type 2


Being a two is an experience of giving and receiving. If I am a two then it is likely that I deeply value my relationships with others. I am a loving, caring person, and I like to show it. This is both a powerful talent and possibly the most dangerous trap I may face in my personal journey.

At my best, I can be deeply generous, a warm and sincerely loving person. I have an inborn ability to intuitively sense what someone needs, and then provide it without expecting anything in return. When I am operating from my real Essence, others find that I am there for them when there is need, always providing just the right magical, loving touch to help them heal and grow in the best way that they can — which can be a deeply fulfilling experience for both of us.

At my worst, I might become overly attached to the way it feels to help others, possibly causing me to extend myself too far. I might begin to expect some kind of return on my “investment” of loving kindness. When my real Essence is clouded by attachment to the feeling of having done good in the world, I might become increasingly manipulative or overbearing, trying to unconsciously bargain with others for the help I offer with such abundance, then reacting with exaggerated anger when the “favors” are not returned.

loving honestly
If I am a two, then I am probably able to show other people to themselves in a way that helps them feel good about who they are. I can see the good in my friends, and I can help them to see it. When my friend is feeling low, my caring interest can bring him around. Certainly, this talent is important and valuable. But if it becomes compulsive, then I might begin to use it as a way of reassuring myself that I am important and worthwhile.


I might deceive myself and others about my true motivations. I might want to make somebody my friend because it is a way of feeling better about myself as a person. If so-and-so is my friend, then I must be okay.

If I am healthy, then most of the time my motivations will be fairly honest. But even if I am a healthy two, it is worthwhile for me to ask myself some questions from time to time, in order to safeguard my healthy state.

When I work to build a friendship with someone, am I being entirely honest with myself about the reasons?

Am I pretending not to see some of this person’s less likeable traits in order to feel better about our relationship?

When I say something nice about this person, am I doing it because of genuine admiration or out of a desire to make him or her feel good?

Does this person have some kind of influence or worldly power that appeals to me? Are there any other considerations?

Am I looking for someone with the resources to take care of me?

Would I be as interested in someone with the same personality, skills, and knowledge but who lacked material resources and reputation?

Am I genuinely interested in this person as a human being?

While these considerations (and others like them) may not apply in any specific case, it is worthwhile to pay careful attention to my own motivations in all relationships. It is possible that I have a tendency to hide my own motivations from myself. By doing so, I can pretend that I am more selfless than I really am. Although it may be difficult for me to admit sometimes that I am looking for personal gain, I should always be aware of the possibility.

Am I am self-aware enough to find the humility and honesty to ask the right questions of myself?

learning from others
If I am a two, then pride probably has tripped me up before. Of course I am not perfect. Others may be able to see flaws in my personality that I cannot see. If I am wise, then I should look carefully at advice offered by others.

Can I take advantage of the eyes of other people, who can often see me in ways that I cannot?

What is my reaction when someone else offers “constructive criticism?”

When was the last time that I accepted such advice and really listened to it?

Next time someone offers a comment about me that might help me grow, will my pride prevent me from acknowledging that I might not be a saint?

When was the last time I made a mistake?


the dark side
Like everyone, I may have impulses at times that are selfish or hurtful to others if they are allowed to be expressed in the wrong way. But these negative emotions must be recognized and expressed. Otherwise they inevitably accumulate inside of me, where they can poison the personality, festering and feeding on each other outside of my conscious awareness.

If I am healthy, then I recognize the need to talk about my feelings with someone who can listen and understand. By letting myself express what is inside, I can become better connected with myself, and better able to recognize the times when I am likely to be repressing feelings.

It is especially useful to find a way of creating some kind of artistic or aesthetic outlet through which I can explore my own inner reality. By exploring the creative, intuitive side of my personality, I give those unconscious feelings a way of expressing themselves safely, so that the internal pressures can be released. Painting, dance, writing, sculpture, gardening, calligraphy, sewing, drama, all provide opportunities for the subconscious to express itself in the world.

I am a human being, and like all humans I possess qualities I might rather not know about. But if I am to become all that I can be, I must accept every part of myself, including what I might see as flaws. Then perhaps I will uncover new talents that were hiding behind the repressed “flaws.” Then perhaps the dark side of my personality can become a source of inspiration and self-renewal, rather than a pent-up beast waiting to lash out through the bars of its flimsy cage.

When something unpleasant happens, do I try to put on a happy face?

What happens to the anger, pain and sadness that I feel, like all humans do?

Am I bottling up my feelings inside of me?

Where does all the energy of my anger go?

Does it come out much later in bursts of irrational temper?

Do I acknowledge negative emotions when they happen?

Do negative emotions have an outlet for me?

Am I able, perhaps later, to express my feelings to someone else?

