The Best Way to Exchange Numbers When You Meet New People

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When to offer your digits, and when to take his instead. From RM Johnson, bestselling novelist and author of the dating bible Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit

A man approaches you. He’s smooth. You two have good conversation, he makes you laugh, and then he asks if he can contact you. How do you know when it’s okay to give him your phone number? The answer is that you should never give it out upon the first meeting.

We ask you for your number because we truly want to contact you. If you give it to us, we’ll definitely use it. But to tell you the truth, we’d rather not have to deal with the burden of calling you.

The game we used to play is, after receiving your digits, we wouldn’t call you for two or three days. That’d make us appear as though we weren’t pressed, as though we had other, more important things to do than think about calling you. This would give you time to simmer, fester, and worry if we really would call. When we finally did, you were supposed to be so happy to hear from us that we could basically have what we wanted, as long as we still showed some signs of interest.

Many women complained about this, and many men listened, deciding they’d rather do something different, because they weren’t all about playing games anyway. Some men would call women the morning after getting her phone number.

“Hey, just wanted to say it was nice meeting you,” he’d say to her, or leave a message on her voice mail.

Some men would call a day later, saying how interested they were in one day really getting to know the woman.

Men were trying to give you women what we thought you wanted, what you said you wanted. What we found out was that women thought that men who called not long after receiving your phone number were desperate. You believed we came off as too excited about the possibility of getting to know you, and that freaked you out a bit.

When you get a call from that guy, you’ll listen to the voice mail, hear the enthusiasm in his voice, then pull the phone away from your ear, look at your girlfriend, and say, “Naw. I just gave this clown my number yesterday. He probably ain’t had none in ages.” And you never call the guy back.

I know, many of you are saying that’s not true, but it is. I’ve experienced it firsthand.

Considering now that cell phone numbers are the ones mostly being exchanged, it’s also a problem for the man to know exactly when to call.

A guy knows that the best time to have that first phone conversation is when the woman is settled in her own home, hopefully in the bathtub, relaxed, ideally working on her second glass of Merlot, and is without distraction.

But when calling a cell phone, we know you could be anywhere in the city; in the country, for that matter.

A man knows there’s nothing worse than calling a woman for the first time, trying to have an intimate get-to-know-you conversation, while you’re in the checkout line at Target, or on your way to a club with a car full of your girlfriends.

We know we get only one time to make that first phone impression. A great first phone call, lasting an hour or two, where there is talk about everything from politics to what each of you wants in the next five years to what turns both of you on in bed, could set both of you on the path to having a wonderful relationship.

Then again, we know that if we catch you at the wrong time, and after two short verbal exchanges you say, “You know what? Can I call you back when I get home?” that could end whatever chances we had at getting with you.

That’s why when we ask you for your number, and you say, “You can’t have mine, but I’ll take yours,” we pretend that we’re disappointed, but truly, we prefer it that way.

Most of the time, we know as you walk away that you’re going to toss our number in the trash along with the old gum you’re tired of chewing. But a smart man is okay with that, telling himself that if you weren’t interested in calling him, it’s better that you didn’t. And it’s much better than him trying to call you, attempting to convince you to find him interesting when you couldn’t care less.

Women also don’t want to give their phone number out because they just might happen to hand it to the man who will not take no for an answer, that ax-murdering stalker you and your friends always joke so much about.

Many of you will give out your number, and when the man calls, you don’t pick up the phone, because even while scribbling your name and number across that torn slip of paper, you never intended to. But he calls again and leaves a message, but you don’t return it. So he calls, and calls, and calls, and a week and a half later, he’s still calling like a bill collector on crack.

But the main reason why women should always take our number is because it gives you options, and it puts you in the position of power. If you take the guy’s number just to get him off your back, then mission accomplished. You never have to call him.

If you thought he was the most attractive, funniest, best-built guy you ever met in your life, having his number frees you from worrying if he’ll call you, or just toss your number in the top drawer of his dresser, like all the other phone numbers he retrieves.

Most important, you can make that phone call when you choose. That is, after you’ve had that second glass of Merlot and lowered yourself into that warm bubble bath.

And know this much, for us, we could be in the checkout line at Home Depot, in the strip club, or watching the last play of a double-overtime Super Bowl game, where the score is tied, time has ticked down to one second, and our favorite team is about to kick a fifteen-yard field goal. If we get that call from you that we’ve been waiting for, we will simply cover the mouthpiece and excuse ourselves in order to find a quiet place so we can talk. That is, if we’re really interested. And if that conversation goes the way you want it, now give him your number and expect him to call you back.

So, my advice is that if numbers are being exchanged, for all the reasons I’ve stated, let the flow go from his hand to yours. But if you’re considering taking his number as just a quick way to dismiss him, I’d say go ahead and tell him that you aren’t interested. In this case, being honest is better than leading him on, having him running to his cell phone every time it rings, thinking it’s you. You’ve been in that position before, and you didn’t like it. Why would you want to do that to someone else?

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