The Enneagram 3, also known as the achiever, is one of the most impressive Enneagram numbers on the diagram, or at least that’s what a Three will want you to think.
The three is usually the person in the group who does the talking for the table. They are self-confident and self-assured and they love to talk about what they’ve done.
Odds are, if you know of a friend who always introduces themselves by their job title instead of their name, they’re more than likely an Enneagram 3.
But Threes aren’t all these self-righteous CEOs who can only talk about work and their achievements. At their core, Threes are actually self-conscious when they’re alone, and they struggle with finding their identity in things that aren’t their work, their job title, the money they’ve made, or what they’ve accomplished.
The Achiever Overview
At first glance, Enneagram 3’s personality, goals, fears, and core motivators are some of the most cut-and-dry options for any of the Enneagram types.
The Three’s biggest fear in life is that they will end up being worthless and no one will want or need them. To combat this fear, most Enneagram 3’s work their entire lives trying to prove that they are irreplaceable and that everyone needs them.
If you’ve ever been out to dinner with a friend and all they can talk about is how impressive their work schedule is or how much their boss praised them the other day, you’re eating with a Three.
But the downfall comes when the Three feels any inclination that they’re not being valued for their work and contributions to society.
Because of this, the Three is very susceptible to criticism, silence, or even harsh tones. If a Three doesn’t receive praise for what they’ve done, their mind starts to race in a hundred different directions, and they either double down and do more to prove that they’re indispensable or they sink into a black hole of despair and start to believe that the world is against them.
It’s very ironic to note that Enneagram 3’s, the people who most often appear as the most confident and self-assured people, are actually the kinds of people who are most likely to suffer from imposter syndrome every single day, and they need constant validation from everyone in their lives in order to keep going.
There’s a scene in Glee where Rachel tells Finn, “I’m like Tinkerbell, Finn. I need applause to live.” Of all of the quotes and metaphors we can use to describe how a Three thinks and operates, this is the best quote out there.
Enneagram 3 in Stress
When a Three is under stress, they often begin to collapse internally and take on the traits of an Enneagram Nine. While some would assume that a Three would benefit from being a little more chilled out and go-with-the-flow like an Enneagram Nine is, a Three’s reaction to stress is never that great.
At their worst, Threes will do anything to avoid failure and frequently become devious and corrupt. They will often use dishonest methods and throw others under the bus so they don’t look like they’re the worst and can assign that to someone else.
Another option that Threes can go to when they’re stressed is to completely give up and run away from their problems. This way, they cannot fail because they’ve already quit. This is the Nine in them, and it is a valuable option for many Threes.
Enneagram 3 in Growth
When Threes are at their healthiest, they grow to a Six and adopt the loyal and loving behaviors that that Enneagram number portrays. When a Three adopts the mannerisms of a Six, they will be able to rest a little easier in the knowledge that they’re going to be loved and taken care of, no matter what.
Healthy Threes also will stop putting work and their accolades first; instead, they’ll be focused on making meaningful relationships.
When a Three is at their healthiest, they will know that they don’t have to strive or work to be worthy of love, and will start to see all they do as worthwhile, but not something that they need to make their entire personality to bank their worth on. Instead, they will be able to see the bigger picture and realize that it’s okay if everyone around them doesn’t know what they’ve accomplished.
When they’re at their best, Threes are self-accepting and accepting of others around them. They still maintain their charm and charisma that’s a crucial part of how they govern themselves, but they don’t need to lean on it as much, as healthy Threes are personable and love to make connections with others.
One way that you can tell that your Three is healthy is if you can sense a renewed sense of passion in them, and they’re not just working or doing tasks to do them or to be impressive, but they’re actually excited about what they can accomplish.
Enneagram 3 with Wing-2
The Three-wing-Two is often referred to as the Enchanter or the Charmer on the Enneagram. Because a Three can often be seen as cunning, business-like, and goal-oriented, when the Three leans into their Type Two side, they can take on a softer appearance and connect with the people around them.
Threes are natural networkers and love people. Most Threes believe that their worth is found in being loved and being able to perform for people. Hence the name, the enchanter.
The Three-wing-Two will know who they’re talking to and how they should present themselves in order to make the best impression.
But Threes are deeply interpersonal people, and they crave deep connections wherever they can make them. It’s not always a way for them to gain something, but it can be if they don’t keep a close eye on their charming skills.
Enneagram 3 with Wing-4
The Three-wing-Four is often called the Professional or the Expert, and they live up to that name. Just like the Three, these people are focused, career and goal-oriented, and surprisingly introverted.
While the Three-wing-Two is more of a networker, and they try to establish and find their value in how many people they know and the impressions they make on them, Three-wing-Fours are more career-focused, and their value comes from their work, their money, or their titles.
If you need a job done and done well, call a Three-wing-Four, and they’ll go above and beyond what you could even expect. They will also often do the job in record time, just so that you will praise them more.
Although they’re more introverted than those with a Two wing, Three-wing-Fours can still make solid and meaningful connections with others around them; it’s just not their key focus.
How the Enneagram 3’s Characteristics Apply to Romance and Dating
A Three will do their best to be the best in every relationship they’re in. Threes care about how they’re being perceived and want that ‘perfect’ life, so they often will bend over backward to get it. But there’s a reason why the Three is often called a performer.
Sometimes, it might feel like an Enneagram 3 is a bad actor in a play when they’re in the thick of a romantic relationship. It can be difficult for them to pull themselves away from work, which can get very addictive, and refocus on their relationship.
Because of their performative nature mixed with their hope of being in an ideal and idolized relationship, a Three will often pressure their partner to appear as perfect and not dwell on the issues that naturally pop up in their relationship. If this is not handled well, Three can show abusive tendencies in their relationship.
But Threes are dedicated to being the best and making their lives as good as they can be. Threes will often sit down and try to plan their lives with their partner, continually work on improving their partner and ensuring that everyone is doing their best in the relationship.
Although this description might make people think that the Three is the worst partner on the Enneagram, that’s not necessarily true. Threes are constantly devoted to getting better and improving, and when it matters to them, it will get done.
Tips for Keeping The Enneagram 3’s Interested
If you’re in a relationship with an Enneagram 3, here are some steps to keep your partner engaged.
Take an Interest in Their Passions
A Three can be passionate about so many different things, but it can hurt when their partners are disinterested in what they’ve accomplished or what they’ve done. It’s good to remember that the core motivator for a Three to do anything is so they can receive validation.
Because of this, it hurts them when you don’t listen to what they’ve done that day or what they’ve accomplished. Take some time to delve into their interests.
Be Motivated Yourself
You don’t need to be a brilliant person or outshine a Three, we suggest that you don’t do that, but if you want to keep your partner interested, you should have your own passions and interests as well.
No one wants to be driven and passionate and then come home to their partner who hasn’t done anything all day.
Things to Consider When Dating an Enneagram 3
Because Enneagram 3’s are constantly striving to appear to be the best and they’re always searching for validation and love as a result of their achievements and work, it can be challenging to tell your Enneagram 3 partner that they don’t constantly have to be on the go or have to be working to be a valuable part of society or your relationship.
But once you have a heart-to-heart with a Three and you see them for who they are, not just what they can bring to the table, nor whatever accolades and impressive achievements they would rather discuss than their feelings.
It’s important to note for anyone in a relationship with someone who identifies as an Enneagram 3 that Threes are the type that is the furthest away from the heart or feeling center.
Once you get to know a three, you’ll realize that there’s not much of an act or a facade with them. This type truly is dedicated to being the best that they can be, no matter what the cost or how painful or stressful the process of becoming that person might be.
If you’re in a relationship with an Enneagram 3, you’ll know that it can take a while to get to the bottom of how they’re feeling, how they react in certain situations, and what to do about it.
The Enneagram 3’s Compatibility with Other Enneagram Types
We always like to reiterate at this point that there are no two Enneagram numbers that should never date for any reason or two numbers that need to date for whatever reason. But if you want to gain some clarity on what Enneagram numbers the Three is often most attracted to, keep reading
Enneagram 2 – The Helper
The Three/Two pairing is one of the strongest Enneagram couples. The Two makes the Three settle down and feel loved, not because of their achievements, but because they are loveable. Meanwhile, the Three sees the passion and drive of the Two and spurs them to have success in whatever they want to do.
Together, this couple creates a well-balanced and healthy power couple. Neither is putting too much pressure into performing, and both need love and affirmation to keep going and feel valued. This pairing is full of passionate and dedicated bombshells.
