2: The Need to Be Needed

“Hey, if we’re both going crazy, we’ll go crazy together, right?”

Mike Wheeler, Stranger Things

Who knows where El “Jane” Hopper would be in Stranger Things, if Mike Wheeler hadn’t seen a girl in need and chosen to help her? He gave her a place to stay for the night, waffles stolen off his own breakfast table, clothes to wear, and even helped her know that she should dress in the bathroom, not in front of the boys. El needs him. She needs protected. Cared for. Looked after. And Mike is “there” for her, and for all his friends. When Will suffers a flashback episode and a meltdown while out Trick or Treating, Mike abandons the rest of his group to take Will home and comfort him. Reassure him. Be there for him.

Mike likes to feel needed. He asks people to be his friend who look like they need someone to care, and in doing so, he blesses them and himself. Sensitive, compassionate, and kind, but also sometimes roused to a terrible temper, Mike is a perfect example of a young Enneagram 2.

Read on to learn more about them.

The Need to be Needed

2s have a tremendous capacity to care for the welfare of others and put their needs above their own interests. They are accepting, generous, and appreciative of others, and want to help them believe in their own value. They provide anyone in suffering, pain, or conflict the support that reassures them they are loved and accepted.

What is not first apparent to themselves, or anyone else, is that they are crafting themselves around a particular self—being what you need. They believe their self worth lies in how much value they provide to others, so they want to be seen as empathetic, emotional, and supportive. They will carefully prune anything (a viewpoint, a habit, an interest) that might make you disappointed in them to maintain your connection. They will often remind themselves not to display their own needs and care for others’ needs first.

2s need to feel liked and validated. They think good behavior will earn them these things, and assume that they need to provide emotional support for others, thus making themselves useful in order to get noticed and loved. They think deferring their own needs and being ready to help others is the right, or good thing to do. This also cultivates a sense of pride in being “needed.” They feel like they should be the friend who sticks around, even if this person is toxic, because they need help. Staying gives the 2 a sense of pride in their own “power.” They are “better than” those who so obviously need their guidance, intervention, and wisdom. Others are children and the 2 must care for them. They may not even realize how much they look down on those they “serve.” Most 2s see being “good” as an emotional decision, rather than a moral choice, and believe they are likable, helpful, and good.

However, their helpfulness does not come without a price: an expectation of something in return. It’s a barter system, in which the 2 expects to get validated, loved, and given something back, even if it is just appreciation. They are the quintessential 2 mother, who over-does for her family and then complains when the children or her husband take her for granted. They spoil and look after other people, unasked and unsolicited. If their desire to help seems too invasive to others, they may distance themselves, causing the 2 to feel “used.”

The 2 will do whatever you need, but may neglect their own needs and fall into a fatalistic sense of being incapable of helping themselves out of an unpleasant situation. If they sense you moving away from them, or your displeasure, they will move toward you through appeals to get your attention—being even more friendly and supportive than usual, and even using aggressive tactics to get your attention (calling you, texting you, e-mailing you, just to elicit some kind of response). 2s hate to feel separated from their loved ones and also hate conflict, and such appeals in their mind will gain the reassurance they need to know you are “okay” with them. Rather than ignore or hide like the other heart types, they want to provoke a reaction and to bond and become close to you.

They are highly aware of how others are responding to them at all times, and able to change their mood to suit the emotions of others around them. As a heart type, the 2 has no other goal than to get confirmed and validated by the people around them for their generosity, servitude, and willingness to help when others will not. Immature 2s can come across as needy and dependent on others, always fishing for compliments and validation, and clinging to other people in a possessive “let me look after you” manner. They will respond to “I need you” by bounding to your side and providing you with whatever you need, often at the expense of their own time, energy, and resources. Later, they may get angry at themselves for agreeing to do something they have not the time or energy for, but find it hard to say yes in the moment.

2s are highly emotional and may cry easily. It’s easy for needs, sadness, and the hardship of life to touch their heart. Their lives often revolve around love and relationships, because they long to give and receive love with their whole hearts, and are happy to live for their loved ones. They can be great benefactors, helpers, and givers, but also may fall prey to self-importance, or painting themselves as a martyr, constantly giving and never receiving. Rather than choose to quit, however, the 2 will remind themselves of how much this person or cause needs them, since no one else is doing it, and continue doing it.

Because it is so beautiful to be needed by others, the 2 may focus all their outside energy on impressing and being generous to strangers, and neglecting the person who is beside them all the time. They have that person’s love, and no longer need to “work” for it. The 2 may also be a demanding partner who assumes the other person should be as eager and willing to help people as they are, and will not understand the other heart fixes’ distance.

