A few weeks ago on her segment “WritersLife Wednesdays”, author Abbie Emmons talked about how some writers struggle to define their characters’ internal conflict. Her advice: know your characters’ Enneagram types.
The Enneagram claims to show the fears, desires, and beliefs that influence your behavior. When you take the test, it assigns you a number from one to nine that represents your type. The numbers aren’t rankings; no type is better than another, and they all have strengths and weaknesses. (There are also subtypes, but I won’t talk about them today.)
Each type also has “wings”, the numbers on either side. They’re like modifiers; they add dimensions and flavor to your type. For example, if you’re a Four, your wings are Three and Five, which means you have traits of one (or both) of those types. They also affect how you act as a Four. You write your strongest wing next to your type like this: 4w5 (“4 wing 5”).
(Note: If you’re a Nine, your wings are Eight and One, so you’d be a 9w8 or a 9w1. If you’re a One, your wings are Nine and Two, so you’d be a 1w9 or 1w2.)
So, what are Aisha and Nex’s Enneagram types? Here’s what I think based on my research. (The nicknames come from the Enneagram Institute, but other companies and coaches use different nicknames.)
On the outside, Threes (Achievers) look like the most confident people in the world — maybe too confident. But they’re hiding a secret: they don’t believe they deserve to be loved unless they prove themselves. Their biggest fear is being worthless, so they show off and strive to be the best at everything so others will notice and admire them.
Threes crave success and recognition, and they’re willing to bust their butts to get it. They’re determined and optimistic, but they can also be arrogant and competitive. Some Threes also adapt themselves to other people’s expectations, which makes them seem fake. That’s why some Enneagram experts call Threes “Performers”.
Why do Threes do this? As children, many of them thought their parents only loved them when they accomplished something. So, they learned to read people’s reactions and become whoever they wanted them to be. Yes, they let other people decide their worth.
Threes may lose touch with their own emotions and desires. When they learn to value themselves for who they are, not what they’re capable of, they become humble, authentic, encouraging, and warm-hearted. Instead of trying to be the best, they motivate others to become their best.
The Two wing adds the sociable side Rainbow brings up in Nex’s character descriptions. Twos (Helpers) wanna be loved and appreciated, so 3w2s pour their energy into their relationships and communities. They’re people people: friendly, supportive, and generous with their time and/or money. Of course, they still crave validation, but they care about other people’s needs as well.
In the Helen Fisher personality test post, I said Nex was a borderline Builder, the most social type. That corresponds to his type Two wing. Also, remember in his “Nex vs. Riven” post when I said Nex needed to overcome his arrogance and express more of his friendly extrovert side? 3w2s are showy and self-centered, yet warm and people-oriented. There’s the internal conflict: selfishness vs. selflessness.
Threes vs. Eights
Some Winx fans would likely say Nex (or NEXX!) is an Eight (Challenger), the most aggressive and domineering type in the Enneagream. Threes and Eights are both assertive, so they have some similarities. But their motivations couldn’t be more different.
Eights think the world is dangerous and unjust. Survival is the name of the game, so they must become strong enough to protect themselves and the people they love. Their biggest fear is being hurt or controlled, so they strive for dominance so they’ll be invulnerable. Naturally, they’re often angry and confrontational.
According to the site 9 Points of View, many Eights grew up in rough or unstable environments where they couldn’t rely on their parents. So they learned they had to fight for what they wanted, and they repressed their emotions so they couldn’t be taken advantage of. They often become loners because they don’t trust people easily, and they don’t like to follow anyone’s rules.
Does this sound like anyone else from Winx Club?
Yep, Riven is probably an Eight. His mother supposedly abandoned him, and we don’t know where his father is, so he may have had to take care of himself. And of course, he wouldn’t trust authority figures (especially women) because they let him down when he was young.
Also, remember how he wanted to be “more of a leader at Redfountain” in Winx season six? There you go: an Eight trying to gain power. It might also explain why he and Sky are rivals, and Riven tried to take over the squad. Maybe he wanted to overthrow Sky because he didn’t wanna answer to him.
Threes like Nex don’t want control — they want approval. Being loners and rebels wouldn’t work for them. After all, they care a lot about what others think of them, unlike Eights, who don’t give a hoot.
An excellent example of Nex acting like a typical Three is Winx comic #131: “La Prova di Nex” (Nex’s Test). It’s as if Rainbow studied the Enneagram before they wrote this. Maybe they did. Who knows?
