Enneagram Type 7 Relationships
Today we’re going to take a peek at Enneagram Type Seven relationships. Whether you are a Type Seven in a relationship, in a relationship with a Seven or just want to know more about how this type acts in the context of romance, you’ve come to the right place. But before we dive into this topic, let’s first have a quick review/overview of what it means to be a Type Seven. This will give you context for the relationship section. (If you’re well-versed in the Enneagram, you can skip this part.)
Being an Enneagram Type Seven
Enneagram Type 7 is called The Enthusiast by Riso & Hudson. Marilyn Vancil refers to the Seven as “Reflecting God’s Joy and Abundance.” Sevens rest in the Head Center of Intelligence, where they receive and process the world through their minds. Though it’s usually hard to tell from the outside, the chief emotion of Sevens is fear. They manage that fear by staying busy, seeking out fun and novel experiences, people and/or ideas. With an Assertive social style, Sevens respond to difficulty by expanding their ego in their environment rather than backing down. Along with Eights and Threes, Sevens have trouble processing their emotions.
Like Types Two and Nine, Sevens have a Positive Outlook on life, able to find the silver lining in any unpleasant situation and downplay difficulties. Many people are initially attracted to Sevens because they know how to get a party started, smile and laugh easily, and are typically pretty fun to be around. Riso & Hudson describe them as “The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered.”
Enneagram Type 7 relationships
So, what is Enneagram Type 7 love like? Well, let’s first look at what it’s like at the Average Level of Development. I’ll use a personal example to start things off.
I once said to my then-fiancé, now-husband Tom, “I don’t like you when you’re no fun.” Ouch. Can you imagine? But that was me in my totally unaware 20s, and that is how Sevens can be. In fact, it was such a natural thing for me to say that I have no memory of saying it! He reminded me years later, much to my horror.
The trap of personality is real, and each type fights its own hard battle. Sevens are fighting hard against the terror at their core, a fear that the world isn’t safe and that no one is reliable or will help them get their needs met – they can only rely on themselves. If they slow down, they fear they will get trapped in deprivation or pain (the Seven’s Basic Fear, according to Riso & Hudson). They are running away fast from that terror, and that’s why Sevens don’t want to deal with un-fun things in any arena of life, including relationships.
So, when the going gets rough, Sevens are prone to bail out. This can take a variety of forms. They may try to downplay or discredit the un-fun, difficult relationship issue, as with the phrase “Oh, it’s not that bad.” They may reframe the situation, like “I know X is a bummer, but it opens up the door for Y!” If an argument gets heated, they may physically take off – just walk out on the argument. And sometimes, the Seven will bail out on the relationship altogether if it’s perceived as too much un-fun for not enough fun in return.
The Self-Focused Fear of Type 7
Here’s a thing about Sevens that no one wants to talk about, but since I am one, I can vouch for this: We are self-focused. Another way to say it is that we are self-referencing. And we want our independence. That means we typically want a relationship on our own terms. If the other fits into or at least doesn’t interfere with our plans, all is well. If not, things can get rocky.
It’s not that Sevens are completely selfish jerks who can’t have happy, long-term romantic relationships. It’s just that this is an aspect of Seven-ness that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Sometimes people accuse the Enneagram of being too negative because it points out areas where each type falls short. But I am so grateful to have personality shortcomings pointed out! Because they’re usually blind spots for each of us. And the Enneagram also shows us how to grow and develop so that these blind spots don’t wreck our lives and relationships!
One handy thing to know is what a 7 looks like under stress. They can become impatient and judge-y, blaming others for their problems and rationalizing their behavior. When you see this in your 7, back off to give them some space and time. When the Seven’s cooler head prevails, invite them to discuss what was going on in a short, upbeat conversation that doesn’t try to blame or shame them. Then they’ll feel heard and have a better shot at uncovering the real issue.
Romantic Commitment for Enneagram 7
Sevens want options, which is why some don’t want to commit to a relationship. I just read in a Facebook group for Sevens a post from a broken-hearted Three who’d been in a relationship with a Seven for several years, and only recently had he told her that he wasn’t willing to commit to her. Commitment can feel a bit like being trapped for this type.
I remember that when I was dating Tom, I felt that I’d like to spend the rest of my life with him, but I knew that meant I’d be limiting my options to one guy forever. And that felt strange. I kept seeing other guys and thinking, “What if he’s the one instead?” I had been asking God if Tom was the one for me, and fortunately, one day I heard God say to my heart, as clear as day, “Marry this man.”
Our 29th anniversary is coming up in a few weeks.
Which brings me to the next point about Sevens and commitment. Sevens are often thought of as “flighty” and commitment-phobic for the reasons I mentioned above. But which Instinct dominates is an important distinction here, as is a Seven’s personal beliefs and Level of Development. So, let’s look at how the three main human instincts influence the Seven, according to Dr. Beatrice Chestnut in The Complete Enneagram:
- Self-Preservation Seven: With respect to relationships, Self-Pres Sevens are nesters who want a comfortable home and a steady someone to share it with. They are more materialistic and rebellious than the other two kinds of Seven (see below), and such traits can certainly impact a romantic partner. However, these Sevens have less trouble committing to someone, and many report having long-term marriages or relationships. (This is my dominant instinct.)
- Sexual Seven: The Sexual instinct is focused on intensity, and these Sevens can fall easily and intensely in love. They idealize their partner in terms of wanting a deep, ultimate connection with them – as if the relationship is a portal to mystical union. But their tendency to run from conflict or discomfort, and their dislike of the mundane aspects of routine, make it harder for them to commit to one person.
- Social Seven: These Sevens are idealistic, and they look for a pure, perfect, idealized romance. Without realizing it, Social Sevens view themselves as morally superior to their partner and expect the partner to grow to the Seven’s level of purity. They suffer from the same fear of commitment as Sexual Sevens, but their desire to not cause the partner pain may mean they stay in a relationship longer than they want to.
Love with a Healthy 7
Now, in case this all sounds like doom and gloom and you want to now avoid Sevens at all costs, remember this: no type is particularly more difficult to have a relationship with. Every type has its foibles – and its blessings. It’s the same with Sevens, so let’s look at what’s possible on the higher side for this Enneagram type.
At their best, Sevens bring a spirit of joy and abundance to a relationship. They can encourage their partner to dream big and see new possibilities. Their sense of personal freedom and agency is infectious, spurring the other to be more and grab hold of all that life offers. They are hospitable, generous and spontaneous.
At this higher Level of Development, Sevens are both thoughtful and sensitive to the other, as well as profoundly grateful for the relationship. Here, the Seven can focus not just on themselves but on sharing their prodigious life energy and resilience with the other, supporting the other’s dreams and able to remain present to conflict.
Enneagram 7 Love
This isn’t all there is to say about Enneagram Type Seven relationships – that could take up an entire book! But I hope that this information and my personal examples give you an idea of what it’s like to be a Seven or to love one. My goal is to help create awareness or self-awareness, depending on which side of this romantic equation you’re on. It’s so easy to judge, misinterpret and resent what you don’t understand. That’s what humans do best! But it’s possible to get some insight on what makes a Seven tick. The hope is that as you do, you will have compassion and a stronger relationship because of it.
Quick Start Guide to Centering Prayer
This short guide gives you the essentials for learning to be still and quiet before God so you can hear his voice and feel his love in a deeper way.