I dare you to watch Tough Love Couples on VH1 and not A) Bite your nails; B) See yourself in it; C) Realize what could use some work in own relationship. That’s right, DARE. This shite is good. Almost Temptation Island good.
The concept:"Master" matchmakers, and self-proclaimed "dating pathologist" Steve Ward, and his… (wait for it)… mother JoAnn Ward invite unmarried couples into the Tough Love House, to decide once and for all, should they get engaged and move forward or break up for good. Steve and his mama want to know if your relationship can make it to the other side of their boot camp, relationship in tact.
Most interesting was this tidbit, from the VH1 blog, from an interview with Steven Ward: Listen, the fact of the matter is that dating, like it or not, is a game. It’s a prelude to a relationship. It’s a seduction. It’s a dance. It’s not a matter of not being yourself. It’s a matter of projecting yourself in a very amiable light. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive to what I’m telling you, which is that I don’t care if I’m not well-liked by the women on the show or the people that I work with. But I’m not the one dating them. When you’re trying to interest somebody in you romantically, you need to play to their fantasy. You need to make them believe that you’re what they’re looking for. It isn’t about you. It’s about what they want.
So, is that right? Obviously, you don’t want to come off as the needy psycho chick that you are, that we all are!, when we want something badly and fear we might not get it. But do you play to their fantasy to get what you want? Or do you say, "Can I be honest? This won’t work in my favor, but I figure you’ll learn this soon enough. At the end of the day, when I stop making you work so hard for it, when I call you instead of waiting for you to pursue me, this ‘me’ you’ll end up with is completely different than the ‘me’ I’ll need to pretend that I am to play to this fantasy of yours." Yeah, that’ll come off as psycho chick with a freezer full of fetuses.
I can say this: if Steven Ward had read this blog when I was a single woman in New York, writing honestly and openly about my life and lusts, he would’ve told me to tone that shit down. No man wants to read about a woman with another guy. Take that shit down. He might have talked about that veil of mystery, about man’s need to hunt. And I would have failed out of boot camp. Because there was no way I was going to stop being who I was, writing from my most authentic place, just in case some guy, who I hadn’t even met yet, in case he might have a problem with the way I express myself. I held out.
I was a Bonnie Rait song. If I can’t make you love me, I won’t. I wasn’t even going to try. Yes, there are ways. You can beat the system and pretend to be a rules girl, play the actress, but at the end of the day, he still ends up with you. My theory: be who you are, and you’ll find someone who loves that thing about you that everyone else thinks you should change. It worked for me.
If you’re overbearing, anxious, and bossy, with everyone in your life telling you to let it go if you ever want a man, they might be wrong. Because the right man for you might be desperately looking for a woman to replace his mama. And he’ll love you for the way you guilt him and order him to the market. He’ll feel needed and loved because it’s what he knows. A hat for every head. Someone(s) for everyone.
Despite the wheelbarrows of advice, telling me to change if I ever hoped to find someone, I continued to do my thing, over-sharing, and then, The Suitor showed up on this blog, loving the over-share, the way I expressed myself. He loved and pursued the single woman right out of me.
That question I spent so many nights asking myself, wondering if it was true, do you have to play the game to win it? The answer is, "No." You have to be you to win it. That crazy, drunk dialing, slightly needy, come over, tell me a bedtime story self. Without apology. And the rest does fall into place. The key here, though, is: you need to have enough confidence, enough certainty in who you are, no matter the consequences; you have to be brave enough to say, take me as I am.
Agree, disagree? Either way, this is a damn good reality show, and I happen to adore Steven Ward. But how could I not? Both our names mean "Crowned Ruler." We at least have that in common.