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Enneagram Type-Based Obstacles to Relationships

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E N N E A G R A M T Y P E -B A S E D O B S T A C L E ST O R E L A T I O N S H I P SThe Enneagram in Business Mini-Book©2020 The Enneagram in Business by Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD

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People are always curious about what type gets along bestwith other types in terms of friendships, families, and theever-important romantic relationships. While the Enneagramcan illuminate why two types – or even the people of thesame type – get along well and why they may not, it doesn’tmean the two types get along better than other types. In theend, it’s not type, it’s self-mastery level that counts.I always speak to the importance of self-mastery inenhancing relationships of any kind: the higher the self-mastery, the better the relationships with others. Individualsat higher self-mastery levels are less reactive and more self-regulating. In addition, what also matters is that both peoplein the relationship are at a similar self-mastery level. In otherwords, two people with low-self-mastery will have a volatile Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | overviewEnneagram Type-Based Obstacles To Real Relationships

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relationship, but the relationship dynamics may be exactlywhat they want. Two individuals, both at moderate self-mastery, will get along most of the time, but when one orboth get reactive, the relationship will struggle. Two high-self-mastery individuals, no matter what their types, moretypically navigate the world of relationships more adroitly,with both taking responsibility for their part of an issue andcommunicating effectively about the dynamics betweenthem. And because both people are less reactive in general,they tend to have fewer issues arise. Although some Enneagram teachers and authors fall intothe trap of saying that certain types go better together, oneauthor – actually co-authors – did not: the late DavidDaniels MD and his co-author Suzanne Dion, whobeautifully completed the book once David could no longerdo so. Their focus is on each of us according to type andwhat we need to do to have better and more lovingrelationships. I do recommend it: The Enneagram,Relationships, and Intimacy: Understanding One AnotherLeads to Loving Better and Living More Fully. This mini-book covers each Enneagram type, focusing onone essential way – of course, there are many ways pertype – each type gets in their own way of having realrelationships with others. Development ideas for enhancingrelationships are also included.

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 1Biggest obstacle | Criticizing self and othersOnes are known for being self-critical as well as forcriticizing others. In the One’s best view of themselves, theirself-criticism is a method for self-improvement and theircriticism of others is a way of helping others be better. 'I’mnot criticizing you,' a One might say, 'I simply trying to helpyou be better.' From the One perspective, 'It can always bebetter; I can always be better; you can always be better!'From a different perspective, great relationships – real,genuine, and intimate if they are – require acceptance ofthe other. Most people do not like feeling criticized byfriends, family, co-workers, bosses and intimate others, andwhen they do feel criticized, people tend to becomedefensive, protective and often pull away from the persondoing the criticizing. If closeness, trust, and a degree of easeare wanted in a real relationship, criticality is not an asset.In addition, Ones want to be accepted unconditionally, yetthey are so self-critical, it is difficult for them to accept thatsomeone would believe in them and accept them as theyare. So what can Ones do about this?SuggestionOnes may confuse being honest – which Ones would seeas an important value, part of the constellation related tointegrity – with being real or genuine in a relationshipwith another person. Being honest is important, butbeing critical of someone, even if you feel critical, may bean expression of the One’s critical mind, not really atruthful or accurate statement about the other person.

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Someone who is chronically critical may think they are onlybeing honest, but just because we feel or think somethingdoesn’t mean it is true or should be communicated toanother person. Why? Because what we think may say somuch more about us than the other person. It is ourreaction, yet we think it is a true statement about them!So, Ones can ask themselves this question: Is what I amthinking that is critical actually true about the other personor is it a thought that reflects more about me, what myconcerns are, how my critical mind functions and what isunderneath that way of thinking?

