It takes a unique individual to be a software developer. You have to be able to focus on the specific while coding and testing but see the larger picture when designing a solution. It also takes a bit of nerdiness and studiousness as you have to constantly be a student and learning to keep up with the industry. While shows like Big Bang Theory and Mr. Robot portray nerds as un-athletic asthmatics, software developers come in all forms.
Relationships with software developers come with their own challenges. Whether you are a developer dating another developer or coming from a completely different perspective relationships within the software development community face the same things as other relationships. However the way developers react and handle situations may be different.
While the rules are a bit tongue in cheek the information we’ve provided can help you not only interact with your significant other but also with the other important people in your life. In addition you can use this to better understand yourself and your own motivations and reactions to the people you interact with on a daily basis. We hope you’re able to take something away from this episode to improve your life and relationships.
Disclaimer: We are limited to our own experiences and cannot talk to those of groups we are not members. Neither of us has ever been a woman so we can’t talk about what it’s like to be a female developer and dating, we just don’t have that life experience and wouldn’t begin to try and understand it. The same goes for many other situations which we do not have experience. Our goal is to provide value while also having a little fun in this episode.
08:40 Your mileage may vary…my developer is not a stereotype.
The stereo type of the scrawny nerd in his parent’s basement no longer applies. Some of us have our own houses now. Though you will still find people that still believe that you aren’t any good unless you are a stereotypical nerd. You’ll occasionally run into this with the CS degree bias at some companies. However, developers come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll find former football players and cheerleaders beside members of the AV club. Lunch conversations can range from sorority reunions to the newest DLC for whatever game is hot.
Code schools and bootcamps have made it so that a person doesn’t need a computer science degree or years of personal study to become a software developer. This among other things has created a diverse range of personalities in the developer community. You’ll find a lot of people who became coders as a second career later in life. Some computer science students attend bootcamps as a way to learn more practical skills after graduating college.
That said stereotypes shouldn’t be completely discounted just because they are stereotypes. Many developers are going to prefer to be in front of their computers than watching TV or doing something else. They will likely spend all night working on something or playing some video game.
14:35 Respect how my developer socializes and interacts with the outside world.
There are two important spectrums to understanding social interactions with people. One is the introvert/extrovert spectrum or where you get your energy. The other is the shy/outgoing spectrum or how you interact with people when around them.
“The term extroverted introvert, it’s like saying dry water…it’s an oxymoron.”
Being an Introvert or Extrovert determines whether you get the excitement and energy to do the things that you have to do day to day. The best way to think about this is to ask yourself what do you prefer when you’ve had a rough day. Do you want to go home and be left alone to re-energize for the next day? Do you want to go out with friends to vent frustrations and get yourself pumped? This can also apply to how you respond to having a good day as well. Introverts get refreshed from being alone and time to themselves. Extroverts gain motivation from being around others, especially friends. You can be anywhere on the spectrum from extremely introverted to extremely extroverted and anywhere in the middle. Most people will land somewhat to one side or the other of the middle. There have been studies as to what jobs are preferred by those on either side of the spectrum.
Whether you are Shy or Outgoing expresses how you interact with others when around them. For this one think about how you interact at a party with a mix of people you know and don’t know. Do you stick to just the people you know even avoiding them if they are talking to someone that you don’t know? Do you venture out and meet new people and make new friends and acquaintances? Someone further on the shy side of the spectrum will not be comfortable around a lot of new people preferring a few close friends. A person on the outgoing side enjoys the company of lots of people, some of whom are new and different. You can be anywhere on this spectrum as well. Most people find themselves somewhere toward the middle of extremely shy or extremely outgoing.
“The way I describe it is an introvert hangover where I’m just over stimulated and I cannot be around people for a while.’
Combining the two spectrums you get a picture of how a person socializes and what to expect when out in public with them. Outgoing Introverts enjoy being around other people but need to be alone to refresh and recover. This is especially so if they have been around people for an extended amount of time or have done something stressful like public speaking. Outgoing Extroverts both enjoy being around other people and get their energy from crowds. Charismatic performers and speakers can be this way. People that enjoy going to concerts, especially rock or metal concerts where there’s a high energy level. Shy Introverts do not enjoy being around a lot of other people and feel more comfortable alone that out with people. This even applies to being out with friends. They tend to be the ones who more outgoing people try to “bring out of their shell”. Shy Extroverts like to be around their close friends but are uncomfortable around people they haven’t met. This can make finding new friends difficult unless current friends introduce them. This person wants to be around others but not just anybody
25:35 Accept my developer’s odd fandoms and learn to share and enjoy them.
Spend time getting to know their fandoms. Whether is be TV shows like Dr. Who, board games, video games, or fantasy role playing take time to learn about your partners interests. This is a large portion of the person’s life. It’s how they choose to spend their free time. By accepting the person you accept their fandoms. Sports is a type of fandom, whether you play or watch. If you are a more geekier developer don’t look down on those that enjoy sports.
If possible participate with them. This will bring the relationship to a new level. A lot of activities can be enjoyed with multiple people. For some people doing things with their partner is the highlight of the activity. You will show that you are interested in all aspects of your partner’s life. It’s one thing to show interest in mutual likes. Showing interest in something your partner enjoys will also encourage them to take interest in things you like. You never know when you’ll find something you enjoy. Don’t discourage them from doing the things they enjoy.
Encourage them to join you in your fandoms. All but the most boring person has something they enjoy doing or some fandom. Encouraging your partner to join in on the things that you enjoy doing shows that you want them to be in even the geekiest parts of your life.
32:50 Be able to communicate with my developer.
People have different ways they’ve adopted to communicate and understand each other. These can be either healthy or unhealthy in a relationship. Whether it is healthy or not may vary between relationships. What is a healthy way to communicate in one instance may not be healthy in another. Learn to understand different styles of communication and work with the differences. Also be able to identify negative patterns or responses to styles other than your own. We’re going to look at four dichotomies or spectrums of different styles of communication. You may fall in different places on these spectrums than your partner. The goal is to understand how you communicate and be able to understand the other person as well. These are different from passive, aggressive, assertive styles.
“You gotta have control from both ends on this kinda stuff.”
A common difference in communication is between the amplifier and the condenser communication styles. The condenser style only shares as much information as is necessary for communication. The amplifier provides extra detail to increase understanding present a full picture. Amplifiers may be frustrated with condensers for not talking enough about their feelings. Condensers in relationships with amplifiers need to make an effort to express their thoughts and feelings. For the amplifier sharing builds intimacy. Condensers can feel overwhelmed with all the information provided by an amplifier. Amplifiers in relationships with condensers need to practice expressing themselves in a short concise manner. A way to do this is write down thoughts and then distill out the key points.
The next spectrum or difference is the competitive vs affiliate styles. Competitive communicators tend to be more assertive and challenging. They are oriented toward power and dominance. They prefer to make decisions on their own. Affiliate communicators tend to be more collaborative. They view challenges and disagreements as hostile. They prefer to bring people together to solve problems. When in a relationship or on a team the competitive communicator needs to be mindful of their own nature to take charge or challenge authority. Affiliate communicators will need to talk to competitive partners in advance and come up with a strategy for sharing decisions.
People communicate needs in one of two ways direct or indirect. A direct communicator states explicitly what they want or need with little room for interpretation or misunderstanding. An indirect communicator will use a more abstract or vague method of expressing needs and wants. Most people use both styles of communication but lean more toward one or the other. While direct communicators are better understood they run the risk of offending. Whereas indirect communicators are less likely to offend they risk ambiguous or misunderstood communication. When discussing sensitive or emotional subjects words need to be chosen wisely. Direct communicators need to remember that the words they choose may be hurtful. Indirect communicators will need to be more explicit in what they want or need. Both can be uncomfortable at first until trust is built and an understand is found between the people communicating.
“A direct communicator is going to get frustrated at the ambiguity.”
Finally there are two styles to approaching serious conversation hot or cold. The hot style prefers to get issues out in the open and have the conversations about them immediately. The cold style does not like intense situations and prefers to spend time thinking about the conversation or situation before responding. While hot communicators feel pressure to relieve the tension of serious conversations they need to learn to let their partners have time to process. Step back, take a breath and focus on something else for a while. Let the other person have some time to process. Cold communicators also need to understand that the waiting is the hardest part for the hot communicator and not exacerbate their stress. Delaying communication creates anxiety for the hot style partner. Tell your partner that you need time to process information before having a conversation. Let them know that you will talk with them about the issue and even set up a time to do so.
41:50 My developer is not your family’s personal IT professional.
