Love in the time of Silicon Valley

Being single in the startup world isn’t for the faint of heart. My tips on searching for love in the fast world of tech.

Silicon Valley is splattered across every news outlet these days. Unfortunately, it’s not due to a hot IPO or startup pitch competition. For all the talk about dudes ruling the roost in Silicon Valley, for its plethora of brogrammers and male engineers around every corner — it can be mighty difficult to find a romantic partner. The sincerity and emotion of a real connection — well, it’s something that can’t be engineered in an accelerator course. Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way: to find real love, you’ve got to just get out there and make it happen, even if it takes a dash of Wonder Woman-esque effort.

While I’m still rocking the Silicon Valley single life, there’s a few lessons I try to stick to when I’m wading through the wistful, fun, crowded (and frustrating) dating pool. Remember, founder life is challenging enough, whether you’re going at it single or with a partner. The least you can do for yourself is to give romance the best shot you’ve got — and enjoy the (often comedic) adventure that accompanies it.

1.Be yourself. I’ve met a lot of great guys when I’m just out and about doing he things I enjoy, such as startup events, wine tastings, running by the Bay, enjoying San Francisco’s incredible food. These scenarios are ideal because I’m not putting on a front — I’m being myself and owning up to who I am.

With age and experience comes confidence. I remember dating in my 20s, feeling like I had to be a different person to fit the lifestyle of whomever I was dating. I don’t have time for that now. Doing things I truly enjoy and finding others that like the same things cuts out so much of the drama. And hey, if there’s no romantic spark, at least you still enjoyed the activity, right?

2. Give online dating a shot. I know, I know. We all want to meet our true soulmate in a much more organic fashion, like in the frozen food section of Whole Foods or as we jam our way into a crowded Monday morning elevator at work. Newsflash: sometimes life’s just not as…cute?

Dating websites and have taken off because they work. They’re filling a need. Many are either totally free or a cheap monthly fee, so it’s worth the investment to give it a shot. For a busy entrepreneur, meeting guys digitally is a game-changer. There’s no pressure to be out and about all the time. I can still have a crazy week at work, come home on a Friday night and unwind. Alone. In my apartment. While meeting interesting people.

You are just one person and you’ve got to prioritize. You can’t be everywhere at every time. So, let the apps work the crowd on your behalf.

3. Meet people through your network. Your friends can be a great source for meeting people who are genuine and fun. Anyone involved with a startup tends to go to a lot of events. Going to events with friends means you’re constantly being introduced to their friends — and you never know who you’ll meet. Have your eyes (and heart) open.

But the problem with startup events is that they are so tied to your work. So, focus even more on the good stuff: dinner parties, birthday events, outings in large groups. These settings give a group of people a chance to relax, there’s zero pressure and it’s all about having fun. And, if you do meet someone you hit it off with, you’re one step ahead of the game with a somewhat shared social group!

4. Don’t obsess. When you’re in the game and excited to meet someone, there’s a slippery slope between excitement and stress. You’ve just got to trust that it will happen, you will eventually meet someone that you really like. If you’re putting yourself out there, the odds are in your favor. You just have to believe it. In the meantime, life is far too short to lose sleep over it — so have fun and live your life and let the pieces fall into place.

5. Date in your city. We all know people who’ve had success with long-distance relationships, they’re out there. But ask yourself: do you really have the time to be flying back and forth, potentially a few times a month? I’ve tried long-distance. For me, it was a huge distraction and stress. And, it leads to the eventual discussion of: who is going to uproot their life and move?

Nope, you don’t choose who you fall in love with. But before you get too far down the long-distance path, be honest about how far you can take it. Dating in your city and surround areas removes the drama entirely.

At this point in my life, I’m all for that.

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