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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.

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Ep.224 – What Does A Mature Relationship Look Like

What Does A Mature Relationship Look Like?

  • David Tian Ph.D. shares Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s rules for arguments.
  • David Tian Ph.D. describes how to handle arguments maturely in relationships.
  • In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. explains why some situations aren’t really masculine-feminine issues.

Boom! Stop. I’m David Tian, PhD. And in this video, I answer the question: What does a mature relationship look like? Welcome to Man Up Episode – I can’t remember, but you’ll see it.

Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I’m David Tian, PhD and this is Man Up!

Welcome to the DTPHD podcast. This is Episode – it should be around Episode 6. I’m not sure. I’m doing something for the first time. I’ve never even attempted this before, and we are simultaneously on a podcast, on a Man Up episode, and filming a vlog. So if the guys are watching me on the video, I’ve got Airpods on as there are little Bluetooth microphones here. I also have a lapel mic for the video. Hello on YouTube. Hello on iTunes. Hello, wherever we’re hosting this, and let’s get into it.

There’s a question here – actually, this is a Man Up episode first because we’re going to release this on Man Up first, and then it will come out as a podcast later. I’m getting distracted by looking at the sound waves there. This is a post that I made that was originally on Harry Connick Jr.’s show. It was Kristen Bell’s relating about her husband Dax Shepard’s rules for arguments. I thought it was a really nice thing to see. It’s a very short clip of two minutes. You can see it in the Man Up Facebook group where I posted it. I’ll also post it in the DTPHD podcast group, so you can refer to it. I posted it as a great, short example of what it’s like to be a mature masculine man in a relationship from her perspective.

I shared it as a nice thing to look at. By the way, we’re also at a live event. This is the final day of the final weekend of the Total Transformation program, which has been ongoing for seven years since 2010. This is the final hour. We’re coming up to the final hour of Total Transformation. I never thought that would happen, but it has. The longest running single program in dating skills that I know of, and it’s a live program here in Singapore. Thank you guys for being here. Alright, cool. Yeah, give yourselves a hand, too. Yeah.


Alright, so we got three mics here as well, so I hope there’s not too much interference. Anyway, going back to the question. It is very pertinent to what we’ve been discussing this entire weekend, and we’re exploring the nature of relationships here. I posted this as a really cool thing to look at, and I assume that the guys would look at it and say, “Oh, that’s really nice.” We actually got really polarized reactions, which is what caused me to know that I need to make this episode.

If you haven’t seen it, I’m just going to summarize it for you very quickly. Kristen Bell, the normal way that she dealt with arguments was – she said she would slam the door. When she gets really mad, she’d walk out of the house and she’d slam the door of the bedroom, wherever they’re arguing, and slam the front door of the house, get into the car, screech out of the drive way, and go around the corner screeching her tires, and then park around the corner, and then stew.

I guess after that, she’d calm down and then eventually make her way back in the house and get on with life. That was her way of dealing with the conflict of running, getting space, and so on. The husband, Dax, told her that was not acceptable anymore, which is a good move because it’s not going to be any way to grow in a relationship if you just keep running from conflict and not resolving it. If you run right in the moment, if you leave this situation right in the moment, in which you’re most emotionally-triggered, you will never heal and you will never and never mature. The problem will not really be resolved.

There are sane, rational people who think it’s better to take your time and cool down. It’s fine to do that, but then you need to communicate that “I’ll be back in 5 minutes.” There’s some bounded time, and this is the time that you need to check out and take care of yourself, and you’ll be back at X time. So then, the person knows to just wait around for that time. But if you just leave, what’ll happen is, normally, it will trigger the reflex in the partner. It will trigger the reaction of the partner, because that will bring up the trauma of abandonment.

Anyway, this is a good move. Dax had the wherewithal and the self-awareness to say to her that this is not going to work in their relationship, and that she can’t leave the house now. She’s like, “What?” A lot of guys who saw this clip saw this as a play between masculine and feminine energies. I’m in another Facebook group for research purposes, and it’s another man’s group. It was also posted there, and the discussion there was about what a masculine man who leads should be. They’re really focused on leading.

The younger guys, who are more liberal, asked, “Why is it the man who has to lead?” I actually got that same question in the Man Up group. That’s what prompted me to create this episode for him, for Yannick. Before I get to that, though, it’s really important to point out that a lot of guys think this is a problem between a masculine and feminine; that the masculine thing is to lay down the wall, lay down the rules, “This is the way it is”, that in itself is supposed to be sexy.

