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Steve Harvey: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man

by Eharmony Editorial Team - March 4, 2009

Steve Harvey sits down with eHarmony to talk about his new book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. In this candid interview, Harvey reveals what men really think about love, relationships and commitment.

Funny man Steve Harvey host of the nationally syndicated “Steve Harvey Morning Show” and one of the Kings of Comedy, has added best-selling author to his resume. His book, Act Like A Lady , Think Like a Man, is No.1 on the New York Times Hardcover Advice Best-Seller list and on Now, with appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Tyra Banks Show” and “Today,” sales of the book are sure to skyrocket even more.

In Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man Harvey reveals what men really think about love, relationships and commitment — and how women can tell if they have a man with whom they can make plans, or a man who is just playing with them.

eHarmony: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man seems to have hit a nerve that people are responding to. Why do think that is?

Steve Harvey: It has been so rewarding to hear people talk about the content of the book in all walks of life. I was very careful in constructing this book to make sure it had no color to it and that is the beautiful thing. I am talking about a subject I am an absolute expert on and that is manhood. I am not an expert on women. I don’t know a man who is, but I am an expert on manhood. We all think the same no matter what. I don’t care how much we make, what we do for a living, what our religion is or what color we are. It doesn’t matter, men think the same.

So when I sat down to write this book, I wrote it from the standpoint of what I was an expert at and from where I had the greatest source of information — and that was all of my friends who happen to be men. They are from all walks of life — ballplayers, actors, truck drivers, insurance salesmen, guys I worked in the factory with when I was at Ford motors, and my father. I found that we teach this thought process to our sons. It is just how we are. It is in our DNA. So it is valuable information for a woman to gain. It is real conversation from a man who has no ulterior motive other than to tell them the truth.

eHarmony: So how are you friends reacting to your giving away their secrets?

Steve Harvey: All of my friends are really cool with it. Some guys don’t get it, but they haven’t read the book either, as don’t a lot of men. Sometimes men don’t read, so they think it is giving up the game, but it shouldn’t be a game when it comes to somebody’s happiness and somebody’s life. It should be a fair exchange. I think the disadvantage some women have had is they haven’t been exposed to the way men think of things. Once you know how a man thinks, how he processes information, his thought patterns, then you can make a decision. A lot of times you can make the most out of a man if you understand what makes him tick, what drives him, and what he has to have. That is what I do in the book. I expose to women what drives men, how men love and what men have to have. Then I teach women how to get how to get those things from a particular candidate that they are interested in.

eHarmony: What are the biggest mistakes women make when dating?

Steve Harvey: One of the biggest mistakes women make is they expect their love to be returned the exact same way they give it out. That is one of the biggest mistakes because our love is a little bit different. It is still love, but it is not as encompassing as a woman’s love. There are women who have great men, but they don’t recognize it because they don’t get a couple of things.

For example, a woman’s love covers a number of things: It is communication skills, it is caring, and it is a nurturing skill. Women are great nurturers, great communicators. If a man gets sick, a woman nurtures him back to health just like it is in her DNA to nurture a child. She sits with you, she puts your head in her lap, she rocks with you, she checks on you constantly, she will even lay down with you and she stays with you until you are okay.

Guys’ nurturing is different. We fill the prescription for you, we will heat up a can of soup, and then we go in and watch ESPN and, if you need us, call us. We love you, but how we demonstrate that love is what I call the three Ps of love: We profess, we provide and we protect.

That is how a man — if he loves you — this is how you can tell he loves you: He provides for you. Whatever his economic structure is, he provides for you and he will give you whatever he can. He will profess. If you have been dating a guy for six months, he has a title for you. If after six months, he is still calling you a friend, he has no plans for you. It doesn’t take us six months to figure out if you are the one. We are just not that difficult. We are simple people.

The last P is protect. He will let nothing happen to you within his means. A man loves in threes, if he tells you he loves you, but he doesn’t protect or provide for you, he is just telling you what you want to hear to get what he wants. He doesn’t really love you.

eHarmony: When a couple is dating, what are the top red flags that can turn a man off to a woman?

Steve Harvey: Smokers throw a lot of guys off. I know guys who don’t like dating women who smoke. Every guy I talk to doesn’t really care for women who are not striving in their life to have something of their own. We love confidence, we love independence. [We don’t like it] if a woman is too needy. There is a difference between needing and wanting. You can go into a relationship wanting it to work — wanting a husband, wanting a family — but you can’t be too needy. Neediness throws us off.

Another red flag, a really simple thing for men is if you don’t take care of your house or your person, especially your feet and your hands. Men don’t talk about it [to women], but we talk about it among ourselves. Your feet and your hands are critical. I don’t want to pull the sheets back and your foot looks like my foot.

eHarmony: I guess it goes without saying then that women need to keep their legs shaved?

Steve Harvey: Grooming is critical, just like it is critical for a woman. Women want a well-groomed man. Women think we don’t look at stuff, but we are a very simple people, we like shiny things. We are attracted to the shine and the glitz.

Click here to purchase a copy of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man!

eHarmony: What do you think are the keys to a successful relationship?

Steve Harvey: Trust and honesty is the cliché answer, but I can tell women that from a male standpoint, the key to a successful relationship is that the woman comes into the relationship with standards and requirements. That is the key to a guy: a woman who has standards and requirements and, in the book, I talk about this extensively. It is one my biggest chapters. Women have to establish their standards and requirements because the guy will only give you as much respect as you command. It is critical that a woman says up front what she wants out of a relationship — and don’t worry about running a guy off. A guy who is serious about you won’t run off, but you do want to run off the guys who are just coming to play. A woman wants a guy who is planning with her; not playing with her.

Don’t go on a date saying stuff like, “We will see how it goes.” Don’t do that. Women have got to stop saying, “We will see how it goes.” If not, I tell you what is going to happen: It is going to go just like the guy wants it to go. If you don’t have any standards and requirements, any parameters set up in your initial dating experience, then a guy just starts exacting his will and you end up not getting what you want. A woman should never be afraid to say what she wants, what she is looking for, and if a guy doesn’t want to do [what she lays out], let him go about his business, because we are going to be doing one of two things with you: We are going to be playing with you, or we are going to be planning with you. There is no in the middle with us. We are dudes.

eHarmony: If there is one piece of advice you could give to men and women looking for love, what would that be?

Steve Harvey: It is my firm belief that God has created someone for everyone. Throw out all that stuff about there is a shortage of good men. There are thousands of women getting married every day. So let’s stop that right there. God has created your soulmate. Your soulmate has already been born. Why would God having created your soulmate never allow you to meet him/her? I met mine. I know hundreds of people who have met theirs.

What you have to do in the meantime is stay in the ready-set position. You cannot meet Mr. Right in a wrong situation. The mistake a lot of people make is: “I am just going to do this and kick it until I meet him.” While you are just doing it and kicking it, you may be blocking Mr. Right from coming into your life. So stay patient. Don’t get antsy. Don’t jump the gun. Keep taking care of yourself. Keep progressing. I am a firm believer that God will eventually cause you and your soulmate’s paths to cross.

eHarmony: Does that mean that women should expect to spend some time alone while they are waiting for Mr. Right?

