Enneagram Type Eight (the Challenger)
Enneagram Type Nine (the Peacemaker)

What Each Type Brings to the Relationship

Enneagram Eights bring leadership qualities—a take charge, “we can do it” mentality that others usually look up to and rely on. They are full of self-confidence and vitality and feel like a force of nature that cannot be denied. Nines generally admire these qualities in Eights and often gravitate to them. Nines typically tend to live vicariously through the positive qualities of the other, and Eights like to have people around who are impressed and stimulated by the Eight’s leadership, vitality, and brashness. Nines genuinely admire the Eight’s ability to make things happen and to fearlessly take on challenges.

On the other hand, Nines bring a sense of calm and stability that Eights find soothing and necessary for their wellbeing. They also bring to Eights a feeling of quiet pride in the Eight’s bravado and more assertive qualities, encouraging Eights to continue in their take charge style. Even healthy Eights spend a lot of time overcoming obstacles and adversity; they are fighters trying to survive and make their mark on the world. Nines are like a safe harbor, a respite, a person with whom Eights can let down their guard and relax. They tend therefore to teach each other what the other lacks: Eights bring Nines self-confidence and self-assertion, while Nines teach Eights which battles are worth fighting for and how not to push so hard. The Eight/Nine couple is thus like fire and water—an active force and a receptive force—that has an archetypal feeling about it. Their roles are well-defined with each playing a parenting role toward the others—one is usually the daddy while the other is the mommy—although this does not go along gender lines as might be expected. Both have powerful drives and strong willpower; both like comfort and simplicity; both want to create a safe retreat from the world. When these forces and their talents are harnessed together after the same goals, this pair can be dynamic and powerful but also comfortable and receptive at the same time.

Potential Trouble Spots or Issues

One of the main problem areas for people of this combination is that, as they deteriorate, their defenses go in opposite directions: Eights tend to push harder, while Nines tend to increasingly shut down. Nines can become unresponsive, or worse, energetically pushing away the Eight as a defense. Eights become more aggressive and belligerent, demanding that their energy be met. Nines respond by not responding: they go on emotional strike, and may begin to react passive-aggressively, sabotaging the Eight’s activities in various ways. This causes Eights to escalate berating and threatening the Nine, or else to encourage Eights to react passive-aggressively.

Eventually, Eights tend to lose interest in Nines, feeling that they are too obstructionistic to them and their plans. Whenever Eights want to do something exciting, Nines respond with “Why bother?” or its equivalent. Eights can not only feel thwarted in their vision, but also feel that one of their core strengths is being undermined or rejected. On the other hand, Nines can begin to see lower functioning Eights as too bossy and controlling, selfish and wanting everything to be their way. (Nines think that they want someone to be in charge and to direct things, but when Eights start directing them, they rebel and become stubborn.) Eights think Nines are blank slates who could be molded to their needs—and they get surprised by the depth and power of the Nines stubbornness.

The relationship often founders on rage whether expressed openly or covertly. Nines often feel that Eights are too openly aggressive and harsh with others in order to maintain their dominance. They may begin to have to take sides to protect their children or others who are vulnerable to what they see as the hardness and potential violence of Eights. At its worst, this archetypal, elemental combination can deteriorate into a domestic battlefield with frequent verbal and physical abuse.

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