Men Always Give Me Their Phone Numbers But I Don’t Want to Call Them First!

man hitting on a woman in the bar

I am noticing a trend in men who I write to or men who write to me online. They are leaving their phone numbers and when I respond with here’s my number, “I’ll be home Monday evening”, they just email me back leaving their number again and say “call me”. I remember you said it was up to them to call, should I just write them off if they don’t call me or take the first step?   I have tried going ahead and calling a couple and it worked out OK but I really didn’t like the way it made me feel. Is there a protocol that if you are the one that starts communications you should be the first one to call? A couple of guys that did this I wasn’t that excited about I just dropped and they never called. What’s this all about?


Dear Carol,

If a guy wants to meet with you, but can’t take the effort to pick up the phone, he clearly doesn’t want to meet you that bad.

But there’s more to it than that, which is why I chose to answer your question this week.

Now, to all our readers, Carol is a private client of mine, and, to be honest, a favorite. She’s in her early 60’s, a tough age for a single woman, but she doesn’t let it get her down. She has a can-do attitude, a great sense of humor, and a healthy perspective on this whole dating thing.

When we were working together on the phone, she had great success and lots of dating options. She was also bombarded by men’s phone numbers, so I gave her a technique to redirect them in a positive way.

Any man who is serious about you can pick up the phone to show it.

If a guy offers his phone number, but you want him to call you, you have to give him a playful counteroffer, one in which he feels encouraged, not rejected.

Dear Fred,

Thanks for the email. Sounds like you have big plans this weekend with your daughter. Let me know if you’re looking for a good restaurant in the Berkeley area.

Anyway, I’m flattered that you offered your number and very much look forward to speaking to you. But, call me traditional, I’d like it even more if you called me. My number is 555-1212 and I’ll be home after 8pm on Thursday night. Look forward to hearing from you then.


Thus Fred gets what he wants AND Carol gets what she wants. He’s not being rejected. He’s being complimented and encouraged to continue his advances. All Carol asks is for him to make a further investment in her. And she makes it real easy for him by warmly and confidently giving him a window to call. Fred’s job, at that point, is to either call her or to give her another time he can call her. If he ignores her email, she has her answer. Any man who is serious about you can pick up the phone to show it. …

But before we call it a day, let’s understand why men do what they do.

If Fred’s been rejected by hundreds of women online, he doesn’t see the point in writing any more long, thoughtful emails. Instead he concocts a cut-and-paste job, “I think that we have a lot in common. If you’re interested, give me a call at 555-1717. Fred.”

This email doesn’t mean Fred is a bad guy. Or inarticulate. Or not relationship oriented. It just means he’s a crappy online dater, because he’s put Carol in an uncomfortable position.

The fact is: women don’t want to have to make the first move. And you know what guys? They shouldn’t have to! Too many men try to save time by telling women to call them, not realizing that there’s no chivalry, courtship or flattery in writing your phone number on a bathroom wall and saying “For a good time, call…”

Just like meeting someone at a party, you take HER card and follow up with her as soon as possible. That shows her YOUR level of interest and gives her the reassurance that she’s really valued. Give her your card and you can’t expect to ever hear from her.

So, Carol, the men who email you their numbers are most likely some combination of a) lazy, b) frustrated, c) clueless, d) not interested. They’re putting their flyers on car windshields and hoping that some business trickles in. The way THEY see it, if YOU were interested, you’d call them.

The men who email you their numbers are most likely some combination of a) lazy, b) frustrated, c) clueless, d) not interested. They’re putting their flyers on car windshields and hoping that some business trickles in.

But I don’t blame you for not wanting to. A man needs to EARN you. No man deserves a date simply because he’s cute and knows how to type out his digits. He has to charm you, woo you, make you laugh, win your trust, build rapport, gain comfort. THAT’s when it’s time to ask for a date.

However, the instant gratification of the internet makes it really hard to insist on this process. Men email their phone numbers wantonly because SOMETIMES it actually works. What they don’t realize is what a bad strategy it is. They think because they get a few numbers that it’s effective. It’s not.

Literally 80% of emails in which men OFFER their phone numbers are IGNORED.

