There are so many ways we can show our partners love, from going on cute picnic dates to giving tight hugs to writing love letters. But sometimes people don't always feel love as strongly as we think we're showing it, mostly because we see and receive love in different ways. So, how can you know if your partner is receiving your love in the way you intend it?
You may have heard about love languages, which are specific ways people want to give and receive love. The five love languages are words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, quality time, and acts of service. But knowing your partner's love language isn't the only way you can love them best ー you can also show them compassion in the ways they need most, according to their Enneagram type.
The Enneagram is a set of nine personality types that describe people's desires, fears, motivations, and behaviors, and they tend to stem from childhood and your development. By knowing these aspects of your partner, you can show them love by helping them feel what they desire and avoiding them feeling things they fear. If you or your partner don't know your Enneagram type, you can take this quiz or read these descriptions. Once you know what your type is, keep reading to learn more about how you can love them in the ways they need most. (Just make sure you share these messages of love in genuine ways that are specific to your relationship!)
Type ones are called "Reformers." Their basic fear is being defective, evil, or corrupt, and their basic desire is to do good, have integrity, and achieve balance. They strive high and seek justification for themselves. To love a type one well, you can:
- Tell them they made a meaningful difference in someone's life. Type ones want to do good and improve problems, but they can be self-critical. By telling your type one they did a good job and helped someone else, you can make them feel good about themselves.
- Engage in community service with them. Type ones believe they have a mission to help others and they want to carry that out in practical ways. By actively engaging in this with them, you can show you care about them and their values.
- Acknowledge and be appreciative when they do something nice for you. To help a type one feel appreciated and good, you can show extra gratefulness when they do something kind, like helping you get a task done or buying you a gift. Acknowledging their integrity is a way to help them feel loved and important.
Type twos are called "Helpers." They fear being unwanted or unloved, so their desire is to feel loved. Type twos aim to express their feelings for and be needed by others. To love a type two well, you can:
- Express love according to their love language. We tend to feel and show love in specific ways, and these ways typically fall into the five love languages. Ask your partner what their love language is and aim to show them love in that way.
- Allow them to help you and be gracious after. Type twos are either genuinely helpful or they want to see themselves as helpful. When your type two partner offers to help, let them. Afterward, thank them, since being appreciated makes them feel important.
- Remind them of how helpful and important they are. Since type twos want to feel loved and helpful, you can remind them of how much you appreciate and care about them. Remember to be genuine and specific in what you say.
Type threes are called "Achievers." They fear worthlessness and crave feeling valuable and worthwhile. They want affirmations, distinctions, and others' attention, approval, and admiration. Additionally, type threes love to motivate others. To love a type three well, you can:
- Affirm their talents and achievements. By giving your partner positive attention about something they've done and genuinely expressing what you admire about them, you can help them feel loved and special.
- Remind them they're inherently worthy, especially when they fail. Type threes can get caught up in wanting to be successful and worrying about how others see them ー making failure especially difficult. When this happens, remind your partner that you love them and that they're worthy regardless.
- Buy them something that can help them achieve their dreams. Whether it's something as small as a coffee to wake them up or as big as a new laptop when theirs is about to break, you can love your type three well by giving them a gift that will help them be successful.
Type fours are called "Individualists." They fear having no distinct identity or meaning; they desire finding themselves and their purpose. Type fours seek to express themselves, create beauty, and take care of their emotional needs. To love your type four partner well, you can:
- Remind them what specific, unique quality of theirs you appreciate. Type fours see themselves as unique, but in both positive and negative ways. They fear others won't understand and love them for who they are. By showing you love even the qualities in them that they don't love themselves, you can affirm your partner.
- Help them feel comfortable and valuable in social settings. Type fours don't want to be alone, but they can feel self-conscious in social settings. They also struggle with low self-esteem. To show them love, you can help them feel included and important in front of others by building them up.
- Buy them a self-care book or item they can use to express themselves. Type fours want to maintain stable moods while also expressing themselves. You can support them and show them love by buying them a helpful book or some art materials, for example, if you think that would help.
