If you’ve ever explored the Enneagram, you already know that this popular personality assessment will call you out. It’s scarily accurate—72%, to be exact—and will make you feel so seen (and maybe even a little self-conscious). Though the Enneagram has become somewhat trendy in recent years, Bolivian philosopher Oscar Ichazo first created and taught the Enneagram system back in the 1960s. Using the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator model, the assessment examines people’s core desires and fears and assigns them to one of nine “types” accordingly. (Don’t know your type? You can take this Enneagram quiz on Truity to find out.)While the Enneagram can shed helpful insight on our personalities, can it also be an effective and meaningful predictor of compatibility in romantic relationships? Can the Enneagram help us know whether prospective partners will be a good match long-term? We took a deep dive into this question with experts who are well-versed in the Enneagram.
Enneagram compatibility isn’t as cut and dried as, say, astrological compatibility. In part, it can vary depending on your wing and your partner’s wing. Wings are the two Enneagram types that are adjacent to your type, one of which entails additional elements of your personality. For example, if you’re a type seven, you’re either a 7w6 or a 7w8. Though you’re predominantly a seven, you also exhibit fairly strong traits of either a six or eight, too.“In my experience, types that share similar wings tend to have stronger compatibility because they are able to understand the other better,” said Kendra Eliza Sand, who operates @elizaenneagram on Instagram. Along with wings, the Enneagram centers can also impact compatibility. Centers consolidate the nine types in groups of three by shared personality assets and liabilities. For instance, types two, three, and four are “the feeling center;” types five, six, and seven are “the thinking center;” and types eight, nine, and one are “the intuitive center.” To illustrate how this all comes together, Sand presents a hypothetical relationship between a 1w9 (considered the “Reformer”) and 9w1 (considered the “Peacemaker”). In this scenario, the couple would exhibit similar personality traits due to their shared wings, but because they are both housed in the “Intuitive Center,” they may not complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses enough.“Types that are both emotional or both analytical types can sometimes be less compatible than you would think,” says Sand. “Having two people who think and operate very similarly may lack some balance.” (Here’s the Enneagram Institute’s take on how these two types would actually do in a relationship.)But overall, Sand believes your Enneagram type isn’t necessarily a make-or-break factor in your relationship, and Jillian Henson Gilliam agrees. Henson believes any two types can be a fit—or not—regardless of their type. “Any two types can be compatible, and any two types can be like oil and water,” says Henson Gilliam, who is a certified Enneagram application professional with Enneagram Atlanta,
While type may not be the ultimate indicator of Enneagram compatibility, Henson Gilliam suggests a more relevant aspect to consider: the level of health. “The Enneagram teaches us that there are not only nine different types, but also nine levels of health for each type. Each of these levels has their own set of behaviors and attitudes,” she explains. “The higher the level of health, the less reactive we are, and the further down the levels we are, the more reactive and confrontational.”Here’s an example: Threes, also known as “Achievers,” want to feel valuable. Therefore, they fear feeling worthless. They want to be successful, and they want people to admire their success. At their best, type threes are charitable, motivated, and self-assured. At their worst, they destroy what others have that reminds them of their failures. And in between, you’ll find seven other levels of health. This illustrates why being with a healthy Enneagram type is so important and can have a bigger impact on your relationship’s well-being. (To see the health levels for your Enneagram type, click on your type’s page on the Enneagram Institute website.)
Since the Enneagram is so informational and intimate, this assessment can help us not only understand ourselves, but also our partners. Personality traits that may have seemed annoying at first may make more sense in light of the Enneagram, leading to more understanding and compassion between partners.“If people in a relationship are having trouble connecting, the Enneagram is a great tool to understand why,” Sand explains. “It’s based on core motivations and fears, so it helps you understand how the other person feels and why they do what they do.”When you and your partner take the time to discern your respective types and Enneagram compatibility, you can communicate and understand each other’s needs more easily. You’ll probably be able to work together more effectively and may even have fewer conflicts—aka, you’ll be more compatible. “As we [start to] see each other as our own unique, individual beings, we can open to the mystery of who the other really is and not just who we hope they are or assume they are,” says Henson Gilliam.So, does Enneagram compatibility matter in romantic relationships? Ultimately, it’s just another helpful tool to help you better understand yourself and those around you—and set your relationship up for success from the start. “All types have strengths and weaknesses,” Henson Gilliam adds. “The Enneagram can help us predict where two types will be great together and where two types might get into trouble.”To delve deeper into your romantic relationship, check out the Enneagram Institute’s combinations page. It explains how two specific types interact, including where their strengths and weaknesses are.Craving true connection? If you’re ready to date like a human again, sign up for the waitlist for the forthcoming Keepler dating app here.