What Do Enneagram Fours Secretly Want in Relationships?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on September 24, 2021

Very few people in our lives truly see us or understand all that there is within us. Our close friendships and relationships are the place that is mostly likely to happen. For most people, this “seeing” and “allowing ourselves to be seen” requires a leap of faith, since you must trust that feeling uncomfortable comes with its own reward of intimacy and shared experience. But for Fours, things are a little different. 

Enneagram Type Fours are comfortable sharing their emotional depth. Yet when they do, they are met with other types' inability to be with their own emotional reaction. And so instead of really hearing what a Four is trying to convey, other types push them away to avoid feeling uncomfortable. This leaves the Four feeling very misunderstood. 

So what an Enneagram Four truly wants in friendship and relationships is to be understood, in a way that is meaningful to them. 

Watch my youtube video talking about what Enneagram Type Fours want in relationships here. 

Fours are very connected to their own emotions, in a way few other types are. This connection  is deep, nuanced and profound. Over the course of their life, Fours may have regularly been told that they are too emotional, too intense, and too much. But Fours are their feelings, so it is crucial to find a way to really hear them.

As a friend or partner of an Enneagram Four, you can help in the following ways.

1. Authentic listening

Most people are terrible listeners. They interrupt, add their own spin and push their perspective, before they have really taken the time to truly understand what the other person is saying. No one enjoys this kind of listening. 

Instead, to truly hear your Enneagram Four, try this:

  • Allow them to tell the whole story without interruption
  • Clarify their story to understand it better, not to interpret it
  • Acknowledge the feelings you have heard
  • Ask them “Do you feel I understand you?”
  • And definitely don't offer suggestions or try to fix anything until after they have answered ‘yes’

2. Set aside judgment

For those of us who don’t find “feeling our feelings” an authentic experience, we can be quick to judge others who do. When you are feeling overwhelmed, scared or frustrated by your Enneagram Four’s intensity and emotional expression, take a timeout to notice what your response is telling you about you. Then share that with your Four. 

Try this:

  • Don’t say “you’re too much”, instead say “I am feeling overwhelmed right now”
  • Don’t withdraw or avoid the conversation, say “I am feeling the need to move away from this topic”
  • Don’t say, “you're making a mountain out of a molehill,” instead say, “this sounds really important to you, can you take me through what you are seeing?”

3. Encouraging activities 

Feelings are like energy for Enneagram Fours; they build up inside of them and need to be expressed. But there are other ways to release those emotions than just storytelling, and making these activities a part of your relationship will help bring in more emotional equilibrium. 

Suggest these activities, or try doing them together:

  • Going to a writing, drawing or sculpture class
  • Volunteering at the local nursing home or dog shelter
  • Gift them a canvas and paint set 
  • Signup for a 24 hour filmmaking competition
  • Get physical with dance classes or try a new sport like diving or dragon boat racing

To help you Enneagam Type Four feel understood by you, listen to them wholeheartedly, notice your feelings as much as theirs and encourage them to get into action, physically, artistically and in supporting your local community. 

Samantha Mackay

Samantha is the Lead Trainer at Truity and will shortly be a certified Enneagram Coach. She believes knowing your personality is the key to navigating life's strangest hurdles. Samantha is an ENTP and Enneagram 7, who is always surrounded by a pile of books, a steaming cup of tea and a block of her favourite chocolate. Find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthamackay/. Check out her course "Unlocking the Power of Your Personality" at www.truity.com/training

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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