Enneagram 2 The Giver

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Posted with permission from Ocean Moonshine

Enneatype Two Type Description

People of Enneatype Two are essentially related to other people, and they relate to them from a standpoint of helpfulness. Twos have a built in radar for what the other might need, and they see themselves as the correct person for satisfying that need. This places Twos, even though they are serving others, in a sort of “one up” position with respect to those they are serving. Twos see themselves as being not only strong enough to care for themselves, but able to care for others as well. They want to occupy a central position in the lives of chosen others, and they accomplish this by being “indispensable.” From the standpoint of the Two, it is always others who are needy and dependent, not the Two. In reality, the situation is a bit more complex, as Twos also have needs. They need to be appreciated; they need to be needed; they need to receive a considerable amount of attention and gratitude.

Twos are warm people. They are emotionally demonstrative and are generally comfortable with the physical expression of emotions. They place a very high value on their personal relationships and devote an enormous amount of time and energy to them. They tend to be practical people who thrive in the “hands on” helping professions such as teaching, nursing and counseling. Metaphorically speaking, the Two is not afraid of rolling up the sleeves and getting the hands dirty. Twos are also drawn to the role of parent – specifically what we traditionally think of as the more nurturing, mothering role. This is true whether the Two is male or female, although these qualities will typically be societally reinforced in female Twos and somewhat suppressed in males.

Twos are often seductive in their presentation. This might seem at odds with the description of Twos as being “mothering,” but both seductiveness and nurturing are manifestations of the same unconsciously manipulative desire to find a way to engage the other’s attention. Seductive Twos are often performers or entertainers; they simultaneously give their performance while receiving the adulation of their audience. Twos who adopt the seductive approach are often competitive with members of the same sex and jealous of those they deem more desirable. This competitiveness is at cross purposes with the Two’s desire to be admired for virtue however, so the Two tends to keep this dynamic in check and is frequently unaware of its existence.

It is entirely true that Twos are other oriented individuals who provide a great deal of nurturing and support to those in their charge. The Two’s self-image of being giving and helpful is not at all without merit. Twos often serve as the social “glue” which, for instance, keeps the office staff informed of everyone’s birthday – they are the ones who pass the cards around for others to sign. They are the ones who make sure that large families get together for reunions – they cook the food and strongly encourage everyone to attend. In an increasingly fractured society, they are often the ones working indefatigably to make sure that everyone is cared for.

The dark side of type Two revolves around their frequently unacknowledged need for appreciation. Twos don’t simply give; they give to get. And what they want in return for their service is the undying gratitude of those that they serve and to have their self-image as being loving and selfless reenforced. They tend to overestimate the nature and extent of what they have given however, so that the ledger of debit and credit always seems to remain in the Two’s favor. Twos tend to feel that, because they have extended themselves for others, gratitude is actually owed to them; they are entitled to it. When they don’t receive what they feel is owed them, they can become bossy and manipulative, feeling entirely justified in being so, because they “have earned the right” and because their intentions are good. When Twos become truly unhealthy, they begin to fear that the love and appreciation that they so deeply desire will never materialize. Under such circumstances they can become hysterical, irrational and even abusive.

Unhealthy Two energy can sometimes manifest in what is known as the classic co-dependent personality. Such Twos actively encourage dependencies in others so that they can feel needed. These are the Twos who are so solicitous of their children that their children are never allowed to grow up. They subtly encourage weakness in their spouses and friends. They want others to be weak so that they can feel strong and so that their ties to their intimates will remain uncut. Other Twos, when unhealthy, become dependent themselves. They find themselves the victim of a host of physical ailments which make them unable to care for themselves. Such Twos, then, require that others pay them back for all that they have done. Nothing is ever enough.

In the traditional Enneagram, Twos are believed to manifest the vice of “pride.” Pride, in this context, seems to be a technical term which indicates that the Two has, and needs to maintain, a distorted image of him or herself as being good, kind and loving. The Two will strive to maintain this self-image even in the face of enormous evidence to the contrary – and if the Two is unhealthy, there will be plenty of evidence to the contrary. Ichazo describes this psychic mechanism as ego-flat (ego-flattery). Sometimes this term is construed as indicating that the Two is prone to flattering others. Twos sometimes do flatter others, but, as the Two’s underlying program is “to give in order to get,” the ego most in need of flattering here is actually the Two’s. Being unlovable is the Two’s deepest fear, and Twos generally will simply not allow into their consciousness any evidence that contradicts their positive self-image as being loving and giving. Unhealthy Twos then, are masters in the art of self-deception and something of this quality attaches to all Twos who have not consciously worked to see through it.

