Transcript: Tuesday, February 16 at 11 a.m. ET

On Love: Dating and relationship advice

"Crash Course in Love" (Simon & Schuster, 2009) by Steven Ward and JoAnn Ward
  Enlarge Photo    
Steven Ward
Author and host of VH1's "Tough Love"
Tuesday, February 16, 2010; 11:00 AM

Looking for 'Mr. or Ms. Right'? Author and host of VH1's "Tough Love" Steven Ward offers advice on how to find the right mate and transform your love life.

Ward is a professional matchmaker and CEO of Master Matchmakers, a Philadelphia-based matchmaking firm. On VH1's "Tough Love," he strives to revamp a group of women's destructive dating habits by putting them through his "Tough Love Boot Camp." He's also the co-author of "Crash Course in Love" (Simon and Schuster, 2009) that he wrote with his mother and business partner JoAnn Ward.

For more tips, marital and relationship advice and to see how other couples have gotten to the altar, visit our OnLove section.

The transcript follows.


Steven Ward: Hi everyone, thanks for watching our show Tough Love on VH1 and picking up our book, 'Crash Course in Love'. If you have any questions I'd love to help here but if I can't get all your questions answered in this hour please reach out to me and my very qualified staff at


Phoenix, Ariz.: I have almost been with this guy for three years this fall. broke up this past, saw each other in the summer, he was dating other people I wasn't. We are currently back together and I want to marry him. Do you think it's OK to give him a deadline which is in November?

Steven Ward: Deadlines are very difficult. Especially considering he's gotten everything he wants from the relationship without having to make that commitment. He wont respond well.


Washington, D.C.: If you have a crush at work, but its against company policy to date, is that enough to keep a guy away or should I take it he's just not that into me?

Steven Ward: That may be enough to keep him away from you. These things are usually just policy because in the event anything ever happened between you two, (like sexual harassment or something) they would absolve themselves of any liability. Keep your business private and if you can let him know you're interested without letting others know, go for it and see what he says.


Dallas, Tex.: I met the kind of man I have been looking for and he just doesn't seem interested. What do I do?

Steven Ward: If you met the "kind of man" you've been looking for but not the actual man you're looking for try looking for the same qualities in other available men.


Middletown, N.J.: Hi Steve! I know in your book and at your program this weekend in AC you said less is more when it comes to make up. Along the same lines of appearance what do you think about fake tanning?

Steven Ward: Yes! Less is more when it comes to tanning too. It screams "high maintenance" and sends the message that you're more concerned about your appearance than other more important areas like character, personality, sense of humor, etc.


Dating question: Hi, Steve. Your show "Tough Love (2)" is one of my guilty pleasures. I find myself agreeing with all of your advice, and I think that there are a lot of girls (including me) who need to take a look inward before they can really be open to dating. My question is this -- I'm a mid-20s professional. I am generally busy with work, volunteering, and training for long-distance races (like marathons). Even so, I tend to go on a date each week, usually with guys I meet on dating websites. The problem is that I NEVER feel a spark and haven't been interseted in anyone in about a year. I'm ready for a relationship, and am getting a little tired of boring dates. Is this a mindset issue, or should I just keep trying until I meet that guy who DOES spark with me?

Steven Ward: There might be a bigger issue here that you're not considering. It sounds to me like you're having more of an aversion to men rather than a string of bad dates. I'd ask myself if I'm ready to accept a man for his strengths and his weaknesses...his pros and his cons. I get the impression that you're very disciplined and don't like being disappointed. I hate to say this but if you really want to be in a relationship you're going to have to get comfortable with at least a little disappointment every now and then.


Bethesda, Md.: Hi Steven -- I really enjoy watching your show. I'm 38 (but look 30), single, do not want kids, do not want someone with kids, attracted to younger men, and want to get married eventually. Tall order, right? I'm getting worried that I'll have settle for less because of my dating/relationship wants.

Thank you and keep up the great show.

Steven Ward: Very tall order and very unusual. First of all, you may not want kids but in all likelihood a younger man who doesn't have kids is going to want them eventually which is likely to result in him leaving you when he feels its time. You're setting yourself up for disappointment. Unless you're just looking for a boy toy I suggest you date your age. Also, I hate to say this, but unless you've already started getting work done I have no doubt you look your age, even if younger men who are trying to "score" and your friends, family and co-workers tell you otherwise.