Immature 2s want love and approval so much, they will change who they are depending on whoever they are with, just to keep something in common with them and not displease them. For this reason, they often prefer one-on-one connections to larger groups. And being an optimistic, cheerful person, they will argue that these “different personas” they show around different people are a positive attribute of their personality (“each person brings out the best in me!”).

2s are often popular and like to know everyone. It doesn’t take them long to label others as their friend, but they also can be possessive of their closest relationships. It’s important for them to feel needed, confided in, and trusted. They can often sense what other people need even before the person realizes it themselves—and may provide it. But the 2 is also too quick to offer unsolicited advice and try to “fix” people’s problems rather than just listening to them. They assume anyone bringing something up is looking for a solution and put their mind to resolving it and presenting possible fixes. If the person just wanted a listening, sympathetic ear, this can make the 2 seem overbearing.

By constantly helping other people, the 2 successfully avoids thinking about their own needs, problems, or internal motivations. They place their identities in how much others need them, which causes confusion in their emotional center. Immature 2s don’t know who they are as separate from other people, and cannot stand to be alone with their own thoughts, because there is no one there to reassure them of their worth. They fear they will find nothing inside them.

2s desperately crave love, and so give it to others—not realizing that in causing other people to become dependent on them is self-love. They are eager to give love to whatever and whoever needs it, from an orphan in the third world to the puppy no one else wanted. Most adore children, because children are needy. They need validation, affection, and care all the time. The 2 parent may struggle once their kids grow up and leave, because they no longer “need” to be a parent.

Because 2s are so aware of emotional dynamics and needs, they are often natural matchmakers and can spend lots of time thinking about which people they know would “suit” each other. This also works in reverse; if an unhealthy or immature 2 senses that two people may be forming an attachment to each other that would take both of them out of their circle of friends, the 2 might work against them to prevent it. Immature 2s may wind up in a bad relationship, because they sought not an equal but someone who “needs” me (to fix him/her, to provide for him/her, because he/she will not do it for himself/herself, poor dear). If not careful, a 2 female may wind up with an addict or alcoholic—cleaning him up, loving him, forgiving him his mistakes, enduring his abuse, accepting his tearful apologies, and allowing him to remain a “problem” through her “loving” tolerance. This 2’s fear is that if their partner becomes healthy and independent, they won’t stick around or love the 2 anymore.

A 2 may supplement their emotional life through romance novels, romantic comedies, or Hallmark movies, anything where two people find each other and fall in love.

Mature 2s learn to love without condition, ulterior motives, or hidden agendas. Simply to meet another’s needs and then go on with their life. 2s can stop being sweet if they feel hurt and attack other people. They can also be aggressive or militant in their desire to “do the right thing for others.” If another person won’t let them be there for them, or let them help with their problems, or listen to their advice, the 2 feels frustrated. They assume they are just being helpful.

While focusing so much on meeting the needs of others, the 2 finds it hard to recognize their own pride, acknowledge their many needs, or ask you for what they want. They assume because they automatically sense your needs so well, you should be able to know and meet their needs without being asked. They do not want to appear needy, dependent on other people, misunderstood, or rejected. Some of them may even assume they don’t “deserve” the care of others. The 2 will only open up to another person when they feel completely assured this person will not reject or deny them. They need acceptance and love before they can take a hard look at themselves.

All 2s struggle with pride and a puffed up sense of themselves. They are more loving than others, more generous, more selfless, more concerned with their feelings, and more indispensible. Admitting to this pride and realizing others do not need them to save them is extremely difficult for them, because it’s a core aspect of their understanding of themselves. If they do not feel needed, they are nothing. They have to learn to separate their sense of self from what they do for others and find it within themselves, in their passions, their pursuits, their interests.

2s expect gratitude for what they do from everyone. They suppress their own need and project them onto others, caring for them in the way they hope to get cared for. Their desperate need for love is often unmet by the world, and so they turn to self-satisfying pleasures to compensate—food, sex, shopping, drinking, chocolate. They feel they have earned these rewards. Much like 7s, many 2s struggle to control their weight, since they “comfort themselves” with eating to make up for the emptiness and lack of romantic fulfillment in their lives. Often, this is in response to unrequited love or being unloved altogether. They above all the types desire and need to be in a romantic relationship.

