Having practiced with the Enneagram for over 20 years, I have observed which Enneagram types are naturally attracted to one another and which work well together. While I focus on using the Enneagram as a tool for change management and work team effectiveness, I can’t help but notice type compatibility spills over into our personal lives, among friends, family and acquaintances. The compatibility patterns persist whether at work or not. Here are some of my observations about Enneagram compatibility with romantic partners.
You Complete Me
While using the Enneagram as a problem-solving tool as I describe in chapter 2 of Teamwork 9.0, I make the point that each type can get stuck in the respective step in problem solving. In other words, Type 1 gets stuck in Step 1, Type 2 gets stuck in Step 2, and so on. To get unstuck, it is helpful to cooperate with someone whose type is the next number higher than you own. For instance, I am Type 6, and when I need to get people enthused about an idea or plan that I have, I work with a Type 7 who is great at helping me with that.
In romantic relationships, I have found that these adjacent pairs also form compatible romantic partners. I can’t help but notice that there appears to be a gender component associated with these pairs. I find that women of Type X seem to be attracted to men of Type X+1. Case in point, my wife is Type 5, and I am Type 6. My mother is Type 6, and my father is Type 7. Our neighbors are a Type 7 (woman)—Type 8 (man) pair. I know examples of Type 8 women with Type 9 men, Type 9 women with Type 1 men, and so on. In my monthly Enneagram Studies workshop, a Type 2 woman and Type 3 man couple as well as a Type 3 woman and Type 4 man couple attend frequently. If the Enneagram dynamic of the next higher type is one of the hardest for any type to access, then the X, X+1 combination forms a complementary pair that works well in romantic partnerships and occurs frequently in practice.
The Harmony Triads, popularized by Dr. David Daniels, are triple combinations of Types 1-4-7, 2-5-8 and 3-6-9. I find that members of these triads often coalesce in the workplace to form teams; so much so that in chapter 7 of Teamwork 9.0 I call these groups the Work Team Triads. I find that members of these triads often form compatible romantic partnerships as well. I frequently see Type 1 women with Type 7 men; Type 8 women with either Type 2 or Type 5 men; and all combinations of Type 3, 6 and 9 men and women. It is a safe bet that if you are with someone who is a member of your Harmony Triad, you will get along well. I developed a hypothesis for the biological reason why these combinations work well together—you can find details in Teamwork 9.0 chapter 7.
Other Enneagram Compatibility Pairs
Other romantic pairs I have frequently observed are the Type 4 woman with a Type 8 man, and the Type 8 woman with the Type 6 man. Type 1s pair with Type 5s in either gender combination. Even same-type pairs can be compatible, like two Type 9s, two Type 1s, or two Type 5s—birds of feather flock together!
Another interesting pair I know is a Type 1 woman with a Type 8 man. I suspect that the success of this combination may be related to the X, X+1 pairing. As the Type 1 woman moves to integration her behaviors resemble the 7 which is one number lower than the Type 8 man. When the Type 8 man moves to integration, he behaves like a Type 2, which is one number higher than the Type 1 woman. Even when both are in their insecure states, the woman moves to Type 4 and the man moves to Type 5, again another X, X+1 combination.
Ups and Downs
No combination or Enneagram types forms a perfect pair, and every relationship will have its ups and downs. The Enneagram gives us clues about what’s important to your partner’s type and how to adapt your own type to get along with your partner. The Enneagram also gives us clues about which combinations form complementary pairs like the X, X+1 pairs and the pairs within the Harmony triads.
What Enneagram types do you feel most compatible with, both in your personal and professional life? How have you used the Enneagram to improve your relationships? Have you used the Enneagram to identify a compatible romantic partner?
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