Burbank, Calif.: May I please offer one bit of advice I have observed. I have had wonderful dates, yet when I see my date treat the restaurant staff rudely, I have learned that is a person with problems that will emerge later on. My advice is simple: treat people with respect. Is treating others rudely during a date a bad idea?

Steven Ward: Haha, very estute. Yes, treating others rudely during a date is a bad idea!


Alexandria, Va.: Hi, Steve. After finding out my boyfriend cheated on me, I have picked up some "bad" behaviors and tendencies (snooping, feeling insecure, being paranoid whenever he is out with friends without me, etc.). Can I remedy this, or is it a lost cause and something not worth salvaging?

Steven Ward: The fact that you caught him rather than him confessing is troubling. That means that there are probably other things he's doing that you haven't caught him doing yet. I doubt he is capable of being honest with you and these fears of yours are only going to grow over time.


Washington, D.C.: I just started dating a guy who is really great. I could see this turning into something more serious. When and how should I tell him about my bad past? I want to be honest with him, but I'm afraid if he learns about my past, he won't want to date me anymore.

Steven Ward: It depends on what's in your past. There is a difference between "Need to Know" information and "Too Much" information. Selectively reveal what's really necessary to know and leave out any unnecessary details.


New York, N.Y.: There's a guy I've been friends with for eight years who has been just a friend all this time due to the timing (I was in a relationship when he wasn't and vice versa). The timing has finally been right since September and things have happened but not anything closer to a relationship like I'd want. He was burned by his past relationship so I think he's being cautious. He's been in constant contact with me since and we've kept a friend vibe. Do I keep a friendship with him even though I'm hoping for more or cut my losses while I can?

Steven Ward: I've answered something like this above...if he is getting all of the perks to a relationship (as far as HE'S concerned, considering HE is a male) then there's no real incentive for him to take the relationship to the next level. The only thing that will cause him to act is him feeling he might lose you or him losing other options somehow.


San Diego, Calif.: Why do you think it's so difficult for people to connect romantically nowadays?

Steven Ward: Because we are absorbed with information technology that we use as a way to distance ourselves from others rather than to bring us together as it was intended. There's a great divide taking place among us sociologically; those that embrace and utilize technology as much as possible and those who fear it and avoid using it whenever possible. I'm the former and constantly work to reach the latter.


Annapolis, Md.: Recently, an article came out about "settling" for a mate instead of waiting for the "right one" to come along. This makes sense in a way. But not for me, try as I might.

I'm in the mid-fifties, and cannot imagine settling for a man whom I will never love. Sure, I'd enjoy company in an otherwise empty house, and sharing trips and meals with someone. But I also could not be intimate with a man to whom I am not deeply connected. Sure, that could happen in time, but with my first marriage as an example, sometimes it just doesn't happen.

I married at 30 to a man whom I considered a great candidate. I did not love him, but because he was kind and had a great job, and we were friends, I thought that love would grow. It did not.

So for me, while I will enjoy a glass of wine with someone I meet online or elsewhere, unless I feel a connection of sorts, I can't settle. I wish I could.

Steven Ward: Settling in your mid fifties is a lot different than settling when you're 30. I'm sorry to say but you're going to need to learn to love a little differently than you did when you were 30. Certain things don't matter anymore that once did and vice versa. You'll have to get your priorities in order.


Spring, Tex.: How do you know "the one"?

Steven Ward: "Love is when someone else's happiness is essential to your own."


Philadelphia, Pa.: I have had a streak of bad luck in dating lately, and I am sure it cannot all be me. How can I feel more confident about myself and let the "right" guys know I am available instead of me believing guys always want "someone else"?

Steven Ward: Look, guys are always going to want that "something else". Its called SEX. You have to learn to be yourself and maintain your standards without making men feel like you're putting them in a box or comparing them to all other men. If you make a guy feel exceptional and you look for a reason to give him a chance rather than a reason for him to fail you have won half the battle.


Washington, D.C.: Hi, Steve. I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost a year and a half. He cheated on me -- twice -- in the beginning of our relationship. When I found out, I broke up with him, but he begged me for a second chance and I gave him one. The problem is, in my heart I still don't fully trust him and still sometimes wonder if he would cheat on me again. I know I am a GREAT catch, but b/c of the cheating I sometimes wonder if HE really knows that. It has definitely taken a toll on my self-esteem. After something as devastating to a relationship as cheating has occurred, can it work? SHOULD it work? I sometimes lose sleep wondering about this. Any insight or advice you can offer will be MUCH appreciated!

