What Enneagram Wings Are & Why They Matter

25 May 2023

Your Enneagram core type surely provides many valuable insights into your personality. However, the whole story about you starts to unfold when you determine which of the two possible Enneagram wings you have. We are all a combination of at least two types, and the Enneagram wings represent the influences your neighboring Enneatypes have on you.

If you are curious to know how Enneagram wings work, stay tuned. This article will provide you with all the essential information about these and teach you why they are important.

What Are Enneagram Wings?

Your core Enneagram type explains your overall life strategy and the way you adapt to the circumstances you were born into by taking into account your dominant, intrinsic traits. Depending on the way you were raised, some aspects of your personality will flourish while others will remain dormant.

Sometimes, the circumstances we live in change so dramatically that we develop some aspects of our character that seem to have nothing in common with our core personality. In such situations, we need more than one life strategy to address the challenges we are faced with efficiently. That’s how we grow and change, regardless of whether we want that to happen or not.

The Enneagram wings represent those other subtle influences that are often less obvious or even completely hidden until a certain relationship or situation in life brings them out. Generally, every Enneagram type can develop the traits of their neighboring types (wings) under specific circumstances

Enneagram wings provide more details about your personality and give more nuance to your character. More importantly, they describe the hidden resources that you may consciously choose to develop more if you realize they would improve your quality of life. In some cases, they may become so pronounced that you seem like a completely different Enneagram type.

But, no matter how different your core type and your wing may be, they are all just parts of your personality, and you are always more than the sum of your parts. However, it’s crucial to know that each combination of the Enneagram core type and Enneagram wing results in a unique character.

The Importance of Enneagram Wings

Determining your Enneagram wing allows you to have a more profound understanding of all the influences that were at play while you were developing and becoming who you are today. They describe patterns that were present in your life at some point and your traits that didn’t have as much opportunity to develop.

The greatest importance of Enneagram wings lies in their potential to alleviate the negative sides of your core type and help you live a more fulfilled life. They enable you to see life from a different perspective and help you make the key decisions in your life, such as a decision about your career path, for example, more easily.

Moreover, when you become aware of your wing’’s influence, you can use its power to handle stressful situations better, bond with others in a more authentic way, or change some things in your life.

So, by determining your dominant Enneagram wing, you practically get a chance to dive into the potential of another Enneagram type and use it to your benefit.

How Do Enneagram Wings Work?

Generally, it is not wrong to say that every Enneagram type can display traits of both types that are next to them on the Enneagram circumference. When the core type is very dominant, those wings may not be noticeable unless you get to know the person really well.

While it is possible not to have a wing or even to have two wings, it is far more likely that you will have one Enneagram wing to your core Enneagram type. The wing may change the way your core type behaves and reacts in certain situations, but it will not dramatically influence your core needs and desires.

Actually, the Enneagram wing acts as a sidekick to your personality; it adds a special flavor to your core type. Its influence may be subtle or very strong, or it may also vary over time. Therefore, every combination of a core type and a wing acts as a category for itself.

Because it is impossible to quantify the extent of your wing's influence, it is advisable for you to read the detailed descriptions of both of your potential wings and determine for yourself how much of your personality each one is able to shape.

Additionally, you can exhibit the influence of one wing in romantic relationships while displaying the influence of the other at work. However, it will be simple for you to predict how wings can affect each type once you are familiar with the fundamentals of each Enneagram type.

The Difference Between Core Types And Wings

Your core type describes how you initially react to environmental influences and go about living your life. A few additional behavioral patterns are added to your character by your wing, but your overall priorities in life remain the same, as wings are developed later compared to the time of the development of your core type.

Also, considering how other people influenced you as a child may help you understand how the influence of the core type and the wing compare to each other.

For example, if you spent most of your time with your mother while growing up, she will represent the major factor that defines your core type. And if, for example, you had a lovely aunt who visited you occasionally and whom you loved deeply, she may represent the factor that defines your wing.

In the said example, both women had a profound influence on you, but one was more present than the other. Such is the case with your core type and your wings.

Now, let’s take a look at brief descriptions of all the core types and their wing variations to better understand how this theory works in practice.

#1. Enneagram Type 1

Type 1, often referred to as the Perfectionist or the Reformer is a high-minded idealist with strong moral principles. They strive to make the world a better place, stand up against injustice, and are concerned about social issues.

1w2

The Two wing makes Ones more compassionate and extraverted. Generally, uptight and judgmental Ones become more understanding of their own and other people’s flaws, so 1w2s connect with others more easily.

1w9

The Nine Wing makes Ones a bit more relaxed and practical but also more capable of dedicating their lives to a higher goal. 1w9s are quiet yet resolute, and they tend to act as moral guardians in their circles.

#2. Enneagram Type 2

Twos represent the essence of feminine power. Despite their many qualities, they prefer to be the power behind the throne. Deeply compassionate, kind, and supportive, these individuals radiate warmth and love wherever they show up.

2w1

Under the influence of the One wing, Two's altruism becomes even more idealistic and highly inspired. 2w1 are also slightly more reserved and formal in their communication with others.

2w3

The Three wing enhances the Twos’ extraversion. 2w3 is more goal-oriented and self-aware, capable of using their natural charm to their advantage.

#3. Enneagram Type 3

#3. Enneagram Type 3

Type Three is a charming goal-getter who enjoys impressing others and loves to be in the limelight. Action-oriented and capable, these people highly value success.

3w2

Threes often struggle to connect with their authentic needs and feelings. The Two wing enables them to stay in touch with their emotions, so 3w2s are often warmer and more honest than core Threes.

3w4

Threes generally conform to social expectations, and Fours fiercely oppose them. The 3w4 combination often results in a person who wants to win social approval by displaying a unique talent or skill.

