The Enneagram: Relationships

Welcome back

Welcome back everyone! I hope you have enjoyed discovering your Enneagram personality type and learning more about yourself. For me, last month’s blog post initiated some interesting dialogue with my family and friends. I am grateful for all of you joining the conversations! 

Now what? 

Today we are going to look at what we already know about the Enneagram and apply it to our relationships. Let me tell you, my husband is a saint.  He willingly takes all the personality assessments I throw at him (with minimal complaints) and by sharing our results we almost always gain insight as to how the other person ticks and how to better our relationship. 

Why is this important? All humans desire meaningful relationships and cultivating these relationships may look differently depending on your personality type! It’s similar to the 5 Love Languages; we need to know how the important people in our lives give and receive things like love and respect in order to communicate most effectively. 

Fun fact:   Cultivating meaningful relationships can help an individual cope with stress, overcome adversity, and decrease symptoms of depression.  In therapy we are always asking our clients about their interpersonal relationships. Overall, intentionally forming healthy relationships can improve your mental health… what’s not to love? 

On your mark, get set…

Below you’ll find a brief explanation of each personality type and how they present in relationships. Before you dive in, I’d like to remind you the Enneagram is a guide to help better understand a personality type. Our hope is that you’ll grow in understanding and compassion for the people you love. By gaining awareness, we can learn how to better support others and to understand where they’re coming from. 

These results are not an excuse to resist growth or to justify engaging in harmful behavior. For example, if you find yourself telling your partner after a disagreement, “According to the Enneagram this is just the way I am, get used to it” then you are misinterpreting the purpose of using this assessment.  Instead, we hope you can become more aware and present, allowing yourself to understand the impact of our personality on those we love. By understand how we tick, we can learn how to have healthy conversations with people who are different form us. 

Let’s dive in!

Note: The following content is driven from several articles listed in the references section 

Type One (The Perfectionist)

Type Ones are generally dependable, devoted, moral, and perfectionistic. They strive to improve the world by living the right way and they are often strong advocates for what they believe to be true. 

Tips if your loved one is a Type One:

  • Be sure to respect their integrity and do not dismiss topics they are passionate about.
  • Facilitate conversation about how your environment can be improved and know their goal is to facilitate positive change.
  • When dealing with conflict, be honest in admitting your mistakes but challenge them to see other perspectives. Challenge them to consider, “Can there be more than just one right answer here?”
  • Understand they are naturally critical of themselves. Try helping them learn how to extend grace and forgiveness when they make a mistake. 

Type Two (The Helper)

Type Twos are generally warm, compassionate, and social. They are motivated by the feeling of being loved so they invest  time into their social networks and often pour into others. 

Tips if your loved one is a Type Two:

  • Be mindful of their desire to be loved by showing approval and appreciation. Being over critical or dismissing their feelings is especially hurtful.
  • Understand they have a tendency to be overly nice or complimentary. Take these statements seriously and join them in valuing intimate relationships.
  • When dealing with conflict, challenge them to identify the root of their frustration. Help them understand that being too passive and avoiding conflict can lead to frustration and blame towards others. 
  • Understand they often put their needs last. You can show them love by helping them set appropriate boundaries and engage in self-care. 

Type Three (The Performer)

Type Threes are generally productive, goal-oriented, and driven for success. They are natural leaders and tend to associate their worth with their accomplishments. 

Tips if your loved one is a Type Three:

  • Understand they place value in their accomplishments and their competitiveness is not a personal attack. 
  • Express interest in their projects and appreciate their hard work. Show them you care by assisting them in getting the results they are looking for. 
  • When dealing with conflict, encourage assertive conversation but be sure the conversation stays on track and you do not lose focus of the root problem. Challenge them to consider alternative routes for success; consider that success comes in different forms.
  • At the end of the day, it is important to express that you value them for who they are, not for what they can accomplish. Help them see their value and consider their feelings outside of their achievements. 

Type Four (The Romantic)

Type Fours are generally expressive, creative, and sensitive. They have the strength of being in touch with their emotions and they are often concerned with being misunderstood.

Tips if your loved one is a Type Four:

  • Value their individualism and style. Open conversation about their creativity and how they see the world. 
  • Value their emotional sensitivity and highlight ways this trait can be utilized as strength. Understand not every emotion is directed towards you. 
  • When dealing with conflict, try to remain calm and consistent. If the conversation becomes too aggressive, your partner may seek an extreme by either shutting down or having an anger outburst. 
  • Encourage them to express their thoughts in a healthy, creative manner. Understand they often have a strong inner critic which often needs to be confronted with grace and truth. 

