In order for the Enneagram to reveal the deeper motivation behind your behavior and ultimately help you grow in self-awareness, it’s crucial that you are sure which type actually reflects your personality and don’t end up mistyping yourself. This page is specifically for Type Fives to have a quick check, whether they might have mistyped themselves.
If you want to know more about how and why misidentifications happen in the first place, you can do so here.
Ones and Fives rarely misidentify themselves for one another. If they do, it’s mostly Ones who see their highly rational and sometimes impersonal way of thinking as traits of a Five. But a good way to discern the two is by remembering that they are in two different Groups*. Ones are from the instinctive or body group. Their way of thinking serves primarily to strengthen their already established beliefs and that which can be put into practice. Fives however truly live in their head: Their way of thinking doesn’t need to be practical at all.
In other words: Ones start from a general principle to arrive at a specific application, while Fives take specific, real life data to form more theoretical principles out of it. They are also much more comfortable to throw those principles out the window again if they find better evidence – something that Ones, who live for their principles, are very reluctant to do.
* If you don’t know about Groups yet, you can learn about them here. The basic idea is that of the nine types, three groups of three types each have overarching commonalities.
Well. Let’s just say this doesn’t really happen. You see, if something like polar opposites even exist on the Enneagram (which they don’t, really), one of the few valid pairs would be Twos and Fives. Twos are emotionally expressive people-persons. They want and need to be around others and be needed by them in return. Fives on the other hand are emotionally detached and decidedly non-people persons. They want to be left alone with their wonderful heads and ideas and preferably be needed by nobody. This alone should clarify why this mistype gets the shortest paragraph of them all.
This misidentification is pretty one-sided: It’s almost exclusively Threes who think they might be Fives. Why? Because Threes are often very good at thinking their way through problems while ignoring their feelings. And they mistake that for what they believe Fives are, namely the „thinker“ type. Especially when a Three grew up to think that intellectual brilliance was what they needed in order to be loved, they may have focused on these traits and thus mistake themselves for Fives.
But that’s not what Fives are, and focusing just on their intellectual side misrepresents them. To show you why, we’ll take a quick look at how both handle their emotions. You see, what Threes do is to store their emotions away and hope they get resolved automatically while they focus on their goals. Fives however don’t ignore their feelings, they detach from them in order to look at them objectively, rationally and coolly.
Fives don’t feel the need to look away from their feelings because their motivation is different: They don’t care as much about achieving goals as they are about nurturing their inner life, so feelings don’t threaten them – they simply are another sample to study. The pursuits of Fives can be simply for the love of knowledge, detached from any practical considerations. Threes use their brain much more to pursue their goals and get recognition for their achievements.
As with all types that are next to each other on the Enneagram, Fours and Fives don’t get so much misidentified but rather confused about which one is their main type and which one their wing. Since we talk about wings in more detail somewhere else, we will just mention the main difference between the two types for now.
What makes Fives and Fours appear so similar is their heightened individualism and their tendency to withdraw. They are both on the introverted side of things and can both become rather eccentric. But there’s one area that helps draw a clear line in the sand: which part of them plays the bigger role in their day-to-day lives. For the Four it’s their heart. For the Five it’s their brain.
Fours belong to the Heart Group*. They are emotionally volatile – Fours need to express their feelings and for people to respond to them emotionally as well. Fives are people of the mind, which is why they belong to the Head Group**: While they also have deep emotions, they usually keep them to themselves, detach from them, study them and, most of all, prefer if people communicate rationally with them. Fives become uncomfortable when they have to deal with too many emotions of the other person – Fours are right in their element.
When both types go to dark places (which, truth be told, they are more comfortable with than most others), Fours turn towards emotional pain: heartbreak, childhood disappointments, „life is woe“ – while Fives go to abstract pain: Inner emptiness, the meaninglessness of life, the great existential void.
Heart or mind? This is what tells these two types apart.
