How to ask for phone numbers
December 2, 2011 6:59 PM   Subscribe

How do I ask for a woman's phone number in a non-creepy way?

So, I'm a guy in my forties who's only ever dated one woman in my life, and when we met, she volunteered her number without my asking. So the upshot is, I find myself newly single after many years of marriage, and no idea how one goes about asking for contact info. Despite my shyness and social anxiety, I'm getting better than I used to be at initiating conversations in bars, and several times I've had a great time talking to someone -- only to go home frustrated after being unable to take the next step. My fear is that she'll think something like, "geez, he seemed like such a nice guy to talk to, but now it turns out he just wants to get in my pants like all the others"... how can I get past this hang-up and just go for it, without suddenly feeling like some slimy pick-up artist?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Give her your phone number. Don't ask for hers. This helps a lot, seriously.
posted by Nattie at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2011 [41 favorites]


At the end of the night:

"So, hey, can I give you a call?"

K.I.S.S.
posted by cmgonzalez at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


You don't; you give her yours.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Give her your number and invite her to call if she wants to go out to dinner (or coffee, or whatever) sometime soon.

Not pushy or creepy, and if she enjoyed chatting with you, maybe she'll call.

Personally, I don't give my number to men, but I'll take theirs if they offer it. Granted, I hate talking on the phone so I'm more likely to text with someone than ever call them. I used to try offering my im screenname, but that never went over well, lol.
posted by myShanon at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think it's OK to ask for a woman's number (just like cmgonzalez says, "Can I call you?"), but be prepared to get turned down or for her to ask for yours instead. If you are DEEPLY afraid of being rejected, then you can always play it safe and offer yours, but I think some women might not call you back because they are taught to be chased and not the chaser...
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


"It was really nice to meet you and talk with you. May I give you my number?"

Sometimes the script very ordinary formal manners provides can let us relax about everything else.
posted by rumposinc at 7:12 PM on December 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I prefer it when a man takes my number (or did when I was out there and dating), not because of what I was taught, but because experience taught me it worked out better that way.

When you've been talking to a woman, make it a point to discover one interest you both share, such as ice skating. That way you can say, "Hey, I'm thinking of going ice skating sometime next week, wanna give me your number and maybe we can go together?"
posted by devymetal at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm much younger than you, but I'd generally say I appreciate when they act kind of friendly and act more like a simple contact information exchange rather than slimeyness. Unless we're already crazy flirty.

Ex: "Hey, I'm heading out soon, but you seem really cool - can I get your number and let me know/I'll let you know next time I'm going out around here again."

Then send her a text with your full name in it, either while still at the bar or a little bit after leaving.

But yeah, stressing out about the exact protocol is overkill - you'll be fine.
posted by mokudekiru at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Business" cards with your number and/or e-mail on them somewhere. I say "'business'" because all that really matters is that they be approximately the size of business cards in your country; the actual content can be as silly as you like. Don't have a whole bunch of them with you at any time though.

Bonus: some people will write their contact information down and hand the card back! Do try to ascertain if this is legible before leaving the bar.
posted by teremala at 7:16 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're worried about making her feel uncomfortable, I agree that giving her yours will lessen that likelihood.

And if you're looking for a cute way to do that, someone once offered me his number by asking, "If I gave you my number, would you use it?" I thought that was kind of cute and said yes. (Your mileage may vary, though.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmm. One that apparently works* is something along the lines of- "So, will I ever see you/ get to talk to you again?" as you're parting ways. It's open-ended, so it gives her the opportunity to either say, "I'd like that, here's my number/ can I have your number/ lets hang out this week." Or it gives an easy out for rejection: "Hmm, who knows, maybe we will run into each other here again!" (When she's planning to never come back.) Sometimes it can be hard to say flat-out no to "Can I have your number/ can I call you sometime?" That's where the fake number comes in. I'm guilty of it, but I don't mean to be mean- I just hate rejecting people to their faces. Especially if there's been drinking- I can't think of a good excuse fast enough, I don't want to seem mean, so I just say my number but change one digit. (Okay, now that I'm typing it out I'm embarrassed to have done that, but I'm just trying to explain why the open ended approach is better. It's hard to be put on the spot!)

