The ENFP in the Enneagram

No personality type has been more stereotyped than the ENFP. Perhaps because of this, the ENFP needs this article more than any other personality type. In my investigations of the ENFP, I noticed that ENFPs are one of the types who will go through the most changes in their life and will change the most as a result of their experiences, both positively and negatively.

They live in a world of what-ifs, and they can imagine themselves living many parallel lives in different worlds, different shoes. I think no type finds it more difficult to type themselves than the ENFP. Their ability to consider options, see nuance, and change is first class.

ENFP Enneagram 1

Perhaps the biggest archetype of change is the ENFP-1: Creative, rebellious, contrarian, the ENFP-1 grows up with a strong feeling of wanting to change and bring change to the world. As the catalysts of the world, ENFP-1s are often inclined to feel like they are in active opposition to the establishment and to what is: questioning teachers, parents, and society.

ENFP-1s have a history of fallouts in which they leave oppression behind them; moving away and breaking off their chains when others try to control them. Often, ENFP-1s are brought up in smothering and controlling environments, forced to sit still, dress properly, and avoid the muddy puddles they want to jump in.

The ENFP-1s want to break free: but they are anchored by negative opinions of themselves, perfectionism, a feeling of being less than or not being able to meet others expectations. At times, they may sabotage their own rebellion by not trusting themselves enough.

ENFP Enneagram 2

The ENFP is full of dreams, ideals, and expectations. They want to see the best in people. But they may also struggle with having been disappointed in people who seemed perfect. The ENFP-2 is the result of this disappointment, often in a parent or teacher or someone that they had admired.

When they find people they admire, they will work hard to support and provide this person with backup, wanting to believe and wanting to help the person succeed. But the ENFP-2 also fears being let down and betrayed again. At times, the ENFP-2 will close their eyes and pretend not to see the negative, wanting badly to believe.

Enneagram 2s can at times struggle with this close-mindedness or clinging to fantasy. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to see the best in people, but as ENFP-2s grow, they realize that if they open their eyes more, they can be of more help to the people they care for.  

ENFP Enneagram 3

ENFPs tend to have personalities that stand out, unique, individualistic, yes, really awesome. Being complimented for this personality is great, being rejected for it is more difficult. ENFPs are wary of being judged for who they are and do not like to change themselves to fit other people’s expectations.

ENFP-3s worry that fame will change them, so they may avoid it, or they may cling to their old outdated beliefs about themselves while they pursue success. ENFP-3s tend to feel far too limited by Introverted Sensing (Si), being too aware of what they can’t do, not realizing that as Extraverted iNtuitives, they can learn and master anything. All they have to do is take a leap of faith.

This makes compromise and critique from outer expectations more difficult to manage. ENFP-3s want to succeed but do not want to achieve success by changing themselves. But ENFP-3s may become attached to older versions of themselves, things they used to be, not realizing that they have already changed.

ENFP Enneagram 4

ENFPs need change and to feel like they’re moving forward to something, but they are also excellent at recognizing problems on the way to their dreams. Their “what-if” generator can be at full speed, and ENFPs can think of hundreds of reasons why something could fail. The ENFP-4 is prone to worry here: what if I fail and what if things don’t go the way I want?

When this worry takes over, the ENFP-4 can easily regress to a more childish state, making choices that they know will hurt them more than the pursuit of a dream. It’s the uncertainty of the dream that makes the ENFP-4 choose the greater of two evils. An uncertain fantasy is scarier than status quo in hell. It’s important here for the ENFP-4 not to come to identify with past worries and experiences. Rebellion is one way for ENFP-4s to grow when they find themselves stuck in the prison of Introverted Sensing.

ENFP Enneagram 5

The ENFP-5s struggle too much with feeling stupid, invalidating their intuition, creativity, and investigative mindset as somehow crazy, silly, or less important. They may tell themselves that they need to be more serious, more realistic, and more organized. “I should dream less and think more logically,” they might say. But the ENFP-5 can also feel bored by this increased use of sensing, forcing themselves to study, but dreaming of exploring ideas.

There can be a feeling of being torn here: torn between their natural curiosity and ideas, and traditional expectations and chores. Often, it is ENFPs that have grown up in more restrictive and controlling environments that feel the most stuck in this ENFP-5 mindset. It’s only when realizing that their intuition and feeling isn’t stupid, but smart, that ENFP-5s experience strong growth.

ENFP Enneagram 6

I think ENFPs need a lot of affection and appreciation from close ones. When there is no affection, ENFPs tend to feel that something is wrong. When something feels wrong, ENFPs will often start up investigations: asking questions, poking, and prodding to test out various possibilities. Perhaps the other person is angry?

