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Mistyping Series: Type Two vs. Type Nine

Updated: Apr 14, 2023





One of the hardest parts of the Enneagram is finding your Type--Nine Types with 54 combinations can create a lot of confusion and lead to mistyping. If you are unsure which Type you are between Type Two and Type Nine, read on for ways to clarify your true Type.


Why Are These Types Mistyped? Because both Types can be:


People-Pleasers

If you're fortunate to know a Two or a Nine, you know that these Types are practically desperate to make you happy. They will help you, listen to you, and put their needs aside to serve you, but for very different reasons. Type Twos are motivated to be people pleasers because it is a way for them to "hook" someone into needing them (and eventually loving them). For unhealthy Twos, strings are attached to almost every "helpful" action because making you owe them ensures their ability to belong to the group and ensures your regard for them.

Type Nines, on the other hand, are motivated by a need to remain free from conflict and totally at ease in their minds and environments. They may help just as much as a Two would but are less likely to over-help to the point of intrusion like a Two and they are motivated by preventing or alleviate any conflict or disturbance in the relationships in their environment and not to make people like them.


Amiable/Sweet

Type Twos and Type Nines are notoriously sweet, easy-going people (though Nines more so than Twos) people. They genuinely love other people and want others to enjoy being around them. Twos take on the considerate, sweet, likeable persona in order to (you guessed it) get others to like them. Twos believe that if they were in some way unlikable that they wouldn't belong (and maybe, idk, die) and would be totally without worth.

Nines take on the sweet, amiable persona because this persona has allowed them to stay in harmony with the people in their environment since a young age. They don't make a fuss about preferences, because they experienced their preferences, opinions, dreams, and even moods as a cause for conflict and ultimately disconnection (a core fear of Nines).

Of course, both of these Types are going to drop their easy-goingness during true conflict or stress, but Twos will let you know sooner that the sweetness they displayed hid a wide array of feelings underneath. In fact, one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between Twos and Nines is to ask them to describe the last them they "blew up" (Twos will have tales of some pretty epic meltdowns where as Nines likely won't).


How Are These Types Different?

Rejection Type vs. Attachment Type: How Their First Relationships Shaped Them:

Looking at Types from a stance of Object Relations can provide a lot of clarity to the meaning behind some of the characteristics we see as similar between Types.

Type Two: Rejection Type

Type Nine: Attachment Type

What Does "Rejection Type" Mean? When the Type Two's ego was developing, they felt that the Protective function in their lives (which is tasked with helping the child separate from the Nurturing function by providing guidance, support, and "how-to" knowledge) did not support them as they knew they needed. Their reaction to this "miss" was first to become frustrated and then to wholesale reject their own need of this function. They felt that in not being supported in this way that they were being told that their true means of belonging was in overidentifying with the Nurturing function (i.e. loving, caring, supporting others) and totally giving up the Protective function in themselves (i.e. differentiating from others, pursuing their own goals, etc.). As a result, Twos developed the belief that they only thing they can offer others is their love and without it they are worthless and don't belong. How Does This Shape Their Current Relationships? Type Twos will overplay being needed by others and offering their "help" not because this strokes their ego but because it is their main source of survival and belonging. Because of this, you will see Type Twos not only killing themselves to help others, but also becoming resentful when they are not given the appreciation (something they will allow to substitute for true love), love, friendship, or recognition they "earned" by all their help and support.

What Does "Attachment Type" Mean? When the Type Nine's ego was developing, they didn't feel adequately "seen" by the Nurturing function or adequately supported by the Protective function and so changed all parts of themselves that were inadequately "seen" or supported in order to (hopefully) get what they needed. They experienced this "miss" from both functions in their lives as a communication that they didn't matter as much as others and that asserting parts of themselves that were not wholly seen and supported could lead to disconnection. Their merging with others then was a result of feeling that the only time they were truly seen and supported was when the Nine was reflecting to others themselves. How Does This Shape Their Current Relationships? Type Nines will frequently merge their preferences, ideas, opinions, and moods with others. They freely give up what they really want (and even keep what they want a secret from themselves) in order to continue the connection they have built with their important relationships. They will struggle establishing and maintaining a separate "self" from the other and will adopt many of the preferences and characteristics of others to prevent any threat of disconnection.


