The modern dating scene is responsible for why so many people—both men and women alike—struggle with creating meaningful connections. Dating apps treat love like a slot machine, epitomizing this problem. Then, the red pill movement capitalizes on this, duping you into sacrificing your love life and mental health and worse.

But there’s a silver lining…

Everyone is searching for connection. And by focusing on showing up as your authentic self, you put yourself leagues ahead of other men in the modern dating scene.

In this episode, you’ll discover why authenticity is crucial for dating and relationships, how to share your authentic self with others, and how to keep the passion alive once you find a deep and meaningful relationship.

Listen now.

 Show highlights include:

  • The truth behind why dating is harder in 2024 than ever before (0:44)
  • How being too vulnerable in your relationship can be a subtle form of manipulation (even if you’ve heard this is the key to your relationship’s success elsewhere) (2:35)
  • Why dating apps are like a slot machine for your love life that undermines your confidence and self-esteem (4:51)
  • The insidious “False Self” trap that works for dating apps, but sabotages your chance of creating meaningful connections and becomes toxic for your mental health (9:13)
  • How to keep the romance alive in a long-term relationship (even after the “passionate attraction” naturally fades) (12:34)
  • Have your conversations devolved into “did you pay the bills?” and “what’s for dinner?” … Here’s how to rekindle the flame when this happens (13:08)
  • Asking yourself this one question is the quickest way to attract better dates, increase your confidence, and even land promotions at work (16:45)

    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 now.

For more about David Tian, go here:

    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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Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in relationships, attraction, success, and fulfillment. 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, we’re diving into a topic that’s more relevant than ever in 2024 and it’s about why it’s so hard to be authentic in dating and relationships. In this episode, we’re going to unpack the real problems that lurk beneath the surface of how most people approach dating and relationships today.

Let’s start with the hard truth. The dating scene now in 2024 is fraught with challenges. We live in a world where the norms of dating are constantly shifting. The overwhelming influence of social media and dating apps have transformed how we interact, how we meet people, and, most importantly, how we present ourselves to potential partners, and here’s what gets overlooked: in the midst of adapting to these changes, authenticity often takes a backseat. [01:14.4]

Many of us, maybe even you, are creating and projecting a version of ourselves that we think others will find attractive. This is where the crux of the problem lies. When you’re not being your authentic self, every connection you make is built on a shaky foundation. It’s like wearing a mask that you can never take off, constantly playing a role, rather than being genuine.

Let’s talk about the consequences of this. If you’re always putting on a show, how can you expect to form a real connection that’s truly deep and meaningful? How can you expect to be loved for who you really are if you’re not showing your real self? It’s exhausting, isn’t it, keeping up this facade, maintaining these false personas? It’s not just draining. It stifles your ability to connect on a real genuine level. [02:07.3]

In this episode, we’re going to break down why authenticity is so crucial in dating and relationships, and why so many of us find it challenging to be our authentic selves. We’ll explore the societal pressures, the personal fears, and the internal conflicts that hold many of us back. But, more importantly, I’m going to show you how understanding and tackling these underlying issues can lead you towards more meaningful and fulfilling connections.

The focus of this episode here is on authenticity, not vulnerability, and over the past couple of years, I’ve been seeing on the internet, a lot of content with titles with this keyword of “vulnerability.” I think a lot of guys have misunderstood the proper place for vulnerability in their healing and growth.

So many young men are so fixated on trying to attract women that even when they get to these more therapeutic concepts, like vulnerability, they’re thinking of it entirely or primarily in terms of attracting women. They think, Vulnerability, oh, I should use it to get women, and if I’m vulnerable, then women will like me more. [03:12.7]

No, that’s not the proper place for vulnerability. In fact, I’ve dedicated an entire podcast episode on how vulnerability or voicing your insecurities is often a form of emotional manipulation. Vulnerability is great and necessary. It’s required when you’re doing the deep work with your therapist or when you’re with yourself and your own parts.

When you’re doing your own therapeutic work in meditation, or an introspection, or reflection or when you’re being with your parts, you’ve got to have the courage and the strength to be vulnerable. There’s a minimal threshold of vulnerability that needs to be there in order to make progress in the therapeutic process. But the therapeutic process is primarily you being with yourself and your parts or with a professional therapist, or as I’ve come to see in the past few years, a small therapeutic group of supportive members. [04:05.8]

By the time you’re properly ready to be “vulnerable,” quote-unquote, in a dating context, it shouldn’t feel that scary to be vulnerable for you because you’ve already done the therapeutic work on your own or with your therapist, or in your therapeutic group so that you don’t need her to comfort you or to caretake your emotions. You’re able to do that for yourself and you’re simply pulling back the curtain to let her see what’s going on inside.

Now, this is where vulnerability connects with authenticity in the modern dating context, but the modern dating context is very convoluted. We’re living in an era where dating apps and social media aren’t just part of our dating lives. For many young people, they are their dating lives. The landscape of modern dating is dominated by these platforms and they’re shaping how we connect or, more accurately, how we struggle to connect. [05:00.0]

Let’s break this down. The design of modern dating apps, they’re like a slot machine for your love life. Swipe, match, chat, it’s all engineered to be addictive with dopamine spikes in just the right times, and, of course, guaranteeing that they are not fulfilling. You’ve probably noticed how these apps emphasize the superficial, your best photos, a witty bio, that perfect one-liner. It’s all about making that instant impression. But what about the deeper stuff, like the real you? That often gets lost in the shuffle.

Let’s talk about the emotional toll, especially for men. The structure of these apps creates a dynamic, where a small percentage of men, typically the most physically attractive, receive a disproportionate amount of the female attention. This leaves a large majority of men often feeling overlooked or inadequate, or in despair or helpless. It’s brutal out there. You swipe, you match, you get your hopes up, and then silence, and it can really mess with your self-confidence and your self-esteem. [06:07.0]

On the flip side, women on these platforms and apps are inundated with attention. It’s overwhelming to them to the point where it becomes like background noise. This bombardment can lead to a kind of desensitization to genuine connection. Attention, which should be meaningful, becomes cheap and plentiful. And it’s a paradox, men struggling to get noticed and women overwhelmed by the very attention that men are striving to get.

Now let’s contrast these experiences with what many of us actually want. Society sells us this narrative of casual fun of endless choices and no-strings-attached adventurers. But peel back the layers and what do you find? A deep-seated desire for something more, something real. We’re hardwired to seek connection, to find someone who gets us who sticks around when the going gets tough. [07:05.8]

The reality is, the promise of casual fun often leaves us feeling empty in the end. Sure, it can be exciting at first, the thrill of the chase, the buzz of a new match, but over time, the novelty will wear off, we start to crave something deeper, something more enduring than a string of fleeting encounters. This disconnect between what these apps offer and what we truly yearn for is at the heart of so much frustration in modern dating. We’re playing a game that’s rigged against the very thing we’re seeking, genuine, lasting connections, and the longer we play, the more we risk losing sight of what we’re really looking for.

But there’s good news. Understanding this disconnect is the first step towards changing your approach. Recognizing that you’re not alone in feeling this way, that it’s a product of the system, not a reflection of your worth, that’s powerful. It’s about shifting your focus from mere quantity to real quality, from just profiles to authentic people. [08:14.0]

My audience is still mostly men, and these days, a relatively common response for men who have been burned by these dating apps and these skewed dating dynamics is the manosphere and red pill ideologies. It’s a world where frustration and resentment boil over into Machiavellian strategies, promising power and control in a game that, to them, seems really rigged.

First, let’s dig into why these philosophies seem so appealing. Imagine this, you’re a guy who’s been trying to make sense of the modern dating world. You’re putting in the effort, but you’re not seeing the results. You feel overlooked, undervalued. Along comes this ideology that seems to have all the answers, it tells you that you’ve been lied to, that there’s a secret formula to winning at dating and relationships. It’s appealing, right? It’s like finding a cheat code in a game that you’ve been losing. [09:07.8]

But here’s the thing: this approach has some serious downsides. First off, it often leads to the creation and maintenance of a false self. You start to play a role, projecting what you think is a more attractive or powerful version of yourself. But this actually isn’t you. It’s just a mask, and the longer you wear this mask, the more you start to lose touch with who you really are. This self-alienation doesn’t just hurt your chances of forming real connections. It messes with your sense of self.

