For some people, the words yielding and surrender might evoke romance novels—lovers swept away by passion, tearing each other’s clothes off, transported to an idyll of true-love-forever. Or yielding and surrender can raise the specter of submissive women who are ceaselessly compliant, handmaidens in the backgrounds of men’s lives.
But there’s another perspective. Surrendering to a partner, yielding to his or her needs and desires, is an opportunity to give love, in large and small ways. I define yielding as flexibility with grace. And for couples, yielding is an art form that can enhance a relationship. All it takes is a bit of yin and yang.
According to Chinese philosophy, there is a natural order in the universe that works like a beautiful piece of harmonious music—yin and yang. We all have it. And in our interactions with the world, we use both energies.
Yin is feminine energy: soft, dark, cool, hidden, subtle, and complex. Yin is much more fluid, more nurturing, than yang. Yin’s strength is to preserve life, to keep major support systems in line. Yin knows when to stop, to yield.
Yang is masculine energy: strength, action, and relentless assertiveness. It is a protective energy. Surrender is not an option. The power of yang is that it can lock onto a goal and be undistractible. And, of course, that’s its greatest weakness. Although male energy may seem like a powerful force, it is also fragile. Men spend a lot of energy being male: trying to protect, provide for, and please their families. For men, yielding can feel as if they’re not doing their job.
This energetic interplay of yin and yang is always present in relationships, none of which stay perfectly balanced for long. Like anything else that is a work in progress, the mini-dynamics of a relationship—who is cranky, feeling unheard, going through a work crisis; who has more energy…or less—can change on a daily basis.
Although women are more yin and men are more yang, nobody could survive without both energies. One of the strongest characteristics of yin is its receptivity. When someone listens, really listens to you, that person is being yin. He or she is literally receiving your words, your import; yielding to you, allowing you to speak and be heard.
Yielding is as much a part of survival as standing firm. There will be many times in a relationship when this means that you rise above your own mind-state and remain generous and loving to your partner. You drop any facade of yang, you get quiet, and you listen for cues. Your partner will notice and begin to feel some measure of ease or relief—your yin.
When yielding is mutual, it is the balm that eases the friction of whatever unhappy situation we find ourselves in. Everyone has heard the statement, “This has brought us closer together.” It is because each person leaned toward and yielded to the other’s needs. They both feel loved, cared about, and supported. This is a perfect interplay of yin and yang. Each partner is using yang energy to protect and yin to nurture.
Yielding can also be a great way to end arguments. A smile and a “You know what? You’re right,” given graciously, can completely defuse a relationship hot spot. It’s like bringing delicious sandwiches to a knife fight. Of course, you’ll want to pick the battles you end this way. You will have to do some soul searching and determine whether you are only trying to win—never a good thing by itself in a relationship—or whether the issue really matters to you. Often, if we are completely honest, there are things we don’t care that much about. Yielding to your partner’s needs or wants wouldn’t take as much as it would give. Being yin, giving in, instead of putting up a yang front, is immeasurably better for both of you.
And yielding is never as immediate and direct as it is in the context of touch. The interplay of yin and yang—yin receptive, gentle, loving; and yang overarching, insistent, hungry—in each partner melds into a complex and lovely dance of give and receive.
Surrendering, yielding to your partner, is a gift, given and accepted with the knowledge that it has come from the heart of someone who cares deeply about you.
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I agree that yielding strengthens a relationship and brings couples closer together. Healthy relationships involve give and take, and your explanation of yin and yang in the context of love is brilliant!
Understanding the interplay of yin and yang simplifies the handling of everyday communication. When I think about it, every interaction, from customer service to discussions with my husband, may be easier to navigate!
Beautiful and informative on the Yin and Yang dynamics. I think we need more balance in how we view and express so-called gender roles within continuum of male- female energy…. Very interesting and not as simplistic as the “Mars and Venus” school of thought (:
Thanks for such an insightful article. I have a question about the subject of yielding and I’d like to get your opinion.
From what I’m gathering, the concept of yielding works very well from the yin aspect. But for the yang side of things, there seems to be a disconnect for me.
To quote the article:
“Yielding can also be a great way to end arguments. A smile and a “You know what? You’re right,” given graciously, can completely defuse a relationship hot spot. It’s like bringing delicious sandwiches to a knife fight. Of course, you’ll want to pick the battles you end this way.”
While I can definitely see how a yield or even a pause and checkin around whether the issue really matters or not would be valuable, what about when it Does matter? From a yang (and a yin) standpoint, there are some things that really do matter. I’m wondering what you thoughts are around that.
As a man who is striving for balance, I do tend to naturally lean towards the yang side of things and thus when life pushes (especially when it comes to things that, at least to me matter, ie career, values, personal boundaries) instead of going into the default mode of pushing back, I’m wondering how I could use yielding as an effective tool.
Another way of saying all of that I guess is what happens when the person on the other side of the knife fight doesn’t like sandwiches and really wants to use their knife! In those cases how would you say yielding works, or would you say that in some situations it’s appropriate to fire up the yang and push forward?
Lets start at the beginning. In any relationship, but especially intimate ones, there are areas of disagreement. One big problem is when for one reason or another, not usually related to the area of disagreement–one of you is tired, beaten-down, feels on the losing end power-wise in the relationship, the small stuff can become that person’s dig-in position. The fight then becomes about something else, with the starting issue only the match. That is when you need to reassess and sometimes yielding is the only way to back out of setting the entire house on fire.
One of the ways men can use their yin, is simply to listen. Listening isn’t yielding, by the way. But it can defuse a tense situation nonetheless. True listening is extremely powerful. Often half the battle is letting the other person know you are taking her/him seriously. That doesn’t mean you agree, or have to give in. It just means you have been receptive to the other person’s side of things. And being receptive is a big yin characteristic.
When something is very important to you, when there is something you have to do, a path you have to take, it doesn’t have to be a battle. This is where listening comes in. By being yin, you are showing the other person that you are being thoughtful and considering how she/he feels. Then you have to make your case, also quietly.
Where the yang comes in? The boundary between what you are willing to give up–and what you need to do. Yang is standing firm on what you need. And if the other person cares about you, she/he will listen. If they do not, then you need to protect yourself.
I’ve seen ‘food’ defuse a fight, because the person still holding the knife realizes that not only does the sparring partner want to quit, but is also bringing a peace offering. But if your peace offering is rejected, if being respectful and listening isn’t working, you have to do what’s important to you because the other person isn’t returning the favor.
Personal values and boundaries are what make you who you are, among other things. You do not have to yield if it compromises your moral code, or makes you really unhappy or uncomfortable. And no-one who cares about you would ask you to. Hell, yeah; use your yang and stand your ground.
If it’s about toothpaste or dishes in the sink, or underwear left on the bathroom floor, you might wanna entertain the thought of giving in: ditto for your other half.
Muchos Gracias for your post.Really looking forward to read more. Great. oqza
Nicely written and explained very well. 🙂
I don’t necessarily think women are more yin and men are more yang. Some people are balanced and for some it’s actually reversed. And not because they became that way but were born like that. I think people should find their expression.
This is a good post on what I’m trying to explain.
You make an excellent point and we love that article! Thanks for commenting!