Enneagram Type 8: The Challenger


If you want the person you’re in a relationship with to fiercely love, protect, and fight for you above all else, then you need to date an Enneagram 8.

Enneagram 8’s can often get a bad rap on the Enneagram. While other types are defined by the way they want to explore the world or be joyful at the end of the day, Eights are usually described as those who will fight to the death for their honor and the honor of those around them.

If you’re loved by an Enneagram 8, you will never have to fight your own battles, and you can almost guarantee that you will always be protected and fiercely loved.

The Enneagram 8 is often referred to as the challenger of the Enneagram. These people love to play devil’s advocate in any argument they’re in, and they can often provoke a heated debate just so that they can have a little fun.

Eights are some of the most confident personality types on the Enneagram, and they are usually the people who attract those who are weaker than they are. They take pride in solving problems and protecting the people they love because they’ve been doing that all their lives.

We need Eights in our lives and in the world.

Although the Eight might come on strong, and being in a relationship with such a powerful force can sometimes do more damage than good to someone, the Eights are some of the best kinds of people that we need in our lives to feel safe.

If you are in a relationship with someone who identifies with Enneagram 8, you should feel honored and blessed by their presence in your life.

An Enneagram 8 is one of the most potent forces in this world and on the Enneagram itself. They love fiercely, they protect fiercely, and they will challenge anyone and everyone who gets in their way or hurts those whom they love.

Those loved by Enneagram 8’s get to experience one of the purest and most intense forms of love that anyone will ever be able to see. Enneagram 8’s make wonderful partners and great friends.

If you’re curious about all that an Enneagram 8 is and how they often act and operate in the world, keep reading!

The Challenger Overview

You’ll know someone is an Enneagram 8 because they’ll tell you what they are. Then they will launch into an argument about how Eights are misunderstood and that they’re actually the backbone of society and the Enneagram as a whole.

The Eights’ leading emotion is anger. It’s easy to provoke an Eight, and they’ll let you know when they’re annoyed with you. In fact, you’re more than likely going to get a follow-up text from them about ten minutes after you leave an interaction where you might have offended them.

Eights pride themselves on being strong and sturdy.

In fact, that strength is what they get a lot of their identity from, so if someone minimizes what they bring to the table or makes it sound less important and valuable than it is, the Eight will often fly off the handle and make everyone around them know just how needed they are.

Many Eights grew up with a home dynamic that wasn’t kid-friendly, so because of that, they had to learn to grow up and defend themselves from an early age. Eights have been protecting themselves and others since they can remember, and they’re good at it, but they also need to learn that it’s okay for them to rest and not always be everyone’s superhero.

The Challenger - Enneagram

Eights are often the embodiment of the phrase ‘go big or go home.’ There is no in-between. If you’re talking to them, they are either all in or all out. Because of the instability that many Eights came from, they don’t know how to dial their emotions down or take a breather.

An Eight’s biggest fear in life is being controlled or harmed by someone else. Because that is often the environment they left in their past, they are constantly trying to avoid getting into another situation that echoes that.

Many can see that fear manifested in how the Eight presents themselves and what they talk about. Many Eights will try to be impressive and talk about how good their lives are and how capable they are by themselves. While many might think of the Eight as braggadocious, this is another way that this type defends themselves and tries to avoid being harmed.

All an Eight wants, and all they’re trying to get out of their lives, is the ability to protect themselves. This is heartbreaking because every other type wants something that has to do with an improved environment or something their partners can give them.

Eights have learned from a young age that other people and situations are not to be trusted, and as a result, all they want in their lives is the ability to protect themselves. An Eight wants to be in control of their own destiny and not be controlled by others around them.

An Eight knows, or at least hopes that as long as their destiny is under their control and in their hands, nothing can go wrong.

Enneagram 8 in Stress

When an Enneagram 8 is unhealthy, the type often takes on traits of the Enneagram Five.

The once effervescent and powerfully outspoken Eight will retreat into themselves and isolate themselves from society. They will become fearful of everyone they’re around and assume the worst in others immediately.

An unhealthy Eight can be extremely toxic and terrible. They can be aggressive and assertive, not listening to anyone else, and unable to calm down. If you try to reach out to an Eight when you notice that they’re being unhealthy or toxic, they might see you as controlling, and they will often run away from you.

Many unhealthy Eights can also suffer from some bits of paranoia, as they have often labeled themselves as the only person who can protect their loved ones; they can be on edge and controlling, terrified of letting someone or something that they care about out of their sight and their line of protection.

Eights are naturally confrontational, but the unhealthier they get, the more ruthless and heartless the confrontation will sound.

Enneagram 8 in Growth

When Eights are their healthiest selves, they will grow to take on the traits of an Enneagram Two.

As Eights are extremely relationship-based, and they want to protect their loved ones more than almost anything in the world, it makes sense that they will become more open-hearted and loving when they’re at their best.

Healthy Eights know that they are powerful forces, but instead of leading with that power or making others feel little because of it, they will use their ability to be more service-based and loving.

Healthy Eights will also be able to put boundaries up in their personal lives and not always feel as though they have to constantly be ‘on’ or play the role of the protector to everyone around them.

The best way to describe a healthy Eight is as the strong hero everyone needs in their lives.

Enneagram 8 with Wing-7

Eight-wing-Sevens are often referred to as the Nonconformists or the Mavericks of the World. This pairing is seemingly oppositional and often brings out a different side than people are used to seeing from the ‘typical’ Eight.

The Seven wing can already make the somewhat of the hot-wire an Eight is even more impulsive and trigger-happy. Because of this, the Eight will often act recklessly and even harmful to those around them. This type is often better at handling conflict than the Eight-wing-Nine, and they are usually the trailblazers when it comes to solving issues.

They are fiercely independent and love to give all their energy and passion to everything they choose to pursue. This type prefers to work alone and often rebels against authority.

An Eight-wing-Seven will make sure that no one could possibly see them as weak or in need. Because of this, they will try to prove to everyone around them that they are more than capable of tackling life’s problems alone.

Enneagram 8 with Wing-9

Enneagram 8-wing-9’s can be referred to as the Bear or the Diplomat.

The wing Nine for this type makes the Eight more approachable and loving. They are often very down-to-Earth and will only be confrontational if someone is disrupting the peace or hurting someone they love.

The primary fear of an Eight is the same as the Eight-wing-Nine, but it manifests itself differently. Where the Eight fears being restrained by others, the Eight-wing-Nine sees that as being controlled by authority figures and those in the government and other leadership positions.

Because the Eight will typically try to avoid being dominated in every way, shape, or form that they can, they usually will see a problem and attempt to be the solution. The Eight will take up the mantle and take matters into their own hands if they see injustices happening around them.

While the Eight-wing-Nine is one of the most influential people and personality types on the Enneagram, they can also be guilty of struggling with pride, and they’re often some of the most stubborn people.

How the Enneagram 8’s Characteristics Apply to Romance and Dating

Enneagram 8’s are some of the best life partners a person could have. If you have a problem with your home, an Eight will be on the phone with everyone who can fix it within a minute. If your kid is getting bullied at school, an Eight will have the other child in the principal’s office in two shakes. If you’re struggling with something, an Eight will be there to have your back and endlessly defend you, no matter what.

Like Enneagram Two and One, an Eight doesn’t work for free. Sure, they will protect those they love with all that they have inside of them, but they will often hold onto the fact that they are these people’s protectors and are needed in their loved ones’ lives.

Sometimes, an Eight can feel bitterness and anger towards those they have sworn to protect because they know that the protection they provide will never be reciprocated by their partners.

That being said, an Eight doesn’t necessarily want to be protected. They want to have an environment in which they can defend themselves.

While it’s an interesting dichotomy to balance, being in a relationship with an Enneagram 8 is one of the best and most fulfilling relationships anyone could be in.

Tips for Keeping The Enneagram 8’s Interested

If you’re wondering what some of the best ways to treat and love your Enneagram 8 partner are, we’ve got you covered. Here are some strategies you should employ in your relationship with an Enneagram 8.

Don’t Back Down from a Challenge or an Argument

While this might seem a little backward, and one might think that we’re telling you to fight with your partner, hear us out. Eights love to have their brains tickled, but they really love to see that their partners are as strong as they are.

Because the Eight is so focused on self-preservation and they love a good fight to clear the air, their partners also need to be able to get in it with them and challenge them back.

An Eight doesn’t want to dominate their partner; they want it to be an equal fight.

