Enneagram Pairing Type 3 & 4
3 - The Successful Achiever
Superstar, Producer, Performer, Motivator, Role Model, Ideal Exemplar, Best in Show
4 - The Romantic Individualist
Individualist, Tragic-Romantic, Connoisseur, Humanitarian, Aesthetic Person, One-of-a-kind, Dramatic King or Queen
Both Threes and Fours are part of the Heart Triad, also known as the Image Triad. This means they are both motivated by and deeply attuned to how others perceive them and where they stand in the social hierarchy. For them, validation comes in the form of public acknowledgment, attention, and accolades.
They both possess chameleon-like qualities and derive deep satisfaction from being noticed by others. While Threes are more externally focused, putting much stock in their accomplishments, awards, and public standing, Fours attend more to their distinctly personal experience. Fours tend to suffer and wallow in melancholy more than Threes and often turn their suffering into uniquely beautiful art. Generally, where Threes want useful results, Fours want unique self-expression.
As part of the Image Triad, both Threes and Fours value a flair for the expressive, distinct personal style, public opinion, and outward appearances of success. Threes tend to work harder to maintain a positive outlook, lest they are mistaken for depressed or unsuccessful.
Whereas Fours put much effort into being perceived as unique and uniquely creative, even if it means people are aware of their darkness, but no matter which side of the coin, both genuinely care about how the rest of the world perceives them. For this reason, both types value anything that sets them apart from the rest and distinguishes them from the milieu.
How You Complement Each Other
When healthy, this pair can form a genuinely complementary bond, as each type brings something to the relationship that the other often believes themselves to be lacking. To the Three, the Four brings a deep appreciation of life, or a “stop and smell the roses” kind of attitude, as well as a sense of emotional depth, authenticity, and creativity typically undervalued or unexplored in a Three. To the Four, the Three brings a sense of optimism about the potential for growth and development, realistic goal setting, healthy ambition, and behavioral management, especially when it comes to emotional outbursts.
Where Threes can be insensitive or obtuse, Fours embody helpful sensitivity; where Threes get stuck in traditional or practical modes of thinking, Fours offer creative innovation. On the flip side, where Fours feel stuck in the mud or characteristically lows, Threes imbue the dialogue with pragmatic solutions, achievable goals, and positive motivation. Moreover, when Fours start to spiral inward in a self-absorbed emotional deluge, Threes help to shift the focus back to the external world and the task at hand.
How You Can Get Into Trouble
Because both Threes and Fours are so motivated by external approval and validation, it is easy for this combo to devolve into petty patterns of competition and subterfuge. Also, because of this same focus on the opinion of the external, both types struggle with self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and shame.
It is common for both to have questions about their identity continually. While the shared nature of these struggles has the potential of fostering empathy, it can also result in Mean Girl like behavior, where one type takes advantage of the others’ negative self-image.
Furthermore, these types can be (consciously or unconsciously) comparing themselves to the other, keeping a running tally of how they stack up in a comparison between themselves and others. This can further trigger the inferiority spiral, wherein Threes make every effort to bolster their image by bragging and achieving more, and Fours sink into a melancholy while explaining to the world how no one suffers quite like them. In this grab for attention and positive regard, Threes will often come out victorious (if there are limited attention “resources”) and this can lead the Four to feel overshadowed or shut out of the Limelight, leading to feelings of deficiency, which the Three will then capitalize on.
Both types also need to be aware of their harsher judgments of the other, because they can be extreme. To a Four, Threes may seem uncouth, untactful, or to be lacking class.
As Threes are concerned with personal success more than anything else and may not care about whom they run over in their quest for the top position, it is entirely possible for their behavior to come across as insensitive, greedy, and distasteful to the more refined and attuned Four. Moreover, to a Three, the Fours’ insatiable appetite for drama, adherence to a woe-is-me storyline, and an absolute need to be seen as unique could come off as garish, needy, and self-absorbed.
Finally, these two need to be aware of their oft-unconscious feelings. When unattended to, the volatile nature of this Heart Triad combo can lead to intense rages, stormy outbursts, and shadowy, sarcastic sabotage.