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 2Biggest obstacle | Overemphasizing relationships; notasking for helpHow does overemphasizing relationships and not askingfor help get in the way of creating real relationships?After all, Twos value relationships highly and often thinkthey are good at them, at least better than most otherpeople. So, what is the issue with overemphasizingrelationships, especially when, in the Twos’ view, mostother people don’t pay enough attention to others? Inaddition, how would not being comfortable asking forhelp be detrimental to real relationships? After all, thinksthe Two, people who ask for help tend to be perceived as‘needy,’ and other people don’t like being around ‘needy’people.Ironically, this lack of asking for help can harm realrelationships in several ways. First, in real relationships,the relationship is reciprocal, not a one-way street. Notasking for help makes the relationship one-way only.Second, Twos build up resentment when they perceivethemselves as always doing for the other person withoutTwos realizing that they themselves have unintentionallygenerated their own source of resentment. Third, mostpeople in a real relationship with another person like tofeel needed. However, because Twos act as if they haveno needs of other people, others may feel wanted, butthey don’t feel needed. Finally, Twos do have needs,although these are often unexpressed. Unexpressedneeds often come across as unexpressed neediness. Inother words, Twos often come across as needy, even if

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they don’t think they are. 'Neediness' is not a particularlyattractive quality and unexpressed neediness can feelambiguous or manipulative.SuggestionGet in touch with what you really need and express theseneeds to others; don’t expect them to intuit your needs orinfer your needs based on the indirect expression ofdesires. Start first with getting more clear about what youfeel and why? Ask yourself what you want at any given timeor what you want from a particular person. From theanswers to these questions, formulate what you need andpractice asking for what you need. And remember, ifsomeone says ‘No,’ as they sometimes will, don’t let thisderail or disappoint you. People have the right to say ‘No,’just as you do. And if someone takes issue with the fact thatyou are asking – they may be people who are takers andnot givers – or if someone disappoints you too many times,these may not be people with whom you want to have arelationship anyway.

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 3Biggest obstacle | Over-focus on activities and roles;not revealing truer selfHaving a real relationship requires both parties to (1) maketime for the relationship because real relationships taketime and nurturing; (2) be willing to be real with oneanother, and this includes disclosing information aboutoneself. Both of the above factors can be challenges formany Threes.In terms of time for relationships, many Threes become sobusy, – constantly on the move doing something – that theyoften say they don’t have that much time for relationships.In terms of self-disclosure, many Threes have challengesdisclosing information about themselves that do not makethem look good or maintain the image they have worked sohard to create and maintain. In addition, Threes often keepdeeper or truer information about themselves hidden evenfrom themselves. For example, they may not know whatthey actually feel about something, so how can they sharethis with someone else?

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SuggestionThe first 'task' – Threes like tasks – is to stop and engage inself-reflection. In what ways do you keep yourself so busythat you don’t make time for other people? Are you willingto stop doing some of these things and free up space inyour life for relationships? How much time? What roles doyou identify with and how might you be hiding behind arole so that you don’t actually understand how you feel,what you really want, and what motivates you? Which rolesare you willing to explore and 'unpack,' with 'unpacking'meaning what makes the role so important to you, whatprice are you paying for identifying with this role instead ofdiscovering who you are beneath the role? Finally, howwilling are you to disclose information about yourself withothers that may not conform to and confirm the image youlike to present to others?

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 4Biggest obstacle | Sensitivity to personal rejectionFours crave authentic, genuine relationships; the questionis this: are they real? Of course, authentic and genuinerelationships are real in one sense but are they real inanother way to understand the word? In addition, do theseintense authentic and genuine relationships havesustaining power? A real relationship sustains itself overtime; real suggests that it is based in actual fact, notsomething imagined, idealized or mythic in some way.Sustain means to strengthen, continue and be supportingand supportive over time.Fours, of course, are the big romantics, and romanticism,while lovely and engaging, is also an idealized way ofperceiving another person and the relationship. Someonewho is being romanticized rarely, if ever, lives up to theideal, and the person doing the romanticized idealization isperfectly set up to be deeply disappointed as the fall fromthe dream is so deeply disheartening. As a result,relationships with Fours may be deep, but not necessarilyreal. In addition, Fours are known to engage in push-pullrelationships with people to whom they are close. In short,Fours get close to someone, then Fours pull away, afterfinding fault with the other or being hurt by something theother person has done. Or at least, that is the story thatoften emerges.But beneath the story is often the Four being disillusioned –as the romantically idealized beloved is actually a realperson – or because Fours become afraid of the closenessor intimacy.

