Type 6 is also known as the “Loyalist” of the Enneagram. 6s are devoted, responsible people, eager to find their place and people and feel the sense of security that comes with community.
They fear being without support and feel at their most comfortable surrounded by trusted loved ones. When they find people they trust, they are loyal and dependable friends.
While 6s may seem incredibly calm and stable from the outside, they live in constant fear of disaster. They endlessly think up ways to mitigate risk and protect themselves and their loved ones. They consider every aspect of situations, sometimes to the point of being paralyzed by indecision. 6s can deal with their anxieties in either phobic or counterphobic ways. This means they either acknowledge their fears and work to avoid circumstances which will make them anxious, or they actively take risks and test themselves on their ability to confront and overcome their fears. Whether or not their chosen strategy is a healthy approach depends entirely on the Type 6 in question.
To learn more about the Loyalist, see below for an overview of Type 6 characteristics and the type’s variants, wings, and directions of growth and stress. We’ve also included information about the ideal Type 6 work environment, the types they are most and least compatible with, and a list of some notable Type 6s.
Below, we’ve listed some of the key traits of an Enneagram Loyalist.
Type 6s are:
- Type 6s stay alert to potential threats to their stability and build their life around mitigating risk.
- Type 6s are detail-oriented, channeling their anxieties into constant analysis and preparation means they catch details others miss.
- Type 6s value trustworthiness and support, whether in friends and loved ones, authority figures, or even institutions.
- Type 6s are deeply loyal to and protective of their loved ones.
- Type 6s commit to their beliefs and values and are difficult to budge once they have placed their trust in a person or institution.
A person’s Enneagram type stems from their core motivations, specific desires and fears that are at the root of that type’s behavior. Where a type’s desires represent their ideal existence, they fear falling short of that ideal or simply being incapable of it.
Each Enneagram type has an associated core fear. The traits associated with a type develop through their instinctive avoidance of said fear.
The core fear of the Loyalist is being unprepared and without support. Type 6s fear being caught out without the safety of a support network, causing them to orient their lives around acquiring a feeling of security.
Each Enneagram type’s core desire corresponds to and is an inverse of their core fears.
The core desire of the Loyalist is safety and security. Type 6s need to feel prepared for any eventuality and surrounded by trustworthy people that can provide them with reassurance, support, and protection. They seek out trustworthy people and when they find them, throw the full force of their love and loyalty behind them.
Type 6s are in their element in a social setting. They have a natural talent for connecting with people and are well-liked by their friends and coworkers. They’re great team players, collaborate well, and communicate their thoughts with ease and precision. They’re also deeply loyal and stand firm in their values, meaning they will speak out to protect their loved ones even in the face of potential dangers.
This does not mean that they’re reckless. In fact, 6s are very diligent in their decision-making and prepared for all possibilities. Their organized and scrupulous nature makes them excellent at financial organization, and you’ll often find a Type 6 in charge of a budget.
Whether they admit it or not, the life of a Type 6 is ruled by fear and pessimism. 6s not only fear but truly believe that danger of one sort or another is imminent, and when they cannot find healthy ways to deal with their anxiety they risk collapsing under its weight. When in the grips of their own worst tendencies, they mistrust themselves and their own capabilities and fall into unhealthy codependency, relying solely on others for their confidence. At the same time, they become deeply suspicious and begin to view the people who should be sources of support as if they are avenues of inevitable betrayal, a vicious cycle that feeds into and grows their already overactive sense of danger.
Directions of Growth and Stress
The nine personality types of the Enneagram model are not rigid descriptions of behavior. While a person’s base type does not change, their personality evolves and even takes on traits from other types in response to changing circumstances in their life.
In the Enneagram diagram, each type is connected to two others which represent that type’s typical directions of stress and growth.
Growth Arrow to Nine
At their most high-functioning, Type 6s may “move towards” Enneagram 9, the Peacemaker. This means that Loyalists seeing positive change in their lives may adopt some of the positive traits of the Peacemaker alongside the familiar positive traits of a Type 6.
An Enneagram 6 moving in the direction of growth will:
- Ground themselves in their own body.
- Be more easy-going and able to deal with their anxiety.
- Become less rigid in their thinking and let go of things that aren’t serving them.
- Develop a higher tolerance for ambiguity.
The Loyalist will always be a Type 6 at their core, but a healthy 6 that is moving towards growth will be able to channel and make use of these Type 9 strengths in their own way.
Stress Arrow to Three
When stressed, Loyalists may take on negative traits of an unhealthy Enneagram 3, the Achiever.
An Enneagram 6 moving in the direction of stress may:
- Push people away as a way to defend themselves from being betrayed.
- Shift focus to themselves and their own success.
- Prioritize their careers over their loved ones and relationships.
- Refuse to listen to others and insist they are correct no matter the situation.
