Notes: These excerpts were taken from Helen Palmer's book "The Enneagram In Work And Love". Descriptions are available for type pairings 1-3, 1-6, 1-9, 2-5, 3-4, 3-9, 3-5, 4-7, 5-7, and 6-8.
One with Three: A Perfectionist-Performer Couple
This pair is energetically well matched. They are both active, they both focus on status and social image, and both find their identity through work. Activity is a natural meeting place. They both tend to like sports and exercise, family events, projects for the house. Valuing productivity, each can take pride in the others efforts and success, particularly professional interests. This couple really profits from a weekend away, because relating through activities easily slides into the kind of compulsive doing that blocks out intimacy and feelings. Ones relate by reviewing the day: "Listen to what happened to me today: or "I had this great conversation at lunch." Threes, however, relate to results. Once the job's over, they would rather move on than keep a topic going for its contact value.
Both types are very concerned about what other people think, but they act out that preoccupation in different ways. Ones compare themselves with other people and are scrupulous about the difference between an actual accomplishment and an impressive image. They judge themselves against the highest standards of success and pride themselves in not being taken in by a shallow pose. Ones rarely puff out their image, whereas Threes project an exciting public facade. Threes' public self-presentation can be a source of irritation. Ones will ask, "Is this honest or deliberate deception?" Threes want to look good to people, while Ones want to look right.
Playing to the crowd can look like falsification to Ones and brings up fears about possible dishonesty in other areas of the relationship. Ones are purists. They want absolute honesty, which grates against Threes' deceptive public persona. Meanwhile Performers, convinced that image is a way to earn love, may keep looking for the right way to impress their Perfectionist mates.
Threes retreat when image is attacked, and Ones pursue when they're angry. Anger is liberating to Ones, and they will put the focus of their anger on the table, whether Threes like it or not. If Performers retreat, Perfectionists will bring them back to the table. If Threes can't deal with the image issue, Ones will pick a fight about chores. The peril for this couple shows Three unable to engage in self-reflection and One in angry pursuit. Threes can avert this peril by seeing themselves as 50 percent of the problem and acknowledging that some anger may be appropriate.
Conflicts are best resolved when Ones stay focused on a single area of difficulty. An argument need not become the spark for other resentments. Threes dislike "negative" emotions and generally don't engage in self-reflection unless they can see the point of it all. What matters to Threes is a workable solution that allows them to move on. Threes will come to the table to resolve a problem, but they dislike having the discussion spread, especially to sins of the past.
In a fight Ones have total grievance recall. They think, "You did it once and you might do it again. Have you really changed?" But past grievances are anathema to Threes. "OK, I admitted I was wrong. I paid my dues. Now why can't you forgive and forget?" It helps when Threes can deal with the early signals of Ones' anger while it's still attached to a specific issue. It is not productive for Threes to evade a confrontation by pleading work commitments. Discussions have to be put on the schedule. It also helps if Ones can remember that Threes slip easily into image and that social facades may be just a different way of meeting the world rather than telling a lie.
One with Six: A Perfectionist-Trooper Couple
Initial attractions often involve a shared vision that requires hard work in order to become a reality. The couple bonds through effort and a kinship of ideals. Sixes are identified with underdog causes, which coincides with Ones' dedication to perfection. Joined by a similar worldview, and prepared for adversity, the One-Six couple is often dedicated to a dream.
Both types can be perceived as negative thinkers. Ones are preoccupied with error, and Sixes are focused on doubt. But precisely because they anticipate difficulty, they also see the beauty of the human dilemma and the creativity that springs from pain. They understand the importance of asking hard questions and the courage of daring to try. Both types have an appealing willingness to hang in during troubled times. The attendant effort produces unusual levels of trust. Each sees the other's high intentions and each see the other's fear of success.
One-Six couples report both a deep affinity and periodic standoffs caused by mutual projection. Both feel guilty if they can't perform well, and both procrastinate. One is afraid to make a mistake, and Six doubts success. The climate is ripe for mutual projection. "Why don't things move faster?" "Look how he keeps stalling." "Is this deliberate?" "Why can't she decide?" The partners are afraid to argue. Anger frightens Sixes, and Ones think anger is wrong.
Without a reality check, either partner can become paralyzed by inner worry and doubt. A complicated web of unacknowledged feelings can develop. One sees Six as holding out, and Six feels blamed because what gets done is never good enough. One is likely to take the superior stance: "I'm right; and it's true, you aren't good enough." Secure in their own moral superiority, Ones can alienate Sixes by acting "better than". The Six may be quite willing to look bad as a repulsion technique. The Trooper hopes that the Perfectionist will leave in disgust, thereby providing a guilt-free way to end the relationship.
It helps to nip projection in the bud, before losing site of a partner's good intentions. A good talk reduces projection. It's such a simple strategy, but very difficult to implement. From time to time each will see the other as "causing" the problem. Sixes fear their own aggression, and Ones deny anger because they think it's wrong; consequently irritation can boil over without warning. The answer for this couple lies in disclosure so that projection never takes hold.
One with Nine: A Perfectionist-Mediator Couple
These two can look remarkably alike. Ones and Nines have so many traits in common that they are bracketed in the same category in some psychological systems. They are both anger types that repress their anger, and they are both obsessive, which means that they ruminate about decisions for a long time before making a move. Nines tend to see a decision from many points of view, and Ones worry about error. Needless to say, unless the couple stays on a structured track, important decisions will be slow in coming. There may be a conspiracy to postpone difficulty until later. It's just easier to wait. Ones become preoccupied with details, and Nines wait for someone else to initiate. This couple wants life to be peaceful and comfortable. Both like the security of a household and become fused in a family routine. Mediators are usually agreeable and accepting, which reduces Ones' anxiety about being right. In return, Nines find structure in a Perfectionist's "correct" worldview.
The difference between the pair is evident when action is called for. Ones go into fast forward when they're committed, while Nines can sit on the fence even when they agree. Ones can jump-start the couple into action. Ones' conviction creates a spearhead that forces Nines to take a position, but if Ones make "what out to be done" the priority, Nines will be thinking: "This is someone else's idea." Nines in retreat can look scattered and stubborn, Ones push hard for what "we should be doing," while Nines are still waiting for a priority to appear. Nines in distress go to field focus, where choosing is hard. No single choice stands out as significant, all the options seem the same. Pursuing Ones want answers: "Be explicit. What do you want? Explain yourself." Under fire, Nines vague-out and go numb. There may be bitter fights about very small matters, because small fights are vents for distress. Any show of anger is healthy for this couple; with anger a position comes forth. People know exactly what they don't want when they're angry. "Not that" eliminates an option and puts Nines and Ones closer to a final decision.
It helps when Mediators can see the good intentions in One-like anger, and it helps when Perfectionists see that anger won't work. You can't push Nines into commitment, but they will merge and join with a loved one's needs.
Two with Five: A Giver-Observer Couple
This is definitely an attraction of opposites. Five is the most contracted Enneagram type, and Two is the most extended towards others. Twos are attracted to the self-possession and quiet of Fives. Emotional detachment is the antithesis of the big feelings that are characteristic of Givers.
Fives exude a sense of quiet and interiority that feels restful and steady. It's as if they grant others permission to take interior solitude seriously. Givers sense that there is "someone at home" who considers and decides for themselves rather than finding identity by altering in order to placate the needs of others. Observers are free to go their own way, independently of the wishes of others. Most precious of all to the relationship-bound Two, emotional detachment produces relative immunity from what other people think.
The attraction from the Five side will be to the open-hearted generosity that Twos often display. Twos' willingness to engage with life and activity is compelling to aversive people. The common configuration shows Two as the couple's socialite. It may seem that Two speaks for the couple at parties and gatherings, while the more contained and cerebral Five waits for the conversation to turn to a topic of intellectual interest. It is definitely easier to spend a casual afternoon with the couple than alone with the Five, unless you happen to share a similar interest. If your interests coincide with the Five's, the afternoon may be full of information, but the conversation will rarely stray from the common interest that you share.
Twos and Fives can look like they're from different species. The Two is one of those people who "go out" and "try things" and who enjoy parties filled with new faces. Someone who, strangely, seems to enjoy small talk and who claims that feelings are a useful source of information. The couple operates from startling different perspectives. Twos go toward people to interact and socialize, while Fives move away to analyze and think. This dynamic can either produce a balanced life in which each demonstrates the integrity of his or her own worldview or it can turn into a tug-of-war in which Two pulls for emotional contact and Five contracts and withdraws.
If the separation solidifies, each will see the other as "the case." The Two will see withdrawal and a minimalist lifestyle as demonstrations of emotional deprivation and need. Fueled by the need to find identity by meeting others' needs, Twos are attracted to the challenge of overcoming obstacles to a relationship. The challenge with Fives is obvious-to open someone's feelings who is set against the importance of emotion. Twos win big if they can get Fives to respond. The Five may not agree that detachment equals deprivation. The counterargument to the notion that big feelings are the criteria of caring is to see the Two's emotional oscillations as signs of instability.
The couple joins at Eight, which will ensure a powerful aggressive meeting when Five feels secure enough to fight and to find those very feelings that Two has been pushing for. It helps for Two to pull back, so there is enough emotional space for Five to come forward.
Observers in long-term relationships say that they have had to learn to come forward, to stay in the room when it feels emotionally uncomfortable, and to deal with feelings rather than withdrawing to think. It helps if Fives don't summarily dismiss spontaneous feelings as trivial. Observers might initiate a system for handling questions of the heart. It's all right to consider an emotional position if a time is set for future discussion. Givers feel reassured when they know that the matter will come to the table rather than be buried and forgotten.
Three with Four: A Performer-Romantic Couple
Both are focused on image and the degree of regard that they receive from other people. Performers want respect for achievement, and Romantics need to be seen as distinctive and unique. The couple usually presents itself well in public, often adopting a lifestyle that emanates successful elegance. Initial attractions show Three drawn to the inner drama of Four as a counterpart to their own desire for public recognition. From the Four side, a Three's preoccupation with worldly events can be equally challenging. Performers seem perpetually focused on their work, even during private moments. This displacement of attention can be irritating to Romantics, who crave intimate connection, but a Performer's task orientation also creates a psychological distancing mechanism that can be attractive. Four partners never seem to get enough of their Three's attention, which makes them focus on the best features of what seems to be missing. Here's an example of the difference in the couple's point of view.
[Three with Four] My wife and I are driving into a Santa Fe sunset. We're sailing into heaven. Three hundred sixty degrees of moving color, including little shades of green. We park on a ridge above town, and it's just dazzling. We hold hands with the light blazing through the windshield, and then I start to here her sob. "There'll never be another like this, and soon it will be gone." At the same moment, I'm aware that I'm thinking of an elaborate scheme concerning second jobs for both of us, which will buy us a piece of the ridge.
The couple's major difficulty will concern Four's moods and Three's suspended feelings. It's a recurrent theme in this relationship. Four longs, while Three promises more time and then reneges. It will be difficult for Fours to let the image of promised intimacy assume a reasonable shape. Three's unavailability can be magnetizing because the couple never has quite enough time together to make the relationship ordinary. Deprived of intimacy, Fours often go into high drama, recriminations, or deep depression, which is just the kind of emotional demand that Threes detest. Fours overvalue emotional life, and Threes undervalue it. A crisis can develop if Four competes for attention and Three goes into evasive action by overscheduling other commitments. It helps if each can enter the other's worldview. Threes, for example, typically demonstrate their commitment by working "for us". Wise Fours might lend themselves to this "unemotional" way of loving and learn to see the difference between using work to numb emotion and working as a demonstration of commitment.
Threes want to be successful in the eyes of their significants, and Fours dissatisfaction can feel like a blow to self-esteem. Rather than retaliating by trivializing Four's yearning spirit or feeling underappreciated for "all the work that I've done for us," it helps when Threes can lend themselves to the Romantic's fascination with things that are missing in life. Learning to experience the full range of emotions that Fours exemplify could be the task of a lifetime, and one that could make this relationship deeply satisfying instead of merely successful.
