As he did last season, Master Matchmaker and VH1 Tough Love commander Steve Ward will weigh in with his thoughts on each episode of his show. Below, Steve talks about the second season premiere, the new batch of women seeking his help, the problems women in their 40’s face when looking for love and why he tends to haunt the people he advises like a ghost.
Did you take a different approach to Tough Love this season?
The biggest difference between this season and last season is that everybody knows me now. The men and the women. They know what the show’s about, they know what I’m about. They know what they’re signing up for. In Season 1, no one had any idea what to expect, including myself. Despite how provocative and outspoken I was, I still held back in Season 1, because I didn’t know how it would come across. Once I saw that and I was convinced that the producers are looking out for my best interests, I just took the gloves off in Season 2. I mean, I just threw caution to the wind, and I didn’t give a s***. And I went out there and did what I wanted to do, and I told the producers, “If you need to dial me down, or reel me back in, you go ahead and do that. But I’m going for it.”
You tell the girls that you’ve studied them very carefully. Does that mean that you were involved in the casting process?
Towards the end I was. I mean, there really were 20,000 women who applied to be on the show. And they had to filter them all down. So when it got down to about two or three dozen women, my mom and I got really involved in the selection of the final cast.
What were you looking for?
Basically, room for improvement. It’s one thing to work with somebody who is completely off base and has no idea what the hell they’re doing. But if you really can’t get through to them, there’s really no sense in even bothering. Additionally, I wanted to work with women that I felt were marketable. No matter what, I felt that I could match them.
One of the first things you have these women do is write what qualities they’re looking for in Mr. Right. And they’re all off, by your gauge. Was that a surprise?
No, not at all. I do that on purpose. I knew exactly what they’re going to write. A lot of the time, women are wishing for things that are completely unrealistic, things they have absolutely no chance in getting. So it’s sort of like, “Why even bother?” I mean, seriously. The purpose of the exercise was to see how reasonable their expectations are. It’s pretty obvious to me, and hopefully to the audience at home, that they were all unrealistic.
You end up later yelling at Kanisha regarding this issue, telling her, “You’re going to get what I give you.” Did you find her particularly unreasonable?
She came on the show making demands, and this happens all the time. It happens in my business, too. They come to me and say, “This is what I want. This is about me. It’s about what I want. This is what I’m looking for.” You know what? Spare me. I don’t give a s*** what you want. I’m going to tell you what’s good for you. These women think that they can just walk out and choose a man like they’re buying a puppy at a pet store or something. It doesn’t work like that. I need to break that down. This girl felt like she was entitled to all of this wealth and success and all of these other things. And I’m like, “What the hell are you going to give in return?” And that’s the thing that these girls don’t realize: you’d better get your s*** together quick because before you know it you’re going to be 40 and single and guys aren’t going to touch you with a ten-foot pole.
Do you think it’s totally hopeless for people who are 40 and single?
No, just a lot f***ing harder. And why deny it? Let’s just face it: it gets harder. Guys who are in their 40’s don’t want to mate with women in their 40’s. Period. I mean, it’s biological. They want to mate with somebody that they have a far greater likelihood of developing healthy offspring with. When a woman gets into her 40’s and is ready to have a kid, you have high-risk pregnancies, you’ve got chances of birth defects. And whether men even realize this or not, subconsciously, they know the risk is there. It’s like going out and buying a car. You’re not going to walk into the dealership and say, “Hey, do me a favor. Give me a car that’s 10-years-old but has no miles on it. Because it’s just as good to me as the brand new version with no miles on it.” You know what I mean? It doesn’t work like that. You want all of the perks and amenities of the newer model.
But when you say something like that, or “For women, sexual partners should be like golf scores: the lower the better,” are you speaking on how things are or how they should be?
I’m just saying that that’s what men are hoping for. For the sex partners, I’m going to use that car example again. You go into a car dealership. You ask for a CARFAX. You see the car has 10 different owners. Are you going to buy the car? No, you’re not. When girls have the reputation of being with a lot of men, or if it’s revealed that they’ve been with a lot of men, all of a sudden you don’t feel that special.
In an ideal world, somebody would buy that car because recycling is good for the environment.
In an ideal world. But unfortunately that’s not the world that we live in. And it’s only getting worse.
