Am I a 5?
For as long as I can remember, my family and eventually other people were telling me how smart I was. I've long considered myself a nerdy type. I just knew I'd end up with a PhD and probably go into academia. I was told how I was a truth seeker and I wouldn't stop studying anything until I knew the truth. Fox Mulder, eat your heart out!
Except I wasn't that smart. Oh, I can think well enough about certain things, but fundamentally I've struggled because I'm too scattered to be a really good scholar. I disappointed myself by dumping out of my grad program early (ended up with just an MA in a PhD program) because I simply could not focus on the topic at hand well enough to write the stupid dissertation. I wrote a theology blog for years in which I sought to promote what I considered deep, profound thoughts, but I ended up abandoning it 5-6 years ago after realizing I'd studied and examined most of what was really interesting to me.
I'm definitely "withdrawn" - no question there. Despite my wife's many attempts over the years, I always resisted doing things with most other families/couples, usually because I was critical of or intimidated by the husband - I used to deem most of them too "shallow", that is to say, in touch with the normal world from which I was alienated by my preoccupation with "deep" abstract musings. I felt like I never fit in with most men because I dislike sports. And in fact, it's not just sports: I'm not a huge fan of competition generally.
I tend to enjoy a good argument and have thought of myself as a pretty decent (informal) debater. But now that my marriage is broken I realize I have more often resorted to shortcut rhetorical tactics to shut down arguments rather than actually having such good points and clear thinking that I convince anyone. I had grand, dogmatic opinions, which I attributed to my incisive and insightful love of truth, that made some relationships hard, including most especially my marriage. I have annoyed people with my predilection for playing devil's advocate, of which I've always been devilishly proud. I fancy myself a good troubleshooter because of supposed attention to detail.
When my wife started looking at the Enneagram a couple years ago, she found herself quickly to be a seven. I jumped in, hopeful to find mine. But I couldn't. I tried a few different analyses and none of them seemed to fit me enough down the line. My wife couldn't figure me out either.
Lately I was encouraged to try figuring it out again. Because I'm thought of as such a detail-oriented, investigative type person, it was recommended that I read the thickest, most analytical work out there. I couldn't even make myself read the "Wisdom of the Enneagram" front to back. I plowed into the types and got a little more headway, but I still needed help.
I tried a free online test. The results: 9, 7, 4. My reaction: no way a person whose marriage has failed because of being a bad arguer could be a Peacemaker, and even less possible that I'm an Enthusiast. But 4 seemed possible: I tend to think of myself as such a unique, Individualist person - so I read about that type more in depth. Maybe. While there I read about 5 again, and I thought, "Ah, I'm an Investigator. Gotta be."
Finally I shelled out $12 for the Enneagram Institute's test and found that my highest score was a 5. Finally, confirmation! But that wasn't the whole story: I was really bothered that I scored just as high for 9 again! In fact, 9 was the only score in common between the two tests. So I decided to look further into 9 and what "Peacemaker/Mediator" could mean.
As I'm sure most of you have seen coming, when I went to try to figure out whether I was a 9 or a 5, I discovered that those are the most frequently confused types. What's more, intelligent male nines typically think of themselves as fives, though not nearly so much the other way around. I also read that while fives apply their investigation and analysis uniformly in life and tend to take a more deductive approach, I definitely apply that investigation to only certain temporary areas of interest. When I look at my annoyingly dogmatic stances that have caused such conflict rather than peace with my wife, I realize that those fit the nine's stereotypically unrealistic, idealistic, impractical fantasies. And a lot of my argumentation could be boiled down to trying to resolve conflict in too many cases paradoxically by denying the issue. I've always known that my "devil's advocate" penchant was about trying to get the other side to be appreciated not as ridiculous but defensible, in an attempt to build a bridge; a mantra of mine has been that it's harder to truly despite someone's opinions if they are honestly examined from that person's point of view. And the intent of my blog was always to be a voice in the middle between extremes that begged the two to come together, and it was the widening gap despite my valiant Blog Warrior attempts that ended up discouraging me enough to abandon the blog.
So am I a 9?
I'm increasingly inclined to think so. It seems likely that I tested so high for a 5 because I thought of myself as a deep thinker, an analyst, not because I actually am one. I am fairly certain that my idyllic childhood is something I've been trying to recreate, and it would explain why I haven't dealt with conflicts very well. This in my home has ended up shattering my carefully constructed world from which I managed to alienate my wife despite my biggest sense of identity being that I was a family man. It also gives me some odd relief to think that I am not a failed intellectual or scholar because I was never an intellectual or scholar in the first place (but maybe that's just a 9 looking for a silver lining). I apply my intellect to simplifying things like a 9, not relishing the complexity of them like a 5 might do. I do tend to retreat into my "fantasy" world to avoid conflict, though I don't see it as fantasy at the time.
But here are my greatest doubts with this identification. Most pertain to my marriage - the most important relationship in my life and yet the one I've somehow bungled.
- My deepest known fear seems more about being exposed as incompetent, like a 5, than it seems to be about separation. One of the biggest reasons I was so endlessly defensive to the point of fracture was that I couldn't stand for her to think of me as a failure. Of course, in the failure of my marriage I am more than willing to be seen as a colossal idiot if it would reconcile us, so maybe peace is the greater value after all.
- My almost obsessive (but not quite) attention to detail has made me very self-conscious of how I appear to others. It also resulted in me giving my wife an endless hard time about such mindless things as biting her fingernails or being sleepy at 7pm. Long before that, as a teenager I gave my mom such a hard time about stupid ticks (e.g. the way she swallowed, pronounced certain words) that it hurt her in ways I am still regretful of but still guiltily conscious of. Maybe this has nothing to do with my Enneagram number, but it seems much more like a 5 than a 9, doesn't it?
- Nines are stereotypically upbeat and optimistic. I tend to plan for the worst and tend to be among the first to call attention to possible unfavorable outcomes (usually with some humor). But in reality, I've tended to downplay the worst options in my mind to the point of yet another breaking point in my marriage: I too often dismissed my wife's concerns as paranoia because I was so confident that nothing bad was going to actually happen (originally this was a point of attraction because I injected stability into her anxiety). But although I think I was one as a child, in my adulthood I'd never be accused of being a ray of sunshine.
- My perception is that nines, while withdrawn, are still fairly social. More than I used to, I do now realize a real need for social connection although it isn't really easy for me, but still, everyone who knows me thinks of me as a loner and an introvert who is socially awkward, with practically zero personal magnetism. Is that like a 9?
- My wife insists that I brought her down and made her feel judged in so many of our conversations, dismissing the validity of what she said, making her feel like she was shallow, stupid, etc. I have never thought of my wife as shallow, stupid, or any such thing, and never would have wanted her to think that about herself or that I thought that. But how could a so-called "Peacemaker/Mediator" type do this inadvertently? Shouldn't I have been mollifying her in our arguments, being a diplomat rather than someone she could mistake as spiteful?
- The way I'm analyzing this whole thing! It's kind of typical of how I analyze things. I look at each point, question it, throw something at it, see if it sticks. It seems much more like an Investigator. When I texted a friend and attempted to defend my being a 9 instead of a 5 (as he assumed) by laying out some of these points, he responded that he'd never received such a "five" text message before.
Gosh, I've really let it all hang out here for the Internet to see. If you made it through, thanks for the attempt. I just really am lacking a very good sense of self-identity (another mark in favor of 9) and could use your help.