Relationship guru Steven Ward shares insights into modern dating in light of his recently launched, tech-forward Love Lab dating app.
Steven Ward is a modern dating guru, so it’s no surprise that his newest venture is a game-changing dating app focused on cutting out the “catfishing” experiences that are becoming more and more common in today’s digital-driven dating world. Ward’s app, Love Lab, requires its users to verify their information at five different levels—social, photo, contact, identity, and background—to ensure that profiles aren't falsified.
A matchmaker since graduating college, Ward is probably most famous for his success hosting reality TV dating shows like VH1's Tough Love and Tough Love Couples. We talked with the relationship expert to hear his thoughts on modern dating and find out why he made an app like this in the first place.
Here’s What You Should Talk About on a First Date
“If you are looking for a serious relationship, if you are looking to settle down and start a family, you want to talk about that on a first date,” Ward advises. “Especially if you don’t know how that person feels about those particular areas.”
And Here’s What You Shouldn’t…
“What you don’t want to get into is religion,” Ward says. “You don’t want to ask about their religion, about their politics, about their financial situations on a first date. All these things are very sensitive areas that, quite frankly, may lead to arguments or defensiveness. It is too soon. Before you feel like [this] is somebody you want to see on a more regular basis, don’t go there.”
This is What People Really Think When You Use Emojis
Ward says that he is engaged and was off the dating scene before emojis became popular but he’s been told that people who use emojis in messages to dates or potential dates are more likely to be sexually adventurous. “If I try to understand or justify why, my only inclination is due to this desire to express. And expressing yourself with emojis is more or less like using an alternative art form for expression. […] So people who express themselves with art are more passionate, sensual, and, dare I say it, more sexual.” He also cautions daters to be careful of which emojis you send to avoid mixed signals.
Women Are Sabotaging Relationships by Creating ‘Frankenstein’ Men
“Women are sort of gaggling their ideal men,” Ward explains. “What that means, is that they are sort of piecing the ideal relationship [together], almost like a romantic Frankenstein. They have the gay best friend that they go shopping with. They have the friend with benefits [who fills] their sexual needs. They have that clean-cut guy who they casually see who their parents love, so that satisfies their curiosity so [their parents] don’t think they’re lesbians. There are basically different men that women are surrounding themselves with that are completing that circle for them. I am concerned that, in the future, women’s standards will deteriorate and they won’t really see the need for a relationship anymore.”
The Salary Gap is a Problem
Ward says there’s a huge gap in what women and men want, and one of the main issues is that women always want to meet men who make an equal or greater salary. “I’ll tell you that my entire career as a matchmaker not once has a man said, ‘I want to meet a woman who wants to make as much money as I do,’” Ward says, “Never. But every single last woman that has hired me has asked for that.”
The Love Lab app in action.
Love Lab Was Born Out of Necessity
“After Master Matchmakers, we were constantly being approached by people who were struggling to meet authentic individuals on their own,” Ward says. “The clients had no trouble finding dates through Tinder or Plenty of Fish or OkCupid. The problem is that when someone showed up for their date, they either didn’t look like their photos, they had lied about their age, or they weren't even who they said they were.”
The App Takes a Very Tech-Forward Approach to Dating.
For starters, Love Lab prevents users from sending fake or enhanced photos by using a Snapchat clone that lets you share pictures and videos one-on-one that disappear after they’ve been seen. Plus, facial recognition software compares your profile photo with a self-portrait you’re required to take. Information like your name, age, and date of birth is also verified through public records, and Love Lab users have to pass a very specific quiz to prove that they are in fact who they say they are. There is even a criminal background check that searches for all offenses, including parking tickets.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTOPHER POLK/GETTY IMAGES FOR VH1