The relationship issues that might arise can come from the fact that a Two will put their life on hold to love someone else. The Two is also in the center of the feeling or heart triad of the Enneagram. The Three is the furthest removed from this triad, and they will put their love on hold in order to get work accomplished. This could cause a strain in the relationship when both parties are at their worst.
That being said, the two types together can create one of the healthiest and most beneficial relationships on the Enneagram.
The Enneagram 3 is also extremely relationship-based; they often need a partner who has the traits of a Two to be by their side and soften them up a bit. And because the two numbers are so close to each other on the diagram, most Threes already know what to expect from their partner, and they might even share some of their key traits.
Enneagram 9 – The Peacemaker
Although these types are in opposition to each other, the Three and the Nine pairing is one of the best for both types.
The Nine can get lethargic and unmotivated, especially when they’re hit with stress or discomfort. On the other hand, when a Three is uncomfortable, they go harder and work more.
Because of these dueling natures and responses, a Three will usually motivate a Nine to get up and get to work, while a Nine can calm their Three partner down and help them see the good in everything, not just their job. While it might look like each type is trying to transform the other, they’re trying to encourage their partner to be the best they can be.
Even though these two types are very different from each other at first glance, they balance each other out and create a peaceful middle ground between both of the types’ fundamental fears and motivators.
The Nine and the Three will work tirelessly together to make their home and lives the best they can be.
The Enneagram 3’s Incompatibility with Other Enneagram Types
Because the Enneagram type Three is so relationship and appearance-oriented, they are one of the few types that will make a relationship work for every other number. That being said, their performative nature and distance from their feelings might cause a rift between one type.
Enneagram 4 – The Individualist
The Three/Four pairing is what most modern romance novels are based around. The gruff professor who is dedicated to his work, usually that of science or math, and has no time to explore love is the Enneagram 3. The Enneagram Four is the free-spirited English, art, or theatre teacher who walks around the school barefoot and sings songs.
They shouldn’t work out, but it’s a troupe, and people go crazy for it.
Similarly, the Three/Four pairing can work out, but there are a lot of differences between the two Enneagram types.
On one hand, the Enneagram Four can help the Three connect to their feelings and understand that they don’t always have to be a machine that just works all day, has no joy, and only gets validation from what they have accomplished.
Alternatively, the Three can help ground the Four and make them focus their artistic passion on one project at a time, making them more successful than they would be if they were free-floating.
But the problems come, and both sides relentlessly require validation, love, and appreciation from their partner. Enneagram 3’s and Fours both operate out of a need for attention and performance-based validation. When they don’t feel as though they’re being respected for their work and their passions, they don’t feel valued in the relationship and often will collapse.
Also, the Four is one of the most feelings-oriented personality types in the Enneagram. A Four’s feelings will often govern the way they act and operate during the day. They might not be able to comprehend how a Three can turn off their emotions to get a task done, and it might seem cold or heartless to them.
Alternatively, the Three might see the tethers that the Four’s emotions have on them and think of the Four as weak or less than them.
No matter how you spin it, this pairing is not always the best for either side.
Final Thoughts about Dating an Enneagram 3
Enneagrams Three often needs other people’s assurances and words of affirmation. Many Threes spend their entire lives trying to achieve a sense of perfection in their personal life.
The Three’s relationship might look perfect from an outsider’s perspective, where they only post the highlight reel of their lives and constantly work hard to make sure that everyone thinks they’re perfect. Still, it can sometimes be difficult to be in a loving and symbiotic relationship with an Enneagram 3.
While there are many different focuses and motivations for all of the Enneagram types, the Three is the only type that can immediately turn off their emotions and become a kind of black hole, especially when they’re trying to complete a task, or they feel as though they’ve been undervalued recently in their relationships.
That being said, Threes are excellent partners who want to love and be loved. If you feel as though your Three is working too hard for your love or they have seemed a bit more insecure than usual, assure them that you love them, not because of what they do, but in spite of it.
If you’re in a relationship with Enneagram 3, there are some things you should keep in mind.
One, just because they’re not always lovey-dovey doesn’t mean that they don’t adore you. A Three will often not show love to their partner by being lovey-dovey or vulnerable. Instead, a Three will show you love by putting their work away and making you a priority.
People loved by Enneagram 3’s are often more blessed than they realize, and their partners would do anything for them.