After people learn their Enneagram type, the next question they invariably ask is “What types go well together?” That’s a whole different topic, but today we’ll explore the four Enneagram types who are seen together the most frequently.
Based on a 457-couple survey, these four pairs stood out with the highest statistical frequency. This isn’t to say these are the happiest couples, but rather these types pair up more often than the rest.
Men and women choose their Enneagram partners differently so we shouldn’t say Type 5s and Type 1s go together. We should say that Type 1 women often choose Type 5 men. This study focused on married straight couples so unfortunately, it doesn’t include gay, bisexual or transgender individuals – we’ll look for that data in future research.
Couple #1: Type 8 Men with Type 2 Women
The most common couple in the Enneagram is Type 8 men with Type 2 women. This couple is seen almost five times more frequently than the average. Why? Type 8 men with Type 2 women follow the typical gender roles in most cultures: the power-focused, protective, emotionally-guarded man with the relationship-focused, emotionally expressive, more intuitive woman.
What’s great: This combination can have an archetypical flavor with the Type 8 embodying many of the traditional masculine traits, and the Type 2 embodying the more feminine traits. Type 2s are more connected to the emotional world. They value emotions and can identify, discuss and process their feelings and the feelings of others. They can reach emotionally remote people, an important trait in breaking through the Type 8’s tough emotional armor. Type 8s are hardened, practical and results-oriented. They balance out the Type 2’s softness and make sure concrete priorities get done. They have few or no issues with personal boundaries, and Type 2s can learn a lot from watching their Type 8 partner. This can be an effective, supportive couple with clearly defined roles who accommodate each other’s blind spots and accentuate each other’s strengths.
Potential Pitfalls: Type 2s and Type 8s value the emotional world differently and have very different communication styles. Type 2s place great importance on feelings, relationships and emotional responses. Type 8s value the tangible, practical world more highly, and in lower levels of awareness, they can have a casual disregard for the emotional world. This difference manifests as dramatically different interpersonal styles. Type 2s see their Type 8 as hard-hearted, confrontational, cold and self-centered. Type 8s lose respect for their Type 2 seeing them as weak, manipulative and creating unnecessary dependencies with others.
Back in balance: Type 2s need to deeply connect with their Type 8's fear of being vulnerable and the accompanying aggression to hide vulnerability. Type 8s need to respect their Type 2's orientation towards feelings and emotions. Type 8s need to experience the limits of ignoring the world of relationships and emotions.
Couple #2: Type 4 Women with Type 9 Men
What’s Great: This can be an accepting, soothing match with a deep enjoyment from shared time together. The foundation of this pair is a combination of support and personal freedom to pursue their own goals and interests while enjoying the shared harmony they create together. Type 9s are steady, reliable, solid, dependable, inclusive and accepting. They don’t get blown off course by the emotional storms of their Type 4, and this is very grounding for their partner.
Type 4s bring rich expressiveness and intensity to the dynamic, helping to wake up the Type 9 and adding color to the dynamic. Type 4s add emotional electricity to the house ensuring issues get discussed and important topics aren’t swept under the rug. This is very balancing for the more avoidant Type 9.
Potential Pitfalls: While their differences can be balancing, they can also be a source of frustration. The mellow, easygoing Type 9 may feel the Type 4’s focus on the emotional world is relentless and disruptive to the harmonious environment the Type 9 works hard to create. Conversely, Type 9’s tendency to resist change and maintain the status quo can frustrate the Type 4 who is on a never-ending quest in search of self. Both partners may polarize. The Type 4 demands more engagement and attention. The Type 9 begins to stonewall and withdraw. The Type 4 reacts by becoming more temperamental and explosive, and the Type 9 becomes more unresponsive, stubborn, disengaged and distant. Energetically, it is like an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
Back in balance: Type 4s need to learn to manage the energy of their intense emotions while Type 9s need to learn to resist the instinct to shut down in the face of potential conflict. Both partners need to move more into the middle.
Couple #3: Type 2 women with Type 6 men
The Helper and the Loyalist pair has foundational values of mutual support, dependability and deep caring. Stability, in all facets of life, is important to them and something they actively cultivate. With stability as the base, they have some balancing differences.
What's Great: Type 2s seek positive human connections and are warm, generous and kind. Protective and observant of those they love, they offer their sometimes anxious and reactive Type 6 sage advice and a more rational, objective perspective. Because of their high emotional intelligence, they can often understand the subtle undercurrents of a situation, and this is balancing for the Type 6 who often has more narrow, worst-case scenario thinking.
Type 6s are hardworking, diligent, reliable, responsible and committed. They have an eye for danger and work hard to make sure threats to the home and the relationship itself are minimized. Type 2s appreciate that the Type 6 is someone who they can depend on through thick and thin, and this helps relax the Type 2’s fear of abandonment. Together this can be a sweet, steady, straightforward pair.
Potential Pitfalls: The anxiety response of both partners can trigger problems. Under pressure, Type 6s freeze or become erratic, and Type 2s lean in to help. This creates an environment of confusion, resentment and misunderstanding. In times of stress, Type 6s become highly anxious, worried, panicky, suspicious and confused. This causes the Type 2 to push harder to assist. Type 2s may become overly involved and domineering without realizing it. The Type 6, prone to suspicion and anxiety, doesn’t appreciate this feeling they are being controlled. Resentment and confusion build on both sides.
Back in Balance: Type 6s overreact to an uncertain future, and Type 2s lean too far forward to try to become indispensable. To break the polarization, both partners need to learn to face their fear, become still and stay present in the face of anxiety and discomfort.
Couple #4: Type 1 women with Type 5 men
Values of personal freedom, respect, integrity and pursuit of knowledge are the foundation of this pair. Both are interested in facts, data and being well-informed and correct, and this can be a highly cerebral couple. Both partners value objectivity and try to avoid drama. Their thirst for knowledge is different, and they can learn by observing each other.
Type 5s are more relative, open-minded and on a never-ending quest for knowledge. When in balance, this open-mindedness can offer a growth edge for the Type 1, inviting them to be more flexible in their thinking. Overall, this is a sweetly contained, affectionate and even-keeled couple. Their devotion to each other is evident and inspiring to those around them.
Potential Pitfalls: The same differences that offer growth opportunities can trigger problems in the relationship. Type 1s may become critical and judgmental about their Type 5’s less structured approach to life and their sometimes radical intellectual ideas. Type 5s may start to see their Type 1 as rigid, close-minded and focused on the details at the expense of the bigger picture. Criticism, stonewalling and a lack of respect may enter the picture.
Back in balance: Sharing time and space together and reconnecting around their shared interests and hobbies can help break polarization. Moving the energy out of their heads and into their hearts is the path back to balance.
Each couple is unique, but the Enneagram offers a framework to understand the general strengths and weaknesses of each pairing. To learn more you can browse The Nine Keys: A Guide Book to Unlock Your Relationships Using Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram.