Enneagram Type 1: The Perfectionist in Life, Love, and Work


Have you learned that you or someone close to you is an Enneagram Type 1? We're here to give you an in-depth explanation to this personality type. Read on to learn all about what Type 1s are known for, what they care about (and fear most), how to tell if you're a Type 1, and how this type interacts with friends, lovers, and coworkers.


What Is Enneagram Type 1?

Enneagram types are an increasingly popular way to classify personalities. There are nine different types, each of which has different values, goals, fears, and ways of relating to other people and the world in general. Most people take an online quiz to determine their type, and knowing your Enneagram can help you understand more about yourself as well as what you can do to become a better friend, family member, partner, and employee.

Enneagram Type 1 is often called the "perfectionist" or "reformer." They're known for being ambitious, principled, perfectionistic, and highly self-controlled. They have high ideals and are always striving to do more and improve themselves so that they can be the best version of themselves.

Famous Type 1s include Nelson Mandela, Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama, Jerry Seinfeld, and Tina Fey.


You're Probably Enneagram Type 1 If…

Not sure if you're a Type 1? There are lots of quizzes you can take online, but if you're just looking for a quick assessment, we've got one for you. Below are 13 statements that are true of many Type 1s. Read through each of them and, if you feel that eight or more of the statements describe you well, then you're likely a Type 1.

#1: You're happy to take orders--as long as the person giving them is competent.

#2: You're very into self-improvement and trying to be the best person you can be.

#3: You think you're usually (or always) right about things.

#4: You're always setting goals for yourself, and you usually meet them.

#5: You'll sacrifice your own personal happiness to make the world a better place.

#6: You've been told you can come off as critical and/or condescending.

#7: You get frustrated when you feel people aren't trying hard or "doing the right thing."

#8: You're hard on yourself even when you only make a small mistake.

#9: You rarely lose control of your emotions.

#10: You're successful in school and/or the workplace.

#11: Being happy isn't enough for you; you also need to feel useful.

#12: You're responsible, and people know they can count on you.

#13: Getting approval from others is very important to you, even if you don't outwardly show it.


What You Need to Know About Enneagream Type 1

The most important characteristic to understand about Type 1s is that they see themselves as one piece of a large, complex puzzle. Their needs aren't the priority, instead they feel the pull of a greater purpose. This purpose could be related to religion, politics, social justice, the environment, etc. All Type 1s have a higher ideal they're striving for, and if they don't, they'll feel restless and incomplete until they find one. Knowing this can help other types understand Type 1s on a much deeper level.

When they come off as reserved or overly critical, Type 1s are actually trying to ensure they're doing their best towards completing their "mission," even if that comes at their own personal expense. They'll rarely make impulsive or purely selfish moves, although they aren't reluctant to take credit for work they've accomplished.

Type 1s also feel a constant need to improve themselves. Even if they're generally happy with how they currently are, that isn't enough to satisfy them. A Type 1 feels they can't stop until they've reached their own highest ideal, and it can cause stress and anxiety if they feel they aren't living up to their own lofty expectations. It can also cause any relaxation to feel like stagnation to Type 1s, so they can frequently be found starting new projects and picking up new hobbies.

These high expectations extend to others as well, and Type 1s can get extremely frustrated when they feel others aren't putting as much effort in as they are or don't care about the "mission" enough. Type 1s often have a reputation for being judgmental and nitpicky which is worsened by their trait of not being able to express their emotions easily. This means that, even if a Type 1 really likes you/feels you've done a great job, they'll often keep their mouth shut rather than take the risk of looking "weak" and overly emotional.


Biggest fears: Not living up to their potential, not having a positive impact on the world

Biggest goals: To be their best self, to uphold their moral code


Biggest personality strengths: Intelligent, hard-working, inspiring, responsible

Biggest personality weaknesses: Critical, aloof, self-righteous, cold

In the following sections, we go over how Type 1s interact in romantic relationships, with family and friends, and at work.




Enneagram Type 1 in Romantic Relationships

What is Enneagram Type 1 in love like? To put it bluntly, this enneagram type is not typically the most popular to date. Type 1s hold people (including themselves) to very high standards, and they can often think most people aren't "good enough" for them. This can leave them lonely at the top. However, when Enneagram Type 1s do get into relationships, they make for caring, committed partners. They fight calmly and fairly, are very loyal, will do more than their fair share of chores, and will put their partner's needs before their own.

Type 1s will care deeply for their partner, but oftentimes this isn't obvious from the outside. Although they feel emotions just as strongly as anyone else, Type 1s often struggle to express how they're feeling, and/or they view showing strong emotions as a sign of weakness. As a result, their partner may feel unloved and unappreciated, even if this couldn't be farther from the truth. 

