Fine Distinctions – Nines – Tom Condon

Fine Distinctions – Nines – Tom Condon


Self Preservation Nines

• Often preoccupied with physical comfort, maintaining routines and satisfying appetites.
• Exceptionally good receivers and appreciators; the best things in life are free
• Grateful for what they have and treasure it
• Can be reliable, dependable and consistent
• Specialize in a defense of small horizons
• Self Preservation Nines are especially prone to diminish their own expectations, to not quite hope for much out of life-a defense against disappointment
• Could be financially well-off but have a self-image of someone poor or destitute
• Distract themselves with pleasant domestic activities. Live conservatively
• Consume food and drink for anaesthesia. Tend towards addiction, especially to numbing substances, smoking pot, overeating to the point of stupor
• Can have a love of the minimal and enjoy the repetition of known routines
• Sleepy; may be slow moving, lack energy and be physically lazy
• The cliche of the couch potato goes with the low side of this subtype
• Can be extremely neglectful and messy
• A spaced out, unfocused mentality; lack of rigor
• No enthusiasm for anything; life is purgatorial, just killing time

Intimate Nines

• Loyal in love; patient and enduring; able to stay steady in long term relationships
• Realistically see their partners limits but accept them
• Good listeners; supportive non-judgmental friends

• Often focused on an unconscious ideal of romantic union
• Nines with this subtype are sometimes mistaken for Fours because of the way they can melancholically yearn for what they don’t have

• May have high expectations of romantic partners and be prone to jealousy
• Often this dynamic represents a yearning for a distant parent
• The ideal of romantic union blocks out the real relationship. It is a way of staying disengaged from your priorities, a distracting obsession

• Find their attractiveness and self-worth in how others see them
• May idealize people while deleting their flaws; could tolerate being mistreated or abused
• Can be fickle in love. After committing to a relationship they can grow critical of their partner and develop a wandering eye
• Indiscriminate; might have multiple serial relationships, searching from one person to the next, obsessing about whether their current partner is “the right one”
• Some Intimate Nines get involved with two partners and can’t decide between them, a pattern of triangulation
• Can be romantic on the one hand, callous on the other
• Sometimes feel driven by lust, especially when the have an Eight wing

Social Nines

• Nine with this subtype enjoy group process and will work hard to facilitate a group purpose or mission
• Don’t seek the limelight but could be a group’s leader
• Could feel like the group’s emissary; no better or worse than those they represent

• Especially able to mediate, to speak to all sides in a conflict and find common ground between warring parties
• Gravitate toward groups but feel conflicted about fully joining them
• Enjoy a group’s energy and interests but are aware of the group‘s expectations

• Can lose themselves, immersing themselves in a group, trying to become all things to all people
• May play the role expected of them but stubbornly resent it
• Could also use the group as a barrier to keep the Nine from facing her own priorities

• Can get caught up in hyperactivity – a stronger connection to Three goes with this subtype. Often more extraverted and image conscious
• Rarely physically lazy. They can be very busy and active but asleep to their deeper priorities and needs

• Generally more cheerful and extroverted and may be mistyped as Sevens
• Can act spoiled and broadcast an implicit attitude of privilege, although this is otherwise inconsistent with Nine temperament
• An odd combination of self-importance and egolessness. Internally they struggle with feeling unseen, but outwardly they seek attention
• Beneath the adulation they received as children, they felt ignored for who they actually were

Connecting Points
Nine with an Eight Wing

• Healthy Nines with an Eight wing have a modest, steady, receptive quality
• Charged by the dynamism of Eight; can have great energy and force of will
• Get things done, make good leaders and have a personal magnetism of which they are only partly aware
• This wing brings a stronger internal sense of direction; when they decide on a path of action they may be impossible to influence
• Relatively fearless and highly intuitive; take their work seriously but not themselves
• Good friend to others, offers a protective quality. Sympathize with underdogs
• Not very visual but the connection to Three can modify this somewhat
• May seem laconic and laid-back on the surface but that belies a deeper intensity
• Can be surprisingly tactless, rude or gauche and be oblivious to the fact • Some Nines with an Eight wing aren’t conscious of being afraid-their connection to Six. Pave over their fears with aggression and numb callousness
• Might surround themselves with fearful people, say, a nervous dependent Six whom the Nine then rescues. Can have savior complexes • May displace their anger; pick a fight about something peripheral-not what’s really bothering them; Sometimes behind the anger is a tearful vulnerability
• Could be amiable, kindly and supportive one minute and then blunt, opinionated or nasty the next. A Jekyll/Hyde quality

• Prone to blame and to mishandling their anger; while not exactly vengeful they can be vindictive. An anti-authoritarian streak is also possible

Nine with a One Wing

• Nines with a One wing tend to have been “model children.” They instinctively worked to please their parents by being virtuous, orderly, and low maintenance
• Idealistic; a quiet moral authority plus good-hearted peacemaking tendencies
• Often have a sense of mission, public or private; work hard for the welfare of whomever they are committed to. Good with detail
• Unpretentious yet dignified; generally empathetic, have the “common touch;” An elegant simplicity of manner and speech
• Can be well-liked, modest, endearing; gentle yet firm. Some have a striking quality of grace and composure punctuated by bursts of spontaneity and sweetness
• Sincere, practice what they preach; effective, good natured and idealistic.
• Rule-bound, obedient/compliant; perfectionistic and self-critical
• Can be compulsively orderly, overly controlled, unemotional and disassociated
• Can act on weird principles that don’t make sense; A dubious, fractured morality
• May be visibly successful but don’t really feel connected to their achievements
• Passive tolerance of absurd or damaging situations; so normal they’re strange
• Exceptionally conservative in their habits of living and around making changes
• May go passively self-neglectful. Dutiful to what they shouldn’t be
• Minimize, tell themselves they had a great childhood, everything’s fine
• Placid numbness can creep over them. exceptionally out of touch with feelings. Intolerant of their own emotions; gradually deaden their souls

Nine’s Connection to Six

• This connection brings Nines courage. Where healthy Sixes develop the courage to do, Nines find the courage to be.

