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Relationships with Enneagram Sevens

If you’re in a relationship with an Enneagram Seven, one of the first things you should know is that their ego is telling them “the world exists for my enjoyment.” Sevens believe life is good when it feels good, and that it should feel good most of, if not all of, the time. That’s why Sevens get stereotyped as the "most fun" Enneagram type, but if you’ve ever been in a romantic relationship with one, here are five key themes you’ll need to know about how they handle relationships: go with the flow, freedom moves fast, anticipating appetites, the confidence game, and the commitment adventure.

1/ Go With the Flow

Sevens are flow masters--they are the master of which direction and how fast the flow moves. Sevens hate rigid structures and being told what to do because they interrupt the flow. Sevens prefer to be in perpetual motion, catalyzed by their very subtle struggle with anxiety. Sevens are so fun loving and upbeat on the surface that it can seem like there’s no way they’re riding a constant wave of anxiety, but it's easier to see when you undertand the Seven's unique place within the Enneagram:

  1. First, Sevens are in the head group of the Triad Centers along with Type Five Investigators and Type Six Loyalists. All head types have a major struggle with racing thoughts and a general concern about the future. Sevens tend to transform their anxiety into fuel, a.k.a. their flow, which is always moving downstream.

  2. Next, Sevens are in the Harmonic Triad, which explains how each type copes with pain. Sevens are in the positive outlook group along with Type Two Helpers and Type Nine Peacemakers. Positive outlook types don’t do well with negative experiences or heavy emotions. If you mix up the desire to stay positive with a bunch of anxious energy, you’ve got the Seven's unique brand of going with the flow.

In relationships, Sevens will go from fun loving and excited to super frustrated the moment their partner tries to interrupt or control their flow, especially by using any negative emotion or criticism, as it taps into all the potentially dark feelings / memories the Seven spends their life avoiding.

When it comes to facing things like grief, depression, or conflict, Sevens refuse to be forced into the deep end of so called “negative experiences.” Sevens want to diffuse fights with their partners as quickly as possible, which means they never really get solved because a quick “sorry” doesn’t get to or heal the root of an issue.

Sevens are also masters at reframing a negative thing into a positive thing in order to avoid feelings of guilt and remorse.

That could sound like: “hey, it’s a good thing you got so angry at me because we had some awesome make up sex.”

On the bright side, their relentless optimism is priceless when you do have to face adversity as a couple. When it comes to everyday relationship tension, Sevens have to work hard to build their tolerance for heavy conversations and true conflict resolution. Their partners have to develop serious patience for the Seven's flow, away from and hopefully back to, those necessary conversations.

2/ Freedom Moves Fast

The Seven’s ideal life would be one filled with the freedom to do whatever, whenever, wherever they want. If Sevens think something is awesome, they want to be free to do it whenever they want, and preferably right now. That mix of urgency and independence can make it more difficult to have a stable, mutually supportive relationship, because you can’t predict the Seven's impulses. At the very least, you'll know the why behind their impulses (anxiety).

Sevens get anxious when they slow down because they feel like they’re going to miss out on one of life’s amazing opportunities if they’re not constantly out in the world hunting for what’s new and exciting.

The common problem Sevens have in relationships is feeling like their partner is an anchor slowing them down and limiting their opportunities to have a truly fulfilling life.

This can be a pretty harsh perspective, caused by the Seven's mind pulling them so fast into the future that their heart often gets left in the dust. Sevens aren’t known for having a ton of sympathy, empathy, or patience for those that can’t keep up. If you ask the Seven to slow down, it’s like asking them to choose boredom over ecstasy: it’s not likely to happen because Sevens are deathly afraid of boredom. A lack of stimulation feels like sitting a jail cell--the opposite of freedom. It makes Sevens sit with their heart, which tends to have a backlog of unprocessed negative emotions that they’ve been running from since childhood.

Another speed bump in the Seven's road to freedom is when they’re faced with a complex decision of some kind. Sevens know that every choice has an opportunity cost (every time you choose to do something, you also choose to not do something else). The more complex the decision, the more anxiety arises in the Seven because they have to search their heart for what they really want. This often surfaces later in life for Sevens that need to choose between having kids and having less or fewer: freedom, money, vacations, sex, date nights, a clean house, sleeping in, career advancement, etc.--the potential impact and tradeoffs of having children (at least for a season).

Ultimately, Sevens get healthy by choosing to slow themselves down, limit their own freedom, and withdraw from all that external activity in order to do some serious soul searching, which is characterized by their movement of integration to the Type Five Investigator.

3/ Anticipating Appetites

In most popular Enneagram books, the Seven's core sin or ego fixation is described as gluttony, or an excessive appetite. Russ Hudson from the Enneagram Institute describes their core struggle as an endless “anticipation.” It’s not that Sevens are never full, it’s just that while they’re metaphorically eating, they’re already thinking about the next meal, which stunts their enjoyment of the present moment.

