05/18/2012 06:14 pm ET Updated Jul 18, 2012

What Is it Like Being a Single Girl in Silicon Valley?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

By an anonymous user of Quora

I have been single in Palo Alto for the last 2 years. For me, being single in SV is frustrating. I realize guys think single girls in SV have it made in the shade, but I (and quite a few of my girlfriends) really haven't found it to be so. The main issues that I have noticed are:

  • High male: female ratio. Yes, this is a problem. When there are more women around and a guy seems interested in me and asks me out, I can usually assume that he is interested in me for more reasons than simply my gender. For whatever reason, he feels chemistry toward me beyond what he normally feels, and he wants to explore that further. Unfortunately, because of the high percentage of men, I have found that a guy behaving like he is interested is really no indication of if he is genuinely interested.  I think in most cases the guy isn't even aware this is happening.  He is just casting his net and if an attractive girl shows up in it, he is going to go for it, at least in the short term. The dating scene is just so under supplied with women that for a lot of guys, a girl showing interest in him is enough for him to be interested. In the long term however, after a few weeks/months it turns out that the guy really isn't all that interested. No one wants to be a consolation prize, but with so few women in SV, even if a guy acts like he is interested, how do you know you are his top choice? How do you know when there is sincere chemistry on his side? Another consequence of this is that it seems like the really quality guys just don't even bother asking girls out because they don't want to be lumped in with the guys that will ask anything with a skirt out. There is definitely a certain type of guy in SV that just goes around asking girls out right and left, I wouldn't want to be associated with that guy either...So you get a lot of these 'semi-desperate' (sorry) guys hitting on you, but the quality guys are sitting back and not making any moves.
  • Little casual dating. Because of the lack of women, or because the guys here are really busy, there really isn't much of a casual dating scene. You get asked to 'grab coffee or a drink' but that isn't really dating. As another answerer pointed out it is often unclear in those situations if it is even a date or not. Actual dating just isn't very common in SV. Everyone is so busy working and stressing that there just isn't much importance put on dating for fun. Whatever the reason, when a date actually does occur (again this is rare, in favor of very informal coffee meet ups etc.) it feels less casual than in other places. Probably because it just isn't very common to go on a 'real' date here.

  • Everyone is really stressed out and working a lot. Really similar to the previous point but a little different. I just feel like there is a lot of talk and complaining about the lack of women, but when it comes right down to it, a lot of the guys around here aren't leaving much time to meet girls. They would make time for a relationship if the perfect girl fell into their lap, but they aren't going to make time to do much active looking or dating.
  • Very high expectations. Everyone has really high expectations around here. Everyone is looking for the 10x girlfriend. Um, this is hard to live up to. I don't look like Gisele, have an IQ of 140 and play WoW or code for fun in my spare time (when I'm not cooking elaborate gourmet dinners) and I haven't founded any companies.
  • Small community. No one wants to be the girl that everyone and his co-founder have dated. But it is a small community, and after a couple of dates with a couple of guys at different start-ups it could start to feel that way. So then there is even more pressure to pick dates wisely.  (So I'm sort of making this one up, I've thought about it, but don't have any real experience or examples of this happening, does this happen?)
  • Stigma to being single. There is definitely a stigma attached to being a single female for too long in SV. No one would think twice about a guy being single for a few years, but with a girl the first thought/question automatically is 'so what is wrong with her?'

  • Bitterness/resentment from SV guys. This is a small point and doesn't really happen too much. However I have experienced resentment from SV men directed at me for simply being female and single. Like I somehow owe the men of SV my services as a female because we are in short supply. I don't really pay attention to this sort of thing, but it is a little annoying.

Note: I'm fairly shy. For an extroverted girl who really likes a lot of male attention and dating, the first point doesn't really hold. I actually do know a few women who love dating in SV and feel like they hit the jackpot. For a girl who is more shy though and doesn't like getting flooded by a bunch of guys who wouldn't look at her twice if there were 20 other women in the room, this can be overwhelming and unpleasant. I would much rather have one (or zero!) guys hit on me that seriously feel real chemistry, than 20 who are just excited to be talking to a girl.

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