I know that you’re very pragmatic.
It’s like, look: I’m not an incurable or hopeless romantic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely romantic, but I’m also an extreme realist. And this is just what I’ve observed and doing what I’ve been doing for the last ten years. This is an opinion, OK? This is observation.
After the blow-up dolls, you have the women projected into a screen and then have guys sort of rate them. What was the philosophy for basing a challenge entirely in the realm of the superficial?
If you remember in Season 1, we made them walk individually in front of the guys. They were aware that they were being judged, so you can almost see some of them trying harder, or consciously trying to seem as if they weren’t trying to impress the guys. In this season, I wanted to do it in such a way that they didn’t even realize that they were being looked at. That’s why we filmed them just walking up to the house. The purpose of doing it at the City Walk in front of the public, and also in front of them, was so that they could learn from each other, and so that they could learn from the reactions of people in general, not just those three men.
When you’re going over these results, you mention that Angel’s dealt with a lot of trauma.
Oh yes, she has. Let’s see: she was adopted and then she had her son and was abandoned by his father. I mean, that’s pretty serious.
Oh, tell me about it. Your heart goes out to these women. There are episodes that are probably going to make you cry. Just like every single woman in the room did. You gotta understand, most of what we do on this show is very cathartic. And I mean that in every sense of the word. It is literally expunging all of this negativity, and abuse, and neglect, and abandonment, and trying to exorcise it like a demon.
Yeah. There’s also Jenna. Her insecurity is striking.
That kind of insecurity can be more off-putting than arrogance. At least arrogance shows a sign of confidence. That type of insecurity is just so draining. It’s freaking exhausting. Look, her weight loss is an incredible accomplishment. I try not to take that away from her, but in the same breath it’s like, “Good job. Move the f*** on.” I mean, “Congratulations. You’ve accomplished something really terrific in your life. Move on. Move on to your next accomplishment.”
Elizabeth strikes me as the girl who’s the furthest along in her process.
She isn’t. You’ll find this out later on. First of all, she shows up for the show with a nose ring and biting off the caps of beers. I’m trying to class the girl up a little bit. She’s like Jacklyn from season one, except from Kentucky rather than Texas. Her father died two years ago, and she’s so desperately looking for a man to fill the void in her life that her father left that she actually interrogates every single guy that she’s with to make sure that they’re ready to get married, like within seconds of meeting them.
You have the women sit through a speed-dating session this episode, much like you did on the last premiere. As a matchmaker, what’s your opinion on speed dating?
Well, let’s see, on January 29 I’m hosting the world’s largest speed dating event at the W Hotel.
OK, so you’re a firm believer.
Well, it’s not that I’m a firm believer, I just think that you can meet anybody anywhere at any time. You know? You just have to be able to maximize the utility of that time. And really, the biggest point of the speed date was actually to help us. I mean, we put 32 guys out there. It was helpful for my mom and I to see how they acted when meeting men, which guys they were most attracted to and why.
By the end of the first episode, what was your overall impression of the group? Did you know that you had your work cut out for you?
Yeah. If you recall, the very last thing I say in the supertrailer, which was filmed at the end of the first group, was “I’m exhausted.” I mean, honest to god, by the end of that first week I was getting ulcers and headaches again just like last season.
Do you have any goals for this season or just overall?
At the end of the day, whether or not these women leave this show in relationships, or maintain the relationships that they leave the show in – that’s all inconsequential to me. What matters most is that they’ve grown from this experience and learned to love themselves. And that they can then carry that forward with them in their future dating endeavors. This way, the next time they do meet somebody, it works in their favor as opposed to working against them. I guess what I’m trying to do, and the whole purpose of the show, is to increase the awareness of these women and make them more super-conscious of what they’re doing. I think that if I’m successful in doing that, then I’ve done my job. From the feedback I get from these women since filming wrapped, it’s almost like I haunt them like a ghost. They go about their love life, and I kind of appear to them, like an apparition, and remind them not to fall into old patterns by doing the things that they would normally do.
Follow Steve Ward on Twitter! And check the gallery below for the new batch of women and their show-designated titles.
Also VH1 and Shecky’s have teamed up for a contest, in which the grand prize includes a trip to New York and a consultation with Steve and JoAnn Ward. Click below for details!