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Enneagram Type 5
Welcome to the fifth post in my Enneagram Series: Type 5 vs The Enneagram. This week I am covering my experiences with an Enneagram Type 5. You can find the first-week link here.
Hi! My name is Jacob Pannell. I am not an Enneagram expert. I am a me expert, and me is an Enneagram Type 5 with a 4 wing and a self-preservation subtype. Earlier this year, I wrote an article on my discovery on the Enneagram (here). It has since become my most visited article this year. Many people have reached out to tell me how much that article helped them. Some even asked me to write more for them, so I am. After a little time of reflection and research, I realized that I couldn’t write about the Enneagram with the substance many of the coaches, authors, and mentors can.
So, I asked myself, “why did my article resonate with people?” I think it resonated because I wrote about me. I wrote about my experience as a Type Five. Many people have trouble connecting with their Enneagram Type because it is talked about in such broad strokes that a natural disconnection exists. I am not talking in broad strokes when I talk about my Enneagram Type 5. I am talking with personal detail. Sure, this limits my approach, but I also think it is much more identifiable. It also makes it easier to take or leave certain aspects of my Type 5-ness.
My experience as an Enneagram Type 5
So, here is the deal: I am going to write about my experience as an Enneagram Type 5 vs. the other Enneagram numbers. This means that both my experience of the other numbers and my own experience is limited. Take it or leave it. It’s my truth. Each article will contain an introduction to the Enneagram Type, how we help each other, hurt each other, and a parenting thought. Finally, I want to wrap up by helping you to imagine your relationships in your life. What has my article helped you see, understand, or change within yourself? Imagination is the key to success from these articles because there are no cookie-cutter solutions because there are no cookie-cutter people.
Here is the additional reading for you other Type 5’s with the itch to research more.
Enneagram Type 5
Enneagram Type 5’s begin the fear triad of the Enneagram. If you want to read more about that go here where I explored it a bit more extensively. Our fears do two things in relationships and both push people away.We keep people to specific relationship blocks, not allowing the emotions to move between them, and we stare at people through our walls never letting them get too close. Click To Tweet
The first is fear puts up walls. These walls keep emotional distress from affecting us because no one ever truly sees all of us or knows all of us. This is somewhat analogous to the Enneagram Type 3’s mask, but different because we don’t want to be seen. A Type 3 wants to be seen as the best in every situation and so people miss who the really are. For the Type 5, we want to be noticed but not really seen and rarely interacted with. In the end, we keep people to specific relationship blocks, not allowing the emotions to move between them, and we stare at people through our walls never letting them get too close.
The second thing our fear does is move us into a more challenging position. Healthy Type 5’s have access to Enneagram Type 8 (the challenger) energy. This means we use our knowledge and push people away out of fear with the strength of a Type 8.
Quiet and introspective, the walls an Enneagram Type 5 put up are some of the hardest and most unforeseen obstacles in our relationships. Beyond that, is our lack of emotional energy. While Enneagram Type 9’s have the least energy of the Enneagram Types, Type 5’s manage their energy to exactness. Relationships cause great variations in energy usage, so we often seem tired in them.
Type 5 Healing = Understanding
Besides Enneagram Type 4’s, it has been my experience that Enneagram Type 5’s are the most misunderstood. I would say it was the Enneagram Type 8 whose blunt reactions and speech is often misinterpreted, but Type 5’s have access to the energy when they are healthy making their statement all the more confusing to people.
What really confuses people is often the deep well Type 5’s communicate from. We can pull information from inside all our walls. What is confusing about that is most people don’t know about all our divisions. We can hit people out of nowhere with information that they thought they should have had. Family (both genetic and chosen), tragedies, and triumphs all each receive their own space. When we speak to people from previously unknown spaces, it catches them off guard, disorienting them with our depth and dimension.
The beautiful thing is that Type 5’s get each other. Information that catches us off-guard does not disorient us for nearly as long as other Enneagram Types. We give the most grace for that information because new info is exciting to us.What really confuses people is often the deep well #Enneagram Type 5’s communicate from. We can pull information from inside all our walls. Most people don’t know about all our divisions. Click To Tweet
You would be surprised at how often, despite promoting and advertising to the best of my ability, how few people at my own church know I have written a theology book, have a Faithful Fatherhood blog, and am working starting a podcast and youtube channel. I have known this family for, in some cases, decades. Still, because I keep things walled off I can reference my book or blog and it just totally catches them off guard. They have no idea how to respond most times.
