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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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How To Get Your Ex Back
In episode 45, we’re going to be talking about how to get your ex back.
Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I am David Tian, Ph.D., and this is: Man Up.
Welcome, I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and this is Man Up, episode 45. We got a question here from Max. It’s about how he can get his ex back. It’s a long message. Basically, I’ll just summarize it: They broke up about a month and a half ago. This is the third time they’ve broken up and they were together for over three years.
He says he became a good boyfriend. She asked him to stop hanging out and going clubbing with his guy friends so much. He resisted at first but then he obeyed her – I don’t know if obey is the right word – but he obeyed her and was a good boyfriend. And then he doesn’t know what happened but she lost interest and wanted to break up. Nothing major, he said. No big drama, as far as he can tell. He wants to know how he can get her back.
The situation sounds like, for Max, a pretty common one. I see this pattern repeated a lot. And in fact, this is a common situation with a lot of clients who don’t go all the way through my programs. These are the guys who start the program – it’s usually, like let’s say, for life coach, can be six months or a twelve-month program and they only stay in it for two, three months.
And then they get a girl and then they settle down with this girl and they think, “Okay. Now I’m done. I’m done; I don’t need to see David Tian anymore. I don’t need to be subjected to his verbal abuse anymore. I don’t have to go out and try to get girls anymore or to improve myself. I can finally just rest.”
For the guys who know David Deida’s book, “The Way of the Superior Man”, I’m referencing the word “rest” in that context. Where I can just finally rest and not have to push myself, get out of my comfort zone. I can finally just sit back and relax and watch TV and be a bum and be a pig with this girl, my first real girlfriend after starting to improve myself in this area of socializing and dating and psychology.
So that’s what happens.
I don’t see the guy anymore and then after about a year or a year and a half, sometimes two, or in this case of – Max here is not my client or anything. But typical, three years in, there’s the big break up. And then he has to start over and he’s completely lost because he didn’t get it right the first time.
The big lesson here is that it’s very normal for a guy who starts out needy then taking extreme steps to get his life together because he feels this lack, this emptiness and this void in his life. And that drives him to do new things, to learn new things, to step outside his comfort zone. And that means that he goes to social events that used to frighten him and he takes action. He goes up and talks to strangers and gets out of his comfort zone.
Meets new women and learns how to interact socially with them and how to interact socially with the cool guys there and so on. And then improve himself in other areas. Maybe it’s working out real hard or figuring out fashion, reading up on psychology, watching videos and just learning. And he’s not in it long enough for it to become enjoyable.
Sort of like the guys who work out of the gym – and you know, we’re coming up to Christmas and next thing you know, it’s going to be January when the gyms are packed. The statistics have shown that people who have gym memberships – less than 90% of them, maybe over 80% of them – will go for no more than a month and a half, on average, out of the twelve months that they bought the membership for.
That’s like most people who are really optimistic, they intend the best, they go to the gym the first month – and then February 14th is sort of like the psychological cut-off day for most people. And suddenly, February 15th, the gym is fucking empty and I love it. So I’m just holed out, waiting out for those month and a half for the 90% of these people to disappear.
What happens is there’s this burst of energy. But because the workouts didn’t become enjoyable, they’re still like, “Oh, tough workout. I don’t want to do it.” They’re not going to stick with it. They’re not going to go through it because they haven’t made it to that point where they enjoy the actual pain and the process of it. The pain becomes reframed as pleasure because they know that the outcome of it is the reward. Instead it’s just like something to be tolerated. And a lot of guys are like that.
If you’re a guy watching this you’ll probably know this – if you’re over 25 or over 21 – that once a guy gets in a relationship with a girl, one of your buddies, he stops hanging out. It doesn’t happen immediately, it’s gradual. But the guy stops coming out for your weekly guy stuff like the beers at the pub or whatever. And slowly but surely, he disappears. He goes in this cocoon with this girl.
And often when that happens that means that he’s not pushing himself or improving himself. Or sometimes he’s improving himself too much in just this one area that doesn’t involve her or is very solitary. Like he loses himself in computer programming or something at his work and thinks that’s his thing and he ignores her.
So before, when they first met, he’s really cool. He’s going somewhere in his life. He’s proud of himself and he’s moving forward. He’s getting out of his comfort zone. He’s improving himself. He’s working on himself and he’s enjoying it because there’s a challenge. And that’s a very masculine thing to enjoy the challenge and to then meet the challenge and blast through it and so on. It starts off that way, becomes complacent over the course of the year, year and a half, two. By the third year, there’s usually this turning point. And it happens somewhere around the three to five year mark.
This has been documented in Clinical Psychology where the couple settles in to this – either they settle into an empowering kind of comfort where both people are in a routine but it empowers them for their future goals. In ways of they’re able to both have their needs met of passion, of variety, of excitement, but also of building long-term value.
They either do that – that’s the minority of people, a minority of couples – a very small minority of couples who are able to settle into that. And the vast majority of couples end up – modern-day couples – end up just becoming dissatisfied. One of the couple, one of the pair, becomes dissatisfied. The first person to pull away psychologically, emotionally, is going to be in this power position. And the person who’s not pulling away, who pulls away in reaction to that, is always going to be the weaker one. That’s to explain the dynamic of what’s actually happening.
Now, what can you do as a result? If you’re in that – we’ll call it the one-up/one-down. So the one-up person is the one who pulled away emotionally and psychologically first. So Max here is clearly in the one-down position, doesn’t know what happened, doesn’t understand. Suddenly she’s not satisfied and not excited about the relationship.
The spark wasn’t there anymore. And in modern people, that’s enough to breakup. It’s not ‘til death do us part for marriages anymore. It’s now: until I’m not happy with you anymore. Welcome to the modern world. She’s not happy, that’s good enough reason and rationale to break the commitment. He’s left hanging; he wants to get her back.
Here’s the way. It’s the same sort of dynamic with being in the friend zone. So what’s going to happen is you need to have enough time apart for her to break the psychological associations with you, Max. If it’s a three-year relationship, rule of thumb, you need about half that time. It’s going to be really tough. If it was a three-year relationship, I’ll say a minimum of a year, most probably a year and a half apart. So that when you start anew, it could actually have a really good chance of continuing.
Now, if you guys broke up in the first place with probably good reasons that you weren’t compatible. So I’d really re-examine your initial selection of a partner because probably this pattern will happen again. And each time you breakup, like this, and get back together and breakup and get back together and breakup and get back together, it gets worse and worse and worse. It’s like going down the lower levels of hell and you don’t want to do that.
But you don’t really care because if you’re in the state that Max is in, you’re not listening to rationality, you’re not thinking rationally. You just want your outcome which is not to feel this way anymore, which is that desperate, needy feeling and that empty feeling because this lack of something that was there continuously for three years. And it’s like an addiction. So you’ve got to break this addiction.
You could speed it up so it happens within a three to six month span. The best chance you have is to break off all contact and to actually tell her that; that you need your time, your space to think about things and to get your life together and to think about what you want for the next stage of your life. You tell her that. Preferably in person, really calmly, unemotionally, you’re not asking anything of her. You’re just telling her so she knows. You have to verbalize this.
Then when she comes back – because she inevitable will – she will reach out for you. Expect that to happen. It could be a week, it could be a month. She’s going to text you. She’s going to call you. She wants to just see how you’re doing, maybe have coffee, whatever. Well, then you’ve got to be businesslike.
Like, “Why do you want to meet?” And if she says, “Well, I have some things I want to tell you.” You’re like, “Okay.” You give her one chance. So you meet up and you go businesslike. You say, “Okay. You said you had some things that you want to tell me. What is it?” And you hear, you listen. If she says, “I’d like to get back together with you.”
Don’t get too excited because I know you’re going to get real excited. Don’t get too excited, just sort of like, “Okay. And why do you think it would work this time?” Make her work for it because she was the one who broke it off. So she’s in debt to you now, right? She’s got to make it up to you.
The dangerous thing is to say yes too easily. So say you’re going to think about it and then really, really think about it. If you get back together, really be careful. Now, that’s probably what will happen if it’s your first breakup after a three year relationship. Because even if she is dissatisfied, the fact that she stayed with you for three years, means that psychologically there’s a part of her, unconsciously, that’s also addicted to you.
So understand that. She will be reaching out for you like a smoker who’s trying to kick the habit of smoking. She’s going to reach instinctively for this action. And that’s you; you’re the cigarette to the smoker. So don’t get used and abused again. And don’t get taken for granted again.
Now, I’m warning you here and I’m telling you these rational things – you probably won’t listen to them. And you’ll probably just want to get her back. If you contact her before she contacts you or when she contacts you, she’s just like, “Oh, I just want to see how you’re doing.” She doesn’t have anything important to tell you.
She doesn’t say,“Let’s get back together.” Over the phone, she doesn’t say that, then don’t meet her. Just say, “You remember how I need my time? I need to take this time for me,” and she’s got to respect that. If she doesn’t respect that, that’s really, really bad.
The only reason you should meet her again is because she says she has some really important things to tell you about and those important things include that she wants to get back into the relationship with you. If it’s not that then do not meet her. Obviously, if you happen to meet her on the street or whatever, be polite, be civil and say hi and nice to meet you or whatever. But just make it short and quick and get out. Just be polite and that’s no more.
Okay. So quick answer, I’m trying to keep these shorter. I don’t think this was short, at all, but that was a deep question. It kind of handles a lot of different scenarios. And thank you for listening. So this is Man Up episode 45. We’re releasing videos everyday, from Monday to Thursday. So look out for that. They’re on Facebook and YouTube. Make sure that you join the Facebook group. There should be a link on this video – if it’s on YouTube or Facebook – it’d be on the link below or next door. Click on that link. That’s the best way to reach me personally. Ask me your questions; I’ll answer them there and until then – man up.