It’s hard for them to admit to their negative feelings for other people, because they often tell themselves they should love unconditionally. They repress all negative feelings and impulses, but wish they could be honest about them. They may overuse flattery to make others like them, or promise to do something at the moment (fill a need) that they cannot do later or do not want to do later. It can be difficult for them to follow through on their lavish promises, because they’ve promised too many people. Then they feel guilty for breaking their word.

The 2 may suddenly go from loving and giving to an attitude of “I deserve…” and go overboard in being independent, not needing or wanting you, and satisfying all their desires. They focus more on the one person who dislikes them at work than the twelve who love them; finding a single unhappy person in the audience can distract and frustrate them, if they cannot make that person respond. This can lead to feelings of being persecuted or unwanted.

Once a 2 can recognize their true motive (“I give to get”), they can heal from the endless rat race of fulfilling others and focus on learning self-fulfillment. It may reduce them to tears to realize this, but the transformation can only come when it’s not a flood of self-pity, but self-knowledge and self-forgiveness. This 2 can recognize how they have hurt other people through their aggressive, prideful attempts to save them by “only wanting what is best for you.” This helps them also recognize their false humility and replace it with a feeling of self worth (“I will help because I can, not because I must, and I will only help when asked… I do not need to earn love”). Mature 2s know their own value and do not need continual validation and appreciation.

The sign that the 2 has reached a mature state of self-awareness is that they no longer feel inclined to give simply to get love. They can find happiness in the gratitude of others, without expecting more in return. A healthy 2 cries tears of joy the day the person they have helped no longer needs them, because they are wholly self-sufficient now. Now, the relationship is that of equals and the 2 is free to simply love them without needing to “assist.”

2s can help themselves mature by doing things for others that will not get noticed or rewarded. They must free themselves from gossip, flattery, false intimacy, and fishing for reassurance, support, compliments, and gratitude. They must spend time alone and think about their actions, motives, and needs, rather than simply relying on their emotions all the time. Their tendency is to always assume what they feel is correct, when emotions can often mislead them. Mature 2s can hear the facts without ignoring them in favor of what they “feel.”

The 2 must learn to harden themselves against perceived slights. They are so in tune with their loved ones, the slightest hint of rejection, disapproval, or disgust can feel like being stabbed in the gut. It helps them to remind themselves that others rarely mean to hurt them. They must beware of their tendency toward shame (for not being good, helpful, or selfless enough) and their need to assign the blame to someone else. 2s must learn to say no and talk about their own needs clearly to those around them. This will take time and practice, before it no longer feels forced, awkward, and too vulnerable. Others must be patient and supportive of them throughout the process. Healthy 2s are capable of love without judgment or expectation of reward. They feel your pain with you and take care of you because they know the pain of relationships and loneliness. They want to spare you from all suffering. This is their strength and beauty.

Pride and the Histrionic Personality

Giving in the service of both seduction (out of a desire to gain love) and self-elevation is fundamental to the strategy of the Enneagram 2. It is a complex blend of self-absorption and generosity. 2s are given not only to flattery but also disdain, flattering those whom through nearness gratify his pride, but disdains most of the rest in haughty superiority. Their arrogance comes from automatically assuming themselves to be at the center of all things, and a prideful intent of making themselves visible.

The 2 shares some things in common with the 7 in that both are gentle, sweet, and warm people; both are seductive; both are narcissistic in the general sense of being delighted with themselves; both are impulsive, and use seductiveness in the service of their impulsiveness, yet they do this in different ways; the 2 seduces emotionally and the 7 intellectually. While the 7 can be amiable and diplomatic, the 2 can be sweet or aggressive (their motto may as well be “make love and war”). The 2 may develop an attitude of being so good as to not need to compete with others in their arrogance, in contrast to the 7’s competitive, visible arrogance.

The 2 falls in love with itself, an emotional process of self-loving through identification with their glorified self-image as generous, helpful, and loving. They base this on what the culture deems valuable. They are always striving to “seem to be more than what they are.” The more the 2 develops this theatrical quality, the less aware they are of or capable of true emotions. If this goes too far, the 2 becomes unable to experience genuine emotion, and instead becomes false and shallow. In this state, there is only a stage of theatrical and imitative experiences, rather than genuine emotion.

Taken to its extremes, the 2 most resembles the “histrionic” personality. At its worst, this can manifest self absorption, excessive exhibitionism, coldness, being sexually provocative, and emotionally stinted. Such 2s are prone to romantic fantasies about their lovers, followed by disillusionment and dissatisfaction when this person does not live up to the idealized individual in their head.