ENFPs who grow up in less warm and affectionate environments can fall into this anxious spiral more easily, developing the 6 like tendency of asking questions, testing out theories, and trying to understand the cold environment they find themselves in. The ENFP mindset is that everything is always subject to change, and so, ENFP-6s often worry that other people will change, that people will stop appreciating or caring for them, and that they will be left alone.

ENFP Enneagram 7

ENFPs have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, but sometimes, they can put this energy and enthusiasm into people and situations that don’t give them enough satisfaction or fulfillment. Despite the fact that there is no reward or feeling of meaning, their immense curiosity and thirst to learn can still pull them to relationships, people, and jobs that offer little fulfillment.

They may find themselves dating people that are mysterious, puzzling, and difficult to understand, even though these people seem dark or morally of a bad character. Often, in maturity, ENFP-7s will begin to appreciate and value emotional change, noticing that people who hide behind a cold, mysterious darkness will often quickly become boring unless they can open up emotionally and show the ENFP-7 their true feelings.

ENFP Enneagram 8

Because other people may not follow the ENFPs train of thought, ENFPs are sometimes forced to slow down, pause, and take a step back to get people’s attention. This is a test of the ENFPs patience, and ENFPs can often feel frustrated and annoyed when they have to explain how they connect the dots to other people.

The ENFP in the 8 often has a strong feeling that other people are slow or stupid if others can’t keep up or hold as many thoughts in their head as the ENFP. But the ENFP-8 has often become attached to the feeling of authority and control that you get from being one step ahead of everyone else. A way to growth here is to avoid spending too much time on ensuring everyone follows what the ENFP says by slowing down for other people. Let other people get where they need to be in their own time and find a way to be free to move forward even when other people don’t get it.

ENFP Enneagram 9

The ENFP brought up in an environment that has changed a lot, perhaps moving frequently from place to place in their childhood, or witnessing conflict and ambivalent parents and relationships, may find themselves in the Enneagram 9. The ENFP-9 has a strong feeling that nothing is permanent and that everything is subject to change, but, unlike the 6, will want to avoid seeing this change for what it is.

Remaining in innocence, the ENFP-9 refuses to see a new pattern as bad – going into a bad relationship, taking up a bad job, or making a choice – even though their better judgment would have told them not to. Often, growth can come to the ENFP-9 who starts asking some deeper questions and voicing whatever uncertainties arise. But, ENFP-9s will fear doing so, because in bringing up a problem, they may start a conflict or lose a position of comfort.

ENFP Social Subtype

The ENFP-Social subtype may be working hard to keep their personality in check, avoiding to express or say something that other people may feel is stupid or silly. This fear of an outer rejection may turn into inner rejection. ENFP-Sos have a strong inner critic, judging their own words and what they say very carefully.

Looking deeper, ENFPs are constantly changing, but ENFP-Sos seem to work hard to keep this process in check, hiding what is going on in their head and focusing on meeting external expectations. ENFP-Sos often feel that they are hiding who they really are from everyone and that they live a secret life they can’t share. “Who’s the real me?” they might ask. Often, to answer that question, it’s important that this ENFP stop comparing themselves to other people. Then explore their own personal ethics, values, and feelings, and find out what they feel for themselves.

ENFP Sexual Subtype

ENFP-Sexual subtypes hope most of all that love and care will prevail. If they show affection and talk, all issues can be worked out, and things can become better. To some extent, ENFP-Sx types feel that they can change bad people, heal those who are broken, and fix those who battle an inner darkness. When unable to do so, the ENFP feels rejected. Early in their life, the ENFP-Sx may have been a person who had a loved one who refused to change for them, perhaps someone struggling with addiction or trauma.

ENFP-Sx types can become clingy, it’s true. Fear of abandonment is a real thing for ENFPs to wrestle. Often, belief in the future and hope is a necessary component here to move forward. Open pandora’s box, take a leap of faith, and explore the change you’re curious about. True friends will stick with you through all the bumps and obstacles of the future.

ENFP Self-Preservation Subtype

The ENFP with a self-preservation instinct is often more clingy than the average ENFP: showing strong affection and enthusiasm at all times, trying to preserve the group and make sure everyone sticks together, and that everyone is having a good time. ENFPs that grew up feeling like they had to be responsible for everyone else, that they had to keep their family together, may find themselves stuck in the self-preservation instinct.

The ENFP-Sp type may have had bad experiences with their parent’s divorce, or with being split up from close ones, but trying so hard to keep everyone together can make them feel drained and stressed by friends and family. Because of this, ENFP-Sps can become more avoidant of relationships and connections, as they seek to escape the chores and responsibilities.

Which Enneagram are you?

