How The Enneagram Can Help You Thrive in Your Relationships

Did you ever wonder why your last romantic relationship didn’t work out? Perhaps you’ve tried, and failed, to get someone to change. Or maybe you’re just not sure what you’re looking for. If you’ve taken the Enneagram test, you’ll already know how this useful and insightful tool can help you discover your true personality, learn about your potential for growth, understand how you react under stress and forge a clear path toward your career goals. 

But it can also help you to understand how your own strengths and weaknesses affect your personal relationships. Used properly, it can help you notice when you are getting healthier in your relationships or staying stuck by your own limitations. It not only reveals how emotionally healthy you are, but also helps you become more balanced.

If you’ve ever wanted some serious insight into how to have a successful love life, and make that special someone feel good too, read on.

1. The Perfectionist

Ones are known as the Perfectionist for a reason. They are serious, focused, disciplined and they like things done the right way. But in a relationship, they are also loyal, dedicated and know what they want.

Strengths in relationships:  Focused on personal development while being faithful, helpful, conscientious, and maintaining a good sense of humor.

Weaknesses in relationships: Perfectionists can be critical, controlling, uncompromising, and have high expectations of their partner.

What you need: To bring out the best in themselves and their relationship, Ones need to embrace a bit of spontaneity, playfulness and creativity to help them relax and let go of all those rules. Tell your partner what you need instead of expecting them to read your mind.

 2. The Giver

Number Two is the Giver or the Helper. They like to put other people first and enjoy helping, supporting and nurturing others.

Strengths in relationships:  Focused on what the other person wants and needs, they know how to make people feel loved and appreciated.

Weaknesses in relationships: Twos struggle to get their own needs met and can be needy, dependent on approval and possessive of their partner.

What you need: Someone who will appreciate you and show you love, respect, and encourage you to consider your own needs. Resist the urge to fix people’s problems and put yourself first sometimes.

 3. The Achiever

Threes are driven to succeed and can become so focused on excelling they forget about their emotional side. They put a lot of time and energy into their career and love to be appreciated for their hard work and achievements.

Strengths in relationships:  Energetic, driven, playful, creative, responsible, and eager to live up to others’ expectations.

Weaknesses in relationships: Absent-minded, self-absorbed, defensive, impatient, and focused on their career, Threes can forget about their partner’s needs.

What you need: Put work aside occasionally and focus on your partner. Remember they love you for you, not just your accomplishments. Try to leave work stress at work when you come home and do something fun. The person who loves you will appreciate your desire to succeed while encouraging you to take care of your emotional needs as well.

4. The Individualist

As the Individualist, Four is the sensitive, creative type who cares more about authenticity than external rewards or validation. They want to be known and understood for who they really are.

Strengths in relationships: Playful, empathic, intuitive and romantic, they are open to new experiences and have an instinctive ability to understand others’ feelings.

Weaknesses in relationships: Emotional, prone to depression and moodiness, Fours can be dramatic, needy and sensitive to criticism.

What you need: Fours need someone who is authentic, open, understands their own emotions and loves to learn. They feel loved when their partner appreciates their need to express themselves emotionally and creatively by ensuring they are safe to be themselves.

5. The Investigator

Five is a thinker, observer, and a private, introverted person who loves to learn and study. They take time alone to process and understand their emotions before acting on them.

Strengths in relationships: The Investigator’s thirst for knowledge makes them a great teacher and companion for cultural dates, such as going to art shows or foreign films. They are curious, kind and perceptive people who take time to understand others.

Weaknesses in relationships: Fives can seem withdrawn and their independence can make partners feel ignored. They can become cynical, withdrawn, and irritated with a partner, especially if they get dragged out of their comfort zone.

What you need: A Five needs a partner who is comfortable with them having time to themselves, but also has similar interests. They’ll also benefit from someone who can help them come out of their shell and into the world. Talk to your partner about your studies and interests so you can connect on an intellectual level and open up about your feelings so you can become closer. Don’t be afraid of emotional intimacy in your relationship.

