The Best Ways To Support Your Romantic Partner, Based On Their Enneagram

mbg Contributor By Julie Nguyen
mbg Contributor
Julie Nguyen is a relationship coach, Enneagram educator, and former matchmaker based in New York. She has a degree in Communication and Public Relations from Purdue University.
Portrait Of Young Couple

Love is mysterious and unpredictable, but can a personality test provide insight into our most intimate relationships?

The Enneagram system seeks to provide information to the ways we communicate and display love. By laying out nine interconnected personality types and the motivations and challenges that characterize them, it can help us understand our partner's inner world and how they interpret their reality. 

The Enneagram and its model for growth call on us to show up as our authentic selves to fully experience genuine connection. Read on to find out the positives and negatives that each Enneagram type brings to a relationship—and how to make sure you're giving your own partner the kind of care and affection they need. 

Type Ones (The Reformer)

An ethical, idealistic, and conscientious partner who cares about doing the right thing.

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Positive traits

Ones are earnest and rooted in pragmatism and integrity. They have a strong moral character and are committed to self-improvement. Dedicated Ones are passionate, disciplined, and structured and will appreciate someone who also backs up their words with intentional action—they'll remember.

Challenge areas

Ones have a harsh inner critic and a strong need to be right, which can be projected onto their partner. Ones are on the quest for perfectionism and, consequently, find it hard to relax. They may take on too many responsibilities, so it's important to initiate rest and relaxation. However, they may feel anxious and guilty about relaxing which can manifest as more criticism and self-blame. To counteract this, help them access natural joy and encourage them to seek peace, instead of perfection. 

Type Twos (The Helper)

A sweet, caring, nurturing partner who can help you hold emotional space.

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Positive traits

Twos are likable, upbeat, and positive. It's easy to be your natural self around them. They have a nonjudgmental attitude that makes all of your parts, especially your unloved ones, feel welcomed and embraced. Energetic Twos are extremely caring and compassionate. They want to support and uplift the people they care about. Twos are naturally in sync with what their partners want and need. 

Challenge areas

They may know what their partner wants, but they don't know what they want. Twos find it hard to state their needs, so they offer their help with implicit expectations of the partner returning the favor. Twos can overidentify with how others see them and overextend their help, an indication of poor boundaries. Since Twos have the tendency to become overly dependent, partners should do their best to remind them to tend to their needs and redirect attention back to themselves instead of others. Twos do best with people who don't take advantage of their naturally generous spirit. 

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Type Threes (The Achiever)

A charming, ambitious, productive partner who knows what they want in life.

Positive traits

Threes are charming and self-assured. They embody the traditional qualities of success in our culture and it can be inspiring to see them set a goal and work to actualize their vision. Their incredible ability to make things happen can be attractive. People are naturally drawn to their natural charisma and high-energy confidence. In relationships, Threes bring their boundless enthusiasm and creativity to the table.

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Challenge areas

Since Threes are so focused on performance and image, they can disconnect from their feelings and get caught up in "doing" their emotions instead of being. Society rewards Threes for their laser-beam focus on work, which is why it's important to support them in creating a healthy work-life balance to include rest and emotional processing. Partners can feel left out of the relationship if Threes get too caught up in their drive to succeed, which may move them away from their authentic self. To reconnect, it's important to show them unconditional love for who they are, not what they do. 

Type Fours (The Individualist)

A self-aware, authentic, expressive partner who is tapped into their feelings.

Positive traits

Fours are artistically inclined and bring an original and innovative flair to their personality. Sensitive Fours are radically honest and aren't afraid to face their emotions, no matter how uncomfortable or dark the feeling is. They honor the full emotional spectrum, and as a result, they have no problem diving into vulnerable topics. Partners can find it freeing to be with someone who is so uniquely creative and emotionally aware. 

Challenge areas

Since Fours are more at home with grief and suffering, they can begin to overly associate with painful feelings and become convinced they are defective in some way because they feel different. Fours may also be attracted to a push-pull pattern since they have fears around abandonment and rejection. Since their moods fluctuate often and they can get carried away with their feelings, partners would do best to serve as an anchor to ground them. 

Type Fives (The Investigator)

An independent, curious, intellectually stimulating partner with a strong respect for boundaries.

Positive traits

Inquisitive Fives want to understand the world, and they want to make sure they have the information and skills to do what they need and want. Because they're highly self-reliant, they need to spend an inordinate amount of alone time thinking before they can move into action. Fives have a vivid mental life and are keenly perceptive. 

