With a decades-long career in television, including his own show, Steve Harvey has conquered the media world. But during his rocket-like shot to the top, Harvey had his share of relationships and gained a lot of experience with women.
Now he's turning this experience into sage advice for the fairer sex. Like the title of his book says, a woman could learn a lot if she would "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man."
Check out an excerpt of the book below, then head to the "GMA" Library for other great reads.
Chapter 10: The Five Questions Every Woman Should Ask Before She Gets In Too Deep
had just gotten to Hollywood and I was seeing a lot of things my then thirty-eight-year-old eyes had never seen before. One of those that stood out most was the lifestyle of a famous and well-regarded celebrity, whose name I'm just going to go ahead and keep to myself. But this much I will tell you: this man had it all—money, fame, and a bevy of super-beauties so bad he could have easily made Hugh Hefner scratch his head and wonder how he could get in on that action. I mean this man was surrounded by gorgeous women. A lot. All. The. Time. And I was amazed at this because I couldn't understand how one person could get all of these fine women like this. I mean, he wasn't the best-looking dude in the business—there were others with more money, more prestige, and certainly better looks than him. Still, he was a master at keeping a stack of solid tens at all times, with commitments to none of them. I'd heard about these superplayers with supermodels on their arms and everything, but when I saw it up close, I was amazed at how the actual connections could happen, and especially why these women stayed with this guy, knowing that they were one of many hanging on his arm.
And I needed to know how this was done (um, not neces¬sarily so that I, too, could have supermodels hanging on my every word, but because I was genuinely blown away by the phenomenon). So I sat down and talked to this guy and a bunch of other men who were in similar "relationships" and asked them point-blank: How do you keep these women coming back for more? And each one, including the most notorious of the bunch, laughed, shook his head, and said pretty much the same thing: those women want the money, the fame, and the lifestyle, and they're willing to put up with a lot of things—not many of them good—to get it. "But do they realize," I asked in all earnestness, "that this is going nowhere?" The one guy shook his head some more and said, simply, "They don't know where it's going because they never ask." He added: "What am I supposed to do—tell them I'm just using them for sex and arm candy? It just is what it is."
Blew me away.
And the more I asked the same questions of guys in similar situ¬ations, I heard the same answer, again and again. And each time I asked them what could have made it different for the women they were with, almost down to the letter, each one of those men said the same thing: if a woman came to me and quizzed me up front about my intentions, they would have known from the beginning that I'm not looking for anything serious. They don't ask, each one said, because they think they're going to run me off, so I get to just string them along. And the one celebrity who seemed to be the master of all of this said, quite simply, "I have enough of them so that when I get the questions, I don't have to answer because for every one woman who asks, I have two more who won't." Call this what you want: foul; wrong; inexcusable—what¬ever. But that's how it is. And this kind of thinking from guys isn't just happening in celebrity circles, trust me. It happens with everyday guys—doctors and lawyers, truckers and deliv¬erymen, too. Some of them have as many women as some of my celebrity friends, and the women they run game on are just as fine as some of the supermodels clinging to the arms of stars. But if you're a woman on a string of three or thirty-three, you're still on a string. And both you and I know that's not a good place to be. Your objective is to avoid being on the string.
The first step, I think, is to get over the fear of losing a man by confronting him. Just stop being afraid, already. The most successful people in this world recognize that taking chances to get what they want is much more productive than sitting around being too scared to take a shot. The same philosophy can easily be applied to dating: if putting your requirements on the table means you risk him walking away, it's a risk you have to take. Because that fear can trip you up every time; all too many of you let the guy get away with disrespecting you, putting in minimal effort and holding out on the commitment to you because you're afraid he's going to walk away and you'll be alone again. And we men? We recognize this and play on it, big time. Know this: the game is old, and it's not ever going to change. My sons will do it the same way because they can and there will be women who allow it to happen. But you can cer¬tainly know the rules up front, and change up your strategy, so you don't get played.
How do you do this? Start by making the man be really clear up front about what he wants out of his life and his relationship with you. You do this by asking him these key five questions— questions that will help you determine right away what values this guy has and how you fit into his plans. I devised these ques¬tions after years of watching men play women, and women fall¬ing for it, and constantly asking myself and even some of my friends who are masters at the game, "If I were a woman, how could I avoid all of this?" They're great questions, too—the answers will tell you everything you need to know about this guy in your life or the guy you hope to have in your life. Asking these questions will help you determine whether you should stick around to see where your relationship goes, or if you should run really fast in the opposite direction. Note: There's no need to delay asking these questions—ask them right away, as soon as you think you might be remotely attracted to a man you've met. If he's turned off by the questions, so what: you have the right to the information. And if he isn't willing to answer them, well you know from the gate he's not the one for you.
