Should We Talk on the Phone Before Our First Date?

Not everyone is cut out for the phone...

“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?”

-Vanessa, NYC

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.

Surprisingly cogent on the phone

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.

At least she was hot.

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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15 Responses to Should We Talk on the Phone Before Our First Date?

  1. I agree with this 100%–really well said. One other element that you brushed upon but didn’t talk much about is the element of trust. I know it’s tough to trust strangers on the internet, but there’s a difference between being cautious and having trust issues. Would I rather meet up with a girl who has trust issues, who thinks that people are different than who they say they are, and who reads way too much into everything I say, or a girl who takes me at face value? Definitely the latter.

    Now, I’m sure that most woman have at least one bad story about a guy who ended up being a little too creepy–he ends up texting or calling even though you’ve made it clear that you’re not interested, he friends on you Facebook even though you haven’t talked in months after your first date, that kind of thing. That’s really annoying, but you’re not going to prevent that type of thing by talking on the phone before a first date. I think the best idea is just to meet in a public place (and not an ax store). That way you retain the potential for a really great first date with minimal risk.

  2. I can think of 3 girls I found online where I spoke to them on the phone first (their idea, not mine). Two of them I never wound up meeting. So either I’m an axe murderer with no axe or criminal record, or there’s some truth behind the “don’t talk on the phone” theory.

  3. John says:

    Whenever I am met with this request, my interest level automatically decreases a little bit. It’s not an unreasonable request, but for exactly the reasons you listed, it makes me think the girl wants to have our first date over the phone. That’s fine as long as I can get to second base after meeting her. Second date is second base, right?

    When I do talk to her on the phone, I always try to keep it to the planning of the first date. Also, I hate talking on the phone with pretty much anyone. It’s why I date online. Love email/texts. I’m great in those. On the phone, I’m bored and distracted, because I’m probably watching TV.

    • sara lewis says:

      Most on line guys are like you….boring and just wanting sex. this is why we want to weed you out!!!

      • B says:

        Ha ha. Alrighty, Sara. Best of luck. I hope you’re better at reading your dates than you are at reading me.

    • Allison says:

      I totally agree about the phone – I hate talking on it! I get distracted and stop listening to the other person, then realize I have no idea how much time has passed or anything they’ve said. (I’m also usually watching TV, or perhaps looking out the window.) I get put off a little when guys seem irritated by not wanting to call or always texting instead; glad to see there’s at least one guy out there who feels the same way I do!

  4. sara lewis says:

    Nope, it’s a good idea….I do this to weed out the totally unintelligent dweebs. If you sound like an idiot on the phone, I’m sure not going to the trouble of fixing myself up to meet some loser.

  5. Of my fun and exciting online dating adventures, I have actually been on the phone with exactly two of them before the first date. Now, on the phone, both of them were great conversationalists, interesting, engaging, etc. So based on my vast experience, the turn out was 50/50.

    The first, called after OkCupid (yeah, don’t judge) messaging back and forth probably 10/15 messages or so. We had things in common, he seemed interesting, he was relatively good looking, etc. Now, this was not a prearranged call; I thought we were going to keep playing text tag for a good few days before any of this serious voice business. What I discovered via this call did not dissuade me from meeting him! In fact, it probably is the only reason I met him. This particular person is out of town a LOT and I would most likely have totally forgot about them if not for them actually calling me on the phone and keeping me engaged long enough to think, “yeah, I’d meet that guy”. Turned out he was cool in person too. Victory for the Alexander Bell!

    The second (dun dun DUN) was not so good. I had emailed back and forth with this guy for a good two maybe three weeks before phone numbers were exchanged, then text tag for another week or so before he finally calls me (and asks if he can call me which I can’t decide if I think is weird or not? Opinions?) Well, we talk on the phone for a good two hours, which is a LONG time for most people (though I tend to talk to pretty much anybody who listens… why hello internet…). So, I’m relatively excited to meet this person! I don’t know why but apparently upon seeing me in person this previously blessed conversationalist could not manage to remove his foot from the inside of his mouth where it had evidently become permanently lodged. One word answers or less for pretty much an hour and none of the good questions he seemed to have on the phone. It didn’t even really seem like the same person. Fail…

    Therefore, based on said extensive research I can conclude that while you shouldn’t be meeting people for dates at the ax store or climbing into their van to help them look for their puppy (and they said there would be candy!!) as long as you’re meeting in a public place, someone knows where you are, and you have the power of a cell phone, you will more than likely be safe enough. No amount of previous phone interaction is going to change that. Whether talking on the phone will kill all possible first date conversation, quite possibly. Whether you can tell if the date will actually go well in person based on a phone call? I would have said yes but evidently not. I kind of wish I hadn’t wasted those two hours on the phone and another hour on the date itself. If I could’ve consolidated and spent just one hour coming to the same conclusion with the additional cost of exactly one rum and coke (which I would probably have had anyway that night), I totally would have done it.

    • Philip says:

      10-15 messages and the call was probably the only reason you met him., ugh this is scary to me. I mean c’mon 15 messages!

      2nd date just sounds like he didn’t find you attractive and therefore became an ass hat. 1 up for just meeting quick and avoiding the whole pen pal scenario.

  6. Rina says:

    I don’t think talking to someone on the phone is really going to help with safety. However, I can think of a few of reasons to talk on the phone:
    1. They say they’re a non-smoker but when you hear their laugh, you can tell they’re still smoking
    2. I live in the South. Whereas many southern accents are beautifully cadenced and cultured, some are completely redneck and vile–yep! it makes a difference.

  7. ayanna7 says:

    Oh poo :( I have to disagree with this one. A phone call is essential and it has nothing to do with safety. Let’s face it, 90% of the people online are socially dinged, I don’t care how intelligent, witty, interesting their profile or emails may sound, this is not necessarily what you are going to get when you meet in person. That guy or girl could have been staring at a blank computer screen for hours for all you know, trying to come up with something clever to say. You gain a better sense of a person’s real personality over the phone…also, for me personally, I need to make sure the guy don’t sound like Emo Philips (deal breaker). So in my opinion, this helps us to not waste time.

    I can’t tell you how many times my friends have complained about a date … “his / her profile and emails were so funny but in person he/she had zero personality” … and when I asked if there was a phone conversation first, naturally, the answer was no. Tell me you have not experienced this.

    Also, did I understand correctly…that it’s pointless to have a phone conversation because you will just end up talking about the same exact things when you meet? Well if that is the case, hopefully that will be your first and last date with this person. I mean seriously, if there is a connection, there are a so many other things you will want to talk about (one would hope).

    Silly wabbit.

    • Laurel says:

      I agree with this completely. If you have nothing to talk to him about when you actually meet, then how are you supposed to sustain any kind of relationship? Talking gives me a lot of information that emailing doesn’t. It is easy to be something you’re not online and folks… remember the olden days? That was the only way we could arrange a meeting and that was ON THE PHONE! yeesh!

  8. cooldianev says:

    I am totally disgusted with match. com I should not have to sign each time I see someone interesting. I an ready to cancel and notify my charge persons.

  9. bobiroka says:

    I met this girl online and we have been texting back and forth a bit. We have arranged a date for the weekend after next. She has been complaining about a website she is getting built for a business she runs and just asked if could call her about it. I said I’d be happy to talk about it with her when we met and that I felt awkward if out first conversation be about some specific business she has. I said I’d help her out, but would rather give her the advice over email/text… does that make me weird???

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