They are different but there are a lot similarities that might occur on the surface. Mostly because seven and nine are both escapists and share the eight wing which brings a form of aggression/ assertiveness which is strange because those two traits kind of contradict each other.
So, I figured out the best way to know the difference is by analyzing an unhealthy 9w8 to a healthy 7w8. You can really tell the difference. But to be clear, this is completely just my own subjective analysis born from observation and doesn't necessarily apply to everyone. Im also not biased or against any of the types, just trying to fish directly with the stream, whatever that means.
Also, I am describing with a lot of negative words but I believe we find it easier to see the truth behind negatives in people than the truth behind the positive.
So the unhealthy 9w8- which I'm choosing because through the unhealthy 9w8 you can see what really matters more to them come forth- is much more about feelings. Their eight wing shows through their protectiveness of their feelings and this can come off to the seven or other enneagrams as turbulent or overly-sensitive. Now you might think to yourself- "but this is a trait of the four? Moodiness/ oversensitivity is more correctly linked to the four". Surprisingly, here's the difference, fours are more reserved about their feelings where as the nine-eight balance brings a kind of receptiveness to their feelings mostly because the nine is about feeling peace with themselves as well as others and the eight is about confronting that. They are very expressive-facially and verbally- of their feelings. They are outspoken in the outlet of feelings.
So the 7w8. The 7w8 won't appreciate being made openly vulnerable. Emotionally or any other way. Not to say that if they thought that it was sincerely needed they wouldn't open up, its just not their preferred mode of communication and they may be awkward with its dealings. Possibly because of the sinking feeling that is associated with reflecting upon feelings and naturally they don't find energy in it. The seven makes them want to lighten the situation and the eight might call too easily/push for solutions compared to the nine who thinks of feelings as nothing needing to be changed, whereas the 7w8 will find their direct approach to someone else's feelings as something not needing to be changed (Nine might detect this with as conflict and defend this with protectiveness). 7w8s do not try to have a harsh approach, but if they do theyre more likely to view this as a more positive thing to have done and not look back on it too much and their harsh approach could be due to not looking too deeply and lack of empathy on the part of the seven as they do have quite an optimistic outlook.
Although this may seem no different from the last point, it actually is.
Unhealthy 9w8s and their need for harmony can be released into the external world through their physical appetite (8-thing) for affection. They may make this openly obvious by even going so far as to admitting this through verbal expression to people close to them, and if more extroverted, will do this openly so to objective audiences. They may come off as clingy or needy like a two, but the eight helps differentiate. Affection might become even an issue for them if they feel as though others are not responding as they feel disconnected and without a sense of unity with the world which acts to provide them with a sense of power.
7w8 doesn't mind being affectionate with loved ones. But they might be more subjective as to under what circumstances they show affection. They may be more inclined to be openly playful as a way of showing affection. But under the impression that affection might somehow interrupt the atmosphere which the seven appreciates they might push away. Despite 7w8s caring less than 7w6s about what the world thinks of them, when it comes to showing affection, alike to an 8, if the 7w8 views affection as an open display of weakness then they may reject or feel ambushed by the concept of affection in public. Also, 7w8s may also view affection as distracting. Especially so if they other person becomes to clinging and babying which can challenge the 8 wing. Unless they think of affection as a strength, they may be more open to it.
This is a bit harder because everybody has their own tastes. Anybody can be politically incorrect, irreverant, goofy, random whatever but there is a distinct difference in their use by the 7w8 and 9w8.
The unhealthy 9w8 might not think so much in joking terms. Some may say, well thats because theyre unhealthy. Thats true, BUT...When unhealthy, 9w8 will be very on toe with whats being said, following all forms of communication in every sense. They may misread someone trying to share a laugh with them with paranoid-eyes and see to it that the person is not laughing with them, but at them. Keep in mind I'm talking unhealthy states here, if healthy we might not be able to see truly into the eight as the nine is a peace keeping thing. They are more likely in this entranced state to find humor in what comforts them, like a cute puppy or maybe a joke that one of their long time friends has said to them or finding a quote on a piece of stationary that they can relate to. However, they generally will not look for humor in situations, they just find them. The 9w8 might also find crude, offbeat, harsh, violent, or black humor more questionable and look behind the intentions of the person who's established this kind of humor.
