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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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Fixer Mindset, White Knight Syndrome & Nice Guys
David Tian Ph.D. discusses how a fixer mindset can start.
We can distinguish a fixer mindset, David Tian Ph.D. describes the characteristics.
David Tian Ph.D. talks about the three coping strategies.
Coping strategies will affect your future relationships, David Tian Ph.D. explains how.
In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. reveals what fixers need to address first.
David Tian: Boom! Stop. In this video, I address the topics: fixer mindset, white knight syndrome, and nice guys. Welcome to Man Up Episode 193.
Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I’m David Tian, PhD., and this is Man Up!
Hey. 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 welcome to Man Up Episode 193. I’m back in my base here in Bangkok. I got a couple of questions.
Actually, this is a running theme throughout many questions in the Man Up private Facebook group that I’m going to be addressing here in this video.
I pulled out two very recent examples, but I would say at least 30%, maybe up to 40~50% of the questions have underlying them this issue, and maybe even more than 50%.
I haven’t done a scientific study or anything, but my impression is most guys are suffering from this, and most guys who are looking for help with women are suffering from this.
And especially most guys who seek me out are suffering from this, and I call this the fixer mindset. Hopefully, as you go through this, you’ll understand what I’m referring to.
Okay, so a question here from Zach. I’m going to read it out. See if you can relate.
“I have a really good friend who has a strange fantasy of being destroyed by a woman. He is single now, but he relates his pictures of his future relationship to The Great Gatsby, American Beauty, Frankenstein, et cetera. Any idea what to make of this? I have no remote idea why he would desire this, and I have never heard of this sort of thing from anyone else.” Okay.
Here’s another example. Here’s an actual nice guy. So that one was a more self-aware formulation of that question, and maybe it seems extreme to most guys, but actually this is a pretty common thing, just most guys don’t realize it. They don’t realize that they are suffering from it – but maybe not to that extreme of martyrdom, but something similar.
Okay, here’s an actual nice guy who is suffering from this issue. You can hear it actually expressed in his question. I’m going to read it out and see if you can relate. A question here from Kim, again, in the Man Up private Facebook group.
“Just having a mental breakdown. So, me and my ex-girlfriend still live together but she’s moving out in a few days’ time and she’s just now meeting and dating another guy.” So, let’s just get this clear. They’re living. She’s living in his place, but she is dating and banging another dude at his place, so he’s having a mental breakdown. Okay.
“So she told me she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings, but she can’t do anything anymore.” Really? You can’t move out, bitch?
“So I said, if you don’t want to hurt my feelings, why it’s so easy to leave and go? I just had a mental breakdown, the person I really want to spend my time with and cuddle every night is now gone. I really do care, but now I don’t know. I just cried so bad and I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to find maybe someone who is understanding, but I think I still really love my ex-girlfriend. I know it sounds stupid, but I gave up everything for her.” This is an important part. Let me just repeat that.
“I think I still really love my ex-girlfriend even after she dumped my ass, stayed in my place while bringing other dudes home.” Okay, so let’s just get clear on that. And he says, “But I gave up everything for her.” This is a very common thing. “I gave up everything for her and I feel like everything is lost, questioning myself, where did I go wrong? I’ve never been in this kind of situation before. It’s just too much heartache. Why do some people don’t appreciate your effort?”
Okay, she doesn’t appreciate my effort. There’s another formulation. There’s another way to put it. [INAUDIBLE 00:03:27].
“It’s been a year.” It’s been a year you guys have been together? I hope she hasn’t been living at your place for a whole year after she dumped you while bringing other dudes home. It’s not clear in the question. “I just wanted to be with someone who knows how to return the favor even if you’re not expecting anything back.”
Okay, so he’s not expecting anything back from the girl, but he just wants somebody who will return the favor, okay. Even though the logic is a little bit convoluted, the important part I want you to notice is he says, “Even if I’m not expecting anything back.” So he’s going into this thing, “I’m not expecting anything from her! I’m willing to give her everything!” Okay.
“We are just humans. We get tired, but for now I’m trying to accept the situation. How can I move on? I’m trying so hard. I’m glad that I’m busy working at my new job, when I have time I go to the gym and train.” Yeah, that’s fine. “And then after, I still miss her and pretend that I’m still with her. Can someone help?”
Now, you might think that Kim’s situation is not related to Zach’s, and you would be wrong. I’m going to get into the fixer mindset now, and I’ve been getting a lot of requests on this. In fact, one of the reasons why I don’t cover deeper issues and concepts, subjects, in Man Up episodes is because I’m trying to keep these short.
