I thought he was perfect: funny, smart, Catholic. But then I asked the question — you know the one.
“What’s your enneagram number?”
“Four,” he replied.
We broke up the next day.
Enneagram compatibility should be on people’s list of deal-breakers; people love being known and understood, especially in romantic relationships. That’s why you should date only people with whom your “type” is compatible.
The enneagram test is a model of the human psyche that describes interconnected personality types — it won’t tell you which Disney princess you’re most like, or what color best describes your mood. It’s a carefully crafted test that aims to understand a person’s drives: their motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. A closely related, more popular, test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. While that test is helpful to figure out how a person makes decisions, the enneagram test explains why they make them.
In 1915 Russia, philosopher George Gurdjieff categorized nine personalities into an “enneagram, which broke down emotional and behavioral aspects of each personality trait.” Psychologists in Berkeley, California, followed his example, and by the late 1960s, the enneagram was adopted as a reputable tool in the field of psychology.
The results range from one to nine, each “type” a shorthand way of indicating a person’s attitude or behavior. The numbers aren’t ranked numerically and no “type” is inherently better than the next — they’re just different.
The Enneagram Institute’s analyses describe your personality as a range of different attitudes. So you can see how a type eight like myself (we’re referred to as the challengers, the “powerful, dominating type: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational”) wouldn’t mesh well with a four (“the sensitive, withdrawn type: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental”).
To contextualize, psychologists say that Winston Churchill was an eight. They also say Taylor Swift is a four. If you can envision a world where that would ever work out, good on you — but something tells me “Dear Churchill” won’t be a song on her next album.
I can’t guarantee that your perfect match corresponds with your compatible enneagram type, but knowing your partner’s stressors can lead to a healthier relationship.
In a world of 7.5 billion people, you should date someone you have a good shot at being compatible with. Otherwise, it’s just not worth the time. The enneagram expedites judgement, allowing users the opportunity to understand themselves from the get-go — not a couple months into a failing relationship.
The enneagram is a great tool for self-discovery. It analyzes your faults and neuroses in such a way that your relationship is bound to be crafted on a solid understanding of who the other person is.
Before I knew my enneagram, personality compatibility was a nonfactor. I didn’t consider how my tendency toward aggression would match with someone else’s — a dangerous thing when you put two eights in a room and tell them to decide where to go for dinner.
As an eight, I have a hard time verbalizing emotional vulnerability — and the enneagram description of this is the first thing that’s allowed me to express why. The institute’s description taught me how I use the mechanism of denial to maintain a self-image of being “strong.” It taught me that if I anticipate an attack on my vulnerability, I respond with aggression.
Self-discovery is uncomfortable; but if you want to succeed in a relationship, these are things you need to know. Of course, I knew them to some extent — but I never confronted my personality with an examination of why I act the way I do. If individuals know themselves, they can communicate what, why, and how they want their partners to reciprocate their feelings.
Type eights are most likely to get along with type nines, the “easygoing, self-effacing type: receptive, reassuring agreeable, and complacent.” The enneagram specifies strengths in the eight-nine relationship, like effective dialogue, the balance between a dominant character and an easy-going nature, and mutual give and take. It also highlights weaknesses that a possible match might face and how to combat problems as they come.
Conflict resolution looks very different to eights and nines. To find common ground, I would have to be patient and calm while working through a tense situation. If my dream nine and I want to succeed, it’s helpful to know that I’m more confrontational, while he is much less willing to address conflict unless the situation requires it. We can also understand our triggers better: I’m easily stressed by vulnerable or emotional situations, while he’s easily stressed by difficult decisions.
Two highly self-aware people have the best chance of success, no matter what types they are.
Many marriage counselors or psychologists use personality assessments to identify faults in relationships. A common saying is “opposites attract” — but opposites also balance. In the context of the enneagram, it makes sense that a dominant personality wouldn’t fit well with an emotional personality.
I gravitate toward people who are low-energy, because I’m very high-energy. I’m more action-oriented, so I appreciate people who sacrifice a great deal to do what needs to be done. If I have a partner who understands these sentiments, we’re more likely to bring out the positive qualities in each other’s personalities.
You shouldn’t blacklist types you’re stereotypically incompatible with — miracles happen — but the enneagram deserves more than a fleeting thought. Consider asking the question on your next first date: “What’s your enneagram?”
Completely unrelated: if you’re a nine, stop by the Collegian office this week. I’d love to discuss our future.
Haley Strack is a sophomore studying politics.