The Truth About How Enneagram Compatibility Works In Relationships

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man and woman making a heart together with their hands

Enneagram compatibility may not always be something you consider when dating and forming relationships, but it helps to know how your two types work together.

People often ask how they can truly get along with their partner, when they never seem to see eye-to-eye. Thankfully, understanding our Enneagram types can add some insight.

They usually come to me with that question after working hard to "fix" things and are finally at their wit's end. And, having been there, myself, I can empathize with the feelings of frustration and desperation.

First, let's look at how the types match well together, and what makes Enneagram types compatible. 

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How you and your partner get along isn’t based solely on the compatibility of your Enneagram types — but more on how you relate to your differences.

You might wonder, "How can that be true? Some personalities just don’t mesh well."

Well, on the surface, that may be true.

For some Enneagram type combinations, their general way of being and seeing the world may appear so different that it's difficult to see how they would be compatible.

But, by understanding their Enneagram types, the apparently "mismatched" couples can learn to connect and thrive despite their differences.

The key here is that, instead of just focusing on what's different about their partner, couples can use the wisdom of the Enneagram to understand why their partner sees the world the way they do and why they, themselves, see it differently.

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From a place of understanding, it's much easier to find common ground and a win-win when discussing options and making decisions.

The truth is that human beings are often running in automatic mode without a lot of awareness as to why they are doing and thinking as they are.

When running on automatic, people also tend to make assumptions that others are seeing the world the same way they do. They are then surprised when that's not the case.

When you don’t get the response you're looking for, you then tend to look for what's "wrong" in your partner’s thinking.

From there, you then go about trying to convince your partner to agree with you, which is often a fool's errand.

The problem is that most people don’t like to be convinced that they are wrong and should change their perspective. Defensiveness arises and conflict ensues.

In an attempt to control your own unhappiness, anger, or fear about the recycling conflicts, you look at the dynamic and say, "Oh, we're just too different and are not meant to be together."

That could be true for reasons that relate to what you really want to do, have, and experience in your life — but not solely because you have different Enneagram types.

The differences between some Enneagram types may be more pronounced than with others, but it's never the case that those differences are the sole problem.

What creates the problem is a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to know and accept yourself and your partner with the express purpose of expansion and win-win creation.

Here are 5 examples of couples whose Enneagram types seem very different, and how their conflicts can be understood.

1. Type 1 (the Perfectionist) and Type 2 (the Giver)

"Ones are focused on practicality and Two’s relate through feelings and style," according to Helen Palmer in "The Enneagram In Love & Work."

Twos are attracted to the steadiness and reliability of the One’s. Meanwhile, the One's are attracted to the emotionality of Two’s and the attention they shower on their partner.

Things can take a turn, however, when Ones get too focused on doing things right and communicate their dissatisfaction, which clashes with the Two’s need for approval.

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2. Type 2 (Giver) and Type 5 (Observer)

"Twos go toward people to interact and socialize, while Fives move away to analyze and think," writes Palmer.

"This dynamic can either produce a balanced life in which each demonstrates the integrity of his or her own worldview or it can turn into a tug-of-war in which Two pulls for emotional contact and Five contracts and withdraws."

In other words, if these two types allow their differences to devolved into fights, trouble may arise in their relationship.

3. Type 3 (Performer) and Type 6 (Trooper/Loyalist)

Threes focus on performing and Six's performance anxiety is what makes this an unusual couple. However, the two types can get along quite nicely when they respect each other’s needs.

Threes can honor their need to get to the end result and accommodate Six’s need to discuss feelings that fuel their doubt by scheduling a specific time to discuss things on the Six’s mind.

Six’s can get their need to be heard on emotional matters satisfied by planning discussions during shared activities to reassure the Three’s that talking about emotions don't equate to the interruption of the pleasure of completing tasks.

4. Type 4 (Romantic) and Type 7 (Epicure)

Each has a deep desire to share — Fours from the heart, and Sevens from the mind. This can create balance or result in alienation.

Sevens have an intolerance for negative emotions and Fours like to dive deep emotionally, and can tend to wallow in "negative" feelings.

It's possible for the Seven’s need for things to be interesting and fun to be satisfied when their curiosity is peaked by the depth of their Four partner.

Fours can learn to discern between a genuine need to explore an emotion where resolution is possible, as opposed to just getting stuck in the weeds.

5. Type 8 (Boss) and Type 9 (Peacemaker/Mediator)

This can look like a dominant-compliant couple, but it's actually more like opposite forces of control meeting each other in a showdown.

Eights control their experience by force. Nines control their experience by containing their energy. These tendencies can either complement each other or create an irreparable rift.

On the high side, Nines can show Eights the value of steady presence in the face of intense emotion, while Eights can show Nines the wisdom of their rage.

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In all of these examples, there's always the possibility of the differences creating a balance that unites the couple or the differences breaking them apart.

The main factor in determining which direction the relationship ends up going whether the partners seek to understand each other or not.

If a couple seeks to understand each other and respect each other’s perspectives, needs, and desires, they can always find a way to accommodate each other in a loving way.

However, if judgment prevails instead, division arises and the relationship falls apart.

So, as it turns out, the answer to the question of if your and your partner's Enneagram types are compatible is this: it depends.

It depends on whether you and your partner choose to understand each other and make accommodations that are both loving toward the other and respectful of your own needs at the same time.

You determine your own compatibility.

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Michelle Thompson is a life coach, writer, and Enneagram practitioner dedicated to helping others thrive as individuals and create loving relationships. For more information on how to improve your life and relationships, visit her website.