Should I Track Down The Guy Who Didn’t Take My Number?

giving a guy my number

I sat next to an attractive man last night at a political function that included a formal, sit-down, 14-course dinner. This man and I chatted during the time he was there. Another attendee asked for my business card (because of a mutual acquaintance.) At the same time, the attractive man had to sneak out early, and said his goodbyes to the table. He hesitated when it came to me, and eyed my business card. I thought about offering him one, but the keynote speaker began a presentation.

Because this man told me where he worked (I am familiar with the firm,) would it be appropriate for me to send him a short, business-like email saying that I enjoyed talking with him?


In Why He Disappeared, I spent a considerable amount of time distinguishing between the concepts of “right and wrong” and “effective and ineffective.”

As a dating coach, I try my best not to think of things in terms of right and wrong. People have their feelings, their pasts, their impulses and their rationalizations, and it’s certainly not my place to tell them that they are flat-out wrong for feeling what they’re feeling.

However, as a student of human behavior, it’s usually predictable what’s going to happen in a given relationship. From this standpoint, we can more clearly determine what is “effective” when dealing with the opposite sex.

Your dilemma, Robin, is a classic one, since it embodies the whole masculine/feminine energy and societal roles discussion in one simple anecdote.

So instead of answering your question, point-blank, I’d like to ask you: how does dating USUALLY go? If you were to conceive of the most likely scenario about how a couple would go from being strangers to being married, wouldn’t it pan out something like this:

  • Boy meets girl.
  • Boy finds girl attractive and wants to have sex with her.
  • Boy asks girl out for a drink.
  • Girl says yes.
  • Boy calls girl on phone, makes effortless conversation, and comes up with a plan for Saturday night.
  • Boy asks all his friends where to take his gorgeous date and ends up in the same place he takes all of his dates.
  • Girl is surprised that boy does all the right things on the date and is also attracted to him.
  • Boy kisses girl at end of date and promises to call again.
  • Girl kisses him back and agrees to be receptive to further dates.
  • Boy calls the next day.
  • Girl picks up and agrees to go out with him again.
  • 6 weeks later, boy asks girl to be exclusive.
  • Girl says yes.
  • Two and a half years later, boy proposes to girl.
  • Girl says yes.
  • Boy and girl live happily ever after…

Thus, all of those clichés about men liking a chase or a challenge are TRUE.

Notice how it’s always the boy who reaches out and it’s always the girl who says yes. He asks for her number, he chooses a date place, he picks up the check, he tries to kiss her, he offers to call her the next day, he asks for commitment, he proposes.

This is what men have been conditioned to do. I’m not going to speculate whether it’s nature or nurture; I will simply point out that most men have understood this paradigm since third grade.

Thus, all of those clichés about men liking a chase or a challenge are TRUE.

We want to win you over, to earn your love, to conquer you sexually — we don’t want it to be GIVEN to us.

And, to me, that’s the only problem with you stalk—I mean—“looking up” this attractive man at his law firm. Fact is: if he wanted to ask you out, he would have asked you out. How do I know this? Because that’s what men DO.

Sure, there’s always the man who’s impossibly shy and needs someone to give him a pep talk before he can approach a woman. Yet, this is rarely the man women pine over.

Fact is: if he wanted to ask you out, he would have asked you out.

Objectively, it costs you nothing to send him an email and say, “Had a great time meeting you. Wanna grab a drink?” In fact, if it would give you closure, I say go ahead and do it.

I just wouldn’t expect very much in the way of a reply.

He had his chance to ask you out and he opted not to. I would think that would be all the evidence you would need.

Or, as my assistant wrote when forwarding me this question: “If he likes you, he, uh, won’t sneak out of a political function!”

Join our conversation (58 Comments).
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  1. 1

    If you do not have an upcoming chance to see the guy again, he is gone.   You have nothing to lose by sending him your business card.
    You don’t have to ask him out.   Send him your card.   Start up a conversation about business matters, drop subtle hints that you like him and let him ask you out.