Three with Nine: A Performer-Mediator Couple
Performers want to impress their intimates, and Nines tend to merge with other people's ideas. This pattern of attraction encourages Threes to project an image that captures a Nine's heart. Pleased by the attention, a Mediator will feel drawn to support the Three's course of action, making it easy for the couple to agree in placing performance goals as a centerpiece of their relationship.
Hungry for a personal life goal, Mediators are often animated by a mate's agenda. Another's views seem far more invigorating than having to face the confusion surrounding their own priorities; as a consequence, Nines are caught up in other people's interests, sometimes for years. Impressionable Nines can try out Three's appealing public persona and think, "I have found myself. At last I have discovered what I'm supposed to do in life." The couple shares a line in the diagram, and that line predicts that Meditators gain security by merging with the image and identity that a work role provides. To the extent that Three's goals are an actual reflection of Nine's discounted inner needs, a productive lifestyle, spearheaded by Three and shared by Nine, can emerge.
The diagram's Three-Nine line also suggests that Performers feel ill at ease without an activity. Threes in stress fall into Nine-like uncertainty about goals, which makes them feel aimless and unproductive. Both partners dislike the lethargy that develops from difficulty with choice. Mediators dread the grinding down of energy that occurs when they lose focus, and Performers prioritize quickly so there's always something to do.
Without the rudder of someone else's priority to direct their choices, Nines can fall into a day-to-day routine that feels akin to sleepwalking. They act out their unhappiness by lowering their energy and reducing participation to mechanical duties. They may not say no out loud, but presence and enthusiasm have been numbed. A relationship crisis can emerge without much being said. Family life goes on with Three being drawn to outside activities and Nine going to sleep. Three works hard, and Nine, often with an equally busy schedule, has sectioned off just enough attention to fulfill the routine. Neither recognizes the dilemma. Threes are working "for us," and Nines are working to numb their disappointment and anger.
Eventually Nines who feel dragged along by a partner's agenda will begin to think, "How did we get to this impasse?" "Did I choose this course of action?" "Do I belong here or not?" The questioning can become obsessive if Three's priorities do in fact dominate the couple's life. Tied up by inner questioning, Nines move into their own stress of Six and doubt the validity of the relationship but find it difficult to propose solutions. It will drive a Performer wild if Nine's mental questioning produces a halt in family expectations. By default it's usually Threes who take action, either by burying themselves in work, veering away to another relationship, or initiating a change.
Threes are often eager to support "constructive change," particularly if "productive support" enhances the couple's possibilities for success. It helps when the couple grasps the fact that Nine's search for personal direction really applies to both parties. It can be all too easy to trivialize searching for an inner position as self-indulgent; and Threes can be especially impatient about spending time on questions of commitment and being rather than filling the day with doing. "Why dredge so deeply when short-term projects beckon? Why probe for deeper motives when they seem to unearth pain?" The focus on identity that emerges from one's own being can be alarming to Threes, who, chameleonlike, can win approval by projecting an appropriate persona. Both parties want the Nine to flower, but why does it take so long?
An interesting feature of the search for identity is that Nines who find themselves may not ever change careers or consider leaving their relationship. Instead they can feel vitally recommitted to the life they've already built, "a life that became my own, when I could see that I wanted it."
Three with Five: A Performer-Observer Couple
Threes usually describe themselves as extroverted, and the vast majority of Fives fit the classic introversion profile. An introvert's privacy needs pose a challenge to Performers, whose self-image rests on recognition for tasks. The pair's natural difference invite Threes to move toward the more emotionally retracted partner and to commandeer the mechanics of a relationship. When a trip is planned, for example, Threes are likely to send for brochures, suggest the itinerary, and book the reservations. All the Five has to do is pack and go.
This is a very common coupling in both love and business life, and it initially shows an almost unopposed movement towards the emotionally distant Five. Performers show their affection by giving time and energy to a relationship, which fits the needs of a reclusive partner.