That can be sexy. There’s no doubt that leading and being dominant coming from the masculine figure is something that a feminine energy would find attractive. That’s not what’s happening. That shouldn’t be the lesson that you take from this, because if you just lay down rules as a way to turn on your wife, you could be laying down some really bad rules for no reason but just to turn her on. Just laying down Nazi rules are really stupid. Let’s be a little bit more mature and pay attention to the rules that are being laid down.

Basically, he just told her how to have a better argument; how to have better communication in a relationship; how to be a more mature human being. You don’t run whenever you’re just angry, and then stew, and then think, “I’ve won the argument” because you’ve stewed. That’s a valid point. She learned to not run. She made it out to the front door, and then wait. After she was able to deal with not leaving the house, then he said, “You can’t leave the bedroom.” She dealt with that.

Instead of leaving the bedroom, she’s like, “Okay.” Because he said, “If you do this, then I can’t stay in this relationship.” That was a lot of guys caught onto that and thinking that’s what a man should do. “He should lay down ultimatums and rules. That’s the manly leadership.” That’s not just in and of itself the lesson. It shouldn’t be in and of itself laying down the rules and ultimatums is attractive or even positive in a relationship. It’s not hopefully the lesson you take from this isn’t a masculine-feminine lesson, it’s a lesson about how to succeed in relationships and how to be mature.

So then, she can’t leave the bedroom. Instead, she deals with that. As she – to deal with the tension in her body and her mind, because she can’t release it by running and slamming things, she instead stews in the corner of the room and texts him nasty things. Hopefully, you can see how that is a progression. She has matured. That’s a better way of dealing with it than running from it and not continuing the conversation and possibly triggering abandonment reaction in the man.

That’s the summary of that and along the way I gave a little commentary. The point of this is that a lot of guys saw this as a masculine-feminine issue. I’m here to say: It’s not. The comment that I’d like to point out in the Man Up group comes from Yannick. This is one I’m responding to primarily. He says, “I have a bittersweet reaction to this video, probably because it reminds me so much of my previous relationship, and when I failed to impose. What I find very interesting is the imbalance of power in the relationship.” He’s really looking at power.

The insecure masculine reaction is to think about power, domination, laying down rules, laying down the law, laying down ultimatums. That’s the man’s way of dealing with things, or that’s their fantasy: to be like the dominant man. That’s what they want to be. They think that’s what a man should be. He doesn’t like this. Yannick doesn’t like to be that way. Yannick seems to me like a soft-hearted guy, a tender-hearted guy. That’s a good thing. He’s a love bug or something like that.

He doesn’t want to always have to be monitoring the power imbalances. So he says, “She complies because he refused to accept her drama.” That’s not quite true. This is a misunderstanding of pick-up artists. They think that drama happens because you’re not strong enough. If you’re just to say drama happens because you’re not strong enough, the reason why that might be true is because strong and drama have a lot of different meanings. If you understand the right meanings for those, that sentence might be true. But the way it’s normally interpreted is that – you got to lay down the law kind of way. When drama happens, you got to punish it.

I know people, guys who’ve learned game, know that – or have learned that they should reward good behavior and punish bad behavior. This is an example, they believe, of refusing to accept her drama and laying down the law. Yannick continues, “She had to compromise because he wouldn’t. She got trained and not the other way around, and she loved it.” This is actually a great summary of the manly man – I’ll call it Joe Blow. Joe Blow’s sort of like jock, bimbo, bro science interpretation of this short, two-minute interview.

That’s understandable, by the way. I wanted Joe Blow to be derogatory, but I don’t want it to be too derogatory. “I’ve been raised,” he says, Yannick, “to idealize women or at least treat them as equal partners.” Well, idealize women probably isn’t a good thing. You shouldn’t idealize anybody, but treating them as equal partners sounds like a good idea. I hope we’re not back in the 1800’s or earlier, right? That sounds nice, equal partner.

“The way I would want to be treated, but it doesn’t work that way.” Now, his bitterness comes out. This is the red pill bitterness that they’re losing the evolutionary game to the females. They don’t like that. They want the females to be subjugated and subservient, ‘where they belong’, they think. Yannick’s not like that. He’s advancing some of the bitterness. If you follow that route, he’d end up in that sort of red pill bitterness, but he’s not going there. He says, “I felt bad about dominating.” He says the way I would want to be treated is the way he wants to treat his partner, but it doesn’t work that way.