Steven Ward: My heart goes out to you because this sort of thing happens all the time. The only cure to this is hyper communication. He is going to have to tell you everything all the least for a while. Total transparency is going to be your only way of feeling you are completely in the know. You shouldn't have to check his email, phone and Facebook. He should want to show you there's nothing to find.


Royal Oak, Mich.: I recently have been completely closed off to all men, I'll play the cat and mouse game but every time they seem to get getting serious, I shut down and become rude and ignore them. Mainly because I work full time and are going back to medical school so I barely have time for myself; their constant bothering of "when can i see you next" just makes me angry and upset. Plus I am having difficulty getting over a petty "crush" on a married man with children, I flirt back constantly but I just cannot seem to stop and see the reality of it. Help!

Steven Ward: You are attracted to men you can't have and don't actually want you for the right reasons. This probably has something to do with your parents possibly rejecting you somehow as a child.


Fairfax, VA: Ok, I love this show, and I love Steve. Two questions: Are you single (because if so, I'm available)? And the show is great, but you find the guys and bring them to the girls. How's a girl supposed to do this on her own, when going to a bar is not the greatest place to meet a guy (and please don't say a cooking class).


Steven Ward: I'm currently in a committed relationship and its going very well, but thanks for your interest. In our book, a 'Crash Course in Love' we talk about how to find "the one". The fact is they're everywhere. I find them everywhere for my clients and the people I work with on my show. Along with my mom and my staff at we have casting directors that use the same techniques I would expect anyone off the street to use; Facebook, Myspace, blogs, clubs/bars/lounges/restaurants/supermarkets/coffee shops/gyms, etc.


Boston, Mass.: Hi, Steve. HUGE fan of the show. Reading the follow ups of the women online was great. Even though most of them are not with the men they met on the show it seems like they've taken what they learned to new relationships. Do you think the on-screen relationships fizzled for the same reason no one has gotten married on the bachelor -- real life vs. reality TV doesn't mesh? Also, given that this is the case will you continue with the commitment rings? There is going to be a season three, right?

Steven Ward: These are great questions! First, as a Master Matchmaker my mission is simple; "to help you meet your match". This can happen in many ways. I can "match" you a number of times and one of them turn out to be "the one". Or from meeting a handful of people through my service and getting the experience of a hands on approach by a professional, through trial-and-error and a feedback process you may realize something about yourself you ought to be doing different to find, date and/or keep "the one". Many clients and cast members tell me that advice I give them rings true so often that when they find themselves about to make a decision in their love life if there's any doubt whatsoever that its the wrong decision I sort of appear in their minds like a "Jimminy Cricket" and they end up making the right decision instead of their normal decision. That's why so many women from the show ARE in commited relationships...with men they met immediately after boot camp. (BTW, the same thing usually happens when you hire me and my other Master Matchmakers).


Washington, D.C.: Hi, Steve. So glad you are doing this chat. I've watched both seasons of "Tough Love" and I think it's great, both entertaining and educational. I'm hoping you can offer me some tips. I used to make the mistake of being too available, trying to get intimate too fast, and in the end scaring some great guys away. Now I try to take the opposite approach and be unavailable and a bit aloof. This doesn't seem to work either. I'm finding it hard to find a happy medium here. Should I just be letting the guy steer the course of a relationship and go with the flow, or should I try to be doing more of the work? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!

Steven Ward: Thanks for compliments! There is a happy medium. You have to be assertive, direct, and honest (both to him and yourself). Its not a matter of being "too available" or even "aloof". You should make your priorities clear and maintain your standards. I believe very much in a "Give to Get" principle but if you find yourself giving way too much while getting very little in return you owe it to yourself to move on.


Wayne, N.J.: Hey Steve! I tend to have an issue with holding onto a relationship for more than two months. Everything is going great, then suddenly at the two month mark, he starts to become distant and eventually just disappears.

Is this common? Or is it something that I'm doing?

Steven Ward: You may be giving the milk for free. So why buy the cow? In other words you can't give a guy all the benefits of being in a relationship with you (i.e., regular frequent sex, his favorite acts - both sexual and non-sexual like oral pleasure or cooking dinner, etc.) without being in a relationship. Or, insecurities of yours may come out that pushes men away. Its not always a simple answer. Sorry. Hope that helped.


