The stereotype in the media is that most programmers are single. The story generally goes that they spend all their time typing away in a dark room with a black hoodie pulled over their head.
Most programmers are primarily single because of their age, gender, and workload. 72% of programmers are under the age of 35 and 91% of them are male. Younger men are more likely to be single with 39% of them not having a partner. Plus the workload of a programmer can sometimes make it harder to meet a partner.
The stereotype of software developers all being single loners just doesn’t ring true when you look at the industry. A lot of programmers are single but it doesn’t mean they are single purely because of what they do. There are other factors at play.
Let’s take a closer look at why programmers are single and what it is like to date a software engineer.
Age & Gender
The number of young people aged 25 to 34 now living without a partner has increased to 38% – a 9% increase since 1990.
For the first time, men in that age group are also more likely to be single than their female counterparts. Singleness among men has risen 10% since 1990 but only 7% for women.
It means that programmers are not the only ones who are single. It’s a trend that is affecting young people across the globe. However, most programmers are young, with the vast majority being under 45 so the problem is skewed even further.
But why does being single affect software engineers more? Around 90% of developers identify as male so the effect of increased rates of living alone compounds in an industry that is almost entirely male.
Generally speaking it’s not a cause for concern because most people pair up by the time they hit 50 – the rate of being single drops to just 28% between the ages of 50 and 64.
So if you are a single developer reading this, don’t worry. Things take time and you’ll pair up before you know it. Plus you’ll likely get to retire before most other people in relationships anyway.
The workload of a programmer can vary a lot depending on the type of company you work for. Small startups and the gaming industry are renowned for working their developers hard. While most developers report working just over 40 hours a week, the reality can vastly exceed this.
When deadlines are due or you have demanding customers, working days can extend long into the night – especially if they are doing important work. The overworked developer stereotype does have some basis in reality.
Committing to your work and putting in extra hours has a detrimental effect on your romantic life. It’s hard to get out there and meet people if you are in the office until 8 pm most evenings.
A large workload can also make you more stressed and less likely to want to go out and meet people. Stress is a major buzzkill and can make you more lethargic. It makes sense that overworked and stressed programmers are less likely to seek out a relationship.
Working remotely is widespread in the software engineering world. 86% of developers sometimes work remotely but a third of them work from home 100% of the time.
A major shift has taken place in the industry and more than 75% of programmers want to work from home to be an option offered by their employer.
The impact this has on the number of programmers who are not in a relationship is huge. If you live and work on your own the opportunity to meet people decreases significantly. You forgo water cooler discussions with colleagues and activities like after-work drinks. An office isn’t a sure-fire way to meet a partner but it helps improve your chances, even if it’s bumping into someone at a random bar or going on a date with a friend of a work colleague.
Essentially remote working lowers your ability to cast the proverbial net and try to find a relationship.
A lot of programmers enjoy gaming as one of their primary hobbies. It’s a great way to connect with and meet people online. Modern game consoles like the PS5 and Xbox One are pushing the limits of new games and innovation.
The major benefit of gaming as a hobby is that you can do it from your couch. But herein lies the problem. Other hobbies require you to be out and about or need multiple people. But you can game on your own without going anywhere.
Similar to remote working it limits the number of in-person interactions you have every day. Meeting a significant other while gaming online does happen but it’s a more challenging route than dating apps or meetups.
It means the lifestyle programmers lead when they are out of work isn’t conducive to finding love. Gaming all the time can make it hard to meet a partner and maybe why programmers can’t find a relationship.
The most common personality type for a developer is ISTJ. This means they fall on the more introverted end of the scale, enjoy the present and facts, tend to be logical thinkers and prefer things to be orderly.
Generally speaking, they are less emotional than other people and struggle to communicate their emotions. Traits like this can be difficult to deal with if you have the wrong personality type. But it makes sense that if programmers aren’t interacting with the right people they aren’t going to be able to find a partner. We explore this in more detail in the relationships section below.
If you think your personality could be holding you back from dating, check out a personality questionnaire to better understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Most programmers aren’t single
The reality is that most programmers aren’t single. 39% of men under 35 are single and this is the key demographic of programmers. Most developers, like the rest of the population, will age out of being single and partner up.
The perception of software engineers being singly and lonely is perpetuated by the media. It’s a common stereotype seen in movies about hackers. The quirky developer who spends all of their time alone and inside is often seen represented on TV and in movies. The geeky character who can’t speak to the opposite sex is a trope as old as time itself.
But the reality is that most programmers are just ordinary people with varying interests and hobbies. I’ve worked in plenty of different office environments and the diversity of personalities that exist in programming is astounding. It’s impossible to tar all programmers with the same brush and assume they are all weird and single.
Every coming has its fair share of unique characters and the development team isn’t exempt from this. But tech companies just wouldn’t function if all of their developers had poor social skills and couldn’t work in a team. Communication is a key part of being a software engineer so the old stereotypes just don’t ring true.
These communication skills transfer over into daily life too. So to assume that everyone who codes can’t speak to their opposite sex and are awkward is just ludicrous.
What is it like dating a software engineer?
Software engineers typically have an ISTJ personality type on the Myers Briggs test. It means they are practical, logical-minded, and reliable. The perfect partner for a software engineer has an ESFP personality type – they tend to be outgoing, spontaneous, and resourceful.
Everyone is different but certain careers attract certain personality types. Programmers tend to be reserved and practical. They enjoy order in their work and home lives and value loyalty. Generally, they are very dependable and can be organized, but can also be slightly judgmental.
Benefits to dating a software engineer
Dating a software engineer will require you to take your responsibilities seriously and provide a sense of stability. Ideally, developers need someone a bit more outgoing than themselves to balance out their introversion.
The need for stability is important to programmers in a relationship and they enjoy the predictable nature of being in one relationship. They tend to be exceptionally honest and keep their promises.
As a lot of developers are detail orientated, their partners can expect them to remember the small things that matter in a relationship and act on them. You can also expect an abundance of support in everything you do.
The downsides to dating a software engineer
The fact-based approach that most programmers take to life means that when dating them you need to be prepared for honesty – as sometimes they can come across as bluntness.
Unfortunately, software engineers tend to always believe they are correct which can cause friction – that’s why people with good emotional IQs work well with developers. People who can express their emotions partner up well with programmers as they may struggle to read between the lines.
They can also be fairly stubborn and resistant to change so some patience is needed otherwise both people can become frustrated.
Most programmers are single because of their age, gender, workload, and lifestyle. 90% of developers are men and they are more likely to be single than women. Most software engineers partner up as they get older, just like everyone else. A large workload early in their careers can also make it more difficult to meet people.
Nathan Britten, the founder and editor of Developer Pitstop, is a self-taught software engineer with nearly five years of experience in front-end technologies. Nathan created the site to provide simple, straightforward knowledge to those interested in technology, helping them navigate the industry and better understand their day-to-day roles.