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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.

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“The Man Up Show” Ep.53 – When Should You Invest In Your Ex

When Should You Invest In Your Ex

  • David Tian Ph.D. describes the cost-worth connection and investing in relationships.

  • David Tian Ph.D. explains when it’s no longer a good idea to get your ex back.

  • In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. tells men to acquire a deep understanding of psychology to get better with women and relationships.

David Tian: Boom! Stop! In episode 53 of Man Up, I answer the question of when should you invest in your ex?

[Intro music]

Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I am David Tian, Ph.D., and this is: Man Up!

[Fade music]

Hey there, it’s David Tian, Ph.D. and this is episode 53 of Man Up. I got a question from Matt. It’s a long question but it’s a very heartfelt question. So I really want to respect it and give it the attention that it is due. And it’s sort of related to Nate’s issue from the last episode. So I’m going to answer them together. And they all have to do with investment or compliance or like investing time and effort into a woman and why that’s a bad thing.

To the politically correct people, what I mean by that is – let me give you an example. It’s an example of the point that we, as human beings, don’t appreciate things unless we work for them, unless we invest something in them. And then I’m going to – I just realized – I’m going to end with just a short thing about the power of giving.

Here’s the illustration for what’s called the cost-worth connection. A lot of psychologists have written about this. A lot of behavioral economics, Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economics is about this principle. Let me just illustrate it with a simple example. So let’s say that you have been saving up to buy an automobile. Maybe it was a very expensive one so you had to save up for it. And you’ve worked for three, four, five years to get this car on a reasonable payment plan.

Or maybe let’s just say you want to pay it in cash. So you got the car – leading up to the actual delivery of this car. You’ve been going to the showroom, trying it out, taking it for test drives. Picking out the exact make, model, color, features and all that and you love it. You got the perfect combination of this car. So you did that.

Now, on the day it was being delivered – because you’re really excited. You’ve been saving up for three, four, five years and it’s about to be delivered on that same day your brother comes home and says, “Hey, man. Guess what? I entered your name in this raffle at the mall and it was for a car and it just called me and said we won. You won, man! And they’re delivering it today.” Crazy, right? You’re like, what, I got two cars in the same day? It’s crazy.

So first they deliver your car and it’s beautiful. It’s just like you wanted and it’s sitting there on the driveway. And then, a little later, the one that your brother entered for you and that you won, it gets delivered. And they pull up and deliver it. And you’re like, this is freaky. Why? Because they’re the exact same car. Everything is exactly the same except the license plates. So imagine this scenario. Everything’s exactly the same.

Now you’re like, “This is awesome! I got two cars. It’s identical, exactly the same. This is amazing.” And you start driving with your brother. And so, you got two cars, you can trade off. You really don’t pay attention that much to which one you take because they’re exactly the same. And then your brother calls you one day from work and at work – let’s say two months in since you’ve gotten the cars – and he calls you. He’s like, “Hey, man! Can I take the car? I just want to do some grocery shopping.” You’re busy at work so you say, “Yeah, sure. No problem.” And you hang up.

So he goes off and you go off and do your work. And then about an hour later he calls you up at work and you pick up. And you’re like, “What’s going on?” He’s like, “Oh, man, bro. This is horrible but, dude, aw, man. I got in an accident.” And you’re like, “Are you all right?” “Yeah, yeah, I’m okay. But the car is totaled. Man, it’s completely destroyed.”

Okay, so here’s the thought experiment. Which car do you hope he totaled? If you’re like any other human being on earth, you will hope he totaled the one that you won in the raffle. Why? It’s irrational to prefer one over the other because they’re exactly the same. But if you’re like everybody else, you’re emotionally tied to the one that you worked really, really hard for, even if the only difference is the license plate.

Now, this illustrates the point and there are many examples I could use to draw on for this point. And a lot of research to prove this point, that when we commit to something and we put in effort, we actually peg its cost by how much effort we put into it. And effort boils down to time and work, how much work we put into it.

So if a girl, when you first meet her, she’s like laughing and really into it and she isn’t investing as much as you are in terms of time and effort in the interaction. But then on the date, all you expect from her and all you ask of her – I mean, not explicitly asking but all you require from her, as far as the date goes, is that she just shows up and looks pretty. I guarantee, first of all, that unconsciously she’s going to begin to lose attraction for you.

