Even with today’s numerous ways of approaching ladies, some men still remain single against their wishes. Countless articles have been written about the dating problems of men in the tech industry, which are becoming more and more serious as the tech industry grows. Many people might agree that tech men are by nature quiet, shy and introverted, with their mind focusing on their job 24/7. Their job overshadows other parts of their life, such as dating. What’s worse, it seems like every aspect of their career handicaps their romantic life.
Finding love has never been an easy task, but nowadays it is almost a mission impossible, especially in Silicon Valley and Seattle where tech culture has become increasingly dominant. Men of Silicon Valley and Seattle have a dating obstacle with which to contend: a shortage of females. There is a high gender imbalance issue with currently 144 single men for every 100 single women, which is an exceptionally high ratio of men to women. Tech companies just seem to employ way more men than women, which creates cities full of single tech men who don’t seem like they’re making any progress in their romantic life. Being single is becoming a part of programmer culture. SF psychologist Christina Villarreal actually sees a lot of tech dudes in her practice. She says the majority of them talk to her about how to date women.
To see why “techies” can’t find their better halves, we should first take a look at the qualities men need to have in order to be considered desirable. According to evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, high social status, wealth and physical strength (such as a tall and muscular build with broad shoulders) make an ideal male mate. Women tend to like richer men because they can afford a higher standard of living, which makes them feel safe and protected. They care about men’s physical appearance because strong men can pass on their good genes to offspring. According to Kanazawa, long-term commitment, and being able and willing to invest resources are other qualities that women want to see in the father of their children.
In order to have a complete picture of what a desirable male mate looks like, we can switch gears from evolutionary psychology to social science. High confidence, sense of humor, social skills and emotional support in relationships is what makes an ideal male mate according to Aziz Ansari. Even though he is primarily recognized as a comedian, he has talked about this in the context of social science, supported by empirical research. It looks like, at the end of the day, women want a healthy and wealthy, supporting and caring family man who knows what he wants from life.
When thinking about techies, is it hard to imagine them with a lot of previously stated advantages? Let’s see whether a stereotypical male tech worker can fit into the conception of an ideal man.
There is one contradicting point that sticks out. Tech men earn a lot of money, which gives them high socio-economic status. Kanazawa points out that women like men that are wealthy and have a high status, but tech men’s wealth and status comes with a cost: many women claim that they are extremely boring. A 33-year-old woman from Bay Area complained, “They had money, but they were boring. They had a lot to say about their job, but their development as a complete human being seemed to be stunted. And they exhibited little to no interest in the other person at the table.” They invest all their time in the work, which doesn’t help them improve their romantic lives. “Guys in Silicon Valley spend a lot of time on their career and don’t have time to devote to relationships,” women report.
There is also a question of their physical strength. They are not in peak physical fitness because their job simply doesn’t require it. They spend their working hours in front of the computer. Studies show that sometimes this often adds up to 60 hours in a week.
Our society doesn’t consider a stereotypical techie as a beautiful man, especially after many women criticized how they don’t even care what they wear on the dates. A woman from Silicon Valley said: “On dates, guys wear flip-flops, shorts, and jeans. It’s what they wear to work, so they think it translates to date attire — just wearing their scrubby clothes. I wear dresses when I met these guys. They don’t put in that effort.” Women also observed that tech men treat a romantic date more as a job interview. Tricia Romano from Seattle said: “It felt more like a job interview, but not the way a date is supposed to be a job interview. There was no grilling about where you were from and what your family was like and what you were looking for.”
Perhaps worse, women see them as socially awkward. Clinical psychologists agree. One claimed that in his practice of 20 years, he “often treats socially awkward tech workers.” Again, techies work culture is to blame. If not job-related, women claim that tech men don’t even have interactions with women. They show their immaturity by not being able to make eye contact or just rarely interacting with women in general. Michael Klein, a San Francisco clinical psychologist says, “Their emotional maturity is on the lower side.” Geeks and techies get indoctrinated into their own “geek” culture, a culture that often fails to adhere to the expectations of women.
