Misidentifying Twos and Nines

There are a number of similarities between these types. Both are interpersonal, both tend to put others’ needs before their own, both believe in service, both like to keep things positive, and so forth. Nonetheless, the differences between them are significant.

It is usually average Nines who mistakenly think that they are Twos; it is rare for average Twos to make the reverse misidentification. Some average Nines (particularly women) would like to be Twos because they believe that Two is the loving type, and since these Nines also see themselves as loving, they feel that they must therefore be Twos. But of course, the capacity to love is not restricted to Twos, and other types (including Nines) are equally capable of loving others. As with other general traits that are common to all the types (such as aggression and anxiety), love is expressed differently from type to type and must be distinguished.

In fact, the way Twos and Nines love others is quite different. Nines are unselfconscious, seldom focusing on themselves. They are self-effacing and accommodating, quite content to support others emotionally without looking for a great deal of attention or appreciation in return. Of course, while Nines want to feel that their love is returned, they are patient about it and can be satisfied with fewer responses than Twos. (Some of this is because Nines secretly do not want others to bother them or to affect them too strongly–they attempt to stay in connection with others while withdrawing within themselves to feel safe and independent.) Average Nines tend to idealize others and fall in love with a romantic, idealized version of the person rather than the person as he or she actually is. Average Twos, on the other hand, have an acute sense of other people and their hurts, needs, and frailties. Twos may focus on these qualities as a way of getting closer to others and as a way to be needed.

Unlike average Nines, average Twos have a very sharp sense of their own identities. Although highly empathetic, they are not particularly self-effacing or accommodating. Rather than being unselfconscious, they are highly aware of their feelings and virtues and are much less hesitant to talk about them.

At their best, healthy Twos can be as unselfish and humble as healthy Nines, but by the average Levels, there is quite a marked difference: Twos need to be needed, they want to be important in the lives of others, and they want people to come to them for approval, guidance, and advice. Average Twos almost “go after” people, and are always in danger of subtly encouraging people to become dependent on them. They tend to do things for people so that others will reinforce their sense of themselves as all-good and loving. By contrast to average Nines (who become silent, uncommunicative, and show few reactions when they get into conflicts with others), average Twos have no hesitation about telling people how selfish they are or informing them in no uncertain terms how much others are indebted to them. In short, as they become unhealthier, the egos of Twos inflate and become more self-important and aggressive, whereas the egos of Nines become more self-effacing, withdrawn, and diffused.

Healthy Nines offer safe space to others. They are easy-going and accepting, so that others feel safe with them. There is almost no tendency in Nines to manipulate others or to make them feel guilty for not responding as they would like. (Healthy Nines are more patient and humble–traits Twos could learn from them.) By contrast, healthy Twos are willing to get down to the nitty-gritty and help out in difficult situations. They have an energy and staying power that average Nines tend to lack. Moreover, the help that healthy Twos give has a direct, personal focus: it is a response to you and your needs. In general, Twos will walk that extra mile with others, whereas, while Nines sincerely wish others well, they generally offer more comfort and reassurance than practical help. (The particularity of the love of healthy Twos is something that Nines could learn.) The similarities and differences between these two types may be seen by contrasting Eleanor Roosevelt and Lillian Carter (Twos) with Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford (Nines).