Today we continue our deep dive into the Enneagram Types by taking a closer look at what it means to be an Enneagram Type 2. Today you’ll meet my cousin, Diana and my friend, Alyssa. They are sharing their experience of being a Type 2 so that you might better understand the internal world of a Type 2.
The books I reference below include affiliate links. If you purchase a product through my links, I will receive a small percentage of the profit at no extra cost to you. For more details, click here.
Defining Characteristics of a Type 2
Type Twos are the nurturing caretakers and helpers of the world. They have a keen sense for the needs of others and are always ready and willing to help. Type Twos have big hearts and are consequently emotional, affectionate, caring, generous, and supportive.
Twos’ ability to love in big ways reflects their own big need for love. Twos believe their helpfulness will secure the love they desperately seek. They don’t believe that who they are is enough and so they try to earn love by becoming indispensable to others.
As they focus on taking care of everyone else, Twos easily lose sight of their own needs. Their whole identity is wrapped up in meeting the needs of others which makes them prone to forgetting about their own. They may even think it selfish to acknowledge their own needs and desires.
Twos can become prideful about their abilities to take care of others. They can also get possessive in their relationships, and they fear the loss of important relationships in their lives. Their helpfulness can easily morph into a type of manipulation to get love, devotion, or affection in return. According to The Enneagram Institute,
The problem is that “putting others first” makes Twos secretly angry and resentful, feelings they work hard to repress or deny. Nevertheless, they eventually erupt in various ways…
Core Desire: To feel loved and validated
Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
Driving Motivation: A Two’s shame drives them to look for love and appreciation by what they can do for others. Paradoxically, pride then also becomes a big driver for them for what they see as their ability to help people and become indispensable to them. The pride might be towards inflation (seeing themselves as better than they are) or deflation (seeing themselves as less than they are).
Blind spots: The expectations they place on people in return for their service; and their sense of self, of who they really are.
Avoids: Their own needs and desires
Superpower: Their vast reserve of love and generosity in caring for the world. According to Beatrice Chestnut in The Complete Enneagram, they make
excellent friends and will often go to great lengths to take care of and support loved ones.
When they are healthy, Twos have unconditional love for others and can give to the world in unselfish and altruistic ways with no strings attached.
Invitation to growth: To nurture humility and awareness about their own needs and their inability to meet the needs of others all the time. To enforce healthy boundaries in their relationships and find balance by attending to their own needs as well to the needs of others.
According to Richard Rohr,
Twos have to train themselves to express their wishes.
From the Source: Being a Type 2
To find out what being a type 2 is really like, I interviewed my cousin, Diana Fryar, who is a type 2, and my type 2 friend, Alyssa Gies. Alyssa is a stay-at-home mom and part-time music teacher. Diana is a sports and dog lover and works at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I asked them some questions about their personal experience as type twos. Here’s what they had to say.
Describe how being a type 2 is for you.
I like being associated with “love”. I like knowing the potential I have for blessing others with service if I’m relying on Christ’s strength. I also see the negative aspects in my two-ness. The leaning towards manipulation and the danger in trying to prove my “goodness” and worth through serving.
Being a type 2 can be really hard some days. I struggle to say no to people and situations. I feel like I am fighting a constant battle in my head to quiet the voice that tells me I’m a screw up or failure. Or just that I’m not good enough. I desperately want to belong and be loved by others. I put too much on my own shoulders; constantly taking on more and more at work, in volunteering and in trying to do good things. Then I become extremely upset when I have a meltdown because I’ve realized I cannot do it all.
However it isn’t all bad. I may overextend myself but I’m also able to really connect with people and have a genuine desire to get my hands dirty. I am pretty extroverted. I like to jump right in and lead. I’m a Type 2 with a 3 wing, which can be referred to as a “host/hostess”. This is very accurate of me.
How did you come to know about the Enneagram and how did you know you were a type 2?
My friend actually told me about The Road Back to You podcast with Ian Cron. I listened to the first episode and became pretty fascinated so I immediately went and took the test on their website. Reading the description of a Type 2 when it came up felt like it was an entire description of my behavior laid out for the world to see.
