“The Man Up Show” – Do You Have To Forgive Your Ex?

Man Up | Ep. 183   •   March 27, 2017

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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D., has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their dating and love lives.

Once a nerdy, skinny professor of philosophical psychology who couldn’t hold a conversation to save his life, David is now director of Aura Transformation Corp., and a world renowned dating and life coach using therapeutic methods. Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, including AXN, Cosmopolitan, Psychology Today, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore. Formerly a professor at the National University of Singapore, Dr. Tian is actively researching, speaking, and publishing in the areas of philosophy and psychology.

The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man,” is David’s way of helping as many people as possible enjoy empowering and fulfilling lives, while contributing to the global understanding of masculinity in modern times. In the show, he takes your questions posed in The Man Up private Facebook group and answers based on his experience Coaching tens of thousands of students around the world for over a decade.

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David Tian: Boom! Stop. I’m David Tian, PhD. And in this video I answer the question: Do you have to forgive your ex? Welcome to Man Up Episode 183.

Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I’m David Tian, PhD., and this is Man Up!

I’m David Tian, PhD, and for over the past 10 years, I have been helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success, happiness, and fulfillment in life and love. And here we are again in Bali. It’s morning, which I don’t usually like to shoot in, but we’ve got a busy schedule today. So, I’m going to have to do it in the morning – because of the shadows and stuff.

But here we are on the way to breakfast. Just thought I’d stop by the pool here on the way to breakfast, shoot this one. And this one is another ex. This is another ex question. So, this question and the next one are going to be ex questions. I get a lot of ex questions. I usually just say, “Hey, go check out my ‘How to Get Over Your Ex’ free course and ‘How to Get Your Ex Back’ free course, which we have available in the Man Up Facebook group.

So, if you join the group, it’s available inside there for free. They’re each over an hour and I just walk you through step-by-step how to do each of those things. But I’ve been getting so many ex questions, I thought maybe it’s a good time to revisit them. Here it is.

“I’m not sure how I can forgive my ex for breaking up with me. I’ve told my story here a few times over, so check my history. But as time moves on and I don’t hear from her, I honestly am not sure I ever can forgive her for what she’s put me through.”

You sent me multiple messages. I’m just reading the last one here and I honestly totally did not look up the previous questions. This one in itself was already a great question to answer. Most of the ex questions fall into a pattern, so this is the same. I don’t quite remember the details, but they’re irrelevant to this particular question.

“But as time moves on and I don’t hear from her, I honestly am not sure I ever can forgive her for what she’s put me through and the bad shape she has left me in. I can’t forgive her for being so selfish and oblivious. I can’t forgive her for what she’s taken away for me, for the false sense of security she instilled in me, for carrying on with her life happy when she should be regretful every day until she dies for what she has done so coldly and callously.”

I think we have some bitterness here.

“I allowed myself to be vulnerable for her and she took advantage of that. She has earned every bit of my vitriol and should be embarrassed when she looks in the mirror, and she doesn’t deserve to be happy ever again.”

I’m going to stop there. So, Neil, what I want to tell you here is – you don’t actually need to forgive her. All of the other stuff that I usually would say in this context, figure out why the relationship went south, why you were attracted to a girl like that who could do such things to you, and it’s not obviously just on her side —

And there are some guys who are just like, “Oh, I was manipulated and deceived! I was the victim!” There are no pure 100% victims. I know it’s not PC to say that, but one of the ways of getting back your dignity and learning how to move forward is understanding why you would fall for somebody like that. It wasn’t just a cognitive blindness. There was some emotional need that drew you to her so that sort of behavior and all of the red flags you didn’t see, also why her particular style of personality was attractive to you.

That’s a really important thing for you to understand, and I walk you through that in the free courses.

But in this case, he was talking about, “I can’t forgive her. I can’t forgive her. I can’t forgive her.” And I’m here to tell you it’s okay not to forgive her, especially at this point in your recovery, where you are still in the bitterness stage, the angry stage. That is okay. It’s in fact the anger will fuel you to get your shit done.

So, let’s say you come to the end of this question here and he says, “She has earned every bit of vitriol and she should be embarrassed to even exist.” Okay, great. Let’s say that’s all true. Wonderful. Now, what? Now you’re going to get on with your life.

So, great. Don’t forgive her. Move on with your life. Get your shit together. Meanwhile, harboring your anger – but hopefully, if your life gets better as it should over time, you’ll forget her and that’s the best revenge. There’s some saying I remember hearing a lot, “Success is the best revenge.” That’s a lie. In fact, that’s not true. Success is not the best revenge. Forgetting is the best revenge.

