Enneagram Type Three (the Achiever)
Enneagram Type Four (the Individualist)

What Each Type Brings to the Relationship

These two types can form something of a complementary relationship, with each bringing important qualities to the relationship that the other generally lacks. Enneagram Fours can teach Threes how to talk about themselves on a deeper level and help acknowledge and process their feelings. They can also bring Threes more sensitivity, a feeling for beauty and for the non-practical but fulfilling aspects of life. Finding the Three’s heart’s desire is an extremely important area of self-awareness in which Fours can play a helpful role to Threes. Fours can bring a sense of style and presentation, rich communication, and sense of refinement. Threes model many of the qualities that Fours would like to develop in themselves, and Threes are well-suited to helping Fours gain new skills. Threes can bring a good deal of tact and diplomacy to handling Fours’ emotional reactions and their sometimes too-sensitive feelings and self-doubts. Knowing what to say and when to say it-and what not to say—to a Four can be crucial for building trust in the relationship and avoiding inadvertent episodes when either feels humiliated or embarrassed. Threes can bring a sense of hope and ambition to the relationship, practical goal-setting, coaching and behavior management techniques that help Fours get out of a slump or a period of low energy. Threes can coach Fours on how to get on with practical matters and to act professionally despite the shifts in their feelings and self-doubts.

Since both types are driven by (often unconscious) feelings and reactions, this can be an intense and passionate coupling. Both are aware of “image” issues and about how others perceive them, and so this couple will be noteworthy for its energy, flair, sense of style, and enjoyment of the finer things of life. They may both feel a connection with the other that goes beyond words or reason into another realm as if they had known each other from a previous existence or that the other is some kind of soul mate.

Potential Trouble Spots or Issues

Both Threes and Fours have issues with self-esteem and with needing attention and validation from others. They both suffer from questions about their own identity and have hidden feelings of shame and worthlessness. These two types secretly compare themselves with others and have more or less openly competitive tendencies. Much will depend on how narcissistically wounded each person is—and therefore how much they will be vying for approval, attention, and recognition. Both Threes and Fours need attention and to feel appreciated, although Threes will be more able to openly seek these things. Fours can feel overshadowed or shut out of the limelight by the more energetic Three. This can trigger feelings in Fours of being defective and deficient, which Threes may play on. Threes will tend to give less attention than Fours to the relationship itself, although both will tend to see the other as essential for their welfare. Fours will typically want far more emotional involvement and intimacy than Threes are comfortable with (or even capable of providing).

A related problem is that neither type really sees the other as they are: both see the other through projections of what they need and expect the other to be. Fours may see Threes as a rescuer and as embodiment of everything they lack, whereas Threes may see Fours as an exotic, mysterious sexual or artistic trophy that enhances their desirability. Both types, however, can get into hostile rages if their emotional needs are not fulfilled. Perhaps worst for this pairing is that they inadvertently keep reminding each other of their own particular brand of self-concealment and phoniness—a constant source of irritation to each other. They can become snippy and sarcastic, gossiping and complaining about the shortcomings of the other to their own friends. Both can also be covert and indirect about sabotaging the other out of revenge, if their relationship should end. Once the respect and admiration they have had for each other ends, dismissiveness, contempt, and undermining begin—and the relationship itself is surely about to end.

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