If you really want a relationship, then I have bad news:

Most guys aren’t ready for a relationship yet. And even if you somehow find a relationship and experience success within it, there’s a good chance that you’ll sabotage the relationship—causing heartache and pain and divorce.

So, how can you tell whether you’re ready for a relationship or not?

Well, it turns out, there are 3 different “Relationship Levels,” and most guys I coach are stuck in level 1: The level where you’ll sabotage your relationship if you get into one.

That’s why, in this episode, I reveal what the 3 different “Relationship Levels” are, how to tell whether you’re ready for a relationship, and how to “level” up if you’re stuck at the first level where heartbreak and self-destruction loom.

Want to discover whether you’re ready for a relationship, and, if not, how to become ready for one?

Listen now!

 Show highlights include:

  • How to tell if your current relationship will last or will cause gut-wrenching heartache and pain (0:35)
  • The lethal way loneliness can sabotage your relationship (even if you’ve been in your current relationship for years) (2:35)
  • The counterintuitive reason not wanting a relationship actually improves your chances of finding a loving partner and building a long-term relationship (8:16)
  • How intimacy makes your neediness rear its ugly head (and why this undermines “successful” long-term relationships) (11:18)
  • 3 “Relationship Levels” which will tell you with certainty whether you’re ready for a relationship or not (11:44)
  • How to move through the 3 “Relationship Levels” so you’re ready for a long-term relationship (and won’t accidentally sabotage it) (17:16)
  • The 10 basic, fundamental human needs—and how to meet these needs yourself so you don’t rely on anyone to help you meet them (18:38)
  • The insidious way watching movies or reading books written by this specific type of person will make you worse off for a successful long-term relationship (24:58)
  • Why being able to make new friends is more important for attracting a long-term relationship than your physique or personality (27:08)

    Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to check out my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at https://www.davidtianphd.com/masterclass/ now.

For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/

    Emotional Mastery is David Tian’s step-by-step system to transform, regulate, and control your emotions… so that you can master yourself, your interactions with others, and your relationships… and live a life worth living. Learn more here:


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Note: Scroll Below for Transcription

Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.

David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host. In this episode, I’ll be explaining the natural way to get into a loving relationship and how to know whether you are ready to succeed in a relationship, and how to know whether you’re actually ready for a relationship.

If you somehow get into a relationship, but you’re not ready for it, you’re in for a lot of heartache and pain. Now, pain is a great teacher. I know that firsthand, because that’s how I learned the most important lessons in my life. But I’d like to spare you any unnecessary pain, and I think the pain of a bad relationship that fails because you weren’t ready is an unnecessary pain, if you take to heart what I am going to be covering in this episode. You don’t have to learn these lessons the hard way. You can learn them from this podcast. [01:09.2]

Okay, so this episode is inspired by a listener’s question, so I’ll read out some of the question. “I have low self-esteem and I’d rather be in a relationship than have no one.” Then later on, he writes, “I have low self-esteem when dating. How do I improve my self-esteem?” Earlier in the question, he asked, “How do I maintain a strong relationship, one with mutual respect between each other?”

The context here is that he wants to be in a relationship rather than have no one, and he is self-aware enough to know that he has low self-esteem, and he wants a relationship in which there is mutual respect. This implies that he has been in a relationship or maybe has seen one where there wasn’t mutual respect. [01:53.2]

Now, on the respect issue, I’m going to reserve that for another episode, so come back for that, but on the main issue he brings up, low self-esteem and having it, and then the desire to rather be in a relationship than to have no one as a kind of solution for his low self-esteem. But, thankfully, he’s self-aware enough to recognize his low self-esteem and he’s asking, “How do I improve my self-esteem?” I’ll address both of those issues, the first one that he’s not aware of, which is about using a relationship to make yourself feel better about yourself specifically when it comes to self-esteem, but just even feel better in general. Then the “How do I improve my self-esteem” question. Both of these will be addressed in this episode.

Okay, so there are a lot of guys who take it for granted that the main reason you’d want to be in a relationship is because you’re lonely and you’re not happy alone or by yourself or single, and the assumption is the whole point of a relationship, or at least, the main point, by far, is that she will meet your emotional needs, so that at beginning without her, you’re lonely, and then you get into a relationship with her and now she will make you feel less lonely and she will make you feel all the things you don’t feel on your own, including significant and fun and play, and excitement and romance. [03:11.0]

They believe that’s the whole point of a relationship, to get her to meet your needs—including, here, self-esteem, like you don’t feel good about yourself, but if a particular type of woman likes you, a hot enough woman or an attractive enough woman, a significant enough woman, then you will then feel significant or finally attractive, or finally worthy. That’s the underlying assumption that a lot of guys, a lot of single guys or even guys in relationships, have about why you’d want to be in a relationship in the first place. [03:42.1]

If that’s you, if this is what you believe about the whole point of a relationship, like, Why would I want to be in a relationship then if I’m happy by myself? if that’s you, if you’re looking for a relationship because you are lonely on your own and your life is empty, and you’re not able to meet or don’t know how to meet your own emotional needs within your own control, and you think that a relationship will then meet those needs for you—that if you’re in a relationship with an attractive enough woman or a special enough woman, then finally, you will find that thing that has been eluding you, finally, you’ll find happiness and fulfillment, and joy and love, and all that stuff that you feel is lacking from your life, but that will be given to you or that will come to you once you’re in a relationship—if that’s you, you have to pay extra special attention to what we’re going to be covering here in this episode. [04:36.7]

Okay, so there are levels to this. If you’re like this listener who wrote in and said, “I’d rather be in a relationship that have no one,” and you really, really, really want a relationship even before you know who the relationship would be with, the actual person—you might have a general idea of your ideal woman or ideal man, but you haven’t started dating any particular person. Yes, there’s no specific person in mind, you just know that you want a relationship, so there’s this kind of pie in the sky idea, this ideal of what a relationship is and you want that, because if you could just have that, then that would make you feel good, and without that, you don’t feel anywhere near as good—you, like this listener, would rather be in a relationship than have no one. [05:24.2]

If you really, really, really need and deeply desire to have a relationship and you don’t even yet know who the person is, the specific individual is that you would be in a relationship with, but you’d just really, really rather be in a relationship that have no one, then you are at Level 1 and you are not yet ready to be in a relationship that would succeed. [05:49.0]

If you somehow get into a relationship, like you have an arranged marriage, or maybe you’re just really good-looking or you’re really rich, or have high status, the sort of superficial things that might attract that type of gold digger or just a really horny girl, an immature woman—if somehow you end up in a relationship, but you have been thinking honestly to yourself, I’d rather be in a relationship that have no one. I really, really, really need or want a relationship, because if I can have a good relationship, then that would solve my emotional problems of loneliness and feelings of insignificance and unworthiness, and I’d finally feel happy and fulfilled and joyful—then I have bad news for you. You’re not yet ready for a relationship, and if you end up in that relationship, you will sabotage it. It will either fail, as in you will separate in divorce, or you’ll live lives of quiet desperation in a passionless relationship with no real intimacy, and you will have lots of pain and heartache as a result. So, you are not yet ready to succeed in a relationship. Even if you end up in one, you will destroy it. You will sabotage it. You would want to pay extra special attention to what I cover in the latter half of this episode. [07:00.6]

If the person who really, really, really wants a relationship would rather be in a relationship than have no one is not actually ready for a relationship, then who is? So, there’s a level, I will call this Level 2. Level 2 is where you’re kind of okay with your life. You’re content. You’ve got your routines and your single life is, let’s say, on a daily basis, somewhere between four and six, maybe three to seven out of 10 in terms of happiness, mostly hovering around five or six. You’re okay.

You’ve got your things going on in your life. You’ve got a career or a job that you kind of like. You like it enough to keep doing it and they’re paying you enough, and so life is . . . it’s alright. You’re not motivated enough to actively seek out a relationship or even invest much time or effort into dating, but, then again, if the right woman or man falls into your lap, you meet them, hey, you’re open to it. You’d be down to give it a try, right? Especially just when you meet or even before you meet her, you could actually take it or leave it. [08:13.4]

This is what I call the “take it or leave it” level, Level 2, “take it or leave it”, and believe it or not, this person at the “take it or leave it” level is actually more ready for a relationship and it will have a better chance, all else being equal, to succeed in a long-term relationship. We’re looking specifically here at your mindset where your emotional state is, the type of thoughts you’re having, the type of feelings that you’re having, the level of neediness that you have on a daily basis.

This Level-2 person, the “take it or leave it” mentality where he’s content with his current life and isn’t super needy about it, doesn’t yearn for it or pining after it or plan for a relationship, or invest much time or effort into his dating life, he’s pretty content. He’s usually around four to six out of 10 in terms of his happiness. He can take it or leave it. [09:05.8]

This person is actually in a better mental state to succeed in a relationship if he meets the right person than the one who is desperate or really, really wants to have a relationship, or is thinking to himself, I’d rather be in a relationship than have no one. This “take it or leave it” Level-2 guy is like, Nah, I’d rather be by myself than be in a bad relationship. And in terms of relationship, I don’t know if it’s right for me or not. I’m content with my life.

So, I think this might come as a big surprise to a lot of guys who are very motivated to get into a relationship. Again, without really having anyone specific in mind or having started dating anyone specific in mind, they just want to be in a relationship. [09:51.2]

The reason it’s so important to recognize that there isn’t a specific individual that they’re considering and to trying to evaluate whether they love that person or not, which already that evaluation stage is already kind of a red flag, but it’s the fact that there are so many guys who haven’t even met the person yet, so many women who haven’t even met their potential partner yet, who just have fallen in love with or have attached themselves to this ideal of what the relationship will bring to them and that it is an answer to their neediness their emptiness, or their lack of happiness or fulfillment or love in their lives.

That’s Level 1, and especially if you’re a man, you probably won’t get very far because your neediness will turn them off, especially the more mature, emotionally healthy the woman is. But no matter what, in the course of the relationship, if you’re needy, you’re going to be sabotaging it, because that’s way too much for any one individual to carry that they have to fill this role of meeting your emotional needs because you’re unable to do it yourself. You’re unable to meet your own emotional needs. You’re unable to find happiness, fulfillment, love and security on your own, and you’re hoping that the relationship will do that for you. [11:05.8]

That’s already too much weight for one person to carry. Even if you spread your neediness out among 10 different dating partners, you’ll never be able to go very deep with any one of them, because as soon as you get really intimate with them, the more intimate you get, the more your neediness will come out, because the deeper it gets, the more that these inner-child parts of yours and the parts of you that are carrying this desperate need to be loved and to be secure, and so on, to be significant, the more that they will reach out and ask in unconscious ways to get that confirmation from your partner, and that will ruin the relationship.

So, actually, the “take it or leave it” guy is in a better mental and emotional state to succeed in a relationship where there’s even a higher level. There are at least three levels and I’ll give you the third level now. The third level, better than the “take it or leave it” level, is the person who’s got a great life who really enjoys their life and is not even thinking about getting into a relationship. [12:06.8]

This person is, on average, somewhere between five to 10 out of 10 in terms of happiness and fulfillment, generally is around a seven or an eight out of 10 on most days, and even when things get hard, is able to meet his or her own emotional needs and get up to about a five out of 10 on happiness. This person really likes their life and lifestyle, and in order for this person to get into a relationship, the potential partner has to be really special. The bar is really high for this person to come out of singlehood and commit to being in a relationship with this potential partner.

I call this level Level 3. I call this level the “it has to be really special” level, because this potential partner has to be really special in order for this person to come out of singlehood and go into being in a committed relationship. [13:02.4]

This person is in an ideal state to be able to evaluate a potential partner and, obviously, has the most out of the three levels to bring to a potential relationship or a potential partner. This person is the least pot invested out of the three, to take an analogy or metaphor from poker, the least needy, when it comes to a relationship out of the three different levels, the three different options.

To review the worst position to be in and the person who’s definitely not ready to be in to succeed in a relationship is the first level, which is the needy level. Then the second level, the “take it or leave it” level, is slightly better, and depending on how good things are on a day-to-day basis, might be a lot better. But the “take it or leave it” level is nowhere near as ready for a relationship, ironically, then the one who’s at Level 3, which is the “it has to be really special” level, where it would take a really special person to make this Level-3 person change his or her lifestyle and commit to a short-term partnership, a relationship of intimacy. [14:11.0]

Hopefully, now that I’ve laid out those three levels, it’ll be obvious, more obvious, hopefully, to those who are stuck at Level 1, the needy level, why it’s so unattractive and why you’re just not ready yet for a long-term relationship. Now, how neediness sabotages a long-term relationship is the subject of many previous episodes, so if this is somehow your first podcast episode of this podcast, look through the previous episodes because I’ve covered this in many other episodes from many different angles.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “If I’m in Level 1, how do I get up to Level 3? How do I become ready for a relationship? How do I do that in a way that’s natural and in a way that will attract the right person for me?” [14:56.5]

I’m glad you’re asking those questions because those are the natural next questions to ask, and I’ve actually covered how to do this in a course that I’ve entitled Rock Solid Relationships, and the overall answer will be lifestyle and going through the therapeutic process—and I’ve covered this, especially the therapeutic process, in many of the previous episodes of this podcast, as well as, in my over 500 hours of online course content I’ve devoted to the therapeutic process in lifestyle and attraction, and so forth, especially devoted to relationships.

I’ve covered all of the “how to do it” and I actually don’t just tell you how to do it in many of the courses. I walk you through it. I’d actually guide you through it, take your hand and take you through meditative exercises and other types of exercises to lead you through the process, the therapeutic process, quite a ways, quite far a ways in as far as anyone could do it in an online recorded format given the current technology. [15:56.6]

You can learn more about these online courses at my website, DavidTianPhD.com. Go to the navigation menu at the top and look for the online courses listing. I also have a link at the top to my coaching and my psychotherapy practice. I just got back from holiday, if you’re listening to this fresh, and I’ve opened up a couple new slots for clients. So, if any of that interests you, you can learn more about it on my website.

No matter their physical strength, for many men, emotions are too much for them to handle. It’s why they can’t give women the deeper levels of emotional intimacy and connection that they crave. It’s why they fail to be the man that modern women desire most: a man with inner strength, a man who has mastered his emotions.

Find out how to master your emotions through David Tian’s “Emotional Mastery” program. The Emotional Mastery program is a step-by-step system that integrates the best of empirically-verified psychotherapy methods and reveals how to master your internal state and develop the inner strength that makes you naturally attractive, happy, and fulfilled.

Learn more about this transformational program by going to DavidTianPhD.com/EmotionalMastery.

That’s D-A-V-I-D-T-I-A-N-P-H-D [dot] com [slash] emotional mastery.

But here in this episode, I’m going to be walking you through the how-tos, how to move from Level 1 to 3, how to actually become ready for a long-term relationship and attract the right person for you in a natural way. [17:28.0]

I’ll assume that you’re at Level 1, the needy level, and that would mean that the first order of business is to meet or learn how to meet your own emotional psychological needs yourself and not require a woman to do it for you. Ironically, the ones who want it the most are the ones who are least ready to have it.

There are 10 universal human needs, universal in the sense that all human beings have these emotional psychological needs, so there’s not only nothing wrong with having these as needs, it’s actually really important that you recognize that you have these needs, because the question isn’t whether you have these needs. It’s how are you going about meeting these needs. [18:10.8]

Now, I’m going to rattle them off here. However, in my bigger courses, like Invincible, Lifestyle Mastery, Rock Solid Relationships, Freedom U, I go into much more depth on the first seven of these emotional needs and it leads you through exercises to figure out what your needs hierarchy is, and so forth, especially an exercise on figuring out the most healthy ways for you, as an individual, you personally, to go about meeting these needs.

Okay, so what are the basic human, universal human emotional needs? They are security, and then variety, and then significance, and then connection, and then love, and then growth and contribution. Notice there’s a sequence for the first seven. You start off with security, and then when you’re secure enough, when you feel safe enough, you need to have some variety in your life. Otherwise, you get bored. [19:04.5]

Then when you’ve got a lot of variety, now you’re entertained. You feel safe and you’re entertained, but now you need to feel significant as an individual. Then if you’re too significant, if you’re in the top 1% or the top one person in your class or whatever, you’re alienated from the rest. You’re not in the middle anymore and so it’s harder for people to relate to you, so then the need for connection comes online more.

Then when you get your need for connection met, connection with nature or connection with friends, obviously, the next level will be a deepening of that connection, so deep that it’s unconditional and that’s now the need for love. Notice that you might actually be getting your need for love met early on as a newborn with very loving parents, but not even notice it. Anyway, you can see how there’s a sequence to the first five emotional needs of security, variety, significance, connection and love. [19:54.1]

By the way, I’m adapting the needs model that I first learned from the Tony Robbins Madanes coaching institute, and that was my first life coaching program. But, of course, analysis of needs goes back to Freud and Jung and of course, Abraham Maslow, as well as developed in other kinds of cognitive-behavioral therapy, especially in schema therapy, and the next three universal needs supplement or go beyond the Robbins-Madanes model—and those are the need for healthy limits and then the need for play, and those two go together, as you can imagine. Then the need for autonomy, and then the need for competence.

So, actually, there are 11 universal human needs. I’ve split up competence and autonomy. In the past, I put them together because they’re so closely linked, just as the way healthy limits in play are, but they’re actually different needs, autonomy coming first. In order to develop competence, you need to have the freedom, the freedom to fail, as one example, but the autonomy to think for yourself as well. [20:55.5]

So, you have to think hard about how you’re currently prioritizing these needs, because your top two needs are going to be driving your life and they’re going to create a life that is going to be predictable in many ways, in the ways that it turns out poorly or well—and I’ll tell you right off the bat, if your life is driven by any of the first three needs I mentioned, the first three needs that come online, security, uncertainty or variety, or significance, if your life is driven mostly or primarily by one of those three needs, if those three needs are at the top of your hierarchy of needs, then your life will go poorly in terms of your happiness and fulfillment.

That, of course, does not mean that these knees are illegitimate. You’ve just got to learn how to meet these needs in healthier ways, ways that are more within your control and that you can experience frequently. Notice that needy people will have as their driving needs, the needs at the top of their hierarchy, their need for security often at the top and their need for significance near the top that they feel most loved and connected when the people that they’re looking for love and connection from make them feel secure and make them feel significant. [22:09.0]

You can see that in the listener question. He wrote, “I have low self-esteem when dating. I have low self-esteem and I’d rather be in a relationship than have no one.” Now, how it works is, as you learn how to meet, invent, actually meet those early needs, like security, significance, and so on, you’ll learn how to meet them on your own within your own power and to do it frequently. They drop down your hierarchy because they’re met.

Easy example: if you don’t have some physical needs, if you don’t have food and water, you’re literally starving in the desert or whatever, that’ll be your overriding need, and let’s put shelter there at the top as well. But once you have enough food and water, and you have shelter, those become a lot less important for you. Notice how they would then drop down in terms of your hierarchy of needs, the needs that are driving your day-to-day life. Okay, so I have exercises for evaluating and figuring out your current needs hierarchy, and these are in my course Invincible and the other ones I mentioned, Lifestyle Mastery, Freedom U, and so forth. [23:07.2]

Then you want to figure out the hierarchy of needs you want to be moving towards, and, generally, at the top of a healthy hierarchy are going to be the more higher-level needs, like love or connection or contribution, or play, which by the way, is different from variety. You can have a variety of movies or a variety of shows on Netflix, but you’re just sort of passively receiving them. There’s a variety that’s passing through your life. But play is where you’re actively engaged in play. It will lead into flow or is marked by a kind of flow state.

So, I’m going to stay on this issue of play more, because as you experience and think of, and then apply better, more healthy ways of meeting your need for play– By the way, this is what you’re supposed to do for all of those needs. You’re supposed to figure out your current conditions, what it takes for you to meet each of those needs, each of these 10 needs, and then look at how healthy they are. [24:00.8]

Then you evaluate whether they are sustainable, whether they’re within your control, whether you can experience them frequently. Then if they’re not, and very often they’re not, you’re going to figure out ways where you can meet them in healthier ways. The more you meet them, the more that they drop down in terms of your hierarchy, until you have the most mature, I guess, advanced needs at the top.

Okay, so focusing on this need for play, this is going to really help people become more attractive and naturally bring into their lives a healthy loving relationship, and naturally make them ready for a healthy loving relationship. Now, remember, Level 3, the “it has to be really special” level, where that person has to be really special for you to drop what you’re doing currently in your in your lifestyle in your happy single life in order to consider even committing to this particular person, a very important part of that is play, and a lot of guys who are Level-1 needy are not able to meet their need for play on their own. [24:58.4]

This speaks directly to the very common trope for Level-1 needy guys, which is the manic fairy dream girl. In my old podcast called Man Up, I’ve devoted an entire almost one-hour episode on the manic fairy dream girl trope that appears in movies and still does in movies and literature, mostly movies and literature in scripts, written by needy guys who are now older and artistic and good at writing. But they’ve written, I suspect, themselves into the script into a believable kind of love story where they have the very needy guy who falls in love with a woman who brings into his life, this element of play as well, of course, as well as, of course, variety and significance and security, and so on.

But because he’s needy and she’s also a fantasy figure for him, so he’s unable to see her as she really is because he’s just seeing her as a way of meeting his needs—he’s projecting his own neediness onto her and, in that way, is actually putting a kind of curtain over her that blinds him to the real her—then the real her with her own messed up set of needs, and so on, comes out and that kind of messes him up, because he’s actually unable to meet her needs, because he can’t even meet his own needs. [26:12.7]

Then she feels alone and unseen and unheard in the relationship, so then she pulls away, and then he drops down into despair and mopes around for most of the movie, and that’s often the majority of the movie, movies like (500) Days of Summer or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Anyway, you can check that out by looking up “manic fairy dream girl, David Tian” either on Google or YouTube. You should be able to find it.

Okay, so this need for play, if you’re able to meet it on a high level, in a healthy way, in ways that are within your control that enable you to experience this state of play frequently and are sustainable, then it will be a lot easier for you to have, on a day-to-day basis, a really fun life in which you’re not pining after or yearning after, or searching for someone to make your life fun, fulfilling and playful. [27:08.3]

Meeting your own emotional needs yourself also assumes, to a certain degree, the ability to make new friends. Now, there are a billion people in the world and you can’t be friends with all of them, and you wouldn’t want to be, and the research shows that people who have a smaller quantity of friends but deeper ties are happier than those who have lots of acquaintances but superficial connections.

So, you don’t actually need that many friends to find happiness, even if you’re an extrovert. You really only need a handful of good friends to be happy or find fulfillment. You’re not really needing a huge or high ability to make new friends, but for most people over 30, you’re going to need to make some new friends because your lifestyle choices will, hopefully, lead you to explore and have adventures that will take you out of your hometown, wherever you went to university or whatever.

It will help you to travel some parts of the world you’ve never been and maybe even take assignments in some exotic place for you, and there, when you land there, you’re going to need to make some new friends, even if just a few of them. So, it’s going to require a basic ability to meet new friends. [28:16.0]

Now, I have a master class that’s free on how to make new friends. Actually, I have two master classes on how to make new friends and how to meet new people, wherever you are, anywhere you go, and these are accessible at the DavidTianPhD.com website, and you go up to, again, the top navigation menu and the first item on the dropdown is the free master classes. Go and click on that. I think you can find it at the URL DavidTianPhD.com/masterclass.

Once you get to the point where you’re able to make enough new friends, the ability to make new friends in case you move or in case they move or something like that, or if you just feel like making new friends and that will help you meet the need for connection, though you don’t always need other people to meet your own need for connection. I cover this in my classes and in my courses, there are other ways to meet your need for connection, including in being out in nature or having a loving pet like a dog. Maybe don’t get a cat because they like to be on their own. Just kidding, cats can work too. [29:12.4]

Anyway, assuming now you have the ability, the basic ability to make a few new friends, you also at some point, after meeting the need for connection, might find yourself, if you’re listening to this particular podcast, but it will probably entice people who are looking for a relationship, so you already are aware of your need for romance and intimacy with an adult, sexual intimacy. If that’s the case, you’re going to need to have a basic ability to form romantic relationships.

It’s a catch-22 now, isn’t it? Because if you’re so needy, if you’re Level-1 needy—so you’re needy and you have overwhelming neediness, and, hopefully, you know it now because you’ve listened to the previous episode—your neediness will prevent you from attracting romantic partners that you’re interested in or prevent you from getting very far in terms of the depth of these romantic relationships, so it’s a catch 22. Now you have to address the neediness. [30:06.4]

It’s important to point out here that Level 2 is available. Maybe you won’t have an amazing life where you’re at the “it has to be really special” level. But you could get to the point where it’s a “take it or leave it” level, Level 2.

Getting up to Level 2 is like, even if you’re on a deserted island, I call it the castaway scenario like the Tom Hanks movie, ending up on a deserted island, it’s not going to be easy for you to get to a 10 out of 10 on your own. But you’ll be able to get up to a seven out of 10 on a regular basis and you’re hovering around five to seven most of the time, and you’re in this “take it or leave it” state when it comes to a relationship.

You don’t really need it that bad, but it’s like a nice to have, and you can get there just with a lot of friends that you really like or love, having a career or job that you really enjoy that helps you to get into flow, or having play, regular play, like hobbies or things that you really enjoy doing, maybe playing tennis or even video games that you really enjoy. While you’re playing them, you’re in a state of flow. You’re really happy, and then, most of your life is a five or seven out of 10. You’re in the state of “take it or leave it.” That’s actually better, and it could be a lot better depending on how happy you are on a day-to-day basis, than Level 1 neediness, so you get there at least, to that point of “take it or leave it.” [31:19.7]

Then to get to Level 3, for somebody who is not yet able to form romantic relationships, you can start to learn how to form romantic relationships, and I have a lot of free master classes on that. Again, DavidTianPhD.com/masterclass. I also have plenty of courses in my online course catalog, including Invincible, on how to get better at dating.

But the thing that will really take you to Level 3 is the therapeutic process, because the therapeutic process will help you to access your true self or your higher self, and only once you have access to your higher self will you be able to meet your own needs at the highest level, for love, for connection, for security, for significance. It will require accessing your higher self and the therapeutic process is the most direct and efficient and effective way of doing that. [32:12.1]

I have plenty of courses, including Freedom U, in my online course catalog. If you get Platinum Partnership, it includes all of these courses, and this will also include the courses True Self, Purpose, Heart, and the other courses, many other courses that have these meditative exercises that will help you to access your higher self.

In addition, of course, all along the way, when you’re going from Level-1 needy to Level 3 “it has to be really special,” you’re talking about lifestyle transformation and that’s really important—and I cover that in Lifestyle Mastery. Of course, that’s also included in my course catalog and is included in the Platinum Partnership.

Okay, so to recap, there are these three levels. The first level is the needy level and that’s where you’re at if you are desiring or desperate for, yearning for a relationship, and you’d rather be in a relationship than be with no one, to use the words of the listener who wrote in, and if you’re like that, you’re Level-1 needy and you’re going to sabotage and self-destruct any relationship that you end up in. [33:12.8]

Then there’s the second level, which is the “take it or leave it” level, and then there’s the third level, which is the best one to be in in terms of being ready and having the best chances of succeeding in a long-term relationship, the third level is the “it has to be really special” level.

To get from Level 1 to 3, you’re going to have to learn how to meet your own emotional needs yourself. A big part of this is improving your lifestyle so that you are able to access or meet your need for play on a regular consistent basis and at a high level within your own control and not need a woman to bring that excitement and enjoyment and meaning into your life.

I also mentioned how, in order to meet your own emotional needs yourself, you’re going to need a basic or minimal level of social skills to make new friends and then to form a romantic relationship. Especially when it comes to the romantic or intimate relationship, your neediness will really make a big difference, and this is the catch-22. [34:12.4]

Not so much with friends, but it can as well. There’s a great movie, starring Paul Rudd, called I Love You, Man. It’s hilarious, but also quite accurate and poignant in a way, so I recommend that movie for people to watch on this issue of guys making friends later in their lives.

Anyway, now your neediness becomes the issue that prevents you from forming romantic relationships, and so now you can just aim for the Level 2 first, the “take it or leave it” level and the lifestyle changes will take you a long way to getting there to Level 2. But then to get to Level 3, you’re going to need the therapeutic process to be able to access your higher self, which is completely confident, but also compassionate and caring, and creative and calm, and connected or desiring connection with yourself, and this is the only way in which you will be able to meet consistent, in a healthy way, your own emotional needs for security, significance, connection, love, and fulfillment. It’s your higher self. [35:09.1]

Okay, on these different levels, lifestyle changes, your therapeutic process, but also learning social skills, all of these go into getting you from Level 1 to Level 3.

Very quickly now, I want to tell you a quick story of a client named Mark. Mark came to me at this needy level and he just wanted nothing more than to be in a relationship. He thought, David, if you can help me get into a relationship, my life will be perfect. “Everything else is going well,” he says. “But I’m just missing a relationship, and then it will really click for me.” He was even crying as he talked about his loneliness with that in terms of not having a relationship.

The deeper I dug, the more I discovered, no, as the rest of his life was not going well. It was not fulfilling. He played video games and he wasn’t doing it as a job or as a serious hobby or anything, but he was just kind of mindlessly playing these games for three hours a day. [35:58.7]

First, we started to dissect his lifestyle and moved him into developing a lifestyle that he really enjoyed. He started to pick up a musical instrument, something he was wanting to do for a lot of his life and never did. He got a personal trainer in his 30s. He was finally able to afford it. He got a personal trainer who helped him actually enjoy his workouts and he taught him how to do the workouts, and I think he only did 10 sessions with that trainer, but he learned enough to be able to use other online workouts or YouTube workouts to continue his fitness journey, and then he started getting into yoga.