There is a whole section on all of this, the nice guy, the fixer, the neediness, and all of this, over multiple weeks. And these are each week. It’s three or four hours of material, including emotional, guided meditations where we process – help you process this at the emotional level, not just the cognitive. And it’s in our Rock Solid Relationships and Masculine Mastery course.
That allows me the luxury of going in-depth instead of having to vie for attention on YouTube with the ADD culture. I’m thinking maybe you would prefer a long-form, maybe I’d go in for two hours. I’ve tested that before, generally it just leads to mental masturbation, so I don’t want that to happen for the guys watching this.
I want you to take action or take some steps to actually apply what you’re learning here. But in this case, I think I’m going to try to give… What I’m going to do is give a very concise description of the issue and hopefully that will whet your appetite for more because this is deep.
This is not just like, “Hey, let’s just write a paragraph about it.” You can spend your whole career, decades and decades, researching this and helping people through it.
Anyway, let’s get into it, the fixer mindset. Everything I’m going to share and everything that they’ve shared in their question to some extent I’ve dealt with myself. In fact, every single episode is something that I’ve dealt with myself unless I explicitly say it’s not. That’s where my answers come from.
It’s not just from reading a bunch of books or something. I’ve lived all of these things, so I understand where you’re coming from and I understand your friend, Zac, who is actually very self-aware. Most people don’t get to that, most dudes don’t get to that level of self-awareness.
And Kim, I understand where you’re coming from. This is the same thing for the first few relationships, few ‘loves’ I’ve had as a young man, the same situation. Now, here is where the fixer comes from.
‘Nice guys’, prototypical or typical nice guys are suffering from the fixer mindset, another term that I think is quite catchy is the ‘white knight syndrome’, though I think online that gets misused so I’m not going to use that one. I’m going to use ‘fixer mindset’. And it’s something that goes back to your childhood.
So if you’ve ever been in a relationship where you have ever said anything after it’s fallen apart, or while it’s falling apart, or if you’ve ever thought to yourself after a fight or any time in the relationship, “I’ve given her everything”, or “I’ve done so much for her”, or “What else do I need to do for her?” then you’re suffering from the fixer mindset, very likely.
And if you’re a nice guy, if you consider yourself to be a good guy and you have not done some deep work on yourself, then probably you’re suffering from the fixer mindset. That’s why I’m saying it’s so common.
It’s especially common for guys who seek me out because my clientele and my following tend to be achievers. These are highly intelligent people who’ve achieved a lot in their careers. They’ve gone to top schools.
They are quite successful monetarily, and on the surface they’ve ticked all the boxes, but they often have difficulty in relationships, they have trouble handling drama in relationships, they have trouble attracting women when they get to flirty banter.
There are plenty of women – maybe, if you’ve [INAUDIBLE 00:08:28] the rest of this life together, who want to settle down with him but he has trouble getting into casual relationships and just having some fun, and flirting and creating attraction.
The root of all these issues is the fixer mindset. What is this? What is this? It goes back to your childhood, and yes I went there but I’m not going to get into Freudian things, but at a very basic level.
It can get a lot deeper, but the very basic level, when you were a baby, you popped out the womb, anything you did, if you had a loving family or an average family, anything you did was considered cute and worthy of attention.
You know, like the first time you spoke, everyone was like, “Wow, that’s amazing!”, the first time you walked… That doesn’t happen anymore for you as an adult. Even when you peed, people would still love you.
Like, they’d think it’s almost cute to change the diapers, maybe. So like, you can pee on somebody and they’d just clean it up and would not blame you or anything, get mad at you or anything like that. But as an adult, you can’t just go around peeing on people. They’d be pretty pissed. So, there’s a big disconnect now in the way you’re being treated by the world.
And when you’re a baby, your primary caregivers are where you look for your approval and affection- because literally, you are needy physically, not just needy emotionally. So if you don’t get the love and care from adults, the ones who are taking care of you, then you will die.
We are evolutionarily programmed, hardwired, adapted to appeal or to be looking for the love from our caregivers. Because if you didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to survive.
And that’s fine, that’s at the very basic level. After you get big, so you grow to a certain age, and for some of you the trauma happened much earlier, if you’re a victim of baby abuse or child abuse. And at some point, usually around the year and a half or two-year mark, this is where the terrible twos comes.
You realize that just when you want to pee or whenever you want… Like, so as a baby, whenever you’re hungry, you just go [CRYING] and people try to figure out what’s wrong, and they’ll try the milk, right? So, if you’re hungry, you go [CRYING] and somebody – this tit comes out of nowhere and you’re just like, “Oh, okay.”
And it feels like you can control the tit by just going [CRYING] and this tit comes and gives you this delicious food. And then you get older and that stops happening. It stops happening consistently or stops happening completely. And it doesn’t have to be the tit, it could just be the bottle, but you stop getting it whenever you cry.
