Dear Jess, Last week I gave a guy my number. It took him six days to
contact me, but he finally sent me a text. How long do I have to wait to respond to him?
I’m a fan of applying old-school rules to new technology, so the first time a guy reaches out to you, you should wait at least twenty-four hours to respond. It does not matter if he texts, calls, e-mails, or instant messages. Whatever mode of communication he chooses still warrants the same reply time. Having difficulty with that? Think of it this way: Ever since you gave him your number six days ago, you’ve been staring at your phone, recapping the night you met him, second guessing his interest, and undoubtedly doubting yourself, what has he been doing? Going to the gym, seeing his friends, and, oh yeah, not calling you. As you’ve been sitting there in a quiet panic, wondering if you were going to hear from him, he’s been living life worry free. Now that he’s called you, it’s his turn to wait and stress a little. However, if you call or text him back immediately, that won’t happen.
If he actually calls you, do not pick up. Let your voice mail handle things for now and return his call the following day. This isn’t revenge for making you wait—it’s just rebalancing for the greater good of your future relationship.
After you text him back the first time, you are going to have to vary your response tactics. If you religiously wait exactly twenty- four hours each time, he will eventually pick up on your pattern and think you are playing a game. It’s always a good idea to let time pass before you reciprocate a call or text, but if you want to remain a mystery and keep the chase going, the key is to be unpredictable. Text back immediately some of the time but then wait a few hours or a whole day the next. Keep him on his toes by being unpredictable when it comes to your return texts and calls.
What If He Calls and Doesn’t Leave a Message?
Dear Jess, Update! He just called! But for some reason he didn’t leave
a message. Can I call him back?
If you want a guy to know that you have been sitting by the phone eagerly awaiting his call, then by all means, go right ahead and call him back. But consider this first: How do you know that he really meant to call you and this wasn’t just an accidental pocket dial? How embarrassed will you be if you call him and he says that he didn’t really intend to call you? Then all that self-restraint you’ve been exercising will be for nothing. He’ll think, “Wow, I pocket- dialed her and she got so excited she called me!”
For argument sake, let’s say he did purposefully call you and did not leave a voice mail; if you call him back, you will be setting a precedent that he doesn’t ever have to leave you a message. While you may not care about that right now because you are so elated to hear from him, you will care after it happens for the tenth or fifteenth time. He will learn that he can do the bare minimum, and you will still jump to his attention. In essence, you are positively reinforcing bad manners and unconsciously telling him that you aren’t worthy of being properly pursued.
One of my clients constantly struggled with her phone etiquette, too. She would always Continue reading