There are many common questions on the Enneagram when we first discover it. Which type is best for me to relate to? How can we mobilize the most successful team? Who is my best match?
I always hear couples in my coaching sessions talk about their partner saying things like; “I avoid, I hate, I fear her or him” even though in the beginning of their relationship they used to say; “I love, I marry, I like. I can’t live without him & her.”
These interactions are not about the chemistry that bonds a successful team or the attractions that enliven a marriage.
They are about pinpointing the concerns that inevitably emerge during the course of any committed partnership and that make or break the connection with people.
Drama triangle and the Hornevian group:
Here I will discuss the Hornevian groups. They are 3 groups and when I observe some couples, I can say that every group tends to play a role in the Drama triangle, especially that we all, when not present, play a role from the drama triangle; the victim, hero or villain.
In relationships, the villain’s job is blaming the partner, saying it’s the partner’s fault that the project didn’t get done or that you didn’t give it your best effort.
The villain attacks others.
Lives with the belief that life is happening to them, for the victim, a person’s circumstance or condition is doing something or not doing something, that is causing the victim’s life to be as it is. They can’t beat the effect of anything including their partners, bosses, their kids, the weather, their job, the traffic, their body, and their mood.
The victim feels powerless.
The Hero: is the one who gives a hungry person a fish sandwich rather than teaching them how to fish. The hero doesn’t want others or themselves to feel bad, so they say and do things that makes the immediate pain go away without facing and dealing with the case issue. When they are exhausted, the hero calms themselves by eating and drinking when the partner feels sad. The hero pleases them by saying things like ‘it will be okay’ or ‘I’ll do it for you.’
The hero seeks value by being needed by others.
Every one of the nine types can play all roles in the drama triangle but there are types that tend to lean towards one role more than another. It depends on the nature of their personality.
Drama triangle & the Hornevian groups:
The villain match:
With the assertive Types 3, 7, 8 (Horney’s moving against people)
The Hero match:
With the compliant’s Types 1, 2, 6(Horney’s moving toward people)
The Victim match:
With the withdrawing Types 9, 5, 4 (Horney’s moving away from people)
Now we can talk about the Assertive group (against people) Types Three, Seven, Eight and how they tend to play the villain role in the drama triangle.
The assertive types are ego oriented and ego expansive, they respond to stress or difficultly by building up, reinforcing or inflating their ego. They expand their ego in the face of difficulty rather than back down, withdraw or seek protection from others.
All three of these types have issues with processing their feelings – recognizing and understanding the untruth of this “sense of self” can be extremely valuable for seeing through the major features of their ego. We can imagine then, for example, I am the center (I am what is important her/him).
Assertive types automatically feel that everything meaningful happening is in relation to them.
The Complaint’s (toward people) types One, Two and Six, and how they play the hero role in the drama triangle.
These three types share a need to be of service to other people They are the advocates, public servants and committed workers. All three respond to difficulty and stress by consulting with their superegos finding out what is the right thing to do. They ask themselves “How can I be a responsible person?”
They are not necessarily compliant to other people, they are however, highly compliant to the demands of their superegos.
These three types try to obey the internalized rules their automatic sense of self – that of being “better than others” although how this is expressed is usually subtle.
Type One thinks “this is so sloppy and disorganized if I were in charge things would not be such a mess.”
Type Two thinks “these poor people. I wish I had time to give everyone my attention. They look troubled they need my help.” By approaching others from the position of the loving who gives their concern and service to others, Twos automatically put themselves in the superior role to being better than others.
Type Six is more troubled by inferiority feelings than one or two but they get a sense of “better than” through their affiliations and social identification. “I am Egyptian and we’re the mother of the world” or even things like, “I live in Cairo, which is a better city than Alexandria.”
The Withdrawal types – (Horney`s moving away from people) Types Four, Five, and Nine and how they tend to play victim role in the drama triangle.
These types don’t have such differentiation between their conscious self and their unconscious unprocessed feelings, and their impulses. Their unconscious is always milling up into consciousness through day dreams and fantasies.
These types respond to stress by moving away from engagement with the world and into an “inner space” in their imagination.
Nines withdraw into a safe and carefree inner sanctum, Fours with drama into a romantic and idealized fantasy self. Fives, withdraw into a complex and cerebral inner thinker.
So, they all can “zone out” and go into their imagination very easily. These types have problems with staying in the physicality and getting out of their imagination and into action.
They believe “I am not part of what is going on, I am not like these other people.”
The Fours and the Fives most clearly feel separate from others. They reinforced their sense of self by staying apart and being different.
Type Four: would typically be standoffish and aloof and if they were not in proper mood. They might simply leave and say “it is too much for me, I am just not up to it right now.”
Type Five: would be just as happy at home reading a book or pursuing their own interests and at outside Fives would probably sit on the side time and watch everybody else.
Type Nine: might well enjoy the gathering and even participate but they would remain disengaged. They might “tune out” almost entirely and simply “tag along” with someone allowing the other person to do most of the social interacting while the Nine remains benignly silent or good humoredly unresponsive.
So, we can join these 3 types (9, 4, 5) with victim roles as they go away from the conflict and prefer observing people more than take action at times and tend to say “they are the reason of my dark life.”
Finally: The Assertive types (3, 7, 8) insist that they get what they want so they tend to play villain roles and they believe they need it.
The Compliant types (1, 2, 6) all attempt to earn something by placating their superego to get what they want. They do their best to be “good boys and girls” to get their needs met. So, their types (1, 2, 6) tend to play the hero role because they go toward people to help and be good people by advising them and providing services for them.