A lot of times families and significant others can treat developers as their own personal IT people. A lot of times this comes from a misunderstanding of the IT world. Even if a developer knows other areas in IT it doesn’t mean they want to work for free maintaining your family’s computers. Some second career developers may not know about network security or antivirus software.
“We do a lot of stupid stuff because we can get out of it.”
While this is not their job many developers feel obligated to help out. Family members and significant others complaining about problems they know they can solve. Developers by nature are problems solvers and want to help. They also want to show how clever they can be by solving a difficult problem outside their area of expertise.
Don’t put your developer partner in this awkward situation. If asking for assistance allow them an out. Don’t make them feel obligated to help.
44:35 Learn and understand how my developer expresses and receives love.
Gary Chapman wrote “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” in 1995. In the book he talks about five ways to express or experience love. According to Chapman each person has a primary and a secondary love language. To understand someone’s love language you have to watch how they express love and what they like and dislike about the way others treat them. There is also a quiz that you can take on the website. It has you compare several comparisons of statements to determine which language you most use. The higher the score the more you use that language with the highest being your primary language. Lower scores are the ones you use least or the ones that do not affect you. This is copyrighted material so we’re just going to briefly cover each language based on the available content. Since the initial book’s success Chapman has published several more talking about the love languages in specific cases even one in the workplace.
“These are in order of my love languages, Will’s mileage may vary…and does.”
Words of affirmation is the process of using words to show affection or build another person’s confidence. For this language compliments especially unexpected ones mean more than actions. People with this language are driven by hearing encouraging statements. It can be simple things like thanking them for doing daily tasks. However insults can be devastating and last longer than with other languages.
Quality time involves giving the other person full attention. This is more than just physically being with the person. It means fully being present in the situation. No phone or TV and not while multitasking or doing something else. Connections with others are strengthened by spending time together. Changing plans to not spend time together or adding distractions can be perceived as hurtful.
Physical touch would be holding hands, kissing, hugging, up to more intimate touching to show love. People with this love language are very “touchy-feely”. Pats on the back, touching the arm, or even hugs express emotion. This is how they show concern, love, even excitement. Touching communicates warmth and love to them. Stand-off or not being physically available can be detrimental to those with this love language. It can be difficult for a person who doesn’t like being touched to be close with a person whose love language is physical touch. They each have to learn.
Thoughtful gifts given because a person cares about another is different from a materialistic view of relationships. The person receiving gifts thrives on the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. Receiving a well thought out gift show that you are are cared for and loved. Gifts are symbolic of the other person’s affection for you. Giving gifts is a expression of the other person’s value to the giver. Everyday gestures are necessary and thoughtless gifts are worse than being rude or mean.
Acts of service are doing small things for another person even though you do not have to do them. These are things that make life easier on the person you are helping. It could be as simple as taking over one of their chores or responsibilities. Whatever helps them to get something done or remove a stressor. The key to showing affection is doing so without obligation or being asked to help. The worst thing to do to those with this love language is break commitments or not follow through on what you commit to doing for them.
“Lindsey Stirling is a love language.”
55:25 To my developer it is more than a job or career, it’s a lifestyle.
Developers are the car guys of the corporate world. Developers can get passionate about the work they do or the languages/frameworks they work within. They can also be rather proud of the development machines they have. Many put a lot of time and effort into building a beefy dev box. Some get really deep into the hardware side of IT.
“We’re the white collar car guys.”
IT tends to be where career and hobby tend to blend. Most developers were playing around with computers before they ever got into serious development. Even the ones that got a CS degree were playing on them as teenagers or kids.
For a good example of the culture watch the old movie Hackers. It captures the culture of hacking to learn. It’s about trying things and seeing if you can do them. While hacking is frowned upon things like Raspberry Pi and Arduino allow for that same learn by doing. As developers we enjoy the challenges and trial by fire of creating something to see if we can get it to work.
Valentines Day IoT Project
This is a connected paper heart that will light up when it receives a “love note”. You can build this for or with your significant other then send notes to one another from your phone or laptop. The heart receives a signal from a wi-fi connected device that turns a light on. The tutorial includes step by step instructions on how to build and set up the IoT heart as well as a video demonstration. This is fun project you can do today by yourself or with a partner.
Tricks of the Trade
This stuff doesn’t only work in dating. Personal interactions are like any other communication protocol. You might have to change the way you handshake with different devices or different people. The ability to do so is part of being a functional adult.