By Steve Purdom, Type 3, SP/1:1/SC

A separate and important part of the enneagram is the Instinctual Subtypes. There are 3 subtypes which are called Self Preservation, One on One and Social. For most people these are unconscious and yet all pervasive. Ichazo, recognized by many as the founder of the enneagram, described the 3 subtypes as “three fundamental reactions of our organism to sustain life.” They are indeed three distinct approaches to long term survival. Each Instinctual Subtype represents 1/3 of the truth. The best option for survival is to have all 3 subtypes fully developed and available to us.

In general, we do have and use all 3 subtypes but one is usually dominant and the second subtype is strong but the third is underdeveloped. There are people who seem to move fluidly from SP to 1:1 to SC and these people approach problems with more flexibility and more options for decision making and resolving conflict. Our goal should be to have equal access to all three subtypes.

Today, I want to focus on One on One as a subtype. It is the ultimate subtype for intimacy but it only contains 1/3 of the truth. The individuals in which this subtype is dominant spend their energies on finding and interacting with their “Soul Mates”. They will ignore Self Preservation needs in pursuit of emotionally, intense relationships. I call this the Romeo and Juliet Syndrome. Peter O’hanrahan has referred to 1:1 subtypes as a cult of two.

One on one subtypes will participate in group events but usually they are looking for one interesting, attractive person to interact with. They are the couple, at parties, who are standing directly in front of each other and eyes locked on each other without blinking. They ignore the rest of the room. In contrast to the self preservationists, they are not interested in the food or the physical comforts available. In their home, the 1:1’s frequently have bare pantries and refrigerators and report that if they are in a serious relationship they might even forget to eat.

So how does the 1:1 subtype show up in our life choices? Like the other two subtypes it shows up in all of our activities: Marriage/Work/Vacations/Movies/Books and Recreational Activities.

  • Marriage is very important to the 1:1 subtype and they spend lots of their energy finding the right partner.Within the marriage they want one on one time and other intimate expressions from their partners. They enjoy romantic meals but not for the food but rather for the intimacy. Self preservationists concentrate on the food first and the relationship secondarily. Social subtypes like meals with groups.
  • The work choices for 1:1 subtypes will be 1:1 interactions. Almost all of the therapists that I know, are 1:1 subtypes. My two Japanese language teachers, who do only private lessons, are 1:1 subtypes. Massage therapists are probably more likely to be 1:1 subtypes. Any situation where you are sitting across the table with one client to teach or share information would suit a 1:1 subtype.
  • Vacations will center around couple activities and movies will be romantic 1:1 themes.
  • Likewise books in the romantic genre are a favorite of 1:1 subtypes.
  • Recreational activites will be centered around activities with their partner and will perhaps have a more adventurous flavor to them. White water rafting, bungy jumping might be enjoyed depending on Personality Type. Ballroom dancing is a favorite activity and all the ladies that I know who asked if I would take dancing lessons with them were 1:1.
  • Favorite songs would include the titles “Just the Two of Us”, and “This House Just Ain’t no Home Anytime You go Away”. Both are Bill Withers’ songs.
  • Favorite movies might be “Notebook” or “Gone With the Wind”.

In summary, all 3 subtypes have equally valid world views but the most complete and effective position is to have the flexibility to move between all 3 subtypes when the situation dictates. Dating is clearly best served by 1:1 Instinctual Subtype and job hunting is well served with numerous, even if they are superficial contacts, that might be contained in the rolodex of a SC subtype. But for the 1:1 subtype, a dose of self preservation allows them to have intimacy and security. Wholeness always includes all the options available to us.