Compliant Type vs. Withdrawn Type: How They Get Their Needs Met and Relate to Others' Expectations:

Type Two: Compliant

Type Nine: Withdrawn

What Does "Compliant Type" Mean? Type Twos work to meet others' expectations of them in order to achieve their own needs of their ideal amount of love and significant identity. Twos will see others' expectations as almost a mandate to them on how to keep the relationship and will do almost anything to meet these expectations (even to their own detriment). Even given tasks that conflict with their own preferences and obligations, Twos will try their best to meet these expectations believing that to deny the request is to threaten their ability to be loved and belong.

What Does "Withdrawn Type" Mean? Type Nines, though as amiable and helpful as Twos, are part of the Withdrawn Triad meaning that they move away from others into an inner world where they can maintain the perfect amount of autonomy, peace, and harmony. This move away from others can be seen in how Nines, though seemingly passive, can take a hard line against things they really don't want to do. In fact, they may be the most stubborn Type on the Enneagram (when they decide to be). This moving away can also appear as Nine's looking blank faced in conflict-heavy situations they can't escape because they have retreated to an inner peaceful world.


Defense Mechanisms

Defense Mechanisms are self-protective strategies the egos uses to protect itself when it feels threatened by criticism, conflict, and external pressure.


Type Two: Repression

Type Nine: Numbing

What is Repression: Repression is the Type Two's most frequent defense mechanism they employ (and we all employ parts of all defense mechanisms) to help themselves be unaware of their own feelings and needs so that they can help others without restraint. Repression allows the Two to over-give, over-serve, and deny their own needs but with the cost of only being able to feel about 25% of their true feelings. The issue of pushing down 75% of their emotions is that eventually the pressure built from all those unacknowledged feelings will cause a cataclysmic explosion of feelings over little (usually unconnected) situations. When this happens, the Two will feel immense shame for exploding and for hurting those around them with their feelings.

What is Numbing: Numbing is the Nine's way of letting themselves tune out and go on "cruise control" in order to soothing their inner anxieties and frustrations that arise from merging with others' preferences, opinions, and agendas. Numbing may look like over-watching TV, over-reading, over-eating, or over-exercising. Really, anything done in excess as a means of narcotizing anxious feelings is numbing--active or sedentary. This numbing allows the Nine to be unaware of what they want and how it conflicts with those they love. It ultimately results in a feeling of being checked out of their own lives.



Helpful Typing Questions:


Ask "Why", "What Does It Mean", "How Would You Feel", and "What Would Happen"

Ask these questions in regards to any characteristics that a person is claiming as the reason for choosing their Type will help them gain a layer of clarity on the motivation behind the behavior. For example:


Question: What would happen if you didn't do something someone wanted?

Answer Hint: Watch for answers that hint about feeling like you let someone down (Type Two) versus risking conflict (Type Nine)


Question: What do you want from others when you help them?

Answer Hint: Watch for answers that hint at appreciation (Type Two) versus peace (Type Nine)


NOTE: Type Twos will answer in ways that indicate that they are getting something (love, appreciation, significance) for their help, love, and time (strings attached) whereas Nines will indicate more of an internal reward (peace, harmony, connection) for their help, love, and time.


Ask Questions That Clarify Their Triad:

Asking for reactions based on the Type's Triads can also give a lot of clarity based on how they act in certain situation:


Question (Rejection vs. Attachment):

Question: How does it feel to have someone reject your offers to help?

Answer Hint: Watch for answers that indicate that the feeling would be a loss of belonging or a feeling of worthlessness (Type Two)


Question (Compliant vs. Withdrawn):

Question: What would you do if you were asked to work on something and you really didn't want to (and it wouldn't matter to the greater good if you didn't)?

Answer Hint: In these situations, Type Twos are more likely to still complete the request (expecting some appreciation of course). Type Nines can occasionally dig their heels in on things they really don't want to do even in the face of others' disapproval.


Ask Questions about their Defense Mechanisms:

How we protect our egos can be very indicative of our Type.


Question: Can you think of a time you "blew your top"? What was it about? What was it really about?

Answer Hint: Many times Type Twos will blow up over something small and totally unrelated to the mass amounts of unfelt feelings they have been repressing (e.g. Twos can blow up at their kids for spilling their milk but the intensity of feelings has nothing to do with the spilt milk). Many times when given time to reflect, the Two will not know what is really bothering them.


Question: Can you think of a time when you numbed in an obvious way?

Answer Hint: Everyone numbs and can do so for periods of time that are full of anxiety or other painful feelings. Nines, on the other hand, can come up with examples of numbing that put the rest of us to shame--like reading for 9 hours in a day, watching 8 seasons of a show, and going to 3 exercises classes in a night.


For Typing help, questions, or to schedule a personal coaching session, email Kimberly at enneagramreflections@gmail.com

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