Do I have some kind of creative activity through which I can let my negative feelings come out?


bargaining for love
If I am a healthy two, then the good things I do for others are given freely, without obligation for any kind of returned favors. My generosity is an expression of deeply felt love for my fellow humans. For me, the act of giving is its own reason.

If I am quite healthy, then the ugly stuff from my dark side will be familiar to me. I will know myself well enough to see (and correct) pride and manipulativeness in myself when they begin to happen. But being a healthy two (or any other type) requires a great deal of emotional honesty. The subtle traps are not always easy to spot.

If I lose sight of my real Essence, then I might make the mistake of giving from a lower perspective. I might begin to use my tremendous talent of generosity as a lever to extract promises or even “love” from others. This is one of the most dangerous and difficult traps for generous people of any type, but particularly for twos.

It can start very subtly. Little repressed feelings of not getting what I deserve. A tiny twinge of desire to cause the other person to feel guilty. A just-barely-unkind remark.

If I have been generous with someone else who fails to notice or appreciate what I have done, is there a feeling of having been cheated?

Am I less likely to do nice things for that person as a result?

When I get this feeling, do I acknowledge it and admit that I feel badly about the imbalance in the relationship?

If I hide from myself the way I feel about that person’s lack of appreciation, then the process can move to the next stage. Now I might begin to regulate my behavior in such a way that at times I hold back, and at times I give more freely. Am I trying to make the other person notice that I am doing nice things, in order to get some acknowledgement? If the reward of gratitude still does not come, or if it is not as satisfying as I expected (and how can it be, when I have been manipulating like that?) then I might step up the program, becoming increasingly pushy and intrusive.

If this continues, then I may be heading for an explosive breakup with my friend, who will either become gradually less and less interested in being with me (if he is aware enough to detect my manipulations) or more and more dependent on my continuing support. My friend might become increasingly needy and pleading, moving us into a classic codependency: my friend depends on me for favors and support of all kinds, and I depend on him or her for the emotional boost of feeling good about myself for having provided that support.

The cycle of codependency can get extremely bound up, so that if a break occurs, it is dramatic and painful. One or both of us might suddenly reach a point where it is no longer possible to hide the facts. The realization comes that we are no longer independent beings. We have become parasites on each other. Then it ends, suddenly.

As bad as all this sounds, it is not that difficult to spot once I know what to look for in my behavior (and in other people’s reactions to me.) But unless I can find the humility to accept my own manipulative tendencies, I might never see them. I might hide them from myself, blinded by my pride about how good I am.

the limits of devotion
As a two, my talents for contributing to the welfare of others will manifest in many ways, some of which may not be immediately obvious to me. They may operate without my conscious knowledge.

This effortless aid is good if I am awake enough to hold myself back when help is not really needed. Knowing that I learn best when I am given a chance to solve my own problems, I give that same chance to others. It is up to me to decide when to begin offering help. The longer I can wait, the more likely it is that the other person will find the answer by herself, thus learning from the situation. But if I am less awake, then trouble comes.

I might have a tendency to go too far, impoverishing or hurting myself in the process. If I am healthy, then I watch my own behavior carefully so that I can spot the moment when I begin to sacrifice myself to someone else’s needs. Then I can ask myself whether or not this is an appropriate sacrifice. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.

If I am feeling negative emotions, if I find myself becoming excessively exhausted, or if I am feeling any sort of resistance in myself, then I might be overly devoted. I could pull back a little, so that I can view the relationship more objectively.

Am I giving myself a raw deal by putting more energy into someone else’s problems than my own?

How can I know whether my devotion is too much?

Are there any people in my life right now to whom I am more devoted than is appropriate?

Is there anyone in my life who seems to resist my efforts to offer aid?

Because I have a tendency to be proud, I might find it difficult to forgive others when I feel that they have hurt me in some way. It may be hard for me to see this, because I might hide my hurt feelings behind a mask of outward friendliness. I might not know that inwardly I am building up pressure, becoming more and more ready to lash out, until one day some little thing happens, and suddenly I feel myself becoming very, very angry.


If I am not very awake, I might let myself actually become physically violent. I might throw something or even hurt someone. If I am somewhat more aware than that, there still might be an argument or loud dispute. It is quite possible that my feelings for the other person could suddenly shift, reversing from love to hate.

I might suddenly realize how this person has been hurting me all along. What might not be so evident to me in my angry state is that I could well be projecting many of my own feelings onto the other person. If I can see the situation more clearly, I might be able to let down my defenses long enough to reconnect with my own natural talents for loving and accepting others.

When a relationship ends, has it ever been one of those sudden explosions, where suddenly my feelings change from love to hate?

Have I been in relationships where for some time I love the other person, but then it changes virtually overnight?

Did I have a feeling of being used by the other, that I was not appreciated for all I had done?

How do I feel about that person today?

