Pursuit Theory: The first phone call

I’ve talked a bit about pursuit theory in the past, both what is expected from guys and girls, but it’s helpful to take a look at a specific situation to really understand the rules. The first phone call is a great moment in dating that has all kinds of subtletlies to be aware of, and this makes it the perfect opportunity to discuss in the context of pursuit theory.

The key thing is that you, the guy, got her number. Good job. Calling her is the next step, and it’s a very important one. Hopefully you told her when you were going to call after she gave you her number.  This should indicate the day but not the time at which you are going to call. For instance, “I’ll give you a call on Monday.” The reason for not specifying a time is that you don’t know what time will be best, and you don’t want to say you’ll call at 4 pm and then not be able to (this makes you a liar!).

Before calling, have a plan. The goal of the call isn’t to chit-chat about anything, the goal is to set a time and a place to meet in person. Your time limit should be 15 minutes, maximum. Make sure you have a place, date, and time already in mind before calling. Be smart about it: if you want to meet during the week, suggest something after 6 pm.

When you call, be sure to introduce yourself: “Hey Sara, this is Zack.” Unless she has your number, she definitely won’t know who you are without the introduction. Next, talk about the last thing you talked about in person. For example, if she had mentioned an affinity for the Chicago Bulls, say something like, “congrats on the Bulls win last night, it was a tough game.” This immediately puts her back into the conversation and the context in which she gave you her number.  Move off this topic as quickly as possible and present your idea, “so, I thought we could meet up Thursday around 6:30 at the cafe on Main Street. How does that sound?”

Her response will indicate what to do next. If she can’t make that time and place, she’ll hopefully offer an alternative (the correct move in pursuit theory). If you suggest two or more options and you still can’t find an agreeable situation, it may be that she’s just not interested. Girls will give out their phone numbers sometimes when they have no interest; accept it. At this point the best thing to do is to ask if she has any suggestions. If she doesn’t, then calmly say, “hey, that’s okay. Give me a call back when you figure out a better time.” This may seem contrary to pursuit theory, since you’re asking her to pursue, but it really is an escape hatch designed to let her know that you will not be calling her anymore and that it’s up to her to give you an invitation to pursue to start the game again. If she agrees to your plans, then express that you’re looking forward to it and excuse yourself because, “you’ve got a million things to do.”

There are a few other wrinkles that may occur along the way. For one, she may not answer. In this day and age of cell phones, people can tell when you’ve called so you need to be careful about your approach in this situation. Calling repeatedly isn’t the answer (she’ll see that you have), neither is leaving multiple voicemails or texts. Here’s what to do: if she doesn’t pick up the first time, just hang up and don’t leave a voicemail. Then wait 3-4 hours and call again. If she doesn’t pick up this time, now you leave a voicemail. The voicemail should indicate that you tried to call her but were unsuccessful, but you will try again in a couple days. Something like, “Hey Sara, this is Zack. Just calling to see if we could setup plans to get together this week. I’ll give you a call back on Wednesday to try to catch you. Have a good one.” Note that you’re not asking her to call you back (making her pursue), you’re indicating that you called when you said you would and now setting up another time that she can expect your call.

It’s entirely possible that she will call you back after you first attempt, and very possible after the second. If she asks why you didn’t leave a message the first time you called, simply say that the call got cut off. If she doesn’t call back after either attempt, then call again at the specified time. This time, call only once and leave a voicemail if she doesn’t answer. This time, ask her to call you back. Once again, it’s possible at this point that she’s not interested and doesn’t want to call you back, so putting it on her lets her know that you won’t be calling again. Something like, “Hey Sara, this is Zack. Just calling to see about getting together. Give me a ring when you have a second, 555-555-5555. Thanks.” Note that you should not mention the other times you’ve called; that’s desperate and stalkerish. This is just a friendly reminder that you’re trying to get in touch with her.

If you still get no response, then it’s time to seek out another girl who deserves your attention. Once this girl has your number and knows you’re interested (by your message), it really is up to her to decide to continue or not. By not harassing her, you’re showing that you’re a busy guy with a lot more important things to do than chase her around. You were inviting her to join your excellent life for some fun. She chose not to take you up on that offer, so now that slot is available for another girl. Or two.

