Enneagram Type Four: The Individualist of the Romantic

Enneagram type 4 is defined by great emotional intensity, a feeling of lack, and the use of art as a mechanism of expression and catharsis.
Enneagram Type Four: The Individualist of the Romantic
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 09 January, 2024

The figure of Frida Kahlo usually exemplifies Enneagram type 4 very well. Her passionate, romantic, creative, and tragic character almost perfectly symbolizes the kaleidoscope of characteristics of this profile. We could say that they represent a very particular lifestyle in society. They’re unconventional, very idealistic, and accompanied, in turn, by a veil of subtle drama.

If you identify with this personality pattern, we’ll tell you that you have great potential. You can contribute a lot to our world through some innovative occupations. However, there are also areas that should always be addressed to improve well-being. In the following article, we suggest you discover this archetype a little more with all its different facets.

“You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled, with everything and all the reasons that wake you up in a haste and the demons that won’t let you sleep.”

~ Frida Kahlo ~

The childhood wound of Enneagram type 4

Enneotype 4’s childhood wound is the feeling of being inferior to others. This lack leads them to constantly search for an identity, meaning, or purpose to compensate for the perception that they lack something, something that others have but that they do not. This lack shapes their self-image.

These individuals idealize what they don’t have and, therefore, tend to be envious. They believe that what they lack is the key to overcoming their inferiority. The childhood wound that separates them from their essential self drives them to express themselves in many ways, including creativity.

Through different means, such as art, writing, and music, they seek to understand themselves and transmit what they feel in a world where they feel less than others. These expressive avenues also allow them to believe that they have some influence and can improve aspects of their life.

The childhood of enneatype 4

A melancholy child looking out a window.

From this enneatype’s point of view, their parents never “saw” them. They didn’t connect with their caregivers, nor did their caregivers connect with them. In addition, they feel that their parents didn’t give them a good reflection of who they were either; they didn’t teach them to discover their true qualities. They were a misunderstood child.

Therefore, from a very young age, these individuals interpreted that there was something wrong with them, that they lacked something they didn’t know, and that they had to discover who they were. This focus on lack led them and continues to lead them to see only what they don’t have in their relationships, in themselves, and in their life.

The characteristics of Enneagram type 4

In Enneagram theory, type four is the creative, inspired, reserved, silent, sensitive, introspective, self-aware type. They tend to be emotional, honest, and expressive. At times, they avoid intimate contact because they perceive themselves as flawed or vulnerable. They may be disdainful of traditions and current ways of living.

1. Behavioral patterns

Among their main traits or behavioral patterns are the following:

  • Dramatic and temperamental.
  • They reject the ordinary and vulgar.
  • They think they’re different from the rest.
  • They tend to feel misunderstood.
  • They attract attention with the way they are.
  • They tend to be interested in art and to be creative.
  • They take time to recover from emotional losses.
  • Are hypersensitive and susceptible to emotional lability.
  • Tend to withdraw into himself when criticized.
  • They fantasize in their mind with tragic and melancholic scenes.
  • They have the feeling that they’re inferior to the people around them.

2. Unconscious message

The main unconscious message that Enneagram type four received in their childhood was, “It’s not okay to be too practical or too happy.” Having a heightened sensitivity and longing for a unique identity, they feel that too much practicality and too much happiness can cloud their deep emotional experiences. Type four’s superego also tells them that their value or well-being comes from being true to themselves.

3. Basic fear

Your most fundamental fear is having no identity and being unimportant. Insignificance is unbearable to these individuals, as is not knowing who they are in this life. Because they long to be special, they fear not being different enough and being ordinary.

4. Basic desire

Enneagram type four has two great longings. On the one hand, they want to discover their importance. On the other hand, they fervently desire to create their own identity. They’re motivated by knowing who they are and exploring their emotions, thoughts, and individuality.

5. Worldview

Their perception of the world is based on the idea that everyone has something that they lack. Therefore, they’re tormented by the doubt, “What’s wrong with me?” Compared to the world and people, they’re different in some way, and their essence is far from the ordinary. It’s their mission, therefore, to discover their identity.

6. Main concern

Enneotype 4 worries about the possibility of being rejected or inferior. They also worry about not having the capacity or ability to express what they feel or think.

7. Habitual Reaction

Their most common response is melancholy. This feeling makes them think that their way of experiencing emotions is more intense than normal. As a result, they may feel isolated and misunderstood.

8. Communication style

When talking to others, they tend to lament, dramatize, get emotional, and sigh. They’re fascinated by conversation in order to talk about themselves. They like deep and interesting topics and use the words “I,” “me,” “mine,” “my,” and “myself” often when talking with others.

Levels of development

According to the book The Wisdom of the Enneagram (2017), the developmental levels of the four are as follows:


  • Level 1 (adherence to life, overcoming). They don’t believe they’re more flawed than other people. They succeed in satisfying their basic desire and resolving their identity issues.
  • Level 2 (introspection, sensitivity). They recognize their sensitivity and that they’re different but are able to define their identity or have a clear meaning.
  • Level 3 (expressive, creative). They express themselves through art to reinforce their identity. They’re expressive and sensitive. They explore their emotional world and know how to communicate what they feel.


  • Level 4 (romantic, individualistic). They worry that their creativity will diminish because of their changing moods. Therefore, they try to preserve what they feel and reinforce it through imagination.
  • Level 5 (self-absorbed, temperamental). They’re afraid that people won’t value or recognize them. Consequently, they test others and are inaccessible in order to verify first if others are interested. They’re reserved and shy.
  • Level 6 (self-indulgent, decadent). They think that life and its challenges will force them to let go of their goals and dreams.  They’re overwhelmed by the idea that no one will be able to help them. They feel envious and believe that they’re wasting their existence.


  • Level 7 (hateful, withdrawn). They have repressed anger, which depresses and tires them. They fear that they’re wasting their opportunities and don’t accept in their life those who don’t support their idea of themself.
  • Level 8 (self-rejection, depression). They repudiate everything that doesn’t match up to their fantasies. They feel hatred toward themself and others. They self-sabotage any positive aspect of their life.
  • Level 9 (despair, denial of life). Having wasted their life leads them to destructive behaviors. Some end up committing crimes.

Points of union between Enneatype 4 and other Enneatypes

The wings of Enneatype 4 are shaped by Enneatype 3 and Enneatype 5. When it leans more toward one or the other, new ways of behaving and relating appear. Let’s look at some of their traits below.

Type four with a three wing: The Aristocrat

The enneatype 4, with a healthy wing of 3, knows how to combine ambition with creativity; they create for the public; they want to be successful and distinguished; they’re sociable and are concerned with finding the right way to express themselves. When their version is average, they’re shy and are well-aware of their problem; they’re competitive, practical, wasteful, sophisticated, elegant; they seek recognition.

Type four with a five wing: The Bohemian

The healthy bohemian is a subtype characterized by being creative, emotional, and introspective; their creative activity is intended for themself and not for the public; they defy authority and convention. In their middle range, they’re introverted and reserved; they’re attracted to the exotic and mysterious; they’re eccentric and like a minimalist style.

Enneagram type 4: Centering and Decentering

Centering occurs when the enneatype stops identifying with its ego and takes on positive traits of another personality. In the case of Enneatype 4, they take on the following traits of Enneatype 1: Order, acceptance, discernment, and serenity.

At the same time, the process of decentering occurs when they identify with their ego. In this case, they imitate the following negative traits of Enneatype 2: Manipulation, victimhood, dependence, and flattery.

What are the subtypes of Enneotype 4?

A woman painting on a large canvas with her fingers.

Another classification of this personality can be formed from its instinctive variants. Let us look at each of them below.


In their intermediate version, they’re introverted and like to give gifts; they’re fascinated by the good things in life and love to be surrounded by nice objects; they live connected to the material world. When their development is unhealthy, they’re carefree and irresponsible; they’re attracted to instability and love entanglements or toxic relationships.


The average social Enneagram type-4 four considers themself to be unique and different from everyone else; they’re very active and socially engaged; they crave relationships and involvement in group activities but harbor a feeling of inadequacy. An unhealthy social type-4 lives in constant fear of rejection; they’re insecure and feel inadequate; they’re often plagued by feelings of shame and are dependent in relationships.


When their development is normal, they’re extroverted; they make their romantic fantasies come true; they’re impressionable and vulnerable; they’re sensual and seductive but also jealous and possessive. In their unhealthy version, the sexual type-4 feels a strong sense of envy; they generate rivalries and believe that it’s right to provoke the ruin of their rivals.