“I felt bad about dominating and still do, I have to admit, because it got such a bad rap and I saw first-hand how it destroyed my parents’ relationship, but I’m getting more subtle now. That being said, I still have difficulty about the nuances.” He’s misinterpreted – I guess there’s no interpretation of the video, but he took the wrong lesson from it, a bad lesson, which was that the way to be a man in a relationship is a dominating man who lays down laws. They could be arbitrary rules. The thing to pay attention is that that rule was not arbitrary. He thinks this shit is about laying down the law. “He refused to compromise, so she had to.”

That’s a horrible way to run a relationship. The two of you would just create nuclear war in the relationship. No, this isn’t a relationship. This is very unenlightened. And by the way, all of the guys giving out this sort of advice, this sort of Joe Blow advice have shit relationships or wives who are fine in a subservient relationship. Generally, those women who are looking to be subjugated to the man are generally weak-willed women. If you want that, you can still find that somewhere, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. Who wouldn’t choose emancipation from slavery if you could have it? There are some who would prefer to be in that position, and they want to.

And sometimes, it’s just because of religious beliefs. They believe that’s their role in the family. When it comes to religion, maybe that’s an exception. Otherwise, I think it is a good thing to have women as equal partners in a relationship. Okay, so then he goes on and says, “That being said, I still have –” Okay. “I can understand how women want to be led by a strong man, but at the same time, I don’t want a baby that’s passive and takes no responsibility.” I agree. Who would want that? Unless you’re a weak man and you never want to be challenged. There are those people.

“And I don’t think she’d want that either, especially on the long-term. On one hand, I’m supposed to lead, dominate, impose my will and hold her accountable.” Oh, god. No, you took the wrong lesson. But I get it, because a lot of the manosphere and men’s development world, they are very simple-minded. There’s very bro science. They haven’t done any real research. All the psychology they know is social psych and evolutionary psych, which is all manipulative, Machiavellian, red in tooth and claw stuff with no good and evil in it, no morality in it. There’s no goodness in it. There’s no truth, or justice, or love in it. There’s no room for love there. There’s only room for power. I get it, but that’s the wrong approach.

So then he goes on, “But on the other hand, I’m supposed to respect her need for independence, autonomy, and self-reliance, and I’m expected to magically know when to do what, and to what extent. I still have a lot of work ahead.” Collin responded, “It’s not an imbalance of power at all, and it’s nothing to do with dominating. It’s about setting boundaries and having them respect it. He told her his boundaries and she chose to respect what he said or risk losing him.” That’s better. It is important to be able to communicate your boundaries, and that’s an interesting point to note.

Let me see if there’s anything else. He’s replied a bunch of times here. Hartmut also replied, “Women expect the man to lead and be dominant. If you want genuine respect, that’s the only way forward. Forget about the mainstream media feminist teachings. It’s toxic.” I can understand why he’s saying that. Again, right? They are taking the wrong lesson. They are completely missing the point of why she would actually listen to what he said instead of him – they’re just looking at it as, “He laid down the law!”

It scares me, because I wonder how many of them have listened to any of the things that I have said in any of my Man Up videos or in any of the free courses, because clearly, if you understand the principles of what I’ve been teaching, you would not take this view, that the position of the man is to just lay down the law and be dominant, and be a tyrant.

Anyways, Anthony Paul Johnson says, “This chick is a basket case.” That goes down that road. There’s this other one, Sumwo said, “He did manage to curb her drama, but isn’t it better and a more mature choice to go for a better-quality woman right off the bat?” He makes a good point there. Let’s get to it. What is the lesson to take away from this?

Well, first of all, it is being human. The lesson that she learned from the husband was that that’s not the right way to succeed in a relationship, this particular behavior. No one actually looked at the behavior that was there. They just looked at the enforcement of power, which says a lot about where people’s minds are, instead of paying attention to the deeper things. What she had to learn was emotional regulation. Is it a good thing to be able to emotionally regulate? After all, that’s one of the great benefits of meditation. Well, fuck yeah. I would hope that you can regulate your emotions. I hope you’re self-aware enough to realize you’re being triggered, and you’re ‘set off’, and you’re out of control, and you’re about to do something very childish, and you can refrain from doing that even though it’s really hard because that’s your pattern for so long, of slamming doors.

When he pointed that out, she didn’t say, “No. Intellectually, that’s a bad idea.” What did she do? She said, “That’s a good idea. That made sense. That made a lot of sense.” Because anybody who is intelligent would see that does make sense. You want to not just slam the doors and walk off. None of the commenters really mentioned that. They are more like, “Did he lay down the law and was he dominant? That’s why she was turned on.” I’m not sure if that’s just because of the group of people we have.

