Man Up | Ep. 136 • September 07, 2016
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or 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. In Episode 136 of Man Up, I answer the question of: When should a man re-evaluate his friendships with other guys?
Masculinity for the intelligent man. I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and this is Man Up!
Hey! This is David Tian, Ph.D. and welcome to Episode 136 of Man Up! For over the past ten years, I’ve been helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success in life and love, through the application of ancient wisdom and cutting-edge research. And welcome to Episode 136. I’m back in Bangkok, as you can see. I don’t know if you can recognize it. That building there is the MahaNakhon. And it’s a controversial building, looks really cool. Behind me there are other skyscrapers. Anyway, this is a great part of town. I love being back in my home hotel here.
And I was in Taiwan for a family reunion for one of my grandmothers’ birthdays. Well, one of my grandmothers’ birthday. And then I was also there when my other grandmother passed away. So, all in the same weekend, pretty intense emotionally for me and the family. A birthday and a funeral, back-to-back. So, didn’t get much in the way of content work done, but back in the grind between Bangkok and… Actually in two days, I’m flying to Beijing. There’s still a lot of travelling and flying around left to do, but catching up with Man Up. So, thank you guys for sticking with it and waiting for your episode to appear.
I know a lot of the guys in the group are doing so. So now, answering a question from the private Facebook group. This one is from Pravend. And it’s a long question. I’m going to try to summarize it, and it’s basically about, “What do I do when one of my best friends, who is a guy, is not doing what’s in his best interest?” So, I’ll just read parts of it. “Hey David, thank you for the great videos. There are moments where I find myself pumping my fists when I hear an idea articulated or expanded upon that resonates with me.”
Alright, awesome. You’re welcome. “My question is about male friendships. I’ve had a friend whom I’ve regarded as my best friend in the past. He’s been a friend since my secondary school days, so for more than a decade.” So, two incidents and I think there are actually two different friends here, but anyway, the first one is “In the years since, I’ve found our views on things diverging and our relationship deteriorating as a result. He has strong views on religion and is prone to making strong political and Islamophobic views on social media, and in private views that make me deeply comfortable even though I’m not Muslim myself. It goes beyond an intellectual disagreement for me. It feels unethical and find myself feeling inauthentic because I’m maintaining a friendship with this guy.”
Okay, so now he’s his groomsman going to his bachelor party and he asks, “At which point should a man re-evaluate his friendship? Do I view it as a mere difference in opinion and respect that people have different ideologies, or view it as an issue or character and ethics?” Okay, second issue, he says, “When a friend called me the night before your latest video was published” this was quite a few weeks back at least. “Anyway, an ex-girlfriend of his friend contacted him two months after they’d broken up, blaming him as the cause of the relationship failing over him not fighting enough for it.”
Here, the girlfriend’s blaming his friend. And so, the friend’s ex-girlfriend is blaming his friend. “He was rattled and came to me to talk things out. I told him that I felt the girl was immature and that it was not his business to try to fix or change her, and that he might need to consider why he keeps gravitating to girls that exhibit such behavior. The very next morning, I woke up to find your video discussing immature girlfriends, and I sent it to him because some of the issues discussed were verbatim with what we discussed. He took offense however, because he thought I was calling him out on being emotionally weak and the ideas around effeminate energy, fake nice guy, things that were in the video that he feels he’s not. I’m finding myself questioning if I’m being a straight shooter who is speaking my mind, or if I’m overstepping my boundaries and speaking in bad taste.”
Okay, great questions. I’m not sure if it’s the same guy. It sounds like it’s two different guys, so this is happening more than once for you, Pravend. So, I’ll address the bigger problem. And again, the key to having videos under ten minutes is by taking a small slice and just focusing on that, instead of addressing the broader, bigger issues. But there’s so many big issues here, my academic mind is going to all of these and I’m trying to rein it in. So, I’m going to answer part of the question and see if I can get that done in the ten minutes here.
Don’t give out unsolicited advice. In your second issue, the second one where the guy’s going all weepy-eyed over his ex doing stuff to him, you’re giving him advice, he doesn’t take it, that’s a situation where he does ask for advice. But the first one, the guy’s not asking for advice. And I see this over, and over, and over because my clients – and even guys who watch any of our content – they improve in their lives. They go from here to here. And of course, their peer group is still down here.