You can’t just cry to get your way anymore. And children test that. So, how much can I get? Where are my boundaries? And when they start hitting those boundaries and the adult starts saying nope, no, the typical way to discipline a child – and there isn’t an easy way around, this is very difficult parenting – is to show the child that he has got to behave in order to get the love.
And of course, they don’t put it that way. They don’t think of it that way. They still love the child, they’re just trying to help the child socialize and behave properly. But the child doesn’t know that.
The child thinks, “I’m not good enough because mommy isn’t coming when I cry” or “Daddy is not coming to pick me up this time when I cry. They’re just letting me cry, and then get over it, and then come back to the table or whatever.” And at their baby mind, they have to start – they’re starting to cope now, “Okay, what are the strategies?” unconsciously, “What are the strategies I can adopt?”
There are roughly three strategies, and broadly speaking, the three strategies are: pleasing, rebelling, or being a recluse. The rebel, recluse, or the pleaser. And a subset of pleaser is the achiever, you try to achieve, you try to be guāi in Chinese, which is much more than obedient; it’s like being a really good kid.
It’s like happily obedient, plus you have an initiative to try to please your parents, right? It’s a horrible thing, actually. Anyway, parents want kids who are guāi in China or in Chinese culture.
One way to be guāi is to achieve: get good grades, please mom and dad. If you get good grades, if you achieve well in school, or whatever your parents consider to be important, then they will be happy and you will get the affection and attention that you crave, and that you need, actually.
So, that’s one way to go. The achiever is a subset of pleaser. Another subset of pleaser is the joker, the kid who learned that if he makes his parents laugh, then he’ll get the acceptance and they’ll pay attention to him. That’s another way to go.
There are different subsets of the pleaser, but the pleaser is a very broad category that encompasses most of my clientele, and most good guys, and definitely all nice guys. They all learn as children, as young as a year and a half or even younger, that pleasing would be the best strategy for them.
They latch onto that one. And as children, we usually try all three. We will pout and that will be – we’ll experiment a little bit with the recluse. And I also get loners, right? That’s one of the other strategies.
The other thing is you can just totally shut down and withdraw into yourself, and that’s another common strategy that I’ve seen guys taken into their adulthood. Many of them are achievers are pleasers, and then occasionally I’ll get a rebel. That’s a lot more rare for guys.
Because if you chose to be a rebel, you probably are a pretty adventurous type of guy, risk-taker, and that’s kind of sexy, right? So, you play in the bad boy card with the ladies, so generally you won’t have that issue of attracting women, so you probably wouldn’t find me at this point in my career.
So broadly speaking, these guys are achievers, pleasers, and they are striving to get that love by pleasing the other party, by pleasing their parents, by doing the thing that they think their parents want them to do. That’s how they win their parent’s affection and approval.
And that’s when they are very young, I mean the most formative stage of your life. And then as you get older, you just take that relationship pattern forward. You don’t get any coaching out of it as a kid, like, “Hey, you know, you’re pleasing right now. You shouldn’t do that.” No one ever coaches you or therapizes you.
And then as an adult, you think this is perfectly normal because of the whole society and your education system, and most other people will reward you for achieving. Right now online, probably one of the hottest things on YouTube other than the entertainment stuff is self-help around how to make money online or something like that.
Everyone just wants to make more money. They think if they make more money, they’ll be happy. If they make more money, then they’ll feel significant, then they’ll feel worthy, then they’ll feel good enough.
And then of course there’s fitness, that also is preying on that as well. So, this is just a fundamental problem in the human condition, the belief that we’re not worthy, we’re not good enough, and then one strategy out of that – or to get that feeling of worth is to think mistakenly that if you just achieve enough, then you’ll get it.
So, this is the basis of the nice guy. It goes back through childhood. And you take that into your relationships with women.
Now, that’s the typical nice guy. He’s just the guy who wants to please everybody. That’s also why he’s afraid of rejection. He’s afraid that if he doesn’t please her, if he disagrees with her, if he says no to her, if he teases her hard, if he ignores her, if he does his own thing, if he puts himself first, that she will lose interest and reject him because that’s what happened when he was a kid.
So, the coping strategy that he took for decades was to achieve to get that love, and to please. Let me focus on that part, the pleasing. So, these guys are pleasers. The nice guy is the pleaser.
Now even worse is the pick-up artist. The average pick-up artist has to learn it. So like, the guys who would be online googling about this stuff, and very motivated to learn it, and go through thousands of cold approaches, and journaling, and posting field reports, and consuming tons of video on how to pick up chicks and stuff like that.
I used to be coaching that sort of thing. I’ve really moved far out of it, but I still get a lot of people who see my older stuff from seven to eight years ago and still message me for advice, so I’m still in touch with that crowd, that audience.
And almost without exception, they are former or they are pleasers – they are still pleasers at their base, but they’ve learned to compensate. They are compensating nice guys.
They are actually – the clinical term for it is compensatory narcissist, or compensatory co-dependence, or co-dependent narcissist. There’s different types of terms to talk about the same sort of thing, but we’ll go with compensatory nice guy.
So, it’s a nice guy who is compensating for the fact that his pleasing strategy as an adult with these girls wasn’t working, and it took – most guys don’t even awaken to this fact, they just cling on to their bullshit programming about being a nice guy, and how to keep getting burned, and those are the questions coming in, right?
But like, then there are those guys who learn some game. And then they start to get results from women because most of game is trying to fix the symptoms.
Right now, their symptoms are… The outer level of the symptoms is that they have anxiety when they approach women, or they can’t keep conversations going because they’re in their heads too much, or they don’t know how to tease properly, or flirt properly, or they don’t know how to challenge her, or they don’t know how to deal with her when she challenges him.
These are all symptoms of his deeper problem that he’s a pleaser because of his coping strategy as a child, because of his fixer mindset.
And then they learned to not have those symptoms anymore and they think, “Everything is fixed! I learned how to pick up chicks. Everything is fixed!” And that was a trap I fell into. I got really good at pick-up and I thought everything is fixed now. But then after a certain point, all the games fall away and the reality hits you.
Because here’s the issue – it’s sort of like we go back to the symptoms analogy. It’s like you have this disease, or maybe you have this wound and it’s rotting because you haven’t treated it.
But instead of actually treating it, or getting the surgery, or dealing with the wound/the problem itself, instead of dealing with the problem itself, you just put Band-Aids over it, or you take drugs that are palliative and they just numb the symptoms.
And so, you don’t feel the pain, and the bleeding stops because you started putting all these Band-Aids over it, and you think everything’s fine. But actually inside, it’s still rotting and it’s getting worse.
You’re going to have to amputate it because you haven’t dealt with the actual issue; you just numbed yourself and covered over the problem.
That’s why the compensatory nice guy is setting himself up for an even deeper fall. I’m going to talk about in another episode what type of girls these guys will attract as a result, and what type of women the nice guy will attract as a result, what type of women would a fixer be attracted to, and what type of women would respond to a fixer.
That’s a really deep issue, but just focus on the fixer for now.
And the compensatory fixer, the compensatory nice guy, the nice guy who learns some game and has papered over the symptoms but is still rotting inside emotionally and hasn’t dealt with his core issues yet, he’s going to actually bring into his life more extreme women, more drama, all of that that you’ll see.
So these nice guys, they end up – let’s just preview the type of girls nice guys attract. They end up bringing in women into their lives who need rescuing. I mean, a rescuer is going to look for somebody who needs to be rescued. That’s why actually when you’re a fixer, you’re not generally attracted to women who have everything together, not sexually attracted.
They’ll be your friend, they’ll be your sister, but an achiever especially, he’s looking for a wild girl. He’s looking for the dramatic girl, because those girls need fixing. At the unconscious level, he sees that and is attracted to that.
And of course, a wild girl will also be sexy, and fun, and everything that he’s not, because a pleaser can’t be fun. He’s uptight, he’s got to be to please everybody. An achiever can’t be that fun because he’s got to be uptight to get all his homework done, get everything done on deadline, and so on.
So they generally won’t be attracted to other achievers sexually. They might be in the prefrontal cortex when they’re looking for a long-term mate, but then there’s sexual passion that won’t be there as much as for that wild girl who is intelligent… Intelligence is not divorce from wildness, okay? A lot of people think intelligence is a big deal – it’s not a big deal.
It’s very common. Just go to the particular… There are entire institutions devoted to gathering intelligent people together, just go to those places and there are intelligent people all over the place. It’s not a rare thing at all if you’re an intelligent person yourself, you’ll be surrounded by them. It’s part of the peer group effect, by the way, right?
But what is difficult is emotionally healthy people. We’re not evolved to be emotionally healthy. We’re evolved to survive and mate, to survive and have offspring, that’s it. We’re not evolved to actually find happiness. You have to work at that.
You don’t just have that accidentally. So anyway, many people – and by the way, if you’re intelligent, you can have that accidentally. You can’t have happiness accidentally, not for very long.
So anyway, these fixers, they are going to look for girls they can fix unconsciously. And just like this man here Kim, was attracted to a girl who after a year of dating – I assume that’s a year they were together – dumped him, stayed living in his place, so continued to use him and then dated other guys and brought them home in his face.
And then she says, she has the gall to say, “Look, I don’t want to hurt you or anything.” It’s like, okay… But he’s like, “I really love her and I’ve given her everything!” You know, it’s like – I wish you would just appreciate my effort! Like, he’s not waking up to this.
Now, the person who is not in that situation or is removed enough from it that you can see clearly, logically, what’s going on, you might laugh at him and be like, what the fuck? But when you are deep in it because you have these childhood patterns, being a fixer, you’re going to go and latch onto it.
It’s revisiting for you this fresh – it’s making fresh again the trauma that you experienced as a little baby, as a child, a toddler even, with how you had to deal with your primary, your caregivers, the love that they held hostage from you, that you had to go and do things to get it.
And you know, I’m not saying that they meant to do that maliciously or anything. Most parents don’t know what they’re doing and they just do their best, but that’s how our little baby brains interpret this.
If you need to go into more depth on this, I highly recommend an amazing little book called The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller. That’ll start you on the rabbit hole. And of course with Zac, let’s deal with that. Zac’s more extreme formulation of this is – my good friend who has a strange fantasy of being destroyed by a woman.
Well, Kim is being destroyed by this woman. He doesn’t realize it yet, and he’s in it, but he’s actually secretly hooked to this drama. If he gets another girl, this is just going to happen again.
He’s never going to have a happy relationship that will last unless he deals with these core issues, and most people don’t and that’s why they just live lives of quiet desperation or lots of fights and drama, and then they eventually get a divorce; or they live in lives of quiet desperation, where there’s no passion anymore.
Well, Zac’s friend pictures his future relationships as a Great Gatsby, American Beauty, or Frankenstein. Okay, I had memory card issues there. So, Zac’s friend pictures himself as a Great Gatsby.
He wants to have a Great Gatsby, American Beauty, or Frankenstein relationship, and that’s his fantasy. Where does this come from? A more extreme version of the fixer is the martyrdom fantasy.
This is where you give your life for love. This might come in a way where – in your dreams, you might dream about sacrificing your body to shield your woman. Maybe invaders are coming in, bullets are coming in, and you jump out in front and you shield them or something like that, along those lines.
It’s not uncommon, and what’s really at root is – and this is going to be deep and I’m jumping many steps, but I’m just going to give it to you to show you how deep it is, is that you’ve neglected your inner child, so the inner boy when you first had those traumas as a toddler, hadn’t processed that yet.
So like, you still are this wounded child who just wants to be loved for who he is, not how he can achieve, or not only if he pleases and is like, you know, like a circus animal or something. You want to just be loved for who you are without having to have to do anything or say anything to earn it, right?
But you are told, you learned as a baby unconsciously that that’s not how the world works. So, those initial realizations are very traumatic. You realize you got to be something different from how you are, so you step out of who you are, your true self, and you start to put out these false selves, or the idealized selves, or these adaptive selves. You’re adapting now.
You’re putting out another self in a bid to get the affection and love. And the one that gets rewarded the most is the one that you stay with. That’s why these pleasers are so common among my clientele. The world rewards them. The parents reward them for pleasing.
And in a very toxic family, it can get much worse than that, by the way, so just in case – I just want to put that out as a caveat. It gets really deep.
But the average guy, right? So let’s say that he becomes a pleaser. What you’ve neglected is that true self, the little boy. And when you want to protect these women, these pure paragons of virtue who are anything but, because you’re looking for women who need rescuing, what you’re actually doing is reliving the fantasy – which is not really a fantasy, but it’s actual need – of rescuing your inner boy, your child.
And these martyrdom fantasies for the pure version woman will, as you age, as you mature not as you age, as you mature not as you age, as you mature, as you have children yourself… And if you are emotionally mature enough, so they’ll continue to be there as far as like these hidden martyrdom fantasies. But as you mature, they will turn into fantasies about rescuing your children and your family.
These could be healthy things. I mean, these are obviously – sacrificing yourself so that your kin will continue to survive is a noble thing. And so, under normal circumstances, people get medals for that sort of thing, right? Posthumously if they die.
You might think, “Oh, why would the guy do that for some bitch, for some girl?” It’s not that he’s doing it for ‘some bitch’. To him, it’s not ‘some bitch’. For you, looking out from outside, you’re like, “What a bitch”, right?
But for him, it’s his maiden who needs to be rescued from the tower, from the dragon. He’s got to go kill the dragon, scale the tower, kill all the bad guys, rescue the sleeping maiden, right? That’s the male fantasy, the immature male fantasy.
And what he’s really rescuing there is his inner child who is the pure version, the one who – you’re really rescuing yourself from the fucking bad things that are happening in this world. That’s really deep. You don’t have to accept that if you don’t want to.