And then we can see that she’s mature. The real difference is between maturity and immaturity. How do you go from having an immature reaction to becoming a mature person with a mature reaction? It’s difficult. And the first step is to be self-aware enough to know that you’re going into an immature pattern. It’s not like you just change like that, because if it was that easy, you would’ve done it already. No, it’s not. It’s difficult because you’re getting triggered.

In Kristen Bell’s childhood, very likely, that was her reaction to disagreement in the family. She probably slammed the door of her bedroom, and slammed the door of her closet, and then stewed in her closet. Eventually, the family just wouldn’t deal with it and they swept the thing under the rug, and then they’d move on with their lives. That’s how she’s used to dealing with arguments, but that’s not going to work anymore as an adult. But she’s so used to doing that, that when the going gets tough, she reverts back to her childhood patterns. It’s very understandable.

How do you stop this from happening? By the way, this is also why you have approach anxiety. This is also why you go blank when you see a hot girl. This is, again, for the guys from the pick-up world. I know I have a lot of following there. I have to make this more relevant to them, but I’m bringing it back to the podcast. It’s a maturity issue, not a masculine-feminine issue. Let’s flip it around. Let’s say the guy gets mad. Because if you think it’s masculine to lay down the law and it’s feminine for drama to happen, like Anthony Paul Johnson says, she’s a basket case. There’s always that guy saying it’s drama.

This isn’t drama. This is human beings being human beings. This is human beings being immature. Here’s the male version of what she did: Hulk. He gets so angry, he throws something. Or actually, many men leave, right? They can’t stand it. It’s often the other way around. The woman wants to talk because women are generally more verbal, and the man wants to not talk because he can’t deal with the fight. What does he do? He slams the door, slams the car door, gets into the car, drives. He usually would just drive. I know male friends who drive for 30 minutes just to cool down. I wouldn’t drive in anger, but whatever. You can see how that’s soothing in a way, and it calms him down, and then they come back. They would prefer not to talk about it. Sometimes, they’ve calmed down enough they can talk about it. But if she says the wrong thing again, or the thing that triggers him off – again, he’s out again.

Whether it’s a man or a woman who has taken off, the lesson is the same: Don’t take off in the heat of the argument. Stay as much as you can, or give bounded time, like “I’m going to take off for 5 minutes. I’ll be right back. Give me some space.” And you go cool off and you come back. Not just an unbounded time, because that’s always going to be triggering all of our childhood abandonment issues. If you learned anything from attachment style science, you know that a secure attachment style can only come from knowing that the mom won’t go away. But if the mom slams the door on the baby and takes off, the baby now thinks it’s it. “That’s over. I’m dead.” That’s the fear. That’s why there’s all that neediness happening around the world; there’s security and anxiousness.

It’s not a masculine-feminine thing, it’s a maturity-immaturity thing. It’s not a man-woman thing, it’s a maturity-immaturity thing. What is it? It’s a maturity-immaturity thing. It shows a lot about people’s maturity when they don’t notice that, when they think it’s a man versus woman, masculine versus feminine power struggle. I just wanted to point out – what does it look like when someone starts off immature – with an immature reaction from childhood, which is normal that we all have, to be easily triggered in special situations that remind us of perceived trauma from our childhood?

We look like that, like Kristen did. The male version of that is anger. Don’t think that – they can go into a rage, they can get quite physical and violent. At least she just walked off and sat in the car, right? Dude, I know dudes who can become much more dangerous when they have that feeling in them. That’s masculine. That’s a masculine reaction. Hers might be more feminine, one might be screaming at him. We all have different types of reflexes from our childhood and our coping strategies. She chose to leave, to move away, but many of us move towards and we beg, and we plead, and we cry, that sort of thing. That’s ‘drama’ too, but that’s not – I guess everything is drama, the human drama. It’s just immaturity. You need to be patient and work through from immaturity to maturity. It takes a more mature person to help you do that. In this case, in this instance, in this situation, her husband was more mature than she was, and he wasn’t getting triggered. He was more in his executive true self to be able to point out to her what’s happening so that she can have the room to grow.

