The Most Common Misconceptions About Each Enneagram Type, Debunked
Even though the Enneagram tries not to over-generalize its teachings, it's easy for people to pack the type's most relevant traits into stereotypes to better understand and relay the complex system. But by doing that, you can miss out on the nuances that allow you to connect to your number. Below are common assumptions that plague the Enneagram numbers.
Type One Misconception: They are all about rules and work.
Perfectionistic and dutiful Ones sound like they are mainly worker bees who don't make any room for joy and pleasure. That can be true, but only when they're in a low state of health. In reality, Ones can be extremely warm and carefree, especially when they're moving toward their Seven release point, which sparks their innate childlike wonder and spontaneous side.
Type Two Misconception: They are a doormat and can be walked over.
Helpful Twos have a reputation for being modest, selfless, and accommodating. They should also be more widely known for being the type that best exemplifies the "iron fist in a velvet glove" saying. When they're not self-aware, they can give with strings attached in the hopes that someone will take care of their needs. Twos may seem like they're all about love and peace, but they're much more formidable than they appear.
Type Three Misconception: They are inauthentic and lack depth.
Achieving Threes are seen as the CEOs, presidents, and entrepreneurs of the world. Their ambitious nature dovetails neatly with contemporary Western culture, which only furthers to prop up their winning persona. The cost is that Threes overidentify with their false self and, subsequently, lose contact with their real self, making it hard for them to be authentic. Threes can be accused of being an automaton or emotionally unavailable, but it's not out of malice. After doing away with their feelings for so long, they can forget how to feel it.
Type Four Misconception: They are unreliable and can't be counted on.
Creative Fours are independent and free-spirited at heart. Since their identity is generally composed of their feelings, they are driven by what feels right in the moment, which can leave a trail of half-finished projects in their wake. However, when they pull from their One release line, they can integrate discipline and immense dedication to accomplishing whatever they put their mind to.
Type Five Misconception: They are awkward and not very social.
Inquisitive and analytical Fives can get a bad rap for their slightly removed nature, but they can be extraordinarily warm and attuned to people when their boundaries and need for alone time are respected. Fives are genuinely excited to talk about what they know and would be happy to share their passions and interests to curious audiences. Their energy reserves may deplete quicker than most, but they can still engage intimately with others and have a complex and rich emotional life.
Type Six Misconception: They are mainly anxious and scared.
Security-driven Sixes can be confusing to type since their type is literally marked with contradiction. But even though they can be anxious and fearful, counterphobic Sixes can appear fearlessly brave when it really matters. They can turn away from their anxiety and toward courage when they're fighting for a cause or something they really care about.
Type Seven Misconception: They don't commit long enough to finish something.
Adventurous and vivacious Sevens are the Enneagram type most likely to jump into a new situation without being self-conscious. They have a quick, sharp mind making them multifaceted individuals with many skills. The problem is sitting with their talents long enough to conquer mastery. But when Sevens access the disciplined work ethic of their One stretch line and the penetrating focus of their Five release line, they can find great achievement.
Type Eight Misconception: They are angry and intense.
Powerhouse Eights are pegged as the angry, aggressive type, but that's not always necessarily true. Their resting energy level is naturally fierce. They have no problem being assertive and aren't afraid of confrontation, but that side isn't fully representative of their character. Since Eights share a Two line, they can be extremely gentle, nurturing, and sensitive to their loved ones. They also have a soft spot for the underdog.
Type Nine Misconception: They are too easy-going to get mad.
Self-effacing Nines have an inner yearning to express their anger and indignation to others, but those desires can be mainly unconscious since they take great lengths to keep their environment peaceful. Nines have a tendency to merge with people, so they feel a strong compulsion to stay connected. This can look like going with the flow and getting caught up in what others want them to do. However, this strategy doesn't work for long, and Nines can be forced into conflict when they finally speak up and stand up for what they really want.
Julie Nguyen is a writer, certified relationship coach, Enneagram educator, and former matchmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. She has a degree in Communication and Public Relations from Purdue University. She previously worked as a matchmaker at LastFirst Matchmaking and the Modern Love Club, and she is currently training with the Family Constellations and Somatic Healing Institute in trauma-informed facilitation.