What Each Type Needs To Be Aware Of
Threes need to be mindful of their tendency to avoid their personal feelings and the feelings of those around them. It is essential for them to acknowledge that their go-get-em pace can often be insensitive, and their continued striving for accomplishment can result in harm to others.
In Fours, the Three should be aware of just how emotionally sensitive and attuned this type is: the Three knack for diplomacy and attentive reading of social cues can go a long way in fostering trust and alliance in this relationship.
Fours need to be aware of their almost obsessive tendency to sink into feelings and bring everyone around them down with them. In this, they can tend to focus on the negative aspects of an experience, as well as feeling as opposed to doing.
Important also to be aware of the subtle and gross ways you are seeking special treatment. In dealing with Threes, it is good to be aware of their need for acknowledgment and pride in their accomplishments, as well as their ability for sustained achievement. When directly applied, the unique adoration, attention, and passion of the Four can encourage the Three to great heights.
How You Can Support One Another
The Three can support the Four through introduction and dissemination of many practical life skills, such as emotional regulation, effective goal setting strategies, and how to remain focused on doing. In turn, Fours can support Threes in accessing deeper layers of their previously unexplored emotions, gaining sensitivity, and developing an appreciation of art, beauty, and (what for the Three may seem “pointless”) creative endeavors.
Fours truly do have access to a level of reality most people overlook, and this can be an extremely rewarding exploration for a courageous Three, as most Threes tend to spend their lives in the shallows. Also, frequently, Threes do possess an almost superhuman ability to accomplish their dreams, something the Four inherently struggles with due to their tendency to fixate on feelings instead of taking action. The proactive nature of the Three can help the Four to jumpstart a life of activity, wherein they use all of their creative inspiration to make things in the world.
Moreover, indeed, the best way for this dyad to support one another is to maintain loving, positive, and encouraging communication throughout every level of their relationship. Because both types are wont to compete, compare, and get mired in self-criticism, the most supportive thing they can do for each other is to be a voice of reason, reassurance, and grounded vision. Keep telling each other that the bad thoughts are lies, and keep offering unconditional acceptance, in other words.
In A Romantic Context
As in any other context, this duo has the potential for true complementary engagement, but also painful destruction. As an Image/Heart triad couple, there is an opportunity for much emotional intimacy and positive, self-esteem building support.
The combination of the Three’s stamina and striving for excellence, plus the passion and depth of the artistic Four, can result in heated, satisfying, and boundary-expanding chemistry between the sheets. However, there is also the potential for vicious emotional warfare and self-destruction with these two.
When healthy, this couple will bask in the incredible breadth created between them by their strengths. From the Three, this team gets worldly success, goal orientation, and victory after victory.
There is an air of possibility in all things, and an optimistic approach to tackling life’s most significant obstacles. Also, from the Four, this pair can benefit from true emotional sensitivity, innovative perspectives, and originality. The combination of each types’ strengths can prove truly enriching, both for each other and for those who know them.
As with all good things, however, there is also a grave potential for ugliness between these two. The constant need for approval, self-esteem boosts, and attention that both Threes and Fours uniquely embody can not only exhaust the other type, causing friction but also foster harsh critiques and judgments. These two share so many similarities in their core needs for approval and validation; they are potentially gazing into a black mirror, where they see all of their negative qualities reflected to them.
They are reminded of their low self-esteem, sense of shame, attention seeking, and feelings of worthlessness, and because they dislike or even hate those tendencies in themselves, they may grow to dislike or hate the other. In this instance, the Four will use their astute emotional awareness to become manipulative, volatile, and painfully insulting. They will also devolve into their characteristic unhealthy self-absorption.
Threes, when pushed, will lord their many successes over the defeated Four, while belittling or chiding their inability to get anything done. Simultaneously, this duo in a romantic entanglement must also be watchful of the tendency to project all over each other.
Because the Three embodies so many of the things the Four feels they lack, and the Four contains elements of great mystery to the Three, there is a high potential for these two to be dating only their projection of the other. On the Three, the Four projects their rescuer fantasies, while the Three projects an exotic, otherworldly enigma with access to unknown depths. These projections can doom the relationship, as neither projection will hold up when push comes to shove and reality sets in.