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Love Expert Sows Seeds of Progress

By Kimberly C. Roberts

THE PHILADELPHIA TRBUNE– TV One recently premiered “Love Addiction,” an engrossing and provocative reality show with the mission of rescuing real people who are trapped in toxic relationships. To say the least, the show has elicited rather strong reactions from its viewers.

Under the premise of doing a documentary on relationships, the couples’ relationship patterns are captured on camera, and once the loved one’s destructive situation is established, family and friends gather with one of three relationship experts for an intervention. Ultimately the “love addict” will have to choose: to remain in the relationship and risk support of their loved ones or to “leave the love-gone-wrong for a life so right.”

One of the experts working hard to save the addicts from themselves is North Jersey resident Hasani Pettiford, founder of the Touch & Agree Family Institute. Author of numerous books including “Black Thighs, Black Guys & Bedroom Lies,” “Pimpin’ From the Pulpit to the Pews” and “Why We Hate Black Women and Why We Should Love Them,” Pettiford also hosted a TV talk show titled “The Relationship Sexpert” and has appeared on numerous radio broadcasts.

“But I’ve never done a reality show before, so this is a new thing for me,” Pettiford said recently of his latest endeavor. “But couples coaching and counseling is something I’ve done, as well and individuals.”  

An amiable man with a calm yet confident demeanor, Pettiford explained how he became involved in TV One’s intriguing relationship rescue saying, “They Googled ‘relationship experts,’ and I popped up on a number of websites. What happened was, they looked at some of the work that I’ve done in the past, and they were honest and transparent. They said, ‘We looked at a lot of therapists and doctors and experts, and most of them are just boring. Very clinical. They use terms that are above people’s heads, and they didn’t necessarily work for TV.’ Like I said, they looked at some of the previous shows that I had done and saw, in addition to the professional aspect, the personality that I have, and thought that it would be a great fit.”    

Given the fleeting quality of many of today’s relationships, people often wonder aloud what entitles any individual to be labeled a “relationship expert,” and without hesitation, Pettiford listed his qualifications.

“I’m a marriage and family therapist, so I got trained in that,” he said. “But in addition to that, I probably have read, literally, at least 300, 400 books on the topic, I’ve written 12, and after 12 years of my own personal experience in interviewing others and assessing other people’s relationships, and putting all those pieces together, I have a unique perspective and insight on relationships in general. So all of that wisdom over the course of these many years has given me, I guess, the expertise that I have in the ability to connect with people, and give them tangible solutions that ultimately affect their relationships, or their lives in a positive way.”

With that being said, the obvious question would be, “What is Pettiford’s personal relationship status? As an “expert,” is his “wisdom” and “expertise” effective in his own life? Or does he have some personal baggage that would limit or even nullify his credibility when it comes to dispensing advice?

“Great question!” Pettiford exclaimed. “The number one question is, ‘Who do you listen to?’ Do you go to a person who makes $40,000.00 for the million dollar idea? No! That’s the wrong person. I’ve been married now, happily, for 10 years this October, and I have four beautiful daughters, so I’m the only male in the house.

“In terms of my family background, my parents are still together, going on 36, 37 years, all my aunts and uncles are still married, my grandparents were together until my grandfather died. So I don’t come from an environment where divorce ever existed. I don’t understand the concept, so I guess that’s a part of my whole makeup, because my philosophy is that once you get married, it should be for life, and outside the obvious, we should work towards our marriage. Unfortunately, it’s so easy for us to get a divorce, because we really didn’t have the proper foundation when we decided to get married.”

While Pettiford allows that not every “Love Addiction” can be resolved during the course of a 90-minute episode, he believes that the “seeds” of progress can be sown.

“You never know that true transformation is going to take place,” he said in conclusion. “There haven’t been any couples thus far that I’ve encountered that I wasn’t able to pull them out of a turbulent or toxic relationship. We were able to break through and help them see, along with their family and friends, why what they were in was really unhealthy and no good for them.” “Love Addiction” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on TV One.  

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