Eights are defined by their desire to be powerful and to avoid any vulnerability. They present a confident, assertive, and decisive image to others. Eights can be argumentative and intimidating; it is important to them to stand up for what they believe in and to protect those who are weaker than themselves.
Deepest Fear: Eights fear being vulnerable and powerless more than anything, and cope with this fear by always being strong and in control.
Core Motivations: Eights are motivated by their desire to be independent and in control. They resist appearing or feeling weak and reject any authority that restricts them.
Key Personality Traits of the 8
- Independent and self-sufficient
- Fierce and confident look
- Determination and stamina
- Very energetic and busy
- Fiery passions and power
- Stubborn and headstrong
- Serious about control over environment
How Rare are Enneagram 8s?
- In a Truity study of more than 54,000 respondents, Type Eights were found to make up approximately 15% of the population. Eight is a much more common type among men, representing only 12% of women compared to 18% of men.
Enneagram Type 8 In Depth
Goal-oriented and self-competent, Challengers trail blaze boldly through all walks of life and take great pride in their independence and sharp minds. They hold their heads up high and will pick themselves right back up after each stumble — stronger than before.
Eights rebel against the rules of society. The opinions of others will have absolutely no effect on their standings upon an issue, as they pride themselves on being fully capable and self-sufficient.
Strong advocates for others, Eights are concerned with justice, combating oppression, and protecting the weak. They view the world as made up of “strong” and “weak” people — they are strong and, therefore, are responsible for protecting those who are not.
Eights are energetic and direct. This type is not shy when it comes to taking the lead and making tough decisions. They have no fear of conflict and they are not always concerned with limits or boundaries. They typically take charge during group projects or meetings and find themselves at ease in leadership positions.
As children, they may have been called ‘bossy’ by peers. Many Eights grow up in a conflict-heavy environment, and feel like they have to adopt a strong personality early in life to survive.
Challengers are part of the “body-based” triad, along with Type One and Type Nine. The core emotion experienced by this triad is anger. While Ones and Nines more or less repress or ignore their anger, Eights have no problem accessing their anger, often expressing it impulsively.
Healthy Eights are brave and charismatic leaders who stand up for themselves and others. Less healthy Eights may ruin relationships on their path toward power and authority. Eights grow when they learn to access their vulnerability and weaknesses.
Enneagram 8 Wings
8w7: The Eight wing Seven type is an Eight who shares many characteristics with the Type Seven. This type is energetic, enthusiastic and may appear more combative than other Eights. Common jobs for this type include entrepreneur, politician, and lawyer.
8w9: The Eight wing Nine type is an Eight who has similar features as the Type Nine Peacemaker. They are confident, calm, and generally more patient than other Eights. Popular jobs for the 8w9 include activist, professor, counselor, and judge.
Core Values of Enneagram 8s
- Competence, influence, power and control — Challengers crave respect as opposed to status or being liked by the group.
- Challengers are set to make an impact, and won’t back down. They pride themselves on their strength, honesty and the truth.
- Challengers also possess an extremely strong inner sense of justice. Loyalty also plays a major role in the Challenger's value system. They’re devoted to those who have proven themselves over time and will stand by them until the end—through hell or high water.
- When danger comes and their loved ones are in trouble, the Challenger will confidently stretch their wings to protect them.
How to Recognize an Enneagram 8
Naturally accustomed to leadership roles, the Challenger makes their presence known and carries an aura of confidence and self-assuredness in their speech and walk.
They typically believe in the mantra of creating your own luck and work very hard to make things happen, no questions asked. Challengers are ruthlessly independent and are unafraid of confrontation, which can get them into major trouble at times.
They naturally butt heads with authority, especially when met with the classic, “You must do this, because I told you so.” Respect is earned through reason and competency, and not through age or status.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Enneagram 8s
When they are healthy, Eights can be a champion of ideas for those who are oppressed. They’re strong and confident leaders who can be the backbone and driving force for causes and communities. Their energy and commitment to improve upon society and themselves blossoms into new gardens where Challengers can sow their seeds with care. To close friends and family members, Challengers are generous and intensely loving individuals who freely offer refuge and advice. When they learn to develop their caring side, gratitude and joy emerges from their core selves. With this newfound sense of tenderness, Challengers become aware of others’ needs and will freely drop the ‘tough’ persona.
When they are average, Eights are competitive and may view friendships or business relations as a battlefield, always looking for the next challenge to win. They’re assertive and stubborn, but also self-confident and competent. During their down time, they critically evaluate their actions and work towards self-improvement. They avoid showing vulnerability, which can be a roadblock for connection and intimacy. Doing so would demonstrate weakness, which is absolutely unacceptable in their books. As a result, they can be seen as highly ambitious yet intimidating by peers. Their confidence and stamina lifts them to new heights, with each failure serving as a kick for more effort.
