What Each Type Brings to the Relationship
Both Enneagram Fives and Sixes are mental types, although there are significant differences. Both have respect for the intellectual acumen of the other and the expertise and technical mastery the other possesses. They may well begin a relationship as colleagues or by sharing the same professional area of interest which forms the basis for a friendship and eventually something more intimate. Both types respect detail, factual objectivity and accuracy, craftsmanship, and the ability to analyze situations without inserting personal opinions or biases. As a pair, Fives and Sixes can be highly effective in dealing with crises because both are attuned to danger and to bringing their expertise to solve problems.
Fives also offer emotional calm, detached objectivity, observational skills, an unusual and penetrating curiosity, and an unwillingness to settle for easy answers. Sixes bring strongly held values and ideas that make them less objective than Fives although they are more passionate. Their very emotional reactivity—including anxiety and fear-gives Sixes a more sympathetic, human quality. Sixes are more openly unsure of themselves and often look to authorities of some kind (including the Fives they trust) to give them guidance and advice. Fives tend to be surer of their ability to think for themselves and to entertain new ideas. Fives also tend to be more skeptical and rejecting of authority. Fives are accepting of Sixes' changing needs for independence with connection; they are also patient with the Six's vacillations. The devotion of Sixes and understated caring can break through the Five's tendency to isolate. Thus, Fives and Sixes, as a pair, tend to have a symbiotic intellectual relationship of doubt and decision, questions and answers, problems solved and problems discovered that can be endlessly stimulating. In any event, for a relationship between these two opposite head types to work, there must be a tested and unshakable trust between them: they may often come to different conclusions, but they at least know that their hearts and minds are in the right place.
Potential Trouble Spots or Issues
The potential trouble spots between Fives and Sixes have already been hinted at above. In short, Fives and Sixes tend to think in diametrically opposite ways and often are on the opposite side of the fence in their conclusions. There will be a good deal of intellectual and emotional tension between them, for better or worse. Sixes tend to look to precedents for guidance about how to proceed; they tend also to be more guided by rules and procedures and protocols, building their arguments and marshalling their facts meticulously, if sometimes ponderously, so that they can feel unassailable. Fives tend to take greater intellectual leaps of the imagination and to consider less or not at all what has been the received wisdom or common consensus of opinion.
Once trust and communication break down, Fives can begin to see Sixes as too conservative and indecisive in their thinking and actions. Sixes get nervous about making a mistake and do not want to be criticized (much less ostracized) for their efforts. They can seem to be prejudiced and not open minded, petty and political, playing favorites and trying to please authorities rather than seek the objective truth. To Sixes, Fives can seem excessively independent, unwilling and constitutionally unable to work within a system or group. Sixes feel that Fives are needlessly provocative and have useless, strange ideas that are impractical and a waste of time. Sixes want to build security by having something clear to believe in; Fives want to find the objective facts, whether or not it makes them feel secure. Fives do not need Sixes' discouraging wet blanket approach. Sixes do not need Fives' endlessly vivid imagination for darkness and catastrophe. Each can feed each other's sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. Fives can see Sixes as closed-minded drudges and fanatics, whereas Sixes see Fives as weird, isolated, and hopelessly impractical. Without intentionality and hard work, this pair of emotional opposites might feel they were better off as colleagues than intimate partners: one wants to put out fires, the other wants to play with matches.