*This is how the dude I'm going to hang out with tonight acquired my number. Well, the dude I'm gonna hang out with once I stop nervously procrastinating on metafilter, that is. Honestly, now that I think of it, if he just flat-out asked for my number I might have panicked and given him the fake one. But by putting that spin on it, it actually forced me to think: "Do I want to see him again?" When it was framed that way, I kinda did.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:25 PM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, the fact that my approach (above) involves her getting to pick whether she gives her number or receives yours is good, I think. A lot of women seem like they'd be more comfortable getting your number. I get too nervous, if a guy gave me his number there's a good chance I'd never use it even if I wanted to, so I prefer to give mine out instead. Her having more options= better odds for you!
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:28 PM on December 2, 2011


To me the whole "So can I call you sometime?" thing just reeks of 1970s sleaze. There's no problem with wanting to get her number, it's just that phrasing is so "Two wild and crazy guys"-ish.

What always works for me is something specific: "So I'll send you the pictures we took at the bar tonight." "I'll send you an mp3 of the band we're talking about." Even if we both know there's more to it than that, it just feels more natural and is less awkward.

*In these cases I was usually exchanging email/Myspace/Facebook as the era dictated, not actual phone numbers. But same principle.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:31 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bottom line, you do want to get in her pants (you want to date her). If she's interested back she won't view this as a problem.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:33 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I'm not saying this means you will get in her pants. But you're not asking her to come over and screw. You're just continuing to express interest in her.)
posted by J. Wilson at 7:35 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I understand the idea behind giving her your name, that it may appear less pushy. But imo it's sort of unfair to put the onus on her. *You* want to call her, so you need to get her number in order to be able to do so. Also, it leaves you in the position of just waiting around to see if she does. I think it would feel better for you if you got the potential pain over with quickly, and asked for her number.

I've never had a guy give me his number, but if that had happened to me I don't think I would have called. There is something very unattractive about that approach, to me. I *have* exchanged business cards before; that seems like a more equitable way of doing it, without making it seem pushy or creepy. That way, you both have each other's work numbers, and one or the other can call if desired. You will have expressed interest in her as a person, received at least some validation if she gives her card in return, and offered her a way to contact you as well rather than just placing the responsibility on her.

Also, I wanted to point out that if you are talking to and interested in the non-Barbies of the world (older women, heavier women, non-traditionally-beautiful women) they are likely not going to think "he only wants to get into my pants". If you only chase the lookers, they may think that. So adjust your technique according to who you are interested in. The older/fatter/less attractive woman will more likely be flattered because she doesn't get as much male attention. I say that as a fat/non-young woman who was once young and non-fat (and often considered pretty). There's much more need to protect onesself against creeps when one is 19 and conventionally attractive than when one is 38 and overweight.
posted by parrot_person at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I understand the idea behind giving her your name",

Uh, number.
posted by parrot_person at 7:44 PM on December 2, 2011


You can always offer a choice -- say you had a good time talking to her and you'd like to see her again. She'll probably either look agreeable at this point or kind of like "oh shit." If she looks agreeable, no reason you can't get eachother's number. (I like giving mine [girl here] but I'm pretty free with giving it out. If a guy also gives me his number, I feel like there's more to it than him wanting to get in my pants.)
posted by DoubleLune at 7:44 PM on December 2, 2011


To me the whole "So can I call you sometime?" thing just reeks of 1970s sleaze. There's no problem with wanting to get her number, it's just that phrasing is so "Two wild and crazy guys"-ish.

What always works for me is something specific: "So I'll send you the pictures we took at the bar tonight." "I'll send you an mp3 of the band we're talking about." Even if we both know there's more to it than that, it just feels more natural and is less awkward.


I have to disagree with this. It strikes me that the guy is trying too hard to impress me, and makes it harder for me to refuse since it's something we were already discussing. It would therefore make me more uncomfortable in a situation where the guy was cool but I was not interested in seeing him romantically (or ever again). I have had specific experiences where this has happened to me, I gave the contact information, and the person was actively upset and offended by the lack of communication on my end. I would not suggest you do this, but YMMV, I guess. If I were in the same situation and the guy said "Can I call you?" and I didn't want him to, I could say no OR easily ask for his instead. Again, YMMV.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:45 PM on December 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have no problem if someone asks me for my card. "Hey, I really enjoyed talking with you about X. May I have your card?" is the classiest way I can be asked for my number. Alternatively, if a guy offers me his business card, I'm more likely to give him mine in return than if he just asks for my number, which while not seeming creepy, seems a little unbalanced. If a guy hands me his card, it's much more likely that he's not afraid of me knowing his real name, number, where he works, etc. and he's much less likely to be a married, ax-wielding lunatic. But that's just me. (You're also less likely to get a fake number; if she doesn't offer her card, she's letting you know she won't follow up.)