By the way, if a lot of this sounded familiar, it might be because I said it in my “Nex vs. Riven” posts. I hadn’t studied the Enneagram yet, but I could tell that Nex and Riven had different ways of seeing the world and their places in it. Their Enneagram types help explain those differences.
Aisha: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Best Guess: 7w8, The Realist)
Why is this girl’s personality so hard to figure out? Every time I took a test or read a description, she seemed like a different type. 7w8 and 8w7 (Maverick) were the most consistent, but I also got a 6w7 (Buddy) result from a test with almost 200 statements. You’d think that one would be the most accurate, but the descriptions didn’t sound like her at all!
(By the way, 7w8 and 8w7 are not the same type. The order of the numbers matters.)
Notice what these all had in common, though: Type Seven (Enthusiast). It was her core type or her wing almost every time. That’s one reason my gut tells me she’s a Seven.
But I think what tripped me up was accounting for her introverted side. Sevens are supposedly the life of the party: bubbly, gregarious, and carefree. They also act like the quintessential “kid in a candy store”, bouncing from one interesting thing to another with child-like enthusiasm.
That’s more like Stella than Aisha, and they’re nothing alike!
Or are they?
They’re the two most energetic Winx, after all. Remember how they acted in “Baby Winx” (Winx season 7, episode 20)? Both of them jumped and ran around everywhere. Maybe Aisha would have turned out like her if she’d grown up on Solaria instead of Andros.
I guess this reveals a limitation of the Enneagram. It can suggest why you act the way you do and how your personal experiences may have affected you. But what if those experiences overrode the core traits of your type? How do you account for that?
Sevens vs. Eights
Here we go again: another type people confuse with Eights. After beating my head against the wall for days, I found a helpful Enneagram channel called The Enneagram Workshop. The owner has a video that helps you distinguish between your core type and a strong wing. Bingo! Exactly what I needed.
In that video, she said the key was to look at your childhood. How did you grow up? How did your environment affect you? Most likely, your wing is the defense mechanism you developed to survive your childhood, but your core type is the “real you”.
We know what Aisha’s childhood was like. As the Guida al Mondo Magico (Guide to the Magical World) book says, “As the princess of Andros, she suffered a little because she couldn’t run and let loose.” Her parents controlled her life — what she did, where she went, what she wore, and how she behaved — and for a Seven, nothing is worse than having no freedom.
Aisha expressed her feelings about this to her father in her character song, “Live My Life”. Maybe it can help us figure out her core type. Here are some key lines:
1. A Rebel
I heard you say that I’m a rebel That I don’t follow any rule And you know it won’t get better ‘Cause I won’t change my attitude For no one
This makes her sound like an Eight, since they resist control and convention. But here’s the question: is Aisha naturally rebellious, or did she become that way in response to her parents’ strict rules?
I think it’s the latter. Eights want the power to shape the world into whatever they want it to be, but Sevens just want happiness and choice. As long as they’re allowed to do what they want, they don’t have a problem with authority.
So even though Aisha sang that she’s a rule breaker, she’s not unless the rule restricts her freedom. Otherwise, she’s well-behaved and obedient. She doesn’t go around causing trouble.
Remember when you were my age You were so restless; we’re the same So won’t you set me free?
Restlessness is more of a Seven trait. Sevens are impatient and hate sitting still. After all, there’s not much time in a day, and there’s a world out there for them to see!
Speaking of which…
3. “I wanna be out in the world”
I wanna be out in the world I don’t wanna be in chains No more…
This is the most Seven-like line she sings in the entire song. Sevens wanna explore the world, meet lots of people, and have lots of new experiences. They’re said to suffer from FOMO more than any other type.
We know Aisha probably wanted this because her parents trapped her in her palace. But this isn’t something an Eight would say. An 8w7? Maybe, but combined with her other traits, she seems more like a Seven.
Sevens have lots of energy and are always on the move, which is how Rainbow often describes her.
You know the expression “jack of all trades, master of none”? That’s a Seven for you. Aisha loves sports. All the sports. She also enjoys reading, photography, and many types of dance.
I think we have enough evidence to call her a 7w8. Her Eight wing makes her fiercely independent (sometimes to a fault), direct, serious, and reluctant to share her feelings. It also makes her more decisive than a typical Seven. Instead of wondering what to do and ultimately doing nothing, 7w8s just go for it. They’re people of action.
