Enneagram in Relationships

Who are you married to, dating or have as a partner?

Probably one of the biggest healing tools to understanding one another is the Enneagram system of personality.

What may be driving you bonkers could well be one of the nine patterns of behavior that the enneagram points to.

These nine patterns have their lovable as well as their annoying qualities. They can certainly grate on us or hurt us when we don’t understand them because it can seem as if the person is doing it on purpose when in fact they have no idea at all.

Just knowing these patterns can heal all sorts of hurts and grudges we’ve had with our partners. A pattern that was foreign to us can now be seen through understanding and compassionate eyes. We can also see where we may have been judging someone for a pattern they can’t help. Not that it always makes their behaviors acceptable but we can know where to differentiate between an automatic pattern of behavior and bad intent.

When I think of the misunderstandings that are present between couples I wish the enneagram was taught in school. Its an enormous relief to see the patterns being played out in our partner and know we don’t have to take it personally, we don’t even have to react to it. We can understand it. We can see through their eyes. We can stop our own automatic reaction to their pattern and this can bring a fresh awareness into the relationship.

When both couples are aware of these patterns it can allow laughter, understanding, conversation and greater awareness into the partnership.

Personality Type One

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Partners of a Type One Personality are often preached to, fixed, corrected, tidied up and managed. This type is quick to jump on their soap box and instruct their partner with principles and correct procedures. The partner often feels judged and as if they’ll never be able to perform perfectly enough.

If your partner has this personality type its useful to be aware that cleanliness and perfection are innately highly valued and making everything in their domain as perfect as possible is an automatic response to the world and everyone in it.

If they’re looking at you and only seeing imperfection it isn’t personal.

Their intention is pure. They think you’ll benefit from their preaching and their lessons on how to ‘get it right’.

They’ll benefit from you understanding their need for perfection.

Personality Type Two

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Partners of Personality Type Two can be mothered, babied, looked after, supported and manipulated. You’ll be the recipient of an enormous reservoir of love and neediness. You may feel that you’ll never be able to give back enough love to fulfill their needs.

This type is driven by the feeling that they ‘have to’ please you. They’re also unconsciously suppressing their own needs. So it is only natural that they feel ripped off as their own real desires emerge after looking after you for so long.

When you can see it isn’t personal, you can be there for this type in a way that neither reacts to them negatively nor disallows the genuine love and care they have for you. This type needs to know they’re loved as they are.

Personality Type Three

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Partners to the Three may discover they’ve been slotted into a very busy schedule as this personality type has a tendency to multitask efficiently on the run. They seem to have a whirlwind energy that’s capable of achieving numerous tasks, look good at the same time and talk up their abilities with confidence.

This type will benefit from being loved whether they produce results or not or whether they’re a success or not.

If you feel that you’re low on their list of priorities it isn’t personal. They’re trying to achieve it all.

Personality Type Four

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Well having this personality type myself I’d love to be able to say you’re in for a special treat if you’re going out with a Four! Sadly that isn’t the full story.

If you’re in a relationship with a Four you may have found that your partner is moody, emotional and demanding. One moment they’re vivacious and happy and the next they’re crabby and cantankerous or sad and depressed. They’re on an emotional roller coaster and you may be finding it difficult making them happy.

This personality does benefit when they’re treated as special and they wilt if they’re not, which can sound demanding for the partner. A steady stable partner who either doesn’t react negatively to the numerous turbulent emotions on display or allows a good passionate fight every now again is beneficial for this type.

Personality Type Five

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Partners of this type may complain that their relationship is somewhat remote. The Five personality prefers to relate through the rational mind and not dig too deeply into the emotions. They’re also exceptionally sensitive and will need to withdraw from the outside world, including you, so they can reflect at a distance.

Demanding too much from this type only makes them withdraw further, so it’s beneficial to remember that they will need space.

Personality Type Six

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If you’re going out with a Six Personality Type you may be wondering why they can’t commit to a decision and stick with it. This type is besieged with doubts and it can’t be easy having so many alternate questions spinning round their heads as they try to make up their minds about something.

This type is also somewhat fearful and cautious and will be steering you to take the safe route in all your endeavors. (Unless they go the opposite way and want to face their fears as a way to combat them which means they actively seek out danger.) Partners can feel that the Sixes desire to make everyone safe is intrusive fussy behavior yet their intention is not only a good one it often does avert danger. Problems can occur when safety is obsessively sought and the partner feels controlled and fussed over.

This type unconsciously needs and seeks out a safe, secure environment, physically, financially and mentally. They want everyone to be safe and secure.

Personality Type Seven

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This type is often socially active as they follow one entertaining idea after the other. They feel the need to stay up and energized and as their partner you can either join them or hear about their exploits later.

It can be difficult to get them to see if there is an issue that needs resolving. This type sees no problem in choosing to do more fun things rather than sit down and soberly take a harsh look at reality.

It’s important to recognize that their need for dynamic action and adventure is an unconscious drive. It’s not personal when they dash about following all the enticing options on offer.

Personality Type Eight

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Now here is one personality that makes knowing the enneagram enormously beneficial for those of us with eights in our lives.

As a partner they can be dominating, larger than life, forceful, apt to explode easily, either work hard or play hard to excess, controlling, easily hurt, happy to push your buttons if you seem weak, blaming, fault finding, bear-like, gruff and at times charming, helpful, protective, generous and loving.

This type actually enjoys fighting, arguing and exploding with anger. They feel better for it. They feel better when they speak bluntly. They think they’re speaking the truth and they believe you’ll be all the better for it. (They don’t seem to see that all that prodding and poking makes people feel negative about themselves and their abilities.)

It isn’t personal when this types blames and explodes and expresses all the rest of their challenging traits. I would imagine there are many relationships where people have been emotionally hurt by an eight when it needn’t have been taken personally.

There is a very sensitive heart beneath the eight who often feels misunderstood and disliked and doesn’t understand how forceful or frightening they appear to others.

There are some people though with this personality who do have mal intent and use their powerful energy to manipulate, abuse or dominate as a way to demand and retain leadership or control.

Personality type Nine

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It can sometimes feel for the partner that this type is not really present or fully listening.

While the nine is often amiable, passive and peaceful they can drive their partners mad when they avoid essential tasks or waste their life by going numb. When they avoid speaking up, or saying what they want, or even saying ‘no’ as a way to avoid conflict, they often create more conflict in the long run. Their anger then leaks out over smaller issues or passive- aggressively. Their defense can be to do nothing. They can stubbornly persist in doing nothing for a long time. This is not personal. This is an unconscious strategy that at its core is aiming at a peaceful existence.

They go into rapport with everyone very easily but this can be to their detriment. They fare better when they’re supported to be in touch with their own desires and passions rather than merging with other people and losing themselves.