Have you ever been asked, “Which Enneagram Subtype Are You?” In the world of the Enneagram, there are so many nuances that add richness to your understanding of yourself. There are wings, tritypes, and subtypes. It can all feel a little overwhelming! That’s why I’m hoping to explore what the subtypes mean and give some simple, easy-to-understand definitions of how the nine Enneatypes show up within those subtypes.
In the Enneagram, there are three subtypes for every individual Enneatype. These subtypes are called:
A few weeks ago we looked at the Self-Preservation subtypes of every Enneagram type. Today we’re going to explore what it means to be a Social subtype. Some typologists also call the subtypes “Instinctual variants.”
Table of contents
- What Are the Subtypes Anyway?
- The Social Subtype of Every Enneagram Type
- Social 1 Enneagram Type
- Social 2 Enneagram Type
- Social 3 Enneagram Type
- Social 4 Enneagram Type
- Social 5 Enneagram Type
- Social 6 Enneagram Type
- Social 7 Enneagram Type
- Social 8 Enneagram Type
- Social 9 Enneagram Type
- What Are Your Thoughts?
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
What Are the Subtypes Anyway?
The subtypes add extra nuance and specificity to your understanding of your type. They pinpoint the strategies you use to get through life and the types of connections you prioritize. While we have access to all three subtypes, one has more influence than the rest. Just like you have a preferred hand that you naturally go to when you have to do tasks requiring dexterity, you have a preferred subtype that naturally influences you more than the others. Thus some Twos, for example, are called “Social Twos” while others are “Sexual Twos” or “Self-Preservation Twos.”
The Self-Preservation Subtype focuses on physical safety, well-being, comfort, health, and material security. People with a Self-Preservation (SP) subtype spend a great deal of time focusing on conserving material goods, energy, or resources in order to feel secure and safe in the world.
The Social Subtype focuses on the content of relationships and wants to be liked and work with others toward shared goals. People with a social subtype are quick to notice how others respond to them and to prioritize where they stand in a particular group. They are usually well aware of how they appear and what impact they’re having.
The Sexual Subtype focuses on a spark of intense connection with another individual. Sexual subtypes want intense bonds, relationships, and experiences. They seek out interactions and experiences that will make them feel passion and energy. They often look for relationships and friendships that are intense and meaningful; deep and energetic at the same time.
It can take some time to identify which subtype you identify with most. In many ways you’ll relate to all three, but there should be one that has more of an underlying influence in your life than the rest.
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The Social Subtype of Every Enneagram Type
Social 1 Enneagram Type
Enneagram 1 Basic Desire: To have integrity and to be good.
Enneagram 1 Basic Fear: To be corrupt or evil.
The consummate teachers, Social Ones enjoy advocating, instructing, and reforming. They are highly idealistic and are driven by an internal sense of right and wrong. These are the types that organize beach clean-ups, speak up about school reform, or run for political office in order to make a difference and improve the world. They strive to be the perfect example to others by living according to the rules and portraying correct conduct. These Ones tend to be rigid and perfectionistic, even appearing superior if they’re not careful. Even though they are called “Social” Ones, they tend to feel separate from large groups, separating themselves from the crowd because they struggle to find someone they totally relate to. They are more likely to seek out a leadership role in a group than to be a follower. They are typically skilled at arguing; although they can be stubborn, self-righteous, and impossible to convince of a competing point of view.
At healthy levels, this One is ethical, conscientious, organized, generous, discerning, and helpful. At unhealthy levels, this One is extremist, judgmental, and unrealistic in their standards for themselves and/or others.
Key Characteristics of the Social One Enneatype:
- Strives for perfection
- Tends towards idealism
- Has strong opinions and convictions
- Can use their views as armor against the world
- Tend to take things personally
- Lives by example
- Likes having a plan
- Skilled at reasoning
Social 2 Enneagram Type
Basic Fear: To be unloved or unwanted
Basic Desire: To be loved for who they are
Ambitious and friendly, these Twos have an instinct for knowing who the important people are in a room. They are hard workers with a passion for making others feel included and at ease. At the same time, they have an inner yearning for power. They crave social influence and want to feel connected to powerful people. Almost instinctively they know how to read the social sphere and identify who the important people are in the room. They have a competitive streak and are slightly less sensitive to the emotions of others than the Self-Preservation or Sexual Twos. These are the Twos who are more likely to own their own company, work at high levels in an organization, or carry other influential positions. Like the Three Enneatype, they have a passion to stand out and be successful. These Twos get a lot done and are willing to push themselves hard to make an impact. However, their end goals tend to revolve around being loved and included rather than the Threes ultimate goal of being successful and “the winner.” Social Twos are also more emotionally vulnerable than most Threes tend to be.