The 7w8, when unhealthy, may become jaded, but this works for the 7w8 in not being sensitive to the expressions of others but in fact being less sensitive to their expressions to others. The average seven doesn't take anything too seriously enough to get to their head unless its more of a personal trigger for the 7w8 and even then they will first try to fix the situation by saying to themselves "well before it getting to my head, I'm going to try to have a positive attitude" in which case, they will stay positive and the external world is then relied upon for the 7w8 and they will be frustrated if the external world doesn't also respond with whimsy or smooth sailing. When unhealthy some might find the mentality that "everything's a joke" to be more relatable than when theyre in average states. In fact if something offensive is said to the 7w8, in the moment, the 7w8 may not take it too seriously enough to have recognized the offense and miss the opportunity to combat back but in replace, say something light-hearted or become confused out of not reading too deep into the situation. 7w8s will frequently be able to come up with seeing a joke side to things, or a way to play things off humorously without necessarily externalizing these. Usually their humor is one which criticizes /teases systems. For example, they might play out a scenario in their head of "how funny it would be if i did this and see what reaction it would get". The 8-wing brings a risky humor which might be offbeat, black, crude, harsh, joke name-calling, violent or questionable to others. They will not understand it when others don't want a light, upbeat atmosphere and feel annoyed with this. When unhealthy, 7w8s will want to cheer themselves up without this being too visibly obvious to others.
One of the biggest points of the eight wing.
9w8s will be quicker to show their frustration. Will erupt with these feelings which are born out of the sadness in the nine. Even if you don't exactly know them, they will assert their anger because in a sense, arguments clear the air. Won't exactly question the whys. More of a thought process which aligns with "all i know is you made me mad, the fact that you made me mad proves something, you making me mad is a test of my power and interrupting the peace, so i will question it". In this way, 9w8s, even when unhealthy can still be assertive and if you assert back, will fix the problem. So how is it that unhealthy nines can be avoidant? Theyre avoidant with their perspective. Their place in the conflict and avoidant in a way of self-indulgence. Ignoring other's feelings, more focusing on their own.
The 7w8 will show frustration only if they really feel the need to. Otherwise, they ignore it. If the person/situation is not so important to them, they may dismiss their anger. If dealing with a person they don't like, they won't be nice or rude, might avoid, and their body language such as facial expressions will show this dislike such as by being tight-lipped. If the person they are frustrated with is really important to them, they will refute and argue back and even disregard other's feelings. But the difference between 7w8 and 9w8 is that despite the refuting and arguing and harshness, the 7w8 can usually see the intentions behind the person's opinion or the realities to it but refuses this by arguing. That way they will continue to be blinded to the responsibilities behind what that person is saying. 7w8s tend to respond in a way that could be described as moody in the way they might blow off other people's anger towards them. What the 7w8 might interpret as just going with the flow of the argument, others might see as feisty, aggressive, overly confident, arrogant and bitchy.
Okay the fifth and final straw: Lying
Its going to be a short straw now because I am tireder than a unicorns pussy.
Yes i used the word.
Bet you thought I was going to say the other word.
The unhealthy 9w8 might resort to lying. But not usually. I would say theyre more likely to do this when theyre healthy because when theyre unhealthy they sincerely want help and love they just are too awkward and smelling of emotions to get this. They might repel people with their conflicting softness of the nine and aggression of the eight. Its not that they don't know how to, it was almost as though 9w8s literally couldn't help but be truthful. Lying is second nature and might only be used to get something they want or might bring them attention when they truly need it. Theyre too honest for their own good.
The 7w8 will feel lying can be a solution to many of life's problems and with the seven's brainstorming abilities, will almost have a talent for this. They will not find a problem with lying if they feel it will get them out of something they would rather not deal with or if lying will give them the result they want in the end. If its a simple solution and it ends well for all parties, without the lied to party finding out, then why not do it? Even if they have some inclination that the person knows theyre lying but doesn't respond to this, the 7w8 will not feel negatively about having lied. In fact, as part of the 7w8 humor, they might find humor in lying. Seeking to test other people's reactions with their lies or see what they can get from lies, almost like a game. However, it is not so much about the people, as it is about the fun, it is not about hurting the people as much as it is finding the reaction which leads the 7w8 to finding a source of humor in that person. 7w8s, even 7s in general, might think of lying as an art form, especially when it is to people they don't care about.
Okay I think I'm done there.
I didn't feel like editing
If I wrote bad, I did so empowered by the power of speech
If you find it offensive, don't continue to read it
If you find it wrong, its just my opinion and feel free to state your differences because i want to better understand the differences myself, being either a 7w8 or 7w6.
If it helped you, then, wow.