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The other person usually withdraws from the relationship,and then Fours re-approach the person or try to pull theperson toward them. This cycle repeats itself multipletimes. Underneath this push-pull is fear; Fours are fearfulthat the other person will reject them, hence their biggestobstacle to real relationships.SuggestionThe answer is to examine how you romanticize certainother people and explore why you do this and the impactthis has on you, the other person, and your relationships.This is not an easy task as this repeated pattern ofidealization is fundamental to the Four’s core architecture:looking for what is missing and romanticizing it, rather thanappreciating what is there and being in gratitude for it. Thisgoes for yourself as well as others. Your sensitivity torejection will decrease since there is really nothing missingin you that the other person would come to find out andthen reject you for having it. The second way is to explorehow your defense mechanism of introjecting operates andhow to decrease this defense strategy.

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 5 Biggest obstacle | Emotional unavailability andremotenessDeep down inside, Fives crave deeper bonds with otherpeople, with romantic partners, friends, and family. Yetthese sorts of bonds can feel overwhelming to Fives whohave a strong need to manage their energy and time spentwith others so they do not end up feeling entirely depleted.Having strong and deep relationships with others, however,requires spending time with people to allow these bonds tostrengthen and flourish. Time, by itself, is not enough forrelationships to flourish; it’s also what happens during thattime.Because Fives guard their privacy, they limit both how muchtime they will spend with others and also what they willdisclose to others and when they will disclose it. Theseboundaries can limit relationships because closerelationships require self-disclosure – the sharing ofthoughts, feelings, and experiences in our lives. Typically,the self-disclosure is mutual. Most often, the closer therelationship, the more we share, and the more we share,the closer the relationship becomes.In addition, what can make developing real relationshipsmore challenging for Fives is their tendency to disconnectfrom their feelings in real-time. Most people don’t feel theirfull array of feelings in real-time all the time, but they don’tdisconnect almost entirely in the moment. Although manyFives can have rich emotional lives later on when theyreflect on their emotional reactions, they do this when they

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are not in the presence of the other person. Building realrelationships does require more emotional access in real-time so that each person can 'feel' the other and gain moreunderstanding of the full person, not only what someone isthinking.SuggestionThis suggestion starts with Fives wanting closer and morereal relationships with others. This desire often comes fromthe Five’s desire to feel less isolated and more engaged.Next is the issue of selectivity. Fives can choose those withwhom they’d like closer and deeper relationships so Fivesdon’t feel they have to extend their boundaries and bemore forthcoming with everyone. They don’t! Finally, andthis takes practice, is to learn to access their emotionalinterior more readily in real-time. There are two ways to dothis:1. Breathe more fully throughout your body and make thisa regular breathing practice. Breathing throughout yourbody and not just into your head and shoulders gives youmore access to your somatic reactions. And all feelings havea somatic sensation associated with them. You can learn torecognize that, for example, fluttering feelings in your bodybelow the heart area might be anxiety but could beexcitement. Which is it?

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2. Experiment with sharing a few more feelings – the onesyou are more aware of – with a few people and see whathappens! If you like what happens, you can do this evenmore – that is, you can increase the feelings you share orincrease the number of people you share them with.

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 6Biggest obstacle | Doubt of self and othersAnother way to say this can be summed up in one word:trust. Real relationships are based on trust of the other,trust of oneself, and trust in the relationship itself. WhenSixes doubt others – for example, doubting their motives orintentions, their future behavior, etc. the Six’s trust in thatother person erodes. Why would a person, a Six in this case,want to be real and forthcoming with someone if they don’tknow for sure that they can really trust?Because Sixes want to trust others and desire realrelationships with the people in their lives, they sometimestrust too early or too readily; in a sense, this is a misplacedtrust of the other person who turns out to not betrustworthy. Misplaced trust can, unfortunately, createtrepidation for Sixes in terms of potential futurerelationships that bear any similarity to this relationshipthat has gone awry. In some cases, when Sixes trust toomuch or too early, they become watchful and on-guard foreven the slightest indication that their trust is not in goodhands. Often, something untrustworthy can be found or, atleast, perceived, thus eroding this new relationship.A third way Sixes deal with doubt and trust in relationshipsis through testing the other person, even if Sixes aren’taware in the moment that it is a test of trust (andsometimes they are!). Sixes may ask the other person forsome information that really is a violation of another’s trust.Or Sixes may share something they want the other person