Type 1s are also not hugely passionate (from the outside), and sometimes can be seen as cold or robotic. It's true that this type won't lose their head to their emotions (no spontaneous eloping in Vegas), and they aren't as outwardly romantic or sensual as many other types. They show their love more in smaller, more subtle ways, like by doing the dishes when you've had a long day at work or picking up your favorite flavor of ice cream from the grocery store without being asked.


Enneagram Type 1 With Family and Friends

Even if they're the youngest or newest person in a family or friend group, Type 1s tend to naturally take a leading role. They're the person coordinating events, making sure not everyone brings coleslaw to the potluck, organizing a meal delivery when someone becomes ill, etc. They're very much an "if you want someone done right, you need to do it yourself" type, and they can sometimes stifle other voices in their need to ensure perfection. This can be extremely frustrating for others, but if people are upfront with Type 1s about this, the Type 1 person will almost always back down gracefully. It's not so much that they think others are incompetent; they just get anxious about things going well and worry others won't put in the same amount of planning as they do.

Despite those potential problems, Type 1s are seen as loyal, committed friends. They're always there when you need them, and they can lend a calm, sympathetic ear when others are struggling. They're not hugely demonstrative, so if you're feeling sad they likely won't cry alongside you in sympathy. Instead, they'll help you craft a detailed (and effective) plan of action to solve whatever problem is troubling you.


Enneagram Type 1 at the Workplace 

Regardless of what career a Type 1 is in, they're likely crushing it. The Enneagram Type 1 characteristics of perfectionism, holding themselves to high standards, and always striving to improve makes them stars in the workplace. They're the people who always seem to be getting promoted, who know the perfect solution to a tricky problem, and will make sure every report they submit is perfectly free of errors. They're very popular with their bosses, but Type 1s may not get the same kind of love from their coworkers. This is because the Type 1 need for perfectionism extends to other people as well, and they can come across as arrogant and hyper-critical to the people they work with. Additionally, their lofty ambitions mean they may leave coworkers in the dust as they work to achieve their goals. Type 1s actually care quite a bit about others, but these aforementioned qualities, along with their disinterest in small talk, can make it hard for their coworkers to see this.

Because the work Type 1s produce already tends to be top-quality, they should focus more of their efforts on making sure their workplace relationships are strong. To do this, they should step back and make sure they're complimenting as much as they are (constructively) criticizing, and that they're open to others' ideas and opinions. Type 1s are often right, but no one is right all the time, and having others weigh in can greatly strengthen an idea.

The best careers for Type 1s are those that highly value perfectionism and that have a clear upward trajectory. Those that are more customer-focused and without a clear hierarchy tend to not work as well for this type. Potential careers include: statistician, lawyer, professor, and financial advisor.




Enneagram Type 1 Wings

Each Enneagram type has two adjacent wings, one of which is more dominant than the other. When you take your Enneagram test, you'll learn which wing is dominant for you. Although they don't have as large an impact as your actual enneagram type, wings still affect your personality and behavior. The two Enneagram Type 1 wings are Enneagram Type 1 Wing 2 (1w2) and Enneagram Type 1 Wing 9 (1w9). Knowing your wing will add more depth and clarity to your enneagram description.


Enneagram Type 1 Wing 2

Type 2 is known as the "helper," and they certainly aim to be kind, supportive, and caring of others. People who are Enneagram Type 1 Wing 2 come off as somewhat more warm and caring than a stereotypical Enneagram Type 1 (who are often characterized and cold and overly focused on rules). Like all type 1s, 1w2 want people to follow the rules and play fair, but if someone is struggling with this, they'll do whatever they can to help them get back on a path where they feel secure and wanted.

Type 1s can be hugely ambitious, so having a type 2 wing can soften this characteristic and result in a person who is more focused on getting everyone across the finish line, not just themselves. This type/wing pairing often has to fight back feelings of unworthiness though, as both type 1 and type 2 people have fears about not "measuring up."


Enneagram Type 1 Wing 9

Type 9 is known as the "peacemaker," and they strive to create an environment where everyone feels content and heard. When this is your dominant Type 1 wing, you may find yourself more easy-going than other Type 1s. Small mistakes from others don't bother you as much because you understand that everyone is trying their best, and you'll hold back on criticism unless you think it's really warranted.

1w9 types want both harmony and success in their lives, so their goal is always to reduce friction that causes negative feelings or slows down their momentum. They can be a great type/wing pairing because they'll encourage others to be their best selves without being too critical or pushy about it, but this pairing does need to watch out for worrying too much about what others think (an issue both Type 1 and Type 9 enneagrams struggle with).


What's Next?

Want more advice on which career path you should follow? Take our career quiz to learn which jobs you'll be happiest and most successful at!

Want to keep learning new things? We've compiled 113 of the most fascinating fun facts. We bet something on the list will amaze you!

Also curious about alchemy? Learn the 22 key alchemy symbols and the meanings behind them in our guide to alchemy symbols.


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About the Author
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Christine Sarikas

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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