In light of the impending two-part season finale of VH1’s co-ed rendition of “Tough Love,” which will air next week on October 23, Cleveland born and San Diego native, 32-year-old Kyle Keller shared her relationship lessons-learned.
Keller’s television career began at the age of five, with over 100 plays and musical performances that earned her the top female vocal scholarship to the University of Redlands, and training at the world-renowned Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
After moving to New York City post-college to pursue Broadway in 2007, however, she had career-threatening throat surgery to remove polyps. “I went for local rehab at NYU and they told me I’d probably never sing again, and if I did, it probably wouldn’t be at the professional level that I was once at,” she said. But Keller wouldn’t take no for an answer. “You have to be persistent, because it just takes one person to believe in you and then your career can be made.”
Later that year, Keller was scouted by MAXIM Radio on Sirius/XM as a “Hometown Hottie,” becoming a regular guest host on “The Covino & Rich Show.”
In 2009, the emerging personality returned to San Diego as the executive producer for MediaKillers.com. When one of her VJ’s called out sick last minute, she stepped in before the camera. Keller’s strong and witty personality led her to become the lead on-air correspondent for MediaKillers, interviewing celebrities and reality stars on the red carpet, sporting events and charities. She was also hired as the lifestyle & entertainment correspondent for UT-TV, where she hosted her own shows, “Style with Kyle” and “Kyle’s Ultimate Challenge.”
“I am used to being in front of the camera, and I am used to having all the cameras around,” Keller said. However, her latest project as a lead cast member in VH1’s co-ed season of “Tough Love,” was different.
“It was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done in my life,” Keller admitted. “Over 30,000 people applied to be on the show, and I had just gotten out of a relationship a little more than a year ago, so I really wasn’t ready to get back in the dating game or wear my heart on my sleeve.” When the opportunity came to her, however, Keller said she knew it was the only way to get back to it. “[Host Steve Ward] is the only one that would be able to allow me and help me to really become vulnerable.”
Because Keller was an international flight attendant for five years with Continental, she had always dated long-distance. “Even when I dated in New York, I felt like it was long-distance because I was always gone,” she said. “It didn’t really bother me—I’m independent, and the guys that I like were all long-distance.”
But she said her long-distance track record combined with her loquacious nature, were not an ideal recipe for dating. Rather, they earned her the title, Ms. Disconnected. “I talk a lot anyway; it’s what I do for a living. But when I get nervous I talk, and so it’s disconnecting,” she explained. “I’m asking surface questions. It’s like I’m interviewing them, and I’m not getting to know the guy.”
Steve Ward’s tough love, Keller said, both taught her about herself and made her a better listener, which applied outside of just the dating realm. “I remember, I couldn’t tell anybody when I did the show, except my parents because they were my emergency contacts. When I got home, I go to San Diego and my friends were like, ‘There is something different about you. I don’t know, it seems like you are listening better; you aren’t talking as much,’” she laughed. “It was funny, because it really helped me overall.”
Check out a highlight from the interview below. I asked Keller to share some newfound knowledge on healthy relationships and self-confidence since starring on “Tough Love”—though she did say, “I cannot tell you if I am single or not, but I can tell you that I am very, very happy.”
Re: Can you tell us about the best date that you went on?
Kyle Keller: One of the best dates that I went on was with Rusty and it was when we had the date auction, and Steve was telling me that I was interviewing and asking these surface questions. We do confessionals at night and I was like, I wish Steve would give me an earpiece and tell me what to say. That would be amazing. Because from hosting and corresponding, I’m used to working with earpieces…So Rusty [bought] me and I [was] so excited that I [got] to go on a second date with [him]. And before [he came] out, Steve [came] in and he [gave] me an earpiece…He was like, Okay touch his shoulders or Tell him you like his nice muscles…The one thing that was weird, because we were talking about his family, [Steve] said, Say, ‘Am I the kind of girl you think you can take home to Mom?’ [Rusty] said of course…I don’t think that’s the kind of question I’d ask on a second date, but you know this was a challenge and Steve was trying to help me. It was really fun.
I know your parents have been married for 41 years. I’m wondering, do you believe in true love because of your parents and what the show has taught you? And how would you define it if you do?
Yes, I really do. I am a hopeless romantic and I believe in love. I think that the right person is out there for me. I actually had a really good quote on Instagram that I actually posted…It says, ‘Stop looking for your partner. Focus on your goals and rebuilding your life. The right person will eventually find their way to you.’ I just love that…I really believe when you are not looking, that is when it happens…I think it’s been a blessing that my parents have been married for so long, and I want my version of that kind of love. The show definitely helped me in terms of not being so jaded and guarded. I’m learning to be vulnerable again.
They say you need to be self-confident and learn to love yourself before anyone else can love you, and part of that is letting yourself be vulnerable. For you though, with “Tough Love” and hosting “Style with Kyle” on UT-TV, you have a great TV personality and you seem very confident. What advice do you have for those women who could be a little more confident?
For me, it’s all about self-confidence. It doesn’t matter what you look like. Do whatever makes you feel good. If you feel amazing in a great pair of heels, wear heels. If you love your red lipstick, wear it. For me, I feel the most confident in gym clothes…I do. I’ll go out [in that and] a little blush and lip-gloss and I feel pretty. It’s to each their own. Do what you need to do and don’t listen to the BS. If you think you are fabulous, you are fabulous.
What do you think women so often lack confidence? What is it about us that we are constantly comparing ourselves to other women and doubting ourselves?
Women are complex. Men, in general, are simple. You tell them something and they say, Okay. That’s it. Women, we analyze everything; it’s just in our nature. I think with us being complex, it’s just how we are. I don’t know why we do the things that we do. I feel like we are our own worst enemies. We sabotage ourselves sometimes, and I don’t know why we do that. You just have to surround yourself with good, positive people and be the best person that you can be—the best version of yourself. And if you are happy with yourself, it’s going to show and you’re going to exude that confidence.
When the right guy does come around, what do you think it means to let your guard down, and is it okay to keep it up for a little while?
It depends on the guy. If I really like a guy, I kind of tend to jump in headfirst. But I think being friends, in general, is very important. You kind stay friends first, but then again you have to know if the intimacy is there. So be friends with them, go slow, but not too slow. Go with what makes you feel comfortable, but at the end of the day, you have to get to know the person. I would say don’t sleep with the guy on the first date, but I don’t think there is any rule as to when you should. I think you should do it whenever you feel it’s right, just don’t do it on the first date.
Regarding healthy relationships, can you tell us a little bit about what you learned from Steve on what constitutes a healthy relationship?
Trust and communication is key, 100 percent. And you have to genuinely like the person…One thing I will say is get off social media. Social media can be the devil that ruins relationships.