Sex in the Silicon Valley: Relationship therapist on the problems in tech worker's romantic lives

Putting work first and spending too much time on electronic devices is harming tech worker's sex lives, says San Francisco-based therapist

Olivia Blair
Wednesday 22 February 2017 13:42

For the thousands of ambitious technology experts who flock to Silicon Valley to make their mark in new start-ups or established tech giants, they can often expect success and money however, in turn, are they neglecting another important area of their lives: sex.

Sandra Lindholm is a sex therapist and psychologist based in the San Francisco Bay area of California which incorporates Silicon Valley– home to many of the most successful technology companies in the world such as Facebook, Twitter and Google as well as numerous start-ups.

Given the area she covers, Lindholm has a number of clients who work in the valley and says there are common themes that ring true for them.

“The two most common issues are around sexual desire and finding a partner,” she told The Independent.

Common problems extend to the fact that people are putting sex as second priority to their job demands: “With 'techies' and other people in the work industry, the competitive nature of business these days creates a low or sometimes moderate to high level of anxiety to always be on top of their game, a sense of ‘hyper-vigilance’, that distracts from other aspects of their lives including sex, dating and their relationships.

“Additionally, our current culture of overworking creates psychological and emotional fatigue, both of which are sexual toxins.”

Unsurprisingly, those who tend to work in the tech industries spend a lot of time on mobile and electronic devices which also does not help the sex life, Lindholm says.

“These devices facilitate a state of absorption that can be difficult to interrupt... The attention used to focus on these devices can become a substitute for time with a significant other or lover.”

She therefore hears of such complaints from the partners of people who work in the tech industry during her relationship therapy sessions. Partners struggle with trying to spend time with their other half when they constantly have to answer their phone on a date, during an important conversation or apparently even when having sex, Lindholm says.

“One female described to me how difficult it is for her to stay in the sexual moment when her partner has two devices by the bedside going off with different alerts, lights flashing and sometimes answering during their intimate activities.”

This can also lead to erectile dysfunctional problems for men as when their attention is elsewhere, performance issues might be more prevalent.

“If a man is engaged in sex, but becomes distracted either by a device or thoughts about needing to attend to a device, it can be difficult to maintain arousal enough to sustain an erection or experience climax, this is also true for women regarding arousal and orgasm.”

Last year, a study suggested the millennial generation were having less sex than any other since the 1920s and attributed a large section of this to them spending more time online than directly interacting with others.

The chance to meet a romantic partner can also be more challenging for someone who works in the tech sector, Lindholm suggests.

“Those attracted to the tech industry may have more challenges meeting potential partners for several reasons. One is that people attracted to those sectors may be more isolationist in general making it difficult to meet people.

“They may have less experience with social etiquette and may have awkwardness in connecting with and creating romantic relationships.

“They also are accustomed to a type of work that tends to run in a mechanistic and “predictable” fashion whereas human relationships and sex involve very humanistic factors... Turning to their devices can be more inviting and soothing as opposed to conjuring up the courage to risk their heart.”


Lindholm says that even if her clients are not working in the Silicon Valley the influence of the tech industry “significantly influences the population and lifestyles of the greater area and beyond” meaning it therefore affects a large population who live in the nearby area.

She also says many of her clients, of all ages and industries, often claim they do not have time for sex which is ultimately part of the problem.

“Blaming the lack of sex because of a lack of time is so frequent; however, I point out that often this is a choice. We are making a choice as to what we focus on and give our time to. Is it a favourite TV programme, Instagram, Facebook, or our lover? One agreement I often facilitate with couples is an agreed time to turn off devices during weekday evenings and how much time to spend on them during weekends and holidays. For most people and couples, it is about finding a balance between work, tech and intimacy.”

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