Palmer - The Enneagram in Love & Work

Point Five: The Observer

Five in Love
Living with Fives:

  • Because Fives have delayed reactions, their feelings can surface when they're alone. They find intimacy in private reverie. Great tenderness can develop without the need for words or prolonged personal contact.
  • Fives' cycle of withdrawal can lead to feelings of isolation and the desire to have others draw them out. They are caught between wanting contact and wanting to go.
  • Intimacy can stimulate detachment. Significants may get the message "I can still do without you," or "I'm committed, but I won't live with you."
  • You may be compartmentalized, separated from other aspects of the Five's life.
  • Expect a Five to express intimacy in nonverbal ways. Fives sense that feelings can surface more easily if they need not be spoken.
  • An emotionally attached Five may become fiercely possessive of you. You may feel like his or her emotional lifeline.
  • Partners will get lots of support when the Five is free of personal obligations and doesn't feel forced to respond.
  • Noninvolvement is the Five's habitual emotional stance. Partners should therefore read "negative" feelings such as anger, jealousy, and competition, as well as "positive" feelings like sexuality and tenderness, as possible signs of increasing connection.

Five at Work
In the Workplace:

  • Has a sense of limited energy reserves. Does not want time and energy to be used for other people's agendas.
  • Works hard for the rewards of privacy and the freedom to pursue personal interests. Works to buy autonomy.
  • Needs predictability. Wants to foresee in order to be prepared. Expects to have minutes from the last meeting and names of those who will attend the next one.
  • Attention gravitates to others in the environment. Feels their intrusion. Often finds it hard to concentrate in the presence of others.
  • Freezes when unexpectedly questioned or when a spontaneous reaction is called for. Needs to withdraw in order to figure things out.
  • Strictly avoids conflict. Puts up a wall of memos and secretaries as protection against emotional scenes.
  • Values unemotional decision making. The use of feelings as a rudder for decisions appears to be a loss of control. Can usually see through the flattery and charismatic leadership.
  • Extremely productive when in a decision-making role that is protected from frontline interactions.

Helen Palmer

The Enneagram in Love & Work:
Understanding Your Intimate & Business Relationships
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995, 417 pages