So let's just get started with the questions. Remember: No. Fear.
Question No. 1: What Are Your Short-Term Goals?
If you're going to get into a relationship with a man, you should know what his plans are and how they fit into the key elements that make a man—who he is, what he does, and how much he makes. These three things, as I've already told you, are extremely important to any mature, grown man, and you have every right to know what he's doing right now, and what he's planning over the next three to five years, to be the real, grown man he wants to be. His answer also will help you determine whether you want to be a part of that plan or not. You'll know to throw up your much-needed red flag if he doesn't have a plan at all.
If he's got a plan, well great. Act like you're superinter¬ested and ask follow-up questions—be the inquisitive, en¬thusiastic detective that you are. Men love to talk about themselves. We do this because we know that in order to catch you, we have to impress you. So allow us to impress. The more inquisitive and interested you are, the more infor¬mation he'll give you. Say things like, "Wow, how did you get into that field?" or "How interesting—what does it take to make that successful?" And listen carefully. The whole time he's talking, you should be evaluating whether he's ac¬tually working hard to meet his goals or if he's a lazy dreamer just talking a whole lot of nonsense. You should also be fig¬uring out if you see yourself in that short-term plan; if you know what his plan is, you can immediately assess if you want to be part of it and what role you can play in it, or if you need to remove yourself from that equation. For in¬stance, if he says, "I'm a technician for the cable company, but I'm going to college at night to earn my B.A. in engi¬neering so that I can move up the ranks at my job," then you know this guy has a plan and he's executing it. Maybe you can even see yourself helping him study or being there for him at graduation and giving him suggestions for how to transform himself from the blue-collar worker who installs the cable to the engineer who helps build the technology for the cable company. The point is, he has a plan and he's work¬ing toward it, which means that he's trying to be the man he wants to be—the kind that just might fit in line with what you're looking for in a good, solid mate.
But if you ask him what his short-term goals are, and he tells you something crazy, like "I'm in street pharmaceuticals, and right now I have one block but my goal in the next few years is to have ten blocks on the west side from Henry Street to Brown Street," well, then you know right then and there that you can go on ahead and keep it moving. The same applies to the man who states his short-term goals, but clearly has no plan to implement them. For instance, if he says his dream is to be a producer, but he's not doing anything in the field to actually become one—he's not interning or working for a film com-pany, he's not writing or reading any scripts, he's not making any connections in the industry that might open some doors for him, he hasn't worked for four months and has no prospects of a job in the field he says he's interested in—then you know this man doesn't have a plan. And if he doesn't have a plan, he's not going to achieve his short-term goal—or it's really not a goal, he's just talking out of his behind. Either way, you may not want to sign up for his plan. Just stick to your own. Sure, there's a chance that he might get it together and make it in the indus¬try, but why do you have to sign up for that? If he's got this whole pie-in-the-sky dream, figure out if he's lying there look¬ing at the stars, or if he's got a jet pack strapped to his back and he's about to take off to go grab that dream.
Question No. 2: What Are Your Long-Term Goals?
Trust me on this: a man who really has a vision for where he wants to see himself in ten years has looked into his future and seriously considered what it'll take for him to get there. It means he has foresight, and he's plotting out the steps to his future. If he says something silly like "I'm just trying to make it day by day," run. If his long-term plan is the same as his short-term plan, get out. Immediately. Because his answer tells you that he hasn't thought his life through, or he doesn't see you in it and so he has no reason to divulge the details to you. All he's got for you is game. If he doesn't have a plan, why do you want him to stick around, anyway?
The man you should consider spending a little time on is the one who has a plan—a well-thought-out plan that you can see yourself in. Because please believe me when I tell you—and like I told you in an earlier chapter—a man always has a plan. I know I did when I first started working as a comedian. I knew before I even told my first joke in front of an audience that within the next five years, my goal was to become a headliner and make at least $2,500 a week. With my eye on that prize, I was soon making $2,500 a week, and happy about it, too. Still, I wanted to become a headliner, and I upped the ante: now I wanted to make $5,000 to $7,500 per week. It took me about eight years, but I managed to meet my financial goal—and I was happy about that, too.
And then I met Sinbad.
Now at the time, Sinbad was working at a comedy club in Birmingham, where he'd become so large, he was making $50,000 to $70,000 a week at this one particular club. Every. Seven. Days. And I knew I wanted a piece of that action. His success made me realize that there was something to this comedy thing—that I needed to set in place a long-term plan that would afford me the kind of life I could see was possible for a comedian. I wanted to get on television to provide a life¬style for my family that would make them proud. I envisioned my life this way, and then created a plan for how I was going to get it. Now, I knew it wasn't going to be easy—that it would take time, because there were very few comedy clubs where you could make that kind of money, and you had to have the right connections and a great team to help get you there. But the point is, I had a long-term plan, with steps on how I was going to get there. Eventually, I reached those goals and then some.
Once you hear your potential mate's answer to questions number one and number two, you'll have a firm understanding of the kind of man you're dealing with. Do not tie your life together with a human being who does not have a plan, because you'll find out that if he's not going anywhere, sooner or later, you'll be stuck, too.
Question No. 3: What Are Your Views on Relationships?
Now this one is a multiple-part question that sizes up how a man feels about a gamut of relationships—from how he feels about his parents and kids to his connection with God. Each answer will reveal a lot more about him—whether he's serious about commitment, the kind of household in which he was raised, what kind of father and husband he might be, whether he knows the Lord, all of that. And the only way you'll find out the answers to these questions is to ask. Do it before you kiss this man, maybe even before you agree to go on a date with him—this is a great phone conversation, for sure. And don't be shy or nervous about asking these questions, either, because what are you supposed to be doing with this man if not talking to him? If he has a problem talking about this right here, then something's wrong. Run.
First, find out how he feels about family. What are his views on it? Does he want a family? How does he feel about children? If you have a child, tell your man about him or her—it's his business to know, but more important, it's your business to find out if he sees himself being a father. If he doesn't want kids and you do, then you can stop all of this right now. (Please know that if a man says he doesn't want kids, he's probably not going to change his mind, regardless of the intensity of his feelings for you.) Moreover, if he doesn't like kids and you already have them, where, exactly, is this relationship going?
Next, ask him about his relationship with his mother. It's the first relationship a man has with a woman, and if he has a good track record with her, then chances are he knows how to treat a woman with respect and has some kind of idea of how to profess, provide, and protect not only a woman but a potential family, too. I don't know a boy living whose mother isn't be¬loved. We learn to protect her and provide for her; we learn about the basic core of love for a woman from her. Indeed, if a man is at odds with his mother, it's a safe bet that he's going to be at odds with you. If you hear any part of "Man, me and my mother? We just don't get along . . ." in his answer, erase his number and texts from your phone and keep it moving.
After you find out how he feels about his mother, ask him about his father. If he had a great relationship with his dad, then he was probably raised with a core set of values that he'll bring to your potential home together. Now, I understand that a whole host of men grew up without fathers in their households, but chances are that the man you're interested in had a male role model in his life who showed him the ropes of manhood, or perhaps the absence of his own father taught him a few things about what he doesn't want to do when he becomes a father. At any rate, ask questions about his relationship with his father, and his answers are bound to reveal the kind of father he just might turn out to be.
You're also going to have to ask him about his relationship with God. Let me be direct: if you meet a man who doesn't have a relationship with God, he doesn't go to church and has no intention of ever going, and he has no belief system he can point to as a guiding force in his life, then it's a problem. After all, what moral barometer does he answer to if not to God? What's going to make him even consider being loyal to you? What's going to make him do right by you and the kids? What's going to make him feel whole? I'm not saying that you shouldn't date a man who doesn't go to church, or who has a different belief system than you. But if his core beliefs don't match up with yours, you're likely to have a problem.
These next two questions should be asked after you've been talking and dating for a while. Ideally, ask them before you have parted with the cookie (y'all know what I mean). If you have already had a sexual encounter with the man, you can ask these questions anyway. The answers may hurt a little bit more, but at least you'll know.
Question No. 4: What Do You Think About Me?
Now, this one you'll have to ask after a few dates, because he's going to need time to get to know you. But his answer will be critical because it will reveal to you what his plans for you are. If you've been out on a couple of dates and you've had lots of conversation, you know something about him, but what's more important, you want to know what he is thinking about you. You have a right to know. Oh, trust me, he thought some¬thing about you when he first walked up to you, and you need to know what it is. He was attracted to something—he liked your hair, your eyes, your legs, your outfit. He didn't walk over there just to be walking. Beyond the initial attraction, however, men pretty much know if you're the kind of woman they're going to sleep with and keep it moving, or if they're going to stick around and see if they want more. This, you will be able to tell by his answers.