You may think you’re saving time by giving your number, but you’re just turning off women. Women who want to feel valued and safe before they meet. Women who think the tradition of men courting women is something to be upheld.

Keep doing what you’re doing, Carol. Because it doesn’t matter how long who wrote to whom first. He’s the man, you’re the woman. Which means it’s his job to ask for your number, ask you out, pick you up, and pay for your first date. And if he doesn’t get that, then, well, some other guy will.

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  1. 1

    I usually do end up offering my number first, but it’s not because i’m wanting her to call me first.

    Per Evan’s book, you should really ask the woman out in the third/fourth email. As part of this ‘ask-out’, i include my phone number – she then usually offers hers in response. I suppose i could just leave it out, and wait for her to offer her number in response.

  2. 2

    Here’s my counter-question, Evan. I agree that guys should call first. However, it’s my guess that many women are hesitant to give out their phone number to someone they meet online. I feel that a guy offering his number first is a good faith gesture to try and elicit her phone number in return. If phrased well, I’m sure it can come off as a nice gesture:

    “My cell is ###-###-####. I’d like to continue our conversation over the phone. What’s a good time to call you?”

    Not sure if that’s it, but it’s all I’ve got on short notice (and admittedly I’m not very suave).

    What do you think of the above? Am I way off base? Did I miss something? Is it an exception? Etc.

    1. 2.1

      I agree re not feeling comfortable asking for her number because they may be reticent- that’s why I have tended to take the approach of giving the woman my number. This is 2014 not 1914. She probably makes phone calls all day long in work so what does it matter who calls who?

      Maybe I’m wrong, but the above article seems to be another example of dating advice based on “rules” (possibly outdated) rather than common sense and doing what seems normal in the situation.

      For the above example, maybe age is a factor, but younger women who are put off enough not to say in response “my number is …. give me a call sometime” or simply to pick up the phone aren’t interested in the first place.

  3. 3

    The fact is: women don’t want to have to make the first move. And you know what guys?

    Very true .

    It is will also be true that the small number of women who are exceptions to this rule will write in saying that they do not mind taking the initiative.

  4. 4

    Sounds like that’s my cue.

    While it’s true that women are mostly uncomfortable with making the first move, I can’t agree with Evan that “they shouldn’t have to”. It strikes me as unfair that men have to make the first “real” moves – phone calls, ask-outs, pay for first dates, the works.

    But here’s the thing – it doesn’t matter if I think it’s unfair, because even if Evan’s wrong that we “shouldn’t have to” do it, he’s dead on that most of the time, we won’t. Most women have a lot of options when they’re dating, especially online dating, so we can afford to bypass men who expect us to call them.

    All that said, back when I was still dating (I’m one of those annoying married women who read this blog to get insight into the typical male mind), if I wanted a guy badly enough, I’d make the first move. I married a man with whom I made the first move. I asked HIM out, I paid (it was his birthday)…technically speaking, I even asked him to marry me (though he chooses to remember that he did the asking).

    But when I was an online dater? I never made the first move. I was filtering through enough e-mails every week not to have to.

    So I guess it comes down, as always, to practicality – are you willing to forego all the women who are going to be unwilling to call you first?

  5. 5

    Thanks so much for this post, Evan! As a single 50 yr young lady, I also encounter the same situation. But, I AM old-fashioned, and will never be the first to call! Thanks for reassuring us that we should not be expected to reply to a phone number!

  6. 6


    For me personally, that would work. I am not comfortable giving out my number, and handling the situation as you have suggested would put me at ease. Don’t sell yourself short – you’re more savy than you think!

  7. 7

    I’m a big proponent of the guy making the first move, even online. I like the fact that the guy asking for the number and calling first is a GESTURE…I mean, it says something about what he’s after, his interest level, and his confidence.

    I’ve had it go both ways plenty of times, where she tacks on her number and says something to the effect of “really enjoyed the convo, give me call if you want to hang out.” I’ve done the same thing, where I’ll be meeting friends out and I’ll just write in my last email, hey, here’s my number, shoot me a text if you’re out and let’s meet for a drink. The girls I usually communicate with online are girls that go out to the bars anyway on Friday and Saturday, so this sometimes works. It’s great too, because it takes the pressure off of a date.

