This is an excerpt from “The Nine Keys”
Dorothy, Helper (2) married in a 9-year relationship with Alex, Achiever (3)
“My husband is responsible, focused, adaptable, diverse in his interests and a wonderful mix of stable and adventurous. Alex has a huge heart and is a truly kind and caring person. He is a great partner; very conscious of his actions and decisions, and how they impact me, us and our flow. He can be very sensitive, expressive, affirming, and affectionate. He is often a great listener and when fully focused, shares heartfelt responses. He has high self-esteem and a strong drive to be the best in all his does, including our relationship. He easily resets to a positive outlook and frequently shares his appreciation for me, our partnership and our life together.
He is very image conscious; this is both an asset and a challenge at times. He is very careful to do what will be impressive, both for me and others. He can come across as compatible and caring. At other times his image sensitivity can seem silly or even be challenging. A playful example is he will change his outfit to match the different activities we engage in over the course of the day. We may start our day with morning yoga, then go play golf and in the later afternoon take a hike or play tennis. He will change his complete outfit to “look” the part he is playing. I may just change footwear and have to wait for his ensemble change, which often doesn’t look that different to me.
We both work out of our home. Alex can work long hours with a very diligent focus. I sometimes tease him that he would not notice if the house was on fire until the fire was under his chair. Most of the time, if I need him for something, I can distract him. I am however respectful of his need to accomplish and when I sense he is eager to get back to his task or can’t take a break.
He is extremely competitive and makes a game of everything he does. We play many sports and games like cards, Scrabble and Othello. He also enjoys competing against himself and playfully changing the rules or purpose of the competition to make sure he wins.
Despite being competitive, he is genuinely supportive of his peers and seems to glow when they mention him as being helpful and motivating. An example of his mix of competition and being supportive is when we play golf. He will challenge me for a monetary amount on each hole, but if I owe him anything at the end of the game, he will make up another additional competition so I can win and not owe him anything. He gains the thrill of winning and ensures I feel like I won too. Very sweet.
Alex is aware and good at creating a balance between work and play. An example of this is that we often travel. We may take a vacation, and he will work some or we might combine a business trip with a vacation. He is good at balancing work and doing a fun activity or exploring the new place with me. I am patient when he has to work, as I can do my work and passions via the internet too.
I frequently teach and host groups, classes and workshops in our home. When Alex chooses to participate in any of them he is the perfect host. He warmly welcomes people, shares handshakes and hugs, easily chats and establishes commonality through genuine inquiry. I am more practical in that my welcoming includes informing them of their options for seating and food, and sharing where the restroom is located and so forth. Alex is very supportive and complimentary to me as a facilitator and a teacher. At times he likes to share in more depth, or be in the spotlight, always keen on how he can be impressive.
Our communication styles seem different. I express my feelings and opinions more freely and openly; I bring up the sensitive issues, the elephant in the room, lay my cards on the table as the saying goes, and bring up more challenging topics. I can dig deeper into things that are more personal. When I’m stressed, my voice rises, and my body tenses – I call it passion. I get bored with chit-chat and seek depth.
Alex is more reserved, careful, private and compliant. He seems to me to be more focused on maintaining a particular image. When stressed, he goes into stubborn defense or what feels like a dance of detaching and deflecting. It is most often short-lived, as he resets to the positive. He seems to have a smaller variance in his emotional world than I do, he prefers status quo, familiarity and safety. Alex is capable of deep emotional conversations that are delicious to me, but only when he is feeling very safe and in private. It is much easier for him to share his accomplishments, stories about our great life and how good things are.
All conflicts in our relationship, when we honestly root down to the core are about image. Alex has a strong concern with what he thinks others might think about him, and I can be oversensitive in seeking appreciation, honesty, and depth. Alex is sensitive to rules, feeling safe and being compliant – to not stand out. I am more rebellious and willing to be the outcast for what is right. We are both sensitive to what we perceive the other thinks about us, and when we are on opposite ends of a particular view, it definitely helps to repeatedly reassure each other of our basic love, respect, and value for each other. From there we can better navigate any issue.
At times our focuses are very different, and this creates periods of time when we may be apart or together, but not connected. Alex can have a work focus where nothing else is in his awareness at times, and I can get deeply involved with my classes, writing, or others in intense emotional explorations. We are both good at entertaining ourselves and also being aware of when we need to make time for re-connection, fun, adventure, and explorations. Alex is more of a planner, and I am better at spontaneity.
My biggest challenge in the relationship is having patience when he becomes defensive, detached and distracted. It can feel like a brick wall has gone up between us, and I need to remind myself to give him time and space. Eventually, he will reset to a place where we can connect again. Equally, I think his biggest challenge with me is when I get very passionate, righteous, a bit loud and what feels like to him, argumentative. He has to soften his concerns and be real with me; knowing I will quiet down if I feel heard.
I am so very proud of Alex and all he does, including his ability to adapt and show up as an impressive person. I believe he works hard to ensure I am proud of him, as I also do for him. I acknowledge and appreciate his efforts to be the “best” in all his does, including being the best partner to me. I truly appreciate how his radar is active to perform in ways that will please me. I know he is committed to me, our relationship and our future together. I also know and feel that Alex appreciates my support; from bringing him food when he gets so focused on his work, to taking care of all the things that keep our family and home looking good! I feel very safe and loved in our relationship.”
