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

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.

Join our conversation (90 Comments).
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  1. 31

    re: post 12

    No talking before meeting? Really?

    But that’s such an important part of deciding whether the person is even worth meeting!

  2. 32

    But I have single male friends and business associates in the 50 plus crowd, and they all tell me that they rarely, if ever, initiate contact with women online. They simply don’t have to. They claim to get inundated by emails from women in their age group. As such, it might behoove a woman in her 60s to take the initiative when contacting a guy.

    That might be because men die sooner then women and there might be alot more 60 year old women without mates then 60 year old men..because most of them are already dead.

  3. 33
    Karl R

    Evan (#13)
    “why assume that she’s afraid of giving out her number?”

    To quote you, “I’m going to put you in HER shoes.”

    If I give someone my phone number, they can get my first & last name and my address. Therefore, I’m cautious about giving my phone number out … and I know that I’m much better at protecting myself than the majority of men and most women.

    Evan (#17)
    “I understand your motives … I just don’t see the advantage of offering your number.”

    I routinely get the lady’s phone number after 2 or 3 e-mails. I get the first date after one phone call.

    My motive is to get the first date without wasting a lot of time. If I make the lady’s safety a priority, I can get the first date faster. That’s enough of an advantage.

  4. 34

    THANK YOU EVAN!!!! I have talked to some great guys while online dating. Then they blow it by giving me their phone #. Marc explained to a T as to how a woman feels when a man does that. Basically, men are hunters, women are nuturers. It’s not our nature to pursue. And the women who chase get a hookup situation. We women are more than happy to talk, meet, and get to know you. Just don’t be lazy and throw us your #.

  5. 35

    So lemme get this straight: women don’t want to give men their numbers, because of security reasons. But they also don’t want to be the first ones to call, so when a man offers his number (if HE can get around HIS concerns for security), they are at a stalemate????? And then there are those people who don’t want to do any telephone screening at all and move straight from emailing to meeting in person? And that makes you feel MORE secure??

    I have a telephone “date” scheduled for this week. He emailed me first. We emailed back and forth, with him continuing to initiate the emails. He suggested we talk live and gave me his phone number. I emailed him back saying I would like to chat and asked what day of the week and time might work for him. He gave me the information and said he was blocking off time so we could talk without interruption (that sounds plenty invested and interested to me). I told him I would call at the appointed hour. He sent me another email confirming the time and saying how much he’s looking forward to it. He knows I’ll be in his city (a couple of hours away) next week, so if we get along on the phone, he’ll have an opportunity to ask me out. I’m not chasing him, but I’m also not adhering to a set a rules that sound like they’d be better applied to passing notes in 8th grade math class. Like grown ups, people! That is how you should be conducting your dating life!

    1. 35.1

      Cillia I CONCUR.  I always text first and if he wants to talk to me, he will call…Problem solved.

  6. 36

    Most, not all, female keynote speakers, at single seminars, that I have been to, emphasize, that a man give a woman, his telephone number. I think, the problem lies in the fact that, men usually give their telephone number to women that don’t need another telephone number. Some of these women already have hundreds of telephone numbers….LOL!……

  7. 37

    I’ll share with the ladies what I heard at a single seminar concerning men giving telephone numbers. ” If he hands you his telephone number, take it, write ‘your’ telephone number on it and give it back!”…….

  8. 38

    Cilla –
    Technically, men should ask for the # outright. If you don’t want to give it to him, offer an alternative with what you feel comfortable with. Or what Marc suggested in his article.

    The bottom line is men should ask and somewhere in time, they stopped. Now if you want to call a man first, great. At some point the man needs to take control and continue calling/making plans with you. That is why it is best to start out having the man call you period. The trick is getting him to do that.

  9. 39


    I will say it again. If you are resorting to “tricks,” you are not in an adult relationship.

    BTW, there is no rule book (other than “The Rules”) that “technically” says a man should ask for a woman’s number. It was a societal convention that women themselves screwed up by becoming “liberated.” You can’t lay all the blame on men. And what alternative is there to giving your number to a man, if you can “trick” him into asking for it?

