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  1. #1
    Honeyed Water thoughtlost's Avatar
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    May 2013

    Post so/sp vs. so/sx 4

    Hello all,

    I really want to learn more about what distinguishes the various variants of the 4s, specifically so/sx vs. so/sp. But we can talk about all of the variants too; I want to understand how the essense of each variant is understood alone, and how they are understood within enneagram 4. In terms of 4, I think it's safe to say that all fours feel intensity and want intensity. So I think how it manifests in each variant of the 4 is what differs.

    SO 4:

    I see them as accommodating. They can feel like they are invisible (so this is 9ish). Quiet at first, especially in groups (so they tend to just listen and don't participate) but as you get to know them one-on-one, they come out and are very playful. They may not even really seem like 4s because they are not going to actively stick out of the crowd and they can be known to be jokesters and REALLY silly/fun/flirty. I've even heard a 4 say that they go into recluse mode when their are feeling unhappy emotions so they don't share their negativity with others. They are very aware of others in that sense

    From my experience, 4s who are social dominant have this tendency to talk a lot about their friends/family, in the sense that they talk about their connections to their friends and family and how they feel different from the family group or whatever group they happen to be in (maybe it's an academic group). They have strong tendency to generalize and say 'everyone is like this, but not me' or 'this person is like this, but not me'. Of course, they can relate to people too. They are not totally loners. I've noticed that they connect a bit to an individual, but never all the way to an individual. There are parts of themselves that they see in each person they get to know/be friends with.

    As much as they feel like loners, they never truly are. They need people in some way. They enjoy alone time after spending a good amount of time with others. What's interesting is that (in terms of romantic relationships) they don't seem to be interested in letting themselves be "engulfed" in a relationship. So they won't abandon their current social group (family and friends they typically hang out with) once a romantic interest comes in their life. What's interesting is that they know they need people on some level and don't truly feel like they can be alone for too long. They may need someone else to indulge their need for laughter or serious talk.

    They also seem to think of their identity in the context of something bigger than themselves, this still relates to them feeling defective, but it's more about how what seems to be the norm and how do I deviate from it or trying not to be the norm (so maybe they deny an aspect of themselves because they think it's not something they can get and/or it's something everyone seems to have but doesn't actually exist). They are true sociologists in a purse sense of the word. So they might say that people's romantic relationships aren't truly that deep and intense (this is them devaluing other people's internal experience), but they don't actually think they can get a deep relationship themselves and then pride themselves on not needing people. They also feel that they can't ask any one person to fulfill them on the "level" they want. This again, ties in with their social network, as they can get what they need in a more "diffuse" way, as they don't push a lone person to fulfill all their intensity needs. I should also clarify what I mean by needs: it's not physical, like food or money or shelter. It's more about them knowing that they need connection, but they meet people on the other person's level and build a relationship that way so they don't impose. It's all about not imposing themselves on others. I have a feeling that they would feel shame/embarrassed if they realized that they were imposing on others. Hence why some may not actively seek intense romantic interests as they don't want to impose until they know the person wants them around. They can participate fun shin-digs with attractive others, as long as its light because then they don't have to be vulnerable.

    It would be great if 4s could read this and help me see what the general idea of social instinct is, and then how it connects to social 4.

    Also, I know that the stereotype of sexual focused people being flirty and stuff like that and it's more about having a lust/drive for getting what they want (but 4s never get what they want in general, all 4s feel defective). But it seems that they difference between an so 4 and an sx 4 is that sx 4s will actively try anyway to squash their feelings of defectiveness and get what "others have"/be more actively vulnerable and so-4s are more 9ish and are more passive (and just say "I don't want what others have" or may be slow to realize what they want.

    SX seems to be tied to merging with a specific thing/person, but an SO 4 would realize that they don't want to merge. Society today seems to romanticize the merging, but although a 4 wants intensity... that's not how a social dominant 4 wants intensity. I think they would actually be sick of that?? They need freedom to participate in other relationships, it seems.
    You are so arbitrary.

  2. #2
    So she did. small.wonder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    4w5 sx/so


    Hey! @thoughtlost I love me some instincts, so I'm glad you've broached this question! As much as I think this part of Enneagram is super valuable, I also think we often over-complicate it by thinking instinctual stack determines a lot more than it actually does. I hate to quote myself, but I'd rather do that than write essentially the same thing again (read: I am lazy).