At healthy levels, these Twos are loving, generous, empathetic, charming, and inspirational. At unhealthy levels, they are gossips, enablers, manipulative, and exploitative.
Key Characteristics of the Social Two Enneatype:
- Aims to be close to those in power
- Highly aware of their public image
- More introverted than the self-preservation or sexual Two subtypes
- Drawn to leadership
- Strive to stand out
Social 3 Enneagram Type
Basic Desire: To be successful and desired
Basic Fear: To be a failure or worthless, without achievement
These Threes are the trendsetters of the world, maintaining a powerful public image and striving after credentials and pedigree. Moving up in the world is their aim; to get the good grades, the right awards, and succeed at whatever life might throw their way. In group situations, they are charming and impressive; easily networking and handing out business cards. Getting social validation is important to this Three; and they can achieve that in a plethora of ways. For some it means getting 100K Instagram followers, for others it means filling up all their spare hours with charity service and making an impact in that way. These Threes want to influence, impress, and inspire others. Looking competent and looking good being competent is crucial. At healthy levels, this Three is capable, competent, inspiring, charming, and visionary. At unhealthy levels, this Three is desperate for attention, dishonest in pursuit of recognition, and living only to impress by whatever means possible.
Key Characteristics of the Social Three Enneatype:
- Able to make others feel comfortable around them
- Focused on achieving higher and higher levels of success
- Confident in leadership
- Skilled at networking and forming strategic relationships
Social 4 Enneagram Type
Basic Desire: To have a sense of identity and to be authentic to themselves
Basic Fear: To have no identity or significance
The Social Four is the most socially active and engaged of the Fours. They want to be involved with others and achieve close bonds, yet they often struggle with fear of rejection or shame. They often worry that they don’t know how to function like normal people do, seeing themselves as flawed and misunderstood. That said, they tend to have an innate charm that they can turn on in order to relieve social pressure and get by. The Social Four often feels a sense of shame without quite knowing why; they often think that others think poorly of them or would condemn them if they really knew them. At the same time, they hope that their suffering and pain will be recognized and understood. They want to be seen for who they really are, to be affirmed, truly loved. The risk of this is that they tend to find too much comfort and familiarity in suffering, underestimating themselves and using pain as a way to attract someone who may rescue them.
At healthy levels, these Fours are empathetic, creative, loving, introspective, curious, and profound. At unhealthy levels, they are oversensitive, use suffering to get help from others, play the victim, and view others as perpetrators too quickly.
Key Characteristics of the Social Four Enneatype:
- Keenly focused on their emotions
- Relates to the feeling of being a “misfit”
- Compares themselves to others
- Struggles to take care of their own needs
- Is often socially friendly and charming
- Often feels like a victim
- Feels guilt over wanting things or wanting to fit in
- Wants recognition
Social 5 Enneagram Type
Basic Desire: To be competent and knowledgeable
Basic Fear: To be incompetent and without resources
The most intellectual of the Fives, this subtype wants to be a master in their field. They want to be someone with indispensable knowledge that others look to for advice on a particular topic. This is where they find their social sense of belonging; in being knowledgeable and skilled in a niche area. People often see them as “gurus” in their group. They are often drawn to academics, science, or philosophies. They enjoy exploring complex theories and intellectual pursuits. More than anything, they hope to discover the true meaning of life. In contrast, they hate small talk or social banter. Often their interactions revolve around debating ideas, critiquing society, and analyzing information.
At healthy levels, these Fives are logical, unbiased, trustworthy, observant, original, self-reliant, and informed. At unhealthy levels, they are antisocial, derisive, out of touch with reality, and disdainful of others.
Key Characteristics of the Social Five Enneatype:
- Wants to discover the ultimate meaning of life
- Looks for people who share the same ideals
- Connects with people they admire intellectually
- Wants to be someone important
- Gathers lots of information on a regular basis
- Enjoys exploring the weightier topics of life
Social 6 Enneagram Type
Basic Desire: To have security and guidance
Basic Fear: To be unsupported and unprepared
Friendly and dutiful, these Sixes want to find their group and community in order to find security. They want to feel like part of something bigger than themselves and are willing to sacrifice anything for that. Comfort for this Six is found with like-minded individuals and communities where everyone helps each other out and wants what’s best for the whole. They are deeply devoted to their commitments, obligations, and contracts. When it comes to decisions, these Sixes often look for a sense of consensus before moving forward. They have an “inner committee” in their mind that they have to please before making a decision. They imagine how others will react to their decisions and analyze their potential advice. Because of this, they can get stuck in analysis-paralysis when an important decision has to be made, asking for advice from many different individuals. Fear of losing their support or community is a struggle for these Sixes, and they can overwork themselves trying to help those within their groups.