Now, again, flip it around. What if it’s a man and the woman says, “No, you can’t leave this house when we have a fight.” Is that bad because she’s laying down the law? I fucking hope not. I fucking hope you’re not a Neanderthal Joe, bro science guy, who thinks it’s all just about men dominating and that’s what turns women on. I hope you’re smart enough that you listen to leadership from wherever it comes. If she’s saying the truth, whether it’s the man or the woman saying the truth, I hope that we’re in the 21st century and we’re not having to move the clock back to the 19th century. But I know that there are a lot of men in America who are trying to do that. Please, if that’s you, I don’t want you in the group, alright? There are a million groups for you. In fact, you guys run the country right now of America, so power to you.

But hopefully, you see that there’s another way to look at this, and maybe you’re having a Gestalt insight moment when you’re seeing, “Okay, it’s not a masculine-feminine fight, it’s a maturity-immaturity fight, and this is an example of how you can lead your partner – whether you’re the man or the woman – into a more mature reaction to your argument. That will always happen. If you can’t have moments like this in your marriage or in your relationship, your relationship will fail guaran-fucking-teed. How do I know all these guys with these bitter comments are going to have failed relationships and never experience real love for any length of time? Because they have these reactions. They think it’s a power struggle. They don’t see that it’s a maturity issue and it’s about growth, healing, and moving forward, and helping the other person out of love, as they’re going into their rage because of their childhood issues or childhood patterns, to have the patience to lead them through to maturity. This is also what your therapist will do.

When you’re in your therapist’s room, he needs to see these things, you tell him of these things, and he needs to see you emote. We talked about emoting as quickly as you can to make maximum use of the time there. Being self-aware enough to know that you’re feeling this, whether it’s Hulk anger – by the way, again, I just want to hammer this home. The masculine thing to do here would’ve been to Hulk anger that shit, right? There’s an enlightened masculine which is the detached leader, who, without emotion, is able to say these other things. But there’s mature masculine and there’s immature masculine, there’s mature feminine and there’s immature feminine.

What’s the real factor that’s changing here? Not masculine-feminine because there’s both mature masculine and feminine, and immature masculine and feminine. It’s the immature and the mature, immaturity and maturity. You can have different terms for this. If you’re a different type of psychologist, you might call this integrated and disintegrated. If you’re familiar with parts therapy or internal family systems therapy, that’s a great way to think about it, that you had not yet integrated that wounded child in her that would act out in that way. The right way to integrate that is to heal that child that’s acting so rageful, because that’s really a childish reaction.

If an adult wanted to do some serious damage, they do a lot more than that. Clearly, the slamming of the door was just a child in there who is wounded, got triggered, and got reminded of the thing that happened in her childhood. The right thing to do is to be mature and give the space, and the patience, and the time for this person to work through this and move closer towards the mature reaction. It’s not a masculine-feminine issue, because you could’ve flipped it, and that woman like Scarlett Johansson and the Hulk, yeah, right? She’s like, “The light’s getting real low, the sun’s getting real low.” And she’s trying to calm him down.

That’s what the fuck happened here, but it’s flipped. The dude is like, “Calm down. You can’t leave. You got to calm down. You got to change from the Hulk back into a human being.” You flip it around. She actually did the masculine thing. She got mad and got the fuck out of there. If you’re a bro science Joe Blow guy, and it’s what the fuck you do, no, it’s not a masculine-feminine thing. The Hulk in Scarlett Johansson would’ve been the same roles, but it’s just reversed. It is a feminine thing to be a healer, to be detached, and to lead your child through the pain and the anger. It’s not a masculine-feminine thing, it’s a maturity-immaturity thing.

I probably hammered that thing home. I realized I have to really emphasize and repeat points for it to get in people’s minds. I’m so disappointed in myself that my message and my principles of relationships weren’t clear enough, that the guys in the comments would misinterpret this two-minute clip so I want to clarify that. Thank you so much, guys, for the comments and for inspiring this episode. By the way, this is the DTPHD podcast. I’m speaking into this particular mic here. If you haven’t subscribed to the DTPHD podcast, you can do that. We got different versions on all the different platforms so you can find it. You can also find it on And then if you’re on Man Up, I’m not sure which episode this is. This is going to go up pretty soon, but subscribe to this because this is brand new.

We got, at the moment of this recording, we only have one episode up, but we’ll be putting them up every week. We’re also experimenting with the vlogs, so I got these babies in, and these are awesome. I wish I could make money off of promoting Airpods. I love these so far. Unfortunately, these are not mine. These are my camerawoman’s. Okay, so we’re going to end the episode here. Thanks so much for listening. Thanks so much for watching. It’s David Tian, signing out. Until I see you again, Man Up! And I’ll see you in the next podcast.