Tangentially, I'm sure mokodekiru's approach is fine with most folks, especially the younger ones, but at the risk of sounding like I rode in on a dinosaur, please do NOT text someone without prior permission. For those of us who use phones as phones and don't have text plans (and honestly, there are a lot more of us out here than you think, with plain old non-smart phones), it's annoying to have a stranger cost you money without permission.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 7:49 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe because I'm younger, but "So, hey, can I give you a call?" is just too impersonal -- even if I had been, up to that point, pretty interested in him. It makes me wonder if that was the point all along and if anything in between mattered or was just fluff. My suggestions are similar to drjimmy11's; find a reason to give or get her number that relates to the situation or a topic.
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:49 PM on December 2, 2011


Bottom line, you do want to get in her pants (you want to date her). If she's interested back she won't view this as a problem.

Please see the word "just" in the post. That word is very important!
posted by parrot_person at 7:50 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


When somebody I don't want to give my number to asks for my number, I tend to panic and give it to him. This is why I screen my phone calls. If you offer your number instead, I'll be grateful and consider you considerate.

You might offer to give her either your number or your email, if she'd rather, given how much some people hate the phone. This is a great reason to get yourself some cards. My friend had one that described her position as "at large."
posted by Adventurer at 8:06 PM on December 2, 2011


Then send her a text with your full name in it, either while still at the bar or a little bit after leaving.


Yes to this a million times. If you do this, then she can put you in her phone, so when you call or text the next time, she'll know who you is calling/texting.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:21 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


*she'll know who is calling/texting.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:22 PM on December 2, 2011


"Business" cards with your number and/or e-mail on them somewhere. I say "'business'" because all that really matters is that they be approximately the size of business cards in your country; the actual content can be as silly as you like.

Please, please no. Made-up business cards with "witty" titles are awful. Seriously, the two biggest creeps who hit on me both had these and it felt like a hard sell, like picking up was their full time business. If you have an actual business card, it's acceptable to write your personal number on the back, but common practice is a reciprocal number exchange, straight into the phone.
posted by momus_window at 8:50 PM on December 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I gave a woman I met at the park my business card one day after we'd chatted for a bit & determined we had mutual friends, and went on my merry way. The next day, as was kicking myself for not asking for her number, she called me and asked me over for dinner. We were married for 7 years.

It can work - the odds are less than 50/50, judging from past experience, so you can't expect the call, but it may come.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:05 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another vote for not asking for her number but offering her yours instead.

I disagree about the cards. If you have a business card, that's fine, but a card just for personal information on it is just...weird. If you handed me a personal card, I would think, "This guy hits on so many women that he had cards printed up?" and that would make me feel less special, and also that you have intimacy issues. (Obviously if you are a freelancer or artist-type and your personal contact information IS your professional contact information, that changes the equation.)

Another hazard with the business card is that a woman might wonder if the reason you're giving out your work contact information is because you're married and don't want you calling the house. If your personal cell number isn't on the card already, write it on the back, in front of her (again, you don't want to look too prepared for the situation).

I would just say, "I'd love to talk to you again sometime. May I give you my number?" That is super-gentlemanly and not creepy and you are unambiguously signaling your interest and empowering her to decide whether or not to take the next step.
posted by elizeh at 9:16 PM on December 2, 2011


momus_window: What about professionally made cards on nice stock with name, email, number and maybe personal website? I have a business card I do not like handing out to strangers b/c the business is conservative and specialized. I may just be failing at marketing, though.
posted by mlis at 10:58 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is nothing wrong with chatting up a woman and not asking for her number either.

You might for example try practicing meeting new women without being all "eyes on the prize" so to speak. Ask for her contact info once you feel less stressed, i.e. her jokes are actually funny.

I'll vote with doublelune that, if she isn't happily on board with exchanging info, then you shouldn't really waste time contacting her. Email, Facebook, etc. work too.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:13 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Hey I really enjoyed talking with you tonight. Can I give you my number?"
posted by Kloryne at 12:02 AM on December 3, 2011


Can you find and add yourself on Facebook on my phone? (phone numbers are deeply uncool)
posted by Yowser at 1:00 AM on December 3, 2011


I like email the best- I hate talking on the phone and facebook seems presumptuous- now we are 'friends' forever and whereas neither of you might want that to be the case. Writing almost illegible emails on napkins etc was something I always liked. Cards obviously are good too.