• The connection can usefully shake up a Nine’s complacency. It helps Nines challenge their fears and take risks, expose the inner self that they usually disguise and efface
• The connection to Six brings tenacity and stamina – a willingness to see things through, to work faithfully away at tasks and commitments with a committed perseverance.

• Brings an idealism, sense of responsibility that stirs the Nine to action.
• Realistic, more able to acknowledge what can go wrong. If Nines tend to minimize and Sixes exaggerate. unable to ignore being upset, useful self- doubt
• Sixish Nines can have a nervous, scatterbrained quality. They can overanticipate events, start to doubt themselves and think in anxious, obsessive loops
• Distract themselves from seeing the obvious or taking useful action.
• Can seem agitated and frightened in a beside-the-point way
• The Nine’s laziness about personal priorities is reinforced by the Six tendency to procrastinate. Sixes postpone taking any action, while Nines put off taking right action
• Sixish Nines can go in nervous busy circles. thinking about a problem or a decision extra hard while getting more and more confused and obsessive
• Can be risk-aversive, afraid of making mistakes that might provoke conflict.
• Obedient to authority and a sense of tradition
• Might hand over responsibility for decisions to others and then blame the others if the decisions don’t turn out well
• Can be cowardly and may run away from conflict or be undependable under stress or duress
• Anti-authoritarian attitudes especially with an Eight wing
• An episodic experience of fear-a Nine could have anxiety attacks followed by months when the Nine is not conscious of feeling fear at all

Nine’s Connection to Three

• Brings Nines a kind of clarity of the heart
• They can suddenly see and prioritize on their own behalf. They take decisive deliberate steps towards personal goals. brings energy, industry, action and purpose

• This connection supports a steady persistence. Focused Nines are unstoppable
• A stepwise strategy for taking action and completing tasks in the real world
• This connection also helps Nines with appropriate social presentation. They are more willing to dress up and voluntarily play roles in the service of goals. They can also have a sense of propriety, be well-groomed and have good manners
• Healthy Threeish Nines can find freedom in role playing and the connection to Three can bring acting abilities as well as a talent for mimicry
• Distinct tendencies towards role-playing and hyperactivity as a distraction from their basic sense of non-being. A busy form of self- neglect, an active laziness
• Threeish Nines can go false and be defined by a milieu, playing roles based on the expectations of others
• May be vain, enjoy being mistaken for an image or indulge in episodic show-off behavior
• Nines can be fascinated by or obsessed with Three-like falseness in others; may want to root out fraudulence in others and tear it down
• In Threeish cultures (America) or subcultures (corporations) Nines can feel extra pressure to succeed and achieve-which they may then accommodate or sabotage
• They may be ambitious although often they are acting out someone else’s ambition. Can be chosen to fulfill the family’s unfulfilled wished and dreams.
• This connection supports a prince or princess-like quality and Threeish Nines can act entitled.
• Can fluctuate between high and low self-esteem; underneath their image, a Nine may feel indefinite, insignificant and depressingly unworthy.


Excerpted from The Dynamic Enneagram by Tom Condon

Copyright 2009, 2013 by Thomas Condon

Available as an ebook serial at Tom’s website


Tom Condon has worked with the Enneagram since 1980 and with Ericksonian hypnosis and NLP since 1977. These three models are combined in his trainings to offer a useful collection of tools for changing and growing, to apply the Enneagram dynamically, as a springboard to positive change. Tom has taught over 800 workshops in the US, Europe and Asia and is the author of 50 CDs, DVDs and books on the Enneagram, NLP and Ericksonian methods. He is founder and director of The Changeworks in Bend, Oregon.

3 Responses to Fine Distinctions – Nines – Tom Condon

  1. Joshua Dickerson says:

    Thanks for the article Tom. Your section on the Nine wing One is spot on for me. It touches a lot of how we are so geared towards others and trying to do “good”. But at times we have a lack of self or what we truly want.

    I often find when I am helping others or coaching them, I am extremely energetic and intuitive. But when people ask me questions about myself, I tend to deflect or go into a state where I really don’t know what I want.

    I think often times, the empathic side of 9s tend to make us clue into the emotional and non verbal queues of others so much that if we are not cognizant of it, over time we lose sense of who we are personally.

    But it is a catch 22, because I find that use 9s define ourselves in who we are to others and not really what we personally want out of life. The good Samaritan, but in an unhealthy way.

  2. adina says:

    Couldn’t be more on point. This is a description of my whole life story. No one does a better job at going into the depths of T9s. Absolutely excellent. Truly impressed.

  3. I am a nine who have been really self pre all life. For 1,5 years ago everything changed and I started to know what it means to be intimate nine. This is a huge change. I suffer of low energies sometimes, but it´s not the same as it was earlier. I have the hope! A nine who believes she is beautiful, wise and good. That is a new kind of me who is no more easygoing, if there´s somebody who tries to take advantage of me; who can say “no”, who knows that my life is important, really important!
    Thank you Tom for your great work!

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