On the other hand with my Enneagram Type 5 friends, new information is commonplace. I tend to be a bit of a history buff (in my spare time), and we love discussing the Greek Classics or Ancient Mesopotamian society. Alongside that, I have the drive to make the history applicable. That means I am very likely to pull information from quantum computing, current farming practices (I have an agricultural engineer for a father-in-law), CRISPR, or even social media trends. The wide variety of knowledge doesn’t surprise them. They hope for it, and I am always excited to hear from them as well.
When your discussion topics can range from the ancient Akkadian Empire to how the modern church should be thinking about CRISPR, we lose a lot of people. As a friend calls us, “SUPERNERDS!”
You just can’t have that conversation with most people. I have found Type 8’s with access to Type 5 energy can keep up quite well. Alongside those with 5 wings, but it isn’t the same as true Type 5. They just get me and can keep up.
Finding those people that just get you is incredibly healing. Enneagram Type 5’s can often be the most lonely people, and we do it on purpose. Just finding someone that understands you can dramatically alter how lonely you are and your outlook on life. Everyone should find that someone.
Type 5 Hurting = Emotionally Shallow
Enneagram Type 5’s are fantastic at understanding intellectually each other. However, the hurt comes from remaining emotionally shallow. In fact, what we often do with anyone is substitute emotional depth with intellectual curiosity and understanding. Many other Enneagram Types will push past this eventually in a long term relationship. Two Type 5’s together run the real risk of remaining in the emotional shallows with each other for years or decades.
I have learned that I have this preference to remain this way with almost everyone, so I at least try to see whether others are open to it. After countless lunches and interactions, I can always pick out a fellow Type 5 by how closed off they are to my attempts to emotionally connect. Usually, we deflect the conversation into strategy or history or by answering your question with another question. Most of us do it so naturally, you would never notice that the topic of conversation has suddenly become a mutually shared subject or you and what you think are now the topic.
While this may not seem hurtful on the surface, remaining emotionally shallow has long-reaching effects. Other Enneagram Types may be able to intuitively pick up why the person who understands you best being unable to emotionally connect would be hurtful. So fellow Type 5’s I implore you to think long term.An intellectual conversation cannot make up for emotional investment with people. Click To Tweet
Should you find a fellow 5 that you enjoy and they enjoy spending time with you that is excellent. However, it is likely you never build that emotional bridge. Over time that will add up to excellent conversations about all manner of things. But you will never talk about each other. So I ask you this person you spend so much time with, do you really know him/her? By remaining emotionally shallow you deprive yourself of the true person you could get to know. Remember the gift Type 4’s give us is reaching past, through, and/or around our walls to connect. They fight hard to know the whole person, and that is a gift we deprive ourselves of when we find that person to intellectually connect with.
That deprivation will eventually lead to drift. You will drift from relationships and never really know why. It is because an intellectual conversation cannot make up for emotional investment with people. You have to put doors in your walls and then give keys to people. Not everyone, but some people that you can trust.
A fellow Enneagram Type 5 will probably never push you to give them keys or even build the door in the first place. That is an injury not of the head but of the heart and can be a sneakily deep wound. It is especially true when we felt a deep connection to begin with.
Parenting Tip: Ask Questions
Most Enneagram Type 5’s I know rarely outright lie. My wife will tell you that I couldn’t lie if my life depended on it. However, because of our walls, we can hide the truth under layers. If we are asked the question outright then we answer, but that necessitates the question. This idiosyncrasy frustrates my wife to no end. Imagine what that is like for parenting.
The Type 5 might seem the perfect kid, often compliant and excelling in the important things, but you will never know what they are hiding if you don’t ask the questions. Parenting a Type 5 means carving out the time and energy to dive deeper than the surface “how was your day?” to “tell me about how lunch with your friends went?”
There are two things about asking these questions you should prepare yourself for when parenting.
- You have to know what’s going on in your child’s life to ask the question. This isn’t a controlling aspect, but an involvement aspect. It is something that feeds on itself if you build a foundation and habit with your kids early. However, you can dive in deeper during the teen years too, it is just going to require more vulnerability on your part.
- Know your timing. If you are asking right after school, you might not get more than the facts. If you want the feelings then you will have to ask again later once your child has had time to process how they might feel about things. There is nothing wrong with getting the facts first because it sets up our later in the day conversations.
I think Enneagram Type 5’s need more imagination than most. They need to do the imagination and they desire to receive the imagination. You have to want to know what is behind their walls and for me, imagination is the best way to stay motivated. We won’t give it away for free because we have been burned before. Every wall has a story, a hurt, a joy, a frustration. Would you be willing to help us remove a few bricks so we can put in some doors? If you want access to some of the most creative thoughts, it might just be worth it for you to start imagining with an Enneagram Type 5. Who do you need to ask questions to get to know better today?