Traits shared with Histrionic Personality Disorder:

Behavior that is overly dramatic, reactive, and intensely expressed by at least three of the following: self dramatics, exaggerated expressions of emotions; incessant drawing of attention to oneself; craving for activity and excitement; over reaction to minor events; irrational, angry outbursts or childish tantrums.

Characteristic disturbances in interpersonal relationships as shown by at least two of the following: perceived by others as shallow and lacking genuineness, even when superficially warm and charming; egocentric, self-indulgent, and inconsiderate of others; vain and demanding; dependent, helpless, constantly seeking reassurance; prone to manipulative suicidal threats, gestures, or attempts.

2s possess a sense of social shyness and apprehension, contrasted with their active social involvement; they fear humiliation and the shame of others’ rejection above all else. They receive pleasure in entertaining others and assuming the role of host/hostess… as long as they hold center stage.

2s depend on others for attention and affection, but take the initiative in securing them. They actively solicit others’ interest through a series of seductive ploys intended to gain the admiration and esteem they need. They develop an exquisite sensitivity to the moods and thoughts of those they wish to please, which enables them to attain their desired ends. This extreme other-directness creates a pattern of fickle behaviors and emotions. The 2 is forthcoming in their emotional openness and extravagant in their dramatics. The 2 child loves to get fussed over, and gives love, attention, and compliments to those whose affections she desires to receive; as the child matures, that 2ish need for love turns to attracting potential sexual partners.

2s experience fluctuation, self-pity, and sentimentality, prone to capricious and ever-changing moods. They operate in a highly personal mode, and interpret generalities and abstractions in the light of their own thoughts, feelings, or preferences.

Identifiable Traits:

Love Need: 2s desperately need love, approval, and affection. Though proud, they do not feel fulfilled in life without a great love, and can have an excessively romantic disposition. After all, the love of another proves to the 2 they are special by being “chosen.” They desperately seek and need emotional intensity and physical closeness. They are a “touchy-feely” type, which leads to an intolerance of limits and invasiveness. Their pride causes them to get “over-involved” in their relationships and makes them possessive of “their” people.

Hedonism: 2s equate being loved with being pleased; they need to be loved erotically or through delicate expressions of tenderness. The affectionate and tender 2 can become infuriated when not indulged; they love to be made to feel loved through pampering. They have a compulsive pursuit of pleasure, and a low tolerance for routine, discipline, and other obstacles to their desired indulgent, playful life.

Seductiveness: their own attractiveness is of the utmost importance to the 2. They work hard at it, by being affectionate, warm, supportive, sensitive, empathetic, and out-reaching. They love to offer emotional or moral support, yet may not prove as helpful a friend as they suggest through their vivid expression of feeling. This can lead the 2 to failing to deliver what they appear to promise others, “giving to get.” They may use flattery to appeal to those they deem worthy enough to seduce.

Assertiveness: the 2 gets their wishes fulfilled through daring assertiveness. They have a rare combination of tenderness and pugnacity (a quarrelsome nature). The 2 will “have to have their own way” even at the expense of an emotional “scene” or broken dishes.

Nurturing and False Abundance: out of pride, the 2 represses their own neediness. Though always pursuing excitement and high drama, the 2 is typically unaware of their own neediness or the reasons they feel compelled to please and be extraordinary. They insist out of pride they are “okay,” but nothing is less “okay” than to need love. The 2 develops a sense of themselves as a “giver” rather than a receiver; one filled with satisfaction to the point of generous overflowing. Instead of admitting to their needs, the 2 over-focuses on the neediness of others, and extends them sympathy, empathy and nurturing. Children especially draw the 2, because the child needs their love, support, and protection. Children give love easily, which enables them to satisfy their love need covertly.

Histrionic: 2s conceal their less attractive feelings behind a facade of happiness and satisfaction. To express dissatisfaction would break the illusion that they need nothing and reveal their codependency. 2s avoid having to submit to anyone else’s power, rules, or constraints. They are rebellious to authority (in a mischievous and humorous way). Their intensity attracts much attention (which feeds their pursuit of pleasure) and creates a larger-than-life self-image.

Impressionable Emotionalism: 2 is the most directly “emotional” of the 9 Enneagram types (it shares this with 4, but the 4 channels this into intellectual interests) and the most willing to use it in their favor.

