What Is It Like To Date Someone In Tech: Stereotypes, Dating Culture, Gender Ratios, “I Work In Tech”. Dating In Silicon Valley.
“I work in tech.” Spend 10 minutes at a speed dating event, house party, The Emporium, Blue Bottle, rec league, swiping through Hinge or at a networking event and this line will be used at least a few times.
This phrase is synonymous with living here in the Bay Area. It’s a phrase that always existed but lately has been pushed to the forefront of daily life thanks to show like Silicon Valley, dating profiles on Bumble and ridiculous companies getting funding to be the next Uber of newspaper delivery, Airbnb of adult dorms, or Crypto / Wellness / SaaS unicorn.
Everything is tech now – health tech, travel tech, fin-tech. Things that don’t need to be tech like hamburger tech, pizza tech and coffee tech are popping up. It’s important to understand how we got here, what it means, how people can break out of these stereotypes and how you can date more confidentially knowing that you are being pigeon-holed into character types.
Tech bros have replaced finance bros in 2020. At least finance bros are not socially awkward. Weeding out a-holes is another issue but at least they made for good date stories as bad as that might seem. Every so often someone might try to mask this line with another popular phrase in their dating profile bio – ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘founder’ which are code for unemployed. If a guy actually has a legitimate company, the name of it would be listed because that is the essence of a tech bro – self-promote 24/7.
Effects of Tech On Society
Tech is wrapping its arms around every part of every day life and in doing so, has nudged society into this dystopic reality where human connection is no longer needed to order food, buy clothes, talk to people nor learn to do things on your own through trial and error. Don’t get me wrong, technology can be great and it has done wonders to help things get done quickly but it has come at the expense of people losing the ability to think on their feet, use critical thinking skills and deal with ambiguous problems with incomplete data.
Despite these drawbacks, the biggest side effect of a growing tech culture with respect to dating is the lost of individuality, human interaction and experiences. In my experiences, the best conversations and connections are formed with others can relate to failures, experiences, awkwardness and self-deprecation. These are hard to replicate when people spend most of their days behind a computer, on their phones and headphones in their ears.
Great conversation skills (like all things in life) require practice. For many, these opportunities can be fostered by talking to baristas, cab drivers, doormen, bartenders, strangers, retailers, co-workers and friends. Normal, everyday conversations that people use to have are fading away because the default remedy is to Google, Yelp, Reddit everything or pull up information in Salesforce, SQL, Slack and GMail rather than have in-person conversations with others.
With the shift to WFH, I suspect these things will only get worst as people spend even more time at home and less time commuting and in centralized offices. It’s one thing to shift from working from home after building a routine, familiarity and comfort levels with others offline, it’s another thing to start these relationships brand new if you start a new job during the pandemic where you cannot physically meet people you are working with.
People spend most of their time at work and less and less of that time is being used by many to cultivate relationships, improve communication skills, and deal with confrontation. Private buses replace public transportation, catered meals replace dining outside and in-office happy hours replace happy hours outside the office. The tech sector has grown more quickly than any other in places like Seattle, LA, SF and NYC that it feels that tech is the predominant job in many large cities.
Because of this growth, areas like Seattle, San Jose and Denver are shifting the gender balances to and causing a great gender ration imbalance. These competitive cities are extending unfavorable circumstances for men in professions like engineers who lived through undergrad years where engineering programs can be 80% + male further adding to dating woes post college. One result: Peter Pan syndrome of guys living out their college years well into their 30s and 40s.
It’s gotten so bad that in many cases guys openly bash women non-stop on reddit threads like r/tinder, r/niceguys and r/mgtow out of frustration and hating feminists as a result. Years of rejection and in some cases humiliation coupled with high salaries and stock options can lead to socially awkward individuals growing up and becoming a-holes being featured in an exposé in Techcrunch, Recode or Vanity Fair.
These stereotypes are not always warranted but with growing cases of wealth imbalance in places like San Francisco and exploitation of workers via gig economy, well there is enough backlash out there that many women I work with see tech guys as undesirable even if they themselves work in tech.
Many people on dating apps join apps largely because of one of two reasons: 1) inability to strike up a conversation in person or 2) for efficiency reasons. Optimization and social skills are at the heart of dating woes for many. Most people in big cities already rely on apps for food, clothes and directions, why not use them to find dates.