Type fives are called "Investigators." They fear being useless or unable to help, and they desire to feel competent. They seek understanding and knowledge, especially to help them feel safe. You can love your type five partner well by:
- Entertaining their interests and search for knowledge. Type fives want to know why things work the way they do; they're always asking questions. Instead of making fun of them for this, engage in conversation and their quest for information alongside them.
- Help them feel competent. Type fives tend to seek knowledge because they fear being unable to navigate the world competently. When you can tell your partner is feeling anxious, remind them they're capable. When they know something or help you do something, acknowledge that and remind them of their knowledge. This will help them feel affirmed and seen.
- Buy them a book or spend quality time at a museum. Since type fives value learning, you can show them love by buying them an educational book or going on an educational trip with them (while obeying social distancing guidelines).
Type sixes are called "Loyalists." They fear a lack of support or guidance, so they crave support and security. They want reassurance, to fight against anxiety, and to figure out others' attitudes. You can love a type six well by:
- Being loyal and showing love consistently. Since type sixes fear abandonment, you can help them feel loved by not being flaky in your actions or words. Give your best advice when they need it ー without making them feel controlled ー and don't make them feel bad for needing extra support.
- Help them feel secure in their surroundings. Type sixes can feel unsteady and anxious, and they tend to rely on allies and beliefs. To help them feel loved, you can affirm them and remind them you'll back them up.
- Spend meaningful time together. Type sixes need your support and loyalty, which you can show by sharing quality time together. Have fun, show them they're important to you, and support their needs.
Type sevens are called "Enthusiasts." They fear deprivation and pain; they desire satisfaction and having their needs met. Type sevens want to be free, have lots of worthwhile experiences, and feel excited so they don't have to feel pain. To love a type seven well, you can:
- Go along with their spontaneity and feel their excitement with them. Type sevens are thrilled by anticipation and new ideas. When they're feeling this way, feel it with them. Encourage them and try to not damper their excitement so they feel supported.
- Affirm their talents and hard work. Since type sevens can pick up new hobbies relatively quickly and easily, they may not feel as proud of themselves. You can show them love by affirming what they've done.
- Buy them materials or tickets that will help them feel excited. You can show your type seven love by supporting their hobbies and bringing spontaneity to the relationship. For example, if they've begun painting, buy them some more canvases. If they love riding roller coasters, buy tickets for both of you to go to an amusement park when it's safe to do so.
Type eights are called "Challengers." They fear others harming or controlling them, and they desire being able to protect themselves. Type eights want to show their strengths, feel important, and dominate situations. You can love a type eight well by:
- Helping them feel strong and not controlling them. While controlling your partner is never healthy, be especially mindful of the ways you suggest things to your partner if they're a type eight. Help them feel needed and in control of their decisions.
- Give them extra love when they're in vulnerable situations. Type eights are uncomfortable with vulnerability and often seek to protect themselves from it. However, life is full of situations in which we have to be vulnerable. In those times, show your partner extra love by communicating through their love language. Remind them that vulnerability makes us strong, not weak, and that you support them.
- Spend time doing what they like to do and feel comfortable doing. Since type eights want to be in control, you can show them love by spending time together doing what they want to do. Don't neglect your own needs and wants, but make a little extra time for them so they feel safe and loved.
Type nines are called "Peacemakers." They fear loss and separation; they want inner stability and peace. Type nines seek to create harmony, avoid conflict, and resist what could hurt them. To love a type nine well, you can:
- Encourage them to assert themselves, while not making them feel bad for struggling to do so. Type nines fear any kind of tension and would rather "go with the flow" than stand up for themselves and their beliefs. To show a type nine you care about their needs, you can encourage them to stand up for themselves while understanding that doing so is difficult for them. One skill you can suggest is using an "I statement," which is a healthy way to communicate feelings and needs.
- Remind them you're there to support them when they have to experience conflict. Type nines try to live in a state of eternal peace, which unfortunately isn't possible. When they try to escape into that state, remind them they can get through this tough situation and that they're not alone, because you're there to help them handle it.
- Give them a hug if they'd like one in anxiety-ridden times. Hugs can help people feel trust, calmness, and compassion. If your partner is OK with a hug, you can give them one to show you love them, especially when they feel anxious about a conflict.