Some variations on the Enneagram model refer to the three instincts, meaning the self-preservation instinct, the sexual instinct, and the social instinct. All three are inherent human instincts, but every person prioritizes them differently, with their main priority being their “dominant” instinct. Understanding the interplay between your dominant instinct and your Enneagram type can provide helpful insights into your personality and behavior.
The self-preservation (SP) instinct pertains to our need for personal safety and security.
Self-preservations Type 6s are the most phobic of the 6s, deeply concerned with potential avenues of insecurity and with their own need for protection. Doubting themselves and their own abilities, SP 6s seek out supportive allies, placing their sense of safety and security in the hands of people who are stronger than them. Worried about the potential anger of others, they smooth down their own rough edges and project an aura of warmth and peacefulness to ensure they are never seen as a threat.
The social (SO) instinct pertains to our need to be part of a community and to feel like we belong.
Unlike Self-preservation 6s, Social 6s seek security not in individuals but in concepts, ideals, and group affiliation. They seek out a sense of belonging by joining organizations, and find security in attaching themselves to a trusted authority that can give them a script to follow and a set of rules which will keep them safe.
SO 6s dedicate their time to serving on committees, volunteering, and getting involved. Even if they don’t enjoy the work, they are prepared to put in the time and effort because they recognize its necessity. They have a strong, rigid sense of right and wrong and aren’t comfortable with moral gray areas. This doesn’t have to be a problem, but can lead them astray when they choose the wrong authority to structure their life around.
The sexual (SX) instinct pertains to our sexuality and our personal relationships.
The sexual instinct of a SX Type 6 is rooted less in a romantic partner and more within their own body. Sexual 6s are a counterphobic variant of 6, and as such they react to feelings of fear with confrontation and a need to feel powerful and intimidating. They cultivate their physical strength and beauty and wrap it around themselves like armor, preemptively putting up defenses against attack, manipulation, or any other form of betrayal.
Assertive to the point they may be called aggressive, SX 6s confront their fears head on. Counterintuitively, they find security in thrill-seeking, as if instigating danger and conflict releases them from the anxiety of having to anticipate it.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Enneagram 6s
Because people change in response to life circumstances, there is no single defined set of behaviors that mark out an Enneagram 6. Loyalists will display different facets of their personalities in their average state versus at times when they feel healthier or more unhealthy.
Signs of a Healthy Loyalist
- They are valued, hardworking members of their teams and organizations.
- They know how to soothe their own anxieties and don’t get bogged down with pessimism.
- They are dependable and soothing for others to be around in times of stress.
- They are caring, empathetic, and generous to people from all walks of life.
Signs of an Average Loyalist
- They are constantly aware of potential worst-case scenarios.
- They rely on others and seek group approval and consensus when making decisions.
- They over-analyze every interaction and grow anxious when their social position doesn’t feel secure.
- They seek reassurance from those they trust.
Signs of an Unhealthy Loyalist
- They are wildly pessimistic in a way that alienates people close to them.
- They feel hypersensitive to criticism and respond to even minor differences of opinion as if they’ve been attacked.
- They act wildly and lash out at individuals to validate their beliefs about their own mistreatment.
- They become debilitatingly anxious and hypervigilant to the point they cannot trust in anything or anyone.
Personal Growth Recommendations for Enneagram 6s
- Ground yourself in the present. You frequently allow your worries to consume you, putting you in a state of analysis paralysis. When you can’t act for fear of potential consequences, you may well be hurrying yourself towards the future you fear. Rather than focusing on what-ifs, you need to bring yourself back into the present moment and react to the reality of the situation rather than to the worst case scenarios you’ve created.
- Cultivate your faith in yourself and others. It’s important for you to know that there are people in your life who you can trust. Vulnerability and trust can be scary, but paranoia and skepticism will not set you up for success in your relationships. If you can’t open yourself up to the risk of being rejected or disappointed, you will never be able to rely on your own instincts or feel on stable ground with your loved ones.
- Practice proactive decision-making. Life isn’t just a series of things happening to you, and you need to remind yourself of that. Start small, but invest some time into making plans and putting those plans into action. As you start to make things happen for yourself, you’ll feel less like you have no control over your life.
- Find effective self-soothing techniques. When dealing with negative thoughts, relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help you calm down. Allow yourself at least fifteen minutes every day to unwind.
Enneagram 6 Wings
The numbers on either side of an Enneagram type are known as the “wings” of that type. While people will display traits from all nine types at different types, their wings are particularly influential in their behavior. Most people lean towards one of their wings. Enneagram 6s lean either towards their 5 wing, written as “6w5” (6-wing-5) or towards their 7 wing (“6w7”).