N.J.: Have you ever thought about teaming up with Patti Stanger (from Millionaire Matchmaker)?

The two of you, doing a seminar together, would be amazing.

Steven Ward: I watched an episode of her show last night and I was not impressed. I don't like most of the advice she gives. I have no doubt in her matchmaking ability in so far as fulfilling an order the man places but I tend to empower women more and encourage them to do what's best for them to yearn them the most happiness in life and suggesting a man throw money at the person to give that is just one dimensional. In fact, in my opinion the man that has it but doesn't need to flaunt it to win the love of a woman is the man who's most likely to stay with that woman long enough to live a meaningful period of their lives together.


Doing the work...: So I have to say I don't know much about you, but look forward to learning more. Here's what I've learned -- you've got to do the work. At 38, I had a whirlwind relationship and got engaged about a second later. Fast forward two upsetting and exhausting years we parted ways, not marrying. I don't think either of us were at our best, but I do know I wasn't! I saw some things in me I didn't like -- nothing terrible/abusive I hasten to add, but not healthy. I spent some time naval gazing, a couple of sessions with a counselor, a couple of quiet retreats and a lot of meditation. I really saw clearly some patterns in my life and some behavior trigger points and I gained good success at channeling all this differently. I have a number of good close friends and family -- they all saw the difference.

I think this period went on for about a hear and half before I met someone. We've been dating nearly a year now and when it's right, it's right. If I'd met him a few years ago, we wouldn't be in this relationship because -both- of use needed to finish an important inward journey. We were busy digging though the undergrowth of our minds. My mind is now a fragrant meadow -- enjoying my boyfriends wildflowers.

I truly believe in the Chinese proverb 'When the student is ready, the master will appear'. When you're ready for the right relationship, it will happen.

Steven Ward: Congratulations and good luck. Hopefully each of you will remain integral to the journeys you're both on simultaneously. Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.


New York: Good morning,

I'm not sure how to phrase this except to ask how will I find that great love without having to trip over duds too many times? I'm tired of making myself "vulnerable" only to find out that we are not a good match. Too much time, hope, energy, self is given in what end up being lackluster or just plain old wrong matches. Anyway to avoid this and know when you've actually met someone who is right for you? My friend who is happily married says that when you stop looking and are content with who you are (healthy self-esteem, good perspective on life and confident) you will find a wonderful person.

What do you think? Thanks.

Steven Ward: I agree with your friend. Although you have tried and failed so many times the only way to find it is to try again. If you give up you're certain to fail. If you try, its possible you'll succeed.


Seattle, Wash.: I've been reading lots of conflicting advice on this one lately. Is it okay to ask someone out via text message, particularly if you know their schedule involves them being busy with clients (or whatever) quite a bit during the day? I could leave a voicemail, of course, but I personally hate receiving voicemail messages (and my voice mail actually states not to leave one). Curious what you think.

Love your show!

Steven Ward: Its always better to leave a voicemail. It shows you took the time to go in private and speak to them. It says you're not multi-tasking. You don't have to always do a voicemail. This is why technology is so awesome nowadays. If you have Blackberry, send a voice note. If you have a video camera phone and you've been dating a bit, send a cute video message. Do it with your webcam and send by email with a text follow up to the same affect. But the bottom line is the more the effort the more its appreciated. HOWEVER, I do say in my book, "Don't Text 'til There's Sex". More details there...


Washington, D.C.: Hi Steve! I love your show, the advice you give is always great. I am in my early 20's and when I'm in a relationship, am a great girlfriend and 100 percent committed to the relationship. When I'm single though, I tend to lose my self-restraint and have even been with a few men who had girlfriends. I struggle with why I am this way, when I know deep down I have good morals and am against cheating. What are your thoughts about why I'm this way and any tips to help me deviate from this pattern in the future?

Steven Ward: My suspicion is you grew up competing for love or attention...or you simply weren't getting as much as you deserved or wanted from your parents. Either they were going through their own problems or you had sibling rivalries and felt either or both of your parents favored one of your siblings. You may have felt an ultimatum between your mother and you, such as your mom saying to your father, "me or her" because he may have doted on you and she felt neglected. It could be any or none of these scenarios but essentially you want to be chosen. You want a man in challenging circumstances to chose you over someone else; some other responsibility. I hope this helps.