  10. 40

    ~~~ IM A GUY and i do not ever call the lady 1st.
    never never… its not that i dont want her, its that i am too shy
    and for the most part feel i will fail and emails are safer.

    sorry but if i know ahead of time – regadless of how i looked, or how big or ugly i was. that she wouldnt mind and i always had positive experiance with calling 1st i would.

    even when she calls me, if its someone i dont know personally or have never met, i may be able to talk for weeks, but when it comes to actually meeting – i chicken out then too

    ive had too many women fall in love with me over the phone 1-4 weeks and then we meet and NOTHING 🙁

  11. 41

    Dan, start calling the females on the telephone. All it takes is practice/experience. It may feel awkward at first, but, that goes away, if you try frequently….In most instances, if a woman is good, and healthy, all you have to do is dial up the phone, and say, “Hi, this is Dan calling” and the average woman will talk your ear off,,,,, if you let her.

  12. 42

    Oh man, I broke all the rules. hahaaaa. crap. But, he gave me his phone number after he and I plus a few other friends chatted all night(not online, in person). Plus, he’s a timid guy, so I think I did the right thing. Because he likes me a lot! (calls me his boyfriend, paid for the first few dates after picking me up, and basically everything I’ve ever wanted from a guy, he does!) woo! =) Honestly, I wouldn’t count on every woman being a phone person. Have something to say! I am definitely not a phone person. I am a phone person(phone person, as in wanting to talk for no real reason in particular.) with ONE person and that is my best friend. I feel like part of what a woman expects to hear in the first phone conversation is interest from the man. It would be lame to just call and expect her to talk/chat. To me a great first phone call would have a few jokes to ease the tension/anxiety, ask how the day went, make plans then move on!

  13. 43

    haha… calls me his girlfriend. oi vey. well, at least it was entertaining, mildly.

  14. 44

    I much prefer the man to be the initiator.  I am female, 44 and like to be pursued by the man.

  15. 45

    I never liked to call guy first because it’s never works. If you call him and he answered the call he acts really strange like you went into his wallet and then  he would ask to get back with him another time anyway because it’s wrong time, he is watching football or …………

  16. 46

    Let me suggest another reason why men offer their phone number. Out of respect for women. The ones I know don’t want to pressure the woman, and with all the stalking & loonies going on nowadays, they know that women might not want to give out their phone numbers to a random they just met. So he isn’t expectng her to take the reins of the relationship – he’s just expecting her to indicate interest in a non-threatening way, just like smiling in the supermarket.

    So the sample email per EMK is the perfect and appropriate response.  Another option is to SMS the guy’s number, not actually call him, and say its you. this is another wink-like way of giving the guy your number, after he’s given you his, and to let him know it’s ok to call you.  From there he should take the reins. If he doesn’t, then move on. 

  17. 47

    I really love this article and the responses here … I’m 33, single, and been around the block with dating – online and otherwise. Here’s where I get stuck in this phone number situation: I run across guys online all the time who, after one or two e-mails, give me their number. It’s usually the guys that seem, on paper, like they might have potential. BUT, how am I to know? Basically, he is a stranger.  It just … kills the excitement. I’m stuck in this dilemma of “I don’t want to call him because he should call me AND I don’t feel comfortable with this stranger knowing my number…yet” ALSO, in my experience, when I give out my number to a guy, they don’t call – they text. I’ve started just telling guys straight up that when I’m getting to know someone new, I won’t text. I don’t know if guys realize how much these actions are pushing women away.  I would MUCH prefer to e-mail a few times, then, when I feel comfortable give him my number. I’ve tried to nicely, with a little humor, state this and have found that it angers most guys or they say things like, “I’m not on here much. It’s just easier to talk on the phone.” BUZZ KILL.  Why is it so hard to meet a nice, normal guy with a CLUE?!? Unfortunately, this situation happens all the time and I lose interest … and hope … pretty quickly.