When they are unhealthy, Eights can become tyrannical and intimidating, scaring others off at first glance. They become addicted to the pursuit of power, and will destroy anything blocking their way with fury. The feelings and emotions of others become insignificant, as they become blindfolded to the softer side of the human psyche. When their delusions of power get out of hand, Challengers become stone-cold and take an antagonistic stand to anyone who dares to question them and their motives. They may use empty threats to regain power over others and turn existing relationships into tests—where one can only pass or fail. Others may turn their backs on Challengers, who will reason that they were better off working alone. In the end, they may force themselves into loneliness.
Growth Tips for Enneatype 8s
- Check in with what you’re thinking and feeling before making decisions. As a body-based type, Eights act instinctively on their emotions, which can result in impulsive outbursts or decisions that aren’t fully thought through. When you feel the impulse to react, take time to sort through your thoughts and feelings before taking action.
- Learn that vulnerability is strength, not weakness. Eights see their more raw and vulnerable emotions as weak, but growth happens when they learn to see the value in these aspects of their personality. Vulnerability allows Eights to connect more deeply with others, and grow into their highest self.
- Discover your limits. Energetic Eights frequently push themselves to their limits, unaware they are doing so. This may cause them to unknowingly push other people to their limits as well. Pay more attention to your mental and emotional states, and allow yourself time to rest and recover when needed.
- Make an effort to give love to and receive love from others more openly. Eights tend to view other people as either with them or against them. This can make it difficult to form solid, authentic relationships. Be open to giving and receiving love more freely. Not everything has to be earned.
- Allow other people to take the lead (sometimes). With their commanding presence and direct approach, the Eight makes a great leader. But there are times when you need to step back and allow someone else to step up to the plate. It’s important for Eights to learn when it’s appropriate to let other people take charge.
Famous Enneagram Type 8s
- Kamala Harris
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Clint Eastwood
- Serena Williams
- Winston Churchill
- Barbara Walters
- Ernest Hemingway
- Queen Latifah
- Roseanne Barr
- Bernie Sanders
- Aretha Franklin
- Chelsea Handler
- Mark Cuban
- Toni Morrison
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- Alec Baldwin
- “Rhett Butler” (Gone With the Wind)
- “Katniss Everdeen” (The Hunger Games)
- “Merida” (Brave)
- “Emily Gilmore” (Gilmore Girls)
- “Esmeralda” (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
- “Alastor Moody” (Harry Potter)
Type 8s in Relationships
Enneagram Relationship content was co-developed with marital therapist turned relationship coach Christa Hardin (MA).
The Enneagram Type Eight in a romantic relationship focuses their attention on passion and intensity. They often surpass all other types in terms of both energy and the desire for the other partner to surrender to their lead. Eights see the world in terms of strength and weakness. When a spouse directly challenges them, Eights respect their partner even if they disagree, as they like to be met with some sort of a reaction in response to their passion. This makes Eights great at facing conflict. Though they may come across as intense, they don’t mind logically hashing an argument, or changing their mind about something, if they feel their spouse or partner can back up their point.
Eights will also protect the people they care about with their strength, energy and power. However, sometimes they forget to acknowledge their limits and desire intensity in all manner of stimulation with their drive to fill up the inner emptiness through physical gratification. This can focus on winning, food, sexual gratification or any other type of gratification. The Eight does well to pull back, to take deep breaths, and to find a wider variety of smaller passions when necessary.
If you love an Eight, remember, they are going to love you hard and long and loyally if they feel you can be trusted. This is, however, a rather big “if” because as most Eights know, they have often lost trust at an early age and are on their guard. However, they are excellent about sharing their frustrations, not usually overly fearful, and are not extremely bothered by showing their stamina and power in a disagreement. This is, indeed, the gift of the Eight.
A good growth practice is to remind your Eight to be self-controlled versus rapaciously always going after more. You can also encourage them to be helpful and not demanding, and to trust a higher power versus always following only their own gut. This latter tendency can sometimes deter them from integrating their heart and thoughts or cause them to withdraw too quickly in relationships. Click here to find the Enneagram and Marriage Glow Pairing Guides so you can find tips for a type Eight with each of the individual types!
