The Intimate Three

Playing Roles to Fit the Cultural Ideal

The traditional description of the intimate (or sexual, one-on-one) subtype of the Three is "Masculinity and Femininity." By this is meant the preoccupation with projecting a sexually appealing image. The belief suggests that if I am sexually appealing or sexually potent, then I will have value. This is the belief system that drives much of Hollywood. Sharon Stone in the movie, Basic Instincts is a good movie example.

Intimate subtypes spend a great deal of time, effort and money to fit the cultural norms of what it means to appear sexually attractive. Note the cultural norms. Remember, Threes define success as others do, they don't have their own definition. So if the culture calls for the vacant look, or the gaunt look, that's what they strive for, even if nature did not quite endow them with that. And if culture says you should be tall and you are short, then you're really hurting.

Performance anxiety all day

Intimate Threes often have a difficult time with personal relationships because they are playing roles to fit the cultural ideal of a perfect lover. They have a constant anxiety about their performance. Obviously, sexual performance plays a central role in this effort. For a while that can be adequate, but the partner gets a sense of the self-preoccupation that underlies the whole enterprise and becomes angry. The constant implicit self-reference (how'm I doin'?) can undermine the relationship.

Sometimes the relationships can last for quite a while, because while the Three is altering behavior to be the perfect lover, that looks and feels like the attention of a genuine lover. (S/He is trying...the partner says inwardly). The narcissism is hard to spot because the Three is trying to please the partner. Another reason the narcissism is hard to discern is that the influence of Hollywood's movies on our emotional relationships is significant and the intimate subtype is practically a protective coloration in relationships. If you look, smell, feel, taste and sound right, it is really hard to discern that your emotions are not real. These are sometimes the "perfect" marriages that break up (Ken and Barbie).

Lookin good in the neighborhood

Intimate Threes are often highly fashion conscious. They devote an enormous amount of energy to looking the way they should. One of the ways to tell a high energy Three from a high energy Seven is the amount of attention they pay to appearance. Sevens are quite self-referential and don't usually have quite the eye for what is culturally correct.

If intimate Threes are not in a committed relationship, they tend to broadcast sexual attraction and can frequently indulge in multiple liaisons. Speaking of which, John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons is a predatory intimate Three who prides himself on his powers of seduction and is eager and willing to teach others just what he thinks they need to know about sexual performance. What attracts him most is what he doesn't have: innocent and real passion. Impostors love the real thing, that's why they copy it.

The crises come, of course, in the area of greatest confusion: intimacy. Intimacy is not about performance, it's about dropping barriers, about surrender, about forgetting oneself because of total attention and preoccupation with the other so it's about unselfishness. But when sexual attractiveness is a means of establishing self-worth, then sexual expression can be radically flawed because it is self-aggrandizement, not abandonment. And intimacy can be seen as a means of engendering envy (my date is more attractive than yours, I am superior because I can attract more culturally precious people). When all the girls in high school want to date the same quarterback, it is not for the sake of genuine intimacy. And when the movies describe a person as a "catch," that is not for the sake of genuine intimacy. That is the compulsion of the intimate subtype Three. It is a recipe for divorce or least an assignment of major proportions to grow up.

Trying too hard

This preoccupation with looking like the perfect male or female stems from a deep confusion about the masculine and feminine parts of oneself. (Like all of the subtypes of Three, they are polarized between image and reality. )This has nothing to do with homosexuality, it is more like a woman acting ultra-feminine when she is feeling as competitive and predatory as she thinks any man could feel. Or a man acting as macho as an NFL ad while inside feeling tender and compassionate and ashamed for those sentiments. The real self cannot be expressed so the culturally correct model is adopted and adapted and shared all around. The real self is thought to be unattractive.

It is this deep split between what they are feeling and what they are showing that earns the Three the tag of deceit as the sin of the Three. Three's are no more fiscally dishonest than others. (Except of course, if you're highly competitive and just have to win, there is a certain tendency to cut corners). But the real deceit is in the chasm between what you see and what they feel. What you see is not what you get.

    Discussion Questions:

  1. How important is fashion to you? Why? Can you try to set a trend, or do you have to know what you are wearing is "in."
  2. How carefully do you check the faces of people at a party to judge the impact your entrance had on them?
  3. Would you date someone you felt a liking for even though you knew that person was quite far below you in sexual attractiveness by cultural norms?

Resources: Tom Condon's video working with a type Three is about a successful intimate Three. You can see how attractive she is and how unattractive she feels on the inside. The polarity is striking. Condon's technique for dealing with it is powerful, bringing tears to her and to many who watched. Tom Cruise (Sexual subtype Three) plays himself in Jerry McGuire and acts out the problems of a Sexual subtype Three. Perhaps the movie is so popular because Cruise is so effortlessly congruent. It is not accidental that Scarlet O'Hara in the best-selling novel, Gone with the Wind, is a strong Three with a sexual/intimate subtype.