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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.115 – How To Date Women If You’re Really Conservative

How To Date Women If You’re Really Conservative

  • David Tian Ph.D. gives a background on dating in conservative places.

  • David Tian Ph.D. explains in this situation if the woman likes the man or not.

  • In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. discuss what happens when values clash.

David Tian: Boom! Stop. In Episode 115 of Man Up, I answer the question of: how to pursue a girl if you’re really conservative.


Masculinity for the intelligent man. I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and this is Man Up!

Hey! I’m David Tian, Ph. D, and for the past ten years, I’ve been helping tens of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success in life and love, and welcome to Episode 115 of Man Up. And I’m in Bali, Ubud still and I’m just showing you from the lounge area, there’s a beautiful pool. Let me show you here. I just wanted to show you this pool. Pretty cool. It’s pretty busy. Well, this counts as busy right now, afternoon tea time, pretty busy. Beautiful jungle valley around. So there you go, I’m going to have a seat and I’ll sit over here, maybe get some greenery in the background.

Okay, answering a question from the private Facebook group, and this time I don’t have anything to rest my arm on. I’ll do it here on this chair. Okay, cool. Cool, this works. Okay, it’s kind of dark but… how about that? There you go. There’s trees in the background. Okay, there’s a question from Lee in the private Facebook group. It’s a long question, and there’s some irrelevant factors in here but I’ll try to sum it up. So, Lee says he’d noticed this Malay girl studying in the school library, he’s 24 years old. He says, “I noticed her studying in the school library every day for the past three months.” He goes on and on about whether she’s Malay and all this.

He says he was afraid to make a move, nevertheless he took the plunge near the end of exams, to make a move I suppose, by writing a note complimenting her diligence and also with his phone number before passing it to her personally in the library. Okay, so I guess the context… I think it’s important that he’s in Singapore and he says he’s Chinese descent, that might give you some understanding of the context of all of this. Okay, so he passes this note to her complimenting her on her diligence. And then two days later, she thanks him for the note and wishes him luck for the exams. He responds by introducing himself and asks for her name. Okay, he gets her name then.

It was only then that he realizes that she was Malay. He says, “I don’t know whether she only knows that I’m Chinese at this point in time. But subsequently, I felt that our conversation became more like an interrogation with her giving a one sentence reply after several hours. It is probably worth mentioning that I tried to mirror her response time, and I talked only about school because I do not want to make her uncomfortable”, okay, just in the side, in case I forget, you’ve already made her feel uncomfortable by only talking about school.

So anyway, going back to it, you talked only about school because you didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by asking too much personal stuff at this initial stage. After receiving a one sentence reply four times, he says he started to feel uneasy about her opinion towards him, and decided to stop replying and then posted on the Facebook group. “I don’t know whether she texted me because she is interested in me or just being polite.” Okay, “Even if she’s interested, I have mixed feelings,” he says, “Because I wanted to know her opinion regarding sensitive issues about race and religion, but I never had the chance because we have not reached the stage where it is appropriate to raise it.”

“My question is,” he says, “How should I proceed from here? Is there no hope for a relationship with this girl?” And then he apologizes again in case it sounds inappropriate. Okay, so there are 11 comments pretty much immediately after he posted that by different people, and a lot of them were very well-meaning comments, just basic comments like, “Hey, go out and ask her for a coffee or something, be proactive. Ask her out, keep it casual, don’t talk about race and religion so much. Stop focusing on these things. It’s too early for things like that.” So these are very, very good comments.

But you know, I’ve been coaching for over ten years and let me tell you this: Lee isn’t ready to get those comments yet because he’s living in a previous era. Lee and many Singaporean boys… He’s 24 years old, he should’ve gone through the rites of passage of being a man by this point, but for everyone outside Singapore, understand that he is 3rd or 4th year university as a 24 year old and still very much with the sort of adolescent mindset when it comes to dating. So basically, what he did was he saw a girl, three months or three weeks and wrote a note to her complimenting her on her diligence, hand-passed that note to her and then over text just talked about school.

So, just so you guys understand the context of that… Understand where that’s coming from. That’s a great world. I mean, that’s the world of super-conservative, just really traditional courtship. That’s the world where the… in India, where they have the arranged marriages, it still kind of makes sense because they’re still doing this super-formal dance of, “Hey, do you want to be my girlfriend?” And he’s already thinking ahead to marriage with her and he just learned her name three days ago. They haven’t even had a real conversation yet. The only conversation they’ve ever had was over text and she replied with thank yous and one sentence replies, and yet he’s already thinking about race and religion and whether they can get married.

The issue here is, in case you guys don’t know about the Singapore context, the general sense, from what I understand of Malay marriages, is that a Muslim Malay male is permitted to marry outside the Muslim religion, but a Malay woman is only permitted to marry another Muslim man. So if you’re Chinese and you’re not Muslim, you’re supposed to convert in order for that marriage to happen under Muslim law. I think that’s the issue, right? So it’s not just, “Oh, he’s talking about race and religion”, he’s actually looking at marriage. That’s the issue, and I’m assuming he hasn’t thought really about converting yet. But like, that’s where his mind is.

So, this is interesting, right? I was talking about this with some more Singaporean people. It’s not my place to tell somebody what their values are. If he wants to live in that world, power to him. I guess the wake-up call for him is, there are very few people who are still living in that world, mostly males. Actually, just a shout out to those people. Not so much a shout out, but I just want to acknowledge the fact that there are a lot of mid 20s, and I would say up to mid-30s, Singaporean men, boys, males, Singaporean males, who have views like that when it comes to dating, courtship; that the proper way to do things is to lay everything out like a contract already, have it all clear, a pathway all the way to marriage before embarking on it. And then when they do, it’s a very serious thing, all the way to marriage, with clear obligations and responsibilities and a clear pathway forward.

