What the Enneagram reveals about our sexuality
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
Sex can take us from the sacred sublime to the darkest and most depraved aspects of humanity. It can carry us on the wings of pure sensual pleasure, or crush and humiliate us. Only the essential survival needs of shelter, food and water, create such desire in the human experience. Sex encompasses every aspect of universal paradox: – pleasure / pain, love / hate, gentle / brutal, spiritual transcendence / primal urge, unconditional giving / self-gratifying, playful fun / serious offence, … the list is endless.
From the moment prehistoric woman first turned around to face her male lover, (rather than the typical primate position when the female presents her rear), sex changed from being random and brief to something more intimate and pleasurable. Until then, females like other primates, did not experience orgasm and it’s been suggested that this new position was responsible for creating female orgasm.
Through understanding ourselves and our partners sexually, we can reach deeper levels of compassion and understanding for each other. Intimate giving and receiving can be an empowering process, Sex then can be an expression of our love, rather than simply a physical act.
Discovering more about your sexuality opens the doorway to an exciting transformative experience, in and out of the bedroom, because how we live is reflected in how we love.
Drawing from the Hornevian triad (named after German psychoanalyst Karen Horney), we can see three approaches to sex along the lines of Horney’s Assertive, Compliant and Withdrawn groups:
- Those who demand sex: Types Three, Seven and Eight (Assertive)
- Those who believe sex is earned: Types One, Two and Six (Compliant)
- Those who submit to Sex: Types Four, Five and Nine (Withdrawn)
The Demanding, Assertive or Aggressive Group demand sex
Types Three, Seven and Eight
This group moves against others. These types believe they can only get their sexual needs met by demanding, dominating or asserting themselves. They identify who and what they want sexually and pursue them actively. They hunt for a partner and can at times appear to be doing so aggressively. They want to be known, either through being famous, or alternatively by having achieved a certain status (the CEO, the famous sportsman, the powerful politician etc.). Their needs tend to take priority over the needs of others, and they see themselves as the more important person in the relationship. In sexual terms, they would be the “doms” or dominant /on top people.
The Compliant Group believes sex must be earned or is a duty
Types One, Two and Six
This group moves towards others. They believe that to get their needs met, they must earn affection and approval, or that it is their role or duty to have sex according to their social or religious beliefs. This they do in different ways according to their type. Not all three types are compliant towards their partners but may be compliant towards their idealized sense of self. “What is the right way to act?” “What are the rules I need to abide by?” “What should I do?”
The Submissive or withdrawn Group is sexed (they submit to sex)
Types Four, Five and Nine.
This group moves away others. These three types attempt to use withdrawing from others or submitting to others’ needs, to engage sexually. Withdrawal isn’t necessarily physical but can be emotionally withdrawing into their own headspace or imaginations. They want others to approach them and take the lead, to be sexed rather than actively pursue sex. As such, they are seen to move away from others, to detach or avoid interaction, (whilst secretly yearning for it), to deal with their needs. The submissive group seeks security in their interactions and relationships.
Each of the three types in each triad has a different way they go about achieving their sexual aim. For instance, two assertive types could well find sex becoming a power struggle, whereas two submissive types in a relationship could both get frustrated waiting for someone to take the lead. Understanding your and your partner’s type can be very helpful in getting insight into problem areas and moving beyond the confines of your type.