  18. 48

    Erin, I think it’s a bit silly that a guy giving you his number ‘kills the excitement’ for you.
    I often will provide my number after a few emails and offer to call her or just meet up instead if she prefers. If you’ve really been around the online dating block you’d know that it’s good to meet up sooner than later.
    I’ve definitely had women just vanish completely once i suggest talking on the phone now though. I find a lot of younger (early 30s or younger) women dont want to talk on the phone and prefer to just meet.
    I”m with you on the texting though. I can save that for later.

    1. 48.1

      A bit silly…are you serious? Are you in a woman’s head to know how it feels. Do you feel like a woman to understand how it kills it?
      It makes no sense that a man would respond like that…if you want to know what a woman thinks- ask her. You can’t know what a woman thinks/feels by simply deciding how she should feel.
      I feel the very same way as Erin. Call it just being a lady, call it being a Gemini, call it whatever- there are things that must be said and done to elevate my feelings. Not all women are simple. Some of us have depth, and some of us like to be stimulated. We want our adrenaline pumping. Its the unknown that gets us excited.
      There is a reason that this worked centuries ago, and technology might have changed but people are basically the same on the inside.
      Woman not only want to be courted, they NEED to be courted, for both parties benefit actually. You can throw seeds on the ground and hope it grows but actually taking the time to plant a seed and watering it increases the potential of growth by a mile…not to mention the pride you will feel at nurturing your own plant.
      The fact that men have become lazy, have been misinformed by eharmony and other misguided folks, the fact that they lack self esteem, and all the other reasons they do this, doesn’t change the fact that women (most) do not like when they behave this way. IT IS A TURN OFF. Yes it might be silly to you, but there are silly facts aren’t there?

  19. 49

    Hunter 37 – I adore that comment.  Now why didn’t I think of that?
    Seriously, if he hasn’t got the energy to pick up the blasted phone, what kind of man is that?
    Passive? Not interested? Shy?

  20. 50

    Don’t EVER call him…unless you have been dating for a few months.  Be mysterious…men love to be frustrated….look at the careers they choose….look how much they love sports….they like to be challenged…..they are hard wired that way.  And DO NOT respond to every text he sends either….that makes him think about you more!

    1. 50.1

      @GiGi #50:  i agree 100% with you …and Evan.  When I was the one calling first, I was also the one who planned the dates, etc…the guys (I dated after calling FIRST) wouldn’t do anything in any type of romantic gesture without me planning it!  It was like, I was the man in the relationship because I was the one that was putting in any effort.  I was setting the tone for the relationship and it never turned out good. I’m still single and never married at 38 years old.   This time it’s different.  I do not call them first.  I do not ask them out first.  If they are interested in me, they have to “work for it”.  I’ve learned the hard way to let the man take the lead.

  21. 51

    I agree with you…..

  22. 52

    Thank you! This is the first time I’ve seen this topic directly addressed, with helpful suggestions for how to respond. I’m not ok calling the guy first and it’s perplexed me why someone would nearly immediately give me his number. Even when I’ve replied, here’s my number so please give me a call…they usually ignore that and continue emailing or they start texting. And I’m in my 50’s! Sheesh, dudes, that’s what that button with the green phone symbol is for.
    Never thought about it in terms of the same idea as putting flyers on the car windshields 🙂 Great analogy!

  23. 53

    It’s been my experience that “every time” and I mean EVERY TIME I took the initiative, the guy didn’t do anything.  MEANING:  I was always questioning whether he really liked me or not.  MEANING: He always wanted me to come up with things to do for the dates or we’d just have sex at his condo or house.  I was used by men because I was so willing (meaning desperate) to be with someone and these guys (in the past) picked up on that.  I’m doing things differently now, if they don’t call first or ask me on the date FIRST, then nothing is going to happen between us.  Men ultimately like to be treated like Men…they like the chase (cliche or not).  This time, I let them do the chasing. 

  24. 54

    I have to be honest, this is probably my number one frustration in the dating world today…and, that’s saying something because I have a lot of frustrations to choose from. It’s frustrating because it’s so common for this to happen now that I can’t honestly tell you the last time that a man actually asked me for my number. Men, PLEASE start “manning up” in this arena. Women still want to be pursued and when you give us your number, you are basically telling us you are one of the things that Evan mentioned in his article: a) lazy, b) frustrated, c) clueless, d) not interested. These are NOT qualities that a quality woman wants to feel about you when she is considering you as a potential candidate. It’s as simple as that.
    I just get so uncomfortable when a man offers me his number…so much so that I don’t even know what to do or how to respond! I can’t say, “hey!! I’m waiting for you to ask me for my number, Boso!” That wouldn’t be nice…plus, it takes the fun out of it for me when you have to teach someone the very basics. Yes, I know men get frustrated when they feel like women want them to be “mind readers,” but, you’re grown-ass men!! We can’t wipe your asses for you and feed you your bottles, too. At some point, men stopped taking initiative in our culture and started blaming it on women for their incompetence complaining that we want them to read our minds. The sad reality on this one, guys, is no, some things, you need to do on your own without us telling you. This is one of them.
    For those of you who believe I’m being harsh, I want you to understand that it’s coming from a place of genuine frustration. I don’t hate men, I’m weary, though. I genuinely want a man I can respect, but, here’s the thing, everyone will tell you that respect is earned. Yes, there are a LOT of things women need to understand about men. But, it goes both ways. And, one thing men need to understand about women is that for women, earning our respect starts at the beginning and it starts with the little things. Asking a woman for her number and taking lead is a way of showing us that you aren’t afraid, you aren’t lazy, you aren’t going to sit back and be passive and watch the opportunity to get to know us pass you by. It shows us strength and courage. It seems like such a little thing, but, it’s SO important! I know, I know…you might get rejected…and that would really suck! But, nothing worth having comes easy.
    The sad thing for me is, a lot of times, when a guy gives me his number, I can tell he really does genuinely like me and is hoping I will call or text him. I’ll have a guy give me his number 3 or 4 times…but, I’m kind of hardcore on this issue. I won’t even come back with a counter offer as Evan suggested because I feel THAT strongly that he should not only make the first move, but, that he really needs to ASK me for something like my number. The even sadder thing is, I might even half-way like him, or, at least want to get to know him better, but, because he won’t ask for my number, I write him off as someone I can’t possibly consider taking seriously. Why? Because it shows me weakness. I think to myself, “if he isn’t even strong enough  or smart enough to ask me for my number and pursue me this early one, there is no way he has any aptitude or courage to make me feel special and cherished down the line! I’ll have to hold his hand and tell him how to treat me the entire time.” This thought seems exhausting to me. I’ll be honest, some things, his mama or daddy should have just taught him! This is something men are just supposed to know! I was raised that if a man is interested, he will ASK for my number and pursue. So, when a guy gives me his number, it’s kind of like the most frustrating non-starter in the world.  It’s like chewing gum that loses it’s flavor after 5 seconds. Sure, it starts out seeming like it could be really great and tasty when you put it in your mouth! But, BOOM, 2 seconds later: biggest. letdown. ever. It’s a lot like that.

    1. 54.1

      ….few men study r’ships….so, we are clueless…making us frustrated at times… 50 we are no longer interested….(no more hormones)…..making us lazy……

  25. 55

    As a woman, I want to be pursued, but sometimes men are shy, or frustrated, or simply email blasting all women he thinks are hot online. I really don’t want to be wooed by a guy online because I never met him. In these situations I say just CALL THEM. This is what I do, I will show that I’m interested and if they don’t call back oh well. It’s one of my strategies…LOL I encourage them with initial contact or date suggestions, then take a huge step back and let them do the pursuing. I get annoyed at 35 emails or instant messages. I personally, lose interest because they don’t have the confidence to ask me for my number. Now my actions all depend on the situation and my level of interest…most of the time I let them ask me for my number. If they don’t pursue me after the first date regardless of who contacted whom, I’m not going to be interested anyway. This DB I went out with on Monday is so full of himself he thinks I’m going to call him about our next date, when he made it clear he doesn’t want a relationship and he thinks I’m just going to sleep with him. He asked me out too. No way dude.