6. The Loyalist

Number Six is known as the Loyalist. They value honesty, integrity and commitment and they like to know their relationships are secure.

Strengths in relationships: Sixes are loyal, trustworthy, dependable, hardworking, warm, supportive, honest, and committed, so they’re in a relationship for the long term while having fun. They are independent but care about helping others.

Weaknesses in relationships: Sixes need time to trust other people, so they can seem self-conscious, nervous, and even defensive in relationships. They can become needy, anxious, insecure, fearful, sarcastic, and controlling.

What you need: You need someone trustworthy and loyal, but you also need to start building your self-confidence so you can trust yourself. When you feel good about who you are, you won’t worry so much about your partner. Start to build trust with them by allowing yourself to be vulnerable and sharing your thoughts, worries and insecurities with them. 

 7. The Enthusiast

Upbeat, positive and energetic, Sevens know how to have a good time. They are full of ideas, interests and passions and are almost always happy and carefree.

Strengths in relationships: Fun, spontaneous, adventurous and pleasure-seeking, they love having plenty of stimulating experiences.

Weaknesses in relationships: Sevens can be narcissistic, irresponsible and distracted in relationships. They tend to have a hard time finishing what they start and have a short attention span, especially when it comes to discussing relationship issues.

What you need: A Seven needs a stable, centering partner who is confident and will help them to slow down, while also enjoying a fun and spontaneous lifestyle. Allow your partner to get serious every once in a while and let them do the talking sometimes. Resist the urge to run away when things get tough and experience the joy of a committed relationship.

8. The Challenger

Why is an Eight called the Challenger? They are natural leaders who are confident, commanding and outgoing, but can also be arrogant and competitive.

Strengths in relationships: When issues arise, Eights are the first to be honest and ready to discuss it with their partner and tend to be very protective of people they care about. They are brave, honest, loyal, dependable, generous and supportive.

Weaknesses in relationships: Demanding, uncompromising and intense, the Challenger is motivated by a need for control. Deep down, they are afraid of being vulnerable.

What you need: You need someone who loves your energy, shares your passion and wants to cheer you on. At the same time, remember it’s okay to show your softer side. You don’t have to keep everything together all the time. Listen to your partner when they open up to you and resist the urge to provide all the answers.

9. The Peacemaker

Nines are the Peacemakers, the caring and sensitive listeners who want nothing more than peace and harmony in their relationships. They are excellent mediators.

Strengths in relationships: Easy going, steady, gentle, kind, supportive, loyal, non-judgmental, and accommodating. Nines can see issues from other perspectives and are sensitive to their partner’s feelings.

Weaknesses in relationships: Stubborn, passive-aggressive, and defensive, Nines can be overly accommodating in relationships and have difficulty asserting themselves, becoming people-pleasers just to avoid conflict.

What you need: Nines need someone calm who will be a support system and encourage them to speak out. Instead of avoiding conflict, try speaking up about your concerns with your partner. It doesn’t have to end in an argument.

All Enneagram types have strengths and weaknesses, but understanding what makes you happy, stressed or fall madly in love is the key to finding fulfilment and a great relationship. Knowing your partner also has their own challenges, assets and needs will help you to bring out the best in each other and face life’s obstacles together.

Deborah Ward

Deborah Ward is a writer and an INFJ. She has a passion for writing articles, blog posts and books that inspire, motivate and encourage people to build self-confidence and live up to their potential. She has written two books on mindfulness, Overcoming Low Self-Esteem with Mindfulness and Overcoming Fear with Mindfulness. Her latest book, Sense and Sensitivity, is based on her Psychology Today blog of the same name. It's about highly sensitive people and is due out in Feb 2020. Deborah lives in Hampshire, England, where she enjoys watching documentaries, running and taking long walks in the country, especially ones that finish at a cosy pub.

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