Defense Mechanisms:

The 2 acts on their impulses without directly acknowledging them and deny to themselves that they even exist. The 2 is characteristically impulsive, with a need for satisfaction and a childlike inability to defer gratification. They are unaware these impulses are not meeting their genuine need for satisfaction, which only comes from love. Without it, they develop an insatiable need for intensity and “more.” What they really crave is love and acceptance, yet they may attempt to fulfill it through other ‘pleasures.’

Their own unawareness of their needs (especially of love) supports their pride. If made aware of their own neediness, they feel compelled to hide it from others, for that might reveal their generosity for what it is… a “giving to get,” or a giving out of a personal need to identify oneself with the position and role of a giver. The 2 transforms envy through repression into direct action to fulfill a love need; they avoid nothing more than the “love thirst.”

What forged them:  either the 2 was a much-caressed, much loved, much favored child who learned to become dependent on such constant attentions (“mama’s prince” or “daddy’s princess”), or one who desired for a tender parent to hold them. They could never receive enough proof of love. Parental rejection transformed into a 2ish pride and a desire to make oneself the center of the universe, through rebellion if necessary. Often they became a “helper” with their siblings to earn approval; as the “little mother/father” of the house, they strove to keep their parents happy, so they received love and attention.

A compulsive search for freedom characterizes this character’s intolerance for rules and boundaries; the demand for beautiful things from a sense of former deprivation. Their love-wish becomes a search for intimacy and the expression of tender feelings through words and caressing. Their pride comes from an early love frustration they equated with “worthlessness.” Their pride is a compensation for a perceived lack of value in simply being oneself.

Beneath their flamboyance, false elation, and energetic vitality lurks a secret recognition of emptiness. To avoid this, the 2 clings to love relationships and performs for a select group of people. 2s most need to embrace self-realization and the deep satisfaction that comes from an authentic inner experience, not one aimed at impressing others or denying their own needs through belittling them.

Enneagram 2 Wings

2s present in two different ways based on the influence of their preferred wing. While it’s possible to have balanced wings, or no wing at all, most people can relate to the traits, fears and defense mechanisms of one wing in particular.

2w1: The Servant

2w1s want to do things properly and live up to a high moral standard. They want others to see them as dependable and responsible, and can be highly critical of themselves for not being a good enough person, or for being inappropriate or treating their friends with less than the optimal level of compassion, forgiveness, and kindness… which is also difficult, because the 2w1 has a high set of moral expectations for themselves and others. They often believe others “should” live a certain way. They do not draw attention to themselves and are more passive aggressive because of their tendency to suppress and deny their anger. They are also more idealistic. They can have clear boundaries with others, but hesitate to express their emotional needs, and expect much from others.

Character Example: Clark Kent in Smallville has both a generous and helpful nature (just how many people has he “saved”?) and a strong set of moral expectations for himself and others. When Lana’s boyfriend leaves for the military, even though Clark wants to ask her out, he holds back out of a fear of doing something “wrong.” Though content much of the time to take care of others’ needs in every way, from being their support system to their physical savior, Clark goes through bouts of resentment when his own needs go unmet—when he feels angry and annoyed at his superego desire to be so “good” that he cannot go after what he wants (Lana). His red kryptonite episodes show him over-indulging in sensory pleasures, out of a sense of having “earned” the right to get something back for all his service, the work he does around the farm, and the support he has given to others.

2w3: The Host/Hostess

Action and achievement motivate 2w3s, who focus on inspiring and motivating others to their personal best. They want to be the center of attention and enjoy being there, but deny that they are self-focused. They are ambitious, image-conscious, and competitive. They hate to lose. Relationships and building connections are important to them. More confident than the 2w1, they are also less bound by a need to be “good.” They want to be successful in others’ eyes, and will shape-shift to become whatever the other person wants or needs. They are results-oriented and sometimes smothering or aggressive.

Character Example: Jane Austen presents a witty commentary on a 2w3 in her classic novel, Emma. Its heroine undertakes the grooming of a poor woman in the village, Harriet Smith. She will teach her refinement, improve her prospects, and find her a husband in a higher class. Certain that she can make Harriet just as loved and admired as she is, Emma eagerly tackles this challenge, and makes a muddle of everything. Harriet falls in love with the wrong person, then the man Emma chose for her turns out to be in love with Emma instead! Then Harriet has the gall to fall in love with the man Emma has realized she loves! Oh, what a mess of broken hearts and misunderstandings! And after she does her best to fix it, it all turns out all right. But Emma had to eat a little crow first.

