The prim, proper “work comes before play” Type 1 Perfectionist matched with the pleasure-seeking, happy-go-lucky Type 7 Enthusiast - could they work as a successful couple? Will the strict school teacher and the playful party person balance each other? Or are their differences just too great?
In my book The Nine Keys: A Guide Book to Unlock Your Relationships Using Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram, I explored all 45 Enneagram type combinations in intimate relationships. In researching the book, I interviewed over 100 couples to learn both the secrets to success and the signs of trouble.
This particular pair really intrigued me and, apart from testimonials from regular people, I was happy to find a famous example in the Clooneys. George Clooney’s behavior maps to Type 7 and Amal Clooney’s behavior maps to Type 1. Will they go the distance or flame out?
Let’s have a closer look, starting with the theory.
When in balance the detail-oriented, practically-minded Type 1 and brainstorming, big picture Type 7 enjoy a symbiotic, balancing relationship with both offering valuable traits the other generally lacks. When both are self-aware, they complete each other with the Type 1’s order, efficiency, tactical thinking, practicality, and follow-through balancing the Type 7’s high energy, positive outlook, resilience, strategic thinking, and orientation towards fun and adventure.
They can admire each other. Type 7s appreciate the Type 1’s methodical and systematic approach to life as well as their reliability. They are happy to have a detail-oriented person at their side as most Type 7s are aware that attention to detail is not their forte. Type 1s admire the Type 7’s high spirits, joy, and sense of fun and adventure. Type 7s charge enthusiastically forward in life, and this can be balancing for Type 1s who sometimes hold back and get overly involved in the details.
Conflicts between the two usually stem from their different approaches. Type 7s have an immediacy of wanting to enjoy life to its fullest, while Type 1s want to make sure all practical responsibilities are met before they allow themselves to relax and enjoy life. Type 7s start to feel like their perfectionist partner “just doesn’t get it” while Type 1s see their enthusiast partner as irresponsible and immature. If the downward spiral gains momentum, the differences they share start to polarize the couple.
Under stress with tightening defenses, Type 1s become more rigid, judgmental, irritated, and blaming. They start to resent the playful, high-spirited Type 7 who is rarely interested in details or a methodical approach to situations. Type 1s see the Type 7 as pleasure-seeking, unfocused, impractical, and with a lack of commitment to high standards. The Type 1 may start to take this behavior personally, as though it were directed at them.
Type 7s, on the other hand, get frustrated with the rigidity and seriousness of the Type 1. They start to feel penned in and trapped by what feels like a relentless “work before play” attitude. They can see the Type 1 as a strict schoolmarm who brings them down, limits them, and drains their enthusiasm.
Match made in heaven or royal nightmare?
As one of America’s most famous actors, Type 7 George Clooney’s fun-loving, generous, playful character kept the world entertained as a serial bachelor for almost two decades. Then he met Amal Alamuddin, the no-nonsense, idealistic international human rights lawyer and activist, and everything changed. What makes their relationship tick?
They have the classic Type1/Type 7 strengths. She’s reliable, focused, purposeful, and idealistic. It is easy for him to admire her. She gives him depth, focus, and a higher purpose he may have been missing. Together in 2016 they launched the Clooney Foundation for Justice, an organization that works to bring justice to classrooms and marginalized communities around the world. You can bet that was her idea.
As for George, he’s fun-loving, playful, adventurous, generous, and caring. With him as her partner, there is never a dull moment. From their first date at Abbey Studios to African safaris and beyond, George keeps novelty, playfulness, and freshness in the relationship. They reportedly arm-wrestle to resolve their conflicts, and you can bet that was his idea. They have all the ingredients to balance each other.
But they also have all the ingredients to fall off kilter. The rumor mill suggests that George and Amal have been known to clash about their different lifestyles with insiders saying “She’s all business, he’s all play.” He likes to party and socialize, she’s work-oriented and wants to micro-manage and control the details. With both managing high-powered careers, it’s easy to spend long periods of time apart. This couple could easily polarize.
However, this doesn’t seem to be the case for George and Amal. During my research, one of the most touching testimonials was from a widower, Elsa, Type 1 who had been married for 18 years to Lars, Type 7. She shares: “There are so many things I loved about my husband. He was quick on the uptake, brilliant but never realized how much smarter he was than so much of the crowd. He could be incredibly gentle, firm but kind, yet still sometimes wickedly sarcastic. I felt safe with him. Early on in our relationship, our roles were set: it was his job to make sure I had fun, and I made sure we didn’t go bankrupt.”
Despite a very happy overall relationship, she also writes: “Things were not always easy in our marriage. There was a time when our children were young, I was home full-time with them and struggled with loneliness. I found myself getting disproportionately angry at my husband for being away, even if the reason he was away was something like he was fixing my car! After getting advice from a friend and reading a book she recommended, my husband and I sat together one night and did a reflective inventory of what was working well in our marriage and what wasn’t. Owning our own parts, willing to do what we needed to support the other, we focused together on supporting the marriage rather than attempting to get our own needs met. We found that by doing just that, we pulled ourselves out of a needy space and back into a loving, supportive one.”
George and Amal seem to be following this path. Insiders suggest they’ve written a list of how they will support each other. George promised to curtail his partying, especially when they’re in the same city, and Amal has committed to stop micromanaging and give him the space and freedom to let his hair down every now and then. They’ve had to meet in the middle. George has agreed to cut down on the glitzy events she finds tedious and to read up on the issues surrounding her human rights work so he understands her work better. She’s agreed to give him space to party and socialize and to show up with him to events that might seem frivolous to her, but that are important to him. These are all the signs of a healthy relationship.
George is easy to love and Amal is easy to admire which means most of the world is rooting for the success of this couple. And we know high self-awareness in both partners is a key to relationship longevity and satisfaction. It seems like they are on the right track anyway, but maybe someone should tell Amal and George about the Enneagram…
If you’d like to read about all Enneagram type combinations in intimate relationships, you can browse the entire book The Nine Keys: A Guide Book to Unlock Your Relationships Using Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram.