Instinctual Survival Strategies

Why does compatibility seem to be such a mystery? Is it even really attainable?

Chemistry is a topic that has always fascinated me.  Why is it that we have such great chemistry almost immediately with some, and lack it with others? It affects all areas of relationships:  dating and mating, parent-child, siblings, friends and even co-workers.

The 3 instinctual survival strategies are a major driver in your individual personality blueprinting, and the 4th component to Enneagram typing. These 3 Instincts as called:

  • Self-Preservation
  • Social aka Tribal
  • Sexual aka One to One or Relational

These three instincts are the unconscious drivers and strategies we use to try to stay alive and thrive. We each possess all of them, and just as with the Trifecta, you will have a primary, secondary and tertiary stacking.

instincts graph

Self-Preservation Type

Self Survival
self preservation type

Self-Preservation types have a survival strategy of having enough resources to sustain their existence i.e, food, money, shelter, energy, time and health. .  When seeking a partner, on an unconscious level, they really seek out someone that will either replenish or at the very least not be a drain on their resources. Of all the instincts, the self-preservation instinct is the most adept at practical survival skills. These are usually the types of people that seem more grounded and conservation of energy and resources is a way of life for them. This instinct will sacrifice for their own well-being and safety as well as the well-being and safety of their families.

Social Type

social type

Social or tribal types have a survival strategy of “all for one and one for all!” They usually belong to groups and communities. Even if your are an introvert you can have dominant social instinct. It does not mean you want to socialize, but means that you feel safer in belonging to groups, tribes or communities. This instinctual type will focus on how they will fit in the group and how others in the group perceive them.  This is the instinct that is all about how “society is or is not.”  With the increase of social media, social subtypes no longer actually need to physically be with people to acquire more groups and tribal members, they now can virtually join groups and causes on platforms likes FaceTime and Twitter.  This instinct will sacrifice for their groups, communities, tribes and causes.

Sexual Type

One-to-One Relational
sexual type

Sexual or one-to-one relational types have the survival strategy of looking for the “idealized mate “ that they can merge with in “perfect union.” This instinctual type will usually have select key people who are their “pair bonds.” They focus on deep, meaningful, and self-revealing conversations and relationships.  They can easily be seen as  “intimacy junkies” to other’s who may lead with the other 2 instincts.  They love eye contact when they are captivated in a conversation and will “lock in” on someone they feel has that special spark.  It feels safer to them to have one or a few significant “pair bonds, “ whom they will sacrifice for and whom will sacrifice for them. Dominant sexual subtypes track for perfect attunement with their significant other or others.

What difference do the 3 instincts and your ordering of them make in your day-to-day life?

These drivers unconsciously affect:

  • Your happy meter, and your sense of peace and well-being
  • The quality of interactions between you and your loved ones
  • The areas that you will focus on and give your attention
Do these instincts really affect my life that much?

These are unconscious survival strategies that are built into your operating system; running unconsciously in each and every moment. It is scientifically known that when we go into the “fight or flight response” aka an amygdala hijack, our instinct is the part of our brains that that lights up on a MRI. It is also the same part of the brain that lights up when a toddler is having a tantrum.

Another way to say this is that when our instincts are perceived as threatened, we behave irrationally and do not function and interact from our highest self. As with other parts of our automatic operating system, we unconsciously keep repeating the same behaviors over and over, many of which no longer serve us. There is a saying that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again each time expecting a different result.” From our ego’s unconscious survival mechanisms we can never seem to get enough of our dominant instinct!


 Is there a way out of this cycle?

The answer is YES! Like world-renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung has said, it is taking the unconscious mind and making it part of the conscious mind. When we can observe and tag our triggers with ruthless understanding and compassion, without judgments, this is the groundwork for true transformation and change.

The benefits you get out of discovering the 3 instinctual drivers.

  • You will understand on a deep and profound level the unconscious ways you connect or disconnect to yourself and others.
  • You will understand what happens in romantic love and where it can go awry.
  • You will increase your awareness and understanding of how the important people in your life demonstrate love in ways that may be different from yours.
  • By gaining this knowledge and new perspective, you will take the reactions of others less personally and begin to honor them.


To find out more about the Instincts take the free online test and discover your instinct and the instinct of those that you love. Or schedule a free 15 minute consultation and see for yourself how relations coaching can benefit you.