- Type Eights with Type Ones: Tend to be both passionate and energized. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 1 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Eights with Type Twos: Tend to be both vibrant and helpful. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 2 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Eights with Type Threes: Tend to be both strong and goal-focused. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 3 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Eights with Type Fours: Tend to be both driven and creative. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 4 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Eights with Type Fives: Tend to be both strong and anchored. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 5 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Eights with Type Sixes: Tend to be both strong and loyal. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 6 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Eights with Type Sevens: Tend to be both passionate and energized. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 7 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Eights with Type Eights: Tend to be both strong and deeply caring. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 8 couple pairing guide for this match.
- Type Eights with Type Nines: Tend to be both driven and empathic. Click here to find the Type 8 & Type 9 couple pairing guide for this match.
- ‹ Enneagram Type 7: The Enthusiast
- Enneagram Type 9: The Peacemaker ›
About the Author
Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She founded Truity in 2012, with the goal of making quality personality tests more affordable and accessible. She has led the development of assessments based on Myers and Briggs' personality types, Holland Codes, the Big Five, DISC, and the Enneagram. She is an ENTP, a tireless brainstormer, and a wildly messy chef. Find Molly on Twitter at @mollmown.
About the Contributor
Christa Hardin (MA) has almost two decades of experience counseling and coaching couples. Christa hosts the popular Enneagram & Marriage Podcast. Christa uses the Enneagram and other great marriage tools to give couples deeper insight into how they connect with one another and glow brightly together in the world. For more, follow her on Instagram @enneagramandmarriage or visit her site: www.EnneagramandMarriage.com.
The Challenger (Enneagram 8 Type) is a powerful and headstrong fighter and advocate for those who are disadvantaged or lack a voice in society. They believe, with vigor and pride, that the future is malleable and within their control to wield. Eights are bold, daring, and willing to break down walls themselves.What is the challenger personality type 8? ›
The Challenger (Enneagram 8 Type) is a powerful and headstrong fighter and advocate for those who are disadvantaged or lack a voice in society. They believe, with vigor and pride, that the future is malleable and within their control to wield. Eights are bold, daring, and willing to break down walls themselves.What is a challenger personality? ›
Competence, influence, power and control — Challengers crave respect as opposed to status or being liked by the group. Challengers are set to make an impact, and won't back down. They pride themselves on their strength, honesty and the truth. Challengers also possess an extremely strong inner sense of justice.Is 8 the rarest Enneagram type? ›
Enneagrams 2 only form the 8.5% of the population, enneagrams 8 take the 6.3% of it and enneagram type 5 only form the 4.8% of the population, which makes them the rarest enneagram type of all. Besides, according to gender classification, 7% of them are males while 3% of them are women.What is the sin of the Enneagram 8? ›
Lust (non-sexual) is the deadly sin of the Enneagram Type Eight. While the idea of “lust” has certain connotations in modern society, however that is not the case with the Eight. Rather, it's a lust for excitement and being involved in the parts of situations that matter. Challengers lust after intensity.Do Enneagram 8s have trust issues? ›
They tend to be more controlling and domineering when they feel vulnerable, and trust issues are quite common in their relationships. They do have a sentimental side, but that will not see the light of day.What is the rarest Enneagram type? ›
So what is the rarest Enneagram type? Among Truity readers, the rarest Enneagram type is Type 7, “The Enthusiast,” with Type 5 “The Investigator” following close behind. In Truity's survey of over 54,000 people, Type 7 represented 9 percent of the population, making it the least common of the nine types.Are Type 8s aggressive? ›
They offer the gift of innocence to themselves and the world around them when they align with the flow of reality. At their worst, others will experience Eights as domineering, aggressive and lustful, an image that stems from the Eight strategy to express themselves as larger than life in a threatening world.What makes Enneagram 8 mad? ›
Eights are most angered by injustice or oppression. They despise people who oppress underdogs or manipulate others for their own means. They will go to any lengths to protect the ones they love and welcome the opportunity to fight for what is right.Who do Enneagram 8 not get along with? ›
Our research also suggests that Type Twos, Sevens and Nines are the least compatible with Type Eights. This is because Type Eights and Type Twos / Sevens / nines mutually rate each other as undesirable, suggesting a low degree of compatibility.
The Enneagram 8
Known as “The Challenger,” Eights are the type most likely to be called intimidating by others. Assertive and hard-working, they are determined to be in charge of their own fate.
Which Enneagram Styles Are Narcissistic? Relying on Theodore Millon's description of the narcissistic personality, Claudio Naranjo (1994) refers to Enneastyle Seven as the narcissist.Are Enneagram 8 manipulative? ›
Type 8s resent deceitful or manipulative people, and any perceived injustices that they cannot correct. As a result, they may be angered by boundaries or rules that are unjust or constraining, and other attempts to control them.What is an enneagram 8 like in bed? ›
Type 8: Sex is about big energy and feeling in control.