* If you don’t know about Groups yet, you can learn about them here. The basic idea is that of the nine types, three groups of three types each have overarching commonalities. Type Two, Type Three and Type Four are one of those called the Heart Group. Their common theme is a strong connection to the heart, where emotions and our connections to other people lie.
** The Head Group is connected to the ways we use our intellectual, thinking powers. Type Five, Type Six and Type Seven make up this group, and they are all somehow tethered to the perception of the world through the mind.
As with all types that are next to each other on the Enneagram, Fives and Sixes don’t get so much misidentified but rather confused about which one is their main type and which one their wing. Since we talk about wings in more detail somewhere else, we will just mention the main difference between the two types for now.
What usually gets Sixes confused into thinking they’re Fives is that both types are spending a lot of time in their head, and both have trouble feeling safe in a world that seems instinctively dangerous and demanding to them.
The difference is how these types handle this feeling of being overwhelmed: Sixes, feeling anxious, invest into security by attaching themselves to authority figures, sometimes bowing down to them, other times rebelling against them.
The Five’s basic reaction is not anxiety per se, but rather exhaustion. They retreat into their minds, where they don’t have to care what anyone (least of all any authority figure) thinks or wants from them.
In a nutshell, Sixes try to solve their problem by going to an external source of safety, Fives by going to their internal safe haven.
Sevens and Fives are very easy to tell apart. While they are usually both curious thinking types, Sevens are extroverted, highly sociable optimists that love to follow a spectacular vision, but not to spend too much time poring over the details. Fives are the opposite of all that: withdrawn, highly focused introverts who mistrust spectacular visions because they’ve usually done the painstaking research which pokes holes into them.
Fives are comfortable with (or at least used to) the dark side of life and how bleak reality can get – Sevens want to get away from all that as much as possible. They are a bit like ice and steam – both made out of water, but in completely different aggregate states.
This pair only gets confused when they are in specific situations: Eights when they are stressed, which makes them withdraw and reorganize like Fives, and Fives when they are mature and at peace, which lets them take on the assertiveness of Eights.
Both types, however, have different starting points. Although they are both highly independent and are willing to fight for that independence (and have therefore trouble showing vulnerability), Eights do it out of the core motivation to assert and maintain their power, while Fives do it to preserve the sanctity of their private space.
Eights react to threats by tackling them head on, using their natural energy and authority to assert their dominance. Fives retreat, cut themselves off and reduce their dependencies on others. It’s a bit like a horse that kicks you when you do something it doesn’t like (the Eight) versus the snail that retracts its feelers and pulls back into its shell until everyone that bothered them has left again (the Five).
This is a common one, although almost exclusively in one direction: Nines who mistake themselves for Fives.
This happens for two reasons: First, Nines in general are the type that have the hardest time figuring out who they are, because of all types, their sense of self is the least clear. Secondly, many Nines mistake Fives for being the „thinking“ type, and they believe that because they have quite a few profound insights and spend a lot of time thinking, they must be Fives.
A lot has been written about the difference between the two types. To keep it short, it’s enough to simplify it to one basic difference in their core motivations:
Nines strive for peace and resolution – their thinking usually tries to simplify and to arrive at a common denominator. It underscores their easygoing, patient and accommodating nature.
Contrast this with Fives, who don’t care that much about pleasant resolutions, because what they need is clarity, even if it comes at the cost of simplicity. Their thinking is complex, unresolved and relentless, and it shows in their strong-minded and argumentative nature.
Nines feel instinctively at ease in the world, and their thinking reflects their unconscious desire to merge with it. Fives fear to be overwhelmed by the world, and their thinking is an unconscious defense against it, to try to master the world with their minds.
Consequently, Nines like to think deductive: From the big and general to the small and applicable. Fives like to think inductive: From small pieces of fact to a unifying theory.
I am such a dominant person! Type 8 as i always suspected
I always knew a was type 5 cause i follow my brain when i need to make decisions instead of my heart
Type 5 as i always suspected
Now i know