How to Pick a Lover

Instead of belles-lettres, we have Ma Bell.
—Donal Henahan

One familiar little dating game ritual played out in the dating market is the ritual of the phone number. If the man who meets a girl decides he likes her, he asks for her phone number so he can call her sometime; if the girl who meets a man likes him, she gives it to him. Once this little ritual is complete, he has a right to expect that if he calls her, she will remember who he is and will more or less welcome his call.

English: man on phone

Photo credit: Wikipedia

There’s nothing wrong with this little ritual in itself—except that you will notice that the action involved is all one-way. He asks or doesn’t; he phones or doesn’t. You may respond in various ways to his actions; but first, you must wait until he asks, and if he does, then you must anxiously wait for your phone to ring.

The game of “don’t-call-me, I’ll-call-you” is recognized in the business world as a standard status maneuver. Hopeful actors who must audition for parts hear it all the time as do job applicants. It’s equally a status game when played with men and women although a man may not immediately recognize it as such. If he offers you his phone number, he has put the ball in your court, and that is an encouraging sign. If he doesn’t, then when he asks for your number, make it an exchange and watch how he responds to that idea.

A promising variation of the telephone game is played by the man who spontaneously offers you his phone number and says, “Please call me if you want to.” By giving the number, especially by giving it without being asked, he shows that he expects the interaction will be a two-way interaction. This variation is especially promising if he gives you his number in such a way as to be sure that any attempt at communication with him would be effective.

A busy lawyer friend of mine, a very genuine man who unfortunately has a most unprepossessing appearance, was in ardent pursuit of a beautiful model. He not only asked for her phone number (she gave him the number for her modeling agency) but gave her his home phone number, his cell phone number, his office number, and a code word to use with his secretary so that, instead of automatically saying he was busy and would return the call, the secretary would actually put the woman through to his desk. The object of the lawyer’s affection wasn’t too sure about this man, busy or otherwise, but was convinced of his sincerity. Eventually, she did call him; and while they didn’t live happily ever after, they did become good friends.

In today’s dating world and ever evolving social media, the same game can be played just as easily via email or text messaging. Since email and text messaging don’t involve direct interaction with the other person, it’s less personal, making it easier to communicate either your interest or lack of interest without the risk of having to have a potentially uncomfortable phone conversation. Whatever the social media being used, it’s important to pay attention to whether a man voluntarily offers you his contact information when he’s asking for yours. If he doesn’t, and you’re interested, then ask for his. His response will be very telling. If he freely offers his contact information, then you need not passively wait for his call or spend your day constantly checking your text messages. You are free to contact him should you so desire.  On the other hand, if he is reluctant to give you his contact information or makes excuses for why he can’t, then walk away and don’t look back.

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Comments on: "Telephone Tyranny and Social Media" (4)

  1. I have always wondered about this, in an age when the means of communication is so open why there is still this single line. Why the woman is still sitting back and waiting. While there are days I think, “Why am I married?” I am mostly so glad I am.

    • Yes, it is interesting that this double standard manages to persist despite our emphasis on open communication. It’s almost as if the philosophy of open communication doesn’t apply when it comes to intimate relationships. Unfortunately, this is not true for many singles trying to find their way in the dating market, but also married couples; although it sounds like that’s not true with respect to your marriage.

  2. NormalDeviations said:

    I wonder if I’m in the minority with this, but I definitely don’t feel there’s an obligation my part for the first communication point – though I don’t mind being the first to reach out. But, the artificial delay in responding (from either side) annoys the hell out of me. I’m going to respond when I get the first available opportunity, whether it’s 30 seconds or 30 hours.

    • Based on what I know of you from your posts, you’re a far more direct than many when it comes to communications such as this. Many women – not so much by conscious choice – but due to socialization, feel compelled to follow this little dating ritual when meeting new men. I’m all for the direct approach, but women who are uncomfortable the direct approach should at the very least expect the man to reciprocate when asking for her contact information. If the man is uncomfortable with making it a two way communication, then the woman should considered it a potential red flag.

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