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
How many of you have ever been in the situation where you know you shouldn’t call or text a guy back, but for some irrational and illogical reason, you go against your own sound judgment and do it anyway? Maybe he said he would call one night, but didn’t. Or maybe he’s disappeared on you for a few days and he’s suddenly come back. Whatever the reason is that he is contacting you now, you know that dating etiquette would tell you to either send him to voicemail, or let him hang in textual limbo. Maybe you leave him there for good, or maybe just for a night. Whatever the specifics of your situation are, you know that the right move is to not call or text him back right away.
But somehow the right move just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t sit well. It’s like day old pizza in your stomach. You can tolerate it for a little while but sooner or later you have to do something about it. Every book out there will tell you it’s perfectly okay not to return his call. In fact, many will say that it will only help you gain the upper hand. So why can’t we follow this one little-bitty, time tested, widely known piece of advice?
Not Calling is Tougher than Calling
While you are waiting for his call, a tremendous amount of angst builds up inside of you. You are stressed, nervous, sad, and angry all at the same time. It’s emotional overload. You walk around with a cloud over your head, and no matter what else you do to keep yourself occupied, it’s still there.
Until that phone rings. Then suddenly all that emotional build up is wiped away. Thank God! He’s called (or in many cases, texted.) You are satisfied for the moment. That will teach him to make you wait. But then, not ten minutes later all the angst is back. Now the ball is in your court. It’s up to you to make the right decision. You have all the power. What if by not calling back he thinks you are a total bitch? Or what if you wait too long to call him back and he calls someone else? Someone cuter and less neurotic? What if he thinks you are mad, or worse, what if he thinks you are playing a game? Is it possible you could push him even further away at this point? Now the emotional stress is even more unbearable because it’s contingent on you. Before you only had to sit there and do nothing. That was easy. Now you have to make the right play or you could ruin everything!
What to do when you know you should not call.
For whatever reason, earlier you decided that this guy did not deserve a call back, either right away or maybe at all. While you were waiting you gathered all the evidence you needed to support your decision. You were just waiting for him to call so you could immediately start not calling him back. But once your cell lit up with his number, emotion took over, and rather than stick to your original plan, you became consumed with one thing: making yourself feeling better. The problem here is that holding out on calling him, means holding on to the stress. You’d rather call him back and be done with that, than prolong this agony. You’d rather call and lose a bit of your pride than not call and worry about it for the next three weeks. We’ve all been there, and there is no shame in that place.
The problem is that if you call or text him back, you will just be starting this vicious cycle all over again. You were finally going to stand your ground and do something different. Something he wouldn’t expect. And while you planned this all out in your head, you felt good about it. You felt powerful. And that is where you need to be. So how do you fight this urge to immediately respond? How can you win this internal battle with yourself and come out victorious?
Just when you are about to pick up that phone and make that fatal mistake, I want you to think of one thing. I want you to imagine going to your “Favorites”, pressing his name, and hearing the phone ring. I want you to imagine it ringing and ringing. And ringing some more. And then I want you to imagine the worse thing possible happening. His voicemail picks up.
Can you even fathom having to leave a message? You could hang up of course, but if he doesn’t call you back after that, then what? Then you will be in an even worse position than you are now. So you would have to leave some sort of message and then you would have to hang up and wait for him to call you back…again.
Same goes for texting. What if you text him back, and then as some guys are known to do, he doesn’t respond. The text-then-no-text is the absolute worst!
Just thinking of him not replying to you yet again should be enough of a deterrent for you. The best way to ensure that he will pick up his phone or reply to your text is to wait a long enough amount of time so that when he sees your number finally pop up he thinks, “wow, I wasn’t sure if she was going to call me! I better answer because she took a long time to respond.” At that point, he won’t want to miss his chance to talk.
So next time you are struggling with the no call back, just envision this scenario. That should keep you nice and strong for at least a few hours. Because nothing is more frustrating than waiting a week to hear from a guy, only to have him ignore your call back to him.
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Photo above is courtesy of adamr/freedigitalphotos.net Continue reading
You are out with your friends enjoying a few drinks on a beautiful night. Your phone vibrates. You have one new text message. You pick it up and see that it’s Sam, a guy you met three weeks ago and hooked up with because you were really wasted. He’s a nice guy, but ever since that night, he’s been pseudo-stalking you. You’ve been cordial, answering some of his texts and calls, mostly because you like the attention, but he’s just not the one for you. You tell your friends at the table, “It’s Sam the stalker again. He is out in DC and wants to know where I am.” There’s a round of snickers and laughs. Someone tells you to be nice to the poor guy and tell him where you are. You never know, he might have cute friends, she says. You take a sip of your margarita and say, “Let’s see how the night goes. If we don’t find any cute guys here, I will tell him to come by.”
