Don’t Call Me. I’ll Call You.

Valentine’s Day is creeping up on us. I saw He’s Just Not That Into You this past weekend, and I appreciated how they marketed a mostly anti-romantic movie to fit into this season of chocolate and flowers. On the corner of the movie poster, for instance, is a mock Valentine’s candy heart that says “call me.” I thought the movie made a valid point, that when a guy likes a girl, he will generally actively pursue her. More likely than not, the guy who isn’t calling didn’t lose the girl’s number or get hit by a bus and spend a year in a coma. When a guy doesn’t call, he sends a pretty clear message. While it is more fun and less painful to imagine a legitimate reason that he hasn’t called, he probably just…isn’t that into you.

But then I’ve got to wonder, from the perspective of the girl reciting those digits, why ask for her number at all? Your phone number is not a gift you give to people; it is something you tell people in order to communicate with them. I know I wouldn’t want another number to scroll through in my contacts list if I didn’t plan on ever calling that number. Has the phone number exchange become an automatic part of our culture, like the deeply meaningful “hi! How are you?” “I’m fine; how are you?” exchange we make with any vague acquaintance? Personally, I’d be fine with a simple “have a good night” from this guy who doesn’t plan on calling. Even just an abrupt “bye” would work. If you’re going to be rude tomorrow by not calling, you might as well start tonight. End the evening on the right note. Set the tone for the morning.

So is that it, then? Do guys just feel obligated, after some mentally-calculated amount of time talking to, dancing with, touching or kissing a girl, to ask for her number regardless of their interest in that girl? Do they not realize that asking for a phone number has – or doesn’t have, I guess, but should – certain implications? “See you around” means “I hope we don’t run into each other too soon.” “What’s your number?” means you’ll hear from me when I pick up my phone and call you. Maybe it’s just a knee-jerk reaction, politeness instilled in us to try not to hurt other peoples’ feelings. But being shot down right away and knowing where you stand is better than being led on and spending the next few days wondering.

Of course, there are also the guys who ask for a girl’s number because they want to call her, but then can’t work up the nerve to go through with it. If it’s any consolation, if I were in your place, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even have the courage to ask for the number. But, hey, you got her number. She didn’t walk away laughing and shaking her head. That’s a good sign, right? You’re halfway there.

And occasionally there are the exceptions to the rule — the guy who really got hit by a bus and is just now awaking from his coma, arms outstretched, ready to call her. We girls have to try not to bank on that.

It’s nice to think that for every guy who doesn’t call a girl, there is technically a chance that he would have if only he hadn’t suddenly been stricken with amnesia. But it’s better in the long run to have full disclosure. After all, times are changing. Supposedly girls are no longer burned at the stake for asking the guys for their numbers. And wouldn’t you like us to actually call?