Relationships come in many shapes and sizes. There is no script for the “perfect” relationship, only two people navigating their way to some form of interdependent existence. Some types focus on pulling people close—too close, while others try to create distance and, at times, too much distance. Finding the right balance is the work of every type in a relationship, and insights from our Enneagram type can help us navigate this drama.
Enneagram Fives, a type who can feel invaded and overwhelmed by other people’s feelings and energy, need to find a way to walk that line. The Five's private nature and appearance of aloofness doesn't naturally suggest they want people to come closer. Before they invite anyone into their space, they will assess how much energy that person will demand and whether the price of connection is worth paying.
Watch my youtube video talking about what Enneagram Type Fives want in relationships here.
Secretly, Fives want connection and are, in fact, very sensitive to it. They want someone to share their mental curiosities with and to enjoy life with, but who also will be okay with their need for privacy and contained expression of emotion.
As a friend or partner of an Enneagram Five, you can help in the following ways.
Every morning your Five does an energy assessment—determining how much energy they have in the bank and what they can afford to spend without depleting themselves. This is why Enneagram Fives like to have control over your relationship agenda—the when, where, what and how of it. They also absolutely need some alone time as this is their only opportunity to process that day's experiences and determine how they feel about them.
To help your Five feel in control of their time, try this:
- Agree when their alone time will occur, so you both know what to expect
- Set aside a space that is solely theirs
- Allow them to take the lead on scheduling
- Don’t be upset if they withdraw unexpectedly; that isn’t about you
- Avoid surprises where possible
2. Coming closer
Fives want connection but fear being overwhelmed by it. The moment they realize they want emotional intimacy or physical affection, is also the moment they freeze. They’re like a deer in headlights who doesn't quite know how to act on this knowledge.
To become the Enneagram Five whisperer, start to practice these things:
- Notice your Five’s signals for connection and intimacy
- Act quickly but briefly, providing a quick hug before withdrawing
- State your intentions, then give them time to consider
- Discuss each other’s physical and emotional boundaries
- Don't expect grand emotional responses
3. Addressing conflict
Many people interpret a partner’s feelings of anger, jealousy or competition as signs of disconnection; of them moving away from the relationship. But for an Enneagram Five it's quite the opposite. When a Five is disconnecting from a relationship, they will express even less of a response.
For an Enneagram Five, expressing feelings of any kind—positive or negative—is a sign of connection, of wanting to increase the bonds of the relationship. Hence with a Five, making time to express frustration and allowing space for conflict is crucial.
- Ask your Five to share their frustrations with you, then wait patiently
- Allow them to express their anger and to be assertive about their needs without shutting them down
- Schedule a regular times for this to happen
- But don’t make your Five feel obliged or forced to respond
To build and maintain connection with an Enneagram Type Five, let them take control of the agenda (although you may need to initiate the contact), notice when they want you to come closer, and do so quickly and briefly. And create space for your Five to air their frustrations. That is part of their way of staying connected to you.