Saying yes to a committed relationship is fraught with difficulty for Observers. It's so easy to detach and let go that a Five's continued presence is de facto commitment. They often "initiate" a relationship by positioning themselves to be emotionally drawn out by other people. Threes may have to hold back so that Five's boundaries are respected, rather than barreling in and inadvertently causing the Five to withdraw.
Observers show their availability in nonverbal ways, by sharing information about themselves, by investing energy in household maintenance, and by their personal presence. Nonverbal understandings seems to work for this couple. Given a mutual attraction, Threes move ahead unless they are opposed, and Fives commit themselves by presence. These obvious differences in psychological style form the hub of the relationship. Three's need for social contact has to be balanced with Five's desires for privacy and predictability.
The most typical arrangement shows Three as the pair's social secretary. The Performer filters the couple's phone messages and engagements, consults with the Five in private, and then conveys their decisions to the world at large. Home life can develop into a pattern of mutually acceptable parallel play, in which each partner conducts a separate life and meets at designated times for meals and family time.
Unexpectedly it's often the Five partner who objects to Three's frequent absence from home. Once attached, Observers can get territorial within the security of the castle walls and, Eight-like, may want to limit a partner's outside interests. Threes usually reduce their schedule to keep the peace and then gradually increase their workload again. It can become a cyclical crisis in which Fives sulk and withhold comfort, presence, and sex while Threes bury themselves in work, hoping that the difficulty will pass. When Threes feel threatened, they commonly work harder to numb their feelings. This has the adverse effect of increasing the distance between themselves and others.
This is a relationship that profits from sitting down and negotiating mutual commitments. Neither partner is particularly fascinated by the language of feelings and sentiment, and both types have intimacy issues; Threes are afraid to be seen separately from their achievements, and Fives are afraid of being drained by other people's needs. Both do, however, relate to shared activities and agreements that take a predetermined amount of time and energy. Fives can be forthcoming if they know what is expected, and Threes express themselves through action.
The couple may find it easier to talk when attention is deflected by a golf game or hiking a trail together. Each demonstrates affection by doing things for loved ones-Threes in the literal sense of producing tangible success "for us," and Fives in the more subtle sense of giving up private time and space. It helps these naturally independent people to formulate a system of negotiation that allows them to adjust to each other's style of relating. Fives, for example, can learn to enjoy the pleasures of social life, and Threes can open themselves to be touched by silence and quiet contact.
Four with Seven: A Romantic-Epicure Couple
This is one of the Enneagram's attraction of opposites, a commonly found pair that strives for balance between Seven's many options and Four's commitment to emotional depth. Fours experience the world through their feelings, and Sevens are primarily mental. Each has a joy to share-of the heart and of the mind-that can either produce a true union of opposites or an atmosphere of alienation.
This couple sees the extraordinary in each other. Fours feel special, and Sevens feel entitled; they can therefore support each other's unique talents or can unconsciously expect their union to produce too much. Oddly an Epicure's emotional unavailability fits well with a Romantic's longing for missing things. Fours yearn for a better relationship even when the present one is doing extremely well. There's a juice in the challenge of pursuing whatever is missing; both types seek intensity, often with Seven focused on the event and Four focused on the Seven.
The natural optimism that Epicures bring to relationships is a deterrent to Four's possessive melancholia. But more than that, Sevens are not easily affected by the push-pull Romantic pattern in relationship. Fours actually respect a partner who is not drawn into the drama of seduction and rejection, although they may pine to be emotionally matched.
The pitfall that this couple faces involves Seven's intolerance of negative emotions. Epicures have a hard time concentrating when a difficult topic arises; other plans and possibilities beckon and carry attention away. Positive feelings are indefinitely more acceptable, and the couple will enjoy the high side of stimulating ideas and activities. Sevens crave experience, and a Four who wants the relationship will have to participate. Romantics rarely complain about the pace and range of interests as long as the Seven doesn't go to far away. Activity automatically displaces depression, which stabilizes Four's moods without much being said, but Romantics are universally impatient about Seven's inability to tolerate pain: "Why do you leave just because I'm sad? Where do you go when we need to talk?"
The partners argue about how to deal with loaded issues. Fours think it's important to discuss negative feelings, and Sevens see negativity as a waste of time. Each can feel controlled by the other. Fours are unhappy about holding their feelings back, and Sevens are afraid to wallow in emotion. Romantics will spend considerable time convincing Epicures to feel rather than think, but the Epicure is likely to say in the most charming manner, "I do feel deeply and fully, but only briefly." Sevens have to be convinced that feelings are going to be worth it. They love the optimistic rush that heralds a new venture, but deep experience feels like getting mired, and the fear of limitation sets in.
An all-time low shows Fours complaining that the Epicure is emotionally shallow, while Sevens feel strangled by Four's emotional needs. With time and maturity, Four's depth engages Seven's attention, and in return Seven lifts a Romantic out of depression. When emotions become "interesting," a Seven will consider it worthwhile to stay with negative feelings.
Outsides may feel pressure to take sides if the couple argues. Because the partners are so different in their orientation, it may seem that only one of them can be right. Four's plaintive note and Seven's equally convincing positivity tend to invite friends and witnesses to assume the role of counselor and adviser.
Fours are entitled to time for genuine emotional questions, and Sevens are entitled to expect a resolution. Guidelines for dealing with loaded issues are a must. Fours must distinguish between a genuine need that has a potential solution and emotional neediness that creates problems in order to get comfort. From their side, Sevens have to be willing to talk in spite of boredom, frustration, and other resistance. Epicures come up with quick, "brilliant" solutions or excellent reasons to keep the conversation brief. Guidelines should differentiate between reasons and excuses. Seven has to commit time for processing feelings, and Four has to realize that feelings can interfere with communication.
Five with Seven: An Observer-Epicure Couple
Epicures eat experience. They like to travel, take classes, and work on several projects at the same time. Their quest for variety provides a reliable in-house sorting system for Fives, who spend their time and energy cautiously. On Enneagram couples panels, we commonly hear that the Epicure discovered the Enneagram first, checked out our class, and went home to convince the Five that it was a good thing. Pleasant company enhances an evening out, and soon the Epicure had a partner for Enneagram nights. Seven's initial attraction allowed the Observer to participate from a protected background position. Over time, however, it is usually the Five who continues to pursue a study.
Another common scenario places the couple in parallel play. "You do your thing and I'll do mine" is a natural lifestyle for people who relate through ideas. Fives love extended periods of time by themselves, to pursue the quest for knowledge and to sort out their feelings. The out-directed Epicure could feel severely limited by Five's inner orientation were it not for the fact that both types are highly independent. Sevens find things to do that Fives enjoy vicariously, and neither wants the other to demand a lot of time together. This couple's shared line in the Enneagram diagram seems to generate mutual understanding. Fives admire a Seven's expanded social ease, and Sevens are quieted by the steady reassurance of their Five's more introverted presence. As long as they keep the conversation going, neither is likely to interfere with the other's activities.
Intimacy can be expressed through a common vision or the commitment to children. Sevens need an exterior focus, and Fives have better access to their feelings when they don't have to be the center of attention. Paradoxically the detached Observer often becomes the couple's emotional pillar. Fives in the security of their home can move to Eight, emerging as a powerful force in the family. For their part Sevens find security in Five-like retreat by spending short periods of time alone. In class we routinely hear that Epicures think a day or two in retreat makes them homebodies and very private people, an observation countered by their Fives, who respond, "Yes, dear, but you're rarely at home."
Closely positioned at each other's points of security and risk, the partners share some similarity of outlook. Both are fear types, although they ward off danger in very different ways, an both confuse thinking with feeling. They even look alike under specific life conditions. For example, Fives living in the stress of Seven look like they're coming alive, but self-descriptions reveal a terrible inner tension attached to reaching out. If their search for safety is successful, Fives may indeed discover an unexpected Epicurean pleasure in the company of others, but the commonly reported interaction places Seven as the couple's social wedge.
