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Mistyping Series: Type Three Verses Type Seven

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

One of the hardest parts of the Enneagram is finding your Type--Nine Types with 54 combinations can create a lot of confusion and lead to mistyping. If you are unsure which Type you are between Type Three and Type Seven, read on for ways to clarify your true Type.

Why Are These Types Mistyped? Because Both Types Can Be:

Positive, Enthusiastic, and Big Dreamers

Anyone lucky enough to have Type Threes and Type Sevens in their lives knows that these Types are some of the most positive, enthusiastic people on the planet--every obstacle is an opportunity; every closed door means an even better door is opening ready to portal you to new magical lands; and all lemons make the best lemonade, lemon pie, and limoncello. These Types can dream bigger, better futures that (crazy enough) can even come to fruition with their hard work and determination. One major difference in the optimism and dreaming that we feel from these Types is where it is based and where it is directed. Type Threes' optimism stems from positive belief in their ability to reach their ultimate goals and make things happen. This positive belief if based on the pragmatic assessment of where their are and where they are going and deciding the steps that need to be taken to get to the eventual goal. Add relentless determination to reach a goal (to the point of working themselves to death) and a Three can accomplish almost anything. Sevens are equally optimistic and positive and can see the good in most situations, but they use this positivity and optimism as almost a means of escaping the current situation for a more positive future. Many times Sevens are content to use their creative minds to dream up possibilities without ever intending to take action to make these dreams reality. This does not mean that Sevens do not take action (and, in fact, contribute extremely meaningful action to projects and workplaces), rather that dreaming big does not have to result in action as it would for a Three. At times, the exercise is its own reward for Sevens.

Larger than Life

Type Threes and Type Sevens share the larger than life persona but for very different reasons. Type Sevens love the frisson of something new, fun, and stimulating and are always looking to jump into another interaction/activity/stimulating experience that would allow them to escape the looming anxiety that is always present in their boredom. As a result, Sevens can exude a big (sometimes magnetic) persona and live an interesting life that draws notice Type Threes can also be magnetic, exciting individuals who lead amazing lives, but the persona they exude will be totally dependent on what they perceive others expect from them at the moment. Since Type Threes are shape-shifters for the purpose of receiving the admiration they need to combat their feelings of worthlessness, Threes will frequently adopt the persona mask that will garner them the most praise at the moment. In this light, the biggest difference between these two Types is that a Seven will always be themselves and the Three will always be what they think you want them to be.

Aggressive When Their Needs Aren't Met

Though saying Threes and Sevens are "aggressive" stands against stereotypical perceptions of them, they truly are both members of the Aggressive Triad (Hornevian Triad), which means that they will move against people and expectations to meet their own goals. In fact, Type Threes and Type Sevens can be just as aggressive as Type Eights when they need to be, but they take a more circuitous route to becoming openly aggressive it than Eights. Type Threes will let nothing stand between them and their goal, but since they are also people-pleasers and shifters to their core, they will first try to inspire, cajole, and persuade others before running them over with aggression and intensity. Type Sevens are equally aggressive and will use the same tactics as Threes will, but instead of thwarting expectations in service of a goal they will move against others to keep themselves stimulated and free from feeling trapped. If the Seven feels trapped they will try to find their freedom first through positivity and playfulness before resorting to fighting their way out like a caged animal. The biggest take away is that both Types (though they are extremely loving, relational people and would prefer to have good relationships) will get what they want whether others are in the way or not.

How Are These Types Different?

Attachment Type vs. Frustration Type (Object Relations Triad):

How Their First Relationships Shaped Them:

Looking at Types from a stance of Object Relations can provide a lot of clarity to the meaning behind some of the characteristics we see as similar between Types.

Type Three: Attachment Type

Type Seven: Frustration Type

What Does "Attachment Type" Mean?

When the Type Three's ego was developing, they didn't feel adequately "seen" by the Nurturing Function in their lives which they interpreted as a deficiency in themselves that needed to change. With this info in tow, the little Three went about changing how they presented themselves firs to the Nurturing Function (who deeply influences all of the Three's later presentations of self) and later to others in order to elicit a more desired and fulfilling response. Eventually with all this changing and morphing, the Three lost track of their own identity and was forced to adopt a mask comprised of all the things that others have praised and deemed as "them". As a result, the Three becomes a groomed shape-shifter who behaves, performs, and achieves in order to receive praise and adulation which substitutes for true love and being known.

How Does This Shape Their Current Relationships?

Since type Threes have lost touch with their core "self"( which is the only self that can be truly known and loved), they settle for praise, adulation, and admiration for their many successes. Without this core in place, the Three attempts to connect with others by seamlessly shape-shifting their person to fit with others' expectations in hopes of being "seen" or at least admired by each person, situation, or group they encounter.

What Does "Frustration Type" Mean?

When the Type Seven's ego was developing, they did not feel adequately "seen" and known by the Nurturing Function in their lives. The Seven did not experience this "miss" as a personal deficiency, but as a frustrating comparison to the ideal amount of nurturing they believe they need to feel whole. The Seven took this initial miss as a signal that they would never receive their ideal amount of mirroring and love from others and took it upon themselves to nurture themselves. They then nurture themselves by giving themselves a steady stream of transitional objects (the object given to the child to ease separation anxiety from the nurturer) in the form of fun and stimulation.

How Does This Shape Their Current Relationships?

