The Intimate Four

Suffering by Comparison

The intimate subtype of the Four competes around relationships. Competition is rooted in comparison and Fours and Ones both have the perceptual habit of comparing reality to what should be. This makes the One very critical, it makes the sexual (intimate) subtype Four competitive about emotional status, especially their status with the significant person in their life.

Fours in general believe that love is by far the most important thing in their lives and the sexual subtype in particular believes that when, and only when, they find the perfect love will they be happy. This is often coupled with the belief that once they had a perfect love. Either their mother or some significant person loved them unconditionally and this was the happiest -- and perhaps the only happy -- time of their life. This was the Garden of Eden before they were discovered to be defective and summarily rejected.


But the competition goes a little further. Intimate Fours compare their state in life with that of others - and suffer by comparison. While they are prone to jealousy with a mate, they are prone to emotional evaluation and comparison with everyone they deem to be their equal. (I have four years of college like she does but I don't have a managerial position. She's so much further ahead than I am. Then... "I wonder what's wrong with me.")

The romantic tendency of the Fours comes out when the intimate subtype not only wants to be the person the mate loves the most, but what would make it perfect would be if they were the only person the mate ever loved. When the Four tries to obtain emotional status, that probably relates to the dependency of the style Two to which they have a strong connection. Twos get identity from being loved, intimate Fours get importance and self-worth as a gift from the one who loves them. Their self-worth is not rooted in the self, it has its origin in the estimation of the mate and of society.

Their envy can easily become professional envy. The professional envy is rooted in a desire for revenge (because I know they don't really respect me) and is rooted in a positive characteristic of the Four, an appreciation of quality. Whereas the Three plays to the crowd in a democratic way, the relational or intimate Four labors to gain the respect of their peers. And not only their peers, but those other professionals who really know quality when they see it. Threes play for the crowd, intimate Fours play for the other musicians, especially the visitors from the symphony.

Emotional criteria

Comparison requires ways and means of keeping score. This is intricate because simple counting won't give you a qualitative analysis. Consequently, they covet prestige. Victories over one's peers is sweet indeed and one must take every effort to be recognized by the best people, especially those acknowledged experts. (Sometimes this is reversed in Social Fours, they want recognition only from those rejected by society but like all mirror images the importance remains constant).

In the movie Amadeus, the outrage, self-loathing and envy so transparent in Soliari when he talks about the music of Mozart is instructive. Because Mozart was talented, Soliari was tormented. The nature of competition is that if you win, I lose. In America competition is always an emotional threat.

Out of my league

A special cross for intimate Fours to bear is that they are drawn to precisely what they can't have. This is romantic tragedy. We are perfect for each other, but she lives in San Francisco and I dwell in Santa Fe. So we commute every third month. We have a wonderful week or weekend and then return to our respective hells. Or he is a carpenter and she is an opera star. Or she is wealthy and he sells siding. Any obstacle will do as long as the intimate Four doesn't have to endure the real relationship. It is so much sweeter in the mind than in reality.

But when the obstacle is taken away, then the habit of comparing reality to the ideal (which worked fine when I idealized her as she lived in San Francisco) sets in, and I begin to notice that she has shoddy taste in Impressionism, actually listens to Metallica and may have voted for George Bush. How can I possibly live with such a creature? The comparative thinking leads to fault finding as it compares a real person to an ideal.

This can set up a push/pull relationship. I love you while you are absent, but up close I notice you have a lot of faults. But as soon as you go, I begin to idealize you and get in touch with the really deep feelings I have for you. Please come back and torture me again.


Watch the movie Amadeus. Mozart is a flaming Seven, but F. Murray Abraham steals the Enneagram show with his portrayal of Soliari as a Four whose envy is so strong we hear the longing in his voice. Listen to his opening dialogue, it is a map of the inner geography of an intimate Four.

Further Reading: In the Literary Enneagram, Searle's chapter on Fours is superb. If you want to read a whole novel, either Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary will be excellent.

More Movies: Beauty and the Beast, Cyrano de Bergerac and yes, Shrek!


  1. At a party, whose approval do you seek? For what?
  2. Who is the leading authority in your field? Where do you stand?
  3. What is your strategy for climbing the social/professional ladder?