How You Need To Be Loved, Based On Your Enneagram Personality Type
What is the Enneagram? The Enneagram is an ancient model for understanding human personality types.
The theories behind its use and significance were updated by psychologists within the Human Potential Movement in the 1970s, and to this day remains a powerful method for gaining insight into our personality types, how to work with them, and how to improve the way we connect with others and therefore operate in the world.
Understanding where we and our partner fall within the spectrum of the Enneagram personality types can be particularly useful for our relationships, as it helps us get a sense of the way our specific personality traits come to light in our love lives.
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The Enneagram is divided into nine types. Each type is identified by a number, as well as by its characteristic role.
The types interconnect to each other along lines indicating types which influence us during more adverse and more relaxed circumstances. Someone classed as a “1 type” may begin to think, feel, and act more like a “4 type” when stressed, or more like a “7 type” when relaxed.
Many people are also influenced by the types immediately to their own right and left, known as wings. Someone identified as a “3 type,” for example, is understood to have points 2 and 4 as their wing types. While our wing types influence us, they never change our core.
(And if you don’t know your Enneagram type, you can take the test here first!)
Type 1: The Reformer
The basic need of the Reformer is to feel that all is in order. They strive for perfection and aim to get things “right” by trying to be rational, idealistic, principled, purposeful, and self-controlled.
When relaxed they are great at working to make things happen well, and they can be playful. When stressed, they feel that they are bad or wrong, or that things around them are not as they should be, they can become hypercritical, short-tempered, irritable and angry and controlling.
If your partner is Type 1, perhaps they are stressed and therefore feeling out of control.
Instead of ending up in a shouting match, you will probably see that they are overwhelmed and can help by showing them what is working in their world, and how to divide tasks into little chunks so things feel right and manageable for them.
Pointing out what is working for them will help them re-center and feel more connected and present. Remind them, when they are open to hearing it, that the fundamental nature of everything is inherently perfect, and encourage them to find perfection in the imperfection of life.
Type 2: The Helper
The basic need of the Helper is to be loved. In order to get love, they try to be very loving themselves.
When relaxed they are genuinely caring, friendly, demonstrative, hospitable and generous. When stressed, they may be overly people-pleasing, ingratiating, possessive, clingy, and resentful.
If you experience them as needy, passive-aggressive, or guilt-tripping, you can remind them that they are great just the way they are, and that they don’t need reassurance from the outside to be the lovable selves they intrinsically are.
You can do this in a loving way, but if you feel you can’t, notice if you’re feeling stressed and what you might need at the moment!
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Type 3: The Achiever
The basic need of the Achiever is to feel valuable. In order to best prove their worth to others, they tend to be pragmatic, driven, and success-oriented.
When relaxed, they are highly adaptive, often excelling in whatever they do. When stressed, they are image-conscious, vain, approval-seeking, and punishing of themselves in their drive to always be “the best.”
Because they often find it difficult to perceive what they truly feel or what is true for them, you can remind them to take time to tap into what they genuinely feel so that don’t just overlay the attitudes they think are appropriate for the situation.
Remind them that being great has more to do with being rather than doing when it comes to who they are when they are vulnerable and emotionally available.
Type 4: The Individualist
The basic need of the Individualist is to express their uniqueness. They prove their significance to themselves and others through their creativity, artistry, expressive imagination and talent.
When relaxed, they are honest with themselves, self-reflective, profoundly creative, and inspired. When stressed, they can become overly sensitive, overly, dramatic, self-absorbed, withdrawn, fantasizing, melancholic and temperamental.
This Enneagram type takes their emotions seriously and often feel that if they feel something, it’s real. Firstly, it’s helpful to acknowledge that you know the issue feels real to them. Then gently remind them that you too have feelings about the situation that may feel different from theirs.
Take the time to discuss what their feelings, and yours as well. This is important because otherwise they will simply feel dismissed and won’t be able to hear the other side of the situation.
Only then can you gently remind them to look at the situation from a different perspective, trying to witness their emotions instead of buying into them.