    Quote Originally Posted by small.wonder View Post
    Can I clear the air a bit on this Instinctual stuff? EJCC asked some very good/wise questions, which need to be answered. Instincts is kind of a pet topic of mine, not because I'm an expert, but because I have an unending curiosity around the topic. Instincts is actually a lot more simple than all of these descriptive notions I see spewed all over the Internet. Instinctual stack signifies emotional needs. If one studies Claudio Naranjo, this is pretty clear. In the following the word "need" could be interchanged with "desire" (as these are not always healthy "needs", more like things we believe we "need").

    SO - vocal, needs to contribute (usually verbally) to a group dynamic. This manifests in a slightly different way for each core, but the theme maintains.
    • So/Sx - Verbal contribution + depth of connection, need for intimacy and intensity. Lack of need for security, caution or boundaries.
    • So/Sp - Verbal contribution + protection/safety and concern with resources. Lack of desire for depth, intense intimacy.

    SP - closed off, needs to ensure (emotional) safety before proceeding. This manifests in a slightly different way for each core, but the theme maintains.
    • Sp/Sx - Need for protection/safety + depth of connection, need for intimacy and intensity. Lack of need to verbally contribute to a group dynamic.
    • Sp/So - Need for protection/safety + verbal contribution to a group dynamic. Lack of desire for depth, intense intimacy.

    SX - Intense need for intimacy and depth. This manifests in a slightly different way for each core, but the theme maintains.
    • Sx/Sp - Need for intense intimacy and depth of connection + need for protection/safety. Lack of need to verbally contribute to a group dynamic.
    • Sx/So - Need for intense intimacy and depth of connection + verbal contribution to a group dynamic. Lack of need for security, caution or boundaries.

    This stuff is pretty darn straight forward, and very apparent in people if you watch for it. It should be noted that a "first" instinct usually needs to be met before the individual would progress to the auxillory need. The stack is a prioritization of needs.

    I made some info graphics on my blog about core specific instincts (according to Naranjo and Ichazo) which can be very helpful, if anyone is interested.
    I do find it very helpful to look specifically at each of the instinctual variations of each type, as you are suggesting. What that looks like, is basically instinct needs (as listed above) + core type motivations and fears (the main 4 themes are envy, identity and suffering). Naranjo described the 4 instinctual variations this way (graphic is mine).

    I hope that helps!
    Find my Enneagram writing here. Also, I'd love for you to take my six question Enneagram surveyEnneagram survey!✨

  3. #3
    I am Fay's Avatar
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    Jun 2013
    4w3 so/sx
    IEI Fe


    I'll try to explain what it means to me to be a social 4.

    I am hyper aware of social dynamics, hierarchy, my and other's status within society. As a social 4 I want to avoid the feeling of social shame, therefore any sign that I feel are a threat for my social position, like humiliation, rejection or mockery are extremely hard for me to bear and they cause a strong awarness of my own self and my own behavior in society. I am´´self-aware and image focused when with other people and it's important for me to give just the right message of who I am and to be understood by others.
    The other thing is that even though I have my own opinion about things, I ofen bite my tongue for the sake of harmony in a group, I sacrifice myself for the good of the group and for the sake of maintaining positive image among other people.

    However there is a huge tension that comes with being a social first 4. I am often torn between staying true to myself, being an individuality and being a part of a group. That sometines culminates into my total social withdrawal, extreme stubborness or total rejection of the norms of a group.
    The other thing is that as a 4 I always feel like I am "different" than others and I think this is HUGE thing and none of the description actually explains this... I usually see how I am different or other than a group of people or how people are different as a members or other social groups rather than individuals. So there are "my" social groups where I feel safe and I feel like I fit in and "the others".
    All my dreams are made of strawberry lemonade

  4. #4
    Honeyed Water thoughtlost's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013


    Thank you, guys!

    Also, to be honest, I am writing from the perspective of a person who knows a 4w5 (pretty well because they is so vocal with their 4ness) and I thought that this would be my opportunity to really know how the instincts work (since I don't have any friends in real life that talk about this stuff). Normally, I would feel guilty prying ....but in this case I don't have to because they are really open with me.

    I see how the instincts work in the person, yet I still feel like I am missing something (so I guess I need someone to help me point out the obvious). I can see how ALL of the instincts are found in the person (they like to see themselves as independent/thinks they don't need others, yet she realizes she does because all that 4 energy would eat away at her if she didn't express their feelings to others; so they oscillates between wanting to run away from the world and being with people. They hate being misunderstood, and would rather not share/talk if they feel that they would be). They are aware of their dependence on people understanding their views. So I would say they express a social instinct (except I don't think they don't exactly attract "negative" attention to themselves and it doesn't seem that they suffer from humiliation/mockery. They express that they think they are invisible, yet the person laughs a SHIT ton and can be theatrical in a funny way she can bring attention that way. And when I first met the person, they loved to gossip/laugh.