Listen to his answer closely. I assure you this is how it will go, because every man will answer this question the same exact way: "I think you're great, I think you'd make a great mom, you're fun, kind, you're really beautiful, you turn me on, you're energetic, outgoing, a hard worker, very smart. I think you're the kind of woman I could see myself with," all of that generic stuff we know you want to hear. Still, this isn't the answer you should be looking for. You want specifics. You want to know that he's really thought about you beyond the surface. So do the follow-ups. "Oh, you think I'm kind? What about me makes you think I'm kind?" Then sit back and listen. If he can't give you a concrete example of how you've shown your kindness, he's not really thinking about you beyond the sur¬face. But if he says, "You remember that time when it was my mom's birthday and you called me and reminded me to pick up a card for her? That was really nice." If he tells you he thinks you're a great mom, make him tell you what it is about you that makes you a great mom. And so forth with whatever char¬acteristic he attributes to you. The level of his specifics will give you yet another clue into this man's intentions for your relationship. If he can give you specifics, it means he's been listening and adding it up—he's determining if he's going to keep you, if he can see himself in a committed relationship with you. And that could mean that you're at least on the same relationship page.
Question No. 5: How Do You Feel About Me?
Now this is not to be confused with what do you "think" about me—"think" and "feel" are two wholly different things. And if a man cannot tell you how he feels about you after a month of dating, it's because he doesn't feel anything for you—he just wants something. Ask a man how he feels about you, and he's going to get confused and nervous: "I told you before—I think you're . . ." he begins. You cut him right off and say, "No, no, I want to know how you feel about me." He might shift in his chair, scratch his head, light a cigar—any¬thing to get out of giving you an answer or thinking of what he thinks you want him to say. But you'll have to get him to answer it.
Don't get upset if he doesn't answer right away: he's got to go into that part of himself that he doesn't like to go to, and that's the emotional part. Men do not do emotion well, at all, and expressing it doesn't come easy. He can answer questions about God and the kids and his mother, but with this question, you're asking him to look into his soul, and our DNA isn't made up for the heartfelt outpouring to just anybody. But this doesn't mean you should let up. What you're looking for in his answer is something like this: "When I don't see you, I miss talking to you, I always wonder what you're doing and when¬ever you come around, I just feel better—you're the type of woman I've been trying to find." In other words, his answer has to make you feel wonderful. He may not be in love with you just yet, but he's crazy about you and he's probably thinking he wants to explore a long-term commitment with you, because when he starts to profess and put you in a position where he can provide for and protect you, he's seeing a future with you in it. And this is exactly where you want to be with this guy.
The "I think you're cool" answer isn't going to cut it here, ladies. And if, after you've asked the question and probed deeper, you realize his feelings for you don't run very deep— that he's just not there—then you need to not be there, too. Pump the brakes until you start hearing and feeling from him the things that you think are important to hear and feel from a man with whom you're willing to forge a relationship.
We men are fully aware that we have to answer these ques¬tions, and any real man is going to answer them. You may not necessarily like the answers, but he's going to answer them. If he refuses, then don't bother with him. Don't think that you're going to work it out later—that you'll wait him out until he gets more comfortable with you—because that would be noth¬ing more than blind hope. Before you know it, you'll be find¬ing out the hard way that this isn't the guy for you, and you'll be starting all the conversations with your girlfriends like this: "You know, I slept with him and he's not about anything, I don't even know if he likes kids. . . ." Don't let this happen. Empower yourself—it's your right to know all of these answers up front; per my ninety-day rule, which you'll discover in the next chapter, you need to ask these questions within the first few months of a courtship.
If you're already in a relationship with someone, these ques¬tions are still valid if you don't know the answers. You can ask them for clarification. Or you may need to ask them with the hope that they'll solidify what you may already know—either that you need to get out of your relationship or that you are headed in the right direction. His answers may help you cut your losses, before you invest too many more years in a rela¬tionship that isn't going the way you want it to go. Or they may make you say, "Wow, I'm glad I'm with this man."
Know, too, that though we'll answer the questions because we like talking about ourselves, our answers just may make us consider the woman who's asking the questions in a different light. We definitely want to know where our women stand on these issues, too, but we're not going to bring it up—especially if our intentions for you aren't pure. But in your conversations around these issues, your man just might learn something about you, too, something that makes him know he's got a pretty solid woman on his side. Say, for instance, he tells you that he wants to be an engineer and he's going to night school to get his degree, and you tell him that you have a few friends who are engineers and you can offer to introduce him to them so that they can give some helpful advice as he works toward his new career. When you offer that helping hand, he starts to think, "Wow, this woman is interested in my goals and ambitions. She's offering to help me out. Maybe she might be the one to get me to the next level." And he might just envision including you in those "next level" plans.
See, you're getting information from him and plugging yourself into all these slots—do I see myself in his short-term plans, his long-term plans, as a part of his family, having babies with him, helping him continue a solid relationship with his mom, being a role-model dad for our kids, the whole picture? But it's a two-way street: know that this guy you're quizzing is listening to these intelligent, inquisitive questions, and calculat¬ing whether you're a woman who is his keeper or just a sports fish.