So many times after getting a girl’s number I’ve laid awake thinking to myself nights later – text, or call? Text, or call, I wonder, while it’s dark outside and the town is quiet and the moonlight casts down on the river that I stare at pensively, awaiting some kind of divinity to deliver me the answer. (No, not really. I’m most often sitting in my bedroom with no view, feet crossed over my unmade bed and staring at the laundry bin that needs to get taken care of.)
But still, I wonder: what’s the move? To decide whether to begin dialogue via phone call or text message is one that bugs many men in the modern age. What makes it more vexing is that every confident man whose confidence you want to emulate has a very confident answer, but you don’t know if he’s actually right because you’ve heard conflicting advice.
One would assume that most people nowadays resort to texting over calling for setting up dates, but what actually is the superior move? I sat down with a few of my friends who seem to have a natural way with dating and being in relationships and asked for their preferences.
“I text because I’m a loser,” my first friend said. “I don’t have the guts to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Texting gives you an excuse to think of a response and to take time.”
And this is surely true. Not sure about him being a loser, but texting does have the edge in that if you’re not the type who can slip in Chipotle guacamole jokes at moment’s notice, there’s some pressure inherently alleviated.
“I suggest you call,” another friend contended. “That’s because every other guy is texting, and so calling would make you stand out. But it also depends what you’re just looking for. If you’re just in it for the short term, texting is probably easier.” A valid argument, I found: you play the communication game to your interest.
Calling is obviously the more intimate form of communicating, you could say. Hearing a person’s voice is closer to in-person speaking than reading their typed words. But then again, with the sort of options offered to us in text messaging now, it’s also fair to argue that texting has become a very personalized experience. Do you send one text, or divide them into separate smaller ones? If you send a text and the recipient doesn’t respond, are you the type to have the guts to send another? Do you respond quickly to texts, or do you calculate your responses? Are you generous with emojis or smiley faces? Texting is not the lifeless and monotonous thing it once was.
In order to help out my fellow man, I spoke a few women and asked for their opinion on the subject. You might commend me for my bravery in approaching strangers, but truth was, having an excuse to talk was actually quite exciting, and when they realized I wasn’t trying to talk about Jesus or get them to donate for an endangered species in Indonesia, they were pleased to talk.
“I prefer texting,” the first lady at the coffee shop said. “But I know they’re serious when they call. So if you want to be more casual or friendly in the beginning, start off with a text. Then you can ease into calling later.”
Later that night, I was at a trendy restaurant in West Hollywood and spoke to a group of three there. “Text!” the three of them shouted at me, slightly drunk. “Who calls?” one of them yelled angrily.
“Chill,” I said. “I’m just doing research here. I’m not saying I like to call.”
“Calling is like something my grandma would do. I block almost every call I get.” The rest of them nodded. “Calling is like all up in my face. Like, ‘whoa, what are you trying to do right now?’”
“Well put,” I said.
Then again, “You call,” said a beautiful woman at the gym who wore yoga pants and carried a teal yoga mat. “Show that you have class. Be a gentleman, display some confidence. Any guy can type a few words and hit send. Like oh, wow, he sent me a text, big deal.” A few other women I spoke to echoed this sentiment.
However, I couldn’t help but reflect back to some earlier memories of my life, circa seventh or eighth grade. I asked the cutest girls in the grade, all of whom I was friends with but really had a crush on, what girls liked in boys. They said boys should be nice and sweet and good at sports. While I never became Kobe – being a Persian Jew has its limitations – I did make myself very nice and sweet, but that never landed me a girlfriend in those years. Instead, those girls liked David and Brandon, who were everything but nice and sweet. What I learned at a young age, essentially, was that what women said they wanted and what they actually wanted were not always the same thing, if not divergent. That’s what came to mind when they told me they wanted a phone call. I could refer back to a few experiences where I experimented with calling right off the bat, and the conversations went straight into the dirt.
Later on, as I started relishing the experience of having an excuse to talk to various women, a higher percentage of candidates recommended texting, and it appeared to take the throne. It was safer. Calling resembled going for the home run at the risk of a strikeout, while texting meant going for the single.
Lastly, I spoke to a distant cousin who’s considered the family ‘Hitch.’ “A lot of it depends on how you felt after the initial conversation,” he told me. “If the vibes are good and you spoke for a long time, call. If you’re in doubt about it and don’t think you connected very much, text. Simple.”
“Texting is the safer move?”
“Safer move. It can’t hurt, but a call can.”
“The biggest no-no is a Facebook or Instagram request before calling or texting. That results in an automatic loss.”
What I ultimately gathered from my questioning is that like so many other questions plaguing the not-so-youthful youth of this generation – like, is it better to put spicy mayo or soy sauce on your sushi, or why are the Kardashians famous – the answer is evasive and not totally clear.
What it comes down to, is you. I know that’s a little cheesy but that’s what it is. The responses seem to suggest that women like men who are comfortable—being comfortable and cool as you are is probably the biggest aphrodisiac, may be the only one that matters. So whatever takes you to that ‘comfortable place’ is the optimal move. You just have to find it.