Enneagram Pairing Type 6 & 8
6 - The Loyal Guardian
Loyal Skeptic, Trooper, Trouble Shooter, Defender, Guardian, Questioner, Devil's Advocate
8 - The Protective Challenger
Protector, Alpha Leader, Champion, Maverick, Commander, Negotiator, Boss
Sixes are the center of the Head Triad, also called the Thinking Triad. They are quick-witted, skeptical, cautious, and loyal. Eights are part of the Gut Triad.
They are bold, brash, intense, and lusty. Sixes, at their core, fear the worst from the world, which is why they endeavor to maintain security in their personal lives and relationships. Eights, at their center, hide from their feelings of weakness and vulnerability by barreling through the world. Both Sixes and Eights exhibit strong reactions to the world around them, living intensely, with passion and integrity.
Eights and Sixes are quite different. However, they share a few key points in common, all relating to how they perceive the world and the people in it. Both Eights and Sixes operate under the belief that most people, and the world at large, are untrustworthy.
They feel threatened by the unpredictability of life, and develop strong defenses as a way of coping with their fearful feelings. Also as a result of these feelings, both Eights and Sixes place a high premium on integrity, honor, loyalty, responsibility, hard work, and courage.
They also both tend to stand up for what they believe in, fight for the underdog, and be relentless in their pursuit of what’s right. They are both protective of family and those they love, ensuring security not only for themselves but for everyone around them.
How You Complement Each Other
While Sixes and Eights tend to root in the same worldviews, their outward expression tends to be very different. In response to their shared/similar fears and doubts, Sixes and Eights choose nigh-opposing responses.
Sixes tend toward caution, over-analysis, and viewing a situation from multiple perspectives. Eights, on the other hand, typically charge ahead, taking control as a means of avoiding acknowledging their fears and vulnerabilities.
To the Eight-Six connection, Sixes bring a sense of warmth and connectedness. They are usually outwardly playful and sensitive in a way Eights are not. Sixes are also analytical and possess great foresight and skills to deliberate multiple outcomes, whereas Eights rely more heavily on their intuitive promptings and felt sensations to make decisions.
Additionally, Eights bring a direct, decisive will, and the strength and confidence to carry out their intentions. They feel undaunted by most of life's challenges, and face the world with courage and gusto. This take-charge boldness makes Six feel protected, safe, and grounded. Conversely, Sixes heady analysis, consideration, warmth, and canny foresight empowers Eights to make clearer decisions.
Sixes can often end up advising Eight with their clarity and vision. Eight then embodies this clarity and takes the risks that Sixes often are too hesitant to take themselves. Because these two have such a deep rooted fear and mistrust of other's in common, there is a huge potential to build a lasting bond based on trust and respect.
It's likely they will understand each other's motivations well, providing a sense of solace in an otherwise threatening world. Their connection is aided by the difference in the way each of them responds to their feelings of fear, namely that Eights will tend to take care of themselves and those around them, while Sixes will focus on building strong connections and allying themselves to others.
Between these two coping strategies, there is a high probability these two will develop a rich, well-resourced social network and have a remarkably high ability to deal with problems and challenges. When facing the same direction, moving as a team, and going after the same goal, this can be a highly supportive, dynamic, proactive, and wise duo.
How You Can Get Into Trouble
Because both Sixes and Eights tend to have significant reactions, big fears, and big passions, they can also get into big trouble. Firstly, these two have dramatically different operating styles. Eights throw themselves at the world with gusto, bravado, and no small amount of courage.
They tend to take control of the situation to mitigate their fear. Sixes, on the other hand, hold back, consider the consequences, and question everything. They tend to overanalyze, sometimes to the point of missing an opportunity altogether. With one another, their mutual fears can gravely affect the way they communicate with one another.
If one or both parties feel threatened, they will inevitably end up on the defensive, with their guard of distrust and doubt up in full force. A guarded Six becomes willfully stubborn, autonomous, and decisive (counterphobic) or fearful, deferential to authority, and conforming (phobic).
Eights on guard become loud, controlling, and very, audibly angry. Eights can begin to view Sixes as overly hesitant and cautious, while Sixes start to see Eights as domineering. The fear and distrust they have for everyone else can easily apply to each other. Another danger with these two is a willful power struggle.
Sixes are eager to prove their grit to the world, and even if they have always only ever been easy going, when they reach a breaking point, they will stand up decisively, stubbornly, and with a lot of fire. Eights are almost always ready for a battle of wills, so when Six digs in their heels, Eights grow another proverbial head and hunker down to win a war. It can get ugly between these two. The solidity and support that brought them together can turn into defiant aggression and loud, territorial spats.
What Each Type Needs To Be Aware Of
Eight’s fear of showing weakness or vulnerability can make them especially susceptible to criticism, jokes, and taking things personally. They can exhibit paranoia, be overly probing, and are prone to mood swings. Sixes can also feel paranoid or doubtful of someone’s motives, but where Eight gets angry or domineering, Six will usually try to engender themselves to the other in an attempt to build an alliance and thus alleviate the threat.
Eights need to be aware of their tendency to steamroll others, especially phobic Sixes, while Sixes need to be mindful of their propensity toward worst-case-scenario thinking, as it will not serve in the relationship with an Eight. If they’re not in a leadership role, Eights always respect people who take command with directness and authority. Sixes, be aware that Eights have a high standard for honesty, personal responsibility, accountability, and straightforward communication.