Love and dating are just an ordinary part of people’s lives, but places where the tech industry plays a big role are experiencing a women’s dissatisfaction with the dating scene. An explanation by evolutionary psychology would be in two different types of brain: systemizing (S) and empathizing (E). Kanazawa may conclude that women in Silicon Valley and Seattle have S-type brain, which means that they lack in the ability to identify and understand the thoughts and feelings of the “techies” and they don’t know how to respond to these with appropriate emotions. They simply lack in empathy. Another issue to consider is that women are simply pickier than men, and indeed, evolutionary psychology supports that claim by stating that eggs are more valuable than sperm. If you thought about it, it would actually make sense. Unlike men who produce their sperm daily throughout most of their lives, women are born with only a certain number of eggs. It seems like it gives them a right to be picky, or at least pickier than men. Ansari has a different approach than scientifically established Kanazawa but comes to the very similar conclusion. Because of the great diversity and many options that women have, techies do not impress them.
Women have to deal with men whose jobs are extremely stressful and don’t allow them a lot of free time. That’s why tech men struggle to find a date. But is that something they choose on purpose or is it just an occupational hazard? In the Silicon Valley culture, competitiveness reaches the maximum level of stress. As a result, Silicon Valley is dealing with mental illness because tech workers don’t have time for anything besides job. That kind of a lifestyle closes them up in their own “nerdy” culture – their only comfort zone.
Being surrounded by other male workers all the time definitely leaves some impact on male tech workers’ behavior. They’re not used to having women around, or even having simplest interactions with them, women complain. Right now in the tech industry, ‘fratty’ behavior is very common, so there is no surprise to see popped collars, bad beer, and programmers calling everybody ‘bro.’ Tech companies are not only a place of work but also a place where techies eat and mingle, and live out much of their lives (they’re provided meals, dry cleaning, fitness on-site, yoga classes, nap pods etc.). A former Google worker confessed, “You watch many of your coworkers get weird and dependent at Google and realize the Google lifestyle has made them basically unemployable anywhere else.” If they are not able to change their workplace, then they are not able to successfully run their romantic lives either.
Techies are having a hard time getting dates. But as a solution to this issue comes a new service called Dating Ring, which flies single women from New York across the U.S. to meet single men in San Francisco. Even with a perfect set up like this one, the socially awkward tech dudes didn’t know what to do when meeting a lady. The New York women said that a lot of the time they lacked a filter or said inappropriate things to women before the date even began, like, “Are you really a C cup?” or “How sexually freaky are you?” Several women complained that they were touched inappropriately on their dates. Companies like Dating Ring are trying to take advantage of the situation, but failing because what techies need is not so many single women as some coaching.
Tech men don’t have many opportunities to socialize with women because of their busy working schedule. Even when an opportunity comes they usually either do nothing or blow things up, since they find themselves out of their comfort zone because it is not a part of the culture they are familiar with. As an example, in the Valley, a lot of people have started meeting people through salsa dancing, which has been a big thing. One woman reported, “They (tech men) can’t look you in the eye. They act like, “Oh my goodness, there is a woman who I’m touching.” They get super nervous. It makes it difficult to date someone who doesn’t even know how to act in a social context; it’s just frustrating.”
After going through all these claims that are against techies’ favor, I decided to do my own fieldwork and see whether young women around UC Berkeley campus would date tech men. The result shows that half of the college women wouldn’t even give “techies” a romantic chance. They supported their claims by saying how techies are “workaholic nerds who don’t have time for women”. The answer that they are boring and not socialized was very common too. It seems like my research just supported all the previously stated claims – tech men simply don’t impress women because of their social awkwardness and insecurity.
One Bay Area woman said, “A lot of guys have the mentality that they’ll wait and they’ll find the perfect woman. They don’t realize that relationships aren’t about perfection. At work, it’s all black and white. They say they love their job because it’s about fixing a problem and there is always a solution. They don’t realize that this isn’t how it works in real life.” If they really want to find love, techies need to make some adjustments. They should be honest and embrace their geekiness, but not let it overwhelm the conversation. They can become more socially aware and express positive and confident body language. I understand it may be a little challenging and uncomfortable at first, but I believe that somewhere deep inside, techies are hiding their romantic souls.