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These two types bring to each other complementary and reciprocal talents—just what the other needs but is not necessarily aware of. For instance, Enneagram Fives need to be more identified with their body and with their instinctive energy; they need to be more engaged with the practical world and to feel their own sense of power and capacity. They can learn these qualities from Eights. On the other hand, Eights need to be more thoughtful and aware of the impact of their actions on themselves and on their environment. They need to know more and to think of consequences more carefully before acting. Every action produces a reaction, and it is not necessarily the one that the Eight wants to happen. This kind of analytic foresight is something Eights can learn from Fives.
Besides these qualities, both Fives and Eights bring a common insistence on independence and non-interference from others. Both types are aware of boundaries and dislike intrusion. Both enjoy a good debate, and both admire someone who stands up for himself intellectually and/or physically. Both types feel like misfits and so they understand each other’s emotional core, often in an unspoken way. Both types need personal space, but when they find each other, they can both show a surprising degree of need and vulnerability. They see the other person behind the defense, relating to each others’ sense of dignity and hidden vulnerabilities. Both can be stoical toward their own suffering and unhappiness, with little or no self-pity. As a couple, they can bring power and depth, action and thoughtfulness, brilliance and brashness to their world. They are also the natural protectors and advisors of each other: Eights love to protect less tough Fives, and Fives help Eights recognize the subtleties for their plans and actions. These two types can therefore band together as a coalition of power and brains, a formidable combination.
Fives are not much in touch with their physical bodies—they identify with their minds and are indifferent to virtually all of the physical and practical goals that more earthy Eights have. Not wanting a house, a company, or a spouse are all sources of pride to average Fives who feel good about themselves when they can cut off from their needs and learn to do without. Eights, by contrast, take pride in their earthly conquests, whether socially, financially, sexually, or psychologically. Making their mark on their environment is a primary goal for Eights and they often use their physical stature and energy to intimidate people and enforce their will. Thus, the more insecure these two types become, the more they react in completely opposite ways: Fives shut down more completely, become more taciturn, secretive, and isolated, while Eights become more confrontational, threatening, and enraged.
The biggest problem is that in the lower Levels, these two separate physically from the other and any real communication ceases to take place. Lower functioning Fives tend to lose respect for anyone they judge to be irrational, destructive, and out of control. The storminess and threats of unhealthy Eights terrify Fives who must physically leave to feel safe. They know and will attack each other’s vulnerabilities if sufficiently provoked—and both Fives and Eights tend to provoke each other as a way of protecting themselves. Both types are also sensitive to rejection and both tend to feel rejected easily. The Five’s departure will trigger a strong rejection reaction in the Eight who will likely retaliate in any way that he or she can. An Eight’s departure will trigger the Five’s rejection feelings, but more likely with a collapse into cynicism and depression. Both can be extremely cynical, and the demise of their relationship only confirms their darkest opinions about the possibility of human beings living together.
For further understanding about this type combination, read more about the Stress Arrow and how types Five and Eight behave when they are moving along it.
Private consultations are available to discuss your relationships issues, or to ask questions about your type and its compatibility with other types.
The accuracy and usefulness of these Relationship Combinations pages are made possible by The Insight Approach of Don Riso and Russ Hudson. For the only in-depth Training Program that covers all elements of the complete Enneagram system, consider coming to the Enneagram Institute Training Program.
Copyright Notice: All the relationship combination materials given here, including those that have previously been published on this website are copyrighted for the current year by The Enneagram Institute, and are not available for commercial use or publication by others. See our Guidelines for use of Riso-Hudson materials.
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