Steve Harvey: Let me tell you this. There are guys that spend some time alone, too. When I am saying don’t get involved, I am not saying you shouldn’t date. I am talking about getting wrapped up into a guy. The moment you put the physical part into dating, it changes the parameters of dating. The majority of the women I know can’t really separate the two. Most women — not all — but most women have to be emotionally attached to you to get physical with you. Or once they do, they are going to get physically attached to you eventually. A lot of women sleep with men they know are not the one — they know and are, “Okay,” but all that does is slow down the process of meeting Mr. Right. That is how this game works. Men are very aware of that, too. We talk about it amongst ourselves. So I am saying, date, go to movies, but save your benefits for the guys that are deserving of your benefits. Don’t pass out the benefits to an undeserving guy.

eHarmony: You say in your book that women should wait 90 days before giving out benefits …

Steve Harvey: It is like this: You uncover a lot about a guy in 90 days. You really do. I have talked this over with a lot of men — all of my research in this book is from talking to men. I did “The Tyra Banks Show” and the authors of How To Love Like a Hot Chick: The Girlfriend to Girlfriend Guide to Getting the Love You Deserve were also there. A young girl got up and asked if it was okay to sleep with a guy on the first date and the woman’s response was, “If you want to. Explore your sexuality. If you want to, sleep with the guy on the first date.”

Tyra turned around and asked me how I felt about that and I said, “That is stupid. Who would tell a young girl to do this?” I am a guy and I have done everything. I have been a good man and I have been a playboy. I have done it with money and without money. I am telling you that if you sleep with a guy on the first night, it is not a smart move. We judge you from that moment on. If you sleep with me on the first night that is great for me, but I assure you that rarely works out for the woman, because the guy goes, “Wow. That was easy. The respect level is low. I can get away with anything now.” We are professional hunters. We look for people like this.

But the women who slows it down, who says, “Hey, hold on. Wait a minute. I want to find out if this guy is willing to stick around.” A guy who is sticking around is planning something with you. If he just wants to play with you, he just wants to get it. If you tell him, “I am going to wait a while. I don’t want to rush it,” he’ll say, “I am out of here.” Let him go.

It might not take you 90 days, but on a job, you spend eight hours a day five days a week getting to know a person before they give you benefits. You are not going to see a guy eight hours a day five days a week in the normal dating process. That is why I say 90 days is a good barometer to get a gauge on the guy to see if he works well with others, to see if he shows up on time, if he is worthy of the benefits. You women have the greatest benefit package available to man and you have lost sight of that over the years.

eHarmony: Can women ever trust a guy who has been unfaithful? Is it ever okay to give him a second chance?

Steve Harvey: Yeah. It happens. There are women that are unfaithful, too, that have to be reeled in, but you can give him a second chance. But the guy has got to learn a lesson. Sometimes they learn it the hard way. Now, you are not going to make it easy on this guy. He has got to crawl back through the dirt. He has to grovel in it. He is not going to be a happy camper coming back, but sometimes a guy can make a mistake and he can learn from it and go, “Wow. I almost lost the best thing that ever happened to me.”

eHarmony: What is the most interesting thing you have learned about yourself from love relationships?

Steve Harvey: Writing this stuff down for this book really made me think about it even more because I had to find a way to transfer these thoughts that I had onto paper so people could read it and understand where I was coming from. It caused me to really focus. It caused me to sit my wife down and say, “Do you understand this chapter that I wrote, because I don’t think I have ever really verbalized this to you about what drives me.” Even though she was fulfilling me in the have-to-have department, I wanted to sit her down and tell her what drives me, why I work so hard, why I have so many balls in the air, and why I am not home sometimes.

Writing it caused me to sit down and talk to her about each of these chapters and it actually made our relationship a lot better. We had a great relationship, but we actually have a better relationship because as a man I am not that great of a communicator. It took me eight months to write this book. For me that is a stunning amount of time. I am in the joke writing business. It takes 10 minutes. I can write a whole show in two weeks — that is 90 minutes of laughs. So when I stepped into the book world, it shocked me that it took me this long to write it down.

One of the reasons was because I had to come up with examples and stories. If you write down how a man thinks that is 30 pages because we are really that simple. The first three chapters of the book explains how men are. It was really eye-opening for me to put the words on the page and share the chapters with my wife. My wife okayed the chapters and she said, “Steve, that is really good information for women because I didn’t know that.” That is what really helped me.

