Understanding Relationships using the Enneagram


There is a temptation when looking to the Enneagram personality types to assume there must be an ideal Enneagram type for each of us.

In my experience and from the studies made thus far, there is no real evidence for such an idea .

Yes, it is true that one might encounter frequent pairings.

Using the Enneagram as a basis for understanding and resolving relationships can be very insightful. I often coach people who are part of a  dominant type one and type seven pairing, or dominant three with dominant nine. I also encounter dominant nines whose partner is  a dominant eight and other combinations. There are only 49 possible combinations after all.

Whatever type combination I have encountered, there has not been a “perfect match” of type combination. There are great advantages, and predictable pitfalls for any combination.

The quality of a relationship is influenced by the degree to which  each partner is more or less rigid in their ideas of  who they are, and who the other is, in the relationship. This includes our Enneagram personality type!

Our self image, the role we assume and expectations within the relationship will be the foundations of whether or not we experience a good, or an unfulfilling relationship.

Our dominant Enneagram Personality type will influence the roles we play, the expectations, the self image, and much more besides.  And, it is not the only influence.

Different couples seek a variety of ideals in the assessment of what a good relationship might be. Whatever the initial attraction, there is a desire that the relationship withstands whatever challenges arise over time.

The Makings of a Good Relationship

In order to have the relationship we want, it stands to reason that we would seek to enhance whatever relevant skills we have, or develop those we feel are absent.

Couples who have succeeded in staying together in a fulfilling relationship for many years, often report that it required a healthy dose of “work”.  Good communication, patience, listening, compassion, kindness and an ability to open our hearts to each other’s foibles are certainly part of the recipe.

Once we engage in some kind of personal development or in inner work, be it of a spiritual, academic or skill nature, we are embarking on a path of progress towards some kind of improvement, change or transformation.

In my experience, the impact of any shift in consciousness resulting from progressing towards what we desire, or away from what we have, will have a significant impact on the relationship.

Consider the reality of who you take yourself to be in this moment.
Compared this to when you were 15 years old or again at 25 years old. Do you still see the world and people in the same way? Do you still think and act as you did at 25 or 15?

To Think in an Another Way

As we grow into adulthood and start working with others, we become exposed to new cultures and different people’s experiences. We learn to  adapt to their attitudes, ( or not…) which is a shift in consciousness. The resistance to adapt is also a kind of change. When we resist, we are saying NO to our experience.

I am not referring to resisting abuse. We do need to look after ourselves.

We say no when we are holding a particular attitude or belief that cannot allow us to acknowledge another person’s point of view. We can be resisting an activity or new learning, as it challenges our identity.

Understanding our motivations for why we do what we do, helps us to be free of habitual thinking, and allows new possibilities to arise.
The truth is, we change. Invariably our relationships change. They either adapt, or they cease to be.

Embracing change brings a new question; “..changing from what? – to what?”

Acknowledging change, especially in a relationship can be scary and unnerving for some people, especially when there is uncertainty around what the change is going to look like. For others it can be liberating, and for certain personality types, an exciting goal .

It is human to have expectations around our relationship.  They serve us in some way. We look to others to affirm our self image, a particular role, our identity.

When we see with clarity, compassion and a non-judgmental objectivity, what it is that we are holding on to, we don’t have to do anything to make a change.

Change happens as a result of seeing the Truth.
What matters is how we respond or react to the change.

Using the Enneagram In Relationships

The Enneagram symbol is a diagram of perpetual motion. There are insights and maps for how creation and evolution manifest.

The process of change is inherent in the Enneagram. We see how the nine personality types are a poor emulation of the Nine Essential Qualities of True Nature.  Each type is seeking reconnection to True Nature by acting out behaviours and attitudes  driven by desires and fears.   The desire to be seen a particular way creates a fear of being otherwise.

The love we experience in our relationships  deepens the more we connect with our own hearts. Our heart is the portal to True Nature. Without this connection, we make others become objects to supply our narcissistic needs.

Using the Enneagram to reflect, map and be informed, is the basis for deepening our understanding of Self and Other. Such enquiries support our wishes to enjoy richer and more fulfilling relationships.

There is a caveat: As you begin to enquire deeper into your relationships, it is imperative that you foster a Non-Judgmental Compassion within your explorations, as  you may discover some aspects of your relationship are not so healthy for either party.

Remember, there was a good reason for getting into a relationship in the beginning.  The reason may not be so valid now.

This is where the skills and holding of the Teacher / Coach are important. The various Enneagram Institute Workshops and Lessons developed by Russ Hudson and the late Don Richard Riso, are of the highest ethical standards. Enneagram Institute Authorised Teachers are rigorously trained and assessed.

The Enneagram Relationships Workshop is one of the Enneagram Institute Authorised workshops that Grahame Morgan-Watson teaches in the UK and Ireland. Since certifying as an Riso-Hudson certified Enneagram Teacher (Hons.) in 2005 Grahame has delivered this and the other three Authorised Workshops many times to a variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures and spiritual paths.

Grahame is ably assisted by his wife Rosemarie, and together they invite and create a compassionate, safe holding for participants to deepen their understanding of the Enneagram aspects within their relationships.

The Enneagram Relationships Workshop is a two day event. You will learn what we are attracted to for each type, and the trap each type can fall into. You will discover how the Instinctual Variants (subtypes) and the Levels of Development are important factors to consider when understanding your relationships.

The next Enneagram Relationships workshop will be posted on our schedule page. You can read more on the dedicated webpage .

To discuss how Enneagram consultations and coaching with Grahame via Skype or in person, might help you call +44 (0) 1403 713 108 or see the Coaching webpage or email grahame@metame.co.uk

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