Twos are likely to object that they do not in fact “give to get.” They give out of the fullness of their hearts. There is indeed some truth to this, but it is only a partial truth. Twos are not consciously aware of their need for appreciation, of their need to be needed. And it is true that when they give, they are fully attending to the other person; they are trying to be helpful. Because they are focusing on others, they are, and tend to remain, unaware of their own neediness, while those in the Two’s life will often be very much aware that the Two’s giving is not entirely selfless. The truth is that the Two’s program of “giving to get” is, like all of the Enneagram programs, largely unconscious. One of the benefits of learning the Enneagram, perhaps the central benefit, is that it can enable us all to become more aware of the unconscious agendas that underlie much of our behavior and determine much of our fate.

Healthy Twos are truly loving and gentle. They offer the love and support that all human beings consciously or unconsciously need in order to be whole. The religions of the East pay homage to this ideal in the image of the boddhisatva, who renounces entering into Nirvana so long as even one sentient being remains in the realm of suffering. Kwan Yin, the boddhisatva whose compassion inspired the Chinese for centuries, was undoubtedly a Two. A good case could be made for typing Jesus of Nazareth as a Two as well. His love of children, the helpless, the downtrodden and overburdened is, at the very least, reminiscent of type Two energy.(Perhaps this represnts Christianity’s way of paying the often unappreciated Feminine principle its proper respect. Only a feminine divinity wishes for the meek to inherit the earth.)

Twos with a One wing tend to be more emotionally restrained than those with a Three wing and are frequently attracted to causes as well as people. Something of the idealism of type One attaches to their giving. They can become self-righteous if they are unbalanced or don’t receive the appreciation which is their due. Twos with the Three wing are more expansive, ambitious and image oriented than those with a Two wing. They are frequently competitive but are also extremely generous with their time and energy.

Type Exemplars

Many of the saints in the Catholic pantheon are undoubtedly Twos, but Mary Magdalene stands out in this regard (but not Jesus’ mother who was likely a Nine). While all others were looking to Jesus as their savior, Mary recognized that Jesus was tired and in need of a bath. More recently, Mother Teresa is frequently cited as a Two.

The recently deceased playwright (and feminist) Wendy Wassertstein was a Two. In her obituary, the New York Times bemoaned the fact that, in addition to losing a talented author, New York City had lost a genuinely nice person.

Monica Lewinsky: her “giving” nature almost brought down a government.

As indicated above, many performers are Twos. One such is Dolly Parton. Billie Holiday is another. On the road, she was always the one who sewed and cooked for others. She was everyone’s confidant and protector, even as she neglected her own needs. Also, John Denver.

Comedians Bill Cosby and Will Ferrell are also Twos, as are actors John Ritter, Kathy Bates and Alan Alda.

Some Twos turn their compassion to larger social causes. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one such; he frequently reminded his followers of the need for reconciliation even in the darkest of times.

Some Twos combine their capacity for nurturing with a well developed intellect and utilize the latter in service of the former. The pediatrician and child advocate T. Berry Brazeleton is one such example. His books have been designed to provide comfort for children and their mothers alike. James Dobson is another specialist in child psychology whose One wing and connection to Eight is quite apparent.

Famous chefs Emeril Lagasse and Julia Child are Twos, and many Twos do, in fact, love to cook.

Not all Twos have a profession that one might think typical. Consider Magic Johnson for instance. Comedian – Wayne Brady.

Fictional examples include Sesame Street’s, Big Bird, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy and Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond. Marie exemplifies the classic “Jewish mother” syndrome without actually being Jewish.

Possible Mistypes

Twos can mistype as Ones, especially if the wing is strong. Male Twos are somewhat more likely than female Twos to mistype in this way as type Two qualities are typically encouraged more in females than males. Twos are more feeling oriented and emotionally demonstrative than Ones however; Ones are more likely to be motivated by principles of abstract justice and are far more emotionally restrained than Twos.

