Enneagram Type Six (the Loyalist)
Enneagram Type Eight (the Challenger)

What Each Type Brings to the Relationship

Enneagram Sixes and Eights can build an extraordinarily strong, long-lasting relationship on what is, at root, a defensive view of the world. Both types feel that most people and the world are selfish and untrustworthy, and that the world is highly unpredictable. One therefore needs to take care of oneself and one’s own interests (Eights) and have strong allies and the ability to get back up from one’s friends (Sixes). Both Sixes and Eights have deep issues with trust—and with finding people they are able to trust-and so when they have found each other and have gone through a period of testing, their alliance can be solid and deep. Once they have bonded with each other, both types have done so on a deep level of their being, and while the relationship may change over time, they are never indifferent to each other. They both admire and try to embody strength, commitment to one’s word, honor, unquestioned loyalty, responsibility, hard work, courage, a spirit of protectiveness, and fighting for the underdog. Both are doers, and enjoy being active, getting tasks accomplished, building a more safe and secure world for themselves and their loved ones. Sixes bring warmth, the desire for personal connection and commitment, a certain playfulness and sensitivity.

They are also mental types and bring skepticism, analytic thinking, and the ability to think through decisions and to foresee outcomes and potential problems before acting. Sixes thus tend to act as advisors and lieutenants to Eights who tend to take the lead and provide the vision and audacity that Sixes sometimes lack themselves. Eights also bring directness and decisiveness, strong wills, confidence, a can do spirit that is energized by adversity and a penchant for taking on challenges. Sixes tend to look up to the Eights as their hero, while Eights are touched by the Six’s devotion and courage. Eights are aware of their inner struggles and what it takes to overcome them. When there is genuine affection between these two types, there may be fireworks and occasional fights, but the bond only seems to grow stronger with time.

Potential Trouble Spots or Issues

Both Sixes and Eights are emotional, although both tend to hide their emotions and vulnerabilities as best they can. Eights do so under a veneer of toughness and bravado, Sixes under a shell of defensiveness and bluster. Both tend to counterattack and go on the offensive when threatened—or when they feel they are being threatened. In general, Eights tend to take the lead in most relationships they are in and to set the tone and make decisions. They expect others to obey them and to be loyal to them. Eights may tolerate (or even be amused by) an occasional flare up of independence on the part of others around them, but ultimately, they expect to be in charge. For the most part, this is also fine with Sixes, except for those times when Sixes feel the need to push back and to prove themselves. They need to show others (including the Eight) that they cannot be pushed around or taken advantage of. Power struggles of all kinds can ensue. This is especially true of “counterphobic” Sixes who can actually react much like Eights, displaying leadership, decisiveness and independence (on the positive side) as well as bluster, aggression, and defiance. Sixes who are more counterphobic tend to get into more open fights with Eights until both have determined their territory and just how far each can push the other.

Sixes who are more openly phobic (fearful, timid, anxious) generally tend to avoid confrontations with Eights; instead, they tend to present no open threat to the Eight’s dominance, while being covertly passive-aggressive and evasive. Eights can get into conflicts with phobic Sixes by sensing their indirect, questioning qualities—and whether or not the Six is as loyal to the Eight as the Eight wants. Eights may become more or less openly contemptuous of them if they feel the Six is weak or vacillating. Problems in this relationship can be exacerbated by the Eight’s tendency to get into rages, to make threats to the Six’s security, or to bully and play on weaknesses. When trust and respect crumble in this relationship, constant testing from both parties brings about the end fairly quickly.

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