    With that being said, I prefer to make the first call.

  8. 8

    Re: Rachel’s comment (5): Lots and lots of things in life are unfair. But you can either accept that “what is, is” and learn to work within the paradigm toward success — or you can fight it and spend lots of time applying cold compresses to that bruised head you’ve been beating against the wall.

    I’m also married (2.5 years on July 1). When I was dating, whenever I would make the first move, it would get me laid but never brought the kind of quality connection or romantic relationship I was looking for. Once I learned the truth about male/female dating dynamics, accepted and embraced it, and let the man be the man while I focused on being the girl, I had far more success. My now-husband led the way strongly, all the way, from start to finish. I never had to wonder “where is our relationship headed?” because he never left any doubt that he was seriously interested. I just sat back and purred through our entire courtship. Heaven.

    (Unsolicited plug for Evan: my husband also still quotes from my profile, almost four years after first seeing it! Take Evan up on his profile writing services — you will never be sorry you spent the money.)

    I am a dating coach myself. Many of the women I work with ask, well, why CAN’T I call him first? Why can’t I ask him out? I say, go ahead! Nothing’s stopping you. Have at it, sister. But when you get tired of ouchies and rejection… then give me a call and we’ll discuss another approach that really works.

    When I was online dating, I gave the man the benefit of the doubt — that he was offering me his number because he’d been screamed at too many times for “compromising women’s safety” by asking for their numbers. Or else he was genuinely being chivalrous. I would send back a version of Evan’s letter that didn’t spell out an exact time to catch me, but warmly offered my own number in return. No followup call from the guy? No date. His loss. Next!

    And trust me… once you learn to revel in the abundance of the universe, rather than expect your prospects to be limited, you will realize there is always a new prospect waiting just around the corner.

  9. 9

    I’m with Alan on this one. I’m new to online dating, and everyone (including my 13yo daughter) is warning me to be careful and safe. So I don’t give out my number first. If the guy doesn’t offer his, and the emailing back and forth is getting old, I ask if he minds if I call him (explaining my safety measures) and I ask for his number. So far no one has minded it, and they seem to appreciate my position. There’s nothing wrong with us gals being careful…and even though I trust Evan’s advice that men don’t like women to make the first move, the singles’ blogs that I read have plenty of men saying, “Please, ladies! Feel free to make the first move!” It takes some of the pressure off of them, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re lazy or not willing to pursue someone. I’m a traditional gal, but if I see someone I like, why should I have to wait for him to make the first move? If he doesn’t like me asking for his number, no worries and I move on. Sounds pretty simple to me.

  10. 10
    Karl R


    Like Alan, I generally extend my phone number as a gesture of good faith. In my (limited) experience, I’ll usually get her phone number in the next e-mail. Since her phone number was the goal, this is more than acceptable to me. I then call her within 48 hours.

    Instead of phrasing anything, I just tack my phone number on after my “signature” (which is how I sometimes respond to ordinary e-mails).

    What is your opinion on a man giving his phone number with the objective of receiving hers?

  11. 11

    Alan’s template is exactly what I was trying to convey, he just said it better. 😛

    It just seems appropriate to offer my number when asking a woman out over email, even if i don’t really expect them to phone first.

  12. 12

    I’m confused by this post–if we’re talking about online dating, why is calling first even an issue? I have never called a guy I met via online dating before the date. In most instances we arrange to meet in person via email, and the guy offers his phone number in case I get lost/am late/can’t find him, and I return with my number for the same reasons.

    I suppose I called my now-boyfriend first. I was running less than five minutes late but did not want him to sit there and wonder if he was being stood up, so I called him to say I’d just found parking and was walking to the restaurant. Even a few minutes can seem like an eternity when waiting on a first date right?

    Is it unusual not to want to talk on the phone? I never want to talk on the phone to my boyfriend when we’re in the relationship. I never want to talk on the phone prior to dating. Is this a generation thing? I’m 27, but spend much more time communicating with my SO via IM or email.

