Call Me Sometime (Politics of Getting Phone Numbers)

During a recent ‘guy talk’ conversation via e-mail, the following issue came up, “What’s the best approach to getting or exchanging phone numbers with someone you’re interested in?” Hmm. Seems like a simple enough task. You each have phone numbers, you write them down and switch. But no, life is rarely that simple.

This may be the ’90’s but the generality still lies out there that says it is up to the male to exercise the initiative. Once in a great while (two weeks ago to be exact) a woman will just out of the blue tear off part of her placemat and scribble out her beeper number, home number and address to offer it without any anxiety occurring. In talking to women about this I’ve found most women don’t do this simply because they don’t want to be considered too ‘forward’ or ‘easy’. I can’t speak for all men, but I simply took the gesture two weeks ago as an invitation to keep in touch. Hard to believe, but that’s all that can and really should be assumed unless the person heavily insinuates otherwise.

As for us guys, things get a little sticky. When meeting someone in a ‘chance situation’, say at a park, bar, grocery store, parking lot, whatever.. unless phone numbers are exchanged chances are you very well may never see that person again. So here this total stranger, some ‘guy’ (being us guys) asks a woman for her phone number. Immediately she’s worried he’ll be calling her night and day, stalking her every move. Honestly, it could happen. There’s lots of boneheads out there who just don’t know how to take a hint. That’s one convenience about beeper numbers since you can always just ignore messages from that particular person without being bothered at home by your phone ringing at 4a.m.

The other thing is the immediacy of it all. If you meet by chance you only have those few moments to quickly decide, “Do I really want to give out my number to this person?” But the same goes for guys. For all he knows she’s some ‘fatal attraction’ with a knife fetish and lots of time on her hands. On the other hand, she might be the woman your friends said would come along, ‘when you aren’t looking’. So what to do?

I myself have learned over the years that certain ‘odds’ exist. One of the odds I found in place is that more women will be either offended or apprehensive about giving out their number to some stranger than are likely to feel comfortable with it. Just from a basic look at the whole thing.. as a guy, you’re bigger and maybe stronger than she is (I imagine some of these aerobics girls can whallup a pretty strong kick.) and you meanwhile are a threat until proven otherwise. Fortunately however, most women don’t feel ‘too’ threatened if you offer to ‘give’ them something.. like your phone number. But on the other hand unfortunately, many women feel uncomfortable actually getting on the phone to call you back. Again, back to not wanting to appear too forward or interested.

So where does that leave things? Well, I try to look at it in the overall, large scheme of things. Essentially if she’s actually interested in seeing you again and you’re interested in seeing her again, as long as you exchange at least one phone number it’ll eventually work out. Why? Because it’s what you both want and any minor inconveniences or apprehensions will not turn out to be such a big deal after all. But since we don’t always know whether this is the case or not, we still need a protocol or default to practice that will be the least intimidating and most inviting.

That’s why I suggest this suggestion for us guys; If you bump into someone you’d like to see again, your best bet is to offer them your number and let them feel as comfortable as possible about giving you a call sometime. If she really isn’t interested she’ll probably take it as, “Who’s this clown think he is that I’m gonna go looking for him?!” and she won’t call. But look at it this way, even if you’d gotten her number, if she’s not interested, calling her wouldn’t do any good anyway. If she is interested, but feels more comfortable with you calling her then she’ll have to take some ‘reactionary initiative’ and make that possible by offering her number in return. After all, if she doesn’t offer her number she can hardly blame you for not calling. (Although she still may blame you for not asking for it.)

So, let’s re-cap.. You offer your number with no strings attached, no heavy manipulation, just offer it. After that it’s up to her to call you. But.. if she responds by giving you her number in return, you can pretty much bet it’s now up to you to call her, even though she has your number. Now this brings up the second consideration of my previous conversation… “I don’t always have a pen handy, what about having pre-printed personal cards, or business card and offering that?”

You bump into someone at the beach or in a large crowd and neither of you has a pen or paper. Pitiful. That makes a pretty good case for having printed cards on hand. So far I’ve been able to be pretty resourceful in getting pens from total strangers or just taking them from the nearest cash register. (There always seems to be one there.) So the good side is that having a card on you allows you to just whip it out and say, “Here’s my number, if you’d like to get together sometime feel free to give me a call.” The nice thing about this is that it won’t be your business number where you can’t always take personal calls. However, the down side I’ve heard of this is that some women will see that card and think to themselves, “Geez, he’s even got cards ready.. how many women in a week does he give this out to?” Again we come back to the basic view of things, if she’s really interested and wants to investigate more time with you it won’t really matter. If she’s just so cautious to the point she won’t call you for this reason alone.. hey, that’s the way it goes.

I gave out my number to a girl I met one night four years ago on New Year’s Eve. We met at a club and spent the evening talking and dancing. As it turned out she asked me to drive her and her sister home (I guess I’ve just got a trusting face or something.) I scribbled out my phone number and told her, “Here’s my number. If you want to, I’d like to go out with you this week. But if not, just toss it in the trash when you get inside and that’ll be that.” She said she’d call, and of course I didn’t believe her. That next morning she called and we dated for about two weeks. Why? Was it because I harangued or manipulated her phone number from her and harassed her day and night? No. It was because the opportunity was made possible to re-contact and, with a mutual interest operating.. we hooked up and spent more time together. By the way, after she called back that next morning the first thing I did was get her phone number before hanging up so that for future dates it was feasible for me to call her.

So in the long run, it’s really not so much about methods as it is about mutual interest and possibility. Society still sees men as the ‘suspicious until proven otherwise’ group while still expecting them to show the initiative. I see men offering their ‘calling card’ and leaving it up to the women to return some sign of interest as a good compromise considering the short amount of time and trust involved in these ‘chance’ meetings. It’s not perfect and won’t guarantee everything goes as you want it to, but I feel it gives each person the chance to feel about as comfortable and courteous considering the circumstances.

Author: Reekay

Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.

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