Then there’s the way that these ideologies often frame relationships with women. It’s not about mutual respect or genuine connection, or healthy relationships. Instead, it becomes a game of manipulation, a power struggle. This mindset is not only unhealthy for your relationships with women, it’s toxic for your own mental health, happiness, fulfillment, and joy. It turns dating into a battlefield, not an opportunity for connection and growth. [10:12.3]

Let’s not forget about the victim mentality that often comes with this territory. It’s always someone else’s fault, society’s fault, women’s fault, the system. This victim mindset keeps you stuck. It robs you of the power to change your own circumstances. Instead of looking inward, identifying areas for self-growth and change, you’re stuck pointing fingers outwards. This isn’t just unproductive. It’s a barrier to genuine emotional development and maturity.

Here’s the most crucial part. Understanding this trap is the first step in avoiding it. It’s about recognizing that while the frustrations are real, the solutions offered by these ideologies are not only flawed, but actually seriously harmful. It’s about finding a path that leads to genuine self-improvement and healthy relationships, and happiness, not quick fixes and power plays. [11:05.5]

I’ve dedicated two entire podcast episodes to breaking down the red pill ideologies, so I’m going to leave it here for now and recommend that if you want to look deeper into this, check out those two podcast episodes on the red pill, because now I want to shift gears to discuss the mess of modern relationship dynamics.

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

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

If you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There’s the challenge of keeping the passion alive, of communicating effectively and skillfully, and, of course, not letting the routine dull the romance.

Okay, so let’s talk about passion. Scientifically speaking, there’s a big difference between passionate attraction, that fiery intense, almost obsessive kind of chemistry and infatuation, and companionate attraction, which is deeper and more enduring.

Here’s a fact: scientific studies show that passionate attraction tends to peak and then decline over time. But, hey, that doesn’t mean the end of romance. That’s just a tendency that’s been shown in the studies, but it’s not set in stone. You can rekindle the passion, even in a long-term relationship. [13:07.5]

Take Mark and Lisa, for instance. They were married for 15 years and they came to me feeling like their relationship was stuck in a rut. The passion had fizzled out. Their conversations had turned into a series of “Did you pay the bills?” and “What’s for dinner?”

But as we worked together, they began to rediscover each other. It wasn’t about recreating the fiery passion of their early days. It was about finding new ways to connect as they were further on in their lives, to appreciate the deeper, more companionate love that they had grown into.

And communication, let’s not forget about that. Effective communication in a long-term relationship is like the oil in an engine. Without it, things start to seize up. It’s not just about talking more. It’s about talking better, more effectively, more skillfully. Understanding each other’s communication styles, learning to listen as much as you speak, these are all skills. In fact, these are skills that I cover and go into depth into in my program, Emotional Mastery, in the interpersonal-skills modules, as well as in my course, Rock Solid Relationships. [14:14.8]

Then there’s routine. This is another big one. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, into a rut, especially when life gets busy, but here’s the thing: routine doesn’t have to mean boring. It’s about finding joy in the small moments, shaking things up now and then keeping the surprise alive, like Mark and Lisa. They decided to start a weekly date night, nothing fancy, just time set aside for just the two of them. And you know what? It made a world of difference. They started looking forward to these nights planning little surprises for each other, planning well enough ahead that they could arrange the babysitter for the kids. This time set aside for just the two of them, it brought back a spark that they thought was lost. [14:55.7]

Now, it wasn’t as easy as just doing a weekly date night. What they did during the date nights was to incorporate the skills that they were learning and practicing. But just prioritizing that time for each other, was communicating to themselves unconsciously how important their relationship was to each other. It was reinforcing their commitment to each other by investing this time and effort.

Remember, keeping the passion alive in a long-term relationship is possible, and it isn’t about grand gestures or trying to recreate the past. It’s about growing together, finding new ways to connect and appreciating the journey that you’re on together. It’s about building something that’s not just hot and fiery, but warm, endearing, and deeply satisfying.

Now, moving on to something that’s really at the heart of what we’ve been getting into and what we’re all about here, the quest for authenticity in relationships and social interactions. Now, let’s get something straight. Being true to yourself isn’t just some feel-good phase. It’s the foundation of any healthy relationship. Whether you’re swiping on a dating app or celebrating another anniversary, authenticity will make all the difference. [16:07.7]

When you’re authentic, you’re not just being honest with your partner. You’re being honest with yourself. It’s about knowing who you are, what you want and what you stand for. This self-awareness is crucial. It shapes how you show up in a relationship, how you communicate, and how you connect.

Now let’s talk about the impact of authenticity on relationship dynamics. When you’re genuine, it sets the tone for the entire relationship. It invites openness, trust, and deeper connection. Your partner isn’t falling for a facade. They’re getting to know the real you, and that’s the whole point. That’s powerful.

Let me tell you about a client of mine. Let’s call him Alex. Alex came to me a while back struggling with his dating life. He’d been putting on a show, trying to be the guy he thought women wanted, but it wasn’t working. Together, we worked on peeling back those layers, getting to the core of who Alex really was. [17:03.3]

It was tough for him, a lot of deep-rooted stuff to work through, a lot of burdens from his childhood that were largely unconscious when he first started. But he persisted and he got there. And you know what happened? His dating life transformed. He started forming authentic, genuine connections, connections that were real and meaningful. He wasn’t just getting more dates. He was getting better, more fulfilling connections/

It wasn’t just his dating life that improved. Alex found that being more authentic changed how he felt about himself. He was more confident, more at ease. He wasn’t constantly second-guessing himself or trying to fit into some mold. He was just being Alex, and people responded to that, not just in his love life, but in his friendships, at his work, his whole world. [17:49.7]

So, here’s the takeaway for you. Start that journey of self-discovery. Ask yourself the hard questions. Who are you really? What do you truly want from a relationship? It’s not about finding quick answers. It’s about starting a conversation with yourself authentically, genuinely. This is a deep conversation that will take some time, but it’s necessary and it’s worth it. Remember, authenticity isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. It’s something you work on every day in every interaction. It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s always, always worth it.

As we’re winding down for today, let me just tease you with what’s coming up in the next episode. We’ve talked a lot about the importance of authenticity, especially in dating and relationships. But the big question remains how. How do you become more authentic? How do you strip away the layers of pretense and really show up as you truly are? That’s what we’re going to dive into in the next episode. Don’t miss it.

Let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve covered today so far. We delved into the reality of modern dating and hookup culture, how it often emphasizes superficial connections over deeper and more meaningful relationships. We talked about the emotional toll that this takes, the loneliness, the sense of inadequacy, and the struggle to form lasting bonds. [19:07.4]

We also critiqued the manosphere and red pill ideologies, discussing their appeal and the dangerous consequences of adopting such a mindset, how it can lead to the creation of a false self, perpetuate unhealthy attitudes towards women, foster a victim mentality, and ultimately hinder genuine emotional growth. We explored the underlying quest for authenticity in relationships, discussing the transformative impact of being true to yourself and how it can completely alter the dynamics of your relationships.

Now, let’s get real about the consequences of ignoring this advice on being authentic. Imagine a man who keeps playing the part who keeps up the facade. What happens to him? Over time, he loses touch with who he really is. His relationships become shallower and shallower based on a version of himself that isn’t even genuine. He might get attention, sure, but it’s not for who he truly is. It’s just for the mask he wears, and if he’s honest with himself, he senses this. [20:08.5]

This lack of authenticity will spiral into a deep sense of isolation. When you’re not authentic, even when you’re surrounded by people, there’s this underlying loneliness and it can become overwhelming, because you’re not actually connecting. You’re there physically, but not as yourself. And the worst part? You start believing that if people knew the real you, that, by the way, you haven’t actually shown them, they wouldn’t accept you, wouldn’t love you, and this belief can be crippling.

But it doesn’t end there. This approach to relationships can bleed into other areas of your life. You might find yourself succeeding in playing roles at work or with friends, even with family, but at what cost? You end up feeling like an imposter in your own life. It’s crucial to understand the importance of authenticity, not just for healthy relationships, but for your overall wellbeing and happiness, and joy and fulfillment, and love. In the next episode, we’ll break down how to cultivate this authenticity step by step. [21:12.5]

Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you liked it, hit a like, subscribe or follow on whatever platform you’re listening to this on. Leave a review or a really high rating if you really liked it, 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 to this. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. Until then, David Tian, signing out.

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