  13. 13
    Evan Marc Katz

    Fact: Women want to be asked out.
    Fact: The most effective way to ask a woman out is by making her comfortable.
    Fact: She’s going to me more comfortable giving you her number after a handful of emails.
    Fact: She’s going to be more receptive to meeting you for a date after a handful of phone calls.

    So, guys, while it’s really nice to be respectful and concerned for her safety, why assume that she’s afraid of giving out her number? The BEST thing you can do is gain her trust by email, ask for HER phone number, CALL to get to know her, and THEN ask her out.

    All this correspondence like “Hi, you’re attractive. Here’s my number, call me so we could meet at Starbucks!” is just blind date bullshit. Make a woman feel special and comfortable and you’ll get whatever date you want. Offer a phone number to a stranger and don’t be surprised when she doesn’t call.

    And yes, desiring to get to know someone by phone as opposed to text IS generational. Kids these days…

    1. 13.1

      Couldn’t have said it better, Evan. THANK YOU!!

      1. 13.1.1

        ……if she is young…..and….he is good looking…….hhmmmhh…he will give her his phone number……and she will call……..hhmmm…

    2. 13.2

      Mr. Katz, rather than encourage people to play these gender games, it would be more effective for people to honestly voice their wants and what they have to offer. That’s Psych 101, emotional self-sufficiency aka reaching out to others to give and receive. “Hi, you’re attractive. Here’s my number, call me so we could meet at Starbucks!” occurs because online dating is the realm for the socially inept.

      Myth: She’s going to be more receptive to meeting you for a date after a handful of phone calls.
      Fact: She met a bunch of men at the bar, the gym, supermarket, etc, and went out with them on the spot or later without the exercise of a bunch of calls.

      Online, if done thoughtfully, you have the opportunity to write and read people’s thoughts, values, and love style (Dr. Lee). At the bar she went with the man aka total stranger without the benefit of the CV/resume. We’re working backwards acting as if online dating were some mystery or leap into the unknown vs. the dark bar where judgement is impaired by drinks.

      What’s next the “friends first” imaginary zone? Explicit honesty folks- try it.

      1. 13.2.1

        Jose – A phone call provides an additional audio feature that a 2D profile does not. When you meet a guy in a bar/classroom/bookstore/subway, at least you are looking at a 3D person and conversing with them.

        No with so many OLD profile ghost writers, a person’s profile might present a witty, upbeat, clever intelligent person, but the phone call reveals a person with a downer personality or an argumentative personality, or a voice tone that it is too irritating to live with.

        I speak from experience. I have screened men out from phone calls (as has happened to me as well). I have also gone out on short meet and greets with guys where the phone call was a little bit “iffy”. I know now to screen better. Many (but not all) of my bomber first dates were very predictable based on the guys phone personality.

        1. José

          Agreed, women should know what they want and be responsible for themselves and how they treat other people. The OP “Carol” can’t even make or receive a telephone call. If a woman can’t handle a telephone call, she can’t handle a real romance outside of the imaginary realm. When I get the “let’s chat online more” I drop her and move on. Those same “text more” women do not read my thoughtful profile to waste my time with questions like, “so, where do you live? How old are you…?”

          They are socially inept in every way. Retreating to the internet is a safe way for ego stroking. The internet term is “attention whore.”

    3. 13.3

      You are so right☆I wrote to this guy online to say hi just to feel him out. My response was your so pretty here is my number???WTF I’m   sorry but I don’t know anything   about 8you and I’m supposed to just cold call you about uncomfortable.


      1. 13.3.1

        …that’s what you get for making the first move…LOL..!!!


        1. Benjamin S

          Hi hunter. I disagree, as this happens even when the man is the instigator. One gentleman with a minimalist profile reached out to me. I greeted him in return. His next communication was message providing his phone number. I informed him that I wished to build some rapport before deciding on that step. He asked me about my plans for us to meet. I felt that such a question was more appropriate for him to answer, considering he is in PA and I am in NY. So I posed his question to back to him. He was making no move to build rapport (and instead seemed interested only in establishing phone communications), and I wanted to give him a chance reveal himself, so that I could determine whether it was worth moving to the next step of talking   on the telephone. Therefore, I asked him some in-depth and interesting questions about himself. His response: “I have lost interest. Good luck to you.” I laughed to myself, thinking “I had no interest to even lose, in the first place.”  So as you see, I did not make the first move. He did. It was up to me state my requirements for moving beyond the dating website and into my more personal space. And I did.

