Enneagram Type Three (the Achiever)
Enneagram Type Five (the Investigator)

What Each Type Brings to the Relationship

This is a frequently seen combination, although one that might not be expected. Enneagram Fives often give Threes depth, new areas of expertise and credibility, while sparking creativity. Threes give Fives confidence, presentation skills, and awareness of the importance of communicating effectively with others. Both Threes and Fives are primarily focused on their work and on objective issues and concerns. Both types are preoccupied with competency and effectiveness, especially in their professional areas, and this is where they support each other in an outstanding way. Although both have deep feelings, both tend not to focus on them for the sake of getting on with their work. They tend to understand each other’s need to balance closeness with their need for personal space: they do not crowd each other. Threes contribute social skills, the ability to communicate and to sell ideas and projects, charm, energy, and a strong sense of practicality to the relationship. They can often see what is needed in the relationship or in the world and help to marshal the Five’s skills toward that goal. Fives bring depth of understanding, expertise in one or more areas, perseverance with details until the goal is accomplished, an objective dispassion, and lack of attachment to outcomes.

This can be a “brilliant” couple—sharp, successful, deeply competent, and well respected. If they are attractive, Threes can be a trophy for Fives who are usually less concerned with appearance; Fives, on the other hand, can also be a trophy for Threes who are proud of the Five’s expertise and who are glad to learn from them whenever they can. Both regard the other as a catch who enhances their own self-esteem and social standing. Their deep, often unspoken, feelings for each other frequently deepen even more over time, gradually allowing this couple to discover not just passion but quiet affection and pride in each other.

Potential Trouble Spots or Issues

This couple’s emphasis on work and competency can also lead them into conflicts and tensions with each other. A great deal of their self-esteem is also derived from their work and how it is regarded by others. Threes and Fives can get into more or less open contentiousness over who was the original source of ideas and work. There can be elements of comparing one’s work and contributions, claims about who is responsible for which ideas or breakthroughs, and other forms of competitiveness coming not only from Threes but from Fives. Threes also tend to want to get on with the project or with whatever they feel needs to be done, while Fives tend to take a long time fine tuning and tinkering until they feel that they are adequately complete. Conflicts can erupt over use of time, resources, and priorities as the more practical minded Three becomes increasingly impatient with the Five’s lengthy preparations but lack of action. Fives may also begin to lose respect for the ethical standards of Threes who they feel are ready to cut corners or exaggerate claims in order to accomplish goals or to stay ahead professionally.

Both types also tend to not speak directly about their feelings or misgivings about the relationship until it is too late: then they both can become sarcastic and hostile, icy and distant from each other. Fives can be too blunt and argumentative for Threes who can retaliate with sarcastic zingers and put-downs while pretending not to be hostile or irritated. Both types can be arrogant and impatient with the other, and as a couple they begin to find little to admire in the other. Threes can seem shallow and dishonest to Fives, while Fives can seem weird and repulsive to Threes. Turning a negative situation around will depend on how much each needs the other, as well as the depth and breadth of other shared values, such as children and spiritual beliefs. If these are few, it will be difficult to salvage the relationship once their connection has been broken since both types tend to be suspicious and cynical about people.

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