At healthy levels, these Sixes are considerate, loyal, capable, dedicated, courageous, and filled with integrity. At unhealthy levels, they are passive-aggressive, unquestioning in their beliefs, controlling, impatient, judgmental, and self-critical.
Key Characteristics of the Social Six Enneatype:
- Find comfort in relying on authority
- Are punctual and precise
- Look for rules and structures to guide them
- Can become a fanatic for their belief system
- Focus on doing the right thing to protect themselves from catastrophe
- Want to know what’s expected of them
- Want to understand and fulfill their role
Social 7 Enneagram Type
Basic Desire: To have freedom and happiness
Basic Fear: To be trapped, in pain, to miss out
The most idealistic of the Sevens, this subtype longs to live up to their personal code of ethics. They are often altruistic and focused on helping others; even denying their own needs on many occasions to give to others. Often visionary, they see many new opportunities always on the horizon. They enjoy finding friends and advisors who share the same interests and enthusiasms as they do. Getting involved with others in the pursuit of a cause is exciting to them. They often strive for a more peaceful, pure, and compassionate world. A place where people can be free and healthy without fear. At the same time, they often have a restless urge to take action, pursue numerous possibilities, and gain acknowledgment. They can get impatient with people who are idealistic but move too slowly for their tastes. When this happens, they are happier to do their own thing and abandon the group – living as a lone wolf idealist who helps others individually.
At healthy levels, this Seven is expansive, bold, adventurous, visionary, resilient, and grateful. At unhealthy levels, this Seven is irresponsible, abandoning commitments in favor of newer and brighter ones. They scatter their energy too thin and leave their goals and projects unfinished.
Key Characteristics of the Social Seven Enneatype:
- Helpful and generous
- Takes on a lot of responsibility
- Fears being excessive or indulgent
- Craves admiration
Social 8 Enneagram Type
Enneagram 8 Basic Desire: To be in control and have autonomy
Enneagram 8 Basic Fear: To be controlled or vulnerable
The most intellectual of the Eights, this subtype comes across as more mellow and warm than the other two subtypes. They deeply value harmonious relationships and friendships, and, once they know the loyalty of their friends, will go above and beyond for them. Caring and devoted, they want to protect their friends or loved ones against anything that might oppress them. At the same time, they often fail to take care of their own inner needs and vulnerabilities. Instead, they enjoy lively and heated debates about anything from sports to politics to ethics. A life of intensity, action, and variety excites this Eight, and they often have a hunger for collecting projects and experiences that make them feel an adrenaline rush, sensation, or thrill.
At healthy levels, these Eights are driven, goal-oriented, charismatic, fearless, self-reliant, and protective. At unhealthy levels, they are antisocial, reckless, self-destructive, and blind to the damage they are causing others.
Key Characteristics of the Social Eight Enneatype:
- Loyal and devoted
- Friendly and charismatic
- Like to stay busy with projects
- Enjoy debating
- Pursue adventure and variety
- Stand up for others
Social 9 Enneagram Type
Basic Desire: To have inner peace and stability
Basic Fear: To have inner conflict and fragmentation
Generous and friendly, these Nines want to feel like they’re part of a group. They enjoy participating and will often give 110% of themselves to others. Yet underneath their cheerful, warm exterior, there is an underlying fear of abandonment and exclusion. These Nines are insecure about their worth and feel a desire to please others and fit in somewhere. As a result, it’s difficult for them to say no to other people or set independent goals. They will often prioritize other peoples’ needs ahead of their own and work twice as hard to belong. Some are even workaholics. These Nines often make influential and caring leaders, giving of themselves selflessly without desire to be in the spotlight or be heaped with praise. Just being part of a meaningful group of people means the most to them.
At healthy levels, these Nines are kind, non-judgmental, considerate, energetic, and thoughtful. At unhealthy levels, they are depressed, emotionally out of touch with themselves, needy, insecure, and an emotional punching bag for others.
Key Characteristics of the Social Nine Enneatype:
- Prioritizes the group needs ahead of their own
- Wants to fit in
- Fears abandonment or rejection
- Gives unconditionally
- Prone towards workaholism
- Cheerful and friendly
What Are Your Thoughts?
Did you enjoy this article? Do you have any questions or insights that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments! Stay tuned for our article about the Sexual subtypes, or check out our other article about the Self-Preservation subtypes.