Social Variants:

Social variants determine how we respond to the world and where our major priorities in life lie. Attentiveness to bonding, social responsibilities, and how we ‘appear’ to others is in the realm of social (soc). Survival, fulfilling all of one’s needs, and a focus on ensuring one always has enough resources for a comfortable life is self-preservation (sp). Sexual displays, competing for attention, being like a moth to a flame in your pursuit of another person, or competing for a mate falls under the realm of sexual (sx). Read through each to determine which resonates the most with you.

The Self-Preservation 2: Entitlement

These 2s repress their own self-preservation instincts while focusing on taking care of the needs of others. They are most likely to wear themselves out for others while ignoring their own needs, often failing to get adequate rest or time for themselves. They often enjoy cooking or entertaining, but they may not eat well themselves or allow themselves to enjoy the events they host. Subconsciously, they expect others to take care of their own needs, but seldom can ask for help directly.  Thus they are especially prone to feelings of martyrdom. They feel others “owe” them for their services, as if to say, “I’m entitled to whatever I need because of how much I’ve done for everyone else.”

As their anxiety increases, self-preservation 2s have to find more indirect ways of meeting their needs, while their own tendency to repress their feelings and impulses distorts this. They feel self-important, taking pride in their sacrifices and increasingly feeling entitled to indulge themselves in whatever they feel will compensate for their suffering. Demands for special privileges and repayment for their sacrifices coexist with overeating and medicating to suppress aggressive feelings. Denials of their problems alternate with complaints. Either “I don’t need help” or “nobody notices my needs.” They increasingly rely on emotional manipulation of others—guilt trips—to get their needs met.

In the unhealthy range, these 2s become trapped in delusional self-importance and gross neglect or abuse of their own physical well-being. Obsessions with food and medical symptoms and syndromes are common, as are somatic disorders and hypochondria. Suppression of emotional needs or aggressive feelings, however, can create genuine health problems.

The self-preservation 2can look like a self-preservation 6 in that they are fearful and ambivalent about relationships, but in the 6 the emphasis is on a more generalized fear, while this 2’s fear mainly manifests in relationships. This 2 can also resemble a 4 in that they express more emotionalism and a longing for love, but they repress their needs and feelings and focus on others more than 4s do.

Character Example: One of the sweetest self-preservation 2s on television, Melinda Gordon in Ghost Whisperer spends all her free time running herself ragged trying to help ghosts reconcile with their loved ones and cross over to the other side. This homey girl, who loves antiques and staying home curled up in a blanket watching horror movies, will go above and beyond to ensure ghosts (and their families) have all that they need to find peace. She’ll also match-make, given the chance, but really wishes often she could just stay home with her husband and their ghost dog and eat pizza on the couch.

The Social 2: Everybody’s Friend

In the average range, the social 2 has a powerful desire for everyone in their social sphere to like and approve of them. They usually maintain a busy social calendar and enjoy introducing people, networking, and hosting get-togethers. It amazes others that they seem to be on a first-name basis with almost everyone. They like being the hub, the center of their social arena. They strongly need for others to notice and remember them. Fears of being overlooked our excluded drive them.

As their need for love and attention increases, they seek validation through popularity or by having closer contact with people who are successful or especially valued in their group. Social 2s may have ambitions of their own, but these are mostly unconscious and indirect. They maneuver to become the indispensable supporters of those they see as successful (“you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”). If they are insecure about their social desirability, they may cultivate talents to enhance their value and have more to offer. They attempt to impress people by dispensing advice (be it spiritual, financial, or medical) or name-dropping. This can get them into trouble, because their desire to let others know they are friends with important people often leads them to be indiscreet and reveal confidences.

Lower-average 2s can also create frustration for their partners because they scatter themselves among a wide range of social contacts, while not giving much proper attention to any of them. They may pursue anyone who offers them even a hint of approval and attention. In the unhealthy range, these 2s can be highly patronizing, constantly drawing attention to their “good deeds” and calling in their favors (“where would you be without me?”). They may become classic enablers, covering up the misdeeds or dysfunctions of their valued others in order to keep them around and in their debt.

The social 2 can resemble a 3 or an 8. Like 3s, these 2s are goal-oriented, competitive, and successful in their work. They typically get a lot done and have a reputation as powerful people who can lead the group. However, 2s have a softer presence and can show more vulnerability, warmth, or emotion on the way to achieving their goals, especially if such demonstrations support their larger aims, whereas 3 tend not to express vulnerable feelings as much. Like 8s, these 2s can be powerful, influential, protective of others, and oriented to the big picture. Unlike 8s, however, 2s can display vulnerability more (or use a show of vulnerability to their advantage), and can more readily access their emotions in supporting others or establishing control.