  2. 2

    This is a tough one, imo.   I’ve been in situations like these before and it seems like I have always had to work to show some kind of interest before a guy would ask me out.   Of course, when I have, guys have wanted to date me.   However, looking back on my life, I’m not sure if I set up the right dynamic in my relationships, i.e. it led to being involved with passive-aggressive types.
    Therefore, I like Evan’s advice, but Steve has a point, too.   What are your dating patterns?   Is this man someone that would otherwise be a good business contact?   It wouldn’t hurt to add him to a social networking site.   I like this idea because then he’d be subtly reminded of you, but it wouldn’t be the same as you asking him out.   Also, if you’ve had problems in the past with passive or passive-aggressive men, then it might be good to sit back on this one and let that man do some work.   After all, he saw your business card, so he likely knows your name, too.   I think there is much to be said for how men value you in a long term relationship.   The might treat you differently if they perceive they had to “work” for you or if they feel/felt as though you are there at their disposal.
    Whatever you decide, I wish you luck, Robin!   🙂

  3. 3

    Send him the email. If he freaks out or is put off, he wasn’t the right fit for you anyway, so no loss. When someone is truly interested, it doesn’t matter how you got together, how you met or who contacted whom first.

  4. 4
    Still Looking

    Robin – I agree with Steve’s comments – nothing ventured, nothing gained.   If you met at a party or a bar and he didn’t ask for your number, then he is probably not interested.   A formal dinner is not the most opportune time for a man to ask for your number, especially if a speaker is walking to the podium.   I’d put this scenario into the same category as sending the first email on an internet dating site — go for it.

  5. 5

    “Two and a half years later boy proposes to girl.”

    That’s how it’s supposed to go?

    In my experience, 2 and a half years is dawdling – unless you’re still in high school/  college.   What if you’ve lived together? Often in such a case, marriage is discussed by both parties, not a unilateral proposal on the part of the “boy”. Shakin’ my head.

  6. 6

    Why is it dating experts discourage women from taking initiative when it comes to contacting/ asking men out, but in the comment sections, non-dating expert guys say “go for it”?

    1. 6.1

      Selena (#6) asks: Why is it dating experts discourage women from taking initiative when it comes to contacting/ asking men out, but in the comment sections, non-dating expert guys say “go for it”?

      Probably because dating experts hear from hundreds of women who don’t find success from doing the pursuing and see them waste a lot of time/energy doing something with no return. Evan has a great post on this called: Should Women Ask Men Out on First Dates? It does give the exception: extremely shy guys.

      As far as her tracking him down, don’t you think this guy has the same ability to track HER down if he wants to? 14 course political dinners aren’t thrown together like a cocktail party! She was most likely in an assigned seat and the organizer knows her name, etc. I had a guy once track me down (pre-Facebook era) by calling every woman in the phone book with my name! (There were quite a few.)

      Maybe this guy is married or already in a relationship, so he didn’t ask for her number because he’s not a cheater. Maybe he’s single and just not that interested. But if he is interested, it’s certainly not impossible to find her. (I’m sure Karl can come up with the odds on that!)

  7. 7

    No one mentioned the idea that maybe this guy is already involved with someone.   If he’s attractive like she says he is, then he most likely has an active dating life or even a girlfriend. But I do agree with Evan, if he wanted her number/business card he would have asked for it… and if for some reason he changes his mind, then he should be the one sending the “nice meeting you” e-mail.

    1. 7.1

      I met a girl on the beach that I really hit it off with and I didn’t ask for her number.   Why?   Quite simply it was   a bad time for me, my Aunt had just died of cancer and my Uncle was in a similar predicament.   I took my dog to the beach to blow off steam and unexpectedly engaged in conversation with this girl and her friend.   She was definitely my type and we clicked but when it came time for her to leave I balked at getting her number because I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to think about dating.   I’m sure she probably thought I was shy or some kind of flake but it was something else entirely.   But yes if I had the means to contact this girl I would have, unfortunately I never saw her again.

