Stop! Don't record that voicemail until you read this.
Everyone has had that sinking feeling in their gut. Despite your smooth George Clooney impression and her laughing at your pirate jokes when you met, you have the sneaking suspicion she's not going to call you back. It's been 2 days, 3 hours, 44 minutes and 10 seconds since you left a voicemail and nothing. Argh!
But then your phone rings. You rush to dig it out of your backpack, past an old ham sandwich, around your gob of keys and from under your first-generation iPod brick.
"Hello. Hello... Hello! Anybody there? Yes hello. No, I don't want to buy teeth whitening. I'm satisfied with the shade of my teeth. I want Tally, the cute girl I met at the coffee shop, to call me back. No, I can't say if she would want teeth whitening. Goodbye."
There's a fancy word for what you're going through: anxiety. It's difficult to be cool when you're waiting on a communication from someone you're excited about. What happens if that guy you met online doesn't return your email? How long should you wait before doubling up your calls to Frida the cute salsa-dancer who wrote her number on your arm? These are questions that have perplexed humankind ever since 1983, when the first telephone answering machine was sold.
If you call her again you're going to seem needy. But you're not needy. You're just living with uncertainty. It's got you worn down and second guessing yourself. Somehow this always works out in the movies. Seth Rogan makes uncertainty seem charming. You can only wonder what he would do.
I'm here to tell you there are ways to avoid this anxiety. Just follow these simple guidelines for effective dating communication in the electronic age:
• Get your info into their gadget. Don't just take someone's email or phone number with promises you'll be in touch. We're not living in the 70's and you're not Jack Tripper. Singles these days screen their calls. If a strange number pops up that they don't associate with a known person, they are letting it go to voicemail. And some people I know never check their voicemail.
In order to get that hot prospect on the phone at the first try, you want your name to pop up when you call. This is easy to arrange. Take a couple minutes to help that gorgeous astrophysicist you just met record your info into his tricorder. Once there, your name and details will sync throughout his systems and later when you call—BINGO—you get your pickup.
It goes like this:
"I'd like to see you sometime."
"Yeah, me too. That'd be great. Let's get our phones out and do this properly. You spell my name L-A-R-A and my number is 310 555..."
If you really want to get sick with it, use the camera on their phone so your smiling mug pops up when you ring.
Tips when getting in touch electronically:
• If you get the voicemail, don't ask for a call back. Keep the ball in your court. Leave no expectation that a return call is necessary. Instead just let your hot new friend know specifically when you'll be trying again. Say, "Hi Sarah. It's William. I'm looking forward to talking. I'll try you back Wednesday at eight. Au revoir."
She can choose to call back or wait until your call on Wednesday, no pressure. You make the logistics of interacting with you easier and less demanding by leaving out the demand for a call back. You can also get on with your life and not have to be that person in the gym carrying a phone in their shorts.
• Limit your questions. This is especially true for recent forms of electronic communication. SMS, emails, and social networking sites are similar to voicemail but allow us time to compose a 'grand' message. The temptation to ask a bunch of questions is a real danger. In-demand singles are busy. They don't want to have to work at typing out answers that would be better offered up in person over wine spritzers and funny hats.
If you need to ask a question electronically, try to limit yourself to one important question and put it at the end. "Love to meet up tomorrow to share a run to the bridge. How does this sound to you?" Lots of questions in the body of your message make interacting with you slow and boring.
In SMS (texting) try to not ask ANY questions. Remember, not everyone has a love of writing texts or the thumbs small enough to pull it off. Tap out short statements. "It was :) 2 meet U. Hav a nu zest 4 advr travl. Will call Sun."
You can check out a related article about connections on my site here.