“I don’t think
we’ve learned anything from success,” claims VH1’s Tough Love
host Steve Ward. “We’ve learned everything from failure. So if you
have the courage to accept the fact that maybe you’re the problem,
and if you were to do things differently, you might invite different
results. I think that’s the best place to possibly begin.”
So it begins. Again. Tough words from this tough guy who breaks down
the girls and makes them cry. But it’s all in the name of Tough
Love, the smash hit series that gets to the root — and it’s a
bad, withered, decayed root
— of why love and endless dating doesn’t work for some
women. The goal: weed out the bad habits, the bad attitudes and the
bad karma. Plant a new field and sow a new crop. And rejoice in the
new harvest, before millions of viewers. Amen.
“It’s really cathartic,” Ward says of his show’s unblinking method
of examination. “It’s about breaking these women down. Getting them
to admit their responsibility, their part of the share of the blame.
And then to forgive them for it and give them the opportunity to
redeem themselves by practicing virtues and techniques and skills
that let them become the woman a guy would want to be in a
It must be working. The show is in its fourth season and Ward, a
former model and mortgage broker who started a matchmaking business
with him mom, JoAnn, has become the go-to relationship advice guy.
No psychobabble. No bullshit. It’s actually simple.
is a connection,” Ward says. “Love is a bond between two things. I
have a love of snowboarding. I have a love of art and music. And I
have a love of people, romantic and platonic. It’s a real, pure
connection. And you don’t really feel any threat that will come to
you as a result of this thing, whatever it may be.”
This understanding of love gets tested in a new way, in the show’s
exotic and unusual New Orleans locale.
“It’s a departure from what we’re used to,” Ward says of this
season’s backdrop. “New Orleans lets us really
showcase how different dating is from Miami or LA.
New Orleans is so unique. It’s unlike anything else in the country.”
As well, the
tough love gets tougher as increasingly sophisticated technology
becomes more pervasive (and intrusive) in our lives.
He says, “There
is more noise than ever before. There is more distortion of that
connection due to the use of information technology and the fact
that it’s evolving so vastly. It’s actually forcing sociological
change that really supersedes our biological instincts. Technology
itself is beginning to personify all of our strengths and all of our
With the removal
of the former stigma of internet dating, a new culture, with rules
both sensical and nonsensical, have sprung up and added to the mass
“We are getting more and more opportunity to meet people than ever
before, simply because they are photogenic,” Ward says of digital
dating. “Twenty years ago, when you didn’t have the worldwide web or
mobile apps, you had to go out and rely on chance and just meet
people in public and word of mouth. It was a lot more labor
intensive to attract the attention of possible suitors. So now our
instincts have to change accordingly. We have to adapt in our
technique and our skills and what we know, and use them to our
advantage when it comes to forming relationships.”
But how? How? By watching Tough Love, of course. And taking