Which Enneagram Type are You?

Find out which Enneagram matches your personality type, and gain deep insight on how to enrich your life, relationships, career and more.

Enneagram 3 Social Subtype

enneagram 3


The Enneagram 3 Social subtype takes the ambition and performance orientation of the typical Enneagram Type 3 and combines it with a focus on social status, connections, and community involvement. For this subtype, it’s not just about achieving success; it’s about being recognized for their achievements in a social context. This subtype thrives in settings where their successes are not just personal victories but also elevate their social standing.

While they share the core Type 3 desire for achievement, the social subtype is particularly attuned to how they are perceived by their peers, friends, or social circles. Whether in a corporate setting, volunteer organization, or their personal lives, these individuals strive for roles that offer not just personal advancement but social validation.

Social 3s are often naturally charming, outgoing, and adept at networking. Their ability to connect with people serves their broader ambition of ascending social hierarchies. Their charm is not just superficial; they genuinely enjoy social interactions and often have a knack for making people feel special and heard.

However, this desire for social validation can sometimes lead to an overemphasis on public image, potentially at the expense of personal authenticity. They might opt for career paths, hobbies, or even relationships that look “good on paper,” even if these choices do not truly fulfill them.

Moreover, their social ambition can sometimes overshadow other aspects of their lives, leading to an imbalance. Relationships might be strained, and personal well-being may be compromised in the quest for social prominence.

Strengths and Virtues

One of the defining strengths of the Enneagram 3 Social subtype is their incredible social intelligence. They understand social dynamics, power structures, and interpersonal relations often better than anyone else in the room. This awareness allows them to navigate complex social situations with grace and effectiveness.

Their ambition is not purely self-serving; it often has a community-oriented aspect. They like to be involved in community development projects, charity work, or any role where they can both contribute and be publicly acknowledged for their contributions.

The adaptability of Social 3s is another strength. They can adjust their behavior, tone, and even some of their views to better fit into different social situations. This adaptability is a double-edged sword; while it allows them to connect with a wide range of people, it can also lead to a sense of losing one’s authentic self.

Additionally, they are often excellent leaders, able to inspire teams and bring people together for a common cause. Their focus on collective success—alongside their personal success—makes them well-suited for leadership roles in various settings.

Finally, this subtype usually excels at time management and multitasking. Because they are often involved in multiple social circles and projects, they develop a knack for juggling various commitments efficiently. Their organizational skills are usually top-notch, enabling them to manage their social calendars with precision.

Challenges and Obstacles

While there are many strengths to the Enneagram 3 Social subtype, there are also challenges and obstacles inherent to this personality. One of the most significant challenges is the risk of becoming overly preoccupied with how they are perceived by others, to the detriment of their authentic selves.

Another challenge is that their relentless pursuit of social standing can sometimes lead to burnout. They are often so involved in various activities and social circles that they can neglect their own well-being, both physical and emotional.

This subtype can also be prone to superficiality, gravitating towards relationships and activities that offer social advantages but may lack deeper emotional or intellectual fulfillment. This can leave them feeling somewhat disconnected from themselves and others on a deeper level.

Moreover, their acute awareness of social hierarchies and dynamics can sometimes make them overly competitive or envious of others who hold the social position they desire. This can manifest in subtle social maneuvering that may not be entirely ethical or straightforward.

Lastly, there can be a tendency to undervalue personal relationships that do not offer a clear ‘social advantage.’ This can sometimes lead to strained or shallow relationships with family members or long-term friends who are not part of the social circle they are targeting.

Coping Mechanisms

The Enneagram 3 Social subtype often utilizes specific coping mechanisms to navigate the complexities of their social lives and ambitions. One of the most common is compartmentalization, where they separate different areas of their lives to maintain an image of success in each.

Another common coping strategy is constant activity or “busy-ness.” They immerse themselves in various projects or social engagements to avoid confronting feelings of inadequacy or the fear of being socially irrelevant. This constant activity serves as a distraction but can also contribute to burnout.

Social 3s may also engage in what could be termed “social calculus,” where they weigh the potential social benefits and drawbacks of various actions before deciding on a course of action. This is not always a conscious process but operates in the background of their decision-making.

They may also employ charm and charisma as coping mechanisms. When faced with challenges or potential setbacks, their go-to strategy might be to “win people over” rather than confront the issue directly. This approach often works but can sometimes lead to avoidance of deeper issues.

Another coping mechanism is perfectionism, specifically in how they present themselves to the world. Whether it’s their physical appearance, social media posts, or public speeches, they aim for flawlessness to maintain their social standing and reputation.

Growth and Development

For the Enneagram 3 Social subtype, growth often involves learning to balance their social ambitions with a sense of personal authenticity. They might start by becoming more conscious of why they desire certain social roles or statuses and whether those desires are in alignment with their true selves.

The practice of mindfulness can be especially helpful for this subtype in slowing down and becoming more aware of their motivations. By becoming present, they can gain a clearer perspective on what truly matters to them as opposed to what they think should matter based on social norms or expectations.

Learning to value relationships for their intrinsic qualities, rather than their social advantages, is another important growth area. This could mean investing more time in relationships that are emotionally fulfilling, even if they don’t offer immediate social benefits.