What is Enneatype 4 like when it comes to love?

When it comes to love, those who are Enneagram type four are dedicated and passionate. They’re characterized by their search for meaningful connection and emotional intensity. Type four desires a bond that satisfies their affective needs and is congruent with their worldview.

They’re prone to highly idealizing the other person and look to them as the source of their inspiration and authenticity. This can lead them to have unrealistic expectations that, over time, end up disappointing them.

As partners, they may feel envious of the other person and think that they’re not good enough for them and that they’re inferior. They can also be a bit unstable: One moment, they’re solitary and reserved; the next, they’re active and loving.

Strengths and weaknesses

Among their main strengths are:

  • An artistic sense
  • Sharp perception
  • Emotional connection
  • Emotional expressiveness
  • Imagination and creativity
  • Sensitivity and understanding

On the other hand, among their weaknesses, we can mention the following:

  • A tendency toward melancholy
  • An inclination to overanalyze
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism
  • Fear of rejection and of being ordinary
  • Problems in dealing with envy
  • Dramatism and emotional fluctuations

Practical tips for achieving well-being and fulfillment

At this point, you may feel that you’re 80% in tune with Enneagram type 4. However, from a more clinical and rigorous point of view, according to psychology, the Enneagram presents certain problems of scientific validity. This is what the Journal of Clinical Psychology concludes. However, it’s an interesting tool for personal growth.

If you wish to improve any of the areas mentioned above, in order to achieve fulfillment in the personal and professional sphere, we recommend that you take into account some guidelines, which are the following:

  • Admire the talent of others in a healthy way: Admiring, without envying, will contribute to your well-being. Also, don’t forget to develop a little more empathy. It’ll help you better understand people’s motivations and feelings.
  • Don’t distort reality: Start seeing others for what they are, without idealizing them, without thinking that they’re better than you or that they’re examples of absolute perfection. Connect with reality as it is, without altering it or applying a flawless filter.
  • Encourage humility and self-acceptance: Recognize that we all have our own challenges and internal struggles, even if they’re not visible. Humility can help you lower the bar a bit on excessive self-demand and that obsession with standing out.
  • Yes to healthy love: As a type 4, you’ll seek very passionate and deep sexual-emotional relationships. Be careful not to idealize or set impossible expectations for your potential partners. Look for authentic and healthy love, the kind that doesn’t hurt.
  • Reduce self-demand: It’s true that you want to achieve authenticity, distinguish yourself in a particular field, and stand out above the rest. But be careful because these goals often lead to frustration and disappointment. Wanting to succeed is legitimate, but not at any price. Reduce excessive demands.
  • Don’t indulge in negative emotions: Your emotional self-awareness is your strength. However, don’t get persistently trapped by those internal states of negative valence. Listening to your sadness and disappointments is fine for a while. But just long enough to understand their message and then act on them.

Which celebrities are Enneagram type 4?

A black and white photo of James Dean from the film Rebel Without a Cause.

Among the famous people with this personality, according to The Wisdom of the Enneagram (2017), we can name the following:

  • Anne Rice
  • Bob Dylan
  • Sylvia Plath
  • James Dean
  • Vivien Leigh
  • Jeremy Irons
  • Judy Garland
  • Johnny Depp
  • Jackie Onassis
  • Allen Ginsberg
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Martha Graham
  • Ingmar Bergman
  • Alanis Morissette
  • Sarah McLachlan
  • Tennessee Williams

Enneagram type four: The most passionate

In this article, we’ve seen that, within the personality Enneagram, romantics stand out for their search for authenticity, creativity, and emotional intensity. If a part of you tells you that this is your archetype, try to take advantage of your gifts and overcome the obstacles that often accompany them. The biggest problem that defines you may be your tendency to idealize and cultivate very fanciful expectations.

Think, too, that each of us is a masterpiece in progress. You have great potential within you that you can use to your advantage. You’re passionate and idealistic and make imagination your working tool. Regulate your emotions, reduce your idealism, and offer the world the best of yourself.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Hook, J. N., Hall, T. W., Davis, D. E., Van Tongeren, D. R., & Conner, M. (2021). The Enneagram: A systematic review of the literature and directions for future research. Journal of Clinical Psychology77(4), 865-883. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33332604/
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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.