top of page

One-to-One (Sexual) Instinctual Drive

The One-to-One or Sexual Instinct (SX) is one of the three primary Instinctual Drives, alongside Social and Self-Preservation, and represents one part of the primal aspect of our human nature. It is connected to the reptilian part of our brain that constantly monitors ways to ensure attraction and connection with a special person and groups of people that will enable the procreation and survival of the individual.

Beyond just attracting a mate, the Sexual Instinct aims to create, push boundaries, lose oneself in others or in something larger than themselves, and energetically connect with others. Given the values associated with the Sexual Instinct, it is no wonder that the fear associated with this Instinct is the fear of being undesirable and overlooked.

The Sexual Instinct as a whole can be broken down into three main areas: Attraction/Repulsion, Boundary Pushing/Intensity, and Loss of Self/Merging, which all work together to ensure an individual's desirability and connection to others/groups or ideas.

These can be explained further:


The Sexual Instinct drives an individual's desire for energetically attracting and "clicking" with other people, groups, and activities that allow for the feeling of aliveness and vitality. This instinct enhances a person's sensitivity to energy and chemistry between themselves and others and allows them to find those scenarios in which they can feel both excited and known. Though attraction may be the ultimate goal, the SX Instinct can equally enjoy the repulsion side of the energy flow as this can feel intensely alive and unpredictable.

Boundary Pushing/Intensity:

The SX instinct can also involve a desire for boundary-pushing experiences that bring a sense of intensity, aliveness, or chemical attunement. This can result in individuals seeking out experiences that are beyond the norm, creative, enlivening, and have the potential for exciting possibilities.

Loss of Self/Merging:

The SX instinct also involves a desire to merge (or lose oneself) with something beyond oneself and to become part of a larger whole. Displays of this instinct could look like seeking deep connection through energetically fusing with a person, concept, or experience that allows the individual to blur the boundary of themselves and connect to something bigger and outside themselves (for example, losing oneself in deep conversations or in the energy of a moving collective experience at a concert or religious event).

A Note About Instinctual Stacking:

As mentioned in previous posts, each person is born with a preset Instinctual Stack, where one Instinct is more Dominant than the others, while another Instinct is Repressed or resides in the person's blind spot. With this in mind, each person will have slightly different characteristics even within the same Enneagram Type based on which Instinct is Dominant and which Instinct is Repressed. To illustrate, let's look at how the Sexual Instinct can look depending on where it sits in a person's Instinctual Stack as the Dominant Instinct, Secondary Instinct, or Repressed Instinct.

Sexual Dominant: (SX/SP, SX/SO)**

Individuals who are Dominant in the One-to-One or Sexual Instinct value, follow, and fulfill the objectives of the One-to-One instinctual drive without conscious thought. These individuals can sense attraction and chemistry between themselves and others/ideas/or groups and will creatively hone their appearance and actions to establish deep connection and the feeling of being chosen. Along with this desire for deep connecting and merging, SX Dominants are also constantly on the lookout for people and experiences that bring out their own feelings of "aliveness," and when found, will pursue them with intensity and dogged persistence. SX Dominants are attuned to the intangible flow of energies in their world and rely on their instinctual sensitivity to attractive/repulsive energies for decision-making, often without needing rational or cognitive justifications.

Under high amounts of stress, SX Dominants can become reactive and overly focused on deep connection over fulfilling other instinctual needs that could help them manage their stress better (especially the needs of their Repressed Instinct). In this state of high stress, their desire to push for more can eventually lead to burnout.

Sexual Secondary (SO/SX, SP/SX)**

Individuals with the Sexual Instinct as their Secondary Instinct value the feelings of aliveness that come from energetically relating to others, pushing boundaries, and merging. SX Secondary individuals may embrace the loss of self, the dissolution of boundaries that occur in deep connections, and trust that this new vulnerability will not lead to self-annihilation. Unlike SX Dominant individuals, these individuals are less inclined to give in to excessive intensity and boundary pushing in their lives but will use the skills of the Instinct to enhance their lives. In many ways, they can skillfully use the provocativeness of the SX Instinct without being afraid of it (SX Repressed Individuals) or being tempted to overapply it.

Sexual Repressed (SP/SO, SO/SP):**

Individuals with a Repressed Sexual Instinct tend to avoid and sometimes even fear the provocativeness inherent in the needs of this Instinct. Sometimes, this fear stems from a belief that fulfilling these Instinctual needs (which they still have, of course) of attraction, boundary pushing, and merging may lead them to act irresponsibly, shamefully, or recklessly. SX Repressed individuals typically thrive in areas of their lives that require grounded, steady, balanced energy and will struggle to appreciate the need to foster this wilder, provocative, "alive" side of themselves. With this Instinct Repressed, they lack the ability to easily tap into their source of raw intensity, energy, and creativity and, without conscious work on their part, risk missing out on their latent sense of excitement and passion.

**SP: Indicates the Self-Preservation Instinct

**SO: Indicates the Social Instinct

**SX: Indicates the Sexual Instinct


bottom of page