Twos and Relationships
Twos don’t believe it’s okay to have their own needs. They also don’t believe they are worthy of love, so they settle for being needed and they set up their relationships in a way that will insure they are needed. We all train others to relate to us in the way that our ego prefers and Twos are no different. For example, have you ever needed to reach out to a colleague in search of someone to take a shift or cover a responsibility? You don’t want to go through the trouble of asking countless co-workers. Instead, you start with those who are most likely to help. You will likely reach out to a Two who has trained you to think of them as the most helpful, or a Six who has convinced you that they are the most responsible, or a diligent One, or an invested Eight. We train others to value us for our Enneagram number and then believe the lie that we won’t be loved if we were to drop the act. Loving others well is about proving them wrong and accepting them when it all falls apart.
Twos want to hear that they are wanted. The Two says, “Be my friend… come to dinner with me… tell me what you think about me… be in my life.” Twos want a lot of reassurance that you need them, like them, that you aren’t going away, and that they are important to you. Twos want to be needed so badly they can be easily used in relationship, but if you get to needy they will leave because the Two can’t meet all of your needs and everyone else’s.
Twos want honest criticism, but they want it offered gently and it will help if you offer words of encouragement in the same breath. It’s hard for them to take criticism because they take everything personally. This can change slowly as a Two relocates their value from external behavior to unconditional, internal love encountered in God. In the meantime, don’t shame them by pointing it out. They already know they take things too personally.
Remember Twos need a lot of reassurance and they need you to tell them you appreciate them. This is tricky because they need to move beyond that, but we all need to learn we are loved regardless of our personality’s compulsive strategy. It’s okay to express appreciation for someone’s Enneagram number, but the real healing comes when we can express love for them in those moments when their number has failed them… when a Two is laid up and can’t be helpful, when a Three experiences failure, or when an Eight is disenfranchised, etc.
Twos will instinctively read your emotional status and will tell you what they think you want to hear. Encourage them to tell you what they actually think and feel instead. This is tricky because they are forthcoming about saying what they want, but those statements are often about what you want. Twos want to connect with you and they will adjust their own desires to match yours in an effort to relate and win you over.
Twos are fascinated by the lives of other people and they like to talk about people, but they don’t intend to gossip. They want to belong so badly and they want others to belong as well; they don’t concern themselves with who is in and who is out. Twos want to connect with everybody and are fascinated by everybody’s story. If people fascinate you then know that you can join Twos in their conversations about people.
Twos love romance and in general they are drawn to anything that has emotional texture. In relationships, they want to hear about your feelings and if you are in an intimate relationship with a Two they appreciate romance.
Sadly, Twos suppress their own needs and then project them onto other people. Twos hide how needy they are because they are afraid that if they express their needs their emotions will get out of control. Twos forget their own needs, but end up finding them in the needs of other people. They fear that if they named their needs that something might break inside them and a torrent of neediness might unleash within them. This sounds like, “If I started to cry I would never stop,” or “If I told you one need it would lead to an endless onslaught of needs and you couldn’t meet them all so let’ just not talk about it.” They are so afraid to express needs because they are afraid they won’t be met and they don’t know how to deal with that. Twos must learn that no feeling is final. When a feeling is actually encountered it washes over us like a wave and then passes on, leaving us with only damp remnants of the emotion.
If you are close to a Two and desire to be an active partner in their Enneagram work then enter into a covenant with them where they regularly state one need a day or week. Then talk about the need, where it comes from in their life, and how their need might be met in a healthy way. No need is bad or defective; they merely tell us something about ourselves. Unfortunately, our compulsive efforts to meet our needs can lead to unhealthy behavior.
Twos spend their days meeting the needs of other people and then they reward themselves by giving into their compulsions (e.g. shopping, food, sex, etc.). The compulsion is unique for each Two. Watch for this pattern in a Two and encourage them to name their compulsion and explore their own unmet needs.
In general, take an interest the needs of Twos, but be aware that they are clever about turning the conversation back to you. Watch for this pattern in your relationships with Twos and try to bring balance in the relationship, rather than focusing on one person’s needs entirely.
Twos express their needs in indirect ways and then see if anyone notices so they don’t appear needy. They hope to be loved so completely their need will be met without having to state it. This sounds like, “I’m so tired,” and if that goes unnoticed it progresses to, “I think I might be doing to much… I don’t feel well,” and finally, “ I think I’m getting a sore throat.” Listen for this and ask them, “Do you need something?”
Twos get their creative energy from Type Four, but they don’t often stop to be alone, feel their own feelings and create something from their pain. Encourage them stop and engage in personal and creative pursuits. Encourage Twos to participate in healthy conflict and to spend time alone journaling. Only when they are alone can they hear that they are loved for who they are, not for whom they help.