“It is important to know the difference between giving in and giving up.”
~ Brad Brown, co-founder of The More to Life Program
In our partnerships, be they romantic or platonic in nature, we are in a dance. There is give and take as we negotiate the steps of effective relationship. Many of us learned to relate in an adversarial way where someone wins and someone loses. If you’re like me, you might have even perfected the art of giving up simply to avoid the conflict that seemed to erupt when a disagreement occurred between two strong-willed people. Or you may be afraid to “give in” believing that it’s a sign of weakness or lack of conviction. But like the quote reminds us, there is a difference between “giving in” and “giving up.” Living that difference can transform your relationships.
Giving in versus giving up
- Giving in creates space between you and another person; it’s an opening to step into. Giving up creates a void where you’ve disappeared; negative feelings occupy the void.
- Giving in brings you closer to your partner. Giving up is the same as running away.
- Giving in is admitting that you aren’t the sole authority. Giving up is abdicating your personal power.
- Giving in is equivalent to saying, “You’re important to me. Let’s find a way to connect/work together.” Giving up is equivalent to saying, “F— you. I don’t care about our relationship.”
- Giving in is moving toward your partner and seeking to reconnect. Giving up is pushing back and distancing yourself.
How to give in in your relationship
My guess is that many of you reading may be thinking, “Okay, this makes sense, but I don’t know what ‘giving in’ would look like or how to do it.” So here are a few ways you can practice giving in.
- When you’re in a disagreement, giving in can mean not getting in the last word, refusing to continue trying to “win,” or simply, and honestly, saying, “You’re right.”
- When you are personally feeling stuck, upset, scared, frustrated, angry, giving in can be telling the simple truth about how you are feeling and what’s going on for you. Giving in can also mean saying, “Help. I really need ‘x’ from you right now.”
- Switch from your habitual ways of being in your relationship. If you tend to take the lead, choose instead to step back and let your partner play that role. If you generally are the task master, put away the “to do” list and instead seek to be spontaneous and playful.
While giving in may seem radical or odd at first, as you practice, I think you’ll find that it’s one of the best ways to make a positive impact on your relationship. I’d be delighted to hear about your experiences with this experiment.