with that is if you keep thinking like that, of what can be," Lui says, "you can get into a depressed funk, or general negativity, never being grateful or thankful for what you have or what is."
- Creative: Nguyen says fours are very creative people, who are often artistically inclined. They are introspective and sensitive, which lends to their creative nature, and their intensity only adds to their creative power.
- Self-aware: Fours really know what they want and what they're feeling, which makes them good at expressing themselves, or knowing when they're doing things for the wrong reasons, Lui notes. "At the same time," he adds, "because they know what they want, they tend to be a little more self-centered."
In their careers.
As Lui explains, Fours can be known to start things but not finish them. "They have a lot of ideas, and they get excited," he explains, adding that these creative folks like to be creative in their career, too. They want "to make things better and more beautiful," he adds, so any career that allows them to do that would be a good fit, such as a designer, a writer, or some other artistic profession.
They can find it difficult or unnatural to follow a routine or schedule, and even to be organized. They like a career with variety and spontaneity. Because they can struggle with organization and self-centeredness, careers that can encourage them to work through those limitations can help them find balance, as can working with type Ones and Twos (who are known for organization and selflessness, respectively).
Romantically, Fours have a few things they should keep in mind in terms of their compatibility with other Enneagram types. Firstly, Lui says it's important to remember it always depends on the person's maturity level and personal development. "That being said," he adds, "I think Fours go well with other Fours, plus Nines, Ones, and Twos."
- Other Fours: "Fours want to be special and are good with communication and verbalizing what they want," making them good partners for each other, he adds. Though, long term, their compatibility can depend on their ability to sacrifice and compromise.
- Ones and Twos: Ones and Twos offer balance to the Four in areas they're missing, like organization, determination, and selflessness.
- Nines: "In a Four-Nine partnership," Nguyen says, "Fours bring passion and intensity to the mellow nines." Nines are known to be welcoming and nonjudgmental to all emotions, "which helps the Four feel safe," she adds.
One thing is for sure, according to Nguyen: If you're with a Four, you can expect a self-aware, authentic, expressive partner who is tapped into their feelings. "Partners can find it freeing to be with someone who is so uniquely creative and emotionally aware," she adds.
(Here's more on what you need to know about dating each Enneagram type.)
As Lui notes, Fours are incredibly self-aware. They know what they want and how to express themselves. They're sensitive, and, Nguyen adds, they're also "radically honest and aren't afraid to face their emotions, no matter how uncomfortable or dark the feeling is." These folks epitomize introspection and think very deeply about things.
2. Artistic and creative
"Fours are artistically inclined and bring an original and innovative flair to their personality," Nguyen says. This creative nature adds to their individualistic and unique nature.
In a mature and developed Four, their deep emotions are fully embraced. "They honor the full emotional spectrum," Nguyen says, "and as a result, they have no problem diving into vulnerable topics." However, there are two sides to every coin, which brings us to a Four's weaknesses.
Fours can have a tendency to wallow in their pain when they're not being their best selves. "Since Fours are more at home with grief and suffering, they can begin to overly associate with painful feelings and become convinced they are defective in some way because they feel different," Nguyen explains. They can also have issues with substances, trying to escape reality.
Many Fours have fears around abandonment and rejection, according to Nguyen, so they may be attracted to a push-pull pattern. It's important for them to recognize nothing is wrong with them, Lui says. Nguyen adds, "Since their moods fluctuate often and they can get carried away with their feelings, partners would do best to serve as an anchor to ground them."
Each Enneagram type has a "passion," and a Four's passion is envy. "It's not so much jealousy," Lui explains, "but this constant perspective of seeing their life and the world as missing something." Fours often can't escape the feeling that something is missing, and if they could only have whatever that thing is, it would complete them.
Enneagram 4 wings.
A wing is simply one of the numbers on either side of your type. If your Enneagram type is your dominant worldview or personality, you can think of your Enneagram wing as your "minor" type, which helps you achieve what your primary type wants, according to Lui. For Fours, that's wanting to be original and filling whatever is missing in their life.
Lui also notes in the first half of their life, Fours will lean toward either Three or Five, with both being very different. And usually, people will switch wings during their life to reach their maximum potential.
A Four with a Three wing is going to embody that successful and go-getting attitude known to Threes. Threes are known as "the achievers" of the Enneagram. "They're very ambitious, wanting to be seen, and really going for it and putting themselves out there all the time," Lui says. Having a Three wing helps the Four actually execute all their great ideas and empowers them to take the lead.
A Four with a Five wing "is like a deeper removed artist that thinks, If I retreat and spend more time alone, that will help me achieve what it is I most want," Lui says. Fives are "the observer" of the Enneagram. Where the Three thinks you just have to keep achieving to get what you want, "the Five thinks if you hold all your resources together, don't push yourself too hard, and learn to gain a lot of wisdom, that's how you'll achieve what you want most in life."
The two types of Four wings are very different, but at some point in life, there will likely be a switch, to help the Four to become more well-rounded.
Tips to thrive:
1. Practice gratitude.
Lui recommends focusing on some sort of gratitude practice, whether it be meditation, journaling, or even going for a walk. "Really focus on gratitude and self-assuredness—this idea that I have enough," he says. Because Fours often feel they're not enough, or don't have enough, the first step for them to thrive is to recognize they do have enough, and are enough, just as they are. "We can always improve, and things can be better," Lui adds, "but it's about balancing feeling like you're enough while still growing."
2. Surround yourself with and learn from Ones.
It's important to get the perspective of people who are different from you, no matter your Enneagram type. And in the case of Fours, Ones and Twos are good company to keep. "Look to learn from and lean into Ones," Lui says. They help Fours be more organized and focus on their responsibilities. (According to Nguyen, Fives can also offer a similar effect.) But Ones will really help them with organization, responsibility, and discipline. "When Fours pull from their One release line," Nguyen adds, "they can integrate discipline and immense dedication to accomplishing whatever they put their mind to."
3. Surround yourself with and learn from Twos.
And because Fours can have somewhat of a selfish streak, it's also important for them to embrace the Twos in their life and learn from them as well. "Twos embody empathy, compassion, and sacrifice," Lui notes. So whether it's a romantic partner, or just a good friend, it's really helpful for Fours to "engage with Ones and Twos more frequently, to get that kind of perspective, which they probably don't think about or engage with often."
The bottom line.
No Enneagram type is better or worse than another. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, which play out in each individual depending on how mature they are. For Fours, there's certainly room to be a bit more selfless—and less self-pitying—but ultimately, these are creative, independent, and authentic people who know their own emotions and what they want.