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to respond to in a certain way – for example, support onlyor listening only or advice only – and the other persondoesn’t respond in a way that the Six wanted. Of course,what was wanted was not made explicit.SuggestionYou may have noticed that the above description describesthe ways in which Sixes themselves can create obstacles inreal relationships. That’s because Sixes like to removeobstacles, so why not start with some of your interiorobstacles because those you actually have control over?Here’s how: start by learning to trust yourself more. Whenyou trust yourself more, your reliance on needing to trustothers lessens. Here are some ways:1. Ask yourself this question and answer it repeatedly: Whatif I trusted myself more…?2. When you are about to ask someone else for advice, askyourself this: If someone came to me with the samequestion, what advice would I offer that person?There’s even more you can do by understanding andworking with the type Six primary defense mechanism ofprojection, the unconscious attribution of one’s owndisowned thoughts, emotions, motivations, attributes,

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and/or behaviors onto others. We all project, but Sixes do itmore frequently, and they do it in relationships – forexample, thinking another person is all good or imagingthat another has ulterior motives.

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 7Biggest obstacle | Lack of constancy and avoidance ofemotions except joyA false narrative about Sevens is that they don’t or can’tcommit to relationships, and this is not true. Like everyoneelse, Sevens can have great, committed relationships thatare real. However, there are type-based obstacles that getin their way. The biggest challenge for Sevens is theirdiverting of attention, becoming distracted by that which isnew, stimulating, loud in a figurative sense, and demandingof their momentary focus. In real relationships, mostpeople like their close friends and intimates to be moreconstant in their attention. The question isn’t 'Will you stilllove me tomorrow' as the Carole King song so poignantlysings; Sevens can be deeply loving today and tomorrow.The issue would be a rename of the song: 'Will you be heretomorrow?' with the word ‘be’ referring to physical presenceand attention. It is so challenging for Sevens to stay in astate of undivided attention even when they are physicallypresent. Most people in real relationships expect and wantthe other person’s undivided attention, particularly whenthey are speaking about something important or serious.When Sevens, as they are apt to do, start thinking aboutsomething when the other person is talking, commentquickly, ask a question before the other person has finishedtalking, or simply move around a lot in the midst of aconversation, the other person can feel that the Seven isnot really present. Real relationships require constancy oftime and presence.

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The second Seven obstacle to real relationships relates totheir continuous pursuit of pleasure and positivepossibilities and their avoidance of other emotions. It is thefull exchange of real emotions – joy, but also anger sorrowand fear – that make a relationship real.It is essential in real relationships that both parties canshare their anger with one another when it arises, the hurtand sorrow they experience in relation to each other and inother areas of their lives, and the fear or anxieties that ariseboth within the relationship or in relation to the externalenvironment.SuggestionThis is an opportunity, if you want deep, real relationships,to become deeper and more real with yourself first. For allof us, no matter what our Enneagram type, the first place tolook is within. For Sevens, the first step is to spend timewithin and learn more about your own emotional reactionsand experiences. It is important to stay in tune with yourbody or physical reactions as you do this. Where do you feela certain feeling? Stay with that somatic experience longerthan you may feel comfortable doing. Work to extend yourability to stay with your feelings for longer and longerperiods of time.If there is a particular emotion you have trouble accessing,ask a friend who you trust and can confide in to help. Askthis person to ask you an open-ended, repeating questionwhere you fill in the statement out loud to this person. For

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example, if you have trouble accessing your anger, therepeating question would be this: What are you angryabout…? If sorrow is what you want to explore, the questionwould be this: What are you sad about…? For fear, thequestion would be, “What are you feeling fearful about…?

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 8Biggest obstacle | Unwillingness to show vulnerabilityand the belief that no one can or will be there for themEights do want relationships, although they are selective interms of who they want to be close with, who they can trustin a very deep sense of the word, and more. Their biggestissue for relationships is that they act as if they don’t needthem or want them; Eights feel they must appear muchbigger than life. Eights also doubt if there are others whoare ‘big enough’ in capacity and energy to be there for themwhen they do stumble or feel vulnerable. Since very fewpeople measure up to this level of capability – at least in themind and heart of the Eight – the list of possiblerelationship contenders becomes very small.In addition, as Eights try to minimize their vulnerability – anessential ingredient in most close relationships – they do soby trying to exert control: control over the situations,control over the relationship, control over themselves,control over the other person and more. In general, mostpeople don’t like the feeling of being in a relationship withothers who are controlling, although it may take a while toarrive at the realization that the relationship is a controllingone and not a reciprocal one. Reciprocal relationships allowboth parties to state their needs, get them met if possibleand to be flexible in relation to one another. Finally, Eights need to be open to allowing another personto be there for them, to ask for support when they need it,and to be open enough that the other person can sense

