Enneagram Type Three (the Achiever) 
Enneagram Type Eight (the Challenger)

What Each Type Brings to the Relationship

These two types can form powerful and highly effective affiliations and can also have passionate and stimulating personal relationships. Both are assertive: both Threes and Eights go after what they want in life. Both can be larger-than-life figures who are outstanding in some way and because both stand out in their social circle. They cannot help but notice each other and come to terms with each other. Either an alliance forms that will enhance both parties or a competition develops that will keep them apart. Surprisingly, Eight’s strength and solidity gives Threes permission to be more heartfelt: the Eight feels reliable and Threes seek safety to reveal their hearts. Eights also like seeing Threes use the opportunities and rise to the challenges they offer. On the other side, it helps Eights to relax once they see that the Three is competent and can do things on their own. Moreover, both Threes and Eights are action oriented, pragmatic, care about getting the job done and are willing to take the lead to achieve their goals.

They both have a marked degree of self-confidence (at least outwardly), they can be persuasive, and they can cut their losses and change goals when things are not working for them. To this mix, Threes bring more awareness of others, a feeling for public relations and for how to please people. They are more diplomatic and adaptable, both in their relationship with Eights and with others. Eights bring forthrightness in expression, fearlessness, physical vigor, and determination to achieve their personal vision. They bring solidity, decisiveness, and a kind of strength that the more flexible Three gains confidence from. They want to be proud of each other and to support each other’s potentials and accomplishments. They tend not to compete with each other—surprising because both tend, in general, to be competitive with others.

Potential Trouble Spots or Issues

Threes and Eights can be effective in the business world and in their professional careers where energy, determination to succeed, and personal drive are necessary. But both types tend to be workaholics, putting themselves under tremendous stress in order to achieve their goals and to hang onto to whatever success they have. Under sufficient stress, they may stop supporting each other and compete to top the other’s achievements. Of the two types, Eights are more openly controlling than Threes, although Threes will attempt to control situations covertly—which can arouse the Eight’s suspicions and lack of trust. Once trust is compromised, Eights can become jealous and possessive, ordering the Three to do things to prove their personal loyalty to the Eight. Threes may easily feel used and belittled, not adequately appreciated for their contributions or for their support of the Eight. Eights begin to expect and demand loyalty—even obedience—for their patronage and guidance. Threes begin to feel that they are losing their ability to pursue their own goals, that they are becoming an appendage of the Eight.

In response to deteriorating conditions, both types can become manipulative to get what they want. Once they begin to do this with each other, trust and openness cannot be maintained. Moreover, neither Threes nor Eights are very skilled at talking about their real feelings or needs, nor do they feel comfortable being vulnerable. For both, isolation and suspicion becomes the norm and can become difficult to break through. Eights may see the Three as deceitful and untrustworthy; Threes may see the Eight as willful and vengeful, and they can fear being humiliated and co-opted for life. Eights ultimately want support for themselves and their vision. Threes want to be developing themselves and to be admired for their qualities. Battles over who is supporting whom result. Whose agenda will prevail? A nasty, very personal, breakup may follow.

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