How Your Enneagram Type Can Help You In Love

with guest contributor Michelle Johansen 

If you've read 9 Ways We View The World With The Enneagram, you'll know that the Enneagram can help us to improve our understanding of ourselves and the other people in our lives by giving us an insight into nine distinct personality types. But did you know it can also help you find love? 

Local coach Michelle Johansen explains the power of the Enneagram when it comes to relationships, to the extent that it really can save marriages. Read on to see whether you can spot any trends in your relationships. What are your personality motivators? What triggers will make you start an argument? And which personality traits do you have that will trigger other people?

This is a must-read if your guilty viewing pleasure is 'Married At First Sight' - whether you're willing to admit it not!

There's a free online test too, so grab a coffee and take a few moments for some honest self-reflection and see what it reveals.


Couple On Beach


The Power of The Enneagram

The Enneagram is a personality typology with its roots in antiquity which has been brought up to date through modern psychology. It doesn’t put you in a box, but rather provides a map showing how to navigate your way out of the box you are already in!

It also highlights that while we all have the potential to be wonderful human beings, we can also all get trapped by our personalities when we are operating in our “normal” mode, and this is when our relationships start getting into trouble.


Understanding Relationships... and 'Married At First Sight'

As with many couples over the past couple of years, my husband and I have spent a lot more time together than usual, which for the most part has been a blessing for us. But with travel restrictions lifting he has now returned to working a week or so a month in France, which has meant for the first time since the start of the pandemic, I have had sole possession of the remote control! 

So finally, time to binge on some guilty pleasure TV. After catching up on Drag Race, I landed on Married at First Sight and once I started watching this programme, I couldn’t resist that little on screen message stating Next episode starts in 15 seconds... Of course, the viewing was purely for research purposes, not just good car crash TV, but I couldn’t help think that most of the couples, and the people who put them together, could have benefitted from a bit of help from the Enneagram!

As the episodes went on, we saw a 9 trying to turn themselves inside out to please a more dominant partner, some pretty self-centred 3 type behaviour mismatched with a very needy 2, an introverted 5 with a uber flamboyant 7, amongst others. So did the experts get it wrong? Would they have done better to match the couples according to Enneagram type? Let's think about this a little more.


Is There An Ideal Love Match For Each Enneagram Type? 

Well, the politically correct answer to that question is no. Every type can be in a great relationship with every other type. But here’s the clincher - only on the proviso that both are in the psychologically healthy range for their type. 

Did we see any “healthy” Enneagram types on Married at First Sight?! Because here’s the thing, being in the healthy range of our Enneagram type is not the normal human condition, most of us are on Enneagram autopilot, where we rarely question our own behaviour and the motivations behind it. In Enneagram-speak, that’s when we are considered to be in the “average” or  “normal” range for our types. Which simply means most of us react and act out automatically according to the values and beliefs of our type, without consciously examining why we do what we do. Hence why when we get into the mid-average range for our type, it’s called the level of “interpersonal conflict”.



Now take a deep breath and see if you recognise any of the patterns below...


Personality Patterns

Personality Type

Personality Motivator

Start fights about...

Others start fights with them about their...

Type 1

To do the right thing

Unfairness, i.e. when others are not pulling their weight

Inflexibility and critical nit-picking

Type 2 

To be loving and loved

When others lack gratitude for all their efforts 

Interference and meddling in other people’s affairs 

Type 3

To get things done fast

Others perceived inefficiency and lack of action

Focus on doing tasks and their allergy to intimacy 

Type 4

To be seen as unique

Not feeling appreciated for who they are

Overly dramatic behaviour that tests other people’s patience

Type 5

To expand their knowledge

Others invading their precious space and alone time

Unavailability and lack of desire for material possessions 

Type 6

To feel safe and secure

Anything that feels threatening

Contradictory nature, procrastination and dithering

Type 7

To be positive and have fun

When others attempt to clip their wings 

Self-centred approach to getting their needs met  

Type 8 

To be in control 

Injustices, both real and perceived

Perceived aggressive and dogmatic behaviour

Type 9 

To maintain harmony

Don’t start fights, they clam up and go silent instead

Lack of engagement and lack of decision making


Take the free test at The Enneagram Personality Test


Enneagram Pic


The Penny Drops

Well done, if you’re still reading! Because it’s likely you might have just spotted a pattern in either yourself or a partner and gone off to think about it. And its usually at this point on one of my “Understanding Yourself and Others with the Enneagram” courses that the tissue box gets passed around. Especially when we suddenly see in graphic detail some of the reasons why our previous relationships may have failed. 

Learning about the Enneagram isn’t a quick fix for our relationships, but it can show us where we need to start taking more responsibility for our own patterns, and over time, we learn that our way isn’t the only way and that our partner’s patterns have positive motivations behind them too. And while there is still conversation there is still hope that both parties can get to a better understanding.

And yes, of course there are types which will drive your type to distraction quicker than other types. But the trouble there is that opposites attract, so we can utilise the Enneagram to help us know what we are getting ourselves into!

But Back To Married At First Sight...

And back to MAFS. The UK 2021 couple who I thought had real potential, but were both too caught up in the coping strategies of their personality types to make it work, were Luke and Morag. If you haven’t watched, you may like to give it a go to see if you agree? Purely for research purposes of course!


For more information, take a look at Understanding Yourself and Others with the Enneagram or take the free test at The Enneagram Personality Test.


Michelle Johansen


About Michelle

Michelle Johansen is a Professional Certified Coach focusing on Coaching with Systemic Constellations and the Enneagram, alongside teaching the Enneagram to small groups in person and online in a way that is both easily accessible and of direct benefit to people in understanding themselves and their relationships.

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