The Withdrawal types (4, 5, 9) all withdraw to get what they want. They disengage from others to deal with their needs. So, they tend to play the victim role because they prefer to go away from the conflict so it might be easy to be a victim for the abuser, not only that but also attract the abuser to them because they interested in this role.
Now we will show these types in relationships:
We can begin with the Victim with Villain as the example (9 & 7) in the relationship.
First, we can talk about how they match together:
- They keep abreast of events, and they’re often attracted to cutting edge ideas.
- They can infuse vitality into family life and are often the wick that draws a predictable life.
- The partners (9 & 7) share a gigantic worldview as big picture thinkers and 7, is looking forward to tomorrow’s plans with multiple options.
- They have wide ranging interests, different groups of friends.
- They have a willingness to tell children to be their own unique selves.
- On the high side both types enjoy an open-minded investigation of life’s possibilities, but the down side of “anything is possible ” in an inability to choose.
- By the fact that Nines “avoid anger” and Sevens “avoid pain” both are determined to eliminate conflict and simply ignore the hard questions.
- They have been called monkey mind because attention rapidly shifts from things to thing in an attempt to satisfy the gluttony for experience 7`s need to limit themselves and to concentrate on what’s really possible in the relationship.
Nines, on the other hand can get obsessively attached to a single course of action. They avoid choice by circulating around all the possibilities of the same questions without moving one.
The Nine state of mind is likened to that of the proverbial elephant, a mind that never forgets and stays in the same place until it gets tired.
Nine’s need to work toward what is essential in their relationship without getting distracted.
- Seven’s focus of attention turns toward self-interest, Nines by contrast typically merge with a partner, often losing their own agenda in the process.
- Nine are creatures of habit they can develop activities that sustain them, or they can fall into an armchair depression.
This couple can move through periods in which Nine is depressed while Seven stays busily occupied and neither face the dilemma.
In the relationship they can drift until some outside event pulls the two together again.
The Villain takes the Victim on this white horse and suddenly pushes away to be a Victim again This is the dilemma.
The Hero with Villain – For example Type 2 & Type 8:
Type Two from the compliant group is a hero and Type Eight from the assertive group is a villain. The seduction of Two and the power of Eight. The giver moves toward others by trying to please, and the Boss moves against them to uncover the truth.
They match at:
The desire to be control in a partner’s life is familiar to both types because they meet at point two. Both want attention. But their manner of earning the attention is radically different. Two adjusts their feelings to meet the need of others and Eights insist that their own needs be met. Physical attention is significant in the relationship.
Their agenda: The focus will be on the Eights agenda the last platform demands goal satisfaction and Two’s take pride making wishes happen.
The most common interaction:
Shows Twos trying to soften the Eight and the Eight holding out, which can remain for years and always Two, the giver is focused on the other, and Eights get a lot of attention.
Two may be afraid to have personal needs exposed, or if an Eight does indeed dominate, Twos will explode and fight for freedom. Eight feels more secure when all the cards are on the table, and twos are pressured into knowing what they want.
A conflict between an enraged Two and an Eight partner can escalate into a full-scale war.
Two can be deadly manipulators unaccustomed to direct confrontation, they may resort to more indirect routes of personal influence and social pressure.
Twos want to keep their own image intact so they will present Eight as “the issue” and if Twos’ pride is injured or they are openly rejected they can be public and loud about their difficulties.
Customarily a crisis shows Eight feeling betrayed by manipulation, clamping down on soft emotions, and becoming increasingly angry. The message is “you are dishonest, don’t mess with me.”
So, in that example we can see the Two all the time in the relationship going toward the partner with imagining ways to earn his needs sometimes with giving and sometimes by seducing and also with manipulation while Type Eight plays the role of the villain. They always want all the cards on the table and insist that their own needs be met first and send a message “you are dishonest, don’t mess with me.”
Finally, we will discuss the last role in the relationship with the victim:
For example Type 1 & Type 4:
We can show type 1 as a hero and type 4 as the victim because Ones are in the compliant group and Fours are in the Withdrawal group.
Ones and Fours:
Perfectionists often recoil from seeing their own shadows in action, but it can’t be avoided in this pairing because romantics dramatize the emotional needs that Ones have suppressed. This relationship can introduce Ones to a life of feelings rather than a life determined by right or wrong thinking.
Ones think “pull yourself together.” Ones see Fours emotional exhibitionism and their need to be special, as traits that should be brought under discipline.
In relationships, Fours point out what’s missing in Ones often saying “you are unfeeling”, “you are cold”, “you can’t be touched.” The implication is that Fours are better people because they feel dearly.
The cycle can be interrupted if Fours see why Ones are driven to control a bad emotion; from the one side it helps to see the integrity of deep emotional connection that rules can not govern matters of the heart.
Ones, right – or – wrong thinking becomes palatable, it’s that those some ideas of right and wrong become meaningful to Fours when they are deeply felt.
Ones get actively angry when thy are wronged and they remember fights for a long time. Romantics respect people who don’t respond to attempted sabotage. It’s proof “that their partners want to stay and will not abandon them.”
The dilemma is the romantics suffer because something is missing and perfectionists see the flaws. The relationship can be animated by focusing on the good things in the present moment. And by taking pleasure in the satisfaction of the here and now.
So, we can see now the relationship between the drama triangle and the Hornevian groups that every type a tends to play a role from the drama triangle.
This way, everybody will play any role from drama triangle.
But always, every type from Enneagram attends a role from drama triangle matching with Hornevian groups.
1- The Enneagram in Love & Work – Helen Palmer
2- The Wisdom of the Enneagram – Don Riso & Russ Hudson