But after reading through all of the type descriptions, I wondered if maybe I wasn’t a type 2. But then I did some more research on it and realized that it just kept drilling home all of these truths about myself that I don’t often share or open up about.
Our small group learned about it together when our pastor introduced it to us. I paid to take the long online test and tested as a Type 2.
What bothers you about being a type 2?
I always long to be “useful”, if I can’t be useful I often feel like not showing up. I also struggle with a feeling of not being enough.
I read a description a while back that said Type 2’s are “helpers who need to be needed”. I think that is the hardest part. I want to help people, I want to make a difference, but I also need you to want me and need me. It’s hard to shut out that little voice in my head that tells me that people don’t want you or don’t need you.
What do you enjoy most about being a type 2?
I love people and can accept them and love them right where they are. I definitely lean towards mercy over judgement.
I truly enjoy that I’m an energetic person who can be selfless and loving to so many people. I like that I feel comfortable stepping up to the plate when someone needs help, and that I have the skills to empathize with others easily.
How do you see your Two-ness affecting your closest relationships?
I think for me, being a two is hard in closer relationships. In my marriage, instead of asking for help with things around the house, I tend to just do them because I see it as helping or serving my husband. Yet I can take on too much and become extremely overwhelmed. I’m helping to be needed but this is the opposite of how you should serve in marriage. I will say though that in the five years I have been with my husband, he has taught me to learn to listen to myself and what I need and constantly helps me learn to be okay with saying no.
In friendships, I struggle with my friends who don’t really need me. I feel jealous a lot more than I know is rational. I tend to withdraw because I don’t feel good enough. Friendships are a struggle for me, that’s for sure.
I enjoy serving those close to me. It’s fun for me to plan special activities for my kids and Luke, my husband. I definitely have empathy for others which causes me to want to take action on their behalf when I can. I also see the dark side of my Two-ness, especially with my kids, when I’m worn out and feeling unappreciated I become angry.
In what ways do you see your type reflected in your childhood?
As a child and through college I always wanted things to take care of: pets, plants, and people. I think being a two led me to work with children and eventually to becoming a teacher.
I see it most reflected in my relationships: fear of not belonging, doing whatever I could to help others so they would be my friend, and being jealous of others who were really close with my friends. It always seemed so silly to me and I couldn’t figure out why I had certain feelings or behaved the way that I did. [The Enneagram has] helped me tie together things that I had a hard time coping with or moving on from. It’s not a cure or a fix-all, but it’s helped me understand a bit more where those deep-seated feelings could have come from and then grow past them, forgiving myself in the process.
In what ways has the Enneagram been a useful tool for growth in your life?
As I learn more about who God made me (through tools like the Enneagram) I finally am coming to love and appreciate myself. It has shown me my potential for good and bad. I can better recognize the pitfalls I am more prone to. It has really helped me to realize this is how I’m wired and it’s not an accident, it’s a blessing.
It has also helped me to recognize how other people are wired. It’s a great picture of the body of Christ and the many facets of God’s personality.
I am able to ask myself more in-depth questions about why I am behaving the way that I am. Instead of getting upset because I’ve done the dishes for 10 nights in a row, I can ask myself, “Was I doing them to get recognition or so my husband would love me a little bit more”? If the answer is yes, I can take a deep breath and ask for help doing the dishes and not feel guilty or end up exploding because I don’t feel appreciated or recognized.
I hope that the peak inside the world of Diana and Alyssa has given you more insight into what being a Type 2 is like. Below is a song by Sleeping at Last that captures the gifts and the struggles a Type 2.
Are you a Type 2? Leave me a comment at the bottom of this post and share what resonates with you or what you would add.
A quick thanks to my contributors and friends.
Alyssa Gies is a stay-at-home mom and part-time music teacher who loves Jesus. She enjoys reading, singing, and hanging out with friends and family, especially her husband and two sons.
Diana Fryar is an early 30’s, sports-obsessed wife, and dog mom of two. She’s constantly trying to figure out how to save the world and how to plant her roots deeply where she is. She loves to read, dance while cooking, and watch too much Netflix with her husband. She hopes to be a light to those in the darkness, while showing grace, striving for holiness and living on mission for the Kingdom of God.
Follow the type descriptions in the coming days and weeks by subscribing below and I’ll let you know when they are available.