They have a lust for life, and when you do too, this makes them feel alive.
The basic fear of the Type 8 is that they might be controlled or hurt by others. They tend to avoid situations that make them feel helpless and stand up for themselves in all circumstances. When stressed, they may guard themselves more from others.What is enneagram 8 known for? ›
Enneagram 8's are called The Challenger. They are motivated to be self-reliant, strong, and independent. When healthy, type eights are caring, positive, playful, truthful, straightforward, generous, and supportive.What is the negative side of Enneagram 8? ›
Negative Traits of Type 8
Confrontational, insensitive, manipulative, controlling, possessive, intimidating, rebellious.
The Enneagram Type Eight, “The Challenger,” is a passionate and protective romantic partner. Eights love and respect a partner who challenges them to be their best self. They seek loyal and independent partners who aren't afraid to go after what they want in life and love.What is the trauma response to the Enneagram 8? ›
Enneagram 8—What happens? Of all numbers, 8s are usually the most outwardly angry and/or aggressive when they've been hurt. Betrayal is a core fear, so trauma cuts deep. Black and white thinking may be more obvious, and the desire to cut people off is strong.What is the unhealthiest Enneagram? ›
The Unhealthy Enneagram One – The Criticizer
They will become punitive and condemning to anything or anyone that disagrees with their position. At their worst extreme, Ones do the very things they publicly condemn.
Enneagram Type 9s might be the hardest to type in the Enneagram personality type system, but they're valuable personalities who sacrifice their own needs to help others feel comfortable.What Enneagram type is the unhealthiest? ›
Enneagram Fours at Their Worst:
At their unhealthiest level, Fours are filled with self-hatred and self-pity. They are often self-destructive, turning to drugs, alcohol, or suicide attempts as a way to cope with their increasing feelings of shame.
The passion that drives Type Eight is lust. As the core emotional motivation behind this type, lust is excess—a passion for excess in all types of stimulation.What is enneagram 8 female weakness? ›
Something Enneagram 8 females aren't great at is being told what to do - especially when it comes from someone whom they don't respect. In the Enneagram 8 world, respect is earned and until that time comes, you can't tell them anything.Are enneagram 8 smart? ›
One-to-One Bonding Type Eights: Possession
The One-to-One Bonding Eight is the most emotional of the three Eight subtypes. While very smart, they are driven more by feelings than intellect.
Type Eight in Brief
Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating.
What is an Enneagram Type 8 (The Protector)? People with an Enneagram Type 8 personality tend to be self-confident, powerful, and assertive in their behavior. They love engaging in debates and are skilled at making difficult decisions. They are fiercely independent and dislike being reliant on others.What does an unhealthy 8 look like? ›
The Unhealthy Eight Enneagram Type
Often, these Eights feel plagued by uncertainty about people. They don't know who they can trust, so they protect themselves by becoming predatory, vengeful, and aggressive. Because they've made so many enemies at this point, they try to attack anyone who might retaliate against them.
Famous Type Eight leaders include: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Oscar Schindler, Martin Luther King, Jr., Barbara Walters, Ernest Hemingway, Aretha Franklin, and Susan Sarandon. Enneagram Type Eights are charismatic individuals who lead through strength, stability, and control.What is the Enneagram 8 childhood trauma? ›
The Enneagram Eight Child – Rejection of Childhood
They became little protectors and showed an exterior of toughness and invulnerability. They became the one that others turned to for strength and guidance. They felt that if they lost this role in the family that they might be rejected.
Enneagram 8 Under Stress
When 8s are stressed, they first dip into their unhealthy traits as an 8 (controlling, intimidating, rebellious). However, after that level, if they are still stressed or the stress increases they will move towards type 5 and pick up the average to unhealthy traits of 5.
The passion that drives Type Eight is lust. As the core emotional motivation behind this type, lust is excess—a passion for excess in all types of stimulation.Who should Enneagram 8 marry? ›
So, what type is the Enneagram Eight the most compatible with? The truth is that any type can be compatible with an Eight — as long as both partners are devoted to deeply caring, understanding and working toward shared goals together.What is the most intimidating Enneagram? ›
The Enneagram 8
Known as “The Challenger,” Eights are the type most likely to be called intimidating by others. Assertive and hard-working, they are determined to be in charge of their own fate.
Spend time doing what they like to do and feel comfortable doing. Since type eights want to be in control, you can show them love by spending time together doing what they want to do. Don't neglect your own needs and wants, but make a little extra time for them so they feel safe and loved.