Just as real love gives without expecting a return, it also receives without feeling obligated. If I am healthy, I recognize the value of receiving as much as the value of giving. I can graciously accept gifts from others without feeling obligated to return the favor in some explicit way. I recognize that the gifts of love do not require any immediate “payment.” There is no double standard — for me, giving and receiving are equally easy and equally free of future obligation.

Receiving gracefully also means that I can accept help when it is offered. I allow those who love me to help me and nurture me without trying to stop them from doing so. I recognize that I, too, need help from time to time. I gratefully accept help when it is needed and offered. I can also ask for help from those who might be able to supply it, recognizing that they have a right to say no, and honestly forgiving them if they do.

But if my giving has become even the least bit compulsive, then I will almost certainly find it difficult to receive. I may resist gifts or help. “Oh, no, really, you shouldn’t.” Am I trying to avoid the feeling that I have to give something in return? This feeling of obligation upon receiving a gift is a sign that my own giving is not entirely selfless. I am projecting onto the other person my own desire to receive equal payment for what I give them, expecting them to feel the same way I do.

I might remember that when someone offers me a gift that is from real love, they honestly do not expect anything in return. It is enough that I am pleased with their offering.

The next time someone offers me a gift or some help, will I be able to accept it gracefully, without trying to refuse it?

Do I know how to say “thank you” simply and quietly, without giving something back beyond the simple message?


asking for help
The next step after being able to receive gracefully is being able to ask for help when it is needed. If I am honest with myself then I will be able to see when I am in over my head. Recognizing my tendency to ignore my own needs and take on the burdens of others, I remind myself to examine my own situation regularly. As a two, I have a tendency to want to be overly self-reliant. But all humans need help from time to time.

Is there any situation in my life right now where I could use some help?

Who could offer some useful help if I were to ask for it?

Do I know how to say “please” in a way that is natural and easy?

Like all humans, I sometimes make mistakes. Others may occasionally feel hurt as a result of my behavior. If I am healthy, then I am open to the possibility that my acts may have been hurtful of others. When someone shows that I have hurt them, I am ready to acknowledge that I am not always completely perfect. Although it may be painful to admit that I was wrong, I do so.

But if I am too proud of my own goodness, I might hide behind a mask of self-righteous indignation. I might feel angry or hurt myself, which could prevent me from responding in the most loving way to the other person’s hurt. I might not be able to apologize.

Do I know how to say “I’m sorry” gracefully and easily?

anonymous generosity
As a two, one of the finest ways I can honor my talents is to let them express themselves without “taking” anything for myself in the process. By doing this, I allow the highest expression of my Essence, so that I can progress in my own development.

When I can, I might remember to practice anonymous charity. If I can help someone without ever letting them find out who did it, and without ever telling anyone that I have done so, then my generosity will have been real, meaning that I expected nothing in return.

It is even better if I can help people in such a way that they never know that they have been helped. That way I am spared the temptation to take as my return the gratitude that the other person feels at knowing he has been helped. If I can help someone anonymously without ever knowing whom I have helped, then that is better still.

being alone
Twos frequently report that they feel empty and somewhat strange when they are alone. Yet being alone is one of the most valuable experiences for anyone of any type. When we are alone, if we are truly awake then we are forced to face ourselves. We find out new things about our own inner state.

As a two, it may be useful to take a day off from my usual routine now and then, and plan an activity that involves complete solitude for the entire day. I might go to the beach on a weekday and walk the shoreline. Or maybe a stroll through a local park. During “alone time” I want to avoid activities such as watching TV or reading a book, which might take me away from the essential experience of myself.

When I am alone, I might find that I can reach inside my feelings and find new inspiration. I might find aspects of myself that do not depend for their strength on the reactions or feelings of other people. I might get ideas when I am alone for new projects that could allow me to express myself in creative, fulfilling ways.

What is it like when I am by myself?

Is it challenging to spend more than a couple of hours in complete solitude?

What might I find when I spend an entire day alone with myself?

If I am a two, then I am likely to have deep religious or spiritual feelings. Because of my innate talent for loving, I probably have an unusually deep desire to be connected with the side of reality that most people think of as God.

It is a deep blessing to be able to get in touch with God. If I am honest about my feelings, then activities like prayer and meditation can be of immense value to me. It is good for me to recognize my smallness before the Almighty, and to feel the tremendous love that God feels for me. But in prayer as in all areas of life, I must beware of my own pride. If I think of myself as better in any way than other people, then I am cutting myself off from real connection with God.

Am I coming into the religious experience from a place of humility?

When I communicate with God, do I make bargains, or is there a genuine communion?

Do I experience true oneness or is there a feeling that I am an “agent” entrusted with a Holy Purpose?

Do I sometimes feel that I have a special connection with God that others do not have?