The most important thing to remember is to always remain calm, confident, and playful about the whole thing. This is a stranger, not your longtime girlfriend. Don’t treat her like she’s the only thing in the world that will make you happy…you don’t even know if she’ll make you a little bit happy at this point. You’re just making an earnest effort to get to know someone new. Happy calling.

Side note: I can now be followed on Twitter via @zack_taylor, where I’ll be updating with small tidbits of advice and give you more insights into my personal dating life. Hope to see you there.

7 thoughts on “Pursuit Theory: The first phone call”

  1. Great post Zack. Now, let me throw another wrinkle at you . . . I got a number from a woman in a group that meets several times a week. Turns out that she pulled the “giving you my number even though I’m not interested.” Or at least it seems that way. I’ve called, she’s returned the call . . . most of the time. Anyway, the bottom line seems to be, she’s just not that interested, Cool. However, I feels she’s left everything in limbo, and we keep running into each other. What do I do?

    I feel like if I avoid her I’m letting her know that the situation bothers me. If I approach her, she thinks I’m going to ask again . . . making things more uncomfortable. I can play it cool, hell, I can play it anyway I need to, but what does “play it cool” in this situation mean, exactly. Looking for any insight here. Thanks everyone!

  2. Tristan – reality check, you don’t know what she’s thinking, feeling, or what she will think or feel in the future. Don’t ascribe your fears onto her. If you really want to know how she feels about you, then cowboy up and invite her out for some one-on-one time. If she turns you down, at least you know for sure. Then you can decide what “play it cool” means for you.

  3. hi Zack!

    That’s really a great post. Well, i need some other suggestions from u as your posting is helping for some reason, but once you were with a girl in dating, how should i be with her. The do’s and the don’ts . Can u list me up.

  4. Zack, excellent post. Summarized the cookie cutter scenario perfectly. Let me pose a specific scenario:

    Met a girl from a different city who is planning to move to my town, spoke for over an hour, great dialogue, got her number – at which point in time she revealed that she has a current boyfriend, but that with her move the relationship will be ended or at least put on hold – so she is moving here in exactly one month. How do I keep in touch – still being sensitive to her current situation (in a relationship) – so that in a month I’ll be in the picture for when she moves here?

  5. Hi Zack, I wanted to let you know first of all that I truly enjoyed reading your blogs. It is very refreshing to hear the men’s point of view about dating.
    I have meet someone online on a social networking website, but not a dating website. He was te one who initiated the contact with me and since then there have been emails back and forth for a while. He asked me for my phone number. All the while I did not any expectations from him, nor I really was that much interested.
    He asked me what day and time he can call.
    The day that he said he would call, I was not at home. I actually was not really thrilled and waiting for his phone call. Another week went by and we were back and forth in emails which was kind of indicator to me that he might be playful and not looking for a relationsihp, otherwise he would find another day and time to call. I sent him an email and I told him that I am getting busy too and I think that this is not going anywhere anyway nor it has any depth and I wished him good luck. On that same day, when i cam home at night, I found a voice message from him onmy answering machine saying that he just realized that “we need to improve our discussions” he also said “I will call you later ontonight or tomorrow or you can call me at…”
    I did neither call nor email him. Next day I received an email from him asking if there is any chance to chat in one of these days?”. I responded to him that I got his v.message and that the phone conversation would have to be during the weekend if he might like to try then.

    I wonder what your feedback about this guy?.
    I want to know that he is serious about his efforts to get to know me, and that he’s worth my efforts and time if I would show interest or call him.

    Should I call him at this point? what if he did not call again? should I just move on.

  6. This is terrible, terrible, awful advice. If someone called me twice in one day it would be a complete turnoff. Call her, leave a vm the FIRST time. If she doesn’t call you back, or at least TEXT you in acknowledgement, she is NOT into you. If a woman is interested, she will acknowledge your call in SOME WAY. If you want to try calling again in a couple of days, that is fine, but NEVER call her twice in one day. That is STALKERISH.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *