Advice

Miss Information: Revisiting the age-old question: how long should I wait to call?

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Revisiting the age-old question: how long should I wait to call?

Have a question? Email missinfo@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.

Dear Miss Info,

This may seem like Dating 101 stuff, but I'm hoping you'll give us the definitive answer to the question that has plagued men since Alexander Graham Bell first got his patent and waited three days before calling Watson to say, "Come here, I need you!" Namely, when a guy expresses interest in a girl and she gives him her number, how long should he wait before calling?

For decades, we had the three-day rule — you didn't want to wait so long that she forgot about you or got a better offer, but you didn't want to call so quickly that you'd seem desperate, clingy, or lifeless. But we live in sped-up times, and that rule feels passé. (Still, I can kind of follow the reasoning).

There's another factor at play here, namely the day of the week that you get the woman's digits. Even if you're a next-day caller, and you get a number on Friday night, should you really call her on a Saturday? Thanks for tackling this always perplexing question.

— Phone-in-Hand

Dear Phone-in-Hand,

My approach to this is less "an answer" and more a "Choose your own adventure." Let's say you meet a girl at a bar and pleasantly chat for a bit, then exchange numbers and part ways. In a situation like this, you haven't yet figured out whether you click, so contacting her too aggressively will likely turn her off. While you're in this realm of polite interest, give it one to two full days. That's generally a safe bet.

It's different if you've spent some time time together (even if "some time" is the duration of a DJ set) and have had a chance to establish a strong rapport. If you've figured out that you both electrify the other, then playing hard to get is a waste of everyone's time. In a case like this, it's definitely acceptable to drop her a text a few hours after you part just to say, "[reiteration of inside joke], it was great to meet you." If she writes back, fantastic, and you can bask in a flirty text correspondence. However — and this is key — do not ask her out over text. Texts are fun little bursts, but give her a call to actually create plans. It shows that you're serious, dependable, and over the age of seventeen.

Now, though I think yours is a relevant question, PiH, let me undermine everything I just said. The whole question of "How long do I, as a man, wait to call?" may be a little old-fashioned at this point. It shouldn't be the man's responsibility to trot his horse-drawn carriage by the lady's estate and challenge her father to arm wrestling anymore. If she's the kind of girl that requires this much footwork and flourishy bowing, then she's likely not that cool. And if you have to wait three days to cultivate the adequate amount of mystery around yourself, then you're likely not that cool. (And she can call you too, you know. Some of us ladies have really bitchin' horse-drawn carriages.) The take-away message: if you're clicking, you're clicking, and these games are worthless. If contact has to be highly regimented work, then it's probably not going to be an easy relationship, either.

Dear Miss Info,

I feel like my sex life is spiraling out of control. I lost my virginity early, and I've always been open about sex. I've always been careful, I'm STD-free, and I have no problem with sex or my sexual history.

My moral dilemma started about a week or so ago, when I began sleeping with an old neighbor, "Logan." Things were great for the first few days; we were really connecting. Logan started mentioning his sexual past and how much fun sex with multiple partners was. I was over at his house — which he shares with his cousin ("Dan"); Dan's wife; and another couple — and then we I spent the whole day having sex, as usual. In the middle of intercourse, Logan mentioned how Dan had always been attracted to me, and that he'd love for him to join. I was hesitant at best, and brushed off the idea. He kept mentioning it, and ended up calling Dan in the room, with his wife only a few feet away in the living room. Dan immediately pulled me into the bathroom and we began to have sex.

Logan seemed to lose all interest in the thought of the threesome, and sat down in the corner to watch television. Dan left the room, apologized to me, and told me I never had to do it again if I didn't want to. He said he thought I was interested in him, and thought it would be a good experience for me to try.

I don't object to the threesome, as uncomfortable as it was, but everything in my heart tells me that sleeping with a married man was wrong. If I ever get married, I'd like an open marriage as long as safe sex is practiced, but do I have a right to impose this belief on other people? I feel sick every time I think about it. I've never had this feeling about sex, and it's really confusing.

321 Contact

Dear 321 Contact,

So many things about this situation seem fishy. Your description of the hook-up with Dan is pretty free of emotional commentary, and I would like to know how you reacted to it. You say that you don't object to the hook-up, "as uncomfortable as it was," and I take you at your word. But it does sound like your position in this was awfully passive. Did you want to sleep with Dan? Or did you just go along with it? Is it possible that some of this conflict comes from being in situations that you find uncomfortable, but not trusting yourself to speak up?

You made the comment that "as long as sex is safe, it's okay." That's a solid philosophy, but I want to broaden it. Sexual safety is about so much more than appropriate birth control; it also includes emotional attachments, trust, and respect. By those standards, your unease is absolutely justified. Even if the hook-up was consensual but uncomfortable, it left you with the feeling that you may be hurting Dan's wife, a bystander. That makes it feel unsafe. Why have sex if you leave with sickening guilt?

In short, Contact, you absolutely are allowed to "impose" your values onto sexual partners — when it comes to behaving ethically. And here, your standards are straightforward: honesty, openness, and consideration for other people. It seems that these very basic tenets aren't being met. Even in its best-case scenario, this doesn't sound like a group of people who are communicating and looking out for one another. If you are "feeling sick about it," listen to those voices — that means something's not right. A situation that makes you feel like you can't trust your own instincts or that you're "spiraling out of control" is likely not a good one.