    What trips me up is the sexual part. Of course, they care about intensity and depth of connection. They seek out people they can connect with. So why am I not seeing them with a sexual dominant instinct? The person isn't competitive. They don't "push" until they are rejected (in fact, they feel like they give people too much space) because they don't want to assert their desires on others/so I don't see how they make people suffer. As I said earlier, the person has a tendency to deny themselves somethings, but they oscillate between that too (they LOVE looking for sales deals on anything). I can't really see them as sp-dom (mostly because I have spent the past 6 months listening to them express themselves ........ so I am not seeing the "suffer silently" thing lol. They really like having someone to talk to, it seems. Talking through their feelings is probably a major reason why we're friends.

    Oh, that's the other interesting aspect about them. They actually have a lot of friends that serve different purposes (some make her laugh, some are great for philosophical discussions, and some help her process her feelings). I mean, this goes back to what I said earlier about how they know that one person cannot fulfill all their needs, so they need more than just a significant other in their lives (or at least they believe they do). This is the most interesting part for me. Although it seems that I am well-liked and seem like I have friends, I rarely reach out to people. Like, I feel like I legitimately ghost on people and it seems like the 4w5 doesn't despite her saying that she feels invisible to others and could just disappear. It's like I forget that I have people that I can call. The person's connection with others is very important to her.

    This is why I have settled on 4w5 so/(sp or sx ...I really don't know) for her. Does all of this make sense @small.wonder ?

    I know instincts aren't the most powerful thing, but I still wanted to understand how they work.
    You are so arbitrary.

  5. #5


    Totally reconsidering that I may be So/Sx. Good read.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2017


    i'm way too tired to try and write something accurate about how weird I am but I just wanted to say everything you wrote is so accurate about me and I've never seen such an in-depth description that was actually so accurate. I'm a 4w5 so/sp btw.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Deadpan View Post
    Totally reconsidering that I may be So/Sx. Good read.
    Oh god, what the fuck was I thinking?
    Still a good read though.
    Likes Kas, RadicalDoubt liked this post

  8. #8
    Fabula rasa Kas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015


    I don't relate to general description of so subtype as I don't value social hierarchy, I think structure is overrated , am not very aware of group dynamics.
    But when it comes to 4 so description it hits a point.
    “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." A.C. Doyle

    Likes Saprophytic Aphrodite liked this post

  9. #9
    Senior Member Neokortex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    461 sx/sp
    EII Ti


    @thoughtlost , about that girl... probably she's a shallow 4, to confuse you even further, a tertiary 4. I'm a social 4 but my other instinct variants, or to say, the rest of my personality structure disallows, blocks the functioning of my social skills. It's a very tricky thing, since there's partly vanity with the 4s that can keep them from joining social situations (also, the pull of a wing 5, the wanting to have enough knowledge to be able to be domineering in terms of expertise in a social situation) and partly a w3, that is a zeal for confidence, a need for being validated for one's performance, skills, achievements, etc. 4w3 in my opinion can be pretty close to narcissism, it is at least in my case. A narcissism blocks empathy so being a core social 4 with narcissism means that I don't really have much friends to rely on. But what you write about that girl is rather the opposite, they aren't big group oriented, yet they still manage to have a friend for each of their needs. And that's... pretty normal. Think about it differently: perhaps female 4s aren't the same way male 4s are. Perhaps there's less contingency for females to be core social 4s than just to be the... art major indie women types, nibbling away on their cigarettes, talkin' art high-falutin with an air heavy of snobbery and of course the tie-in victim play, part of the package deal. Which is also a social 4 but with different emphases. Of course much of that is part of me as well but I do it for different reasons and I also allow for a far more groundedness, profanity to overrule the pristine of my social image. Instead, I fake social skills and I do it good for a while, owed to my w3.
    Tritype 461: 4w3 So shy narcissism + 6w7 Sx the overt cerebral + 1w2 Sp the covert somatic narcissist

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by thoughtlost View Post
    They also feel that they can't ask any one person to fulfill them on the "level" they want. This again, ties in with their social network, as they can get what they need in a more "diffuse" way, as they don't push a lone person to fulfill all their intensity needs. I should also clarify what I mean by needs: it's not physical, like food or money or shelter. It's more about them knowing that they need connection, but they meet people on the other person's level and build a relationship that way so they don't impose. It's all about not imposing themselves on others.

    Called OUT.

    Yeah.... this is pretty bang on...😅

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