Fives may not notice when analysis replaces feelings, and most Sevens don't see activity as an avenue of escape. Both types habitually divert attention from their emotions: Sevens distract themselves, and Fives simply detach. It's a bad sign when a Seven moves enthusiastically forward while the Five backs into isolation. Each will secretly look down on the other: Seven is bored-the relationship isn't radiant; and Fives see superficiality-the relationship lacks depth. The resulting move into parallel play can divide this couple into separate orbits of existence: The Observer retreats behind a wall of private interests, and the Epicurean's activities draw him or her away from the home. It helps when each begins to embody the other's natural orientation. Fives must invest their time, energy, and enthusiasm in the relationship, and Sevens need to develop the single-minded concentration that a full commitment requires.
Six with Eight: A Trooper-Boss Couple
Eights, whether male or female, are active in the courtship phase, which goes a long way toward eliminating Sixes' doubt. Eights find security in taking charge and offering protection, which fits perfectly with the insecurities of Sixes. Freed of the full task of initiating relationships, Troopers are placed in the safer stance of feeling sought after and needed. Eights are refreshingly confident about their sexuality and about moving into success. This confidence can be liberating to types like Six, who contract and feel guilty about pleasure.
This is a meeting of body and mind rather than romantic sentiment. The partners share an aversion to "gushy sentimentality." Sweet support, which may be entirely well intended, can sound faked to types who see the world as dangerous. Devotion is expressed through physicality and ideas rather than intimate innuendo. Actions and inspiration count more than nurturing tender feelings. Trust emerges largely through observation-by seeing that the partner acts for the benefit of others.
Both types expect adversity and stand together during difficulty. Phobic Sixes stand behind Eight partners, giving loyal support. Counterphobic Sixes, pushing against fear, stand alongside. A excellent interaction shows the bigger-than-life Eight relying on the advice of the more mental and strategic Six. Sixes can wait rather than rushing in to take charge, they can observe complicated motivations, and they are far more political about potential repercussions. Equipped with good counsel, Eights can move mountains. Eights value loyalty, and Sixes are unusually loyal in adversity. Sixes value strength, and Eights are most determined when they are challenged.
The typical position shows Eight in control with Six in support. Eights want action, and Sixes are happier in the more protected role. The situation changes dramatically when they find themselves without a barricade to storm. For all their bravado, Eights find it easier to challenge life, or to support someone else's forward thrust, than to search within themselves for a personal agenda. Without a clear and present call to action, Eights begin to coast, to make trouble, or to support the Six's agenda. Eights are very helpful when they are willing to take an appropriate support position; but they can be a royal pain when they take charge of someone else's life instead of improving their own.
Sixes will find themselves trying to move ahead against massive self-doubt, sometimes encouraged, and sometimes insulted and goaded into action, by the Boss. Eights are protectors, and Troopers want protection, but Sixes can quickly shift from seeing Eights as protectors to seeing them as bullies. From Eights' perspective, there is also a thin line between perceiving Sixes as worthy of protection and as wimps who can't stand up for themselves. Sixes need constant reassurance, which makes them seem weak to Eights, who deny their own weakness. Eights are particularly impatient with doubt and vacillation, which looks both weak and untruthful: "Why can't you make up your mind?" "Are you committed to this, or are you lying?"
The Eight partner, when pushing for the truth, or when seeking to revitalize the relationship, may become punitive and say the worst. Dealing with what now looks like an overbearing and possibly dangerous mate, Six's imagination ignites and moves to the divorce court. Finally the Trooper is up against the wall and, whether phobic or counterphobic, will fight when cornered. The subtext of this struggle is power. The Eight can't surrender control until a mate looks strong and trustworthy, and the Six can't commit fully until the Eight looks less dangerous.
Paradoxically some horrendous battles can have positive repercussions in this relationship. The Six has been goaded into terrifying displays of anger, has said the worst, and has survived. Now it's out. The frightened Six has been bullied into setting the necessary boundaries. The Eight sees the limits and doesn't have to push further for the truth.
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