At brunch on Sunday, my friend Liza explained to me what she calls “the phone call rule.”
“Now that I’m out of the ‘one-night stand’ game, I have a rule that if I hang out with a guy that I’m dating, even casually, and we engage in intimate activities, I tell him that I would appreciate a phone call from him the next day.”
“Really?” I asked, my jaw kind of dropping.
“Yeah. I politely tell him that a phone call the next day represents respect,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a long phone call, or anything. I just want him to ask me if I’m doing OK or tell me he had a good time or whatever. Is this really too much to ask?”
My first reaction was, “Yes.” Then again, this is coming from a girl who felt weird asking a guy I had just engaged in “intimate activities” with to help me find a cab at 3 a.m.
My friend Sherri nodded. Apparently, she has implemented this rule, too. “I mean, I’ll text you tomorrow and say that it was nice having brunch,” she explained. “I’ll send a follow-up email after a business meeting and say, ‘Thank you.’ Why should it be any different with an intimate encounter? It’s common courtesy.”
I guess they were right in principle. A guy should call the next day—or in my case, text or email because I hate talking on the phone. Why? Because it’s the kind thing to do.
As I left brunch, I couldn’t stop thinking about this. Had I really gotten so far away from myself in this whole dating game that I wouldn’t dare to expect a phone call the next day? And how sad is it that we’ve gotten to a point in this society that a phone call the next day is not a given? That you’d have to make a special request for it. Still, to come out and say to someone, “I want you to call me tomorrow,” seems a bit outlandish to me. I wouldn’t say to a business contact, “I’d like you to send me a thank you email for this lunch.” That would sound nuts! While I always want a man that I’m interested in to contact me the next day, I guess I feel like asking for it diminishes the whole sentiment. In fact, if a guy said that to me, I’d probably get all skittish and weird. Nobody likes to be told what he or she should do. I want a guy to be motivated to contact me without me telling him to.
But just to make it explicitly clear to all future dates, yes, you really should contact me the next day.
Saying that I would really love to hear from you the next day doesn’t mean that I want to have a serious relationship, marry you, or bear your children. I just want to be acknowledged as a human being who shared some intimate time with you.
I’m too old to play games. I don’t want to have anxiety about what happened last night. A simple phone call (or text or email) will put my mind at ease and make me feel comfortable. It will give me a sense of where I stand with you. I don’t care how old you are or how long you’ve been riding the dating train, every time you make yourself vulnerable to someone, you open yourself up to some extent. I want to know that I made the right choice to open myself up to you. That you understand that I trusted you enough to open myself up. And that’s a gift.
While I have enough dating experience to know that things may not work out between us long-term, that doesn’t change the fact that I want our time together to be recognized as important. I need to know that you will be kind with my heart. That we can be honest with each other along the way. That if at some point it’s not working for us, that we will be able to end our time together in as kind a way as possible. I would do the same for you.
All that being said, respect isn’t something I feel comfortable asking for. It’s something that should just be given.
So what do you think about the “phone call rule”? Is it acceptable to ask for a phone call the next day?