Perhaps you found yourself in more than one of these descriptions. I’d recommend making a point chart, draw up all the Enneagrams, and give yourself a point for each sentence you agree with. Think about what you agree with more, and what issues and struggles have come to have a more significant impact on your life. Often, we are a mix of everything.

At times, the Enneagram is written without accounting for personality type and each type’s unique way of processing and feeling emotions. Traditionally, you might not have thought you could be a five because Enneagram Five descriptions are often written for Introverted Thinking types. I encourage more Enneagram writers to explore more about type and trauma because that can teach us more about growth.

 

For more information on the Enneagram, Types, Subtypes, and how it can be used for personal growth, check out Enneagram Roadmap from Personality Hacker. Taught by Beatrice Chestnut, author of The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Knowledge. 

 

The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of Personality Hacker, its team, or affiliates.

Showing 8 comments
  • Tabitha Gilbert
    Reply

    Honestly I am just about all of these subtypes. I had a very hard and lonely upbringing made a lot of bad choices…I’m still struggling but one question. Now that I know I’m a bit if not all of these negative subtypes, what do I do to help myself? How do I beat this??

    • Sarah Clower
      Reply

      Hi Tabitha,

      I am no expert on this topic, so please take this with a grain of salt, but I relate to your struggle in seeing myself in all of these. I’ve done some research on the enneagram, and I’ve read that if you relate to all of the enneagram numbers then you are an enneagram 9. One of the very BEST things I’ve found to help understand my pitfalls as an ENFP (not to mention feel understood!) has been Dan Johnson’s videos on YouTube (also called “Dreams Around the World”).

      I hope those can help you as much as they’ve helped me, and I hope you can find the good things in your personality! Just because the people around you may not understand the way you think doesn’t automatically make you wrong and them right. You have some amazing qualities as an ENFP!

      Sending encouragement from afar.

  • Danielle
    Reply

    I’m fairly certain that I am an ENFP 6w7 so/sp.

    I really found this to be spot on, but I cannot really relate to the statement drawing the correlation between ENFP 6s and growing up in a less affectionate, cold environment. Perhaps I’m an outlier. Or I suppose you could equate certain elements of my childhood as such (lack of substantial familial connection outside my parents and peer rejection due to my various eccentricities). This is not to say that the observation in question is incorrect though. And hey, maybe those events impacted my life and personality more than I’m willing to admit.

    Really wonderful article though!

  • Marcie
    Reply

    I seem to be an ENFP social, sexual, and self preservation. Maybe it’s because I have lived a very traumatizing life. I have been abused in 5 ways. I have a very hard time with my inner self. Thank you. ☺

  • Cyn
    Reply

    Very useful information! I am typed as an ENFP Type 5 with balanced wings and am discovering that it is rare for our types to be cerebral. Hope you will post something on the rarity of this type one day!

  • Niecie
    Reply

    I was typed about 18 years ago as 9 or 7. I am definitely a Social Subtype and can see how I have moved through different subtypes over the years depending on what kinds of emotional things were surfacing in that time of my life. I would say that I was probably more of a seven as a child; however, as I endured transitions, I probably became a 9. From my late teens through my late twenties, I was highly obsessed with personal transformation and had little patience for shallow relationships. Now, I am much more flexible and find ways not to force deep conversations or show that side of myself so quickly. Hence the Social Subtype in me. Has to do with the rejection I felt from people who could not “hang” with my style or expectations. I do feel alone sometimes, even with my close relationships, but I feel much more emotionally grounded and more courageous to speak my mind at work than ever before.

    • Matthew
      Reply

      Niecie thank you for sharing. I related with much of what you said about moving through different subtypes as an ENFP and even changing from a type 7 to 9 as you grew up. I am in my mid-twenties and I think I was a type 5 when I was very young but because of therapy (for being diagnosed with aspergers a common miss-diagnosis for type 5s apparently) I eventually moved toward a type 9. I also find my subtypes to fluctuate depending on how much confidence I have in myself in whichever season of life I am in. It is very difficult to pin myself to a specific personality even with the specificity of combining the Myers-Briggs with Enneagram including subtypes. We’re such dynamic creatures, perhaps the ENFP types especially. Yet I have found that the pursuit of understanding my personality helps me understand that I have a unique identity that has a common thread of humanity with others. I can both relate with others and perhaps compliment their unique traits. For that reason I think the pursuit of understanding personality is is a cause that more people should endulge and understand.

  • Dallin
    Reply

    Thanks for this. I’m sill unsure my type (though I’ve been typed 4 most of the time) I’ve also been typed as a 7 and a 9. I don’t know my subtype either but it’s between social and sexual. I’ll have to study this article more to see if one resonates most with me.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt