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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.

Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore.

The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man” (, 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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“The Man Up Show” Ep.84 – The Gift of Giving Within Relationships

The Gift of Giving Within Relationships

  • David Tian Ph.D. shares how you can increase somebody’s attraction for you.

  • David Tian Ph.D. reveals what happens if you deny your partner the gift of giving.

  • In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. emphasizes the importance of vulnerability and connection.

David Tian: Hey! Stop. In episode 84 of Man Up, I talk about the gift of giving if within relationships.

[Intro Music]

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

[Music Fades]

Hey, it’s David Tian, Ph.D. and welcome to episode 84 of Man Up, I am back in Bangkok. Thank you for continuing to watch, it means a lot to me. I’ve been travelling quite a lot more than I usually do which is pretty crazy. For the past 2 ½ weeks I’ve been jetting around Japan.

Well that was for 2 ½ weeks earlier the past month. And then, flew in to Singapore and immediately went into method acting, a full day workshop then did a full week of two-hour training sessions in MMA. So it would be an hour everyday in BJJ and then another hour in a striking discipline – in this case was Boxing and Muay Thai. So those were all disciplines that I have not had formal training in so 7 days of that was pretty intense and my body was pretty beat up. Lots of just wear and tear, I’m taping up all my fingers now especially the weaker ones like the pinky and this joint here and all that and I was feeding a lot.

I thought I would lose weight but I ended up being so famished that I’d pig out and just carbo load after the workouts. But anyway, a lot of team meetings with the team in Singapore and building infrastructure and stuff like that and a lot of researching and reading as well as catching up with my friends. A lot going on and back in Bangkok now, this is my haven where I do most of my work and just focus and I have a great system set up here and a great support network here to just get everything done.

So it’s my time to hunker down and get stuff done, alright. So anyway, back to episode 84, let’s get this done. Got an email from Daryl. This is on a question that was based on a video he saw where I talk about investment. If you want to have a relationship that grows, both parties need to invest in each other. Not only just invest but actually make each other stronger.

He says – it was a long email but he says he’s had trouble in his life receiving gifts which is already quite a lot of self-awareness on his part. But also he finds himself, when it comes to paying the bill, even when she offers, he’ll immediately negate that and makes sure that he pays for everything that he wants to be, the one who’s giving and then so on. This is fine, I mean it’s great to want to help people and stuff like that.

But if you don’t allow the other person to invest in you, you’re not allowing them to grow their attraction for you. And the white knight syndrome and the fixer mentality which arises from your certain type of childhood, or more accurately, a strategy in response to your childhood and the way that you viewed your mother growing up when you were growing up all contributed to a situation where, if you find your mother’s a perfect woman, I mean basically we often put our mothers on a pedestal.

That’s a normal thing. It’s a good thing if she’s a good mother, you would normally do that. If your mother was a prostitute or something, you’d end up taking a different road. That’s subject for a different video but most of the guys who come to me, many of my friends, well pretty much all of them including myself, have wonderful mothers. That often means that, first of all you couldn’t imagine her having sex. That’s just “Aaargghh!”, gross to you.

But secondly, and more relevantly for you which is more relevant to you, Daryl, is that you end up making her a paradigm of women and you end up putting – seeing – women through that lens. That is where the Madonna whore complex is so strong, the force is strong in this young padawan… the Madonna whore complex is really strong in these sorts of men.

Men who are, feel like they need to earn attraction or earn approval, improve themselves in order to be worthy of love and attention and affection and sex, really. This is also why they feel like it’s a cop out in some way to hook up with a woman who… maybe they paid for it.

Generally, these guys have a very violent rejection of anything that smacks of that because in order for them to be, to have good sex, they need to feel like they earned it and these guys will often fall into a trap with a certain type of woman. A woman who’s very prevalent and becoming more and more prevalent in the modern world.

That’s a subject of another video but anyway, back to the question why would, actually he understands the principle for investment and the cost-worth connection that the more you put, the more effort and time you put into something, the more you value it.

The more you feel like it’s worth to you.

So if you want to increase somebody’s attraction for you, you simply get them to invest time and effort into you and you want to encourage that. Every little bit of it. At the beginning you may only be able to get a small amount of investment and then you just continue to increase it.

Now, a healthy relationship would be where both parties are investing equally and so you make each other better and stronger and of more value at the same time so no one needs to stick their neck out too far. They just match and take turns raising the investment.

That’s a great thing and that’s a necessary thing. But he has trouble doing that so what happens even when she’s really attracted to him at the beginning when she first meets him, I’m saying even because if you’re a white knight that is you want to sacrifice your everything for an ideal or in this case a woman that you’ve just met, then generally that attraction won’t even get off the ground.

Because right from the beginning you’re putting too much emotional investment into the conversation, into the texting, into the date itself, the first date. So she feels it and doesn’t want to and is repelled by it. But even in a situation where maybe because of her own psychological background or issues, she’s interested in that, so let’s say that, for the sake of or hypothetically, that attraction happens in the beginning.

Because in order for him to feel worthy of the love, so she loves him, alright she gives him love or gives him something approaching love, in order for him to feel worthy of that, he has to do all this extra stuff in order to meet her here that he thinks, “Okay, she’s loving me here”. That’s such a big thing in his childhood and in his life he’s had to achieve in order to be worthy of that attention, affection, approval.

So then he works really hard. But in reality for her, she’s still down here. She’s just being herself. She’s like, “I really like you” and it’s not like a gargantuan effort for her to do anything like that. It’s just that she feels that way but he perceives it up here and so he works, really hard now he’s way up here. He’s over invested because the investment disparity is so big that she gets repelled by that much by that same amount.

Then the whole thing falls apart.

You see a lot of these so called nice guys wondering why everything’s falling apart the more that they put in. That’s because they’re not asking her to put in an equal amount of emotional investment or they go so far over in their initial period that it’s too heavy for her to match that.

So they go way out of that comfort zone for her… of most women. So a healthy relationship would be like this, instead of the nice guys suddenly, with a white knight suddenly, getting up here really fast and over investing. So a lot of guys especially, well just a lot of guys who write to me, because this is the most common problem, the most repelling characteristic as a guy who can’t receive love instead feels like “no!” refuses and this is almost like an Asian thing that’s like “no, no, no” refuse the compliment.

And the Chinese would be like… “no… I’m just ok!”. In fact, that’s like a micro level of receiving compliments, not even really a gift. But receiving that takes training and skill because in practice because they’re not used to doing them, they’re not used to getting that kind of affection, approval, attention in love just for being themselves. They have to earn it, they have to achieve it.

So keeping all of these in mind if you are an achiever in your life, you’ll probably fall into this trap as a man and if your mother was a very good mother, probably like she was a wonderful woman, and not like a cool girl who, just more like of a pure woman, you’d probably fall into this trap of women that you date because you need to feel worthy of that paragon of virtue.

It’ll make it hard for a woman, your age or younger, to get into… to reciprocate and this is because you’re denying her of the gift of giving. You’re denying her the pleasure of giving. You’re denying her the opportunity to contribute. Not only does it kill attraction, as I’ve mentioned in previous videos and Limitless and so on, and I can’t remember where since I’ve said it so many times, you’re not only denying them the opportunity to grow the attraction and as a side note, most men feel like… The attraction works like this like you’re really impressive and the girls want to want you where they fall in love with you.

No, no, no… that’s not actually how love works. That’s how respect and fear work, that you’re really impressive. Love works through vulnerability and connection. Like a little puppy. The little puppy doesn’t have to do anything, it’s just super cute just by being itself. And the more vulnerable like it’s trying to stand and then it falls, the more you love it, the more you pick it up and take care of it.

That’s something that a lot of guys don’t understand. Instead of being themselves which are, given their emotional maturity is like a puppy, really, instead of being vulnerable, and open and saying here’s who I am because that takes a lot of courage actually.

Instead of doing that, they’re trying to be fierce like fierce guard dogs and just showing their teeth, showing what they can do as if that would make us love that dog. But it doesn’t. Instead of trying to impress a girl, you should never be in the mindset of trying to impress anybody, really.

You should just be in the moment and just be in the moment. Focus on the other person, what they’re saying, thinking, feeling and interacting with that without pretense or agenda. That’s ideal, obviously.

So that was off tangent, now the point was, damn it, I lost it. That was a long tangent so I kind of lost it. Deny her the gift of giving, so a lot of guys are, they understand how, if you don’t allow her to invest, you don’t grow attraction and they understand that intellectually. But here’s another thing that they don’t understand that there is a lot of pleasure in giving. And now teaching this the gift of giving.

I’m telling this to you as a man who is suffering from a white knight syndrome, it’s a… Daryl… and I did too, I’m not putting you down…there’s nothing wrong with you. You just need to grow out of that. That’s all. I was in that for 35 years of my life really.

And for all I know, I am still growing out of that white knight syndrome because for many historical reasons, we as men have been fed that lie – the Disney lie, it’s not just Disney it comes from these fairy tales – of the knight in shining armor coming to rescue the damsel in distress in the tower wherein all she’s like, he’s like kill all these dragons, he’s like kill all these goblins and trolls and enemy and scales his tower and vanquishes the dragon. And after all of these adversities comes into the tower in order to rescue a sleeping woman.

She freaking slept through the whole thing and then he earned it. He earned her hand. It’s like bullshit man. It’s actually very sexist. But anyway, you’re raised on that as all of us were and that’s infected your thinking. Hey, if you really want gender equality, it’s both ways. I think Disney, the cool movies are starting to pick up on that. But anyway, that’s what we’ve been fed. So you got to earn it. That’s the white knight syndrome.

Now, the point of this video is about the gift of giving. That one of greatest pleasures in life, one of the purest pleasures in life is giving without expectation of return. If you haven’t done that yourself, if you haven’t evolved to that level, I say that humbly because I didn’t really give without expectation of return in terms of my philanthropy or charity work until past couple of years, really.

I did do some missions work, but missions work is more like converting people. Giving anonymously, giving without any recognition or telling people about it is incredibly freeing and empowering to you as an individual. And when you don’t let her give to you, you’re denying a very important part of the relationship and the feeling of pleasure in enjoy and happiness.

You’re denying that to her.

When she treats you to that dinner, when she buys you a gift which she goes out of her way to cook for you, when she does, when she invests in you, you need to receive that graciously. This is your duty now to receive it graciously as a skill as a maturity where you say thank you very much.

And you really appreciate it. You don’t say, “no, no, no, no, no, let me handle it”, you know and… that’s bullshit, that’s coming out of a place of insecurity, basically kicking a puppy in the face. Let the puppy do whatever, yes you can walk over and pick up the bone yourself and bring it to him, you can do it but then you’re denying the puppy the game, the pleasure of playing with you.

So when you play fast, you throw the bone out, yes you can go walk over and pick it up yourself and bring it back but allow the puppy to go and get it and bring it to you and reward it. This is an important part of that relationship. I’m not saying that women are puppies but you should be more of a puppy. But what I’m saying is, the giving itself is an extraordinary feeling and you need to allow in a relationship, you need to allow that to happen.

If he was a man who is so insecure because you don’t feel worthy of her, of the relationship, of happiness, of unconditional love, really, of not having to do anything and still getting it, getting what you want, getting the approval, getting the attention, getting the love, getting the attraction of not having to do anything in the moment to earn it, but just instead being in the moment and receiving it and appreciating it, if you’re not used to that, you feel like you have to work for it every time and only then will you feel settled and comfortable and know that’s coming from a place of deep insecurity.

If you’re a nice guy, if you’re an achiever, if from a young age you learn that you need to be a certain way and accomplish certain things in order to be appreciated by your parents and society and schools and your teachers and so on, your adult authority figures, understand that you’ve been conditioned into this. It’s not your fault and you’re not broken or anything.

You just need to evolve out of that.

Okay, that served its purpose at that time, now it’s time for you to grow up and evolve out of that and allow her and allow people to give to you so that you may give them that pleasure. Obviously, I don’t need to say to you, Daryl, or to the guys who are white knights naturally, you should be reciprocating as well in a relationship, that’s just a healthy thing. Give and take… 50-50… It’s not… give and take is the wrong phrase but to invest equally. Right? But that means you need to receive equally.

So there you go. The gift of giving. Give it to her as well. Alright, got to end this video. Way overtime and I see that the battery needs to be recharged. Okay! So until next time, join the private Facebook group, I will interact with you there, ask your questions there, get your answers there and I will pick from there to answer questions as well. I’ll see you inside the private Facebook group, just click on that link and request to join. Until next time, man up!