The fixation on what's next is rooted in their childhood experience. Sevens may have a great relationship with their moms, but growing up, they felt like the traditionally nurturing figure in the home didn’t really nurture them. Their mom may have been more focused on one of their siblings that had special needs, or she was a bit of a stoic intellectual, or maybe had a career that focused her attention outside the home. Whatever it was, Sevens felt like they had to look after their own needs, nurture their own desires, of course, find their own entertainment. As grown ups, Sevens continue to nurture themselves with the endless anticipation of future experiences.

Carrying forward the perceived need to look out for themselves, Sevens can be naturally disinterested or less concerned with other people’s needs or building intimate relationships in general. Sevens want to be free to do the things they’ve been thinking about all day. They don’t really want to sit around at home and talk about their feelings. This sort of mindset can make Sevens endlessly entertaining partners because they always have an awesome idea for how to spend the weekend or what to do on vacation. At the same time, once they’re on vacation, they’re likely planning the next one rather than enjoying the one they’re already on.

Sevens only shut off this relentless anticipation by slowing down, savoring the moment, engaging their partner, and cultivating a sense of gratitude.

Gratitude is important for everyone, but for Sevens, it truly unlocks their greatest gifts, on top of being a grounding force that makes them far more precise and clear-minded in their decision making. Interestingly, many Sevens say that being out in nature has a deeply calming effect on their spirit, which also nourishes the appetite, and settles the mind. Perhaps a camping trip for your next vacation? Food for thought.

4/ The Confidence Game

If you’re in love with an Enneagram Seven, then you are well acquainted with his or her confidence game. It’s probably what you were attracted to the moment they walked in the room, and if you affirmed their confident self-image in any way, then they likely returned the attraction. Sevens are the most naturally self-assured Enneagram type, and often rightfully so. Sometimes people resent Sevens because it feels like amazing opportunities fall right into their lap, but what all non-Sevens--especially their partners--should understand is that Sevens see the world through a lens of self-interest, even more than Type Fours and Type Threes that get hit with the “narcissism” label all the time. It's not to say that Sevens can’t do incredibly noble and sacrificial things, but an average level, they're often doing most things with their self-interests in mind.

Recall: the Seven's ego is telling them the world exists for their enjoyment. It helps develop a lot of confidence! It's like the scene in Harry Potter when he drinks Liquid Luck and everything simply works out for him. Some would say that’s the law of attraction, others would call it well-spun chance, but either way, confidence can get you really far in life.

In regards to their long term relationships, it’s difficult for Sevens to maintain the confidence game.

There’s no such thing as true love without honesty, sacrifice, and deep pain, all of which kicks the Seven's confidence where it hurts.

The average or immature Seven is so filled with self-assurance that often don’t feel like they have any major character flaws or significant behaviors that need to change. Even their imperfections can be painted in a positive light, like an antique dresser being scuffed up can "give it character." When significant issues within Seven come to light as your lives meld closer together, their confidence can start to look like excuses for why they're right, you just don’t get it, and you're not wrong, just a little rigid or set in your ways.

Sevens know deep down that keeping everyone around them upbeat and entertained is something of a magic trick. Sevens are the most effective Enneagram type when it comes to hiding their loneliness. There’s not much their partners can do about this, as it all comes down to the Seven's willingness to slow down, open up, and go on the adventure of commitment...

5/ The Commitment Adventure

Sevens are the founders of FOMO, which comes from their constant need for new and exciting experiences. While the need for new may not portend well for long-term relationships, it's not to say they can’t be incredibly loyal, monogamous partners. They need the relationship to maintain a high degree of adventure, entertainment, and spontaneity. For Enneagram Sevens, “a shared imagination is more important than a shared heart.”

Average Sevens don’t have easy access to their emotions, but they do have quick access to their mental playground, and that's where a Seven's partner can meet them. The Seven's mind enjoys an abundance of options. They often double or triple book themselves so they can make the best possible choice at the very last moment once they’ve weighed all their options. For Sevens, no means no, and yes means… maybe. That kind of inconsistent commitment can cause major conflict with their partners that feel like the Seven's priorities are always shifting. This happens as much in the Seven's work life and friendships as it does in their romantic life, so it's best not to take it personally.

At the end of the day, commitment in general is not a concept that the average Seven is comfortable with, even if they’ve been in a committed relationship for years. To them, it feels like no choice should ever have to be a permanent choice, and it might be a waste of energy to fight that mindset.

The best option for a Seven’s partner is to embrace this picture of commitment as a daily adventure you both choose to go on. You may have no intention of ever ending that adventure, but you still have to treat it as if it’s a day-by-day itinerary.

That might sound unappealing to people looking for a rock solid, contractual commitment, but on the bright side, healthy Sevens who are willing to limit some of their personal freedom in order to engage in a long-term committed relationship are some of the most infectiously joyful, generous people you’ll ever meet.

BONUS: 🧡 Love Language 🧡

The five traditional love languages are words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, quality time, and acts of service. Words of affirmation is probably near the top of the list for most Sevens because it affirms their strong self-image. Next would probably be quality time because Sevens take quality time to mean playtime with their playmates. Acts of service and gifts would probably be near the bottom of the list, which leaves physical touch, which is highly dependent on the Seven's instinctual variant.

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