Enneagram Type Two: Love That is Only Sort of Love

Enneagram symbol

Last week, we looked at Enneagram Type One, so on we go around the dial to Type Two, also called the The Helper, The Servant or The Caretaker. Those terms all sound nice, don’t they? These roles are valued and lauded in our culture, and are particularly rewarded within Christianity, which can make growth and transformation for Twos particularly confusing and difficult. But more on that later in the post.

The Two rests within the Heart Center, which seems lovely and appropriate for givers – until we remember that the primary emotion of the Heart Center is shame. What is the Two ashamed of? At their core, Twos have believed the lie that they are not loved for themselves alone, and that perhaps there is no love in the world.

Think about that for a minute. That’s heavy stuff. Think about a time when someone hurt you to the point that you felt unloved; that felt terrible! That is the unconscious feeling that Twos operate under, that they try desperately to make not true. Because the idea that you are not worthy of love is terrifying, and worse still the idea that the universe itself may be ultimately loveless.

Consequently, Twos determine to become the love in the universe that they fear does not exist, to prove that feeling wrong. The Super Ego message for Twos is, “You are good or okay if you are loved by others and are close to them.” Twos are extremely adept, as though their lives depended on it, at seeing need and knowing how to meet it. Relationships are critical to Twos, and others appreciate Twos because they always have the right words and buy the perfect gift and can always be relied upon for help. If you have a Two friend, that is the person you call first when you need an understanding ear, a shoulder to cry on or help in a crisis.

How could any of that be bad? Well, it’s not inherently bad; it’s just that Twos unwittingly love and serve in order to make themselves indispensable to others. It does not come from a selfless place; they expect relational intimacy and gratitude in return. If you have ever neglected a Two relationship, you will hear about it – subtly at first, and more vocally if they get mad enough. “After all I’ve done for you!” is a stock phrase for Twos who feel under-appreciated.

This is not mere pettiness. It truly does feel like a life-and-death matter if relationships are out of order, if Twos do not feel that they are loved enough by the other person. If they feel a relationship is in jeopardy, they will crank up the “love” in an attempt to shore it up. The unconscious goal is to create dependency so that they will be the “special friend” that the other comes to for love. That is why the name of this post is “Love That is Only Sort of Love.” Though we feel genuinely loved by Twos, and though they may sincerely feel love for us, it is not at all like the unconditional and selfless love that God continually dispenses.

However, as I mentioned earlier, if Twos are in at least a place of average emotional health, we don’t see the conditional nature of their love—and they don’t realize it, either. In the Church, always in need of helpers, Twos are held up as examples of God’s love. They get a lot of props for getting their own needs met because it looks like they are selflessly meeting others’ needs. There’s a brain tweak, right?

It’s enough to make you spin out on this reality and question everyone’s motives. But that is not the point. The point is to have compassion for those who are not able to love unconditionally, to try to do for Twos what they cannot do for themselves. That’s a tall order! Unconditional love is so hard for all of us, as we have few models of it on the Earth. In other words, don’t judge the Twos. They are just trying to survive.

In all this striving to survive by loving, Twos typically neglect their own needs. That’s because they learned the unconscious message that it’s not okay to have your own needs; that would be a distraction from paying attention to others’ needs. As a result, Twos often have no way to vent their own feelings and frustrations. They tend not to take care of their physical or emotional bodies and often suffer from over-eating as a way to self-comfort.

At their healthiest, though, Twos are models of what true, Godly love is like. The Apostle John is such an example. He even refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”! (Though that may be a way for the author to avoid referring to himself by name in the Gospel he wrote.) In fact, I have heard John referred to as “the love apostle.” There is an extra-Biblical story that John would travel to various churches and give a three-word sermon: “Love one another.” He would just repeat than phrase until people got it and began to actively love and serve each other right there in the gathering! And his treatise on love in the fourth chapter of his first epistle is stunningly beautiful and powerful. I encourage you to read 1 John 4:7-21 again and experience it as a Two who understand real love.

Is there a Two in your life? If so, you are blessed with a constant friend. Rejoice in that. Or, have you discovered yourself in this post? Rejoice in the holy aspect of recognizing how important people are – but don’t forget to include yourself in that recognition.

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