This is the peer group effect. It’s the most powerful psychological force in the human mind, because it is wrapped up with your identity. Well, ultimately identity is the strongest force, but your identity is largely determined by your peer group, almost completely determined by your peer group. And if you are improving yourself here rapidly, like you would if you’ve been watching these videos consistently or in any of our programs, that means you’re leaving behind a lot of your peer group, or you notice that they’re doing things, or feeling things, or going through things that you could help them with now, that you actually have advice on.
And the temptation is – this is a common beginner, intermediate issue. I wouldn’t say problem, but it comes up quite often, is that you then start to coach or teach your friends when they haven’t asked for it or aren’t in the right mindset to receive it. So, here’s something you need to learn about humankind. And if you’re watching this, this doesn’t really apply to you. And if you’re in the Man Up Facebook group, it doesn’t apply to you. I’m assuming if you stay with the group and you engage. And if you’re in any of our programs in Aura Transformation, it doesn’t apply to you, but you’re already a minority in the world. The majority of the world, I would venture to say, over 80 percent of the world, is not in a growth mindset.
After 21 years old or after college, there isn’t an institutionalized growth process anymore, and people start to ossify mentally and emotionally. They stop maturing, unless they’re forced to, like kids come in their lives. That’s one of those. There’s a few different – from the age of 21 until you die, there are a few different markers that force people to mature or not mature, and then they end up in a psychological crisis and often just withdraw inside. But on a month-to-month, or week-to-week, or even on a year-to-year basis, most people don’t actually improve. They don’t develop, they don’t grow or progress anymore.
Usually after college, they get a job and that’s it because there’s no other. Even within the job, if there’s on-the-job training and stuff like that, it’s not seen as a major shift in their future. So, most people stop growing, and there’s a lot of science on growth mindset, what’s happening in the brain as you learn new things. And most people just don’t have a growth mindset. Most people have a very static mindset, and their identity is pretty much set. Because their identity is set, and that identity does not include learning or progress in new areas, new skills, opening up new arenas of growth and maturity, it’s like they have like a shield against good advice.
You know, I’m in a career, a company, or an industry of giving advice and coaching and teaching. And I know this for a fact, that most people are not open to things that can help them. And especially when it comes to psychology. But even when it comes to things like jufst straight up science, like fitness and health, still a lot of people are not amendable to change. Like, if you are obese, you probably will remain obese. You’d have to work really, really hard against it. Most people don’t. Most people just don’t. Well, they grow in another way, and they grow fatter, right? Most people don’t grow in the areas that require hard work to achieve.
So, if you’re improving, if you’re watching these videos regularly, or if you’re in our programs, and you’re improving, chances are most of your friends are not, and the temptation is to then teach them to take on a teacher frame and coach them. And that is often not going to be received well, because it’s an affront to their ego and they’re not… Even if they’re asking you for your advice, they probably aren’t really open. They’re probably not actually asking for advice. They’re just asking for sympathy and they just want you to, “Hey man, it’s okay.” And give them encouragement, and feel with them, like a very effeminate kind of way.
And you’re right in calling that out and that guy’s behavior. And that’s exactly the response that an emotionally weak, effeminate guy would give you. He’s going to deny it. He’s going to say, “No, I’m not.” He’s not going to actually sit with the ideas, struggle with them. Because a truly rational human being would come back and say, “Hmm, let me think about that. I’m open to feedback, constructive feedback and criticism. Let me think about it.” He wouldn’t just respond right away. That’s a stupid response. That’s an unintelligent, immature response.
And of course, that’s the response he gives, because that’s what most people are, actually. So, once you understand that, you won’t give out unsolicited advice. Today, I was doing a shoulders and arms workout in the hotel gym to save time, instead of going to my big gym, because it was mostly dumbbells anyway. So in the hotel gym, and whenever you go to hotel gyms, and big box gyms aren’t that different, you see a lot of guys there who don’t know what they’re doing. And there was this guy there who was swinging the dumbbells way too heavy for him, swinging them back. Like, he didn’t go full extension. He’s just like this kind of angle, movement, and he’s swinging back, just to get them back. And he’s moving his knees.
