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- Silicon Valley is home to many tech companies including Facebook and Google.
- Gal Szekely, a therapist who left the tech world, now practices couples counseling in San Francisco and Palo Alto.
- He shared 5 problems that are particularly common in Silicon Valley.
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Gal Szekely started his career in the tech world, but he says he’s always been interested in personal growth and asking “What makes life fulfilling?”.
For years he was a product manager, but then he left the tech world for management consultant, a role he described as “half business, half psychology.” From there, Szekely and his wife trained and became therapists. Now, they have more than thirty therapists in the practice and six offices, including San Francisco and Palo Alto. They focus on couples, offering therapy and weekend workshops.
Szekely says that many of the problems he sees are influenced by the tech world and culture, even if neither member of the couple is directly working in the industry. In a phone interview, he told Business Insider about five issues he comes across that are common in Silicon Valley.
1. Couples that have one person who is the main provider
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Although this is a relationship issue in other areas, inflated tech salaries exacerbate this problem. According to Hired, the average tech salary in San Francisco is $142,000.
Szekely explained that the person working in tech is usually the main provider, especially if the couple has children. Because of the work culture in the tech world, that person likely has to work long hours and bring their work home with them, while care work falls to the other person, usually a woman. This often leads to a gap, Szekely says, where the partner who doesn’t work in tech questions if they are fulfilled compared to the person more focused on their career.
2. Gap in language and communications skills
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“Many people who work in the tech world tend to be very logical, so when it comes to personal relationships, they don’t have language skills” Szekely said. He works to help patients learn how to step out of “work mode” so they can express what they feel and want.
Szekely said that in his experience it’s more often men who have issues with communication, but women can also experience issues communicating.
3. Cultural and background differences
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Silicon Valley has many people not born in the US, or who are first-generation immigrants. Szekely says that if couples are from different cultures, there are ways that they can miss each other based on assumptions from how they were raised.
“‘What does it mean to be a partner? How do I relate to my family of origin? What do you do with kids?’ You take these ideas for granted, but when you meet someone from a different culture they can create misunderstandings,” according to Szekely.
He noted that even couples from the same culture can experience this issue if one person is more “Americanized” than the other.
4. Decisions about kids
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This is another issue in relationships anywhere, but Szekely noted that in Silicon Valley more so than in other more traditional places, having children is not necessarily the default. Couples have to communicate with each other to make a decision.
5. Certain aspects of Silicon Valley life make affairs a bigger issue.
Szekely explained that working in tech can provide more opportunities for affairs than in the past, and more than other industries.
Long hours and constant communication can foster closeness with coworkers, and work trips offer opportunism, Szekely said.
He advises clients to set boundaries with their partners about what is okay, what is flirting, and where they draw the line, before an affair ever happens.