I know I’ve skipped a lot of steps there logically in the argument to arrive at the conclusion, but I just want to preview for you how deep that can be, and maybe check back in a couple of years.
Maybe I’ll have a different view on it, but that’s after years of research on this, and over 10 years of experience coaching, tens of thousands of clients, this is pretty obvious now to me.
So, we don’t have to go to you rescuing your child. We can just stick with the martyrdom thing and just focus on the fixer. That’d be even easier. I should’ve just stayed there at the basic level. So, what should you do now? Because you’re going to continue to be in relationships where you look for women who need fixing.
It doesn’t even appeal to you sexually, emotionally, unless you can rescue her. You’re actually going to be – the fixers, the nice guys, they’re always attracted. They think it’s like they have high standards because she’s got to be hot, or wild, or whatever, and I’ll get to this in the next video or in one of the future episodes.
But they are actually just going to repeat this pattern, because what they’re trying to do is go back to their original pattern when they first had that coping strategy, when they first came upon that strategy, and then latched onto it, which was to get love from their parents, the primary caregivers if it’s not your parents. And they are trying to recreate that dynamic every time. And this is what love is about.
Like, if it’s just sex, it’s totally different, right? I mean, it’s not totally different, but it’s different. But when you’re in a relationship and there are emotions involved, as all of these guys are talking about and most of the questions that I’m getting in the Man Up group are about emotions, then that’s what you’re recreating.
You’re trying to get that primary emotion of love, and approval, and attention, basically, at the most basic level: attention, approval, affection, love and connection from this woman that you have mistakenly put in the position of the one who can give that to you.
And if you would just do, finally please her in the way you couldn’t fully please your parents, because you can never fully please anybody, right? Like, always, forever, right? So, you’re always having to replease, replease, reachieve, reachieve, achieve more, achieve more, achieve more.
Anyway, so same with the woman. If you’re going to be in that relationship and eventually you’re going to give her everything, this is one of the common refrains from guys in this situation. They’re suffering from fixer syndrome, from the white knight syndrome. It’s like a disease. It’s an addiction.
They’re addicted to this dynamic, and after a certain point, they’ve given everything. You know, I’ve been in this situation multiple times, unfortunately. I was kind of dense. There was no one to teach me this stuff back then, I was just listening to pick-up artists who just teach you tactics and stupid shit like that. Again, just dealing with symptoms instead of the actual problem.
And so, let me give you – I can go in a lot more detail on this, but I’m going to just stop there at this point. So, I’ve gone over the fixer. I talked about how it goes back to childhood and the three coping strategies, the most common.
Actually, they’re pretty much – it encompasses everything, and that most guys choose the pleaser coping strategy which is also encompassing the achiever and the joker. And because of that, they’re attracted to girls who need fixing, who need rescuing, and at a more extreme level – or actually, many of them have this martyrdom fantasy, they’re just not aware of it or they’re not self-aware or not mature enough to start to reach that point yet when they can give it all.
You know, you’d have to reach a certain level where you’ve sort of given a lot and you’re like, “Oh, what more can I give?” are when those martyrdom things, fantasies start to come up. If you don’t have a woman at all ever and you’re just excited about saying hi to a girl and having a conversation with an attractive woman, you’re not even at that level yet where you’re fantasizing about rescuing or martyrdom yet.
So then, what can you do? Well, let me see. I gave you three steps, alright? And there’s a lot more to it. I go into a lot more detail on this in Rock Solid Relationships and Masculine Mastery, but let me give you three quick tips on this.
The first step is to stop rescuing women. Just stop. Stop rescuing women. You have to start to catch and identify, notice when these tendencies are coming up. Listen to yourself. If you’re starting to say things like, “I’ve given her everything.” Or if you catch yourself having these dreams of sacrificing your life or yourself for this innocent, pure paragon of virtue, this woman, or that you see inside – on the outside, she’s this damaged woman, but inside she’s this loving, caring, pure, innocent good person. “If only I could be with her and shower her with love, then she would flower and her goodness will come out!”
If you’re dealing with that kind of shit, that’s blinding you, man, to the reality, and that’s because of your own fantasies. That’s your own shit happening. That’s your own fixer mindset just poisoning all of her perception. Stop doing that. Stop rescuing women. Basically, I would recommend that you do not get into a relationship.
Get into casual sex, it’s fine depending on your morals. I got no problems with that. Like, you have the sexual need, that’s different from your emotional need for love, so you can fulfill that. You can have fun. You can go on dates.