  14. 14

    I never thought to offer my phone number first as a sign of good faith that I respect the woman’s concerns about safety. I guess like xpuffs point it is a generational thing. These days police records are online. When I sense interest I just text the URL for my parole profile to the woman. She can see that I served my time, have been out on the streets for years without incidence, that I am on medication and that I have been through extensive therapy for stalking. The ankle bracelet that the police use to track my whereabouts is just an extra bonus. By the time all of these bases are covered my phone number gets forgotten about

  15. 15

    Evan, I’m asking about giving her my number with the intent, as explicitly stated, of calling her. That is, implicitly or explicitly asking for her number with the understanding that I will call her, but giving her my number: to show I’m serious, to show I’m credible, to back up my request for her number (share and share alike), to give her the chance of calling me if that’s what would make her most comfortable (if she doesn’t want to give me her phone number, for example).

    Similar to what you suggest, it’s designed to make her feel more comfortable and more at ease. I just want to get your take on it.

    And I guess that non-phone thing is generational. I wouldn’t even think of texting a conversation with someone I’ve never met (i.e., someone who isn’t already a friend).

  16. 16
    Evan Marc Katz

    I understand your motives, Alan. I just don’t see the advantage of offering your number.

    Ask for hers, call her, and there’s nothing for anyone to think about.

    If she balks for safety reasons, THEN you give your number.

    But giving your number first makes LOTS of women uncomfortable precisely because they DON’T want to make the first move…

    1. 16.1


      But what if, by being asked to give her number, she feels you are moving too quickly? Maybe she felt she could have done with another couple of emails each way? Maybe you never hear from her again as a result.

      Recently, I suggested meeting up and said “maybe it’s best to discuss a time convenient to us both on the phone” and then added on my number. That way, it’s natural.

      Some women may think: “Why is he asking for my number? Can’t he ask me out on email instead?”

  17. 17

    I find it interesting that there’s so much difficulty in deciding how to approach a woman about the first call. All of the men I dated whom I have met online have been very respectful and asked me, after exchanging a various number of emails, whether I felt comfortable talking on the phone. And when I said yes, they then all asked whether they preferred if they called me or if I called them, and a time was prearranged at my convenience. Simple, really!

    And even though eHarmony’s safety tips suggest that women may prefer that they place the call to the man, so that they don’t have to give out their phone number, with so many people having CallerID, I think that’s pretty irrelevant advice. Like Carol, I prefer to have the man place the first call, to my cell phone, so the number’s not linked to my home address and messages aren’t picked up by my kids.

  18. 18

    I think women don’t want to make the first move by calling the guy on the phone unless the girl is sugar mommy.. hehe. But single and as same as age of the guy is not the girl to make the first move, mostly is the only guy to make the first move. And I think in texting its okay for the girl but calling the phone number of the guy is hard. hehe

  19. 19

    While I certainly understand the safety thing, I gotta go with Evan on this one. I don’t want to have to make the first move because I really think that sets the stage for me doing the chasing and I don’t want to. I still hold fast to the notion that if a man is truly interested in a woman, she will know. He won’t leave her guessing.

  20. 20


    PLEASE don’t underestimate the safety thing when giving out your number. I hope you, and everyone who reads this blog, is aware that whenever you give out a landline phone number, anyone can enter that into Google and not only get your address but a map to your home. You can opt out of this option–just enter your phone number and when the appropriate result comes up, you can select to have that no longer displayed. Google does NOT search and display cell phone numbers–I doublechecked before posting. While most people have good intentions (and hopefully you’ve screened the “UGH” ones out in the email process), you just never know. Better safe than sorry!

    And before anyone submits a comments that this is off topic–hold on a sec! This, I believe is totally on topic, as evidenced by posts by such as Alan’s, who, in the hope that by providing a woman with his number, felt it would make her feel more comfortable in starting up a phone conversation than if he were to ask for her number.

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