Have you been wondering why your husband has to work late more often since he hired that cute new assistant? Are you ready to call it quits with your beau but just don't have the heart to tell him? We know you have these burning relationship questions and more, so stop complaining to your girlfriends and seek the advice of a seasoned man who knows a thing or two about the male species. Steve Harvey, author of the hilarious new book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" (HarperCollins) answers questions from ESSENCE.com readers eager to know what it takes to make love work.
"Look, I'm not a relationship expert; I'm an expert on men and how we think. What I used as research [for this book] were players. From cats I grew up with to guys that own big businesses," shares Harvey. Read on to find out what the 53-year-old Cleveland-bred husband and father thinks about lingerie, how to deal with a brother who makes less than you, and what you must do to make him put a ring on it.
Q: Why do men have so much enthusiasm when they meet you but seem to lose interest six months later? How do you get them to continue being as excited and interested as they were in the beginning?
—Trina, 32, Newark, New Jersey
STEVE HARVEY: That's almost a natural path in relationships. It's always a honeymoon in the beginning. It's like when you first get married. There's a honeymoon and then you settle into the day-to-day functions of being married: the bills, the kids, and the grind of building your dreams together. A woman has to understand that, in the beginning, the enthusiasm and the excitement for a man is the hunt. But women bring this excitement to a close a lot quicker than it has to happen. If this woman would extend the courting process, and exacted her standards of how she wants to be treated, over a long period of time, a guy would be more conditioned to constantly bombard her with niceties. If you like flowers, the flowers would continue if that was a standard. But a lot of women don't have their standards in place so he does what he has to do in the beginning, and then it drops off.
Q: I've stopped wearing my headscarf to bed but the fire in my love life is waning and sex has become routine. How do you keep the romance alive in a relationship after you start living with a man?
—Candice, 37, Brooklyn
HARVEY: Once again we're getting down to expectations and standards. The moment you feel like the fire in your bedroom is slipping off you have to stop after the second time. Babe, let's talk. Is there a problem here? Don't tell him, "You ain't doing this." and "You ain't doing that," because that just backs the guy up in a shell. You say, "You know what? I really like it when you do this to me." "That just really turns me on." You're telling him what you want without telling him what he ain't doing. So then a guy goes, okay, she isn't demeaning me, or complaining about what I'm doing, she's saying this is what I like. You're giving him this information in a reminding way, because at one point, you guys did have the fire in the bedroom. Try saying, "When you lick behind my ear, boy, I tell you..." And watch. The next time you two are in bed, you fixin' to get licked behind your ear.
Q: Does lingerie really matter to men at the end of the day?
—Dawn, 50, Yonkers, New York
HARVEY: Oh it absolutely does. There's not a lot of stuff we [men] can wear to bed that's sexy. We have drawers-that's it. We ain't got no store we can go to and say oh, that's gonna turn her on. A lot of the stuff that they sell for men, if you all of the sudden saw your man walking to bed with it on, you'd be saying, "Where did this come from? Why does he think that I like leopard bikini bottoms on my man?" There's really not a lot that we can do. So it definitely makes a difference for a guy, because no matter how old we get, we are still aesthetic people. We like what's pleasing to our eye. We do not walk up to a woman because she has a beautiful mind. We walked up to you because you have a beautiful behind.
Q: Steve, even in 2009, does living with a man before marriage prolong him from asking you to marry him?
—Maxine, 35, Columbia, Maryland
HARVEY: If a man is living with you; y'all paying bills together; y'all might have a child together; y'all might even be putting your funds together. You all are planning. The only difference between y'all and a married couple is a wedding. So you living with a man only prolongs a wedding date, when you don't set a wedding date. There is a chapter in the book called How to Get the Ring. In this new day and age, if you are just going to sit there until he asks you to marry him, you could be sitting there for a while. Why does he have to marry you? He lives with you. He's having sex with you. You guys are putting your money together. Y'all doing everything married people do. I'm getting all the milk and I don't have to buy the cow? Okay, c'mon now. Let's be a little smarter here. If the guy wants to continue to live with you, you have every right to know what direction your life is heading. When do you want to be married? Lay it on the table. It's your future just like it's his. And your future should not be at the hands of when he's ready to give you a future. It should be for the two of you to decide.
Q: For several months, I've been spending time with this man. He has indicated that he has deep feelings for me. I like him a lot, but I'm just not there. What should I do?
—Lynnette, 38, Harlem, New York
HARVEY: If she's not there yet, it's only because of the truth. There is something preventing her from committing to this guy. Why? What is it about him that's making you uneasy? Women have to go back to trusting their intuition. It's a God-given gift that you are born with to protect you from us [men], the hunter. Something is preventing her from feeling like this is the one. The only reason she's not sure is because she's not secure about something. So what is it? Deal with that and move on.
Q: I've been in a relationship with a man for about a year but we've known each other for seven. He started his own business two years ago and has fallen on rough times. I met him when he was gainfully employed, so I know he's not lazy. But I would still like to go out occasionally. I keep telling him I'm a cheap date: a picnic at his place or a walk in the park would make me happy. How do I allow him to still "be a man" but not completely sacrifice who I am?
—Chloe, 33, Los Angeles
HARVEY: Why doesn't she take the picnic over to his house? She can go over to his house and then go for a walk in the park. She's still going. But she wants him to initiate it. See, this is what's going on with this guy right now. There are three things that absolutely drive a man who's not in the right place: who we are, what we do, and how much we make. I don't care what color you are. That's what drives us. We wake up every day thinking about those three things. Until that guy gets that process rolling again to where he's comfortable, he does not have time to give to her. It's not that he doesn't love you or he's not feeling you no more. If she can get through this difficult time with this brother, she really got her hands on something.
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