A dynamic duo, Steve Ward and his mother, JoAnn, are shaking up the matchmaking scene. On VH1's Tough Love and in their book Crash Course in Love, their savvy, down-to-earth advice often produces successful relationships and long-term love. And even though they come from different generations, their experiences show that if you break down your walls, get rid of your bad habits and get honest, love will walk right into your life.
Oprah.com: You both believe in a "tell-it-like-it-is" philosophy about matchmaking—you're known for not sugar-coating your opinions. Why does tough love work?
Joann Ward: I think a lot of times people only hear what they want to hear, and family and friends are usually very delicate when they speak to someone they truly love. So, somebody who is an outsider looking in can really be brutally honest with them as a professional and share an opinion about what they can be doing differently to better their relationship.
Steve Ward: I appreciate Mom's choice of words because "brutal honesty" is the truth of the matter. When you have to try to get through to people that are very guarded and blocking for whatever reason, sometimes using blunt force is the only way to get through to them.
Oprah.com: A lot of people out there wondering, "Are there any good men or women left?"
JW: I think good men and good women are everywhere. You just have to have the skill set to find them, know what to look for, find the positive things and you will find that person. I think what is really great is that Steven is young—he is at a really great age range, and he's been raised by a young mother who still holds traditional values. I think the combination of Steven's youth and my experience in life and keeping my traditions makes us a great combination of coaches and matchmakers. .
Oprah.com: In the book, you say to find your perfect match, you need to know what you are looking for. So I wonder: What is the difference between visualizing your most compatible match and being too picky?
SW: I think we try to look for the most important requirements to any healthy and successful relationship, and this goes beyond romantic ones: communication, respect and trust. Those are sort of the principles that we try to live by and try to teach people to live by. I think what happens is people get caught up in other things that aren't nearly as meaningful or consequential when it comes to a relationship. There are a lot of women, even very petite women, who say, "I will absolutely not date a guy shorter than 5'11"." Nine out of 10 women will tell me that and the average height for men in the country is 5'9". My mom's response would be, "You mean to tell me that if I have a guy who is a perfect fit in every single way—strong, fit, manly, makes you feel like a woman and this and that—but he is 5'9" and you are 5'3", you won't date the guy?" We'd label that person too picky. If you won't open your mind to someone who is a couple inches shorter than you prefer, then that is a real problem. That is part of the challenge of Tough Love—being brutally honest.
What are the cardinal rules of dating?