They know what they're talking about because they take the time to learn and synthesize information objectively, making them great listeners and advisers to their partners. 

Challenge areas

Fives are head-oriented and can seem slightly removed from their emotions. Their motivation for knowledge can move into hoarding if they're too preoccupied with their interests. Fives feel like they never have enough time or energy, so beware of their scarcity mindset and respect their time alone. Partners can feel wrongly iced-out if Fives need to think about some things. Fives appreciate partners who give them space to figure out how they feel. 

Type Sixes (The Loyalist)

A reliable, dependable, loyal partner who will be there for you through thick and thin.

Positive traits

Responsible Sixes are ardently loyal in their beliefs and their community. They're someone that people can steadfastly count on. Sixes are trustworthy, prepared, thoughtful, and motivated by security. They care deeply about nurturing their connections to their loved ones. Sixes can have a warm presence that feels akin to a safe harbor for their partners to return home to. 

Challenge areas

Sixes are loyal because they are fearful of being abandoned. They can overcompensate in being hypervigilant in forecasting future problems. Cautious Sixes can be skeptical, risk-averse, and insecure, needing constant reassurance since they place faith in other systems and people instead of themselves. As a partner, it's important to stay steady in the face of their fears and concerns so they know they can lean on them for support. Sixes appreciate partners who listen to their anxious thoughts and encourage them to find their own inner guidance. 

Type Sevens (The Enthusiast)

A spontaneous, fun-spirited, joyous partner who can take you to new heights and adventures.

Positive traits

Sevens are sparkly, adventurous, and always on the go; there's something about their exciting energy that you can't resist getting swept up in. Their curiosity makes them a multifaceted and lively individual. Agile Sevens make fun partners, pushing people out of their comfort zone and bringing possibility and enjoyment to every situation. Because of their quick mind and adaptability, they're ready to roll with the punches and try something new. 

Challenge areas

Future-oriented Sevens have a full schedule for a reason. They're fleeing from possible negative emotions so they search for distraction to avoid being present and still. They prefer to jump into decisions, making them impulsive and restless. Because they're looking for the next best thing, they may feel claustrophobic in a relationship and have trouble committing to anything. Sevens don't do well with clinginess, so partners should have a full life too. Partners should help Sevens explore their repressed emotions and slow down to smell the roses. 

Type Eights (The Challenger)

A strong, determined, assertive partner who moves in the world with agency and directness.

Positive traits

Assertive Eights are big personalities who enjoy taking on challenges. They can be seen as the alphas of the Enneagram since they have the physical and psychological presence to match their determined nature. They're natural, strong leaders who fight for the underdog and aren't afraid of confrontation. If they're close to you, an unexpected softness and childlike playfulness can emerge in intimacy. 

Challenge areas

Because of their aggressiveness and take-charge nature, Eights can inadvertently seem too domineering if they don't take the time to listen to people. If they aren't in touch with their vulnerable side, they may be fearful of being controlled by others and wall off their emotions. Eights may be drawn to conflict and intensity, so it's important to meet them at their level and stand up for themselves. Eights have trouble connecting to their heart so they will value partners who can create a safe space for them to access their emotions and use straightforward, direct communication. 

Type Nines (The Peacemaker)

A reassuring, peaceful, accepting partner who adds a gentle presence to the relationship.

Positive traits

Trusting Nines are considered the crown of the Enneagram because they're located at the top of the symbol, allowing them to see all perspectives in a situation. Nines have a warm and harmonious aura, which is attributed to their happy-go-lucky nature. Nines are extraordinarily patient, and partners will feel deeply acknowledged in the relationship. Secure Nines care about maintaining internal/external peace and smoothing tension through empathy. 

Challenge areas

Nines can be too accommodating, which can lead to inertia in many aspects of their life, primarily in approaching conflict or making certain decisions. Because they go with the flow, they can slip into autopilot with their habits and move through life without much impact on their environment. If they become resentful of not speaking up, they can become passive-aggressive. Nines do well with partners who invite them to step forward in their own life and empower them to find their voice so they can state their opinions. 

The bottom line.

The Enneagram is an invitation to engage with the bigger picture, instead of only viewing life through the narrow scope of our own experience. By celebrating each other's differences and acknowledging the beauty in our unique paths, we can demonstrate love and show up for others in a meaningful way.

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