In work, Sixes are incredibly persevering and diligent, but it will be essential to ensure they have ample opportunity to voice their ideas and concerns. Eights, be aware that Sixes are incredibly skeptical to try anything new, whether an idea, a person or an activity, until they have sussed it out for themselves, through their process. If a Six deems something worthy and trustable, they will be loyal for life.
How You Can Support One Another
Trust is essential to any relationship, but even more so for Sixes and Eights. The most supportive thing these two can do for one another is to focus on building and maintaining trust. Trust is established through open communication, honest feedback, exploratory questions, curiosity, and most importantly by showing up and doing what you say you’re going to do.
While both Sixes and Eights struggle with trusting others, this shows up very differently for each type. For Eights, their mistrust manifests as an almost compulsive need to dominate or direct the world around them.
For Sixes, it shows up as constant doubt and anxiety, both about their performance and wellbeing, and the motivations of others. As a result, support looks like clear boundaries and expectations for both types. As Sixes are Head types, they struggle with overthinking, which increases their feelings of anxiety and unrest.
For this reason, managing expectations with clear communication and tangible outcomes will be imperative to their thriving. For eights, who tend to overstep others’ boundaries unconsciously, it’s important they understand their place and are made aware of Sixes’ needs regarding space, time, attention, and follow through. Sixes can support Eights with their warmth and their keen understanding of human behavior.
Eights struggle to be vulnerable in the world, even though they possess these incredibly big hearts, so Sixes can be most supportive of their Eight counterparts by demonstrating that it’s all right to be vulnerable. For Eights, Sixes can create a safe space built on trust, in which Eights can soften into their vulnerability. Keeping lines of communication open and always addressing issues directly will enhance this.
Conversely, Sixes tend to lose touch with their bodies, so lost in thought and worry about what could go wrong. The best way for Eights to support Sixes is to offer a sincere, grounded, embodied presence, which is something Eights have in spades. Eights can step into their role as protector and defender for Six, offering reassurance and real security.
Both Sixes and Eights will be supported by helping each other to stay focused on what’s good and true and beautiful, as each type tends to get swallowed by negativistic, paranoid thinking. Because there is such a strong potential for deep trust to bond these two together, it will be imperative they help each other to build confidence in all of life, lest their relationship ends up feeding one another’s fears and insecurities.
In A Romantic Context
Romantically this is an incredibly useful, attractive pairing with a strong heart and body connection, and the potential to build a long-lasting bond. Because both Sixes and Eights tend to feel threatened by life’s unpredictability, these two can both bond over their shared fears and feelings of powerlessness, while also creating a safe, secure base for one another. The danger here, of course, is that these two develop an “us against the world” mentality, where they’re always on the defensive while simultaneously feeding one another’s fears and projections with their own.
In this pairing, Sixes tend to look up to Eights with admiration and respect. Eights feel touched and deeply held by Six’s warmth and loyalty. Neither Sixes nor Eights offer easy access to their inner worlds and authentic experiences, but for each other, they can open up and share themselves in ways that feel too threatening to do with anyone else.
This creates feelings of deep intimacy and closeness. Eights will be let into the world of Six, and vice versa; Eights become aware of the immense pressure Sixes put on themselves, fueled by ample self-doubt and anxiety, while Sixes discover the soft, tender heart hiding under all of Eight’s intensity. They will realize they are not so different, on the inside; that many of their fears, insecurities, and deepest passions are the same.
This can develop into a time-proof bond, where no matter how the relationship changes on the surface, the connection remains unbroken. This is a bond built on embodied empathy and care.
Both Sixes and Eights are highly emotional and impassioned, but they tend to hide their feelings behind well-developed defenses. Eights are defended by a quick temper, harsh words, and intensity, while Sixes defend themselves with overthinking, a blustery persona, and constant doubt.
On a deeper level, however, this emotional intensity is what draws these two to each other, and it can be the foundation on which they develop their bond. Of course, such a high amount of emotional closeness can also lead to trouble, mainly if their vulnerabilities aren’t discussed.
When feeling defensive, Sixes can become withdrawn, and tend to vacillate between moods, trains of thought, and options. They struggle to make a decision, and often don’t stick to what they say they will do. In this case, their Eight partners will start to see them as evasive, secretive, and unreliable.
Conversely, when Eights feel triggered or become defensive, they have a tendency to fly into rages, throw blame around, and ultimately storm off or withdraw out of upset. This can cause Sixes to lose faith in their partners, at which point they will likely withdraw emotionally.
In times of conflict, Six will want to retreat and isolate, while Eight will turn and run into the confrontation head-on. These opposing approaches to dealing with problems can easily cause a rupture between these two if they are not careful. When emotions are running high, it is easy for both Sixes and Eights to become embroiled in their passionate, stubborn defenses; easy for both to be triggered.
Arguments not only become heated but rapidly spiral into hurtful places. Sixes will feel threatened and distrustful of Eight’s rage, while Eights will struggle to find respect for their partner’s indecision. Once the trust and respect that were the hallmarks of this union crumble, there will be little to hold these two together, and the romance will likely end quickly.