The Essential Enneagram, Lynette Sheppard
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The Enneagram in Relationships

A Key to Understanding, Fulfillment and Connection

"Relationships. We all got 'em. We all want 'em. What do we do with them?" —Jimmy Buffett, 1993.

"I just don't understand why s/he does that." "No matter what I do, I can't seem to get along with this one individual at work." "Sometimes I really do believe that men are from Mars and women are from Venus!"

The Enneagram personality system can be at its most powerful when applied to our relationships. True understanding begins when we can experience the world view of others in our lives by feeling what reality feels like to them. By shifting our vantage point and by learning how our own personality perceives the world, we can begin to find ways of dramatically improving our relationships. Being in relationship with another personality type is like visiting another culture. In order to work and love well while in this culture, we need to learn the language and customs. In this way, we can begin to honor one another's unique differences and to celebrate our human diversity.

Enneagram in Relationship

What Initially Attracts Us Can Lead To Friction Later

Point One - The Perfectionist

Attention goes to what is right or wrong in a situation (or in a partner); to what needs improving. Life is about continuing to improve toward a set of high internal standards.

Mate may initially love the high moral and ethical ground, detail orientation, dependability, etc. then find mate nitpicky, judgemental and critical, never satisfied. Not fun anymore, there's always more to be done first. May feel that the One is trying to control them when offering suggestions for personal improvement.

Point Two - The Helper or Giver

Attention goes to helping others, giving others what they need, sometimes before they know what they themselves need. To being indispensable. To feeling other's feelings so strongly they may not know their own.

Mate may love the giving, loving empathy of the Two. The strong emotional connection is very attractive, being the center of the Two's attention. Then finds that there may be strings attached, something is expected and no clues as to what it is. "If you loved me, you'd know". Because I don't know. Also Two is sometimes wrong - the mate doesn't need or want what is given. Why are you trying to fix me? I'm not broken. Being the center may feel intrusive rather than desired.

Point Three - The Performer

Attention goes to doing - to achieving and being (actually appearing) successful. Can adjust how they come across to present the image that is wanted. Can identify with the image so much true self is not known.

Mate may love the dedication to work, even the successful image. But may later resent the "always doing, always networking" workaholic mode. Not enough time for relationship. Also the Three will put feelings on back burner, maybe indefinitely. Feelings get in the way of getting the job done. We used to spend time together, now I hardly ever see him/her.

Point Four - the Tragic Romantic

What we used to consider the Artist personality. Attention goes to what is missing in life. Something distant that will make me complete. What is here in front of me isn't quite it. If only.... if only... Deep emotions are the only authentic truth in life. Difficulty with flatness of ordinary life. Intensity, bittersweet melancholy.

Mate may be drawn to the depth and feeling of the Four, to their uniqueness. Later may feel that the Four rejects them when they get too close and then desires them when they pull back and woos them. Also may have difficulty with Four's emotionality - it may seem like too much or like playing the same record too often.

Point Five - The Observer

Attention goes to what do people want from me? How much am I going to be required to put out. Has a profound need for privacy and own space. Prefers observing role at parties, in groups - thinking about things carefully, including feelings.

Mate is often drawn to their self sufficiency and ability to remain detached in the face of chaos. And theirexceptional ability to think things through. May later feel rejected by mate's need for privacy and alone time. May feel hurt by detachment and difficulty accessing and discussing feelings.

Point Six - Devil's Advocate, the Planner

Attention goes to what is threatening or dangerous in the world. This is the planner - who plans for worst case scenario so won't be surprised. Can be fearful or confrontational in face of what is feared or dangerous.

Mate is drawn to the loyalty and to the care of planning. Fascinated by six's imagination. But can later be hurt when the attention to worst case scenario extends to relationship and the six looks for clues to validate case, often ignoring evidence to the contrary. I know you're going to leave me. Negativism can be hard for the mate.

Point Seven - The Epicure, the Optimist

Attention goes to what is pleasurable, in the future. Goes to keeping many options open all the time. Fun loving. Avoidance of pain, emotional discomfort. Mate is initially drawn to Seven's zest for life and adventure, fun. But that can wear thin when seven won't acknowledge difficulties or pain. Seven is eternal escapist. When going gets tough, 7's are out of here. Also may have difficulty committing to one person, needing to keep many options open. Feel trapped with only one.

Point Eight - The Boss

Attention goes to being strong. Strength is how we survive in the world. Controlling of environment and of others sometimes. Cut-to-the-chase people, can be bull in the china shop.

Mate feels protected and safe with eight's strength. Can love the energy and vitality of eight. But the controlling can be hard to live with after a time. Impatience with emotions, inability to show vulnerability can be hard for a partner. Can feel bullied by eight.

Point Nine - The Peacemaker

Attention goes to other people's preferences to detriment of his/her own. Keeps the peace that way. Very mellow, laid back people who accept us just as we are. Can see all points of view, may merge with our preference.

Mate feels totally accepted and loved as is. Feel calmer around nine's peacefulness. But may become irritated if nine doesn't make decisions easily, if s/he just seems to float through life, don't take life seriously enough. Angry if they don't state a preference, if they say "whatever you like".


Lynette Sheppard & Associates

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