Boston, Mass.: Speaking of technology, a former boyfriend (the man who I thought was the one) recently contacted me on FB after eight yrs. of no communication. It took me many yrs to get over him. I'm still single, but he's now married. I know a friend request isn't a big deal, but I didn't accept. I just want to know from you why do you think he wants to contact me if he's "happily married"?

Steven Ward: If he's married save yourself a LOT of pain and hurt and step away.


Bergen, N.J.: Hi Steve! I always seem to find that the guys I'm attracted to, am the most comfortable with, have the most fun with, and have the most in common with, well, also like guys. Coincidence? Is it me? Am I doomed?

Steven Ward: I think you're saying you're attracted to homosexual men? That's not that unusual for women actually. It could be that you're attracted with their familiarity with, comfortableness with or attraction to men because maybe your father had conflict with a brother of yours, or an uncle or something like that around you growing up and it traumatized you in some way. I could be out on a limb but that's what I suspect.


Falls Church, Va.: Hi there- I have gotten myself into the situation where he is getting what he needs without giving me what I need. My bad, I know, but I thought I was just being sensitive and patient. Now I want him to step up so I guess I have to back off? No ultimatums but just stop being available? Thanks.

Steven Ward: You have to communicate. You have to not just give him the indication with your actions that you plan on "backing off" but telling him with your words that you feel you're putting in a little more than he is in the relationship and as much as you enjoy being with him until you feel like he is prioritizing you as much as you've been prioritizing him you're going to prioritize him the way you feel he's prioritizing you.


Long Beach, Calif.: So, I've taken your advice: Stay positive, exert energy, be assertive when needed, communicate your interest by a mere smile, be classy, and I still don't get what I want. If I'm out with girlfriends they usually end up meeting someone before I do. I'm definately not the ugly duckling of the crowd but I'm tired of telling myself, "Maybe I'm not his type". Why do guys sometimes go for the one that "isn't that pretty"?

Steven Ward: They may be going for the one they think they can get. Its possible you're imposing on them or not being obvious enough you're interested. It could be you make it seem too obvious or awkward about it. These are exactly the sort of issues we work on at You sound like the ideal coaching client.


New York: I attended the seminar this past weekend in Atlantic City and I just wanted to stay, Thank You. The advice/suggestions that you (and your mom) gave were really helpful. It definitely helped me to figure out some of the things that I had done wrong in past relationships.

I'm going to need to work my way up to coming right out and asking a guy if he's single, but I'll get there!

So, thanks again and I'm looking forward to Tough Love Couples.

Steven Ward: I sincerely appreciate that. My mom and I had a great time at The speed date is always going to be disappointing for some because women have to face the reality that men aren't as willing or likely to use a formal, offline way of meeting women to find a possible match. They have access to women everywhere. If you remember I said this on-stage. The number of ELIGIBLE women is always going to outnumber the ELIGIBLE men because women are trying to be eligible, they try to seek answers, they try to do their best to be as attractive as possible as a mate. Men just don't try as hard. There are the lucky ones that happen to be attractive without much effort and then those that try but its true...good men are hard to find. That's why when you see one you like its important to come right out and ask...are you single? :)


New York, N.Y. : My boyfriend and I LOVE "Tough Love" and I can't wait for "Tough Love Couples." Do you think it will help our communication if we watch it together?

Steven Ward: Sorry everyone but this will have to be my last question.

Tough Love Couples will be the greatest work my mom and I have ever done. We are currently in production and have reached the third episode. There are six amazing couples we're working with that have very familiar issues. Just like on Tough Love we address the most important areas of relationships (this time) with week-to-week themes. Each week there's a challenge, lesson and group that goes to the heart of the matter and my mom and I push these couples to their limits. We are working completely in everyone's best interest; putting in a lot of sweat and tears. Thankfully no blood has been spilled yet.


Steven Ward: If you watch Tough Love Couples you will benefit not only as couples but as singles too. You will gain perspective on what you're doing and what you've done. You will hopefully see everything that relationship and dating television has been transparency and reality about love, life and relationships. Please read our book a 'Crash Course in Love' for more advice and if you'd like a personal experience my staff and I would love to hear from you! Thanks!


Editor's Note: moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company