Fours and Relationships
As we grow and develop as children, we respond to the reactions of those who took care of us and we modified ourselves in reaction to parents and teachers. Maybe we wanted to please our parents or perhaps rebel against authority. Regardless, people of all personality types continually alter themselves in order to make their way in the world. From a parent’s perspective, these caretakers are merely trying to help their children participate in a world with social rules completely unfamiliar to young children who have not yet developed their personalities. From a parent’s perspective, it’s most convenient for a child not to be too much of anything so we tell them, “Don’t be too talkative, or too withdrawn. Don’t be too loud, or too quiet.”
Fours came out of this environment believing it’s not okay to be too functional or too happy.They were told they were too intense, sad, or excitable. The result is a deeply shamed child, who feels defective and fears they are without significance.Fours are afraid they are without identity and no one notices them, or when they are noticed they are misunderstood.
Fours desire to be themselves, but defining our personal identity is a complex and seemingly endless task, so they become self-indulgent and self-absorbed in sorting out their selfhood. Ultimately, this indulgent behavior exceeds the direct pursuit of defining personhood to the point of indulging in anything from chocolate to shopping to moods.
If you are in a relationship with a Four, share how their ever-shifting moods affect you and your relationship. Fours can be dramatic; they are prone to both excitability and deep sadness. This can be fun and lead to deep emotional connection, but it can also be exhausting. When this becomes too much, remain present, but withhold your emotional energy and try not to become caught up in their drama. Stay with them physically, but try not to follow them emotionally.
Fours want to hear about your feelings, but we tend to hide our feelings from Fours, thinking they are already carrying so many emotions: this is a mistake. They want to hear about your feelings, and they value your feelings and can honor them in a way few people can.
Refrain from suggesting Fours are overreacting emotionally. All feelings are true in the sense that they tell you something reliable about how you are experiencing the world and that is extremely valuable information. Fours are intense and you might think they are overreacting, but they are being true to how they experience the world. Communicating they are being dramatic is tantamount to telling them they are too much and is deeply shaming for them.
Fours need room to process their feelings. Fours feel deeply, but many of them struggle to articulate their complex inner world. When a Four is hurt help them clarify their emotional pain and identify its source. Help them clearly define who hurt them and why they hurt. Fours are comfortable with sadness and this is a great gift, but in its corrupted form, the gift distorts them into an inconsolable person. If a Four doesn’t define and place boundaries on their pain then they can easily become inconsolable.
When a Four shares a problem with you do not try to fix itand do not force a lighter mood on fours. You might think they are sad, but that might not be the case. If they are sad, then they want to remain sad as long as their heart desires. This isn’t healthy for Fours, but it’s not something that can be fixed with a simple pep talk. Fours desire authenticity more than anything else, and, for them, sadness feels authentic. You don’t need to feel responsible for their feelings, and can allow them to be sad until they are finished.
You can encourage Fours to share about things in the present that are pleasurable and fun. Some Fours choose to feel an inordinate amount of sadness. They are constantly mourning what’s missing, and rarely celebrating what they have. You can help them hold the tension between light and shadow by inviting them to reflect on the positive elements of their life.
Fours avoid uniformity, the conventional and the popular. Their avoidance of the conventional could be inconvenient for those who love them and it can be tempting to try to change them by asking them to conform. More than any other number, Fours refuse to change. Do not set out to change them; you will only succeed in shaming them.
Perhaps the greatest challenge in relational work with Fours is their tendency to perpetually pull you into close relationship and then push you away. Fours fear abandonment and many Fours are looking for idyllic intimacy. They want to be close to you, but when you are close, they fear the pain of abandonment and push away before they become more vulnerable. This is difficult, but try to be consistent in loving them through all of their pushing and pulling. This may require you to be both emotionally guarded and loving at the same time. If push/pull becomes too complicated and painful then seek counseling.
Relationships are incredibly important for Fours. They are relationally intuitive and you can trust their relational intelligence. Like any Heart Triad Type they appreciate words or affirmation, but Fours also crave authenticity and that extends to the compliments. Look for ways to give them honest compliments.
Fours are compassionate, but their inner complexity can make it difficult for them to find career a path that connects with their inner depths. Most jobs seem mundane, monotonous and conventional to them. Help a Four find a career that capitalizes on their compassion. This can be anywhere, but this gift has to be institutionalized somewhere.
Fours suffer from the shame of feeling they must be extraordinary in order to be worthy of esteem or affection. If you can, help them see they are valuable just as they are. Fours inner shame compels them to create extraordinary art; it also convinces them that their art is not good enough to share with the world. Encourage Fours to share their creativity with the world.