Type 6s with a 5 wing combine the suspicious nature of the Enneagram 6 with the withdrawn tendencies of the Type 5. They tend to be more introverted, and are very particular about setting boundaries with people. They may seem overly reserved, but this is just a different manifestation of a 6’s anxiety – they want to feel safe and in control and do so by withdrawing from others. Gaining their trust and building strong connections with them takes time.
6w5s have more of an intellectual bent than other 6s. They’re great planners and pay attention to the small details. They also feel strongly about their ideals and can be counted on to stand up for what they think is right.
Type 6s with a 7 wing still prioritize their security, as is to be expected from a Loyalist. However, the 7 wing means they’re a little more laid-back and playful than their 5 wing counterparts. Though they’re fierce when protecting their loved ones, 6w7s aren’t overly anxious or concerned with security. They also do not operate well in tightly structured environments and dislike external pressure.
6w7s are social creatures. They place more trust in their relationships and warm up to people fairly easily. However, that doesn’t mean they’re naive. Though they want to extend trust where they can, they’re also very observant, and they can tell when someone’s actions don’t match up with their words.
Enneagram 6 Careers
Type 6s put a premium on stability and security, and they do well in supportive job environments where they are given the opportunity to advance and can build strong relationships, whether that’s with coworkers, clients, or their community. They’re very organized and love to help people, so careers that combine the two are a particularly good fit.
6s also have trouble controlling their anxious thoughts and tend to dwell on worst-case scenarios. They’re better off avoiding high-pressure jobs or work environments that are particularly unpredictable, whether because of the field they’re in, the work itself, or because of unreliable coworkers that make it harder for the Type 6 to feel secure.
Enneagram Type 6s excel in roles such as:
- Home Inspector
Enneagram 6 Compatibility With Other Types
Enneagram 6s are most compatible with Type 4, the Individualist and Type 9, the Peacemaker.
Type 6s share a lot of common emotional ground with Type 4s. They both tend to experience strong, immediate emotions and react intuitively to inner turmoil and anxiety. They feel strongly about the people in their lives and can be particularly sensitive to perceived betrayal. While this might sound like a recipe for disaster, a relationship between the two can act as a stabilizing force for both.
In a 6-4 relationship, the Type 4 brings a sensitivity and knack for emotional expression that Type 6s can lack. In exchange, the Type 6 provides diligence and practicality. Their dedication to the relationship can help their Type 4 partner feel supported and carry them through periods of melancholy and self-absorption. The 6-4 pairing fosters steadiness, boldness, and balance, and helps both partners grow.
Type 5 with Type 9 is one of the most reliable and common relationships. Despite their differences, the types share a desire for security and stability. As long as their principles align, the two find it easy to imagine and build a life that works for them both.
Type 9’s easygoing and trusting nature can be a soothing balm to 6’s skepticism and tendency to overthink. Their optimism and steadfastness help the 6 relax and maintain a positive attitude. In return, Type 6’s analytical mind and attention to possible setbacks helps the pair avoid pitfalls and keeps their life running smoothly along the track they’ve both decided on.
Enneagram 6s are least compatible with Type 7, the Enthusiast.
Given their diametrically opposed outlooks on life, it’s not hard to see why this combination might run into trouble. Where 6s are concerned with security and stability, 7s are all about looking for pleasure, breaking barriers, discovering new possibilities, and trying new things. These differing approaches to life can make it quite hard for the two to find common ground.
Not only that, but 6s and 7s often have different views on relationships. Type 7s typically fear long-term relationships and enter them somewhat hesitantly. 6s, on the other hand, are eager for the comfort and safety of partnership and long to find someone to share their life with. 6s often think 7s are too indulgent, selfish, and extravagant. Worse yet, they doubt 7s’ dependability when things get tough.
If the differences between the two aren’t addressed and resolved, the opposing ideals and expectations of Type 6 and Type 7 can end up spelling doom for the relationship.
Famous Enneagram Type 6s
Enneagram 6s are anxious but loving individuals who are motivated by their need for safety and stability. Notable public figures believed to be Enneagram 6s include:
- Princess Diana, Member of British Royal Family
- Bear Grylls, British Adventurer
- René Girard, French philosopher
- Kevin Durant, American basketball player
- Britney Spears, American singer-songwriter
Enneagram 6s prioritize safety and security above all else. Because of this, they value their relationships, work hard to be well-thought of in their community, and make every effort to be responsible and well-prepared.
However, things can and will go wrong, and it’s impossible to plan for every contingency or ensure support 100% of the time. For 6s to grow, they need to accept that no amount of preparation will make them feel secure if they cannot find the quiet, strong, and capable part of themselves and learn to trust in their own resiliency. It takes time and effort to marshal these inner resources, but fortunately 6s recognize the value of persistence and commitment. As they bolster their inner strength, they will find that they can be less on guard, replacing their constant anxiety with a quiet confidence in their ability to take on whatever challenges may arise.