Alongside this, he was doing the therapeutic process, and that took several months. I think it almost took a year of therapeutic work on a weekly basis for him to be able to access his higher self and discover the parts of himself that was holding this loneliness and this vulnerability. He was able to be with them, develop a relationship with them, and go through the therapeutic process that I’ve outlined in so many other episodes. Along the way, he was continuing to make these lifestyle changes. [36:57.3]

At first, it was just sort of him by himself in a way. He had a trainer, but then he started working out on his own. Of course, his body changed. He got more energy. Then he was picking up this instrument, but, mostly, he’d see his private teacher once a week and then he’d practice by himself in his room. So, that wasn’t really helping his lifestyle in terms of social life. But it was helping his lifestyle in terms of he’s finally doing things that he enjoys and helped him meet his need for play, as well as his need for competence and autonomy.

Then his music teacher told them he was ready to enter the student recital, and when he played at the recital, he made a lot more friends there naturally who played the same or complementary instruments, and he started to get a band together and to be part of a band, so now he’s playing with other people.

Then he got to the point where the band was playing kind of for free in other venues, and then that helped him meet his need for significance as well in a healthy way, though not a way that’s very frequent. But it was a way that also helped them feel connected and he was having more fun, and it was a much more social aspect.

So, in terms of the lifestyle, you can take something you really enjoy that, unfortunately, you might play alone, but then just tweak it a bit so that it involves other people and put you out in a venue where you’re going to meet other people who also either enjoy this hobby or this activity, or who also engage in that activity. [38:13.8]

Another social aspect was the yoga studio he was joining. He didn’t get one-on-one yoga training. He joined classes, and at these classes, he became a regular. It didn’t happen right away, but over the course of some months, because he was a regular, he started to meet the same sort of people and he struck up a conversation with them, and it was natural for them to ask him to join these different yoga events that were going on and the teachers were really encouraging. So, he became part of this yoga community. He started to have this thriving social life just by doing things that he thought were like play and fun, but also healthy, physically healthy, but also mentally and emotionally healthy. Along the way, of course, he’s still doing the therapeutic process. [38:50.1]

You can see how these lifestyle changes paired with the therapeutic process gets him from this needy love, where he’s not really enjoying his life on his own and pining after a woman to complete him or to make his life exciting, moved him up into a “take it or leave it.” He’s kind of content. But then finally moving into a level where he really enjoys his current lifestyle and his current routines, and his friends that he hangs out with and what he does on the weekends and in the evenings, and even his job. He started to become a lot more outgoing and was getting promoted in small ways and then in big ways later on, being put in charge of more and more of a bigger team.

And then he met someone special and he didn’t mention it to me until a few weeks in. He was like, Yeah, I met this woman. I don’t know if I should take the leap to becoming more exclusive. I know, David, you say it’s important to pace yourself. You don’t want to just see her every day right away because then your objectivity is sort of clouded.

But he wanted to see her more than once a week, and, hey, do what you want, as long as you know the general consequences of these different strategies or choices that you’re making. So, he started to see her twice a week and then they were meeting more often, and now they’re engaged and it’s pretty amazing. [40:08.0]

Mark was living a life that he really enjoyed as a single guy, and in a way, he was loath to commit, because he’s dated other women, but when they wanted to meet him more often, he’s like, I’ve got this other thing going on, I’ve got this other thing. I don’t really want to meet you that badly, you know? I’ve got one open night a week and I’ll slot you in there, but I don’t really have much more open than that.

That’s how fun his life was, until he met this one that he was tempted to prioritize meeting her over this other really fun thing that he had planned instead, and then inviting her to his social events where he was introducing her to people that he’s known for a while and really cared about.

I’d been seeing him regularly for the first several months and then we sort of tapered it off to a monthly frequency, so in that way, I was able to stay in touch with him for over three years, and over that time, even during Coid, and especially when the restrictions were lifted, his social life just exploded and now he’s engaged and excited to be married. Now we’re seeing each other more often because the coming nuptials have brought up issues that he had not been aware of before and parts that he had not been aware of before, so this is the next stage for him. [41:14.8]

In any case, you can see how you can take a guy from Level-1 needy or how a guy can be at Level-1 needy and can grow out of that to Level 3 and be ready to succeed in a long-term relationship. If this interests you, check out my website. I’ve got online courses. I’ve got the free master classes. Subscribe to my email list.

If you’ve liked this episode, subscribe to the podcast. And if you have any thoughts whatsoever, please comment. Give me feedback. Email me. I’d love to get feedback on anything I’ve said here. I’d love to hear what you think. And if this has helped you in any way, please share it with anyone else that you think could benefit from it.

Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. David Tian, signing out. [41:56.4]

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