A startup employee shares her struggles looking for love while working in the industry. Sound familiar?  
By Melissa Eisenberg (Marketing Director, DarwinApps)

I am not here to complain about dating, because regardless of what industry you are in, it sucks. This article is being written because of a desire to share the realities for both men and women in the startup world (i.e. working for companies with 50 employees or less).

Rise of the Alpha Female

One of the reasons it can be especially hard for women to date within the startup world* (especially if they are a founder), is due to pure intimidation. You don’t hear Sheryl or Marissa talking about how hard it is to be the boss and the cute girl some guy is dating, because they currently don’t manage those roles. They are married, with children.

If you are in a serious relationship or married, none of this applies to you. Sorry.

Being the boss of my own universe and running a company is my biggest priority. At work, I am a kickass, no bullshit, no tears, savvy businesswoman. Outside of work, I find it difficult to turn it off. This is a problem. Why?

Powerful or aggressive females are difficult for most men to deal with. We challenge their masculinity, because we have taken on a ‘traditional’ gender role they know and love. Within the startup industry especially, I have found that although many men may respect your drive, managerial capabilities and strong will, it doesn’t belong in a relationship with them.

Just like other men, the more intelligent and powerful woman (or her company) is, the greater the competition. Competition also doesn’t belong in the dating world.They want to be the man, and they want you to be the woman. It’s as simple as that. Obviously, not every single situation is like this, but it is a common theme I have been finding the longer I am in this industry.


workcomesfirst.PNGOne of the biggest things we all lack in this industry is time. I am cutting into my social media management time to write this article. We move appointments, get to work early, stay late, show up on the weekend and constantly think about our jobs. It makes us amazing at what we do, because we are committed to it.

What happens when you add dating into the mix? Even less time. Some would argue that you make time for the things you want in your life, like a hobby, gym time or dating. While true, we also don’t have as much time during the week to go out with people that aren’t a good match, because it is a huge waste of our time.

That being said, I think only two types of relationships work in the startup industry:

  1. Dating someone outside the industry (with more time than you)
  2. Being in a committed/established relationship

Where is time for just dating? Virtually non existent.

Double Standards

I just saw this video and my heart flooded. First off, it was made by Pantene (a disgusting excuse for haircare), and secondly, it’s kinda true. Because of its truth, it is sad. In college, I once read about this concept of the ‘triple threat wife.’ Almost a mythical character, this woman excelled at being a (1) companion/wife (2) business woman, and (3) mother. Wild, right?

To me, accomplishing even two of these things is incredibly difficult. While I would like to provide a masculine corollary, I can’t because our priorities are different. As a result, my priorities are starting to change. Why not focus on having an exit over finding a mate? I can’t blame it on my biological clock anymore. There are IVF treatments, adoption and other ways to have children. But is that selfish?

This viewpoint may not reflect what you think, but it a reality for most single women in this industry, and in the business world as a whole.

Don’t even get me started about what happens when you have a crush on a guy in the office.

Have you faced similar struggles dating in the startup world?

Headshot-2About the guest blogger: Melissa Eisenberg is marketing director for DarwinApps. As a journalist turned startup girl, she has helped build companies in both Tel Aviv and San Francisco, specializing in content strategy, copywriting and business development. She can’t live without coffee, headphones and cute shoes. 
Image credit: Dimitris Agelakis via Flickr