Just don’t get emotionally attached too much, because what’s going to happen is until you’ve healed, until you’ve dealt with this issue specifically, because you’re just going to recreate this dynamic, and everytime you experience it again you get more addicted to it. Every cycle that you have, the addiction gets deeper. Just stop it. You got to stop the bleeding. Stop the bleeding.
Step two is, what should you do on the… That’s a negative project, right? What not to do. What should you do then? The positive project is to put yourself first. Treat that inner boy that has been neglected by society, by your upbringing. Go back to the inner boy. So every day, do something for yourself, something that you probably think as a nice guy fixer mindset, would think is self-indulgent.
Maybe it’s having a little bit of ice cream. Don’t do that if you’re well overweight though, but maybe it’s getting a massage. I don’t know, maybe it’s reading a book that you really enjoy, or maybe it’s going to watch a movie that you really enjoy. It’s okay to do that. In fact, it’s really good to do that.
Find something every day. In fact, even better, go even further into this. So rather than doing these little things every day – or actually, you should do those.
But in addition, even more important I should say, is to do something big, to break the pattern, interrupt the pattern of your life, to put yourself first, to really show your unconscious mind you are indeed taking a new step and starting a fresh chapter, and you’re going to do something drastic or dramatic for yourself. And one of the best things you can do is to travel alone.
If you travel with other people, unless they’re on the same journey, so other guys also recovering and maybe you and your buddy are in the same realization. Maybe you watched this video and is going through some stuff too, and you’re like, “Let’s just travel together.” But whatever it is, make sure you have a lot of alone time on these trips, where you get to be with yourself.
You need to be with yourself more instead of pleasing everybody. Because the pleaser isn’t just a pleaser for his girlfriend, he’s a pleaser for everyone. He’s gonna have a hard time saying no to people.
He’s gonna have a hard time drawing boundaries. He’s gonna have a hard time asserting himself. And that’s all rooted in that childhood trauma and the shame as a result of it, and then his coping strategy of pleasing.
So, travel alone. Traveling will give you new experiences and break your patterns, and give you new associations and anchors. It will also challenge you, so you’re going to develop resilience and independence, depending on where you go. Hopefully, you go somewhere that’s not just five-star luxury everywhere, but go somewhere that’s new and challenging.
Definitely go to a place where you don’t speak the language. Go to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. Try some new food. Do some adventurous things. Go bungee jumping, skydiving, whatever. Learn scuba diving.
That’s a really good one. I didn’t write it in my little notes, but scuba diving is great, just as a little excursus on that: it teaches you a lot of independence, but also teaches you resilience.
Anything along those lines. Almost all my friends have their PADI licenses, but I didn’t. I grew up in landlocked Toronto. So I came out here and in these parts, there’s so much amazing diving outside of East Asia. It seems like everyone has their diving license.
So, I went with my buddies and they all went off diving, and I did a crash course, a PADI course that was condensed because we only had two people in the class. And the first day, you’re in the pool, you’re in the 10 foot pool, and you’re looking up, but it’s kind of freaky at first, breathing underwater. It’s not too hard. It’s a pool and you learn how to jump backwards.
We went into open water on the second day. I remember the first time I’m on the seabed, and I look up, it’s about 20 feet up or whatever, and you know, like, you’ve never been down that far, and you’re not fucking breathing.
I mean, you’re breathing underwater, and then you got to take the respirator out and throw it off, and then you got to do that emergency grab. That whole thing is like fucking freaky. I was like a mature man, but I was like, “Okay, don’t look up.” And you know, because those things are really good for you.
Anything where you are testing yourself physically, and mentally, especially physically, physical and mental together. I also suggest you do some Brazilian jiu jitsu or wrestling, submission grappling of any kind is good, more so than just hitting pads.
Actually, going up against another guy in a good natured, good spirited competition is really good for training your resilience, and independence, and belief in yourself. Meditation is indispensable. I’ve done other videos on meditation. Go look at those. I do a transcendental type of meditation. It’s not TM, but it’s a Vedic mantra meditation.
I also do mindfulness. You can learn it from an app if you can’t find a teacher. That’s a good way to start. So, meditation, traveling alone, physical challenge, all really great ways to put yourself first, alright? And be in a situation where you’re not tempted to please people, where you can really be with yourself, and your emotions, and notice all of the thoughts that are swirling around in you, and to develop that independence.
And then thirdly, it’s not done… I mean, you can do the putting yourself first. You can try to shut it down, but it won’t be done. You won’t be on the right path until you’ve done the grief work. And because – the reason why it’s because there are different levels of consciousness, just like we have different parts of the human brain.
This is very common knowledge now, at least the System 1, System 2, Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winning economist, blah-blah-blah. Jonathan Haidt, another easy way to get into this literature, Happiness Hypothesis.
