Steve Harvey, stand-up comedian and talk-radio host, is the unlikely author of a best-selling relationship book. Act like a Lady, Think like a Man debuted at the top of several best-seller rankings last week, include the advice list of the New York Times and the nonfiction list of the Wall Street Journal. He spoke to TIME’s Belinda Luscombe about why his simple, pull-no-punches counsel is resonating with women.
It takes some kind of guts for a guy to write a book that presumes to give relationship advice to women. What made you think you could do it
The advice I’m giving to women is actually from an expert point of view. I’m an expert on manhood. I know how men think. And I know how men think when they’re not responding to questions in a clinical study. It’s a culmination of 52 years of living. All my friends are male, and they’re from all walks of life. I have friends from all different races. We have cultural differences, but we think the same way. And I can share with women exactly how men think, exactly how your man thinks. I don’t care who he is, how old he is, how much he makes. When it comes to these subjects, this is how men think.
Are you surprised by how much interest the book has generated
I’m way past surprised. I’m stunned. To be No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, well, that’s alarming. Having been a stand-up comedian, I think it’s surprising to a lot of people that I had the insight I had. I tell people I’m a stand-up comedian two hours a week. The rest of the time, I’m somebody’s husband, I’m somebody’s father. I’m a man. I take great pride in that.
To what do you attribute the book’s success
I think there are so many books out there written on relationships and romance that women are the authors of. How can women know exactly how men think And there are so many guys out there with relationship books who are just not telling the truth. They have shaded parts. They’re always leaving the door open for a guy to get away with something. I identify the problems that women have with men, and then I give them a solution. The content is so glaringly clear, and I think women appreciate it coming from a guy who has no ulterior motive and is just honestly talking to them.
Why do people need help with their relationships
I’ve had two divorces myself. I understand. I’m not a relationship expert. But what I was never able to convey until I got a little older was why I was missing in action so much. Why I was trying so hard to be somebody. Why I was not as emotionally involved. I never knew how to explain it. The older I got and the more time I spent with myself, I started thinking, Wow, man, I’m just grinding right now. I’m really trying to develop who I am, what I do and how much I make. And unless a man gets those things lined up in his mind, until a man is secure in that, he can never be to a woman what she needs him to be, because he’s missing some major components from his own personal life. And so many women are running into men who don’t have that aspect together, but they don’t know that’s what it is so they can’t even help.