Type Five (The Observer)

Type Fives are generally knowledgeable, reserved, and analytical. They do their best to separate themselves from cultural expectations so they can focus on what they find most important (which often involves an intellectual quest of some kind).

Tips if your loved one is a Type Five:

  • Understand they are most comfortable when they have time to think things over. Therefore, be thoughtful and patient in your approach. Do not expect them to have an answer immediately.
  • Their tendency to withdraw is not personal and do not assume you know what they are thinking.
  • When dealing with conflict, make time for healthy, direct communication. Emphasize the importance of connecting with both their thoughts and their feelings throughout conflict. Provide generous information about what you’re experiencing. 
  • Create a space where they feel comfortable and safe, allowing them to express their vulnerability. Help them see the benefits of connecting with their feelings, especially in a trusted relationship. 

Type Six (The Loyalist)

Type Sixes are generally practical, devoted, steadfast, and skillful. They tend to struggle with worry due to their need for security and safety. Once they conclude their environment is safe, they can settle into their strengths which often involve trustworthy connections. 

Tips if your loved one is a Type Six

  • Understand their hesitation and worry is not personal. Help them navigate and process these concerns through active listening and thoughtful input.
  • They find security in consistent rules and expectations so do not catch them off guard with abrupt changes. Appreciate their attention to detail.
  • When dealing with conflict, avoid ambiguity and do not withhold information. Challenge their negative thinking with helpful, truthful facts/evidence. Do not be condescending and understand their concerns are difficult to navigate.
  • By offering support and loyalty you will create an environment where they feel safe. When a Type Six feels they can be their authentic self, they become some of the most steadfast companions.

Type Seven (The Enthusiast)

Type Sevens are generally spontaneous, enjoyable, and social. They are optimistic by nature and seek situations which bring them joy. In contrast, they do their best to avoid unpleasant emotions or painful situations. 

Tips if your loved one is a Type Seven 

  • Their fast-pace and short attention span does not mean they are not interested.
  • Show interest and facilitate conversation about their exciting ideas and optimistic outlook on life. Let your hair down and enjoy their spontaneous adventures.  Understand too much negativity will rub them the wrong way.
  • When dealing with conflict, encourage them to slow down and listen to how you are feeling. Challenge them to notice consequences for their actions and take accountability. Do not be afraid to speak your needs, but express these concerns in a solution-focused way.
  • Without automatically shutting them down, balance their positivity and exciting ideas with realistic feedback. 

Type Eight (The Challenger)

Type Eights are generally powerful, confident, strong, and assertive. They tend to enjoy being in control and have strong personalities. However, when they feel safe in being vulnerable, Type Eights have a tender side and love standing up for the underdog. 

Tips if your loved one is a Type Eight

  • The quickest way to get under their skin is to act disrespectfully or to make them feel controlled.
  • Understand their bossiness is not personal and they appreciate direct, efficient conversation
  • When dealing with conflict, do not hesitate to confront the problem directly (do not beat around the bush). Do not tolerate damaging or intimidating behavior, but also be sensitive to underlying hurt feelings. 
  • Challenge them to use their energy in positive ways. Help them discover their passion and connect with their vulnerable side (which may not come naturally). 

Type Nine (The Peacemaker)

Type Nines are generally accommodating, accepting, and trusting. They are overall stable and they have the gift of bringing people together. However, their desire to avoid conflict can cause them to become passive or complacent if they are not careful.  

Tips if your loved one is a Type Nine

  • Understand they cherish harmony. You can show you care by slowing down and enjoying peaceful, quality time together. 
  • Be patient with their forgetfulness, it is not intentional or personal.
  • When dealing with conflict, always aim to find a fair conclusion. Reassure them they are in a safe environment to express what they are truly feeling and remind them you are not going anywhere. 
  • Challenge them to connect with their personal values and ideals. Listen to what they have to say and encourage them to stay true to their priorities even in the face of conflict. Accept them for who they are but challenge them to step outside their comfort zone from time to time. 

Let us know if these descriptions match your personal experiences. What have you noticed about ways you interact in relationships? What personality type is your significant other? The following websites take an even closer look at how specific types interact with each other; let us know what you think!


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