Two hours and two rounds later, no one at the table has seen anyone cute. You are almost forced by one of your oversexed friends to call Sam and bring his entourage over. By now you have a good buzz going and figure, why not. He’ll buy you your next round and tell you how hot you are. So you text Sam and tell him where you are in Arlington. You laugh to yourself because you don’t even have to extend an invitation. You know very well that he’s going to say by some strange coincidence that he’s at the bar next door and will just swing by. Fifteen minutes later, Sam, his best friend, and his roommate stroll into bar. People are introduced, shots are ordered, and the night officially begins. Sam is all over you and the more you drink, the more you like it. By the end of the night, you and Sam are stumbling back to your place. You guys make out all over your apartment and for some reason it’s really great. Maybe it’s because you’ve been going through a dry spell, but whatever the reason, you are into it. You continue to make out with Sam and the more you kiss him, the more you like him. How could you have disregarded him before? Maybe he’s not as bad as you initially thought.
And then you wake up the next day completely sober and realize you had on major margarita glasses. Sam is lying in your bed, snoring like a sabertooth tiger, drooling on your favorite pillow. You are annoyed like crazy. How long is going to be here, you wonder? He finally wakes up, smiling like a cheshire cat, and pats the space next to him, indicating he wants you to lie back down. You’d rather shoot yourself than cuddle with Sam so you make up an excuse about having to run into work that morning. Disappointed, Sam reluctantly and slowly, gets out of your bed. You throw his pants at him and watch him stumble to get dressed, knocking over your alarm clock and family photo in the process. He apologizes and then asks if you have time to grab some breakfast. Ah, sorry no. You really don’t. Some other time maybe. Sam picks up on your unintentional invitation to do this again, and says, “Ok, when? Do you want to meet up later tonight?” At this point you just want him out of your apartment so you tell him to call you later and you will see about getting together. He finally leaves after you pretend to walk to your car. You get back to your apartment and collapse on the couch. You eventually drift off to sleep but not before labeling Sam’s number DO NOT ANSWER into your cell phone.
I know you can all related to this story. We have all had guys we just aren’t into, chase after us relentlessly. We’ve all caved and been nice to them, even hooked up with them once or twice. We’ve kept them on the back burner in cases of emergency and extreme boredom. But guess what? This story is not what you think. You’ve just entered the Twilight Zone. You were not out with your girlfriends having margaritas last night. You were in DC, hanging out with your best friend and her roommate, hoping to hear from the guy you met three weeks ago and had a hot hook up with. A hook up you have not been able to stop thinking about. That’s right, in this scenario, YOU are Sam. You were the one who texted him to find out where he was. You were elated when he told you he was at the Eventide rooftop in Arlington. You rushed over and played it off as if you at the bar next door. You met up with him and his friends, had some drinks and ended up back at his place, where at some point in the night you fell completely in love. You woke up in his bed filled with excitement. You are certain he likes you now. He wanted to go to breakfast, but a work emergency took priority. Totally understandable. You like him even more because he’s ambitious. He told you to call him later and you guys would meet up again that night.
Maybe you saw this switch-a-roo coming from a mile away. Maybe my Twilight Zone blog was totally predictable. I really don’t know. What I do know is this. There are lots of girls out there that string along men they aren’t interested in. They hook up with them when it’s convenient, call when they are lonely and use them when they want to. Those same women often Continue reading
In 1997, I was a Sophomore in college. My roommate transferred to VCU half way through the year and I was left living alone in the dorm. At that time, I had just started to take an interest in a well-known, well-liked soccer player named Chris. I had met him at a party and he had asked for my number. Three days later, he still hadn’t called and I remember wondering if he ever would.
I recall coming home one night that week around eleven. I had been studying with some friends in the University center. When I walked in the door I noticed the blinking light on my answering machine, indicating I had a new message. Oh, how that light made me light up. I hit the play button and eagerly waited to hear who the message was from. It was Chris. The time stamp was 4:18 pm. He was calling to say hello and asking to get together that weekend. He laughed and admitted that he had called me the day before but didn’t leave a message. He left his number and said he hoped to hear from me soon. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face and Chris’s number on my cork board.
When I called Chris back the next day he was very happy to hear from me. He said he was worried that I had forgotten all about him. We got together for dinner and a movie that weekend. And that weekend turned into the next weekend, and the next weekend, and you get the picture We dated for a while and even though we parted ways after school it was a good relationship rooted in deep friendship and mutual respect.
If I was in college now this story would have probably played out very differently. Let’s go back to that voice mail.
As I said before, I waited three days for Chris to call. He did call on the second day — but I didn’t know about it. Today, that would never happen. His number would have popped up on my caller ID (if I even had a landline) or it would have been tracked on my trusty iphone. Secondly, if Chris had left a message today at 4pm, I wouldn’t have had to wait until I walked through the door at 11pm to hear it. If he left it at 4:18. I heard it at 4:19. That’s the beauty of cellular phones. No more waiting. No more wondering.