Step By Step

1. Choose a Service 2. Set Up an Account 3. Write Your Profile4. Make Contact 5. Respond...Or Don’t 6. The Email Dialogue 7. The Phone Call 8. The Date

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Step 7: The Phone Call

Once you feel comfortable enough with your correspondent, or perhaps when you feel that the email dialogue has gone about as far as it can go, it’s time for a phone call. There is no formula for the number of email messages that must pass before phone numbers are exchanged. I’ve emailed people for weeks, and I’ve received a phone number after two messages.

Recently,TR and I determined that neither of us feels comfortable initiating the phone number exchange. TR feels that as the woman, she should wait for the man to make the first move by asking for her phone number. I feel that since the woman is in a more vulnerable position, I should respectfully wait until she feels comfortable enough to send me her number. The moral of the story: initiate a phone call when you’re ready to talk on the phone. Otherwise, you might end up waiting for someone who is waiting for you.

If you’re a woman, just send your number, and ask the guy to give you a call. If you’re a guy, send your number but offer to call her if she sends you yours. There is no reason that women shouldn’t call men, but since that diverges from typical gender roles, the idea of calling men makes some women uncomfortable. In truth, the idea of calling women makes most men uncomfortable too, but someone has to call someone, and when in doubt, fall back on tradition.

Before you make the call, make sure that you have at least half an hour available to get acquainted. There is usually only one phone conversation before the first date, so you need enough to time to make each other comfortable. If possible, don’t call from a cell phone. Interference and dropped connections may not be a big deal when you’re talking to a friend, but it’s a poor way to make a first impression. If a cell phone is the only convenient option, at least avoid calling from a public place where background noise will interfere with the conversation.

If the phone call is a good one, you should set up a date at the end of it. As in any dating situation, the role of proposing a first date traditionally lies with the guy. I wouldn’t mind if a woman were to ask me out on a date, but I don’t expect her to. I know that if I don’t ask her, there’s a good chance that the date won’t happen, so if I want it to happen, I make sure to ask. I’ve never had more than one phone conversation before a date—I figure that if there’s decent conversational chemistry, it’s worth a date—but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with taking your time and having more than one phone conversation before dating if that makes you more comfortable. But be careful boys, if you tarry too long, the girls might think that you’re either too timid or not interested.

If you’re like me, you’ll feel pressure to ask someone on a date even when the phone conversation is bad. I’m sure that women feel even more pressure to accept a date when they’re invited. Try to resist that pressure. If you have nothing to talk about on the phone or find each other annoying, chances are that it will be a bad date, and there’s no reason for either of you to go on a bad date. Some people aren’t great on the phone, so you should always give the other person the benefit of the doubt, but you can usually tell the difference between people who are shy or nervous and people who just don’t speak your language. Remember, dating is like gambling; if you have a bad hand, you should fold.