Who is God, to me?

When I no longer hold on to other people’s love as a way of convincing myself that I am good enough, then I can let their love flow naturally in. If I do not block the flow of love coming from within me (by withholding or denying it) then it will grow beyond all of my imaginings. I will know the ecstatic state of intoxication that comes when God’s infinite love overflows the human heart. I will be free to love everyone and anyone, no matter where, when, or who. Most important, I will finally be free to love myself.

at their best
Healthy twos are loving, empathetic, and aware of their own needs. Because they do not help others compulsively, they do not suffer from a constant feeling of being owed gratitude by the world. Their ability to intuitively know what people need makes them able to provide just the right amount of aid when it is really needed, so that others grow naturally. They are the most loving, generous people there are, never expecting anything in return.

Balanced twos let go of the compulsion to feel loved. Now their talent of loving others shines out and illuminates everyone’s life. Cheap seduction turns into deep, intoxicating sensuality, a power-love that burns with feeling yet never causes harm. Balanced twos radiate unending acceptance. They pour the glorious medicine of compassion onto the world’s wounds. Healthy twos are the essence of love and nurturance.

average twos
When healthy twos misuse or misunderstand their innate talent of knowing the needs of others, they may begin to fear that they have not given enough. They might begin to use their talent inappropriately, perhaps manufacturing “needs” that are not really present, in an effort to convince themselves that they are still lovable. Insecure about not being good enough, they may intrusively offer to solve problems that don’t exist. When others object to their pushy help, their pride in their own “goodness” can prevent them from seeing that the needs they wanted to fill were never really there to begin with.

Average twos use their natural focus on other people as a way to reflect their own appearance, like a mirror. They watch for reactions, aiming for whatever appearance will make people love them the most. For some, this means sexy and seductive. For others, it might mean a kindly, rumpled frumpiness. Average twos dress to be loved by the people they want to be close to. Twos often become heavy as they age, taking on a pronounced pear shape. They usually have a hearty, cheery disposition, even if the cheer is sometimes more than a little forced.

unhealthy twos
The more compulsively they fill imaginary needs, the more angry they become. (Look at all I do for you. You should be ashamed!) As with type one people, the repressed anger becomes more and more intense. Paradoxically, unhealthy twos become selfish and self-centered, far from their image of themselves as loving and generous. They can suddenly stop giving, on the grounds that no one appreciates their past efforts. Because they feel their anger is justified, unhealthy twos usually direct it out at other people rather than inward into guilt. Becoming histrionic and possibly violent, they act out their intense rage like unhealthy eights, possibly causing great emotional damage to themselves and others.

When they lose their balance, twos fall into self-deception. They use strategies of emotional cunning and seductive appeal to manipulate others. Gestures and vocal patterns become exaggerated. Tears can appear, or not, as calculated to generate the best response. Inner turmoil is quickly denied and stamped into repressed fury, likely to be covered over by tense, artificial cheeriness. The mouth may smile, but the eyes burn with intense fire. There is painful (but usually unrecognized) tightness in the chest and back. Proud, erect posture. Tension builds, manipulative behavior continues, and repression increases, until eventually something snaps and violence erupts. Unhealthy twos are the essence of vengeance and delusion.

more questions for twos

Do I value loving kindness, genuine concern for others’ needs, unselfish generosity, and appropriate sacrifice?

Do I see the world as giving and receiving, generosity and need?

Does my own goodness distract me?

Do other people’s needs distract me?

How do I measure the value of a gift?

Are there times when generosity is hurtful?

Are there times when giving is taking?

Am I a loving robot?

Do I manipulate other people?

Do other people manipulate me?

Do I make other people into parents and children?

Is it possible to love someone who hates me?

Do my role models expect anything from other people?

Do I find meaning through compassionate self-interest?

Do I find goodness through solitary self-inquiry?

Does feeling unappreciated make me angry?

Does aggressive confrontation lead me into deeper self-denial?

Do I deserve to feel good about myself?

Am I ready to be enough for myself, even when I am completely alone?

Do I give out plastic roses?

Do I help people even when they protest?

Do I pretend to have the best of intentions even when I am inwardly angry?

Am I here to sacrifice myself for the world’s good?

Am I here to run everyone’s life?

Am I here to teach unconditional love?

Do others ask me for help, or do I offer it unasked?

Is it difficult to say please, thank you, or I’m sorry?

Am I as good as I think I am?

Is it difficult to ask other people for help?

What sort of help would be useful to me today, right now? Can I provide it for myself?

It is difficult to be alone?

How long has it been since I spent an entire day by myself?

Do I have any projects that are just for me?

Is God the ultimate goodness?

Do I ever ask God for help?



Next in Enneagram 101: type 2 with 1 wing

Previous in Enneagram 101: type 1 with 2 wing

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