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Denial on The Bachelorette: The Enneagram Defense Mechanism Illustrated

Denial on The Bachelorette: The Enneagram Defense Mechanism Illustrated

I was watching the latest Men Tell All episode of the Bachelorette with my daughter to explain to her what gaslighting is and to explore ways to spot manipulation in relationships. And it occurred to me that Luke Parker's actions on this season of the show perfectly illustrate the defense mechanisms of a Type 8, The Challenger. 

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Quick Recap: No Means No

For those of you who aren't watching the Bachelorette, here is a taste of the drama that came up.

A clip from the scene where Hannah broke up with him: 

And a clip from when he returned to the rose ceremony after he had been sent home to beg Hannah to give him another chance:

Warning Signs for Relationships

There was lots of unhealthy behavior from Luke to observe from this season, including:

  • Control of others and situations. Watching him try to control a room or a conversation perfectly illustrated how someone in the body center can use their physicality to get what they want. During the interview, he would take long silences to gather his thoughts before speaking, to the point where everyone around him felt uncomfortable. When confronted on the couch, he unconsciously took up more space by putting his arm on the back of the couch as he prepared to respond. He gave the stink eye to the audience at one point when they started laughing at his explanation because it was so delusional, and wouldn't continue his thoughts until they quieted down. He physically body checked another suitor during a rugby game and then lied about it to everyone. And when Hannah wouldn't listen to his begging plea to give him another chance, she physically had to move the table the roses were on to signal to him to leave and he just followed her physically as though it didn't matter so he could continue talking and trying to be understood.

  • Conflict. Hannah knew that there is usually a reason people don't get along well with others and saw it as a red flag. Luke was quick to anger and backtrack, not taking responsibility for what he said or did and this drove everyone nuts. He also challenged rules and was unapologetic about taking up more than the allotted space during group interactions, at the detriment of other people.

  • Gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse or brainwashing where someone attempts to get another person to believe they are crazy, most often through the denial of facts, events, or what one did or did not say. Luke would make strong statements, and then backtrack and soften what he said, blaming others for the 'misunderstanding'. This happened a handful of times during the season. When confronted, he denied saying or doing things, which added to the confusion and prolonged his tenure on the show until Hannah could figure out what was really going on. (More on gaslighting this season.)

This behavior illustrates some of the unhealthier tactics that type 8 can resort to when they are on automatic, with a low level of consciousness or self-awareness. But what I want to explore a little bit more now is the defense mechanism of Type 8 and how it works with the personality structure.

Denial is Not a River in Egypt

The thought pattern for the 8 is Objectification, which means that the ego will objectify others so they don't seem real or special. Others are seen as objects that get in the way, a threat to control; so they are made an enemy. Doing so allows the 8 to express their anger and rage.  Evidence of this from Luke this season includes: body checking Luke S. in a game, calling the other men contestants so they seem less human, using over/against energy to remove obstacles via conflict, and the blame, anger, and intimidation he used when he perceived a threat to his control. 

You can see how this thought pattern sets up the the defense mechanism of Denial. As I learned from Ginger Lapid-Bogda, type 8 individuals unconsciously negate something that makes them feel anxious by disavowing its very existence - like thoughts, feelings, wishes, sensations, needs, and other external factors that are uncomfortable or unacceptable to them. So a type 8 will unconsciously rewrite history as it happens because they can't handle it. They don't realize they are doing it until someone reflects it back to them, and even then it is hard to believe and accept. Only through self-awareness practices can you begin to shift this dynamic.

You can see that he is experiencing denial in the breakup clips above, when he told Hannah that "I feel like you owe me..." despite the fact that she'd given him plenty of time to explain himself and demonstrate that he was a man of integrity. In the interview in the Men Tell All episode, he repeatedly paused and said something like "Let me say this so you understand..." or "I want to think about how to say this so you I can be clear." And in the latest interview, he said he had no regrets about the season and wouldn't do anything differently. 

Now, I can't be sure that Luke is a type 8, as he hasn't shared his type and it is hard to tell what is motivating people's behavior. But I do think the drama gives you a taste of how this defense mechanism works.


Want to see more? I'm currently developing an online course to explore the different types in the context of love and relationships. If you'd like to get a heads up when it is ready, sign up for updates. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you want to see more of. I'd love to hear from you.

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