Honesty Comes First

Eights don’t want someone to beat around the bush about anything; instead, they need someone who will tell them the plain truth. Because an Eight is so focused on being the protector in every situation, if their partner hides something scary or threatening from them, they might feel duped and lose trust in their partner.

And once you lose an Eight’s trust, it’s almost impossible to get it back. So instead of walking a dangerous tightrope of hiding the truth from them, just come out and say whatever you’ve been avoiding.

Let Them Take the Lead

No matter what happens, you should always let your Enneagram 8 partner take the lead in the relationship. We’re not saying that you have to back down or roll over to give them control over everything. There will be times when an Eight must be able to look at something and realize that they did it.

While there should always be respect and love in the relationship, and the second that the Eight abuses their power, that power is allowed to no longer be theirs to hold, for the most part, the Enneagram 8 should take the lead on most things.

Things to Consider When Dating an Enneagram 8

One thing to note about the Eight is that they will not back down. As stated above, Enneagram 8 doesn’t have a midpoint switch, so they don’t know how to be at a resting stage; they’re all in or all out.

Because of this, the Eight can often be their own worst enemy. The Eight will often look like they’re sabotaging their own relationships when really, they’re just trying to show their significant others that they are capable and strong.

If you notice that your Enneagram 8 partner is becoming a bit too defensive or that their challenging stance is coming out more than you would like, talk to them about it and tell them that it’s okay to not always be the strongest in the room, or at least to not always state that you are.

When Enneagram 8 feels safe and secure in their relationship, they won’t feel as though they have to flex their muscles as much or show off their strength. But until then, understand where they’re coming from and do your best to show them love and support.

The Enneagram 8’s Compatibility with Other Enneagram Types

Because the Enneagram is all about relationships and how people act towards others, one of the main lessons we can learn about each type is what numbers they pair the best with. While this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t date others who aren’t in these types, it does give people an insight into what they need in a relationship.

Enneagram 9 – The Peacemaker

The Peacemaker - Enneagram

While the Eight and the One might have qualities that are too similar to each other, the Eight and the Nine pairing is a beautiful opposing blend.

The Eights are strong-willed and action-oriented. They will never back down from a fight and often crave a challenge. Meanwhile, there is nothing an Enneagram Nine wants less than to have a row, and confrontation might often kill them.

Because of these two types’ opposing natures, the issue in their relationship often arises when they’re both at their unhealthiest. The Nine melt when approached with a bit too much force and aggression. Vice versa, when the Eight is challenged, they will only become more challenging and harsh towards those around them.

These two types balance each other out beautifully, where the Eight can take the lead in the relationship, and the Nine can admire their strength. Of course, the opposition might be harmful to the relationship as a whole, but the Eight and the Nine pairing often creates a good lesson and a lot of room to grow for both types.

The Enneagram 8’s Incompatibility with Other Enneagram Types

Some personality types tend to butt heads with Enneagram 8’s. While couples can get over their differences, and no one needs to take these types’ differentiations as gospel, it might be good to know where the Enneagram 8 can differ from other classes.

The Reformer - Enneagram

Enneagram 1 – The Reformer

We often talk about power couples in Enneagram dynamics, and the One/Eight pairing creates one of the most potent couples out there.

The drive and passion that both of the individual types will bring to the relationships will make them an unstoppable force. Both types are dedicated to being the best they can be, and they will often make sure that they’re bringing the best out of each other.

These two types together are action-oriented and dedicated to making the world a better place overall.

While this couple is great if you want a focused and task-oriented relationship, there are some trouble spots that you should take note of before you sing their praises.

Because the One and the Eight are notoriously unfeeling and often a bit cruel when they don’t get their way, these types will not have romantic dinners planned or be very feelings-oriented with one another.

While that might be someone’s worst nightmare, especially when looking for a life partner, others might prefer that in their relationships.

All that being said, if you want to see two people passionately dedicated to making the world around them a better place and working tirelessly to leave their mark on everything they touch, look to an Eight and a One.

Final Thoughts about Dating an Enneagram 8

Being in a relationship with someone who identifies as an Enneagram 8 is one of the best things that will happen in your life. While this type is complex and hard to understand at times, they are genuinely the best kinds of people and the ones you want on your side more than anything.

It is a privilege to be loved and protected by an Eight, and if you’re in a relationship with one, you’ll know how special it can be.