So, the prefrontal cortex is not able to control a lot of what the brain is doing. So, you think in your conscious awareness you’re in control, but actually this unconscious mind is in control. That’s a very brute way of putting it, a brute force way of putting it.
But we have different levels of consciousness, one is the cortex kind of consciousness, and then there’s the emotional consciousness, and then there’s sensory level consciousness. I’m not going to get into that right now, but I will just point out that the emotional trauma has to be dealt at the emotional level. You can’t fix or heal. I wanted to use the word ‘fix’ because that’ll trigger you or tempt you I should say.
You can’t fix the emotional trauma at the cognitive level. You can talk all you want and intellectualize all you want, but you won’t fix the problem. You’re basically just putting more bandaids over it. Actually, you’re tearing off the Band-Aids and you’re just looking at it. So, you see the problem but you’re not fixing it. It’s still rotten and you’re not doing anything.
You could actually solve the problem. You got to go at that level, and that means you have to go at the emotional level. So, all the intellectualizing and all this won’t help it further beyond just seeing the problem, and the travel alone, and the physical challenge, and the meditation will really help. It’s the beginning of just cleaning the wounds, so to speak.
But to actually get it solved, you have to do the grief work. This is a term of art from clinical psychology, and I was hesitating on whether I should go that deep in these Man Up episodes, but I’m going to do it, so grief work.
I take four weeks, four modules, to ease guys into that deep stuff, the deep concepts in Rock Solid Relationships, in Masculine Mastery, to moving them into grief work. We begin to do grief work at a basic level by the second and third week, and in a deeper level in the fourth week, and then they can come back to it.
Another way to do it is to get a therapist or a counselor. And if you do that every week, the average person, the average adult, seeing a psychotherapist… The average achiever especially, like a really smart go-getter guy, is making six figures, in his 30s, just a real go-getter, he can really benefit from therapy actually, even more so than the guy who is not achieving very much.
So, you’re doing that every week, maybe eight weeks later you start to really see the problem solving there. I mean like, the problem being fixed, I mean.
The average therapy rates are like 200 bucks an hour, so if you want to kick start it, I made a course that doesn’t replace actually ongoing monthly or yearly counseling support, but it definitely is an amazing way to jumpstart it and to introduce you to how to do this.
So to summarize it, the fixer mindset plagues every nice guy. It’s based on his childhood coping strategies that he latched onto, and then took into his adulthood through the decades. He is now recreating this dynamic with every woman, every significant target of affection and approval that he’s attracted to.
So, he’s going to continue to create this dynamic unless he fixes the problem, unless he stops the bleeding, and that led into the three steps you can take. One is to stop the bleeding, just stop pleasing, and rescuing, and fixing women, alright?
And you’re not going to be sexually attracted yet unless you’ve done the other two steps to women who don’t need that rescuing, because they just won’t have any chemistry.
Your neurosis don’t match their neurosis, chemistry happens when your neurosis match. Actually, that’s not strictly true, but it’s a good way of thinking about it. In this case, it’s definitely true.
For the fixer, he will be attracted, he will have chemistry with women who match his neurosis. So, you’re not going to get that attraction with a girl who has got it all together. She’s going to be boring and sort of straight-laced for you.
I’ll get into that hopefully in another episode. And then step two, so you got to stop the bleeding though, so stop rescuing women and preferably not committing into long-term relationship anymore for the time being.
And then the second is to put yourself first. You do that through traveling alone, treating yourself to things that you’ve been putting off, and it includes physical challenge, it includes meditation.
And then the third step is the grief work. As I pointed out, I have courses that lead guys through it. You can also get a counselor or a therapist, a good one.
There are a lot of bad ones out there just like there are a lot of bad fitness trainers out there, but there are some really great ones. Make sure you get picky and you find a good one that matches you and is very apathetic with you, and commit to it. You’re going to need the eight weeks at least to start to see those results, so stick with it.
So, there you go, the fixer mindset. It plagues every nice guy, it plagues every pick-up artist who used to be a nice guy, who learned how to pick-up chicks because he thought that that would solve the issue, when it really just numbed the symptoms and left the wound rotting and festering. You got to heal the wound. Alright, there you go.
It’s been a very busy couple of weeks for me. I haven’t put out any videos lately out here in Bangkok, but I’ll be flying again and will have a little bit more time to shoot some interesting backdrop videos.
Thank you for being in Man Up and join the private Facebook group. That’s where you can interact with me and all the other guys. It’s a really great support group in there. A lot of mature guys commenting. I answer questions as well. Get in there. It’s really a supportive group.
So, I will see you inside the private Man Up Facebook group. Click the link to join the group. And until I see you inside the group, until then, Man Up!