Twos and Threes can cross-type, especially when the wing is strong. Again, it is more likely for a male Two to mistype in this fashion. Threes, however, are far more oriented to competency issues than are Twos and can much more readily put their emotions on hold, when necessary, in order to get the job done. In addition, Threes tend to be more ambitious and focused on their personal concerns than the is more other oriented Two.

Twos might mistype as Four, especially, if they have artistic inclinations or believe themselves to be depressive. These qualities are not confined to Four however. In general, Fours are much more withdrawn and introspective than is the other focused Two who is frequently unaware of underlying motivations.

Twos and Fives are not likely to mistype. Such a mistype could occur if the Two was “intellectual.” It is not uncommon for Twos to be attracted to teaching and some intelligent Twos are successful academics. Intellectual Twos who mistype as Five however, are likely unaware of how deeply motivated they are by the desire to serve others. Fives pursue knowledge for its own sake, and while they might very much enjoy teaching, they tend to keep some distance between themselves and others. Twos are far more emotionally expressive and drawn to service than is the more reclusive and withdrawn Five.

Twos and Sixes commonly mistype, although it is more common for the Six, especially if female, to mistype as a Two than the reverse. But Sixes suffer from ambivalence, whereas Twos generally know exactly how they feel and what they want. Sixes are far more likely to suffer from self-doubt than is the more self-assured Two.

Twos and Sevens are both generally extroverted and generous and can sometimes crosstype. But Twos are primarily feeling oriented whereas the more mercurial Sevens are oriented to thinking. Twos are far more helpful to others than is the more self oriented Seven; Twos are more likely to follow through on promises of aid whereas Sevens have sometimes “moved on.” Twos are primarily oriented towards their relationships; Sevens towards their activities.

Twos can be quite bossy and could conceivably mistype as Eight. But Twos are far more emotionally vulnerable than is the much tougher Eight and Twos only resort to bossiness under stress and when less direct methods fail to produce the desired results. Twos are far more likely to engage in manipulative behavior than are Eights who are up front about where they stand and what they want.

Twos and Nines might cross-type, although it is far more likely for Nines, especially those who identify with a nurturing role, to mistype as Twos, than for the reverse to occur. But Nines are self-effacing and humble; Twos are proud and have a strong sense of their self worth. Twos under stress become domineering; Nines under stress tend to withdraw. Twos are quite strong willed; Nines struggle with self-assertion.

The Instinctual Stackings of Enneatype Two

Healthy Twos know how to give of themselves without the need for reciprocity on their terms. If their love goes unreciprocated, they might still focus energy on the situation, but they accept life for what it is. As Twos become less healthy, pride creeps in and they can’t accept that the love and closeness they want from another is not available. They begin to force the issue. They become blind to the fact that their ego is engaged and they start to manipulate others into feeling guilty for not returning their love. They justify, or don’t even see that they are manipulating others, because they just can’t accept that they don’t deserve to be loved. Deep down, the hurt and fear of type Two is that they aren’t lovable, but pride blinds them, and the ego’s game is to force the other person into giving the Two what the Two wants. This results in a cycle of giving followed by anger. When healthy, Twos give with acceptance of any outcome.

The basic fear of being unlovable manifests differently with the various instinctual stackings. Two is part of the feeling triad; their fear is of not being loved or seen as loving. When this image/feeling energy combines with the sexual instinct, it compounds the outward merging energy of both the Two and the sexual instinct, resulting in a type very focused on others. The survival energy is based on the need to feel love from intimates.

When the social instinct is dominant, the fear of being unloved is less focused on key individuals. The sin of pride becomes very apparent in this subtype, and focuses on the need to maintain social bonds. The image/feeling issues of the type combine with the social instinct, and can make for the very caring compassionate drive that is often seen in the social Two.

The self-pres Two turns their fear of being unloved into material giving. They give of themselves in concrete terms, as in doing things for others. Giving and doing can result in a feeling of entitlement, where they give to get, expecting the return of whatever good they have brought to others.


The self-pres instinct in the Two is somewhat at odds with the dominant type Two fixation. The heart energy of the Two is an outward energy, while the self-pres energy focuses inward. So the self-pres Two wants to bring love to themselves. They do this in a way that relates to their environment, their safety, comfort, and possessions.

