Exploring Enneagram:: What It’s Like Being a Five

This year, our Houston Moms writers will be giving you first-hand accounts of life behind their Enneagram type. For an introduction to the Enneagram, see this post, and then read on as contributor Kirsten’s husband William shares his experience of living as an Enneagram Five, from a male’s point of view. 

Let’s just start on the real here; I had no idea what the enneagram was. My wife—despite the rules against typecasting—told me what I was. Defiantly, I whipped out my phone and took the first test Google provided. {Turns out, she was right.} Type Five…whatever that meant. Not only was I now branded as “a Five,” the numbers weren’t even arguable. No wiggle room in those percentages.

As we began talking more about the enneagram and I read some of the descriptions {aka watched YouTube videos}; turns out they were spot on.

A Five’s Kryptonite


Exploring Enneagram:: What It’s Like Being a Five

It’s not easy being married to a Five, I’ll admit that. We are categorized as one of the three “head types” and nicknamed Investigator or the Observer. We are deeply drained by the necessity to meet other people’s needs. Our circles are small and extraordinarily selective. {So, if you are truly friends with a Five, you should feel honored. You live among the chosen.}

It doesn’t mean we aren’t friendly, but we don’t necessarily count a lot of people as close friends either. Being in large social situations is exhausting and we are often looking for an escape hatch. My wife makes fun of me because I’ll break away to wash the dishes even during my own birthday party. It’s not that I don’t enjoy our friends and appreciate them, but subconsciously I need the break.

Large groups of people are kryptonite for Fives. Just kill us now. Unfortunately, not only am I married to a Three who feeds off social situations, but her jobs have often required us to participate in these types of gatherings. I can play along for the most part, but am often seen as arrogant, snobbish, or stand-offish because I don’t have the mental capacity to process all of the people around me. But also, personal space. I do much better one-on-one or in smaller groups.

Finally! Enneagram to the rescue. It’s not me—my number made me this way.

Visionaries and Problem-solvers

Exploring Enneagram:: What It’s Like Being a FiveIt wasn’t until I heard Dr. Tom LaHue say it that I realized it was true. “Fives are merely conserving their energy. They don’t believe they have enough to go around, and they don’t want to spend it on what they see as trivial things.” I tend to hoard my time, space, and energy. One of the biggest factors is how much it will take from my time and my work when making decisions.

Fives are processors; we need all the information we can get…and then a few additional details. We were the kids who tinkered with toys, taking them apart only to see if we could put them back together or create something completely new with the parts. I have hundreds of ideas for new products that will likely never see the inside of Shark Tank.

By trade, I am a craftsman allowing me an outlet for creativity. But despite having over two decades of experience in the industry, my brain still creates doubts about my abilities. I am always on the quest for more. A different technique, a faster way to do something. The Fives will never know enough—about anything.

We are energized by big, complex ideas. We are visionaries, highly independent, and sometimes seen as a bit whimsical. {Weird, okay. People think we’re a little odd.} For better or worse, we don’t depend on social validation. Most Fives have an, “I don’t give a flip what others think” attitude and it can get us in trouble. My filter has very large holes in it and things slip out.

But we are great problem-solvers. We often have clear heads in emergencies and can steer the ship. Because of our ability to emotionally detach from most situations, we can approach problems with logical solutions—which may or may not come in handy, depending on who is in the situation with us.

Top Enneagram Five Tips

Exploring Enneagram:: What It’s Like Being a FiveIf you are married to or in a relationship with a Five, I feel for you, I do. I know it’s not easy to deal with us all of the time. I promise we aren’t ignoring you on purpose. It’s just that our mind gets really full, really quickly, and we forget other things {like planning date night}.

Here are my top 5 tips for getting along with a Type Five::

  1. Be straightforward and speak in Cliffs Notes. Maybe it’s ADD, maybe it’s enneagram—but we can only process so many words at a time.
  2. Don’t force us to interact socially when we’re already uncomfortable. It’s not going to go well for anyone.
  3. Give us personal space to think. It’s not that we don’t want you around, we just have to untangle our brains.
  4. Don’t make assumptions about what’s going on with us. Just ask us directly.
  5. The best way to get us to engage in conversation is to talk about a subject we’re interested in. We have plenty of facts to share! But don’t be offended if we correct you.

If you don’t know what your type is, you should find out. It’s pretty interesting! {Or you can just ask your wife. She probably knows.}

About William C.

William C. is the President/Owner of Sawdust Custom Woodwork. He lives with his bride in Katy, TX with their two spoiled dogs, Callie and Sadie. Running primarily on candied pecans, iced coffee, and cotton candy, he is most often found tinkering in his garage on his latest woodworking creation. A bona fide Superman fanatic, he enjoys hiking, exploring the outdoors, and basically anything that results in an adrenaline rush. However, you will never find him doing any of those things because when he isn’t working, he’s busy being a foster dad and volunteering at Kingsland Baptist teaching woodworking through children’s ministry. 

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  1. This made me laugh: I’m a 5 married to a very social 3 so I feel your pain! Super helpful to read your thoughts. I’m feeling the solidarity!


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