Like he’s bending his knees and… Oh, it’s just awful. And I wasn’t watching him or anything, but it was just peripheral vision. I noticed him moving from… I couldn’t figure out what his workout was, because he was switching from one station to the next, and it wasn’t a clear circuit. And he was with another friend who didn’t know what the fuck – one of them was in flip-flops, and it’s like I could give them advice, but I know from experience that unless the guy asks for it, he’s not open to it. And even if he does ask for it, he still may not be open to it.
And you can tell when they are actually teachable when they invest something. Whether it’s time, or energy, effort – like money is a great way. I will not give out free stuff anymore expect for – actually, I do give out tons of free stuff. But I used to give my friends free access to my online programs. And I found that when I do that, they don’t follow through with it. Like, I can see on their log-in records in the backend that they haven’t logged in. So like, I’ll give them a huge discount but they got to put down something that costs them something. Like, money’s the easiest way to gauge cost, but it could be something else, right?
And it’s just something that requires time and effort, and then they will value it. This is as true in self-development, or progress, or training, as it is in relationships. If she doesn’t put some time and effort into you and the relationship, no matter how strong it was at the beginning, it’s just going to die because she’s human, and human psychology works that way. So Pravend, you’re thinking about it at too high of a level. Whether it’s an ideologically disagreement or whatever, fuck that shit. You’re giving the issue way too much credence and respect here. The real problem is, these two guys are not open to change. And until they do, there’s nothing you can do about it.
So, you either embrace them for who they are in their flawed natures – and we’re all flawed, so maybe you have other flaws that maybe they hate. Maybe they hate the fact that you were trying to teach them. Or you just say to yourself – you have to realize for yourself, maybe at this point in time these friends are not serving you for your goals, and maybe you need to go and do your thing until you’re strong enough that you can hang out with them without being affected. And honestly, that’s a very long time.
So, if you continue to associate with these guys, with this type of mindset, it will drag you down. It will actually prevent you from doing it. Look for the peer group effect. It’s a very well-known science. The widowhood effect, Google that. Obesity epidemic, Google that. Google the work of Christakis. He did a TED Talk. He’s at Harvard. He’s pretty well-known. And if you just think about your own life, you can see how true this is; that your peer group largely determines how you become.
So, I would be very careful in associating with these guys. You don’t have to break off friendship or anything formal like that, just stop hanging out with them as much as you used to. When you go out, maybe think twice about inviting them. Maybe accept every third invitation they give you. But the truth is, if you want more out of life, if you want to progress and get further, you’re going to have to separate yourself from guys like this. I mean, you can have a friend who is racist, but if it’s something that you really believe in and that guy’s not open to changing his views, you can continue to love him as somebody that you want the best for.
But you shouldn’t feel like you need expose yourself to that kind of energy just because of the past. It actually doesn’t serve him either because you’re being insincere when you’re with him, and you have to be fake and inauthentic when you’re with them. The longer you have to do that, the longer you’re being fake, the longer you’re being inauthentic, the more it will affect your character. In all of these cases here, I would start to withdraw from these guys a bit. Not a bit, a lot. You can do it gradually so they don’t feel it as much, and just stop hanging out with them as much.
My memory card just ran out there. So, that’s what I would say. Basically, you want to quarantine these guys in your life for a while, and see how things go with your life and their life, and maybe you will become more consonant together later on in time. But right now, you’re best off quarantining them in terms of your life and if you want to progress. And the other thing, again, easy one to remember is: don’t bother giving out unsolicited advice. Don’t give unsolicited advice, alright? Don’t go around teaching everybody, unless they explicitly ask you for it.
Okay, so that was Episode 136. Join the private Facebook group, click the link below. Join the group. We approve requests all the time, multiple times a day. And you can ask your questions there. You can also interact with other guys in there. A lot of guys are now hopping on to the questions that are asked in the group and commenting. So, they’re doing a good job on some of these, so you get answers right away. Otherwise, if it’s a juicy question or if it’s one that isn’t as easily answerable in the comments, then I’ll make a video for it.
Alright, thank you so much for listening or for watching. Join the private Facebook group. I’ll see you inside that. Until then, Man Up!