Sure people use the excuse of lack of time, busy schedules and wanting to meet people outside their social circles but people are so use to trying to optimize processes that they carry this mindset over to their personal lives. Why would I go place an order for food when I can order on DoorDash? Why would I go to the local coffee shop when I can order my Oat Milk coffee from Philz with Honey, have-decaf, light sugar through my phone?
Now people are tireless and want to have a relationship, settle down, move in together, marry, have kids and move to the suburbs without actually dating. Dating is where you learn about others, learn about yourself and how you get closer to finding the person you want. When it comes to dating apps, people apply way too many filters and deal-breakers than they would if they were out and about offline.
Having too many checkboxes and profiles at your fingertips gives a false sense of availability. Dating apps should merely be used as introduction apps where you go out with people rather than an app where you order dates. Dating takes time, patience, questions and of course dates – trying to bulldoze your way through the courting phase is a lose-lose situation. Bad dates will make you appreciate great dates.
The Odds Are Good But The Goods Are Odd
Given the types of jobs people have, isolation they endure, long hours worked, private buses taken to and from work, male female ratios in engineering programs, focus on work and late dating starts for men, this has caused some awkwardness and frustration in the dating world.
Many guys struggle with dating early in their lives and either delay it altogether or are too quick to join dating apps. This lack of dating experience leads to even more awkwardness for guys who don’t have the skill sets they should have in their 30s (namely eye contact, conversation skills, fashion sense, life experience and such).
Walk around San Francisco and you will see cutouts of guys from the Silicon Valley or Tech Bro starter pack
memes everywhere on the internet (All Birds shoes, Bonobos pants, company fleece, hoodies, Warby Parker glasses, Apple Watch, Airpods, posing inside of or next to a Tesla etc.). When everyone begins to look the same, it’s hard to stand out.
All these items are bad conversation starters because they are cliche and not-unique. They are things everyone is familiar with.
Assumptions are made, stereotypes are validated and people are dismissed all too quickly for having been figured out through observable predictions. Every decision you make is a reflection about you, what you prioritize, what excites you, what makes you curious and what grabs your attention.
You are doing yourself a disservice by taking shortcuts in life by reducing opportunities to explore the world around you (shops, cafes, stores etc.) as well as building a connection with your local community (dry cleaners, restaurants, bars etc.) resulting in fewer talking points to discuss when matching on dating apps, having spontaneous conversations at bars and trying to figure out how to carry on a conversation on a dating app.
Part of being a great conversationalist is drawing upon experiences in your life and making connections from those experiences. This is hard to do when all your purchases and interactions are with your phone and big, boring, cliche corporations. Predictability is boring. Being a social misfit is can make life difficult for you on the dating front even if you are a great speaker and make great eye contact.
How To Be More Social, Approachable and Interesting
For those that are aware of the challenges of dating in places likes Seattle, New York, San Francisco and the like, there is hope. Some of the most interesting and successful people I have worked with in my dating coaching career have been engineers. Those that are able to break their mold, convey their enthusiasm for things other than work or tech, and can carry genuine conversations that span several topics have done well in attracting others.
The biggest thing you can do is to overcome these stereotypes is to put yourself out there, explore, be vulnerable and be willing to make decisions not based on what an algorithm suggests you should do. This entails dressing yourself to reflect who you want to attract not what you feel comfortable or functional in. Take the time to engage in human interactions rather than using apps to be more efficient.
Sure looks, clothing, vocal intonation, eye contact, hobbies and communication skills help tremendously but those can be worked on with time and patience. What’s needed at the core is the desire to be bold, be different, not be afraid to fail or look like a fool, take chances, explore new places, diversify hobbies, get off your phone, make snap judgments – make decisions with incomplete, messy data. In other words, be human, be spontaneous and be vulnerable.
Take a new class, find a new route to take home, sit at the communal table, volunteer at a non-profit that resonates with your passions, sit alone at the bar, explore that new exhibit at the museum, don’t wait friends in order to make plans and instead learn to do things on your own. Try a new dish, don’t look everything up on Yelp before trying something new, ask for recommendations, express enthusiasm for things you enjoy, are surprised by or are taken back by.
