When I signed on as the Lifestyle Editor for TechnoBuffalo, there was one topic that I really wanted to dive into: Dating. I know, it may seem strange for a tech-oriented site, but hear me out. If compatibility is a key factor in couplehood, then for tech enthusiasts, it naturally follows that a romantic prospect that “gets” tech could be a great match. Take me, for example.
I’m a bit of a nerd. I don’t fall into the stereotypical Asian female variety — I don’t play the violin, am terrible at math and have no Hello Kitty t-shirts or cell phone dongles — but I do love my gadgets and gear. Luckily for me, I married another nerd, an animation producer with a penchant for gaming.
There’s nothing like two technophiles in love. We may geek out over different things, but he can share his WoW exploits with me and know that I understand. When I lose myself in my smartphone or tablet, he knows that he’s on his own for dinner. Sure, there are pitfalls — with no one around to rein us in, we tend to obsess about our activities — but for the most part, it has been terrific. After six years (three-plus in marriage), I’m convinced that our common ground has been the key to our relationship. And it is this more than anything that has sent some of my gadget-addicted guy friends looking for a techie girl. Lucky for them, it may be easier now than it has ever been.
Although women still make up the minority in professional IT fields, the general tech savviness of females has gone up. According to 2009 figures from Pew Internet & American Life Project, a greater percentage of women have social networked than men (50% of women vs. 42% of men), and in places such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, the difference is even steeper, at 57% (women) vs. 43% (men). Once upon a time, the Internet was predominately a male place, but women have caught up, with 79% of them — the same percentage for men — hitting the webs.
Go younger, and the outlook’s even better. In 2008, 99% of boys played games. This beats the proportion of girls, but not by much. In this survey, a surprising 94% of girls said that they play games.
According to another Pew study that was released this year, more girls have cell phones (77%) and text their friends (86%) than boys (at 74% and 64%, respectively). Okay, maybe this one’s a no-brainer. High-volume texting is the modern equivalent of the hours-long phone sessions that teen girls have been infamous for since the first telephones hit the mainstream.
Of course, none of this means that all women (or even most women) are tech savvy. But they are strong indicators that guys may stand a decent chance these days of finding a gal who really gets their inner geek. Take Seth Green, for example. Now here’s a lucky nerd who snagged one of the hottest she-nerds on Earth, actress Clare Grant.
If that’s what you’re interested in too, then take heart — there are definitely a few things you can do to maximize your chances:
Tip 1) Keep your eyes open: There are always at least some girls in the obvious geek meccas — tech companies, Comic-Con or sci-fi conventions, and yes, that trusty old standby, the comic book store. The slightly less obvious places are forums and special-interest sites. If you want someone who is clearly looking for romance, you could try online dating. Services like Match.com not only let you describe who you’re looking for, but there are also iOS and Android apps for that. (By the way, if you’re an iOS user whose idea of dream girl is a devotee of Apple, then you need look no further than Cupidtino.com, a dating site for Cupertino-obsessed fanboys and fangirls. Android fanboys — you can insert your wretching here.)
Lastly, there’s the time-honored tradition of hitting on women at bars. (Ah, the classics.) To be honest, this one’s not my favorite. I simply don’t know many people who succeed in these environments anymore, no matter what type of person they’re looking for, but your mileage may vary.
Tip 2) Hit up friends and family for intros: There are also undercover nerds, like the club DJ or graphic artist, so if you know any musicians or design professionals, ask around. Personally, I think the old-school, no-tech intro from a friend or family member is the way to go. After all, no one knows you like these people do, and they may be able to suss out other personality quirks. Best of all, it instantly gives you something in common beyond the tech stuff — your mutual friend.
Want to level up? Well, here’s a power move for you: If you’re already friends with a techie girl, then you have a major weapon in your inventory. As a fairly techie female, I can attest to the fact that we often know others of our variety, so hit up your gal pal and let her know you’re interested in meeting a cool girl with similar interests. She could know someone you really dig.
Tip 3) Chat (and I don’t mean texting or IM’ing): This is the stage that strikes fear into the heart of many geeks. If you know this pain, then you have to brace yourself — at some point, you will have to open your mouth. There are many do’s and don’ts for approaching women, but here’s a quick set for the typical tech-geek:
- DO mention and ask questions about what she’s rocking, whether it’s a skin, earbuds, phone, camera or other gadget. For a tech girl, the hardware we carry is both tool and fashion accessory, so if you ask us about it, it will register the same way as someone complimenting our earrings (and it’s far less lame).
