Whether you’re single and dating, in a rocky situationship, or you’ve been happily married for years, there is always room for improvement. Enter: the Enneagram, a system of nine different personality types that helps us understand how different people view the world, manage their emotions, and interact with one another. The secret to enhancing your relationships with other people is developing a better understanding of yourself. The Enneagram system can teach us a lot about ourselves, from what motivates us and what makes us feel worthy, to what could potentially trigger or challenge us.
By opening us up to our own strengths (and potential limitations), learning our Enneagram type can help us develop a better sense of what we need and what we have to offer, and in turn, can help us show up as our absolute fullest self for our loved ones. TL;DR: learn even a little bit about your Enneagram type, and you’ll be armed and ready to upgrade your love life.
As you learn more about yourself, it is also important to learn about your partner’s type, since it may be vastly different from yours. You probably already have a pretty good idea of how different you and your partner are, but tapping into this system will help pull down the curtain and better understand where these differences (or similarities) are rooted. While there are some types that might be more compatible than others, all types can work together–but only if you are committed to learning about each other and always working to improve your communication. To get you started, I looked to The Enneagram System for advice for each of the nine Enneagram types.
Type ones are detail-oriented, rational, and no-nonsense. They tend to have strong values and will therefore be attracted to people who meet these standards and who can communicate openly and honestly. They are not going to waste their time on anyone who is unclear about their intentions. If you’re a type one, set your boundaries early on or you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. Know what you are looking for and what your deal-breakers are. If you’re dating a type one, be open about your intentions and don’t try to beat around the bush. If you are not looking for something serious, say that from the start. If you are looking for a relationship, let your type-one partner know that they can rely on you, and create a space where you can both show up as your authentic selves.
Make time for you
Type twos can be people-pleasers. They may be attracted to people who need to be “saved,” or drawn to drama or conflict that they feel they can solve. It’s crucial that type twos are making time for themselves and not pouring everything they have into the people around them. As the saying goes, you must put on your own life vest first. Even though you thrive off helping and giving, you’ll really light up when you find a relationship that has a healthy balance of give and take. If you are dating a type two, encourage them to practice self-care. Accept their help, as it does fill them up to help other people, but don’t forget that it is not easy for them to ask for help in return.
Prioritize your relationships over your work
Type threes are high achievers; they have ambitious goals and, along with being hardworking and driven, they are typically drawn to spontaneity in their relationships. Because of their goal-getter mindset, they can often find themselves disconnected from the present moment, which can strain their relationships. Have you ever been with someone who seems to be married to their work? There’s a good chance they’re a type three.
If you are a type three, the best thing you can do for your love life is to discover who you are outside of your job. Developing a true understanding of yourself will help you attract a partner who makes you feel seen and who loves you for who you are. Be mindful of your work-life balance and make sure you are giving your love life the attention it deserves. If you are dating a type three, be supportive of their goals. Type threes will pair well with someone who will champion their success but who sees them for who they are outside of their work and ambitions too.
Type fours are extremely independent, and they tend to follow their heart rather than their head. In their love lives, they are true romantics and tend to believe that there is a perfect love out there, which could make it difficult for them to settle down. If you are a type four, look for a partner who is as self-aware as you are. Tap into your strengths by encouraging healthy communication in your relationships. You are in touch with your emotions, so express them to your partner and cultivate an environment where they can do the same. If you are dating a type four, you might feel flooded by their emotions. Instead of letting this overwhelm you, embrace the fact that you can fully express yourself with them.
Put yourself out there
Alternatively, type fives can have a tougher time tapping into their emotions and tend to be much more private. Opening up does not come easily to them, but if you are looking for an intellectually stimulating conversation, type fives are for you. They are also great listeners and excellent at respecting boundaries. If you are a type five, you may find it difficult to put yourself out there. If you’re single, sign up for a dating app and challenge yourself to spark conversations with new people. If you are in a relationship, do not feel guilty taking time for yourself. Prioritizing alone time is crucial for fives.
If you are dating a type five, respect the fact that they will need a little extra time alone. If they seem removed from their emotions, ask them how they are feeling—do not try to guess how they feel, and do not take their need for space personally. While it may take time for them to open up to you, creating a space where they feel comfortable will give help you grow an even deeper connection long term.
Work on trust
Type sixes are–you guessed it–incredibly loyal. In turn, they need a partner who is trustworthy, secure, and authentic. Because security is so important to them, they can get anxious if they feel out of place or uncertain about their partner’s feelings. If you are a type six, do not let your insecurities get in the way of your love life. In order to create a healthy relationship, you need to be able to put trust in other people. At the same time, do not waste your time on someone who makes you feel overly anxious. Seek out relationships with people who make you feel safe, and then trust them. If you are dating a type six, trust is key for them. If you do break their trust, it is very unlikely that you will be forgiven. Be clear about your intentions from the start, and be patient if they need a little extra assurance.
Try something new
Type sevens are exciting, adventurous, and maybe a little impulsive. Because of their upbeat personalities, they tend to not address negative emotions and tend to push them down instead of dealing with them. They need a partner who will embrace their spontaneity but also help them tap into all their emotions (even the not-so-fun ones). If you are a type seven, bring adventure to your love life. Do you feel bored when someone suggests dinner and drinks for a first date? Suggest something different! If they’re not into trying new things, they probably aren’t the one for you anyway.
If you are in a relationship, switch up your date nights and try new things together to keep up the sense of adventure. Also, make sure your partner knows they can bring up negative emotions and that you’ll be there for them in the present moment too. If you are dating a type seven, get ready to embrace your inner child. You’ll need to be up for a lot of play and excitement, but you also will probably need to be the one to help ground your partner in the present. Encourage them not to bottle up their emotions to avoid eventual larger arguments.
Be a better listener
Type eights are grounded in confidence, and they are natural leaders. Because of their assertive nature, they can sometimes come off as aggressive. If you are a type eight, you might find yourself dominating most of the conversations in your relationship or on dates. When out on the first date with someone new, make sure you are giving them space to contribute equally to the conversation. If you are in a relationship, do not make your partner’s decisions for them. Practice active listening, and wait until they have fully expressed themselves before responding.
If you are dating a type eight, don’t take their directness personally. Get comfortable standing your ground and maintaining a strong voice in the relationship. Showing them that you are equally strong and able to mirror the support they give you will encourage them to relax and show you their softer sides as well.
Speak up about what you want
Type nines are naturally calm and relatable, making them a great partner for any type. But since nines are accepting in nature and like to avoid conflict, it can be easy for them to lose themselves in a relationship. If you are a type nine, you are likely very easy-going and tend to go with the flow in your romantic relationships. Do you find yourself always watching what your partner wants to watch or eating the meals they are craving? In order to have a healthier relationship, make it a point to speak up and make your own decisions, too. Doing so will help strengthen your bond and allow your partner to get to know you on an even deeper level.
If you are dating a type nine, be careful not to accidentally steamroll them. Because they are so easy-going, you may not even notice that the relationship is one-sided. Directness does not come naturally to them, so make sure that you are asking for their opinions when you are making decisions (even as simple as what to watch or where to eat).