Forgetting this person is the best revenge, forgetting why you need revenge is the best revenge. Literally, you just remove those memories out of your head, that would be the best revenge. She walks up to you like, “You don’t remember me?” And you honestly don’t remember her, that’s like eternal sunshine of the spotless mind kind of shit, man. That’s the best revenge. If you are so successful that you have forgotten this part of your life–

And if you’ve forgotten, then that means you don’t need to forgive, you just need to forget. Don’t focus on forgiving, because sometimes that means you open yourself up to more hurt and you’ll be too vulnerable when you’re not ready yet. It’s okay to be angry, but it is most important to let go. Letting go means you forget.

The way you let go is – there actually is a process that you let go, and we’ll walk you through that in our upcoming course, Masculine Mastery. But in addition to that, that’s the last step of letting go. To prepare you to let go, you need to have your life awesome. Your life is awesome and then there’s no point in holding on to this thing.

One last example: GSP, who is coming back to the UFC. Awesome guy, as far as I know him. He wrote a book The Way Of The Fight, awesome book. That was one of the few books where I read to the end. And even before the day had passed, I started again from page one. I read it two times in a row. It was that good.

Now, GSP talks about his defeat, his loss to Matt Serra, which was where he was a heavy favorite. Serra was a massive underdog, but Serra caught him and then GSP wanted to get back, and he just got knocked out in the first round. GSP said that was one of the most devastating losses to him. It really shook his life.

And so, his sports psychologist – interesting, right? GSP. One of the best, if not the best, fighter in history, had his own psychologist, a sports psychologist, who was instrumental in his success. Psychology is instrumental in all success. If you don’t have your own counselor, you’re just not up there with us.

So anyway, GSP had a brick. His psychologist said, “Take an actual brick.” Because he kept talking about Serra, Serra, Serra, like it’s his burden. He said, “Take an actual brick, write Matt Serra’s name on it, and carry it around on your gym bag and everywhere you go.” So, GSP started carrying around this brick in his gym bag.

And then he wasn’t allowed to challenge Serra immediately for a rematch. UFC started giving him other fights. And the next fight up was Josh Koscheck. And Koscheck was talking all of this dirt, all of this trash talk at GSP. And then GSP having to respond to the trash talk, having to deal with the trash talk, started focusing on Koscheck instead.

And then just over the months, he just remembered, “Hey, I haven’t thought about Matt Serra in weeks. Why am I carrying around this stupid brick?” And he has realized he has finally let go of his need to get revenge on Matt Serra. He’s so focused on Koscheck right now and Koscheck’s trash talking, and he’s like, “Finally, I’m actually relieved of this burden.”

So, he was like a ceremonial thing, he took that brick out to the lake and he threw it in the lake. It was this big weight that was released from him, this need to get revenge was gone. And when that happened, he was lighter and stronger, and that’s what needs to happen with you.

Right now, you’re really angry at this woman. That is fine. She did whatever and whatever, and probably she was, I’m going to go with you, man. Maybe she was culpable a lot more than you. It’s important for you to understand why you would be that particular type of victim, what in your childhood and your personality make up what attracted you to somebody who puts out that kind of energy, and says those kinds of things, and does that kind of stuff.

That’s a really important thing for you to understand. But it’s okay for you to hold onto that anger right now because you can use that as fuel to focus on your life, getting ahead, moving on, using my free break up recovery course. And as you get further and further, you will hopefully just be able to forget. Just to the point where you forget.

Maybe next week, you only think about her x number of times, and then the week after that, you think about her x – 5 number of times, and then so on. And maybe you’ll only think about her once a month, and then so on, right? And then maybe you’ll only think about her when somebody actually asks you about her. That’s where you want to go, where you totally forget.

So, you don’t need to forgive, but you do need to forget. You do need to let go. So, there you go, that’s why I’d say for that. Join the private Facebook group to get your free courses on break-up recovery and how to get over your ex, or how to get your ex back and how to get over your ex. They are all free inside the Man Up Facebook group. I’ll see you inside the group. It’s David Tian, signing out. Man Up!

Look, if you are in chronic depression, as it sounds like you’re making it sound like, she has a choice to make. I’ve been making fun of him for this whole while, but really that wasn’t the point of this. I just didn’t realize how pathetic he sounded when I first read that question. I just read it once and I’m like, “Okay, I will do this one.”

So, there we go. Dude, you suck. You haven’t really worked hard at this yet. To think that it was a big deal for you to book an appointment with a therapist? I don’t even know what to say to that. That’s just comical. I think for her, if I were her friend, I would tell her, “You should’ve dumped his ass a long time ago.”