  8. 8

    I have a similar story… except it wasn’t a political dinner. I had a fabulous conversation with a man at an event, we seemed to hit it off and then he had to go… I then interjected and asked if they (his group) were going to get dinner, and I said I hadn’t eaten. He took the opportunity to invite me along. We had fun and he walked me back to my car and I drove him to his hotel. Mild flirting took place and it was cool.
    The next (and final) day of the event, he said, “Have a safe trip home!” I asked for a card, he said he didn’t have one. I then handed him mine and told him to keep in touch. He said thanks.
    Later, I found his e-mail and sent him a funny e-mail. We talked back and forth by e-mail for a while, and every once in a while when our paths crossed, I would contact him. He always chose to meet up with me and we’d have dinner and again, mild flirting would ensue.
    After about a year of this, and only one call initiated on his end to me, I stopped. He’s a nice enough guy and was interested to a degree (obviously), but not enough to do any serious pursuit of me, for whatever reason.
    Long story short, I used to frequently do this with men I met quickly and felt a connection to, and then always found ways to find them and contact them… until I realized that not one of these men took the initiative to ask me for my number or said that they’d like to see or talk to me again in the future.
    No, it can’t hurt for the letter writer to contact the guy, but my personal experience is pretty dead on with what Evan said… if the guy had really wanted to see me again, he would have found a way to make it happen and I never would have had to “track him down” all of those times in the first place.

  9. 9

    Heh heh Cat. Actually I agree with the premise for women to  “do nothing” and let the man prove whether he’s interested or not.   It never fails however, when this premise is discussed on internet forums there are always a few guys who say they’d love it if women did some of the pursuing (and ofcourse paying) – *equality* and all that.   But how often does it ever work out for the woman who pursues them?

    In today’s example, if the guy is really interested why didn’t he ask her for his card? That’s the tell.

  10. 10

    But how often does it ever work out for the woman who pursues them?”

    My guess is about as often as it did for SS #9.

    This is why women are advised not to pursue.

  11. 11

    @Selena: It never fails however, when this premise is discussed on internet forums there are always a few guys who say they’d love it if women did some of the pursuing (and ofcourse paying) — *equality* and all that.
    Oh, I’m sure they would like that… and those men might respond favorably and go out on the date, which frequently happened to me.
    But that doesn’t mean that they are interested in pursuing the woman after that, which is what I think women in such situations need to recognize. Just because a man says, “Oh yeah, I’d be flattered if a woman asked me out,” doesn’t mean that he’s interested.
    He’s just flattered that a woman asked him out and pursued him, and that’s it.

  12. 12

    Cat #6 wrote:

    As far as her tracking him down, don’t you think this guy has the same ability to track HER down if he wants to? 14 course political dinners aren’t thrown together like a cocktail party! She was most likely in an assigned seat and the organizer knows her name, etc.
    A man “tracking down” a woman for a date via a business encounter brings up nightmares of sexual harassment suits in the year 2011.     A lot of men might just decide given that choice it is better to find their dates outside of anything work related.

  13. 13

    what if the woman in question is incredibly attractive? could it not be possible that the man assumes he has no chance, or that she is probably already taken?   to the guys answering this question, there has never been a time where you assumed there was no point?   you never pined away for someone you thought you could never have? this might just be my opinion, but i feel like we are contributing way to much confidence to men as a whole, but, of course, i am no expert.

  14. 14

    Let him contact you.   I remember being at a dance, and danced a few times with a guy who did not ask for my contact info.   But the next day I had an e-mail from him because he knew which department I was in and was able to contact me that way.   If he’s interested, he’ll find a way to get a hold of you, and then you get the pleasure of knowing that it isn’t just a polite/flattered response on his part.   If he’s not interested enough to find out how to contact you, he’s not interested.

  15. 15

    I say no.   Actually, I say Hell No.  Do not hunt this man  down. Hold your head up and  enjoy the fact that he seemed to shine in your company (because you are radiant yourself, of course!) and it didn’t hurt that he gave off some  good man-vibes that made the dinner much more enjoyable.   I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve thought the same thing myself, uh, many times. You’re convinced that a cruel twist of fate has kept you from  connecting with The One, but that’s not true. Because if he felt  the same attraction and he’s  available… he’ll find you.  Social networking and business networks  abound. In fact, it’s now much harder to  not be found than it is to be found in almost any city on the planet.    

