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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.
Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore.
The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man” (https://www.davidtianphd.com/blog/), 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 (https://www.facebook.com/groups/manupcommunity/) and answers based on his experience coaching tens of thousands of students around the world for over a decade.
Connect with David Tian here:
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I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You–What Does She Mean?
David Tian Ph.D. deliberates if feelings in the relationship would naturally disappear over time.
David Tian Ph.D. explains why changing your physical and environmental anchors are important.
In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. tells us what it takes to make a relationship passionate over time.
Boom! Stop. I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and in this video I’m going to clarify what she means when she says “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”
Welcome to Man Up Episode 147!
Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and this is Man Up!
Hey! This is David Tian, Ph.D. and for over the past ten years, I’ve been helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success, happiness and fulfillment in life and love. And here I am in Tokyo. Oh, by the way, welcome to Man Up Episode 147. I am here in Tokyo, in the Ginza district. Just had a sushi lunch, and I’ll show you a bit of the street here. There’s a cool mall there, and this is the Louis Vuitton store. Pretty cool area here, but I’m going to hide here. So much foot traffic here, this is the Chanel store.
Okay, got a question here, and it’s coming from Michael from the private Facebook group. Michael asks, “I found Man Up after my soon-to-be ex dropped the bomb on me May 31st.” His ex-wife. “She loves me, but isn’t in love with me. What the fuck? After 19 years of love, dedication, putting in the work, providing for my family, she’s deciding to bail. To be clear, there’s no domestic violence or cheating. Those would be the only things that would make sense to me. If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think either of us were having our masculine or feminine needs met. When I asked for help about four or five years back, my emotions were trivialized so I withdrew. I started identifying as a victim and being trapped in my job. Led to a slow spiral into depression that was snapped by hearing my wife wanted a separation.”
Okay, so up to this point, I’m going to be reading this question, but it’s quite long so I’m just going to break it up at crucial points. So first of all, he’s been in 19 years with this woman, and this was four/five years ago, he says, he started to withdraw – I assume emotionally, probably physically, because he said his emotions were trivialized.
But he said, “When I asked for help about four or five years back, my emotions were trivialized so I withdrew.” So, who did you ask for help from? Did you ask for help from her? If that’s the case, then that’s not a very – well, it’s important that you share in the relationship, but to require her to save you is going past your boundaries. That would be a boundary issue for the two of you. But maybe you asked for help. Did you ask for help from a therapist, or from your buddies? It’s really important for the context, but either way – withdrawing is bad.
So, you kind of know already how it happened four or five years ago, so that was already 15 years into the relationship. So, you felt like you weren’t feeling masculine then and you withdrew because your masculine needs weren’t being met. This is a pretty passive-aggressive thing you did. And then of course everything spiraled down from there. Okay, so that’s how we understand this – but actually, the problem didn’t start from four or five years ago, it started from much earlier, and I’ll get to that.
But continuing on with the question, he then turned it around. “I began working out every day, got a CPAP and have been sleeping better, began reading about depression and learning how to use acceptance and mindfulness to overcome irrational thoughts.” Excellent. “Started seeing a therapist.” Awesome. So, I assume when you were asking for help before that, you weren’t asking for help from a therapist, if you just started seeing one then. “Got on Wellbutrin meds. Already cut back dosage and looking to completely stop within six months.” Good. “Visited support groups and even started meditation.” Excellent. Oh yeah, “Quit my job as a high school principal and started my own academic consulting business.”
Awesome, this sounds just excellent. You’re on the right track. So he says, “Questions: She just turned 38. I’m 41. Is there a way to tell if this is a mid-life crisis of sorts? If so, what should I do? If it is, what should I do? Give space or fight like hell?” Number two, question two, “I read and heard it can take half the time you’re in the relationship to recover from a breakup. Does that mean I need to wait another nine years to get over this? I appreciate the Man Up community and consider myself to be an intelligent male. Maybe not. Maybe too intelligent and not enough emotional maturity. Thanks for reading.”
Okay, so here’s the deal. First of all, I don’t think you’ll need to take nine years to recover from this breakup, because you’ve been recovering on your own. You’ve been on the way to recovery for, as you say, the past four or five years, because the steps you’ve been taking to regain that masculine energy you’re missing is all good. So, working out, getting the meditation, seeing a therapist, visiting support groups; these are awesome.
I would add in there – as I’ve mentioned before, traveling and changing your environment and your context to establish new physical anchors around you. So, watch one of the previous episodes. I think it was like two or three episodes ago on how to get over a breakup. Also, I will be making a free course on that as part of the Man Up course primer. So, look out for that. It’ll be in the pinned post at the top of the group so you can get access to that complimentary when it’s ready. That will go into a lot more detail, more detail than I can give in a quick video here.
