City Paper is not for tourists
In this week’s Show & Tell, I profile Jae Ellis (pictured) and Allen Bickoff, childhood friends who overcame broken engagements, college sexual dry spells, and crippling “nice guy syndrome” to become Reston’s resident romance experts. Ellis and Bickoff are co-founders of AskRomeo.com, a dating and relationship advice outfit that helps (so far, only heterosexual) men and (yes, sometimes even) women find dates through group seminars, private coaching sessions, and, in extreme cases, week-long sleepovers in the pair’s Reston apartment.
Though AskRomeo.com markets its services to both men and women, their advice tends toward the masculine–dragon-slaying, fire-fighting, Top Gun masculine. Indeed, 80 percent of AskRomeo’s one-on-one clients are men. “Being men, a lot of the stuff that we put together comes from a male perspective,” says Bickoff. “We were never women that needed help, so we don’t know what that transformation is like.”
Michael Karlan, whose social networking site Professionals In The City partners with AskRomeo.com to provide its relationship courses to local singles, agrees that AskRomeo.com “tends to be a more male-centered event.” But Bickoff says they’re working on it: Bickoff, Ellis, and their female instructors are currently conducting research for a female-specific curriculum.
A preview, after the jump:
(Photo by Darrow Montgomery)
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had [in creating the curriculum] is the fact that the classical definition of femininity contrasts with what modern women have to be,” says Bickoff. “A lot of women these days have to succeed in the workplace, and they’ve had to adapt these historically masculine traits in order to to that. They’ve become independent and able to take care of themselves, as well they should, but that contrasts sharply with what it means to be attractively feminine.
“Remember that men love to help and feel needed. One of the important things for a woman to do is to make men feel like they’re still useful in their lives. For example, a woman could say, ‘Oh, I can’t open that jar, can you open it for me?’ Little things like that. Really, what we’re working on is finding a way to balance a woman’s self-sustaining abilities with what makes her attractive to a man.”
Best of luck, guys.