But you do raise a valid point about – does she know what a long-term relationship entails? I’ve been saying in previous episodes that real love is not just an emotion or a feeling, it’s also a commitment, it’s a behavior, it’s an attitude, it’s an action, it’s a decision to stick with it, even when the feelings aren’t there. So, what’s important to realize though is nobody is obligated to love anyone else unless you are literally a dependent.

There might be some kind of moral obligation or responsibility, for parents to love a child. But it’s arguable. There’s no obligation whatsoever for a girlfriend to love a boyfriend. That’s her choice, free will, she decides whether she freely wants to give that love to him. There’s no obligation there.

And she can withdraw it at any time, as you are also a man, able to withdraw your love at any time. That’s totally within your freedom. Now, if you enter a marriage contract, depending on how seriously you take that verbal contract – the verbal contract is usually a love vow, right? “I will be with you until death to as part, in sick and health”, and all of that.

There’s a contract where you’re supposed to honor your word. Now, luckily, this girl has not married your ass yet. She has no obligation to stick with you. Right now, it’s okay to be in a transactional relationship. Most people are. At some point, if you want to take it to real love, instead of just falling in love or infatuation, then you do have to make that decision.

“Okay, I’m going to go that step further of actually going to love this person even when I don’t feel it.” Now, she might have been sticking with you despite her feelings for quite a while already. It sounds like you are a lazy guy. So, you probably are a needy guy who is parasitic. The way you talk about other people, it’s sort of like, “Hey, didn’t you know? You’re supposed to stick with me even when I’m down.”

You’re making people feel bad that they’re not with you when you need them. You’re a needy parasite. But even in a normal relationship with normal people, if things go really bad and she just decides the ROI is negative for her, and maybe it’s just too hard for her emotionally to love you, and that’s her decision to pull out and she’s just like, “I can’t do love with you right now.”

If she deceives you by continually saying to you, “I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.” Then there’s some culpability there on her side for leading you the wrong way. But she is not obligated to stick with this agreement if it is just boyfriend-girlfriend level. That’s one of those things where it’s okay if you see that – yes, love is work. Relationships are work. But some relationships are more work than others.

It is up to you to decide whether that relationship with all of the work that is entailed is worth it, whether the work is worth it. That’s the question. Is the work of love for you worth it for this relationship with this person? If you decide yes and you decide you’re going to love this person, because that’s what love is. It’s not just a feeling, it’s first and foremost a decision and an attitude and action to go forward.

The feelings come alongside it. And eventually will if you invest enough time and effort into this, just by human nature. You decide whether it is worth it. It is your choice. You are not responsible or obligated to love another person unless they are a dependent or unless you’ve already entered into a contractual agreement with them, that’s quite explicit about that.

So, you can make mistakes. It’s okay to make a mistake and say, “I guess I really didn’t love you the way I thought I did or the way I wanted to. But right now, it’s a negative ROI for me and I was really at a transactional level.” And that’s okay. It’s more important that you realize that and that you stick with that honesty than to just get into a relationship and just hate yourself for being in it, hate every minute of it, and then therefore transfer that negativity towards the person and just poison that relationship. It’d make the relationship really hard.

That’s okay. That’s why it’s important to date before you get married. That’s why. It’s important to have a trial period of dating before you get married. It’s important to see whether, for you, the upside is enough for you to put in all of that extra work. Trust me: relationships that last more than three to five years are going to require work. It will require commitment, dedication, and it will be work: time and effort that you’ll have to invest into making this work.

And sometimes, you won’t feel like it. But if you are in it for the love, if you understand what love is, then yes, you do have to follow through to reap the rewards. But in this case, it may be a situation for her – it obviously is – where she trialed you out. She had a trial of you and she decided “It really isn’t for me” and she’s pulling out now. That’s her free will to decide that.

Okay, so there we go. Sometimes, the work is not worth it and both sides have to understand that the party that pulled out just decided that the potential upside was not worth the potential downside, or the actual downside, the work.

Alright, guys. It’s really time for breakfast. I’m starving. It’s a little bit hot out here, but otherwise it’s just beautiful. You see how this beach is mostly deserted, it’s just wonderful here. A lot of room if you want to jog with your dog or something.

Alright, guys. I’m heading up now. So, David Tian, signing out. Join the private Man Up Facebook group to get your free courses on how to get over your ex, how to get your ex back if you want, and all of those awesome goodies inside. Join the private Facebook group, great community in there. Until next time, David Tian, signing out. Man Up!