9 Relationship Myths Debunked The Enneagram Edition
Updated: Mar 4, 2020
Our theme this month has been on relationships and if you’ve never heard of The Enneagram (pronounced any-a-gram) It is what many people would categorize as a personality test, and those people would technically be correct.
Stemming from the Greek words ennea (nine) and grammos (a written symbol), the nine-pointed Enneagram symbol represents nine distinct strategies for relating to the self, others and the world. Each Enneagram type has a different pattern of thinking, feeling and acting that arises from a deeper inner motivation or worldview.
Ask anyone who has experienced The Enneagram and they’ll tell you it’s a lot “deeper and wider” than any personality test.
“The Enneagram is the most exposing and revealing personality typology we have encountered because it’s not just trying to explain what we do on the outside. Instead, it’s telling us why we think, feel, and behave on the inside. It clearly reveals to us our Core Motivations as well as the condition of our heart. It will tear down any facade we try to hide behind.”*
*McCord, Beth. Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage (pp. 32-33). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
So with a tool this revelatory in helping us with understanding ourselves, you can imagine what this means for our relationships! Increased awareness of why we think, feel, and do what we do equips us to be able to change patterns and experience grace and freedom.
As a therapist, my clients and I talk about relationships all day, every day. It can be helpful to call out some of the myths or false beliefs we are holding on to or subscribing to, oftentimes totally unaware. In doing this we can set ourselves up for some transformative shifts. So here are relationships myths-debunked through the lens of The Enneagram. These 9 myths correspond with the 9 Types on The Enneagram.
🙅🏽♀️🙅🏽♀️ I’m not suggesting that these myths always come up for these types exclusively. I’m sure we’ll all be able to relate to each myth. These are generally based on some of the characteristics and core motivations of each type.
It’s okay to have boundaries, but not with your partner
Boundaries come up a lot. What I’ve found to be some of the most common struggles with boundaries are identifying what they need to be, with who, and how. It’s not uncommon for folks to struggle with boundaries especially in relationships because they feel that it’s not okay to have boundaries with your partner.
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for the Type 9 which is to pay attention to your own needs and well-being-ESPECIALLY in your relationships. 9s are peacemakers and have a tendency to avoid conflict. Anyone with any experience with setting boundaries (especially where they are most needed) knows that conflict is quite probable. I tell my clients frequently that those who protest your boundaries when you enforce them are often the situations where the boundary is most needed. That’s the case for your significant other as well!
Right is right!
In relationships: In relationships, it can be so easy to get caught up in being “right”. We get a sense of validation when we know we are the ones in the right and it’s our partner who is wrong. It doesn’t get us far though because it creates division and impairs our ability to actually “partner” with our significant other to tackle issues that arise. Instead, we can find ourselves keeping an ongoing list of evidence to support why they are wrong and we are right. So then when it’s time to communicate-throw empathy and listening out of the window of the sinking ship, because you came to the table with your list and you. are. ready.
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for Type 1 which is to remind you that the goal is to be human, not to be without fault or to be “right”. Type 1 has a core longing to be “good” and so this can show up in the form of perfectionism and a constant strive for what is “right”. As humans, sometimes we are just wrong and we make mistakes and we are still worthy of love. So right isn’t always right-our greatest growth can come from being wrong, falling flat on our faces (again) and how we rise from it.
You have to give in order to get
In relationships: In any relationship, there’s a natural order of giving and receiving. It’s not uncommon in relationships for what feels like an imbalance of giving between partners, leaving one person to be more of a giver than their partner. This can create issues such as burnout, codependency, feeling unappreciated, power struggles, and lots of guilt. Yuck, right?
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for Type 2 which is to realize that we are loved for who we are not how much we are needed! Type 2 has a core desire to be appreciated, loved, and wanted and so they seek this by attending to the needs of others-oftentimes without dealing with their own needs.
