This is FASCINATING!
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 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 can be particularly helpful to our relationships.
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 One-type, may begin to think, feel and act more like a Four-type when stressed, or more like a Seven-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 Three-type, for example, is understood to have points Two and Four as their wing types. While our wing types influence us, they never change our core.
Here are the 9 core types of the Enneagram of Personality:
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.
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.
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."
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.
Watch now: Check out this guide to the 9 Enneagram types as classified by celebrities.
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, able to understand the patterns of things, and good at problem solving. When stressed, they can be secretive, isolated, stingy and risk averse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you identify your Enneagram (and that of your partner), you can stop blindly trying to solve issues together and finally address true root issues as they arise.
When you or your partner is acting in a way that appears hurtful or upsetting, ask yourself whether their behavior might be reflective of how your Enneagram type reacts to stress.
Let's say your partner is a Type 1 one and becomes stressed. They like feeling out of control. If you take a break from the typical shouting match and look closely, you may well see they are simply overwhelmed. Try talking to them about those aspects of their world that are working smoothly, and asking how they might divide tasks hanging over their head into smaller chunks so things can begin to feel more manageable to them again.
If your partner is a Type 2 and you experience them suddenly becoming needy, try reminding yourself how generous and loving they are when at their best, and offer them the reassurance of your love and commitment they sorely need without judging them for having a rough spell. Given signs from you that they are great just the way they are will actually reinforce for them that they don’t need reassurance from the outside in order to be the lovable selves they intrinsically are.
Try these tips in a loving way. If you find yourself having trouble doing so, take a moment to self-reflect and see if it might be that YOU are feeling stressed.
If so, what do you need in the moment. How can your partner be helpful with that?
Share these insights with your partner and let me know when you notice how much it helps!
Lorell Frysh PhD. is the author of Jewels in the Net of the Gods. She has a doctoral degree in East-West psychology, is an Interior architect and designer focusing on the creation of Sacred space, and has spent over forty five years exploring, studying, and receiving initiation in many of the great spiritual, mystical, and healing traditions of the world.