I have gotten a lot of emails on my show from women who read the book who are married and said, “Wow. This is really great. My husband has been trying to say this to me but he couldn’t find the words. This is really going to help us.” I have one woman who told me, “I wish I had this book 20 years ago, I would have kept my first husband.” That was the most amazing thing I ever heard.

eHarmony: Have any single women called you as a result of reading Act Like a Woman, Think Like a Man and said, “I made him commit to me?”

Steve Harvey: Absolutely. One girl said, “Thanks to your book, my husband proposed to me. I sat him down and told him and he said, “Oh, okay. That is cool with me, too.” He went out and showed up the next Saturday with the ring. A lot of women don’t know that if you don’t sit your guy down and talk to him about what you want, if you don’t make it a requirement … if we love you, we will do anything for you. Your requirement is a wedding? We will do that for you. So many women are going through this thing: He hasn’t asked me yet. Have you told him what you have to have to be happy? That is not an ultimatum. That is just saying, “Sweetheart, I love you. You are everything I have ever wanted. I hope I am everything you ever wanted. But this is what would really make me happy.”

eHarmony: You say a woman should have standards, so is it okay for her to call a man, or should she sit by the phone and wait for him to call?

Steve Harvey: Absolutely she can call. It is a new day and time. You’ve got text messaging, you have chat lines, you have instant messaging on your computer, and you have cell phones. Of course, women should call a guy, but have your requirements and standards. When a guy comes to win your affections, you know when a guy is trying to win something from you. You are the one who determines what he wins. A guy can’t hold your hand unless you let him. A guy can’t kiss you unless you let him. We certainly can’t get in bed with you unless you okay it. So you control all of that. Knowing that you have that kind of power, there are a lot of things you can get from a man. Chivalry is not dead. It is just not required anymore. Don’t be a chirp girl. I call them chirp girls. You go out on a date with a guy. He has that clicker on his keychain. [chirp chirp] He unlocks the door and you get in. Don’t be a chirp girl. A man is supposed to open your car door and then get in the car himself. That is what we are supposed to do.

We know that. It is just that nobody requires it anymore. I teach my sons that they cannot get in the car until their mothers and sisters are in the car. I teach my sons that if I turn around and you are in that car and your mother and sisters are not in that car, I am crushing you because suppose something happens — a dog attack or something — and we are in the car and the girls are not, how can we protect them? So that can’t happen.

Do you know that your boyfriend or your man is supposed to walk closest to the curb? That is a requirement. He is supposed to pull your chair out at the restaurant; he is supposed to open the door for you at the mall. Just set those standards and requirements as a lady. And that is the title of the book: Act Like a Lady Think Like a Man. I am not saying don’t be independent. Do so by all means. Get your grind on. Get your hustle on. Climb that corporate ladder. Make your money, but just act like a lady. Make a man be a man. Require that of him and you will get more out of your relationship from a guy.

eHarmony: Your book explains how to tell the good guys from the players, but what attracts a man in the first place?

Steve Harvey: A lot of things come into play: Your confidence level, the way you carry yourself. It can be your dress, your attire. It could be your personality. Every woman doesn’t fit on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. I got that. But guess what? Most guys can’t get a girl that has been on the cover of the swimsuit edition. It is a funny situation. Women have been made to believe that this is what beauty is, well guess what? There are full-figured women getting married every day. There are short women getting married every day. There are women with short hair getting married every day.

There is someone who will love you. Someone who will care for you if you are conducting yourself as a lady, if you have a great personality, if you carry yourself well, if you take care of yourself physically. You may not be the hottest chick at the office, or the hottest chick down at the club, but man, carry yourself with some dignity. Take care of yourself. You may not have a man, but dress up like you care about yourself. If you care about you, it causes someone else to care about you, too. But if you don’t care about how you look, you don’t care how you conduct yourself, or you don’t care how you sound when you talk — like cussing at the office — nobody is signing up for that. But confidence goes a long way. Read an Excerpt!