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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.25 – How To Navigate Open Relationships

How To Navigate Open Relationships

  • David Tian Ph.D. explains that the type of girl you’re dating is going to have an impact on how well the open relationship will go.

  • You are now applying pressure on her and on all of these people just to blurt out to all these people who they’re dating. It’s not their business.

  • In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. shares that open relationships are not for everyone.

In Man Up: Episode 25, I talk about how to navigate open relationships.

[Intro music]

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

[Fade music]

Hey man, welcome to Man Up: Episode 25. Got a doozy coming for you. This is from Eric Chen. Before we get into that, I’ve got to apologize. I meant to post – record and post earlier videos last week but I did a lot of travelling. I know it’s not an excuse, I committed to doing it. Again, one of the things that got in the way was my perfectionism. It’s something that actually prevents me in the past– prevented me over 10 years ago in the past to become socially confident because every time I thought,“I’m not going to talk to them unless it’s perfect.

I’m not going to talk to her until I know exactly, exactly what to do in every step.” That actually gets in the way of progress. The best thing to do is just do it now. Just take action. When you’re motivated to do something, just take action that immediately makes you follow through. I should have done that, apologies. We’re committed to doing it; I’m going to hammer these out every time. Just to let you know, I apologize for last week not having these up.

Now to the question from Eric, this is from the private Man Up Facebook group. He’s asking a long question, I’m going to have to paraphrase this. It’s about how to do polyamorous relationships in a setting where – even though he’s in a western city, a cosmopolitan city, the people that’s he’s interacting with aren’t exactly open to the idea. Looks like he’s dating some girls who are fine with him being open, in an open relationship so he’s allowed to date other people, other girls and they’re allowed to date other guys.

But what he insists on is that they – the girls – tell their friends that those girls are dating him. So he insists on that. Second thing is, he insists on the girls telling any guys they’re dating that she’s dating him, Eric. I don’t know if that’s confusing or not but basically he wants everyone to know everything. He’s like – they’re not happy with that. Basically the girls are – when they start talking to their friends about the fact that they’re dating him, Eric, the girls find that they’re feeling shame so they don’t want to do it. They don’t want to admit to their friends that they’re also seeing this guy in an open relationship.

This kind of surprised me. If a girl agrees to an open relationship, she’s usually of more forward thinking, liberal, type of person. One of those things that I want to put there is it’s really important to think about the type of girl that you’re in a relationship with or interacting with because girls aren’t all the same. I know that guys like to think they are but they’re not. There are many different kinds of girls just like there are many different types of guys.

One of the things that was a little bit surprising was that he’s in a city I’m very familiar with. And if a girl’s going to agree to be in an open relationship there, generally she won’t give a shit about what her friends think. Here’s the deal: turns out, after a little bit more probing, he’s dating mostly, these girls are mostly immigrant girls who are international students. They’re coming from Asia. These are girls who weren’t raised in Canada, they’re international students coming from Asian countries and in the university there in Canada. But they’re not Canadian.

This kind of makes sense because where Asian societies are is quite extreme. The older generation, the generation of people in their 50s and 60s are very traditional, very conservative because during the time they grew up, Asia was very conservative. And then the teenagers and 20 somethings are very liberal because right now it’s really, really liberal. In between there wasn’t a smooth continuum or gradation of going from liberal to conservative or conservative to liberal. There’s this huge gap between what the kids are like and what their parents were like.

One of the problems or fallouts of that is that a young girl from Asia, overseas, is going to feel more liberated because now she’s in a western setting that’s going to accept all these alternative lifestyles. But she wasn’t raised in a setting that accepts those and her friends aren’t either. They’re not actually fully conditioned to be liberal. Here’s the misnomer a lot of Asians think is that if you are practicing open relationships or if you’re sexually open or sexually open-minded, that you’re just a slut.

There are at least two types of categories of people who are sexually open-minded. One category is just how sort of slutty – I don’t mean that in a bad, pejorative way – I just mean they have low standards for the people that they have sex with. So there’s that group but then there’s also a group that’s incredibly intelligent. Because they’re very intelligent, they see all the arguments and reasons for leading a lifestyle of their own choosing and they happen to choose a lifestyle that actually takes a lot of courage to do. It takes a lot of bravery and it takes a lot of resistance to social pressure and an example of a lifestyle like that is an open relationship lifestyle or polyamorous lifestyle.

Look, Eric, what you’re expecting from them is not going to be easy for them if they’re Asians even though they’re living in an international community in Canada. If you date girls who are raised in Canada with open-minded Canadian parents who maybe went through a hippie stage and did weed and shit, maybe those girls will go for it and they won’t get so much social pressure from their friends to be old fashioned.

The type of girl you’re dating is going to have a big effect or impact on how well those open relationship thing goes. Second thing is, you shouldn’t be insisting on everybody telling everything to everyone. In an open relationship, the fine line between let’s get serious or not is blurred. If you’re in a three-month relationship with a guy – as a girl, okay – and is it now serious? Who knows? We’re not quite sure yet. She shouldn’t feel like at that point she has to list out – like when she first goes on a date with a guy or her third date with a guy and she has to now list for him all the other guys she’s seeing.

Now obviously, if they go into an exclusive relationship, if she decides to go with this other guy and he thinks they’re exclusive and she has good reason to think they’re exclusive then her obligation would be to say, “There’s this other guy I’m dating.” So he doesn’t get this wrong idea. But it’s not clear in a western context when that happens. And this insistence on her telling all of her friends that she’s dating him is overly strict.

There’s a little bit of an ego thing here. Look, dude, no pressure – that’s the whole point of open relationships in the first place. You are now applying pressure on her and on all of these people just to blurt out to all these people who they’re dating. It’s not their business. That’s just like you should blurt out like your social insurance number, it’s not their business. Now if they’re close friends, maybe you can tell them. But you shouldn’t hide it in the sense of like if somebody confronts you, “Are you dating Eric?” She should say, “Yeah, I am.” Not a big deal, right? She shouldn’t be like, “Hey, I’m dating Eric.” ”Hey, I’m dating Eric.” “Hey, by the way, I’m dating Eric.” That’s not necessary, right?

So where is that fine line between serious and not serious? It’s not clear but if she goes into serious land, if the other guy thinks they’re exclusive, then yes, I agree – she has an obligation to tell him that she is in fact dating another guy. That’s the point I wish that becomes relevant. Before that point, it’s not really relevant. She shouldn’t have to feel like they have to go around telling your name to all these people.

It’s a complicated thing. I should’ve put this as a caveat at the beginning: open relationships are not for everybody. In fact, they’re not for most people and it takes a lot of maturity and emotional control to do them correctly. You can’t expect that level of maturity from every person you date so expect to have in your partner some bumpy road ahead when you do this.

So this is Man Up. Make sure to ask me your questions, you’ve got to join the Man Up private Facebook group. We approve join requests regularly so get on there and it’s the best way to get a hold of me. In the meantime – Man Up.