Can The Enneagram Help Me Find My Perfect Match?
Even in a business context, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “What would be a compatible Enneagram Type for my Type?” Love relationships confound the best of us and no one seems to have the secret sauce to produce that ideal relationship.
People are willing to spend quantities of money on therapy, books, dating sites that sort compatibility, workshops that promise to help you better understand and untangle relationships to find the perfect mate.
Relationships occupy a huge part of our time, focus and attention. They remain one of life’s great mysteries.
Can the Enneagram help? “Is there a most compatible Type for me?” you ask.
Yes, the Enneagram can help, and “no” in my experience there is no perfect match for each Type. If you go by Harville Hendrix’s theory, we unconsciously choose mates to help us heal childhood wounds with one or both of our parents (or caregivers).
We choose mates for other reasons as well …
- We choose them because they are easy and familiar.
- We choose them because we have something to learn from the other Type.
- We choose them because we have an underdeveloped part of us that is crying out to grow and evolve.
- We choose our complement.
Another factor that affects who we choose and attract may have something to do with our stage of development in life. One woman I know (Type 6, Loyal Skeptic) was married to a Type 9, Peacemaker. Her second husband was a Type 8, Boss. I also know a Type 8 whose third marriage was to aType 8.
I find people often choose Types that are one of their Enneagram Type’s connection points. For instance, I see many 6/9, 7/1, 2/8 Type pairings. There is something we need to learn from our two connecting points.
Additionally, the more outwardly confident, assertive Types (3,7,8) and the more socially withdrawn Types 4/5/9 (The Hornevian Types ala Karen Horney) magnetize one another.
Let’s look at an example of a Type pairing that does not fall under any of the aforementioned qualifiers, yet I have encountered several of these pairs in love and business relationships (excerpt from the section Dynamics and Distinctions in my book InsideOut Enneagram):
Type 6 The Loyal Skeptic and and Type 8 The Boss
Type 6s like to be protected and feel safe, and Type 8s like to protect. Type 6 can be very loyal, and Type 8 demands loyalty. Both Types are very active and busy. Type 8s have a more focused and intentional way of being active, while Type 6s keep busy trying to allay their own anxiety. Both can accomplish a great deal when they work in tandem.
As long as Type 6s are willing to follow Type 8s’ lead, the two can make a great team. Type 8s are big risk takers, and Type 6s will do what it takes to help Type 8s in their endeavors, all the while warning about what could go wrong. Type 6s have ideas but fear taking the necessary risks to make them a reality. When Type 6s know that Type 8s are standing there, ready to catch them if they fall, Type 6s feel safe taking risks.
Type 8s are impulsive and act before fully thinking things through and weighing the potential consequences. Type 6s can be very helpful to Type 8s by looking at worst-case scenarios and potential pitfalls, as well as creating back-up plans. Type 8s are full steam ahead, and Type 6s pay attention to the dangerous creatures lurking below that can trip up the best-laid plans of Type 8s. Type 6s are skilled at preparing for eventualities that may come. Because Type 8s are very direct and clear about who they are, where they stand, and what they want, they tend to build trust with Type 6s quickly.
Type 8s can learn to pay more attention to the potential downsides of their actions and plans, and to manage to them. Type 6s are gifted at making plans, preparation, and research, and bring intellectual rigor. If Type 8s don’t choose to develop those abilities, they will value Type 6s’ contribution to their endeavors.
Type 6s’ areas for growth include self-confidence, the courage to take action on their ideas, and being less risk adverse—all qualities that Type 8s have in spades. Type 8s trust their gut instincts, and while Type 6s may be aware of their instincts, the voices of self-doubt and “should” usually win. Type 8s have something to teach Type 6s about listening to, trusting, and acting on their instincts. Type 6s can teach Type 8s about humility, to slow down and look at the potential consequences of their actions.
In order to individuate, as Carl Jung called it we begin to develop these underdeveloped parts of ourselves rather than believe we can get safety, protection, acceptance, focus, discipline, containment, vitality, loyalty, trust, etc., from someone else. Ultimately, we can provide these things for ourselves and become more whole.
The bottom line: we can partner with any Type. Critical in all of this is to remember your reactions are 100% about you. Your partner is a wonderful mirror for you to see yourself more clearly, if you are willing to look.