Character Example: The humanitarian-minded public servant Padme Amidala of Star Wars exemplifies this kind of 2. She devotes all her time and energy toward serving, defending, and championing the Republic for the greater good of everyone under its influence. She is goal-oriented and won’t even allow her affection for Anakin to impede doing what she believes is best for the greater good. Clark Kent also embodies this kind of 2—ambitious and hard-working, but secretly craving the attention that others receive. He finds it hard to remain silent about his secret identity and not take credit for his good deeds. Clark even wishes he could play football, just to get some of the praise and appreciation he feels is lacking in his personal life. He spends more time helping total strangers than taking care of his own needs.

The Sexual 2: Craving Intimacy

Sexual 2s are the intimacy junkies of the Enneagram. They feel driven to get closer to others, both emotionally and physically. They like to win over people who are attractive to them, especially if they present a challenge or seem initially uninterested. They want to want to be one person’s best friend; they focus on a few individuals and like to see themselves as their friends’ number-one intimate, their closest confidante. They enjoy private time with the other person, sharing secrets and talking about “the relationship.” They like to learn about whatever subjects their partner values and may even research them in order to be closer.

These 2s “seduce” others by giving them lots of attention. They offer to talk about the other’s problems to draw them closer, and can display sexual behaviors or overt sexual activity to attract others to them. As their anxiety about their desirability escalates, they pursue the other person. They fall prey to fears that others would not spend time with them if they did not make the extra effort to go after them. Lower-average 2s become increasingly pushy and demanding and cannot take no for an answer. Even if they have the affections of someone, they feel they cannot get close enough. While social 2s want to network and introduce people to each other, sexual 2s want to keep their friends apart, lest they discover one another and cut the sexual 2 out of the relationship.

In the unhealthy range, these 2s become increasingly jealous, possessive, and hovering, fearing to let their partner out of their sight or telephone reach. They obsess over them, compulsively “check in” on them, cannot accept rejection, and dislike inadequate responses from the object of their desire. They may stalk the person they are romantically obsessed with, or prey on those who cannot refuse their overtures.

Character Example: A beautiful woman with a desire to “be the queen” on Game of Thrones, Margaery Tyrell sought in every way to be supportive of her first husband, Renly. Despite him being gay and involved with her brother, she tried to please, seduce, and make things as comfortable for him as possible, out of the notion that they should have a child to secure his future throne. When stuck with the awful Joffrey Baratheon, Margaery possessed an uncanny ability to sense what would sexually please and excite him (violence) and convince him she too shared an interest in it. She went about establishing strong emotional ties to everyone she met, pleasing, flattering, and guiding them, promising Sansa love, protection, and a handsome husband, charming the masses through her effervescent personality and appearance of humility, even being able to convince the High Sparrow she was repentant for her “false goodness.” She wielded so much sexual influence and power over her young husband, he became over-reliant on her. Only Cersei did not fall for her charm, and Margaery responded to that with provocation, passive aggressive digs, and wrapping her son around her little finger.

Spiritual Growth Suggestions

As 2s work on themselves and become more self-aware, they learn to risk being themselves and open up to being loved for who they are (as opposed to the false images they create to get approval). They realize the freedom of being themselves unapologetically and not having to conform to the needs and preferences of others.

Notice when you are…

Denying needs and repressing feelings as a way to connect more easily with others. Notice when you don’t know what you are feeling or needing. Keep an eye out for what happens when these repressed feelings arise. Rising anger or feeling hurt can be important clues that you are repressing your needs while unconsciously expecting others to meet them anyway.

Adapting, merging, helping, pleasing, and shape-shifting to engineer connections with specific individuals. Notice when you start to help or flatter people even when you don’t want to or you find it exhausting. Look for ways you rationalize pleasing others even if it means doing something you’d rather not. Observe your tendency to merge with or take on others’ feelings and preferences while downplaying or talking yourself out of your own experiences. Do you avoid expressing different opinions with others you’d like to connect with? Is it hard for you to stop analyzing your perceived mistakes with others?

Avoiding rejection and separation through your maintained image of yourself, avoiding conflicts and boundaries, and managing your self-presentation (including lying and being inauthentic). Notice when you say “yes” when you want to say “no”; when you tell little white lies to maintain your image; when you create a false impression to engineer a connection. Look for the ways you rationalize making promises you’d rather not keep, or be false to others to earn their approval. Work to surface any underground assumptions you are making that creating an appropriate boundary will automatically lead to rejection, separation, or disapproval.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How and why did these patterns develop?
  • What emotions are these patterns designed to protect me from?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • How are these patterns operating in me?
  • What are my blind spots, because of these patterns?
  • What do they keep me from seeing?
  • What are the consequences of continuing to be this way?
  • How do my coping mechanisms trap me?


