Enneagram Type Two (the Helper)
Enneagram Type Three (the Achiever)

What Each Type Brings to the Relationship

Both Enneagram Twos and Threes are driven by their feelings and emotional needs-although this is not always apparent in the case of Threes. Both are also driven by their need for attention and the desire to be loved-although this is not always apparent in the case of Twos. But for these reasons, both are oriented toward people and toward activities that will place them in the spotlight. This makes the Two/Three couple one of the most interpersonally attractive and impactful pairings possible. Individually and collectively, they are outgoing, sociable, high-spirited, charming, and often physically attractive. Both know how to make a favorable impression on people and to win them over. Each type brings energy, personal and social ambition, the ability to communicate with people and to make others feel like they are the center of attention. Both know how to get people to like them and to rally support to achieve their goals. Twos in particular bring a more personal, individual focus to their interactions with others. They are thoughtful and follow up exchanges with genuine kindness and compassion. Threes bring flexibility, charm, practicality, and a goal-oriented vision for ways the couple can improve. Twos like to feel proud of their loved ones, and Threes want to make their partner proud.

There is also a particular way that this pairing works as a team: Twos like to put the spotlight on others, and Threes like to be in the spotlight. Twos like to be the power behind the throne, and Threes can be happy being the point person for the couple. As long as healthy Threes appreciate the lavish attention of the Two, this arrangement can work well. In a sense, this is almost an ideal political couple—socially adept, energetic, virtually radiating charm and self-confidence, inviting others (by their manner and attractiveness) to join them in some way. Twos and Threes can be dazzling—a couple so widely admired and socially gifted that they become icons for their social sphere and time.

Potential Trouble Spots or Issues

A couple with such conscious star power also tends to be self-conscious—and even more conscious of each other. Twos get jealous and possessive of Threes. They can fall into a “I made you—you owe me” syndrome, feeling used and unappreciated. For all of their apparent willingness to take second place, Twos want to be recognized privately by their partners and to be made to feel that they are important. But Threes typically find it difficult to thank others for their success or to share the glory. Moreover, Threes may feel that Twos overestimate their contributions: they take credit for too much, sometimes, embarrassingly, in public. As a result, Twos can start to undermine the Three’s confidence to get the Three to feel that he or she depends on the Two. Threes react quickly and strongly to perceived criticism and potential humiliation by distancing themselves—inevitably creating more anxiety and manipulation in the Two, a vicious cycle.

Part of the problem is that both have underlying feelings of shame and vulnerability and they know each other’s weak spots and can play on them when they have to. Furthermore, potential conflicts can arise because neither Twos nor Threes are particularly introspective nor are they very interested in their own underlying motives. They simply assume that they are traveling in the same direction—toward increasing success and social validation-only to realize that they have drifted apart and may actually be at loggerheads with each other. Twos fundamentally feel that Threes put work and career before them, their children and home life, primary values for Twos. They feel that Threes are too focused on success and that they are missing the really valuable things in life. Threes, on the other hand, can feel stifled by the Two’s insistence on the need to spend time together. Threes feel Twos are smothering and emotionally manipulative, making them feel guilty for working hard and making the most of themselves. Intimacy deteriorates into bickering, and what it means to have a successful relationship becomes a real question. Disdain for each other can erupt into open hostilities.

For further understanding about this type combination, read more about the Stress Arrow and how types Two and Three behave when they are moving along it.