- DO let yourself geek out over your newest toy, but DON’T dominate the conversation. No girl likes being talked at (or worse, talked down to). So revel in your shared geekery, but don’t go overboard. You want to give her room to talk or ask questions, if she’s interested. If she’s not, move on to something else. Remember, this is a conversation. You’re not giving a speech at TEDTalks. Which brings us to the next one…
- DON’T, for crying out loud, rail against a manufacturer, brand or platform at the mere mention of its name. Nothing’s a bigger turn-off than having our hair blown back by a storm of negativity. Plus, unless you’re certain she feels the same way, you could be busting on her favorite gear. Not a good first impression.
- DO remember to get her info. With apps like Bump, it’s easier (and funner) than ever. Even if she’s not super interested (at first), she might give up her info just to use these apps. That leaves the door open for her to get to know how wonderful, smart and sweet you are.
- DON’T update your Facebook status with something like “Just met the girl of my dreams/future Mrs. Smith.” Yes, I know there’s a TV commercial in which a girl does something like this, and it’s supposed to be cool and kind of cute. But with all due respect to the Chevy Cruze’s marketing people, I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if the guy was on the fence. This could’ve sent him running into the hills (or just set him into complacency now, no?). Believe me — if she’s interested, she’ll probably check out your profile, and you don’t want this on there during that tentative stage. It’s like beating your online self with a desperation stick.
Tip 4) Follow up with her, but play it cool. You definitely want to follow up, but be judicious about it. Send her a link to a TechnoBuffalo article dealing with something she talked about. If you chatted about 3D movies, ask her out to see the latest one at the multiplex, or if she’s into tablets, invite her for coffee so she can check out your iPad 2/Xoom. All that is good — and really charming. It indicates that you were actually listening during the chat. This alone will distinguish you.
These days, everyone is multitasking — tweeting, texting, checking in, snapping shots, etc. — all while conversing with someone who’s standing right in front of them. So if you give her your focus and attention, it will be flattering. And if you can prove that you were actually listening, that will give you bonus points. However…
… easy does it, especially when it comes to the follow-up. Sure, reach out via email, IM, social networking or the like. But don’t come on too strong. If you do, things can take a weird turn. I’m talking about cyber stalking here. Not saying you would do that, but an overzealous suitor can come off that way. Since women tend to be strong social networkers, there’s virtually no chance she won’t notice.
Perhaps this should’ve gone without saying, but I’m constantly shocked that some people don’t get this, so I’m saying it. Enthusiasm is okay. Freakish level of attention? Not so much.
Case in point: I once gave a new acquaintance my card, and he proceeded to follow me everywhere. He tried to friend me on Facebook, followed me on Twitter, invited me on LinkedIn, and he even wanted to share restaurant recommendations on Yelp. There’s nothing wrong with all that… except that he did all of this within a span of a day and a half. Creepy? You betcha — especially when he inappropriately started emailing me compliments. Needless to say, I declined all his invitations and then put him in my spam blocker. Thankfully, he got the hint and never bothered me again. But yikes.
So if you want a date, and not a restraining order, then play it cool. Follow up, but easy does it.
Tip 5) Seal the deal. If you’ve met a she-geek that you really like, broken the ice and gone out on a date or two, then congratulations! You are officially dating a techie girl. One of the benefits of this kind of relationship is that gift-giving is a no-brainer. Hardware, software, games, phone accessories — any or all of this may land within her purview. So if you really want to seal the deal and make that girl yours, then for her birthday, winter holiday or another gift-giving occasion, get her something she has her heart set on.
If it’s too early in the relationship, don’t even think about getting her a pricey device, though. You don’t want to come on too strong, remember? Instead, look for a high quality product to go with something she already has and loves, like an accessory she has been coveting or an item that she could really use.
Is she a tablet owner who loves to sketch? Get her a stylus. (Yes, some people really do still use those.) Tech grrl-slash-fashionista? Try some skins or an unusual case. You get the idea.
Now this isn’t a guaranteed recipe for success. Sometimes, no matter what you do, things just don’t work out. “Thems the breaks” and part of the risk of dating. But only people who are willing to risk things ever really gain anything, so put your best foot forward and see what might develop. Soon, you could be happily browsing the aisles at Best Buy holding hands with that someone special.
Have you ever coupled up with a tech geek? If so, be sure to deposit your secrets of success in the section below. And if you’re a techie girl with a few wise words of advice to share, please weigh in.
[EDITED for clarity]