Understanding the Yin and Yang of Relationships

Healthy relationships live in harmony with nature.


Yin and Yang is a symbol of symbiotic relationships.

(Mirelle / Shutterstock.com)

The universe is full of complementary forces. Night and day, sky and earth, sun and moon—You can observe this occurring in nature all of the time. This comes from an ancient Chinese philosophy known as dualism, yin versus yang. When you understand the flow of yin and yang, you live in harmony with nature.

You’ve probably already seen the famous black and white yin-yang symbol. This notion of duality has had particular importance in Eastern philosophy going back centuries, including in Daoism, Confucianism, and Chinese cosmology. To put it simply, all aspects of the universe exist in relation to one another, a cosmic duality of two opposing and complementing forces called yin and yang. 

In other words, all things come in pairs. Everything in nature consists of two paradoxical phases and energies. Lexico defines yin as the passive female energy, associated with earth, dark, moon, and cold. Yang energy refers to the active male energy of the universe, associated with heaven, heat, and light.

The yin and yang forces constantly move in a state of flux. When one changes, so too does the other. They are independent, as one cannot exist without the other, just like you cannot have the shadow without the light. 

Chinese culture has applied this concept to all areas of life. Astrologers used it to predict the future and choose auspicious days for important life events. Traditional Chinese medicine tries to balance the body’s yin-yang forces to maintain good health and treat illnesses. Yin and yang also play an important role in relationships between people. 

Yin and yang in relationships
Chinese society had traditional notions of yin and yang in relationships. Confucianism, for example, supported a society in which each person had various roles to uphold in order to maintain that yin-yang balance. 

Well, the teachings of Confucius date back to 500 BC, and much has changed since then. But you can still take the essence of yin-yang relationships and apply them today. Here are a few simple ways to live in yin-yang harmony in your relationships:

Let your authentic self shine through
Sometimes, people lose themselves in relationships. You end up trying to impress or appease the other person so that they will like you. But behaving this way, you aren’t being yourself. 

Healthy relationships mean that both people can express their likes and dislikes openly. They can disagree and learn from each other. And, according to the principles of yin and yang, those opposing energies actually spark creativity, playfulness, and passion between two people. So let your authentic self shine!

Accept the other person's differances
When you first meet a friend or partner, you might feel the most drawn to all that you have in common. As you get to know someone, your differences will come to light. They might challenge you, which might make you feel irritated or angry.

But what fun would life be if everyone agreed with you all of the time? You’d never grow. You’d never learn. Like yin complements yang, let the uniqueness of the other person teach you. It is the friction between sandpaper and wood that smooths the edges. Approach the other person’s opposite qualities with respect, and see how you shine together!

Flow with change
Relationships, like everything else in life, change with time. You might cling to that honeymoon phase of a romance, when you and your partner couldn’t get enough of each other. Over time, the dynamic will evolve. Your love may grow, or you may drift apart. 

Like the flow of yin and yang, remember that relationships have phases. Rather than grip tightly to the past, appreciate what you have now. If you don’t get along anymore, know when you need to give that person space or walk away. When you move with the current, your relationships will flow smoothly, like a boat gliding along a river. 

Live in harmony with yourself and others
If you want to relate to the world harmoniously, you need to create peace within yourself first. Every person is a mixture of yin and yang. When you balance these energies internally, your inner condition manifests outward, shaping your words and actions and affecting the people around you.

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