This subtype is warm, friendly and very personable. Their focus is usually on their home and family. They give to others in acts of kindness – gifts, thoughtful cards, remembering special days. They are likely to be there physically to help, cook, lend a hand, fix something. On the down side, they will resent that they are the ones that do all the work. It would be nice if someone helped them out once in a while. They develop a feeling of entitlement, feeling that it’s their turn to be catered to for a while, since they have done so much. They can be stubborn and passive-aggressive in an attempt to get their needs met.

On the high side, as long as this subtype takes the time to tend to their own needs, they can gain much enjoyment in service to others and the life they build for themselves and their friends and family.


This subtype is more assertive then the self-pres/social subtype in giving and getting love. On the high side, they are more connected to the people closest to them and not as concerned about others. When the social instinct is last, it helps dampen some of the image issues that surface when this subtype is out of balance. On the down side, they can make a lot of demands on their loved ones. Their world is usually wrapped around their family. On the high side, this type can be the glue that holds people together, but, on the down side, manipulation can enter into the picture when things aren’t going as the Two would like. When their attempts to give love don’t get appreciated, the Two will most certainly let others know, usually in the form of a guilt trip.


The social instinct in the Two emphasizes the Two’s issues with pride. The fear of not being seen as loving becomes the focus for the social Two.

This subtype has strong opinions. On the high side, they want to give to society. For instance they do charity work or volunteer for their church. They get involved in the community in a helping way. On the down side, they can be very manipulative, for instance playing friends against each other in an attempt to keep themselves as the center of attention, as the one that others have to turn to. They can become “know-it-alls.” They need to tell you how everything should be done for your own good. They constantly fear the loss of their standing within the group, so they manipulate the group in indirect ways to keep themselves in good standing.


The soc/sexual Two is very people oriented. They are friends with everyone. They make a point of making a connection with most everyone they meet. They will use humor and charm. They will remind you of how many friends they have. They may exaggerate just how close those friends are to them. Their gift to others is themselves, their friendship. Their focus is not so much on material things. On the upside they are great friends – usually positive and inspiring. On the down side they can be too clingy, causing people to feel violated.


Jealousy is a big issue for the sexual variant of type Two. When unhealthy, they can’t see how they push away the people from whom they most want love. It becomes a vicious cycle because the more they get rejected the more they push. Twos are usually very good at reading others’ emotions and needs, but their blind spot (just like all the heart centered types) is not always being able to read how they are making others feel, especially in the present. The Two is past oriented; they have an emotional tally in their minds of all the good they have done in the past for others, but are blind to how they can make others feel at the moment. This is common to all unhealthy Twos, but is even more accentuated in the sexual variant because the underlying fear of both the enneatype and the sexual instinct are very similar.

This subtype loves attention. They give by shows of affection and by spending time with those they are focused on. They make themselves attractive to be lovable. They can be very flirtatious, and are very good at making the other person feel special. On the down side, if this attention is not reciprocated, they can become controlling and manipulative with their loved ones. When unhealthy, the sex/self-pres subtype can become volatile with their intimates. When healthier, the Two develops powers of introspection which helps them form truly healthy relationships.

Telling the difference between self-pres/sexual subtype and sexual/self-pres subtype can be very difficult with enneatype Two because type Two energy itself can mimic the energy of the sexual instinct. Therefore, a self-pres Two can still have many of the same issues as the sexual Two. The biggest difference will be in intensity. When unhealthy, the self-pres/sexual Two will adopt more of an air of entitlement as compared to the sexual/self-pres subtype. They will be less direct when it comes to expressing their needs. They expect their intimates to read their minds and do things for them to show their appreciation.


This subtype shares most of the same issues with the sex/self-pres subtype – the flirtatiousness, the jealousy, and the intense focus on others. They differ in that they give their attention to more people. They actually have a softer presentation than the fiercely intense sex/self-pres. This subtype has a lot of charisma. On the high side, they can be a role model for acceptance and caring. Their love can spread to all of humanity. The down side can be similar to that of the sex/self-pres, but the secondary social instinct brings the issue of pride more into focus as well.

The sexual/social, like the social/sexual, tend to consider their presence to be their gift. They can be wonderful friends just like the soc/sex, the difference being that their relationships are taken more seriously, once they move beyond the early stages. They may not work as hard in those early stages as the soc/sex will, but at some point, when the relationship becomes more intimate, the sexual variant issues get triggered. With the soc/sexual the issues and dysfunction are more apparent before the intimacy even begins.

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