In relationships, Sevens may choose to avoid (and maybe even run from) talking and processing the darker sides of life because they believe that they would not receive the support they would need to properly cope (since they never had in the past). In fact, they may run from addressing issues altogether in favor of soothing their unprocessed feelings with their favorite transitional objects of fun and stimulation.

Heart Type vs. Head Type: How Each Type Initially Processes Information

Type Three: Heart Type

Type Seven: Head Type

What does "Heart Type" Mean?

Type Threes are the center Type of the Heart Triad meaning that they first process information through their hearts. Type Threes are not content to make decisions based on their heart alone (because that might not lead to the most logical solution) so they will quickly move the processing from their heart to their heads, cutting out their emotions and feelings of the situation. In fact, Threes are so practiced at cutting out emotions in favor of action that they can even fool themselves that they are emotionless--"nothing can bug me" (though this denial comes at a steep cost). As cost of membership in the Heart Triad, Type Threes also struggle with their sense of identity and shame alongside their Triad-mates of Two and Four.

What does "Head Type" Mean?

Type Sevens are a member of the Head Triad, which means that they first process information through their heads and operate under the assumption that the world is a dangerous place and they need the support of others to be safe in it. This may surprise those of us who know a playful, positive Sevens because they do not appear to be preoccupied with anxiety, fear, and worry of the dangers of life...but they are. During daylight hours, the Seven's positivity, energy, and escapist tendencies can put off their deep anxieties, but in the wee hours of the morning, the Seven's anxieties come knocking and there is nowhere to escape (cue "I was up in the middle of the night thinking about....").

Logical Type vs. Optimistic Type: How Types Cope When They Don't Get What They Want

Type Three: Logical Type

Type Seven: Optimistic Type

What Does "Logical Type" Mean?

When the Type Three is unable to get what they want from a situation, the first tactic they will employ to solve the situation is to use cool-headed, objective logic. They will cut out their emotions and use their amazing, pragmatic problem-solving skills to maneuver around the situation with efficiency and an eye on excellence and standing out. Cutting out emotions may come in handy for some situations, but when it is employed too frequently, can result in over-emphasizing acting over feeling and even hiding emotions from themselves.

What Does Optimistic Type Mean?

When the Type Seven does not get what they want from a situation, they will first try to mentally reframe the situation to emphasize the positive experiences and their enjoyment of it. By employing this tactic, they can avoid their own negative feelings and the reality of the situation in service of remaining free to do what they want. Though positivity is a wonderful quality, Sevens frequently find that avoidance used on any broad scale can lead to situations blowing up.

Helpful Typing Questions:

Ask "Why", "What Does It Mean", "How Would You Feel", and "What Would Happen"

Asking these questions in regards to any characteristics that a person claims as the reason for choosing their Type will help them gain a layer of clarity on the motivation behind the behavior. For example:

Question: When you are dreaming big, how quickly do you move into practical planning mode (or do you move into that mode at all)?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that show that dreaming sessions typically end with an action plan (Type Three) versus answers that emphasize dreaming sessions as a means of fun idea generation that do not usually lead to an action plan.

Question: When was the last time you had to use more force with others/situations to get what you wanted and what was it about?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that hint that aggression was used as a means of accomplishing a goal (even if that goal was better relationships or connections) (Type Three) versus aggression used as a means of escaping something that was unpleasant (Type Seven).

Question: Do you ever struggle staying with a goal once you have decided on one?

Answer Hint: Though both Types are idea-generating machines, Type Threes are one of the most likely Types to stick to a goal and see it through--even over the course of many years. Sevens, though very dedicated people as well, will struggle with the daily grind of working on a goal--especially if there is not an adequate amount of variety in the accomplishing of the goal.

Ask Questions That Clarify Their Triad:

Asking for reactions based on the Type's Triads can also give a lot of clarity based on how they act in certain situation:

Question (Attachment vs. Frustration):

Question: How much are you aware of what others want from you? Do you ever find yourself shape-shifting depending on who you are around or the expectations of the situation?

Answer Hint? Listen for answers that indicate a high level of understanding of what others want and changing to gain the highest amount of admiration/attention (Type Three) versus answers of feeling pressure to be positive, happy, and fun, but otherwise not changing the self to get more from others (Type Seven).

Question (Attachment vs. Frustration):

Question: When you are experiencing something emotionally distressing, how do you cope? Do you share your struggle with others? Why/why not?

Answer Hint? Listen for answers that indicate the first coping mechanism is some kind of productive action toward a goal (Type Three) versus escaping from the feelings and situation through distraction (Type Seven). Both Types will likely not share the struggle with others, but listen for answers that show more of a bypassing the emotions in order to keep moving toward something else (Type Three) versus avoiding emotions because they don't want to burden others and fear they wouldn't get the support they need (Type Sevens).

Question (Heart vs. Head):

Question: What do you do when your head starts to spin with anxiety? When do your anxious thoughts arise the most?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that show an action response to anxiety (Type Three) versus an escaping/playing response to anxiety (Type Seven). Both Types can experiencing the 3am wake up with anxiety call, but Sevens are the most prone to it.

Question (Logical vs. Optimistic): When something doesn't meet your expectation, what do you do?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that hint at cool-headed, logical, objective problem-solving with an emphasis on action(Type Three) versus staying positive and knowing it's all going to work out (Type Seven).

For Typing help, questions, or to schedule a personal coaching session, email Kimberly at


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