Sex and the Enneagram

Using the Nine Personality Types to become more sexually present.

Sex – it can carry us on wings of pure sensual pleasure, or crush and humiliate us. It can take us from the sacred sublime to the darkest, most depraved aspects of humanity. Sex presents paradox: pleasure/pain, love/hate, gentleness/brutality, spiritual transcendence/primal urge, unconditional giving/self-gratification, playful fun/serious offence . . . Only the essential survival needs of shelter, food, and water create as much desire in the human experience. Yet from the moment prehistoric woman first turned to face her male lover, sex changed from being a random, brief and instinctual encounter to something more intense and pleasurable.

From Sex and the Enneagram

Your Task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

Rumi

Historically, in the Western world, while heterosexual male desire was accepted—even revered in some cases, this was not the case for women and those who see themselves as belonging to LGBQTIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer/Questioning, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual). As a result, much of our sexuality has, been suppressed, dismissed, misunderstood or even condemned. The imbalance created as a result, has frequently led to a repression or distortion of our natural sexual expression.

From the 13th century onwards (in the Western world) female orgasm was believed to be necessary for conception. Apart from this belief, with the strong influence of the clergy, it was largely ignored, until scientist Dr Alfred Kinsey produced his famous sex report in the 1940’s, where the female orgasm was again “discovered.” With feminine sexuality being repressed, much of male sexuality became expressed in less conscious ways, as is the nature of polarities. Confusion, judgement, shame and fear were the result. So how do we move beyond these limitations of our past traumas and beliefs to enjoy greater sexual presence—to be expressions of our true divine sexual selves?

The Enneagram (Ennea / “nine” and gram / “diagram”), provides a useful tool and a path to follow for understanding what may be holding us back from full sexual (and life) expression.

Sex mirrors our lives. If we show up as warm, engaged, open to experience, and present with what is, chances are good that we’ll do the same sexually. But many of us have had less than ideal sexual experiences, affecting the way we behave in and out of the bedroom. If we can understand what holds us back from true sexual presence, we’ve got keys to consciously heal ourselves.

It is typical with Enneagram work to examine both the healthy and less healthy aspects of each Type. Facing our truths is the work of the committed life student— in order to transcend our polarities, we need to hold both our lightness and the darker aspects of ourselves, which is not always easy. (Or is it just me?) To quote Russ Hudson (president of the Enneagram Institute and co-author of The Wisdom of the Enneagram), when we do this Enneagram work it can feel like “tough medicine”.
When writing Sex and the Enneagram – A Guide to Passionate Relationships for the 9 Personality Types I focused on the work of psychiatrist Dr Karen Horney and her Hornevian Triads. For the purposes of the book, I named these three groupings of three (3 x 3 = 9 Enneagram Types)—the Advancing Group, the Conditional Group, and the Retreating Group. (The reason for not using Dr Horney’s names was that in a sexual context, titles such as “Submissive” could be misleading.) The groupings indicate ways in which we relate to the world. Taking Dr Horney’s work a step further, we can apply these triads to examine how each Type approaches getting their sexual needs met. Although each of the three Types in each triad share a behavior, they do so for different reasons.

The Advancing Group (Types Three, Seven and Eight)

The Advancing group, actively go after what they want, demanding, to have their needs met by seeing themselves as being the center of attention and using this position to attract a partner.

While Threes dangle their tantalizing success and achievements for all to admire, Sevens woo with their upbeat wit, sense of adventure and charm. Eights demand to get their lusty needs met through the sheer strength of their presence.

In brief, as examples to heal, Threes could learn to value their own inner worth, rather than their outward success, Sevens would need to focus on the sex happening now, rather than imagine a more exciting future sexual encounter. One thing Type Eights could understand is that the sheer force of their presence can have others feeling dominated and thus frustratingly desiring to move away.

The Conditional Group (Types One, Two and Six)

This group moves towards others believing sex must be earned—that sex is conditional to certain behavior. For a Type One, the condition could take the form of needing to be a “good” boy or girl. For a Type Two, making sure that a partner’s actual and perceived sexual needs are met, or for a Six, simply being loyal and responsible in the relationship.

Healing then would involve acceptance and realizing that perfection is (rather than something that needs to be attained) for a Type One. So, a perceived judgement that something wasn’t “right”, such as your clothes left lying on the floor, would not inhibit sex. Learning to acknowledge they have their own sexual needs and to receive love is helpful for Twos, while Sixes benefit from learning to trust themselves and others and so not fear what could go wrong sexually.

The Retreating Group (Types Four, Five and Nine)

These three Types move away from others and disengage (retreat) in an attempt to fulfill their sexual needs. In doing so, they hope that a lover will move towards them. For a Type Four, there can be the belief that being mysterious, and exotic will entice a prospective partner. Fives, retreat because they fear a partner could become demanding and too reliant on them. Nines can withdraw by being dis-engaged, hoping that their lack of taking a stand will create greater harmony and consequently a pleasing relationship.

If Fours appreciated what was good in their relationship, rather than feeling something was always missing, would be healing. If Fives could move from their heads to their hearts rather than over-thinking sex they would find deeper sexual expression, while if Nines experienced their sexual needs as being equal (rather than less) important and merged with themselves rather than a partner, they would enjoy greater sexual presence.

Understanding our Enneagram Types gives us the opportunity to experience greater sexual presence. Here, both alone and with a partner, sex is experienced as pleasurable, fulfilling, sacred, and sublime.

For more about the Enneagram or your type: www.enneagrams9paths.com

Sex and the Enneagram – A Guide to Passionate Relationships for the 9 Personality Types by Ann Gadd published by Findhorn and available from Loot, Amazon etc. e-book, audiobook and paperback.

Words by Ann Gadd

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