Take a stroll down hipster food joints and cool bars on any Friday night from San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara and the well-known alleys of Silicon Valley – there’s no dearth of stunning single men and women. All matched through some cryptic algorithm that told them to swipe right! From Tinder to Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, Hinge and so on – different flavors and paths to meeting the burgeoning population of techies in the area.
Dating in the Bay Area (San Jose, Santa Clara) has evolved into a dating scene unlike other areas in the country – a bigger ratio of single men to women. There are about “114 employed men per 100 women, among the unmarried adults 25-34, and 57% are unmarried” (Pew Research Center, 2014). Yet ask most single women – dating is impossibly difficult! Unlike other parts of the country where dating is still has a traditional flavor, Silicon Valley seems to have its own unwritten rules!
Not that I am cynical about using dating / match making apps for partnership – after all finding some common ground to start on is just what’s needed. Plus in this busy world where we’ve come to rely 100% on automated systems – grocery delivery, gas refills, fashion buying, food delivery – why should dating be any different? But shouldn’t it?
As I sit in one of the most popular coffee joints in Mountain View, Red Rock Cafe and write this – I keenly observe a young gentleman swiping through his phone showing a barrage of photos of young women to his male friend. A gorgeous young woman sat right across him somewhat interested in the chatter, as I thought to myself – on a normal occasion a sweet glance across the table would have possibly resulted in a real connection and possibly led to a dating situation. But not here, because everything was lost in the swiping right discussion that ensued between the gentlemen.
The skepticism and exhaustion around dating apps is unmissable though. Ask anyone who has used them – pretty much everyone is tired of the process, but it seems there are limited ways to circumvent the dating process in the modern day.
A conundrum – plenty of options might sound exciting for the mind & body, but seems like most people are looking for “A” suitable partner at least for the time being. To shed light on this explosion of choices, Aziz Ansari conducted focus groups with the elite sociologist and co-author, Eric Klinenberg to discover the modern lovers are indeed looking for love, marriage and long-term partnership through dating apps. The whole experience however, is confusing and meaningless dating experiences seem to leave people more isolated than ever before.
In my personal discussions with the eligible singles in the area, here are some major challenges and complaints:
The Dudd Studd!
As one friend described it – you never know till you meet the person. It’s easy to put our best foot forward in our online profiles. Filters and apps can augment not only the lips, but boobs, curves and everything else visually pleasing to the eye! And this goes for both the sexes. Apparently taller men do better, as do women who resemble the Kardashian clan.
Many have cynically come to expect what you see on the app is not you may get.
The Oozing Insecurities
If the date starts with talking poorly about the exes, colleagues, dating experiences etc, it may be an indication of insecurities waiting to escape like fizz from popped soda can. Talking about ex-flames until a solid formation is founded in a relationship is mostly unpleasant anyway. Though bad dating stories can be entertaining, but brining the burden of past relationships is often tricky.
To Split or Not to Split
There are some serious opinions in the Valley about splitting the bill. There are guys who strongly feel that a woman must split the bill – else, the date is a deal-breaker! Not sure about a deal-breaker, but I definitely think splitting is the right idea. I hear the men often say, they’re tired of being used as dinner providers for women – it’s best to avoid such situations all together. At the same time, there are men who pride on treating the woman right by paying during the date. For the ladies, it’s always best to offer – it takes the burden away from the date.
Authenticity & Manners Still Count
As a friend once said, dating in the Silicon Valley is about meeting each other’s façade first – seeing if the façade can connect before the real self can tolerate each other. Shedding unresolved outer self is critical to a more intimate connection in the first place.
Experiences count – plesasant interactions matter. After all, there are only so many Friday nights in your life. It’s best we make them count!
Interesting articles about dating in the Silicon Valley:
- Aziz Ansari – Modern Romance – Time Magazine
- Is Silicon Valley the best place to be a single woman in America
- The best and worst cities for women looking to marry – Pew Research
- Silicon Valley matchmaker – Love Marriage Dating – The Guardian
- How hard is it to date women in Silicon Valley
- Silicon Valleys gender imbalance in one chart