In my seasoned four years of life as a New Yorker, I have — between my friend’s stories and my own — scrutinized every dating scenario there is in the book of courtship. There have been numerous occasions where I’d rather slam my scalp into frozen sand than decode a three y-ed, pre-midnight “heyyy,” and yet I do it because my friends do it for me. By the end of our sessions, we usually feel like we’ve accomplished or established something. Like a riddle has been solved, order has been restored and life carries on.
But one feature of the dating game continues to stump us. It’s nearly impossible to decode and it is rampant in New York City. But it can’t be limited to this freaky island, so, I ask: why do men take our numbers if they don’t plan to ask us out?
In the name of all those afflicted, I enlisted the help of 30 heteromales. Some were my friends, some were strangers, one was an excuse to con a guy into asking for my number (JK! Or am I? I am! Am I? I am. Stop.) and the responses were overwhelmingly unanimous and as such can be fractioned into five succinct reasons.
1) Time and place should be considered
If a man gets your number midday after having met you in line at a coffee shop, he’s far more likely to contact you and set up plans than if he’d got your number during last call at a bar.
“You’re in much clearer headspace to tell if there’s a real connection or not,” said a friend we’ll call Montgomery. (Monty for short.) Apparently, men don’t typically peruse the waiting room at the dentist, hoping that the attractive girl reading a decaying copy of Highlights will go home with him. There’s no alcohol involved, no pressure from friends. Just him, you, and the receptionist who’s annoyed you showed up 10 minutes late.
“If we ask for a girl’s number during the day, we really want it. It took balls to ask. We saw something there, and we’re going to use it.”
So why are the stakes lowered at a bar? See number 2.
2) Sobriety Level
Every man, no exception, told me that when asking for a girl’s number out at a bar, there is a 100% chance they’ve been drinking and therefore a high likelihood that they won’t remember crucial details the following day to encourage a follow-up message.
Said one man who didn’t have a preference for his alias so let’s call him Bud Light, “It seems like a great idea at the time, then the next day, you can’t remember what you saved her in your phone as. Or a variety of other details that are usually deemed important when considering asking a girl out. Going on dates is kind of stressful. You want to be absolutely sure you like the girl. If you can’t remember stuff, it’s not worth the risk.”
3) The Getaway
Some men said they ask for a number in order to end a conversation they don’t want to be having. “It’s an easy out, and you don’t look like dick.” When I said this was childish, one interviewee retorted, “How many times have you told a guy, ‘Be right back, I have to go to the bathroom or find my friend’ to end a convo, and then never returned?”
To which I said, “BRB gotta go to the bathroom. I think my friend’s in there.”
4) The Challenge
Several men said they enjoy the challenge associated with getting numbers. “Guys are going out to meet girls, for sure, but we’re not on the hunt for relationships. Getting a number is like a bit of validation — it says you still have the charm. You’ve got game.”
But to further said game, why don’t they use it?
“It’s sort of like when a dog is chasing his tail. If he caught it, he wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
5) The Fear
On a less chauvinistic plane than point number 4, some men admitted that they’re afraid. Bolstered by liquid courage the night before, they’re back to normal come morning, and just like the rest of us, doubtful and insecure. “What if a girl just gave you her number to end the conversation? To be polite because I asked?” one friend who I will call Ryan Gosling since I’m feeling generous today said. “I mean what if she actually hates me? Or what if I do ask her out, she says yes, and turns out to be a dragon?”
The aforementioned Monty (Montgomery for long) explained that when he does use a woman’s number, he means it. Many of the interviewed agreed, which is simply to say that, we continue to inhabit a city of big green avocados.
Photo via Tommy Ton for GQ