Sevens and Relationships
Sevens came out of childhood believing it’s not okay to depend on anybody or anything. Consequently, they rely on their active imagination to meet their need for stimulation and to save them from their fear of being deprived or trapped in pain. Sevens want to be happy, but this leads to escapism. They seek constant stimulation and endless possibilities so they can escape any chance of being stuck in pain.
It’s easy to forget that sevens are in the fear triad with fives and sixes because they distract themselves from fear with a smokescreen of positivity. They look almost completely unrelated to their anxious neighbors, the sixes. The two numbers look so different because sixes see the worst of all possible scenarios, while sevens see the best possible scenario, but both are merely two different ways of dealing with fear.
If you want to support a seven, then encourage them to recognize their feelings when you see them shift away from them. If they say, “I didn’t get the grade I was hoping for, but I’m not going to let that ruin our fun. Let’s enjoy the weekend anyway.” Respond by reflecting their pain back to them saying, “You sound disappointed.”
They will likely shrug it off and begin to talk about their exciting weekend plans. Humor them and move on, but continue to look for opportunities to help them stay with their pain. Eventually something so painful will come along that can’t be reframed or quelled by distraction, and they will take you up on your offer to process their pain. This will allow sevens to do the one task they need most-- experience a full range of emotion.
Sevens need spontaneity in their relationships. They want friends who can join them in their adventures big and small. Don’t depend on sevens for constant companionship or constant entertainment. Bring your own energy and ideas to the relationship. They want you to join them in their adventures, and they want you to listen to stories about their life. Sevens are great story tellers. Enjoy the fun!
Their commitment to squeeze as much fun into a given moment can exceed their commitment to friends and loved ones. Sevens are known to abandon their companions if a better opportunity comes along. Sevens love making plans, and they usually have several back-up plans. If a seven attends a party but the energy is stale, you might look for them at the closest movie theater, theme park, or sky diving venue. Their fear of being trapped at a bad party leads Sevens to overcommit socially and leave their well-established relationships at the bottom of their priority list. Understandably, you might feel abandonment and hurt by sevens as they chase the next opportunity. You should share your feelings with them briefly and succinctly. They might try to charm you out of being upset at them, or they might reframe and deny hurting you. Both of these are poor strategies, of course. Sevens, like the rest of us, cannot argue with other people’s feelings. They have to admit they hurt you as painful as that is to accept.
For many sevens, committing to a relationship sounds the same as being trapped in pain. As Helen Palmer has observed, sevens have to believe that committing to a relationship is their idea in order for it to work. Some sevens find it hard to stick their relationships out through the good, bad, and mundane. Sevens who make their commitments work often report their commitment remains the same, but some major component of the relationship changes regularly. This change keeps the seven interested and engaged.
Sevens rationalize their pain away. This sounds like, “It’s all good.” Or when a relationship ends, “Freedom is good too.” Or when someone dies, “She wouldn’t want us to be sad.” They are afraid in each of these moments, but they don’t remain present to their fear. You can hear them drift from their pain as they reframe negatives into positives. In relationships, this means you have to draw a seven’s attention to problems. They will drift from problems through distractions and positivity. You might have to make your case for why a problem isn’t going to go away. If they think the problem is going to go away, they won’t see the point in having the painful conversation necessary for healing.
Sevens bring an infectious energy to a room, and we become accustomed to their energy carrying the family, team, or friend group. However, when they don’t get their way, they manipulate relationships by withdrawing their energy, leaving the group dynamic out of rhythm and perhaps stale in the absence of their energy. Many sevens struggle with stubbornly needing to get their own way in relationships so they can have the fun-filled experience they have constructed in their mind. Sevens have to allow others to make decisions and set the agenda. This will require sevens to withhold some of the charm that they use to subtly influence others.
Sevens can handle pain and negativity if it’s brief. If you need to give criticism to a seven, make it gentle and concise. You can and should share your feelings with a seven, but don’t process your feelings with a seven. They can do precise feelings, but they don’t want to go on a messy feelings scavenger hunt with you as you wonder aloud about how you feel. This is especially important for twos and fours to remember as they are both prone to tell stories about feelings. Overall, sevens want you to be responsible for yourself and your feelings. If you cling to them, they will feel trapped.
Sevens have a quick mind, and many of them are quick learners. This ability gives them a lot of potential in the world. However, they are inclined to pursue only what interests them, and their pursuit only lasts as long as their interest holds. Consequently, many sevens skim along the surface of life, never digging deeply into difficult, but important things. It might be tempting to share with them how much potential you see in them and the tragedy of wasted talent, but spare them the lecture. Sevens have to be inspired to change, and lamenting lost potential is not inspiring. Instead, encourage them to explore their gifts and wonder aloud about them, and point out how you see their greatest gift is meeting the world’s greatest need.