By the way, one Enneagram resource said that 3w2s like Nex “often seem like Sevens because they are vivacious, adventurous, friendly, full of energy and like to engage with others”. No wonder he and Aisha seem the same to some Winx fans. They’re a lot alike, even if their core personalities are different.
Are Aisha and Nex Compatible?
Enneagram experts and aficionados say any two types can have a strong relationship if they work at it. That said, some types don’t have to work as hard because they click better.
Assuming I typed Aisha and Nex correctly, a Seven and a Three are considered an excellent match. In fact, in some compatibility lists I found, Seven was the ideal type for a Three. (Strangely, though, Three wasn’t the ideal type for a Seven. How does that make sense?)
In their post “Top Relationship Pairings in Enneagram: What’s Your Soulmate’s Type?”, one Enneagram company said this about Three/Seven couples:
Both these types are exuberant, high-energy, and enthusiastic about life – a great recipe for a good relationship. Both are stimulated by interactions they have with people and they are both great communicators….With a focus on attaining a great life, they both feed off the other’s egregious energy and often becoming a power couple that sparkles with the joy of life.
“Egregious energy”? That’s an odd choice of words. Anyway, it’s fun to hear a Three/Seven couple referred to as a “power couple” when Aisha herself used that term.
Also, there’s a theory called the “Sum 10 Rule”: types that add up to 10 are supposedly the most compatible. If that’s true, Aisha and Nex are a perfect match. 3 + 7 = 10 and 2 + 8 = 10. (I only found one source that supported this idea, though.)
The centers describe how you respond to your environment. For example, if you’re a Heart type, you respond based on your emotions.
Aisha and Nex have at least one type in all three centers. Nex’s core type and wing are Heart types, Aisha’s core is a Head type, and her wing is a Gut type. Does that mean they’re a more balanced couple? I don’t know. It might mean nothing.
Criticism of the Enneagram
Helen Fisher’s personality test is backed by neuroscience. Fisher is a biological anthropologist, and her partner, Lucy Brown, is a clinical professor in neurology. But the Enneagram doesn’t have much scientific support. As one study admitted:
Like most theories, the Enneagram’s origins lie in the realm of assimilated wisdom and personal experiences. However, it would be beneficial for the Enneagram community to expand upon the current paucity of research and more fully enter the realm of scientific inquiry.
What “assimilated wisdom” are they talking about? The Enneagram was born from a mix of observation and spiritualism. For example, Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, who created the nine personality types, said in an interview the descriptions came to him “mostly from automatic writing”. Automatic writing is an alleged psychic power where the writer channels spirits to guide their words.
But most Enneagram lovers don’t care that the types aren’t scientifically validated. They still believe they’re accurate because they saw themselves in them, and it helped them grow as people. If that’s enough for them, fine. But other people say their type descriptions don’t fit them well at all.
Since Aisha and Nex are fictional characters, they can’t tell me if I typed them right. ? I will say I’m not 100 percent sure, especially with Aisha (as I’ve already explained).
Nex’s description sounds pretty close, but it’s not perfect either. For example, Threes are often serious, diplomatic, materialistic, and obsessed with status. Also, they often become workaholics. We haven’t seen hints of that from him.Aisha is more serious and diplomatic than he is, and he’s never bragged about the stuff he owns.
Also, Nex has never brought up a character’s status — social, professional, or otherwise. He also doesn’t mind not being the leader (although he’s good at it when he gets the chance). And while Roy’s biggest fan thinks Nex doesn’t love Aisha and just wants to be king, Winx Club doesn’t support that belief anywhere in the franchise. (Besides, technically, he can never be king, anyway.)
After all my research, I think the Enneagram is a bunch of stereotypes. They’re good for creating flat characters with basic motivations. But if you want your characters to feel like actual people, you shouldn’t get hung up on numbers in a circle…like I did.
Besides, personality type descriptions are always general. Just because you match a certain type doesn’t mean all the traits apply to you. No one fits in a neat little box. People are more complex than that, so characters should be, too.
I’ll still keep this info in mind when I write my Aisha/Nex story. (In fact, I was already using some of it without knowing it.) And if you’re writing a fanfic or original story, definitely subscribe to Abbie Emmons’ YouTube channel. She doesn’t just give you writing tips; she explains the psychology behind them (and not in a boring way). You’ll learn a lot from her.