There is much talk of merging in connection with type Nines — and about emotional intimacy in connection with merging. Some of this points to various truths; other parts are just confusing and misleading. Here, I attempt to offer some clarity on the matter.
Let’s first get clear on what we mean by merging. According to Collins English Thesaurus, it has three basic nuances: combine (blend, fuse, unite, melt into, meld etc), join (unite, fuse, consolidate, combine, etc) and melt (blend, incorporate, mingle, tone with, become lost in etc). It’s pretty clear where it points to, right? It’s not about partnership; it’s about two things — substances, companies or anything else — becoming one, blending into one another and, permanently or temporarily, losing their separate identities.
But this is not the end of the story, and here’s where the confusion over Nines comes in. The Nine personality is sometimes described as tending to merge. But what do we mean by that? Well, it depends on whether we’re referring to what we, at least in this article, might call active or passive merging — or, perhaps, expansion on the one hand and shrinking on the other.
Merging as an instinctual phenomenon
When we use merging to describe an instinctual phenomenon, it’s an aspect of the sexual instinct. Likely, it is this aspect that has afforded the sx instinct the unfortunate nick-name ”one-on-one” or even ”intimacy”, which are hugely misleading. It’s not an ”us” thing — like the different aspects of the adaptive (a k a social) instinct, where we relate to others. Rather, this is an extension of the me; me expanding my being.
Nor is this merging a quality of the heart. It’s not about emotional intimacy, closeness, cosy togetherness. Rather, merging has an urgent element to it; an intense energy; a sense of craving rather than longing. It’s about totality of engagement, to give yourself over fully to something in the moment, not as a mental (however heartfelt) concept. This is also, without exception, about an active engagement.
The urge to merge: an active quality
We can merge this way with music, with nature, with an experience, with another person — but when we do, it’s about being one, not two. (In contrast, for relating to happen, it takes two and it takes reciprocity. This most often comes from the heart and, if instinctual, is coming from the adaptation instinct, not the sexual).
This is what we might refer to as “active merging”: a melting together of two “things” (at least if we use that term loosely) with some measure of ecstasy — or at least, tremendous satisfaction — involved.
When Nines are leading with the sexual instinct, they are often (but even then, not always) strong and enthusiastic mergers. They merge with loved ones — but also with music, with the experience of stroking their pet, with the experience of tastes or smells. However, a lot of Nines overall will not resonate with this at all.
(If you’re interested in the instinctual aspects of us, please check out my upcoming instincts course!)
Merging as a psychological trait
So what about these other Nines, then? Sometimes we hear descriptions of merging in Nines, making it sound like a completely different phenomenon. That’s because it is a completely different phenomenon 😉.
The average Nine is often painted as a bit of a turncoat, going with the trends of their immediate environment and adapting to the current climate in a “law of least resistance” kind of way. And if we go back to Collins’ Thesaurus, the words combine, join and melt (and the definitions given for them) still seems to fit to describe this kind of tendency — don’t they? Well, yes, they do. But with a hugely significant difference in attitude.
Passive withdrawal rather than active engagement
The instinctual, active merging that we just talked about is engaged and has a sense of urgency and enjoyment to it. The diffusing into your environment that Nines (and many others, occasionally) tend to take to is passive rather than active, and is hallmarked by avoidance rather than engagement.
When I passively “merge” in this way, it’s not about going after, or into, something that attracts me. It’s about steering clear. I don’t want to be called on to explain a choice or opinion, so I choose what the others chose and don’t object to what they said (even though I might quietly disagree). I pick my battles — sometimes wisely; sometimes to my detriment. I stay away. I follow the flow of least resistance. I let my significant other, my parents, my teachers or my peers rub off on me, so I don’t have to assert my own person. This might be because I’ve learnt to disregard my own feelings and opinions, or because, while being aware of them, I feel uncomfortable expressing them in the face of (possible) opposition.
Do you see the difference in energy?
The word merging might have found its way into Enneagram and instinctual descriptions from multiple directions, but the important thing is that merging as an aspect of the sexual instinct is radically different from self-effusingly taking on the persona, or various traits, of someone else.
Stretching out and being made bigger
If you are indeed a Nine, and more importantly, leading with the sexual instinct, with an emphasis on merging — it’s very likely this difference is crystal clear to you. In one instance, you are “turned on” by, enjoying and actively seeking out merging. You might melt into something else, but it’s not that you disappear — rather, you are made bigger. It’s like your tentacles, if you had them, are stretched out to intermingle with those of the object you aim to merge with.
Shrinking, blending in and diffusing into the environment
In the other instance, you shrink and diminish. If you had tentacles, they would be fully curled up, making the organism as energetically small as possible, making an effort to go under the radar of the other(s), or of the world. This energy says, I don’t want to get involved, I’ll have what they’re having or I’ll go along with their wishes, as long as I can stay hidden. Here, the objective is to disappear, or to become transparent — not to get bigger.
If you are not a Nine or a natural instinctual merger, but have ever been positioned as the object in the former example, you probably can tell the difference, too! The difference between that on one hand, and trying to elicit an opinion from the Nine in the latter example, is palpable.
A note about judgement
It’s easy to read this and get judgy — please don’t. Strong mergers will tell you this tendency has sometimes got them in trouble. Sure, it’s life-affirmative, but it’s also potentially addictive, like all these things. And as for me, as an Eight (and only one example), I can see where the diffusion tactic, personality-wise, might do me a world of good. It’s not that one is better then the other. It’s not that it’s only Nines doing these things. And it’s not like the Nines doing them only do one of the other.
The point is, one is an instinctual thing, the other one a personality — and to some extent conditioned — thing. When we learn to tell them apart, the descriptions get clearer, and our understanding of ourselves, our friends and the types deepens. That’s all. And it’s a lot ❤️