In terms of professional development, this subtype can benefit from learning to say ‘no’ to opportunities that do not align with their values or long-term goals. While the social capital might be tempting, long-term satisfaction and growth often come from pursuing paths that are truly meaningful.

Finally, it’s important for the Social 3 to practice self-care and set boundaries. Their tendency to overcommit socially can lead to burnout, affecting both their performance and their well-being. Learning to balance their social lives with time for rest and personal reflection can go a long way in ensuring sustainable growth and happiness.

Relationship Dynamics

When it comes to relationships, the Enneagram 3 Social subtype often seeks partnerships that enhance their social standing or offer some form of social validation. This isn’t necessarily a selfish pursuit; they often believe that a ‘power couple’ can achieve more together for the benefit of the community or society at large.

One of the notable relationship dynamics is their tendency to take on a mentoring role. They enjoy helping their partners achieve their own ambitions, as long as it aligns with the greater social objectives. This could manifest in a multitude of ways, from providing career advice to offering emotional support during challenging social situations.

However, their focus on social validation can sometimes lead to problems in relationships. The Social 3 may place undue pressure on their partner to conform to social norms or expectations, which can create tension. This pressure often comes from the 3’s own insecurities about how their relationship is perceived externally.

Additionally, the Social 3 may struggle with vulnerability in relationships. Their fear of losing face can make it difficult for them to open up about their weaknesses or insecurities. This can create a barrier to deep emotional intimacy, as their partners may feel that the Social 3 is not fully ‘present’ in the relationship.

That said, when a Social 3 is committed, they can be incredibly loyal and supportive partners. They enjoy the process of ‘building an empire’ with someone else and can be very dedicated to mutual growth and achievement. Their resourcefulness and networking skills can offer a lot of practical advantages in a partnership.

Career Paths

Enneagram 3 Social subtypes are often drawn to careers that offer high visibility and social recognition. Fields like politics, public relations, entertainment, and corporate leadership are often highly appealing to them. Their skills in social navigation make them exceptional candidates for roles that require diplomacy, negotiation, and public speaking.

Their natural leadership abilities often propel them into managerial or executive roles. They are good at motivating a team and directing group efforts towards achieving specific goals. Their social acumen also makes them highly effective in client-facing roles, where they can use their charm and diplomacy to secure deals or partnerships.

However, they may also be drawn to careers in social advocacy or community organizing, where they can both fulfill their need for social recognition and make a positive impact on the community or even the world. Their ability to rally people around a cause can be used to great effect in these roles.

Despite their aptitude for high-pressure, high-visibility roles, it’s important for the Social 3 to remember to seek balance. The drive for social prestige can lead them into workaholic tendencies, sacrificing their personal lives at the altar of career advancement. It’s crucial for them to learn when to step back and prioritize other aspects of life.

The Social 3 should also be cautious of their tendency to prioritize work or projects that offer the most immediate social rewards, rather than those that are most aligned with their deeper values or long-term goals. This can lead to a career that feels unfulfilling in the long run, despite its outward trappings of success.

Common Misunderstandings

One common misunderstanding about the Enneagram 3 Social subtype is the perception that they are superficial or solely interested in social climbing. While it’s true that social status is important to them, many also have deeper goals related to community, social change, or other forms of meaningful impact.

Another misconception is that they are inherently manipulative or deceitful. While they do have a knack for social strategy, this doesn’t necessarily translate into dishonesty. Many Social 3s value their social contracts and networks too much to jeopardize them through deceit.

The Social 3s’ chameleon-like ability to adapt to different social settings can sometimes be mistaken for inauthenticity. However, this adaptability is often a genuine attempt to connect with people on their own terms, rather than a calculated act of deception.

Similarly, their ambition is sometimes mistaken for selfishness. However, their form of ambition often includes creating opportunities for others or improving their communities. They see their own ascent not as a zero-sum game, but as a way to bring others along with them.

Their ability to juggle multiple social circles and commitments can sometimes be interpreted as a lack of depth or commitment to any single endeavor. However, this is usually not the case. The Social 3 often feels deeply committed to each of their endeavors; it’s their skill in multitasking that allows them to maintain multiple commitments simultaneously.

Self-Improvement Tips

For the Enneagram 3 Social subtype, self-improvement often starts with self-awareness. The more they can understand their motivations for seeking social prestige, the more they can align their actions with their authentic selves. Journaling or talking through their motivations with a trusted friend or therapist can be incredibly revealing.

Practicing mindfulness and presence can help them connect more deeply with their own needs and desires, as well as those of others. This can make their social interactions more genuine and fulfilling, reducing the need to constantly ‘perform’ for social validation.

Cultivating deep, authentic relationships is another area for potential growth. This may require letting down some of their emotional guards and allowing themselves to be seen, warts and all. Authenticity breeds deep connection, which is ultimately more fulfilling than surface-level social validation.

Setting boundaries is also essential for this subtype. The Social 3 needs to learn when to say no to social obligations and commitments, reserving time for themselves for rest, relaxation, and personal growth. Learning to differentiate between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ can help them prioritize their time better.

Finally, it may be beneficial for them to engage in some form of community service or philanthropy. Giving back not only satisfies their need for social engagement but also provides a deeper, more intrinsic form of satisfaction. This can help balance their sometimes self-centered pursuit of social prestige with a more altruistic focus.