Enneagram Type 5: A Profile

By Kara Reynolds | Mar 16, 2020

Was the cartoon “Inspector Gadget” made for you? Do you watch crime dramas on TV only to shout, “I figured that out in the first five minutes?” If so, you might fall into the type 5 enneagram personality type. This intellectual sort will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the matter, whatever it is. Like the type 4 personality, this type can grow withdrawn. But, unlike the individualist, they don’t punctuate their intellectual activity with the occasional emotional storm. If anything, they can appear overly stoic. They worship facts and reason, and if they haven’t yet bought themselves a copy of CNN correspondent Andrew Yang’s “math” lapel pin, they’re ordering one online this week.

Enneagram Type 5: The Investigator

Do you remember the stereotype of the absentminded professor? If you’re an enneagram type 5, the description fits you to a T. You’re often lost in a world of intellectual thought, and if it were possible to dwell in a literal ivory tower, you would unpack your bags and make yourself at home. As far as the personality types go, you’re most like Spenser Reid from TV’s “Criminal Minds.” You’re incredibly well-read and thoughtful, even if you don’t have an advanced degree (or three) hanging on your wall. However, you take to the rigors of academia like a duck to water. So if you have the financial means to do so, chances are good you expand your education every chance you get. If you don’t enroll in a formal degree path, you gravitate to inexpensive online learning classes. While you often have a deep passion for the sciences, you possess a keen interest in the humanities as well. However, unlike type 4’s, when you do engage in artistic pursuits, you do so with a precise methodology in mind, not a compulsion to create born of emotional intensity. You seek a practical life and make well-thought-out decisions, so the ups and downs of a fully freelance career hold little appeal. Your love of intellect doesn’t mean that you’re free from emotional excess, however. You have a sensitive soul and you often feel like the world is too much for you. Unlike type 4’s, though, you’re not prone to the occasional outburst. Rather, you maintain a stiff upper lip — so much so that you can earn a reputation as a stoic.

The Investigator’s Strengths

If you’re an enneagram type 5, you can become an expert in any field that interests you. While you often refuse to compromise your freedom to conform — you’re not one to pursue a career with the sole purpose of making a buck — your insight can lead to considerable advances. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, the inventors of the polio vaccine, probably fell into this personality type. You possess a considerable attention span and encounter little difficulty doing a deep dive into challenging research topics. However, you need to exercise care not to get too lost inside your head. Stories about inventors who work long hours without eating or tending to their physical needs resonate with you. You can become so engrossed in your efforts that you’d forget to breathe if it wasn’t an automatic function.

The Investigator’s Weaknesses

As a type 5 enneagram sort, you tend to withdraw into the world of your thoughts. You feel energized when you spend time alone, but this tendency toward self-reliance can lead to difficulties in relationships. Your partner can interpret your pensive nature as coldness, especially if they’re outgoing and gregarious. At times, you can exercise too much haste in ending friendships. While you shouldn’t keep toxic people in your space, you can sometimes withdraw entirely into your head. Everybody needs other people in their lives — humans are social beasts by nature. Your challenge is to remember that others are human and that connection matters. Remember that it won’t kill you to say “yes” to the occasional happy hour invitation.

Relating to Type 5 in the Workplace

If you manage a type 5 individual, you might have noticed that customer service isn’t their highest skill set. While they enjoy the challenge of finding a resolution to technical difficulties, they lack the outgoing nature to put irritable clients at ease. This inability to empathize doesn’t mean they don’t care or relate to the agony of others — it merely means that reacting appropriately doesn’t come as naturally to them as more extroverted sorts. Try to harness their impressive intellect in a way that doesn’t involve dealing with the general public. If you’re an enneagram type 5, you probably feel drawn to the following careers:

  • Researcher/scientist: You adore the scientific method and you’re fastidious when it comes to noticing minute details. Whether you’re engineering new robotics technology or investigating a medication, your inquisitive nature pays dividends.
  • Academia: Members of this personalty category make excellent professors. You can bring depth and enthusiasm to your subjects like few others, but the messiness of elementary school probably doesn’t appeal to you. However, you feel at home in an institute of higher learning.
  • Computer science/engineering: Computers make sense to you — as long as you code the rules correctly, the device functions as planned. You naturally gravitate toward these careers that require massive brainpower but little social interaction.

Relating to Type 5 at Home and in Love

If you’re in love with a type 5, honor their need to withdraw — sometimes. Be aware that you may need to drag them to social functions. As much as possible, do so. They need this interaction to balance out their intellectual pursuits. Don’t disappoint yourself by waiting for grandiose displays of affection. This person isn’t the sort to plan overt romantic gestures, but they will support you in meaningful ways, like by helping you balance your checkbook. If you’re an enneagram type 5, do your best to make social interactions a priority. Establish a weekly date night with your partner and keep it — even when duty calls. You don’t have to bake a cake if a new next-door neighbor moves in, but do shake their hand and exchange phone numbers. If your friend asks you to participate in their wedding, say “yes” to honor them on their special day. You don’t have to become the life of the party — the world needs introverts! However, do resist the temptation to spare every free moment reading books or learning something new. It’s okay to get together with others and simply socialize. Backyard barbecues enjoy popularity for a reason.

Enneagram Type 5 — Dig Deeply but Come Out of Your Shell

If you’re an enneagram type 5, celebrate your ability to research challenging topics and understand the world on a deeper level. Remember, though, that your relationships matter, too — so break out of your shell and mingle.

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