Which Enneagram Types Go Well Together In Relationships?
The Enneagram is a system made up of nine interconnected personality types that dig into our core motivations, fears, and beliefs, offering a kaleidoscopic, forensic look into the behavior and unconscious patterns that drive our decision-making. Naturally, many people become curious about whether certain Enneagram types pair well. Here's everything you need to know about Enneagram compatibility.
Enneagram type compatibility theory.
Because of the Enneagram system's hyper-attunement to our limitations, triggers, and pitfalls, knowing your Enneagram type can help you understand how to compassionately self-manage and relate to other types. Doing Enneagram work pulls back the curtain on the inner workings of your romantic partnership and recommends a path for growth.
All of the Enneagram types are driven by their own distinct motivations, leading them to have different priorities in a relationship. "Most couples probably have at least a surface-level understanding of their differences and similarities before discovering the Enneagram, but the Enneagram offers a common language to discuss these tendencies," Stephanie Barron Hall, certified Enneagram coach and author of The Enneagram in Love: A Roadmap for Building and Strengthening Romantic Relationships, tells mbg. "It allows us to stop ascribing our motivations to our partner's behavior."
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By facilitating the cultivation of empathy for each other's point of view, the Enneagram provides a framework to forge closer connections and forecast potential issues down the road. "Often, in relationships, we know when things aren't working well, but we just can't figure out why," Hall says. "The Enneagram can offer more insight into what is and isn't working so that couples can work together to support, understand, and love each other better."
Does Enneagram compatibility really matter?
"There is no such thing as a perfect Enneagram pairing," therapist Michael Shahan, LMFT, tells mbg. "Healthy people make healthy relationships."
Some research has shown Enneagram types don't affect marital satisfaction significantly. That said, there are some trends in terms of which types more commonly tend to end up together and perhaps certain traits to look for in a partner based on your type.
"Because the Enneagram is so focused on underlying motivation and not on outer behavior, all types can end up working well together," Hall explains. "The point of using the Enneagram for relationships is not to figure out who you can rule out of the dating pool but to learn how to use this tool as a path toward growth and deeper connection."
The most common Enneagram couples.
To find common Enneagram pairings below, we consulted the research from Hall's The Enneagram in Love and Helen Palmer's book The Enneagram in Love & Work. Hall notes that her research indicated that some relationship combinations are more common, though this does not necessarily make them more compatible.
Type Ones commonly pair well with Twos, Sevens.
Type Ones are known as the Reformers of the Enneagram. Dedicated and perfectionistic, Ones are detail-oriented, conscientious individuals who have high standards. Ones are drawn to those who can help them lighten up and find beauty in the imperfect moments of life.
In a One-Two partnership, since task-oriented Ones can feel rigid, the heart-forward and attentive Two can bring warmth to the Ones' pursuit of integrity and encourage them to soften and relax. Likewise, Ones bring consistency and security to Twos, who struggle with abandonment issues. (Ones and Twos are also Enneagram wings, which means they may have some overlapping traits.)
In a One-Seven partnership, this is considered a complementary relationship since they share an Enneagram line. Ones are attracted to their adventurous, irreverent spirit. Joyful Sevens can remind the generally composed, hardworking One to let loose and, most importantly, not feel guilty about having fun. Ones infuse Sevens with a much-needed sense of purpose and direction, grounding the flighty Seven.
Type Twos commonly pair well with Threes, Eights.
Type Twos are known as the Helpers of the Enneagram. Compassionate and nurturing, this self-sacrificing type can give and give to their partner until they are empty. Since Twos have a problem vocalizing their needs, it's vital they date someone who can reciprocate intimacy and won't take advantage of their generosity.
In a Two-Three partnership, they share similar interests, energy levels, and charisma, making this a high-energy match. The charming Threes can galvanize the Twos to reach their potential instead of focusing on others, and Twos offer unconditional approval to their Three partner, who can struggle with overidentifying with their work persona instead of their authentic self.
In a Two-Eight partnership, there are many similarities since they share an Enneagram line. Twos like the strength and conviction of the passionate Eight who reminds Twos to step into their power. Alternatively, Twos help Eights let down their walls to embrace their inner softy and feel comfortable showing more affection.
Type Threes commonly pair well with Nines.
Type Threes are known as the Achievers of the Enneagram. Driven, ambitious, persuasive, Threes are interested in excellence, crushing their goals, and reaching their ideal level of success. However, their image-oriented personality can hinder vulnerability and authenticity.
In a Three-Nine partnership, the effacing Nines can support the Threes' ambitions and, most importantly, innately accept them for who they are, not what they can do. This stability allows Threes to connect to their emotions. Likewise, Threes help the happy-go-lucky Nine move toward the spotlight and find respect and value in their own personhood.
Type Fours commonly pair well with Fives, Nines.
Type Fours are known as the Individualists of the Enneagram. Self-aware, artistically inclined, and introspective, the sensitive Fours are drawn to authenticity and intensity. Fours tend to get swept away in their daydreams and feelings, which can unmoor them from reality and leave them seeking heightened emotional states.
In a Four-Five partnership, the emotionally expressive Fours can rely on the straightforward, steady Five to say what they mean and mean what they say. The Fives' logical nature can act as an anchor to the Fours, who can feel turbulent. Fours admire that Fives are not afraid to explore the depths of emotionality and together; they can have an intense and stimulating connection.
In a Four-Nine partnership, Fours bring passion and intensity to the mellow Nines. Nines are naturally nonjudgmental and welcoming to all emotions, which helps the Four feel safe.
Type Fives commonly pair well with Ones, Twos.
Type Fives are known as the Investigators of the Enneagram. Inquisitive, objective, and analytical, Fives are private, intellectual types who love learning and acquiring new knowledge. Because they are mentally focused and can live in their head, it can take Fives a longer time to process emotions and express intimacy, which can come off as detached.
In a Five-One partnership, the Fives find value in the Ones' independence, curiosity, and similar mutual interests. Likewise, the Ones appreciate Fives' lack of judgment and steadiness which gives them comfort. The partnership can build a strong foundation of dependability and trust.
In a Five-Two partnership, this is a true meeting of opposites. The Fives' objectivity and strong boundaries are attractive to porous Twos, who have trouble stating boundaries. The independent Fives crave alone time and don't always want the Twos to overextend and help, which pushes Twos to take care of themselves. In return, the people-oriented Two can add cozy domesticity and a bustling life into the dynamic.
Type Sixes commonly pair well with Nines.
Type Sixes are known as the Loyalists of the Enneagram. Committed and trustworthy, the security-oriented Sixes can be anxious and highly suspicious, placing value in systems and institutions to feel safe. They benefit from relationships that are calm and stable.
In a Six-Nine partnership, this is a complementary and solid pairing. The accommodating Nines have a generally peaceful and calm presence, which soothes the Sixes' perpetual doubts. In return, the Sixes bring unquestioned loyalty and predictability to the mix, while animating the Nines to come forward and engage with life.
Type Sevens commonly pair well with Nines.
Type Sevens are known as the Enthusiasts of the Enneagram. Considered the jack-of-all-trades, the playful and exuberant Sevens want their life to resemble an exciting adventure, jam-packed with plans and activities. However, the Sevens are future-oriented because they are fearful of feeling the anxiety in the current moment, which can make them flighty and impulsive.
In a Seven-Nine partnership, the free-spirited Sevens and agreeable Nines are an upbeat couple with a sunny, positive disposition. Energetic Sevens can add dynamism to the relationship, while Nines can help the Sevens slow down and enjoy the present moment.
Type Eights commonly pair well with Nines.
Type Eights are known as the Challengers of the Enneagram. Powerful and self-confident, the authoritative Eights dominate their reality and express their love through protection and strength. Because they don't back away from confrontation, they can come across as forceful and overly aggressive.
In an Eight-Nine partnership, Eights exude dazzling high energy and competence, which can attract Nines, who tend to merge with strong personalities. Nines admire the Eights' ability to take on challenges, while Eights find solace in the Nines' calm energy.
Type Nines commonly pair well with Ones, Twos.
Type Nines are known as the Peacemakers in the Enneagram. Reassuring and harmonious, Nines are supportive to a fault, their conflict-averse nature may cause them to minimize and simplify problems. Nines can become too comfortable, leading to stubbornness and an unwillingness to assert themselves.
In a Nine-One partnership, Ones hugely benefit from the easygoing nature of the Nine. Ones suffer from an intense inner critic, and the gentle, agreeable Nine can reduce their anxiety about always having to be right. Ones can impart structure and clarity to the peaceful Nine.
In a Nine-Two partnership, both types can feel similar in how they interact and react in the world. The good-natured Nines value the Two for who they are, not what they can give. Twos are focused on the Nines, which helps them set an agenda and take an active role in their life.
Do same-type pairings work?
Yes! Same-type pairings can make a beautiful partnership. "Sometimes deep similarity can be comforting or validating, and when couples find that in each other, it can work really well," Hall explains.
While Hall observes that same-type pairings can be less common than other pairings, that might have to do with the fact that "many of us tend to find that people who are too similar to us get on our nerves."
During his couples' counseling work, Shahan has noticed that polarized couples, i.e., total opposites, can be drawn to each other precisely because of their differences. "It can be attractive to teach and learn from each other. Especially if you're occupying an extreme side of the spectrum in some way, you can help pull each other to the middle to find balance."
Does gender affect which types are compatible?
The Enneagram personality descriptions were designed for universal application since no type is inherently masculine or feminine. However, some evidence studying married couples suggests that societal stereotypes and varying cultures can express certain gendered expectations, to the types that can influence their style of relating.
"Some examples of this would be males who embody the nurturing, caring energy of a Two, females who are energetically dominating and move around the world as an Eight, or female Fives, who can seem distant and cut off from their emotions. This can create a lot of shame for them growing up and being told they are supposed to be a certain way," says Shahan.
According to one study that collected data from 457 couples, gender can make a difference when it comes to the frequency of the combinations with "men and women choosing very different personalities for their mates."
The bottom line.
"Self-awareness comes with self-compassion. If you are not self-aware, then your personality patterns are running the show. By knowing your Enneagram number, you understand what's driving you," says Shahan. "The Enneagram is another way of making the covert overt."
It's impossible to cite one Enneagram type as good, bad, easy, or more difficult than the others (this is a common misconception about the Enneagram) because each person brings their own temperament, upbringing, and unique experiences to the table. Type compatibility is highly dependent on your and your partner's psychological maturity, which is the determining factor of the well-being of the relationship.
The Enneagram lays out a map to examine the themes and limitations that may be a part of the relationship. Since the perfect Enneagram compatibility pairings don't exist, it's up to you and your partner to put in the time and effort to achieve balance and find greater understanding.