When I became a family counselor, I already anticipated that my clients would mostly be couples, kids, or parents with problematic kids. After all, family counseling could cover every possible issue that may affect the relationship between spouses, siblings, children, and parents. That’s also how I advertised my clinic, so you could imagine my astonishment when I started getting calls from broken-hearted programmers who sought counseling to get over their failed relationships.
In hindsight, it was not the fact that programmers wanted to book an appointment with me that shocked me the most. I lived near the Silicon Valley; I had several posters strategically in some tech companies. More importantly, my clinic sat along the main road, so it would have caught the attention of the people who went to work in Silicon Valley every day.
What’s most surprising about it was the number of individuals willing to do a one-on-one session with a counselor to understand the best way to move on. Programmer or not, I would call that progress. It meant that people were getting wiser at handling breakups.
As you probably know (or you may have experienced yourself), heartbroken individuals tend to adopt harmful coping mechanisms. For instance, some may drown their loneliness in alcohol or partying. Others may swim in tubs of ice cream and junk foods. After doing that, they feel worse about themselves than ever, and the road to self-destruction may continue.
If you feel down today before your girlfriend or boyfriend just broke up with you, allow me to share some of my clients’ journeys.
Programmer #1: The Martyr
Cristina had a playboy boyfriend who she believed was way out of her league. Because of that, whenever the guy would cheat on her with different women, she felt the need to forgive him. In her words, “I might never meet another handsome fella like him again, so I have to hold on to him despite his infidelities.”
Cristina gave me a call when her boyfriend ended up getting another girl pregnant, and she could not decide if she should take him back. The clear answer is that Cristina should stay as far away from that guy as possible, but she could not make up her mind due to her insecurities. Thus, I helped her build self-confidence so that she would stop being a martyr.
Programmer #2: The Workaholic
Gerard was married when he launched a tech startup in Silicon Valley. He did not come from money, so he worked day and night to ensure that his wife and future kids would never worry about bills ever. However, in his business, Gerard forgot to spend quality time with his wife, which caused them to grow apart.
Gerard sought my help when he received the divorce papers from his spouse. He found it challenging to accept because all his hard work was dedicated to her. Still, I reminded Gerard that money never made the world go around. I encouraged him to try to patch things up with his wife, but if she would refuse to do so, he would merely have to learn from his mistakes.
Programmer #3: The Overly Romantic
Evan was a computer whiz who always felt introverted. Hence, when Lena, a beautiful British girl, approached him, he did everything to make her happy. Every night was a date night; every weekend meant a holiday trip. He also professed his love for her every minute of the day. Unfortunately, it’s all those antics that scared Lena and pushed her to leave him.
When Evan came to my clinic to share his story, he felt highly wronged since he did not hold back in showing his love for Lena. But I reminded Evan that coming in too hot too soon might have been the problem. “Though women love to be wined and dined, they are not always into overly romantic guys. You need to remember to chill on your next relationship and let the women make an effort on her own, too,” I said.
Was it easy to counsel people who were primarily geniuses? No. The issue was not that they could not comprehend what I was talking about. Instead, it was the introversion that many programmers had. This introversion tends to make them awkward – sometimes desperate – choices to ensure that they will no longer be alone.
While my clients’ scenarios are different, I often need to remind them that those people they chose to shower with understanding and affection were lucky to have them. After all, tech is a progressive industry. If you tie the knot with a programmer in Silicon Valley, you are pretty much set for life.
However, as in the examples above, I also have to remind my clients to balance everything and be confident in themselves. You cannot be confident at your workplace alone – you must show confidence in your relationship so that you won’t step over or be stepped on by your partner.