  26. 56

    I just had this same scenario happen to me (I’m early 50’s). A very handsome man, former professional basketball player, approached me online, we exchanged a few messages, then he sent me his # and asked me to call. It rubbed me the wrong way, as I have learned over the years that when I initiate contact, it never works out well – to another poster’s point, it’ll get you laid, but it won’t get you a relationship. I think most men look at women who chase as low-hanging fruit that they’ll take if interested enough but they don’t care enough to climb a tree for it.

    Anyway I gently responded with MY # and a few times I was available; I also said if he expected me to call him, he needed to give me some times that worked for him as I don’t want to get caught up in phone tag (that’s happened before too and it annoys the crap out of me – I have a busy life too). 3 weeks went by with nothing. Then I replied one more time, giving available times and again asking for his and that if he was no longer interested, good luck in your search.

    He shot back a kind of nasty note saying he thought I was playing games since I never called him. Methinks Mr. former NBA is used to women chasing him and thus expects them all to do so. Not this girl! Next!! If a man’s interest level is that low in the beginning, when people are usually putting their best foot forward, it’s not going to get any better later on, and by accepting it you’re signaling you’re OK with similar behavior that gives him all the options.

    1. 56.1
      hunter a certain age, we need other things…I agree with what you said….

  27. 57

    Oh and one more thought. Men need to understand that we women – any quality woman – understands that SHE is the prize. We women are literally bombarded with emails and phone #s online to the point that it can become a job to sort through it all. If a man wants to get through all that noise and stand out as different from all the idiots making the (very) minimal effort of throwing thier # around, he needs to pursue. Make her comfortable online first, & she’ll give you her # (she can always block caller ID info).

    To guys who want us to call, I want to point out that THEY contact us first online. THEY are asking US to take time out of our busy lives so THEY have a shot at auditioning for the job of OUR boyfriend. THEY are asking us to pull their profile out of the stack for consideration. And now you expect us to initiate the call too???? If you seriously want to be considered, man up and call. To not do so makes it look like you are a coward, wanting the chick to risk being rejected etc. so you don’t have to. NOT APPEALING!!

    1. 57.1

      Glad you made that point Celtic.

  28. 58

    Hmm, the part where you say “The man has to “EARN” you! So how does it feel being on that pedestal? What happens if pull this little stone out? It collapses and you come back to the level of decent humans!

  29. 59

    If a man gives a woman his number, it means that he wants to talk to her. Shocking! A woman has no problem giving her number out to a man she met at the bar, party, etc, especially when his wallet is bulging. Men learned to stop the endless pursuing of uninterested women sometime around the 1,000 rejection, which started at age 12.

    Here’s a news flash…how about women approach a man they like to say something honest like, “hey I dig you.” That might help women overcome the lonely nights with the cat.

    1. 59.1

      …..It doesn’t work that way Jose… have to ask the woman for her ‘phone number…..expect to be rejected…..continue asking….a dating coach can help with that issue….

      1. 59.1.1

        Yes, of course, how foolish of me.

  30. 60

    Online dating can work under certain circumstances which 100% does not apply here.  Online dating is a waste of time. You have to meet in person to get anywhere. That’s the bottom line. The phone number thing is secondary. Guys are trying to get past the mental manstrabation of online with going to a phone call. But its clear it does not work.
    Literally 80% of emails in which men OFFER their phone numbers are IGNORED.
    A 20% success rate would be great if it was true, but it is not. Its more like a 99.8% failure rate. And the few that do succeed are often prostitutes, psychos, trannys or a candidate for the planet of the apes. This is why guys feel forced to play the numbers game, while they have a low success rate it is a success none the less.

    1. 60.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      No, Maxx. You’re just shitty at online dating. Why would a woman respond to a man who gives her a phone number? Woman has 500 phone numbers – she’s supposed to call ALL of them?

      You clearly aren’t thinking of anything but your own failures, which is fine, but since one fifth to one third of all marriages begin online, maybe you should revise your 99.8 failure rate.

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