Because she’s going to begin to lose respect for you, unconsciously, most girls don’t realize this until they’ve become self-aware enough to know it’s going on. But it’s evolutionarily hardwired into it, so to speak. And second, you’re going to become more attracted to her as a result of not requiring anything. Because you’re going to have to put out more, not so much in terms of money, but in terms of your time and effort and your own self-worth in there. And that’s just part of the cost-worth connection, part of the principle of investment.

So going into this question – I should’ve presented it earlier. Because, again, people – here’s another psychological principle – people get tied up, more interested in people’s stories. So the story is, from that, he has recently broken up with his girlfriend of 8 years – wow, this is like 6 minutes into the question and I’m only now coming out with it. So, he’s recently broken up with his girlfriend of 8 years.

She decided that they did not have a future. She ended the relationship, stating in one breath that she loves him and doesn’t want to lose him from her life but that she could not be in a relationship with him. Over the next few weeks, he found out the true reasons and they are that she was cheating on him. But then, he beats himself up and says, “I’ve taken a job that will keep me away for most of the next four months.” She fears that. They maintain contact and interaction, they’ve been out several times even though she cheated on him and wants to dump him.

So he says it’s not really over – when I’m reading it out like that, hopefully, Matt, you realize how ridiculous this sounds but you probably don’t because you’re deep in it. But everyone else will hear it, right?

So his question is: We will be celebrating her birthday in a couple of days – it’s too late to address that now, sorry. But I did respond quickly to the message but here’s a fuller response. He bought some diamond earrings. I’m not going to say exactly what kind – but points them out. He purchased them some time ago for her birthday.

He wants to know what impact giving them would unfold. Like what impact it’d have on the relationship. He wants her back. She’s more valuable to him than the diamonds. He was invested deeply and for a lifetime. He still is, he says. I believe now even more that he can have a deeply fulfilling life with her.

So hopefully there’s some girls here listening and hopefully you can slap some sense into him. Women understand this at a deep level. I mean, I’m always having to convince guys of what’s going on but the women understand it quickly. Dude, she does not respect you. None of what you can do at this point will gain that respect from her because you have chopped off your balls, put them in a nice box with some diamonds in them and handed them to her.

She’s going to take those balls from you because – why not? They’re free. But she’s not respecting you okay? I don’t know, I think that’s harsh but that was something that was used on me as a wake-up call from my buddy Eric’s funny example. Chop up your balls and put them in a box and hand them to you.

So, here’s the deal. She cheated on you and doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you, those are the facts. She cheated on you and doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you. What the heck makes you think that you can lead a deeply fulfilling life with her? So then you’re going to say all these things but I know what it’s like.

You’re too deeply invested – that’s why I started with that first car example – to be thinking straight. And actually, I’ve been doing this for over ten years, counseling guys like you, coaching guys like you, how to get the girl back and things like that. I know for a fact that you’re actually not going to be able to listen to this and think clearly. Even after I get you to acknowledge all the points I make and show you, even, the research.

You’re going to be nodding, because you have no argument, there’s nothing you can say rationally against it. By then end of like an hour-long or more session, or multiple sessions over weeks, you’re still going to be asking me, “Okay. So how do I get her back?”

So I’m not really talking to you anymore now, Matt. You’re sort of a lost cause but, hopefully, if you just replay this enough times and maybe she needs to crush you a little bit more. That’s the only hope. Like, you need to see her out with another guy, wearing your diamond earrings that you bought her. She’s wearing them, out with another guy and the guy asked her, “Where’d you get them?” And she says, “Oh, I picked them out for myself,” something like that and totally disrespecting you. Only then, after you get crushed, cry your eyes out, you’re going to come and see me and I’ll give you a big hug, tell you life sucks, commiserate with you and then slowly get you to see the reality.

But for everyone else who might be on the slippery slope down this path of 8 years of an investment, being super fucking needy – because that’s what he is. And when you get over invested like that and all you expect from your mate is to just show up and look pretty; you’re setting yourself up for complete failure. And the type of failure that is completely preventable but also coming out of a deep-seated insecurity and fear of unworthiness. A fear that you’re not enough, that you won’t get loved if you’re not enough. Deep-seated fears that you can’t address just through game or techniques or getting girls.

It’s the worst thing. I mean, I see it all over among many pick-up forums – because in the old days where people add me, thinking I’m a pick-up artist. And it’s fun, because I watch the interaction – because I learn marketing from it. And also, it’s good to keep in-touch with these needs these guys are having unfulfilled. You see this all the time. The guy’s on the top of the world because he picked up X, Y, Z, or whatever number of girls.

Then he gets into a sort of relationship with one. Three, four, five months in, she crushes him or something happens where he – she basically has him by the balls because his entire sense of self-worth is dependent on whether she likes him and whether girls like him. So who actually is in control? Girls. I mean, those girls that you’re looking for validation from, approval from.

Not that he’s a pick-up artist; I don’t have any reason to think that. But it’s just a typical thing where when you put a woman way up here and you see yourself down here, such that she can disrespect the heck out of you and yet you’re still not willing to walk away, you’re still willing to give her precious jewels. It’s a sunk cost at this point – unless you can sell them. If you can sell the jewels and get some money back, I would say do that. But otherwise, if it’s a sunk cost given to her, as if it’s a sunk cost – you can give people anything, as long as you’re not expecting something in return. And you’ll be strong and it won’t be needy.

But you’re clearly expecting something in return. How do I know this? Because you’re giving her the damn earrings, the diamonds, because you want a deeply fulfilling life with her. It’s not going to happen. As long as you’re in this state, unfortunately, it’s not going to happen because you’re over-invested.

And same with your previous question, Nate, over-invested. Just driving an hour out to meet her and all she’s got to do is step out of her house to meet you; you’re already screwed up in the head. And you’re going to be working really hard on that date to make it worth the drive.

Imagine you just showed up and all you had was an hour-long chat. That would’ve been an okay date if you just walked out your door. But now you’re putting a whole hour in, so you’re going to work a lot harder to get something out of it.

This is just part of human psychology. Every human being ought to learn about how this thing works, this brain, the psychology, the emotions that they feel. Unfortunately, society has fucked you over. Why? Because most of society has been telling us that we should learn the maths and sciences and engineering and basically turning you into a human robot.

Not teaching you about your feelings, these fundamental things that separate you from robots, from computers – our feelings. And they all start up here. They’re not actually in the heart – that’s just a vestige of an old way of thinking. They’re actually all in here. Understanding how the brain works. Not to do math but to actually experience the deepest things because a lot of the way that this organ up here works is a complete mystery to most science, math techies. People in sales and marketing understand it.

Obviously, psychologists understand it. And if you care about yourself as a human being, you owe it to yourself to acquire a deep understanding of psychology.

If you’re the average person, I suggest you start with behavioral economics because it’s fun. It’s about like money and stuff, but it teaches you a lot about psychology. There’s a great book by Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winning economist. You can start with that. Though, that’s a bit heavy if you’re just starting out. In fact, if you’re just starting out, go to Malcolm Gladwell’s books. You can read Dan Ariely’s books.

There’s so many. There are just so many. But get started on that literature to understand the seemingly irrational nature of human psychology. And I want you to pay a lot of attention to the principle of investment. Robert Cialdini’s classic book called, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is excellent. That’s why it’s a classic. So everyone should’ve read that multiple times, really take those lessons to heart.

But man, I know right now you’re hurting. You know, there’s nothing I can say on this video that’s going to really sink in, at this point, because you got the rose tinted glasses on and you’re going to see this girl from the wrong angle. So, hopefully, you’ll get that cycle of pain sped up. So do it, just do it. Go out and confess your love to her and everything, all right? I’m being ironical there. So you can get your heart crushed faster, then you come back and listen to some truth.

Okay, so, on that wonderful note of optimism, I’m going to end this video. I’ve also gone really long. I got to discipline myself to make them shorter. So it’s David Tian, signing out. But before I do, sign up for the Facebook group. Click, click, click, join. Add, join and we will be able to interact with you personally. I hope to see you there. Talk to you soon in the Facebook group, until then – man up.