“Hey, B. I just met an awesome boy online, or I think he’s an awesome boy, but it’s so hard to tell! Can I ask to talk to him on the phone first, just to make sure he isn’t an ax murderer?”
Don’t worry, Vanessa, I get this one all the time. And my answer is simple: yes, you should definitely talk to someone on the phone before going out on a date as long as you want that date to totally suck. Sound good?
This is what I mean — here’s a list of topics you can expect to discuss on a phone call with someone you’ve never met: their day, their job, their friends, their hometown, their neighborhood, their likes/dislikes, their horrifying tales of Internet dating past.
Now here’s a list of topics you can expect to discuss on a first date with someone you’ve never met: their day, their job, their friends, their hometown, their neighborhood, their likes/dislikes, their horrifying tales of Internet dating past, and their concern that I am presently falling asleep.
That’s right kids, it’s the same list. There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to chat before meet someone in person, but in my experience, that chat will leave you with very little to say once you actually get together. Obviously any good date will quickly leap beyond this kind of small talk, but when you’re trying to warm up to someone, “tell me what you do for a living” can be a pretty valuable ice breaker. I have had the experience more than once where a woman has asked to talk on the phone, we do, and then we end up having almost the identical conversation again in person. It wasn’t the end of the world, but you could tell we both found ourselves a little silly. Chit chat is stupid, but if you use it all up on the phone, you’re gonna regret it in person.
And what specifically do you expect to learn on this decisive getting-to-know-you phone call? As Vanessa mentioned, there’s the safety issue – wanting to make sure her date isn’t an ax murderer. OK, but…what do ax murderers sound like exactly? Like, do they say “ax” every fifth word (“Beautiful weather we’re ax having today….wait, no!”) or maybe discreetly scope out your murder potential (“What would you say is the best place in your house to store human remains? Also, do your neighbors tend to respond to screaming?”)? I mean, a person’s gotta be SUPER crazy for you to be able to tell in twenty minutes of banter. Believe me, I’ve got out with super crazy, and I’m sorry to say they did not rev chainsaws or sharpen knives in the background of our telephone calls. If you’re concerned about safety, make friends at your local bar and bring all your first dates there. They’ll protect you a lot better than a phone call.
Now, the other issue, and one I’m not entirely pessimistic about, is the ability to gauge chemistry. It is true that on occasion you can tell whether or not you’ll hit it off with someone in a very brief chat. One time I tried to coordinate a phone call with a woman and it took eight or nine tries before I could even get her on the phone – and this call was her idea. Not a great sign. Another time, a lady wanted to talk strictly about yoga. I asked about her job, we ended up at yoga. I wondered what kind of movies she liked, she worked us back around to yoga. Her hometown: Yoga, Pennsylvania. Her favorite food: deep-fried yoga, with a side of macaroni and yoga-cheese. I like yoga, I do yoga, but I would like, on occasion, to discuss things other than the Reverse Warrior. In these few instances, I was happy for the phone call. But the other times – of which there were many – the call confirmed what I already believed: we might get along, let’s see how we do in person.
There really is no substitute for meeting someone face to face. Talking beforehand might be comforting, it might make you feel like you’re making a safer decision, but really it’s just a waste of time. Having phone chemistry and having life chemistry are two totally different matters. So Vanessa, skip the call and go right to the date. That’s where you’ll get the info you truly ax need to truly ax know.
Thanks for the question. Ax ax.
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