2:3 The Theory
2:3 When In Balance
The Helper (2) and Achiever (3) can be a very supportive, charismatic and socially adept combination. While both can be outwardly focused, in their highest levels of development, both focus inward more. The Helper (2) takes more time for self-care, and the Achiever (3) is content just being, instead of doing. This deepens their emotional connection. Externally, they can be a powerful combination with the Achiever (3) offering motivation, charisma and leadership, and the Helper (2) offering more in-depth connection and emotional support.
Together, they can be well-regarded, charming, generous, positive and high-spirited. In their social circles, this is often a popular couple. They work well together in part because of their balancing differences.
Helper (2)s place a higher value on the emotional world and bring an empathetic personal touch and more individual focus to their interpersonal connections. They are thoughtful and considerate, generous and loving. Their pace is slower, and they speak more directly from the heart. Their goal is a true connection.
Achiever (3)s bring adaptability, charm, charisma and an orientation towards goals and achievement. They strive to be successful in the eyes of others, and Helper (2)s appreciate and respond well to this effort. Achiever (3)s have a faster pace and a greater desire to keep the mood high and positive. They seek achievement and to motivate and inspire others.
When in balance, the Helper (2) feels appreciated by their Achiever (3), and the Achiever (3) feels admired by their Helper (2). When both partners are self-aware, this can be an amazingly effective and accomplished couple, radiating charm, charisma, magnetism, helpfulness, kindness and grace. At their best, themes of quiet altruism may be present.
2:3 The Downward Spiral
Appreciation and admiration are like oxygen to the Helper (2) and Achiever (3). If either partner feels a scarcity of their oxygen, problems can arise. With tightening defenses, the Helper (2) may do more than they should and become overengaged and intrusive in the lives of others. They begin to feel underappreciated and worn out by their subconscious efforts to be appreciated thereby triggering the downward spiral. Conversely, with tightening defenses, Achiever (3)s try to do and achieve more with a subconscious goal to gain admiration. This may trigger workaholism and a disconnect from the relationship itself and their own emotional needs. Both partners may begin to resent the other for not recognizing their efforts and indirectly for not meeting their emotional needs.
The Helper (2) may grow impatient at the drive to achieve and gain admiration that takes the Achiever (3) away from the relationship and a deeper emotional connection. The Helper (2) is highly aware of how image conscious their Achiever (3) is, and this can become a source of discord in the relationship. As the Helper (2) seeks a more authentic connection, the Achiever (3) may feel threatened that their autonomy to pursue their goals is at risk. Both partners polarize, the Helper (2) leaning in for more focused time and attention and the Achiever (3) pulling away to achieve more goals as a way to feel stable.
Conversely, the Achiever (3) may start to resent the amount of time the Helper (2) lavishes on the needs of others feeling this attention is given more sparingly to them and to the relationship itself. The Helper (2) may see the relationship as an extension of themselves, and attention for the relationship may take a back seat for other priorities. The underlying issue is that when fixated, both Helper (2)s and the Achiever (3) disconnect from themselves. In a fixated state, Helper (2)s can’t set healthy personal boundaries, and they lose connection with themselves. In a fixated state, Achiever (3)s focus exclusively on goals and achievement and lose connection with themselves. In both environments, the relationship suffers.
When fixated, the Helper (2) has lost touch with themselves and the Achiever (3) is in denial of their own emotions and self-worth, using constant achieving as a way to feel better about themselves. Misunderstanding become central themes in the dynamic. Unless the partnership finds a way to repair, the connection weakens and breaks apart, and the relationship drifts off course.
2:3 The Lighthouse
Unmet needs for attention, admiration and appreciation can be the downfall of this couple, so cultivating self-love can help break the downward momentum. Helper (2)s need to manage the drive for external appreciation and instead turn inward to find their sense of worth and value. Cultivating self-care and independent hobbies are helpful, healing and balancing. Achiever (3)s need to observe their compulsive drive to achieve and stay on the go. Learning stress and anxiety management tools can be beneficial in cultivating the ability to slow down. From this slower pace, emotions can come forward, and Achiever (3)s can communicate more directly from their hearts.
2:3 The Kundalini Yoga Connection
As Achiever (3)s connect with their heart and relax the need to continuously achieve, they become more present to themselves and others and less reliant on outside admiration and approval. Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations to cultivate a heart connection and develop a tolerance for stillness are helpful.
As the Helper (2)s cultivate feelings of self-love, their drive to meet everyone else’s needs diminishes. Behind the drive to help others is a subconscious sense of shame, a belief that on their own, they are not lovable. With the cultivation of self-love, this shame can dissolve. Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations to develop self-care and self-love are beneficial.
Do You Want To Improve Your Relationship?
To learn more about the Helper (2) with Achiever (3) dynamic, personal testimonials of this type combination from both perspectives, relationship keys for success as well as Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations for each type, download “The Nine Keys: A Guide Book to Unlock Your Relationships Using Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram” here.