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.”
Helper (2)s and Achiever (3)s are both part of the Heart Center Triad and process the world first through the energy of emotion. Both types have a drive to be appreciated and admired and are oriented towards people and activities that make this possible. Socially, this can be a dazzling, charismatic, effective and attractive pair. Together, they can be social, charming, generous, positive and high-spirited. They often pursue worthy causes and have the initiative and energy to make a difference. Both are driven by a desire to be liked and likeable so they instinctively know how to make a good impression and win people over. They can rally support to achieve their goals and are generally well-liked and well-respected in their community.
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. They seek true connection.
Achiever (3)s bring adaptability, charm, charisma and an orientation towards goals and achievement. They strive to make their partners proud 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.
This can be a balanced and symbiotic match. Helper (2)s like to be the “power behind the throne” and Achiever (3)s are comfortable being the front man (or woman) for the couple. As long as the Helper (2) feels sufficient appreciation and attention from their Achiever (3) partner, this arrangement can work quite well. When both partners are highly functioning, this can be an amazingly effective and accomplished couple, radiating charm, charisma, magnetism and grace.
Challenges and Potential Issues
With such a focus on image, attention and admiration, this couple can get out of balance and off-kilter, particularly in times of stress. There can be great sensitivity around who is getting the most attention and who is the most valued.
While Helper (2)s are happy to help and support their higher-profile Achiever (3) partner, they want to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. Appreciation is like oxygen to Helper (2)s and without enough of it, they can get jealous and resentful of their highly achieving partner. The Helper (2) may subconsciously start to undermine their Achiever (3)s confidence to underscore just how important they are to their Achiever (3).
Depending on the level of development and awareness, the Achiever (3) may or may not be able to recognize the important role their Helper (2) partner plays in their success, much less be able to express enough appreciation for the support. Achiever (3)s may feel their Helper (2) is overestimating their contributions and not recognizing just how hard they themselves are working to achieve success.
The situation can escalate quickly if the Helper (2) does anything to create an embarrassing public scene for their Achiever (3). A toxic cycle can develop in which the Helper (2) tries to get more appreciation and attention, embarrassing the Achiever (3) who in turn distances themselves, making the Helper (2) more insecure and resentful.
Since both types suffer from the same sensitive issue of shame, they instinctively know each other’s weak spots and vulnerabilities. Image, attention and appreciation are repeating themes. Further compounding the situation, the feeling of shame makes it particularly challenging for either partner to admit one’s own weaknesses. Depending on their level of self-awareness, both partners may have difficulty owning their part of the conflict.
On a basic level, Helper (2)s feel their Achiever (3) puts their professional life before family and personal relationships. This is a fundamental difference in values for the Helper (2) who puts personal and family relationships as a top priority. The Helper (2) may start to think “If only my partner would spend more time with me (or me and the kids), he’ll see how much happiness and satisfaction he gets…” The fundamental disconnect is often that the Helper (2) doesn’t realize how anxiety provoking it can be for their Achiever (3) partner to not to be achieving.
Achiever (3)s, on the other hand, may feel stifled and resentful that their Helper (2) is asking for more and more time together. They start to experience their Helper (2) as smothering, emotionally manipulative and a source of guilt. The value differences begin to feel threatening and intimacy breaks down. The relationship becomes characterized by bickering, fighting and arguments about what success and a successful relationship really is. What was once support turns into undermining and love crumbles into contempt and disdain. Eventually the relationship collapses from the breakdown, though the outside world might be surprised because much of this might have happened behind closed doors.
The Kundalini Yoga connection: Unmet needs for attention, admiration and appreciation and a background issue of shame can be the downfall of this couple so cultivating self love can help break the downward momentum.
As the Achiever (3)s connects with their heart and relaxes 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 tolerance for stillness are helpful.
As the Helper (2)s cultivate feelings of self love, their drive to meet everyone else’s needs diminishes and their fear of rejection becomes less intense. Behind the drive to help others is a subconscious sense of shame, a belief that on their own, they are not lovable. Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations to develop self care and self love can help dissolve this shame.
See https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/the-enneagram-type-combinations for more information about type combinations.