#4. Enneagram Type 4

Sensitive, artistic, and highly emotional Fours are all about exploring the realm of feelings. They are on a quest to discover their true identity.

4w3

4w3 is a peculiar type who often develops highly refined taste in art and culture. They are ambitious visionaries with avant-garde ideas.

4w5

4w5s are deep thinkers, curious both about the inner and outer world. They strive for personal autonomy and freedom of self-expression but are also capable of making logic-based decisions.

#5. Enneagram Type 5

Curiosity, an inquisitive spirit, and a strong intellect are Five’s trademarks. They live to learn, and they are forever thirsty for knowledge in their quest to understand the workings of the world.

5w4

5w4s are highly introverted and drawn to studying the arts and humanities. They want to understand the logic of emotions just as much as the logic of science.

5w6

The incredible problem solver 5w6 is interested only in the theories that can be applied in real life. The Six wing also makes Fives more motivated to connect to their community.

#6. Enneagram Type 6

Loyal, diligent, and emphatic Sixes value security above anything else in life. They are kind people, always willing to help.

6w5

6w5 are pragmatic troubleshooters who can keep their cool under any circumstances. These people can store an incredible amount of data in their minds.

6w7

Under the influence of the Seven wing, Sixes tend to worry less and enjoy life more. Hence, 6w7s become more extroverted and open to new things.

#7. Enneagram Type 7

A childlike sense of wonder, curiosity, and playfulness are what the Sevens are known for. They enjoy life and can’t stand feeling sad or in pain.

7w6

7w6s are more grounded and pragmatic. The Seven’s creative mind finds ways to apply their ideas easily thanks to the Six’s orientation to reality.

7w8

Highly energetic, inspired, and driven, 7w8s have a stronger focus and are usually more accomplished than the core Sevens.

#8. Enneagram Type 8

Charismatic, powerful, and self-assured Eights want to be the masters of their destinies and are very protective of those they love.

8w7

These strong personalities know how to have fun while never losing sight of their objectives. 8w7s enjoy embarking on different adventures but never neglect their ambitions.

8w9

Strong yet calm, an 8w9 is the protector of the underdog. They are less confrontational than core Eights and also tend to be more objective.

#9. Enneagram Type 9

Complacent, amiable Nines are strong yet quiet, willing to do anything to protect the peace in their surroundings. They are excellent mediators who accept people for who they are.

9w8

Eights make Nines more resolute and driven. 9w8 are more assertive, self-confident, and practical than core Nines.

9w1

Highly idealistic, withdrawn, and sensitive, 9w1 dedicate their lives to the betterment of humanity. One wing enhances Nine’s tendency to isolate from others when struggling with personal issues.

How to Know Your Wing

In general, you should be aware that your wings can only be the Enneatypes that are on the left and right of your core Enneatype. So, if you are an Eight, for example, you can have either a Seven or a Nine wing.

If you are in a dilemma over which wing influences you more, finding where you fall on the extraversion/introversion continuum can be very helpful. Generally speaking, one wing will make you more extroverted, and the other may make you more introverted.

The Enneagram test will show you accurately if any of the wings are active at this point in your life. Apart from taking the Enneagram test, there are also other ways to determine if you have an active Enneagram wing.

However, no one can know you better than yourself, so you can surely gain more insights just by reading an in-depth description of your core type and wing variations. Knowing what motivates your core type as well as your wing, you will learn how to activate the power of the wing when you need it.

If you are not sure which wing affects you more, keep in mind that you can have two wings. It is rare, but it does happen.

Enneagram Wings And Growth

Because we are shaped by our earliest experiences, we often grow up believing there aren’t many ways in which we can behave to achieve happiness, success, or any other goal. The value of wings is that they open a new door for us, allowing us to approach things from a completely different standpoint.

If you want to tap into the power of your wing, it would be a good idea to try some of the following things:

  • Try something you’ve never done before—a new hobby, trip, or routine. A new experience is often a great way to invoke the energy of your wing.
  • Do something that scares you. The right amount of stress is essential for growth.
  • Explore both of your possible wings in detail and try to remember if they were active at some point in your life. Then, you can decide in advance how to deploy your wing when required.

Since wings can only be types that are next to our core types, we typically don’t have a lot in common with the wing type. And that’s exactly why the wing invites us to grow and explore other dimensions of our personalities. Something entirely new happens in this interaction between our core type and the influence of the wing.

Can Enneagram Wings Change Over Time?

Each Enneagram type reveals your core strengths and weaknesses and also tells which potentials you came to this world with. However, according to theory, we all have the potential for all nine Enneatypes, though these potentials are not evenly distributed.

Your wing often indicates your hidden potential, which can enhance your personal growth and development.

Generally, it is possible to activate a different wing over time. Specific life events or people can trigger different behavioral patterns in you. Wings can change over time, can fluctuate, and can also stay fixed.

Considering the fact that each type behaves differently under stress, it is expected that sometimes you can mistake your core type as well as your wings just because you are going through a rough patch. A developed and mature Eight may, for example, resemble Type Two, while that same Eight under extreme stress can look like a typical Five.

So, if you’ve got your core type right, you’ll surely be able to determine which wing is activated in you without too much trouble.

Key Takeaways

So, now that you have the Enneagram wings explained, you can use their energy consciously and in the way that suits you best. We encourage you to keep exploring the depths of your personality by also learning about Enneagram arrows and directions of stress and growth. Meanwhile, here are the key takeaways from this guide:

  • Your wing adds more nuance and versatility to your core Enneagram type, but it does not change your core needs significantly. It mainly affects the way you satisfy them.
  • Your Enneagram wing can change over time, and sometimes you can have two wings.
  • It is possible to consciously invoke the energy of your wing.