    I don’t mean to be cruel or judgmental,  but how many of us (me included) convince ourselves “But oh, my situation is unique”  and but for the special situation that swept him away from you, totally out of his control, right now he’d be begging you to join him on a  week-long getaway in Paradise, on him.  

    Nah. Like others have said,  there’s no real harm in seeking him out. Personally, though,  every time I do this, I wind up kicking myself &  asking myself why I didn’t see the obvious: he wasn’t that  into me,  cuz if he was,  WILD HORSES couldn’t keep him away. And then I feel foolish, embarrassed, dumb and that erases the good feeling I got just being in his midst. That’s the feeling I recommend you  savor, and let the rest  just be.       

    1. 15.1

      this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear! I went to this guys office today for a work related thing and we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other and smiled like two goons the entire time! I asked for his card because I needed it legitimately for work and he was all too eager to hand it over. As I got ready to leave, I circled back to his desk and handed him mine. It has my cell # on it and all day I was for sure he was going to text but never did.   Then I remembered I never officially asked him to call. Now I was questioning if I should contact him or not until I saw your post.   It felt so good during the initial interaction of “eye flirting” that i don’t want to ruin that by chasing him down.   If he really wanted to call/text, he would. Who knows, maybe he has a girlfriend but no ring on his hand…I should just enjoy the fact that a stranger and I had a moment today and live in the moment with that fun experience. Thank you!!!!!

  16. 16
    Karl R

    Cat, (#7)
    If he’s sufficiently interested and competent, he will track her down. And as your example indicates, the competence level can be worked around.

    The man hesitated when he looked at her business card. It doesn’t take long to read one, and the company name is usualy the largest font. That’s plenty of information.

    I found a woman in a city of a few million. I knew her first name (which was common), and I knew she had two jobs (office manager & yoga instructor). It took me less than 20 minutes on Google to find her.

  17. 17

    I think this particular  situation’s pretty cut and dry – don’t do it, you’ll seem creepy.  But  in general,  aren’t most women in the relationship predicaments they’re in because waiting for the right guy to ask them out isn’t working, either? Look at all of the relationships that fail  after men take the initiative/make the first move, and  somehow, that factor is never cited or  blamed. That being said, men disproportionately  reject based on the immutable, and that can be a bitter pill. Also,  its  success is probably  highly dependent  on the kind of guy and the kind of relationship a woman wants to have.

  18. 18

    I’m guessing this “attractive” man is in his 30’s 40’s 50’s? A man who is sophisticated enough to be invited to /attend political dinners? HELLLOOOOO — HE KNOWS HOW TO ASK WOMEN OUT — WOMEN HE’S INTERESTED IN. I’m guessing his been doing it for 20+ years? He “hesitated” when he came you as he was saying his goodbyes? I’m surprised I’m the only one throwing this out there — maybe he’s thinking “Oh shit, that lady’s interested in me and wants me to take her card/ask her out and I’m not on board.” Even though in the ENTIRE TIME he spent chatting with her — before he “snuck out” — he didn’t ask for her card, e-mail, if she was on Facebook, blah blah blah…
    Yeah, you could track him down and e-mail him, on the OFF-CHANCE he’s, um “shy” (But I’m guessing this attractive, politically-savy dude did not get to where he is in life by being “shy”)…
    And yes, he might have a girlfriend. Or might be gay. Or — OMG — not interested.

  19. 19

    Put down the business card and slowly back away.

  20. 20

    IMO, it’s 18 months, and if there’s been no proposal, it’s time to have “The Talk.” Not before.
    Agree with Evan that, if this man really, REALLY was attracted to you and wants to date you?   He will find a way to get in touch with you.   Surely, if you chatted with him through a fourteen course meal, you dropped enough personal information for him to find you, right?
    Men do what they want to do, and they don’t do what they don’t want to do.   Trying to nudge along something that wasn’t meant to be probably won’t get you anything but embarrassed and wishing you’d just left well enough alone.

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