The three instinctual variants in the Enneagram are self preservation, social and sexual, you can watch a brief description of all three here. The focus today is on the social subtype, which is most interested in the outer world, community, politics, and hierarchy. The social variant is most often strongly associated with styles 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9, but any style can have social as their strongest variant. It is unusual however for either a style 5 or style 8 to have social variant as their primary.
Social variant asks the question, “do I belong?” and wants to know whether they are an accepted and important part of the group. For this reason, they are often evaluating and comparing themselves to others in terms of popularity, network, influence, and/or political power. Social variant is about politics in the sense that they are attuned to connections between people and how to use those connections to the benefit of all.
Social variant is the part of all of us that wants to build a stronger community, nation, or shared vision. They want to create or participate in a group that will support them, protect them, and contribute to their success. You might identify the social variants in your life by their large friends list, ability to work the room and come away with the most new contacts, and willingness to share their network on your behalf. These are the people that when you mention you need a good mechanic, they say “I’ve got a guy for that!” They add to our world by providing the sense of community, connectedness, and idea that we are all in this together.
How do you notice social variant at play in your life, or the lives of others?