Basically, like 18th century courtship in the rest of the world. That’s where they live. They live in 18th Century Jane Austen courtship world. And in fact, there’s a lot more drama in Jane Austen than they’re expecting to have. They want it to be basically look for a wife, “She looks acceptable. Let’s start dating in order to get married.” And there are religious conservatives who suggest this as a way of going forward, and I have nothing against that. I definitely don’t think that the better way to do it is the liberal fuck-everything, have lots of sex until you’re satiated with so much sex and then settle down. That’s not any better.

It’s just, the harsh reality is that if somebody is living in the modern MTV Hollywood world of dating, but you, Lee, are living in the 18th century courtship, arranged marriages almost, world of dating. That if you then try to bridge those worlds, you will fail. The guy who is in 18th century will lose every time. It’s boring, it’s constricting, there’s no spontaneity, there’s no freedom, there’s no fun, there’s no adventure, did I say spontaneity? There’s no independence, so you’re going to lose. Welcome to the 21st century.

The thing is, I feel bad telling him, “It’s the 21st century now”, because it’s not like the 21st century is inherently any better, it’s just that that’s the way people are. And I know that there are Malay women, and not just Malay but females in Singapore who still are living with these sort of approach to dating, but they’re few and far between. And it’s very hard for traditional societies to be protected in a highly-connected-to-the-internet type of society. Because all you got to do is switch on your computer, hop on Google or hop on your Facebook and you’ll be inundated with Justin Bieber, and Kardashians, and Hollywood MTV and all those values being thrown at you.

You know, I know Singapore. When I moved there in 2008, eight years ago, it was popping bottles and parties and everything and people kept telling me, “Oh, it’s so conservative.” I’m like, “Where is the conservatism here?” [LAUGHS] Everywhere I see, people just hooking up. And you know admittedly, I never really made it out to the heartland until like two years in, but there was plenty, plenty of liberal partying and all that. So of course, I just skip the generations. The parents in 2008, the people in their 50s were super conservative, were generally, but the elites were not.

The middle class and lower classes were more conservative, more of like where Lee’s coming from, so more like 19th century kind of thing. But the young people in their 20s and teens were definitely MTV Hollywood already and you can’t compete. Like, if you’re coming from a traditional background and you’re trying to appeal to a girl who just wants to be free and have fun, you’re not going to be able to compete with that. She might, in her mid-30s or in her 30s, late 20s, will be looking to settle down. Or maybe if she matures very quickly, emotionally, she’ll be ready to settle down with a guy like you, Lee, the way you are now. But the chances are not high on that.

So, the harsh truth is, Lee, if you really want to attract the young good-looking women in Singapore, you have a lot to learn. And a lot of that learning doesn’t have to do with strategies, and techniques, and methods and what to say, because that’s easy; that’s easily accessible. I have tons of free courses on that. Just go to, watch some of these Man Up episodes. But like, your issue is actually at a values level and I’m not going to be the guy to tell you to change your values. That’s something you decide for yourself.

Or you can just move to a much more conservative place, because Singapore is not actually conservative. There are conservative elements, but the country as a whole, especially the young people, late teens and into their twenties, especially the women, the females, are not conservative and it’s going to be hard for you to find somebody. I mean, it’s a small enough country as it is with five million people. I think it’s probably 10% or less of the young people are conservative the way you are, Lee. And that 10%, the majority is going to be male just because it’s so much easier for the female to take advantage of the liberal values.

Because she can get free bottles, she can get free entrance, she can get tons of attention, and validation and approval from people. It just feels good, ego stroke, so it’s hard for the female to resist unless she’s got a religious reason to do so. And the way I see it, walking around the heartland, and of course downtown, there aren’t that many young Malay women who are what I would consider covering up and super devout to the point where you’re at, at the level you’re at.

So, get modern or you’re going to have to find a society that’s a lot more traditional than where you’re at in Singapore. So, hopefully, people who are not from Singapore can now understand his concern about her being Malay. But then, his juvenile attempts to attract her, to break the ice with the passing of the note and trying to keep it comfortable by talking about school, I hope that makes sense to you guys now. I’ve been working in this area for over ten years, a big portion of that in Singapore, and I understand where he’s coming from in the sense of the values. It’s not my place to tell you what your values in life are. You decide that.

But just so you know that there’s a huge value clash going on right now, okay, Lee? Between you and that girl. Or if she happens to be a conservative and traditional Muslim, she shouldn’t even… You should be talking to her dad and you should make it clear whether you’re going to convert before you even go any further. I mean, she doesn’t like you. That’s the thing. Right now, she doesn’t like you. If she likes you, she would’ve responded more. She doesn’t like you. But even if she did, the way that you’re going, Lee, with your conservative values, it’s a courtship on the way to marriage and you just need to make that clear. But I don’t think she’s a girl like that.

And even if she were, she doesn’t like you right now. If you want to become more attractive, I mean, that’s what Aura Transformation’s all about. But you’d have to re-evaluate your values and I’m not in the position to tell people how they ought to live, what values they ought to live their lives by. But just so you understand that that’s the value clash that’s happening. Okay, that was a pretty deep episode. I’m going to leave you with a shot of the pool. The sun’s going to set soon. It’s pretty nice here. Hey. Look, I got this damn pimple. God damn it. That was a bug bite? Oh. Anyway.

So, that’s it. You can see the horizon. It’s this beautiful jungle valley. So Lee, you can respond in the private Facebook group. Everyone else, join the private Facebook group. I’ll see you inside there. You can ask your questions there. I answer them sometimes right in the comments. And until then, I’ll see you, and Man Up!