If you do take salsa dancing lessons, don’t be creepy or awkward. Women can detect that a mile a way. Don’t do things to meet women, do things because you truly enjoy them but balance some of those interests with one that have good gender ratios. I taught salsa dancing years ago and a majority of guys who took lessons did it to meet women or become professional dancers. Less than 5% of guys did it because they loved it and put in the work – and it showed. Salsa dancing is not about learning steps and patterns but more so having rhythm, reading your partner, understanding the music, improvising and having fun.
Be vulnerable, take a chance to say hello to someone new, or just smile – you might be surprised who you might meet next time you are out and about. If you struggle with expressing yourself, take a speech class or improv lessons. If you struggle with eye contact, talk to bartenders, baristas, old folks or shopkeepers. In a few extreme cases, I have had clients move out of the area and leave their tech jobs to take advantage of better gender ratios or shed the tech stereotypes that cast them in an unflattering light (and it seems to be working).
Advice For Women On Dating
As for women, there are a few things women can do to improve their dating prospects rather than wait for guys to grow up or become mature.
1) Date younger men. Many women refuse to date men who are their age or younger particularly when in their 20s and early 30s. Many loosen their restrictions later in life when dating is more competitive.
2) Date people not profiles or resumes. American society suggests people need to date, settle down and marry and have kids by certain ages, have enough saved up and make certain life decisions in order to be happy. Rather than trying to find an applicant who looks good on paper, date people who are great partners.
3) Date carpenters or the like. Men have no problem dating women who regardless of education, wealth, height and ethnicities. Open up your dating criteria and do it early while things are less competitive.
4) End things early. Don’t stay with someone because it’s easy, comfortable or because all your friends are in relationships. Don’t be afraid to be single at the expense of staying in an unhealthy relationship or one that is not progressing. Don’t assume a guy will change or can change. Change has to come from within, from desire not by external forces.
5) Take initiative. If you like someone, flirt with them, ask them out. Guys take control of their love lives by determing who they ask out. Don’t take a passive seat in your life – be a driver.
It’s hard to engage in conversation if you don’t have much to talk about or if you don’t leave your home outside of work. Common experiences, unique life choices, positivity and curiosity fuel conversations – don’t expect someone to lift you from your rut. Don’t let your past interactions or relationships hinder your ability to give next person you meet a chance to wow you. Everyone is different and everyone deserves the chance to start off with a clean slate.
Trying to optimize your chances for success or trying to avoid mistakes is not what dating is about. It’s about being present, getting to know others, giving your time and full attention to others. Even if you manage to improve your appearance and communication skills, people still can struggle mightily when dating. Everyday people interactions help tremendously with helping you to read body language, make eye contact, read people and maneuver through difficult situations.
Many people who work in tech lack skills when it comes to basic people skills and emotional IQ. Knowing how to handle difficult situations, listen to people, compromise with others, develop solutions and knowing when to cut your losses are key (particularly when relationships go stale, people change or fail to change and people become too comfortable in relationships and are reluctant to end things as to avoid confrontation and uncomfortable situations.
It’s hard to be well-rounded in 2020. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Some people pour too much time and effort into their career that the neglect other aspects on their lives. People are comfortable hiring financial advisors, personal trainers, handymen or even stylists but when it comes to dating, people are still shy and embarrassed about asking for help. Even when they do, it’s usually through anonymous online forums.
Tech shouldn’t be something that defines you, it should merely be a job or career. Finding interests, hobbies and passions can provide balance and conversation starters. Dating is not about finding perfection but rather finding someone you enjoy being with and someone who is committed as you to growing and nurturing those emotions and actions. Jobs are black and white, love is not. Live in the gray zone. Learn to love it, embrace it.
How To Meet People IRL: https://eddie-hernandez.com/how-to-meet-people-irl/
For Tips On How To Meet People In SF: https://eddie-hernandez.com/how-to-meet-people-in-san-francisco/
Never Stop Meeting People Offline: https://eddie-hernandez.com/never-stop-meeting-people-offline/
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas. https://eddie-hernandez.com/contact/
Dating Consultation Services
For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog: https://eddie-hernandez.com/blog/
Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More): https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-frequently-asked-questions/
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