To counter-act denying needs and repressing feelings as a way to connect more easily with others.

  • Inquire frequently into the presence of your needs and feelings. Ask yourself often what you really need and how you are feeling. Tolerate “not knowing” as a step to developing inner-awareness.
  •  Real feelings create and enhance, rather than thwart, connections. Seek out support from those who love and want you to prosper, in order to find a save haven and recipients for your true feelings. Learn also that working through emotional difficulties by sharing your real feelings is what makes good relationships happen.
  • Learn to accept feelings and the emotional growth process. Realize all your feelings are valid and not “right or wrong.” Create space to understand, learn about, and work with expressing your emotions. When you first start to feel your anger, you may express it in childish, explosive ways. It’s important to see it as a normal part of learning to own and express your feelings and not make yourself feel “bad.”

To counter-act merging, adapting, helping, pleasing, and shape-shifting to engineer connections with specific individuals.

  • Liberate yourself through healthy separation. Make time to be alone. Focus your attention inside yourself when you are with other people. If you are attention wanders, bring it back to yourself. Notice when you are merged with someone or trying to achieve a connection and shift your attention two feet behind you so you can disengage and find your separateness again. Recognizing that merging disguises a fear of intimacy.
  •  Say “maybe” on the way from “yes” to “no.” Say “maybe” when you want to say “no” but are inclined to say “yes” to buy yourself time to think of a polite way to decline. Look for and dwell on your real experience of not wanting to help. Let that be okay. Notice if it feels like a relief. Remember, others can do it without you.
  • Accept but manage and contain your emotions. They are important and valid. Value them as expressions of your true self. Notice if you use your emotions to manipulate others. Recognize this as part of your coping strategy and work against it. Challenge yourself to own your needs and feelings and find ways to self-soothe when you are courageous enough to feel your pain.
  • Open up to receiving from others by living more from your real self. By noticing the assumptions you have about reciprocal giving, you can work against “giving to get” and learn to give without expectations and receive without feeling indebted. This frees you up to enjoy relationships rather than viewing them as a survival route.

To counter-act avoiding rejection and separation through maintaining an idealized image of yourself, avoiding conflicts and boundaries, and managing your self-presentation (including lying and being inauthentic).

  • Focus on the freedom that boundaries provide. They make us freer to express ourselves safely in a relationship and allow for better, closer connections to others. Remember that “no” is a valid answer.
  • Find the sweet spot between inflation and deflection. Notice your tendency to deflate or inflate yourself and let yourself feel relieved by being your true self. Note when you fantasize about being the ideal partner, friend, etc., and ask yourself if this is really desirable or possible. Realize it’s okay to not align with others.
  • Allow constructive criticism to enliven your relationships and strengthen your sense of self. Tell others what you really think, especially when you disagree or don’t want to help. Try not to promise more than you can deliver. Realize this makes your relationships deeper and more authentic.
  • Face your pain so you can let it go. Allow yourself to feel the pain of neglect or rejection and realize you can survive it. Realizing growing a thicker skin doesn’t mean your hurt doesn’t matter. Learn to love and accept yourself as you are. Consider that if someone doesn’t like you, it may be about them more than you.

Using your integration and disintegration numbers for self-growth:

Move to 8 by learning to own your power and authority, allowing yourself more access to anger, and handling conflict and confrontation more consciously. Initiate more and take the risk of leading and being proactive. Learn to be more direct and assertive, rather than sugarcoating things. This will teach you greater self-value and confidence and give you greater freedom in your interaction with others. You may even learn to see conflict as a good thing, and a strengthener of relationships.

Move to 4 by expanding your access to authentic emotions; learn to grasp your own feelings and needs and honor and support those feelings, as a way to form positive relationships. Establish a healthy balance between focusing on oneself and focusing on others, between expressing sadness and hurt, and cultivating a sense of lightness, and between meeting others needs and asking for what you need. Remind yourself that while it’s important to empathize with others, your feelings are also valid.

Sources: Richard Rohr, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, Claudio Naranjo, Character and Neurosis, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Beatrice Chestnut, The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge. Sections quoted or paraphrased. Please purchase the original books for more information.