Figuring out your main Enneagram type is just the beginning of your journey of self discovery. The next step is to determine your Enneagram wing, which you can think of as a co-pilot or a superhero sidekick to your main personality type. We borrow certain traits from our wing. This explains why people with the same Enneagram number may behave quite differently a lot of the time.

If you’re ready to dive deeper, here’s how to find your Enneagram wing for a more nuanced look at your Enneagram type.

A refresher on the Enneagram personality system

The Enneagram personality system is a little different than the 16 personality types. It separates people into nine different personalities (Type 1 through Type 9) based on their fears, internal systems, and motivations. Each of the nine types has a specific fear that affects their motivations and goals, and you can be in an average, unhealthy, or healthy emotional state at any point throughout your life. 

The Enneagram also focuses on personal growth more than the 16-type system because of these wax and wane explanations of your emotional state. 

How to find your Enneagram wing

Your wing is one of the two adjacent numbers of your Enneagram type. For example, if you’re an Enneagram Type 4 like me, you have two possible wings: Type 3 or Type 5. Your wing depends on which of the two personality types match you most. For instance, on my Enneagram test I scored 77 percent on Type 5 and 78 percent on Type 3, so I’m Type 4w3 (4 wing 3).

Whether you’ve taken the Enneagram personality test on Truity or plan to, you’ll want to look at your results closely. First, find which numbers are one lower and one higher than yours (if you’re an 8, your wing will either be 7 or 9). Next, check which percentage you scored higher on. You might find you’re an Enneagram 1 with a 54 percent score for 2 and a 79 percent for 9, which means you’re an Enneagram 1w9. 

What exactly is an Enneagram wing?

Your dominant Enneagram type is the ruler, and behind every ruler is an assistant. Your type takes influence from your Enneagram wing, aka your personality sidekick. So while your core motivations come from your primary type, you’ll also get a good dose of traits and motivations from your Enneagram wing. Think of it like this: a king or queen sometimes takes advice from their advisor. Your personality is not one-dimensional. You’re multifaceted, so your wing plays into your decision-making, actions, and overall personality. 

How an Enneagram wing affects your personality

So if I’m an Enneagram 4w3, how does that affect my personality? As a Type 4 “The Individualist,” I know I fear I’m somehow flawed and unable to achieve true happiness. I’m also motivated to express myself as an individual, to be unique and respected for my artistic pursuits. But my wing type adds some extra ingredients to the pot. 

Type 3, “The Achiever,” has an immense fear of failure, and they’re motivated by their desire to be successful and admired. So when considering my Enneagram type, 4w3, it’s easy to guess my individualistic nature and drive to create art are tinged with a desire to succeed for fear of failure. This combination makes more of an artistic frenzy akin to a workaholic – but also brings a further sense of wonder about the natural world and beauty around me.

If I typed as a 4w5, I wouldn’t have the intense drive to succeed influencing my personality. Instead, I would be an artistic Individualist with a need to investigate the world and humanity through my creative pursuits.

On the flip side, if I were a Type 3w4, I would aim for originality and expression in my successes, which is an excellent example of how the same type combinations, when reversed, are different thanks to the dominant type. 

Why do Enneagram wings really matter?   

To get the full scope of your Enneagram personality type, understanding your Enneagram wing is essential. You’ll gain knowledge of your core motivations and fears and how your wing influences them. In addition, your actions, thoughts, and emotions are all impacted by your Enneagram wing. Therefore, you can discover more about which career path is best for you, what self-improvement should look like, and what unhealthy behavior patterns to look out for. 

So, if you’re a Type 9w1 (“The Peacemaker” dominant, “The Perfectionist” the wing), for example, you may recognize your Nine’s determination to keep the peace. However, you may have stints of Type One hyper-perfectionism get in the way, which compromises your harmonious environment. Your wing 1 also makes you a practical rule follower — a person who is frugal and organized.

The influence of the wing adds a lot of depth and flavor to your main Enneagram type and explains why people of the same core type show up very differently. 

Can both Enneagram wings influence you? 

You know about your dominant Enneagram type and your Enneagram wing, but what about the other adjacent number? Does that wing also influence you? The answer is yes. Some people notice they identify with both wings on either side of their dominant Enneagram type. In fact, there’s quite a lot of debate about whether everyone is influenced by two wings (two-wing theory) or just one wing (one wing theory). 

The short answer is that it’s possible for traits from either wing to emerge in different situations and environments. But overall, your dominant wing has a higher match for your personality and thus influences you more than the other. 

Remember how my Enneagram wing results were one percentage away? In my case, I do feel similarities with wing 3 and wing 5 — but the 3 is more prevalent in my personality. So, if you feel a bit confused about why you feel connected with both, it’s not uncommon, but your dominant type and wing will be the most clear-cut definition of your personality.

In sum

Once you’ve learned how to find your Enneagram wing, you can grasp more facets of your personality type and better understand your fears and motivations. Enneagram wings influence your dominant type, affecting much of your personality — even when you don’t recognize it. By knowing yourself on a deeper level, you’ll find it easier to pinpoint the ‘whys’ behind your actions, dreams, and goals.

Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.