So, I would just add to that. You want to do more travel, change your physical anchors and environmental anchors. But let’s just give some context for what’s happening here. She turned 38. You’re 41 now. This is a 19 year relationship. A lot of the guys giving advice here are – it’s out of context. I keep mentioning this – somebody else was giving advice to somebody who was in a 22 year relationship, and telling them to game the girl. This is stupid. She’s going to see right through it. She’s known you for longer than some of the guys in the group have even been alive. So, you can’t fake your way through this like a lot of pick-up artists try to do.
Let me answer your question: “Should I give space or fight like hell?” That is completely up to you. Is it a mid-life crisis of sorts? Yeah, of course it is. It’s pretty fucking obvious. And in fact, mid-life crises are just normal growth process. Because if you have a mid-life crisis, that’s an issue of – you stop, you look at your life, and it’s not what you expected it to be. And you realize, “Oh shit.” Maybe you lost the chance to travel the world. Maybe you lost the chance to party it up, and you missed that, and you’re like, “Fuck. Now, I have kids. I have all these responsibilities, so that’s not so much of a mid-life crisis. That’s just you looking at reality and going, “Fuck, the life I expected to have isn’t what I have.”
So, go ahead and address that. Find some way within the – that’s what I would tell people who are having so called midlife crises. But these mid-life crises help you to grow. So, here’s something I want you to remember. I’m going to make another video on this: you win or you learn. And when it comes to – on a regular basis – every two, three, four years, you should have a major life change, because that’s when you grow. People who stay on the same route, they get stuck in a rut and nothing really happens except small incremental growth.
But to have real, real change is always going to be like a paradigm shift level change. It’s going to seem like a crisis to other people on the outside, but that’s actually just growth. So, is this a major change in your life, both of you? Obviously. So, here’s what you need to do – not go through nine years of so-called recovery, whatever that is, joining support groups the whole time. But you should do that too, but also, it’s mostly knowledge because knowledge is power. Knowledge is power, especially in the context of psychology and in the context of this relationship. So, understand what’s happening here in a 19 year relationship.
Now, my arm’s getting a little tired here. Been doing shoulders for too long and now it’s sore. So, I’m going to try to get that. Okay, so take a look at this graph. Let’s see if you can see it. I’m holding it up from another phone here. So, you see that – this is kind of weird. I’ve never done this before: holding up one phone to the other. I got to keep it in center. So, you see that the X-axis is time, and the Y — So, the X is going up and down, I think that’s the Y-axis, is intensity, and the axis going left and right is time.
So, the line that suddenly does a precipitous drop after a very short period of time, that’s what scientists call passionate love. And the other line that slowly, gradually goes up and then sort of levels off, that’s companionate attraction or companionate love. Can you hold this for a second? Thanks. My hand is shaking. And what that is showing, is that over time, when you’re in this feeling of in love, that she keeps saying, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” This is a super common thing. In fact, it’s so common that everybody should expect to feel this.
Everybody who doesn’t have training with David Tian, Ph.D. Everybody who hasn’t undertaken years of studying psychology should expect to have that precipitous drop-off. And the big question is, can you make the transition from that drop off of passion, of butterflies in the stomach, of the natural honeymoon period, into the sustainable companionate attraction where the images, the old couple sitting side by side in the rocking chair, looking off into the sunset or the sunrise or whatever it is, and content and happy that way?
And I actually believe that there is a way to make it not just companionate attraction, not just settling for that low-level of intensity kind of attraction, but actually keep the passion going over time. And I’ve actually made a complimentary course for you just on that. So, click the pinned post in the Man Up group for how to make your relationship passionate. That’s something you can do, it’s something you should do and you get better at it over time, but something you should do at every stage in the relationship.
The first month, the first year, the five-month mark, the five-year mark, the 50-year mark, you should always be making your relationship passionate. But understand that the natural course of things is for that passion and butterflies in the stomach feeling to drop off, and this is for evolutionary reasons. And then because – what do you call it – paramating, or when you have mating for the purpose of having children and then staying together long enough for the children to grow up, to be big enough that they can survive on their own, that pair bear bond is no longer necessary evolutionarily.
So, we would naturally have those feelings disappear. And you have to take extra efforts to transition those feelings into something lasting longer. So, in a 19 year relationship, about five years in, she would have already started to lose those feelings of being in love. And then here’s the other dynamic: whoever starts to lose those feelings first has the power in the relationship. And that’s not a good feeling either, being in power. She is what psychologists traditionally call the One Up Position.
So, she’s in the one up like a see-saw, and you’re in the one down, and the one down is in a tight position because the one down starts to get more and more desperate. And naturally, the things you’re going to be doing are going to be coming from a place of neediness. And all of the things you naturally would do would drive her away, because she’s in the one up position, and you now have to have compassion for each other and understanding and maturity for each other’s positions, and bring that back into alignment. The best way to do that is to reintroduce the passion.
And again, the complimentary course in the Man Up group, click/tap the pinned post and get that on how to do that, but that’s the dynamic that’s happening. And most people, as in 99% of people don’t know this, so they’re just going to go do whatever they naturally do like most people don’t take courses on relationships. Most people don’t get educated on how to raise their kids, it turns out, and all these super important things in people’s lives, they don’t get any education in them.
And meanwhile, they get all this education on how to program a fucking computer, but they don’t even know how to program themselves, and they don’t even understand the operating system of their children, or of their wife, wife or their friends or whatever. So, it’s just ridiculous how people don’t respect the psychology of it. But that chart I showed you is right out of the psychology textbooks, and it’s pretty obvious for those who study this, and it’s commonly accepted.
So, this is not even controversial, what I’m saying, about the drop off between passionate attraction, and then trying to make that switch into the companionate attraction. Most people – most modern people just want to keep that in love feeling. And they believe that if the in love feeling is gone, then they should break up. That’s really stupid for relationships, first of all, and that’s not how human history has ever treated marriage.
Secondly, that’s just a stupid, fucked up, Hollywood romance bullshit from Disney and sources like that, that really fuck up the modern people’s relationships. And here’s the truth: the vast majority, over 80 percent easily of current relationships in the modern world that are past the five year mark are unhappy, unfulfilled, often if they’re still together over time it’s because of children or some other obligation, and their hearts aren’t into it, and they’re leading lives of quiet desperation.
And then the other percentage is just going to get a divorce. So, you’re not alone. Most people will go through this. Most of you guys watching this who are not married or are not in a long-term relationship, just expect that this will happen to you five years into your relationship minimum. Maybe even happen a year and a half into the relationship, she’ll just stop feeling those feelings for you.
And then because those feelings are gone, she’s just like, “Well, what’s the point? Yeah, I made a promise or whatever, but who really takes that seriously? I’m out.” And because of that, you’re just going to have a lot of unhappy people, just jumping from relationship to relationship because they don’t understand what a relationship actually is.
So, that’s her and that’s you. Neither of you are mature enough to understand what a relationship really is. When she says, “I love you but I’m not in love with you”, that’s actually an accurate description of her state. She doesn’t have those butterflies in the stomach passion for you anymore. She’s not in love with you, but she loves you because she wants the best for you, she cares for you like a friend and all that, and that’s what happens in a marriage in most cases – well, in all cases, unless they take extra effort to be present with each other and grow the passion.
So, that’s just what’s happened to you, and she doesn’t have the knowledge, or the maturity, or understanding, to know what’s happening in her mind, in her heart. And you can either wait until she matures, but I doubt that will happen, because you can’t change people unless it comes from within, from themselves. Like I’ve said, you can’t change other people unless they want to change. And even then, it’s fucking hard. So, what should you do? I think you should put a time limit on it.
Like, “I’m going to give it this amount of time.” And if she doesn’t wisen up, then you got to move on because it’s your life. Waiting forever for somebody else to change is a horrible way to live your life. Or the better thing is just to move on and chalk it up to knowledge. Because you’ve now learned something – you’re welcome, I’ve just taught you. But the other thing is, because of this experience, you’ve now learned this deep lesson about what relationships actually are, and the difference between passionate and companionate attraction. And you know it at a better level, at a deeper level, at an experiential level, better than guys who haven’t been through this. They just know it at a theoretical level.
So, this is an important lesson, and there’s a lot of education that you still have left to do. Fuck, even if I could snap my fingers and make this relationship magically come back together, you’re just going to all fuck it up all over again, you’re just going to fuck it up again because you didn’t learn the deeper lesson of what it takes to create passion in a relationship, and then to sustain it and grow it. And that’s far more important than just getting back together.
So, at least you’ve had these 19 years of experience now. So, see it as a learning experience. Either you win or you learn. So, I’m going to end it there. A takeaway is: join the private Facebook group, tap the pinned post and get all of those free courses I prepared for you. One is on how to make a relationship passionate. There will be another one soon on recovering from a breakup. In this case, recovering from a divorce.
And all of the things you’re doing right now are excellent, and I’ll just add to that. There are many other things I can mention that I will mention in the free course. But right now, I’ll mention that you should change your environment, go traveling, maybe even relocate for a while just to get new physical anchors. So, you have new triggers for thoughts and feelings.
But most importantly, understand the difference between companionate attraction, passionate attraction, and what it takes to make a relationship passionate over time. Okay, so this is David Tian signing out. Join the private Facebook group. This is where I find these questions and answer them. Also, there’s a good group of guys in there commenting, a lot of the questions get answered right away in comments. So, I’ll see you in the private Facebook group. My arm is shaking like crazy, and I’ll just leave you with another view of Ginza as a sign out.
See you inside the private Facebook group. This is David Tian, Ph.D.
Until then, Man Up!