Enneagram 5 Instinctual Variants (+ 5 tips)

This article will discuss what instinctual variants are in the context of enneagrams and also highlight and explain the instinctual variants of the type 5 enneagram. The article will also explain what instinctual variants are as well as what the type 5 enneagram is and list down some of its traits so the readers have a better understanding of the topic.

Type 5 Instinctual Variants – The 3 Defining Moments

Here are the instinctual variants of the type 5 enneagram:

  • Self Preservation: Home – The Castle Defender
  • Social: Totem/Symbols – The Professor
  • One To One: Confidentiality – The Secret Agent

We will take a look at these in detail but before that we will explain what instinctual variants are when it comes to enneagrams and their behaviour.

What Are Instinctual Variants?

In order to survive and thrive human beings have generally developed three types of behaviours that allow them to respond to threats, socialize with others and form close relationships with people – these are known as self preservation, social, and one to one behaviours respectively.

These behaviours are defined by subtypes and there are a total of 27 subtypes which means that each enneagram has 3 subtypes in total just like the type 5 enneagram which we highlighted above. 

We have subtypes because they allow us to react to different situations immediately with little awareness and effort – this allows us to deal with various situations without putting too much thought and effort into it. Hence, we as individuals may behave differently in different situations but generally in the same manner across a wider continuum.

Some people see their primary subtype quite quickly, while for others it’s a matter of study over time. Those who know us well may offer some useful feedback, since we don’t always see ourselves objectively.

In this article, we will take a look at the subtypes of the type 5 enneagram in detail!

The Instinctual Variants Of The Type 5 Enneagram

Let us take a look at the subtypes of this enneagram one by one!

Self Preservation: Home – The Castle Defender

In this subtype, the type 5 enneagram may develop capacities to hoard excessively in an attempt to deal with any sort of threat – they will be seen gathering supplies or shopping a bit too much to deal with whatever stressors they have. They may also react in a strange way by leaving their home or castle and traveling to a far off land to deal with their issues. This will reflect a lack of commitment to their place of stay and they will be seen desiring to go from one place to the other.

Social: Totem/Symbols – The Professor

How this type socializes with others is their obsession with understanding the language of the group – they will want to learn all the signs and secret languages learnt by others and hence they develop a desire to master languages which may be seen in their everyday behavior too. However, sometimes they may become passive and only observe group members instead of participating.

One-to-One: Confidentiality – The Secret Agent

At times the type 5 enneagram, despite being an introvert, will choose to open up in an attempt to form a close relation with a significant other hence they will share their inner world that holds their thoughts, feelings and experiences.

Who Is A Type 5 Enneagram?

These individuals are very much interested in learning things that are relevant to their area of interest. They will investigate its elements and try to gather as much information as they can! The enneagram type 5 is alert, innovative but secretive at the same time.

People with this enneagram type have the ability to build complex ideas and skills; this is possible only because of their focus on the specific area they are working within and their dedication to master it.

The type 5 enneagram has an innate need to learn continuously. They want more and more information and want to increase their reservoir of knowledge. It bothers them if they have an interest in a certain thing or phenomena however, they are not able to learn more about it. Their curiosity is indeed a problem for them. At the same time, this desire to learn more about their interests distracts them from other things in their life, especially the practical ones. 

Another defining trait of this enneagram type is that they want to be different from others in what they learn or study. They want to discover a new area or an area that is least researched by others. They do not want to focus on things that are common or conventional; they want to study the bizarre, unknown, beyond limits, unexplainable topics on the list!

Fears & Desires 

We will explore the basic desire and fear of this enneagram type!

The Basic Fear – Type 5 Enneagram

The basic fear of these enneagrams is that they will become useless in the sense that they have no skill or knowledge. They are scared they will not be competent in any field of life which they can master. The fear is not associated with showing off but to give their own self a sense of assurance that they have a skill they know very well and it makes the stand out from others.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

The Basic Desire – Type 5 Enneagram

Their basic desire stems from their fear of not being competent. The desire is to learn so that they are competent and skilled in a certain area that is of much interest to them and not so common or known amongst others. They desire to be different in the knowledge they possess and skills they can employ. It gives them a sense of competence, capability and assurance.

Popular Behaviour – Romantic Relationships

Let’s take a look at how this enneagram behaves in their intimate relations!

Passion for Work

This enneagram has a lot of passion for their work and if they have a similar partner it can do wonders for their relationship!

Whether it is studying microorganisms in a lab or cracking the formula to a math problem, they will put their all into it. This is very beneficial to them because not only do they listen to each other talk about work but also if they work in one area then it becomes a great pastime for them. They get to discuss more things and take part in shared activities relevant to work.

Having the same passion for what they do can help them settle in well together. They will not end up in fights where they complain about not having enough time for the other person or staying away involved in work. This is because they understand and appreciate the other person’s work habits and their passion for what they do. The time they do get together is hence well spent talking about the interests they share.

However, if they have a partner who does not share their passion, they will experience much friction not only because they can’t give time to each other but they won’t have much in common to talk about.

Love the Little Details

This enneagram cares about the little things so if their partner makes the effort they will definitely notice it! They will appreciate what the other person does for them. This has two effects! Firstly they will be grateful and happy that they are being cared for. Secondly, their partner will be reinforced to do more and more for the other person. Hence, this will lead to a cycle of happiness.

Objective Analysis

Being objective is important to type 5s. If they have a partner who thinks in a similar manner they are able to agree more and fight less because they have a similar lens of looking at problems and relationship issues. They do not bring in personal biases but take the problem for what it is.

Being objective also allows them to agree more on certain topics they come across and hence they appreciate their partner’s insight and understanding of things – it feels good to have the same opinions.

However, if they end up with someone who acts mostly based on their emotions it will definitely create problems.

Dealing With Crises

The enneagram type 5 has a calm and controlled manner when it comes to dealing with tense or difficult situations. This allows them to navigate through hard times. This also allows them to deal with difficult partners who may need more attention and patience.

Polished Skills

Type 5 partners believe in possessing skills. They can impress the other with what they know how to do and even teach the other person. It becomes a great learning activity because not only are they spending time together but they are doing something which both of them appreciate – stimulating their mental activity and learning technical things!

Having skills increases the admiration and respect both enneagrams have for each other because learning a new skill is definitely not an easy job! Hence, the type 5 enneagram should look for someone who is similar to them and understands their passions.


This article took a look at the type 5 enneagram’s instinctual variants and also discussed both of these terms in isolation to give the readers a better understanding of the topic. The article also highlighted some of the behaviours of the type 5 enneagram at the workplace.



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