Enneagram Type 5 – The Emotional Connection

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It is Valentine’s week so it feels very timely to be answering a question that was sent in from a Type 5 reader asking, “How do I stay connected with my emotions and not detach when it is important to do so?  Please review my overview blog on Type 5 for background.  I decided to reach out to my panel of experts…the Type 5s in my life for their input to this question.  Needless to say, it was not an easy response for the majority of them, which is why this question is so powerful.

Type 5s are in the Thinking Triad and identify powerfully with; “A sense of being a detached, outside observer of the world – not part of it. They resist recognizing physical presence and state, feelings and needs, from the book “The Wisdom of the Enneagram”.

All respondents shared that this was an ability that came after conscious choice and life experience; that cultivating awareness was a first step in making any shift to what the natural inner patterns are. In the book mentioned above, Riso & Hudson identify the power of the Enneagram to help us let go of the limiting mechanisms of the personality so that we can more deeply experience who and what we really are. Growth and change always are preceded by awareness. We typically are moved to make change when we experience a level of discomfort in the results that our natural learned responses to life are bringing.

So here are few responses this question elicited.

1.  I do disconnect in order to protect my ego. When emotions surface, I could get defensive or I couldn’t find my way out. The emotions initially stopped my thinking! This was an evolution, a decision to not be immobilized by my emotions, to invite a sense of curiosity in. To relax into it or surrender to worrying what people will think. To stay in my body and stay focused on the ultimate desire or outcome.  To bring clarity of purpose to what my partners in relationship need from me. To invite a level of honesty in – hiding and withholding have been life long patterns.  I had to find a safe environment to explore then remind myself that  “We’re all bozos on this bus of life. View it as a growth not a limitation…like the bud before it becomes a leaf. My ultimate desire – looking for peace and joy.

2.  Some strategies  learned are – breathing to ground in the body, nature, animals, being a mom helped to open up the emotional experience. When sharing someone’s story – try to engage in the bigger picture. Noticing some personalities are more difficult to allow emotional connection and realizing this presents a learning opportunity for her.  Above all – it must feel safe or there must be a strong realization that someone will benefit from the sharing of her emotions.

3.  Thought provoking question that I have often pondered.

The answer for me is to avoid isolation.  The more isolated I allow myself to be, the more comfortable I become with that disconnection.  I often force myself into social situations i.e: church, social invitations, to ensure I stay connected with people. Once I make that effort to be with people, I feel so much more alive and more open to emotional interactions and in depth communication!

Isolation also affects my relationship with my partner, possibly because he likes to disconnect but for healthier reasons.  He “allows” me to disconnect and that affects our emotional connection. I always force myself to say “yes” whenever we have opportunities to get out into the world together and interact with people. The more social events we participate in help me stay excited about our relationship and life. It is a constant battle for me because I am more suited to rural vs subdivision living. Living in the country as we do allows me to disconnect very easily.

Exercise also keeps me more emotionally connected.  I exercised alone for many, many years and that wasn’t helpful.  I could go and not talk to anyone…got the exercise but not the needed social interaction. Regular walking with a friend makes me want to stay connected with the world. Once I figured this out, I noticed I am able to stay happier, more energized, balanced and positive about my life and relationships.

4.  My first thought was “I’m always connected to my emotional side, I just don’t show it very well sometimes”. But I might be kidding myself; maybe sometimes the connection is just not there. I like to think that that’s not true. Then I thought maybe it’s not the same for everyone, and maybe some of us do actually drift away. They see it, but don’t know what to do to stop or correct it.

That brings me to a couple of places, possibly strategies (I’m not sure I like that word, because to me it means consciously acknowledging a weakness, usually keeping it to yourself -a 5 characteristic- and developing actions that hide the weakness from others).

One would be: consciously try to understand the impact on others (i.e. partner or friends). Example. You ask me to look at possible excursions on a vacation. I’m giving my time to do that, so of course that (should) show that I care. However, you asked me, which implies you see me in my own world and need to ask me rather than wait for me to realize it on my own. Or viewed another way, you always have to ask me because I don’t think about it first, or offer, so that fosters the “illusion” that I’m not emotionally connected and probably causes some frustration. It becomes important for a 5 to actually consciously look up and realize when that is happening, and how often: shopping, visiting friends, inviting friends, going out for dinner, picking a movie.

So first is recognition, and then second is action. I’m trying to do this more. Be proactive. Ask first. Offer your time before it is asked for. I’m learning that the “points” you get for doing that are disproportionately huge compared to the alternative. You’re probably going to do it anyway, especially if it’s important, so which is better? a grateful/relieved partner because you initiated, or you grumbling and your partner being frustrated and feeling guilty because they imposed on your time.

I’m not sure how relevant this is but does connect a bit with my action point above. My wife and I do have a couple of common TV interests, which will have us sitting together for an hour now and then watching and sharing. That goes away when the “season” is over. However, in those dry times, both of us (including me, the 5) are making a bit more effort to identify opportunities to replace that show with something we might not normally watch, to allow us to continue to share time.

These few responses incorporate a number of other common points that came up with an extended list. It represents a male and female perspective.

Common Points:

  • Recognition that there is a challenge within relationships that matters to you.
  • Create awareness – “catching ourselves in the act” of what path our personality tends to follow. When we can experience our current state completely without judgment, the old patterns will begin to fall away.
  • Be honest with yourself and your partner. Identify the parameters that work for you in exploring more emotional connection.
  • Get in touch with your body through breath, movement, noticing exercises, or physical contact with another person, animals or nature.
  • Find clarity on the positive outcome that change will bring for you.  Realize that the investment of your time and energy will bring you what you are ultimately looking for.

We all have our growing edge to discover, explore and work with AND we all have a connection to the Type 5 nature within us. I am grateful for the sharing and know that my experience has been expanded for the exercise. I hope you find the same.

I would love your feedback. Please leave a link back to your own blog too if you have one, via the commentluv feature here on the site.

Until next time,




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