Dwelling in emotions is unproductive/ineffective
In relationships: Okay, so there is this very common narrative amongst many people of color that emotions are a waste of time. Somehow, those God-given feelings you have are getting in the way because there are things to do! In relationships, this becomes clear when there are inevitably emotions that surface and one partner is all about it, feeling all the feels and the other is not-sometimes coming across as cold or without emotion. This can leave the other partner feeling dismissed or even rejected.
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for Type 3 which is to realize that you are loved for who you are, not how efficient or accomplished you are. 3s, though incredibly emotional (being in the center of the heart triad), tend to disconnect from emotions to maintain efficiency because that’s how they feel valued. Spending time in your feelings will not get in the way of you getting stuff done-if anything leaning into them can help guide you and give you some intelligence along the way. Especially in relationships. Make time for the feelings.
Monotony leads to loss
In relationships: Some of our most magical moments in relationships involve feeling special. Feeling seen. Feeling heard. I’m sure you’ve heard it before but we are wired for connection so it’s in these moments that we tend to be reminded that we are loved. Because of this, if things feel too routine or monotonous it can signal that we are at risk of losing our partner because “who wants to be with someone who’s boring!?”
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for Type 4 which is to realize that you are loved and special for who you are in your entirety and so, in focusing on what is positive in life in the present versus what’s missing or how things fall short you can develop an appreciation for the things that are ordinary everyday experiences. In sustainable relationships, there can be great value and connection in the ordinary, day to day things.
Knowledge is power
Warning: Bubble burst is coming.
As much as we’d like to believe we have all of the answers, and even in those situations where you really do-when you think about it, how much is your extensive knowledge about ____________ helping your relationship(s)? Best case scenario, even if that knowledge is about your partner, the belief that the more you know the more self-sufficient you are, leads to you 1) Getting really stuck in your head and retracting and 2) Disconnecting from your partner.
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for Type 5 which is to come out of your head and tap into your feelings more. 5s are in the head triad (along with Type 6 and Type 7). 5s get what they need by retreating from what feels like an overwhelming world into their minds by taking information and thinking. The lesson is that there’s a sufficient supply of what’s needed for you to feel supported, safe, and sustained in life outside of your head when you actually engage in life and show up.
Proof before trust
In Relationships: Trust. It’s a big deal. Relationships don’t survive without it-at least, not the ones that are #goals. We know that there are plenty of toxic ones that have been toxic forever without trust. So after something happens that challenges or compromises trust; is it your practice to wait until your partner gives you evidence that they are trustworthy before you trust again? Even if there is no event that impacts trust, coming into a relationship-are you waiting for proof of trustworthiness before you’re actually trusting? If so, how’s that working out for you?
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for Type 6 which is to know that it’s natural to have faith in ourselves and in each other and that we can embrace life without mistrust or doubt. The reality is the only way to trust is to trust. If you are waiting for proof or evidence that’s it’s safe to trust start paying attention, it’s quite probable that you are stuck or repeating the same patterns over and over.
Stimulation leads to security
In Relationships: A lot of couples struggle with the not so exciting seasons that must come with long term relationships. When they are traveling, or entertaining, and doing something exciting they are good-but when things don’t feel fresh, and new, and there’s not as much to talk about some people freak out!
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for Type 7 which is to take notice of when your quest for pleasure is a response to a fear of deprivation (😳) or a desire to escape. Life is so much more than all of the exciting sparkly moments-it’s the icky fears and pain too and everything in between! That polarity is apart of what makes it all so amazing.
Whew. So news flash, vulnerability is hard and apparently, strength is a virtue
Last week, my amazing husband posted: “Black Men will ‘I’m good’ themselves into depression”. This comes up so much in relationships obviously because of our preoccupation with not being seen as weak but also our deep inherent desire to feel connected and be seen. This myth that if we show vulnerability we are then weak is poison. To be vulnerable requires ALL the strength and ALL the courage.
Debunk: The Enneagram debunks this myth for us through its wisdom for Type 8 which is to trust that you don’t have to be in protective mode all of the time-let your guard down. Relationships require compassion and it’s a lot easier when you’ve been practicing with yourself.
I hope you found this useful! If you are curious about the Enneagram I encourage you to click subscribe and join my mailing list!