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Enneagram type-based obstacles to relationships | type 8

Enneagram type-based obstacles to relationships | type 8

In this 10-part blog series, each blog covers a different Enneagram type, focusing on one essential way – of course, there are many per type –  they get in their own way of having real relationships with others. These can be seen on the graphic above.  Diving deeper, the blogs will connect the particular way the type creates specific obstacles in genuine relating to the issues and dynamics of that type. In addition, there will be one activity, process or idea that can relax or relieve this ego-based way we constrain ourselves from having what we deeply want in relationships.

Biggest obstacle | Unwillingness to show vulnerability and the belief that no one can or will be there for them

Eights do want relationships, although they are selective in terms of who they want to be close with, who they can trust in a very deep sense of the word, and more. Their biggest issue for relationships is that they act as if they don’t need them or want them; Eights feel they must appear much bigger than life. Eights also doubt if there are others who are ‘big enough’ in capacity and energy to be there for them when they do stumble or feel vulnerable. Since very few people measure up to this level of capability – at least in the mind and heart of the Eight – the list of possible relationship contenders becomes very small.

In addition, as Eights try to minimize their vulnerability ­– an essential ingredient in most close relationships – they do so by trying to exert control: control over the situations, control over the relationship, control over themselves, control over the other person and more. In general, most people don’t like the feeling of being in a relationship with others who are controlling, although it may take a while to arrive at the realization that the relationship is a controlling one and not a reciprocal one. Reciprocal relationships allow both parties to state their needs, get them met if possible and to be flexible in relation to one another.

Finally, Eights need to be open to allowing another person to be there for them, to ask for support when they need it, and to be open enough that the other person can sense when the Eight might need something. Being bigger than life, as Eights often appear, can cause others to think the Eights need very little if anything, from them.


The best way to be more open and available to reciprocal relationships involves self-reflection and admitting to yourself that you would like more of these. As a result of your introspective, you may conclude that these are not something you desire more or, at least, not right now.  And that’s OK.

However, if you do decide you want more real relationships, that by definition need to be reciprocal, you’ll need to become more vulnerable, and instead of equating being more open and vulnerable with being weak, equate being more open and vulnerable with being more real!

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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