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Type 5: The Investigator
The basic need of the Investigator is to be masterful.
They grow up feeling a strong need to have their act together. In order to guard against their of fears helplessness, incapability, and incompetence, they may become intensely cerebral.
When relaxed, they are perceptive, innovative, and able to understand the patterns of things, making them good problem solvers. When stressed, they can be secretive, isolated, stingy and risk-averse.
Their desire to be competent can deteriorate into useless specialization. They manipulate others by trying to make them feel helpless, incompetent, stupid, and incapable and being preoccupied and detaching emotionally.
Because Fives can become hyperactive and scattered, a partner can gently remind them to focus on the issue at hand. Also, because they have a tendency of withdrawing from reality into concepts and mental worlds and indecision, when stressed you can remind them to connect with their feelings and their deeper inner selves.
By listening to them as they describe their inner experience you validate their self-worth and they will feel less alone and separate.
Type 6: The Loyalist
Their basic need of the Loyalist is to feel supported. They are great joiners. If they don’t find a group to join they will often help to create one they feel will be supportive of others.
When relaxed, they are engaging, loyal, responsible, and committed to organizations that they feel are supportive of them as well. When stressed, they can become anxious, fretful, cowardly and suspicious.
Remind them that you care about their well-being even though you might encounter differences. Being reminded that they are part of a loving relationship will help them to become more relaxed and optimistic.
Because they will become dependent on something outside themselves for guidance, you can remind them to find a way to access their inner wisdom perhaps through journaling contemplation or meditation.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
The basic need of the Enthusiast is to feel satisfied and content. Sevens love to be busy and spontaneous. They are all about adventure, and they hate to feel trapped.
When relaxed, they are versatile, fun-loving, creative, and inspiring. When stressed, they can be distractible, flaky, overextended, scattered and envious.
Sevens feel trapped when things are not going smoothly. They tend to feel that if life is not flowing well, something is wrong and they can get the feeling that something better is available somewhere else.
Sevens can really grow when they slow down and stick things out, so although they might crave the new and exciting, encourage them to find beauty in the moment and not rush to change things.
Because they are naturally optimistic and enjoy a challenge, if they feel that you really care, their tendency to want to make things happen will allow them to work to sort things out.
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Type 8: The Challenger
The basic need of the Challenger is to feel protected. Eights are the archetypical leaders of the pack and like to feel completely self-sufficient. They have a fear of being harmed, controlled or violated by others.
When they are relaxed they are often powerful, self-confident, and decisive. When they are stressed they can become willful, dominating, confrontational, vengeful, and lustful.
When stressed self-confident eights become secretive and fearful, and can become overbearing and controlling. Because they feel they need to fight to make things happen, they can be hard to deal with.
Remind them that they are loved and that you really care about them. This will enable them to soften.
Because they tend to push away feelings of weakness or vulnerability and fear “soft” emotions such as sadness, weakness, indecisiveness, neediness or deficiency, you need to get across to them the notion that you appreciate them when they can show the side of themselves that does not always feel strong.
Then they will be able to relax and show you the truly caring side of their nature.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
The basic need of the Peacemaker is for harmony and peace of mind. Nines like everything around them to be in harmony and will often sacrifice their own needs in order to avoid conflict and self-assertion.
When Nines are relaxed, they are easygoing, self-effacing, receptive, reassuring, agreeable and prone to daydreaming. When they are stressed they can become complacent, apathetic, lazy, and depressed. In their worst moments, they may feel intense separation and fragmentation of the self.
Because they can easily see other’s point-of-view, they might become outwardly accommodating others for peace at all costs. They are, however, innately solid, stable, dependable and kind, and it’s a gentle reminder to them to connect with their inner selves to access their own truth.
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Lorell Frysh, Ph.D. has a doctoral degree in East-West psychology, with a focus on Transpersonal Psychology and Spiritual Counseling. She’s also the author of the spiritual novel, ‘Jewels in the Net of the Gods.’