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when the Eight might need something. Being bigger thanlife, as Eights often appear, can cause others to think theEights need very little, if anything, from them.SuggestionThe best way to be more open and available to reciprocalrelationships involves self-reflection and admitting toyourself that you would like more of these. As a result ofyour introspective, you may conclude that these are notsomething you desire more or, at least, not right now. And that’s OK.However, if you do decide you want more realrelationships, that by definition need to be reciprocal,you’ll need to become more vulnerable, and instead ofequating being more open and vulnerable with beingweak, equate being more open and vulnerable with beingmore real!

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Enneagram type-based obstacles torelationships | type 9Biggest obstacle | Inability to access real opinions anddeeper feelingsWhile Nines often have a number of cordial and even long-term relationships, the question is how deep theserelationships go. These relationships may be supportiveand comforting, but how 'real' are they, real meaningdeeply truthful and sharing of multi-tiered experiences andfeelings, and so forth? The challenge for Nines is being ableto access and express their desires and opinions, as well astheir emotional reactions. Going deep inside in this way isnot something that is part of the type Nine structure. Thereason is this: 'anger that went to sleep' is often used as adescriptor for Nines, a metaphor illuminating that in orderfor Nines to create and maintain harmony, comfort andnon-tense relationships, Nine’s unconsciously 'numb'themselves to their own anger so that they do notexperience it very often or very intensely. Anger, from theNine perspective, disrupts relationships and harmonicenvironments. A secondary impact of not accessing anger isthat other emotions such as fear, sorrow and joy also getput to sleep, particularly if they are intense in any way. Nines are also reluctant to voice their own opinions andpreferences; these also get put to sleep as a way for themto keep a temperate demeanor, be non-controversial, andto keep the peace. The problem is that real relationshipsrequire both parties to be forthcoming and to share theirhonest opinions, their clear thoughts, and their feelingreactions.

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SuggestionTo remove the obstacle to real relationships, the first realrelationships begin with the self. Are you willing to have adeeper relationship with yourself, allowing yourself toaccess what you really think and want, what you feel, andthen speaking your real truth? The more you can do that,the more you can develop real relationships at a deep levelwith a variety of others, both those you already know andnew people who come into your life.How do you get more access to your deeper self? Breathemore deeply and fully, including into the Heart Center area.Second, when you start to engage in activities that your findcomforting – sleeping, eating, shopping, collecting, being onthe internet for hours, and more – ask yourself what youare really feeling instead of dispersing your attention andenergy into arenas where you find comfort. This is anexcellent starting place.

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ABOUT THE ENNEAGRAM IN BUSINESSEstablished in 2004 by Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, The Enneagramin Business offers excellent quality, state-of the-art products andservices. Our vision is to help elevate consciousness globally usingthe Enneagram integrated with other innovative approaches; ourmission is to provide an abundance of Enneagram-basedresources for use around the world. These include the following: » Eight Enneagram books, including several best sellers» Full-color Enneagram training tools, both in hard copy and virtual formats» Global Enneagram certification programs for consultants, trainers, and coaches » Premier leadership development and team development offerings» Training, coaching and consulting services, both virtual and in-person» A comprehensive, interactive online Enneagram Learning Portal (ELP)» A global network of over 70 top-quality Enneagram professionals (EIBN) ENNEAGRAM BOOKS by Ginger-Lapid-BogdaBringing Out the Best in Yourself at Work What Type of Leader Are You? Bringing Out the Best in Everyone You Coach The Enneagram Development Guide Consulting with the Enneagram The Enneagram Coloring Book The Art of Typing The Art of the Enneagram (co-authored with Russell Tres Bogda) | | | 510.570.2971Feel free to share this mini-book with friends, colleagues and loved ones.