If the conversation has gone well for a reasonably extended period of time you can just say 'hey, do you want to trade information' etc and it won't be that weird since you both obviously enjoyed talking to each other. If it was very brief then that is more awkward and I don't know how to do that.
posted by bquarters at 6:24 AM on December 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


One theme that's showing up in all these replies is: there is noright answer. This is inconvenient, but reality. I've had women tell me giving them my number is awkward and unromantic. I've had women tell me it's reassuring and classy. People are varied and opinionated and one of the really hard things about dating is accepting that you'll regularly be falling into someone's 'never call again' bucket because of something you didn't evem realize you did.

My point is, there have been a lot of good approaches offered here, but you need to be aware that, at best, one approach might work well for many women - but never all, and you really have no way of predicting that, especially without a lot of experience to build up instincts.

The tip I'll offer is an echo of two lights under the sea. In addition to not offering her a graceful way out, it has the added problem of ambiguity. My extended social world may not be like yours, but in mine, opposite-sex friendships are common, so when I don't use a very clear I-am-asking-for-a-date phrasing like 'so, cliche that is may be, could I get your number?' I run a high risk of one of those legendarily awkward 'I had a good first date, she had a fun time hanging out with a new friend, who then abruptly tried to kiss her wtf' situations.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:55 AM on December 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


And to pile on with the whole ambiguity theme... In the end, however you choose to ask for contact information will seem to the woman to be a tad creepy if she doesn't have a lot of interest in the first place. Conversely, if she does have interest, whatever you say will likely be construed as awfully cute. Take home point? Focus more on being the guy she'll want to see again and less on how you ask.
posted by teg4rvn at 7:20 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My personal preference is that, at the end of the conversation, you say something along the lines of "I've really enjoyed talking to you. Would you like to have dinner/ a drink /get together/ do something some time?" If she says yes or maybe, you can then easily exchange contact info. If she's not interested, she has the opportunity to bow out at that point - "sorry, I'm really busy these days."
posted by insectosaurus at 9:08 AM on December 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


momus_window: What about professionally made cards on nice stock with name, email, number and maybe personal website? I have a business card I do not like handing out to strangers b/c the business is conservative and specialized. I may just be failing at marketing, though.

This is better than giving out cards you got for free on the internet that list you as a "social gadfly" or whatnot, but it still feels impersonal to me because you order business cards in batches of like 500, right? And then there's the debate of whether to call or email or web-stalk.

I feel like it might be possible/neat to bring back the name card, where you just have your name printed and then add contact information dependent on situation (email OR cell phone OR they can just find you on facebox).

If you happen to have a business card that you write your personal cell number on, that works, and makes me feel safe because I have evidence that I have your real name and a context for you.

If you have a business card that lists your personal cell on it, you'd better be running your own small business and/or it's a red flag to me that you're a workaholic.

(Disclaimer: I am one person, my tastes are frequently different from those of other people, and I met most of my recent dates on the internet, obviating the whole number-exchange quandry.)
posted by momus_window at 10:03 AM on December 3, 2011


I think part of this may be governed by whether asking for a person's number is contextually expected behavior. If someone were to ask for my number in a context where that's a reasonable thing for they to do (like a bar), I'd be prepared for it, and have my gentle "I don't think so, but have a nice night" or whatever seemed appropriate ready. If I were more just out-and-about and a conversation had been struck up, my standards and wariness would be much higher, and the "may I give you my number?" approach would be the only thing with a prayer of working.

Personally, the last time I was successfully picked up, while phone numbers weren't exchanged, the other party made an explicit "the ball's in your court" move, and then gave me a little space to act on it. I believe he is as happy as could possibly be with the outcome of that strategy.
posted by endless_forms at 10:22 AM on December 3, 2011


Best piece of advice I've picked up...

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Just ask, I can be reserved and choke, make excuses for why I just ask next time I see her, or some other negative thinking.
Fuck that, I am going for the ask. Worse thing happening is a "no", best thing to happen is walking out with a number feeling fucking great.

Get ready for some nos, but dont be discouraged. Eventually you will get some numbers.
posted by handbanana at 11:50 AM on December 3, 2011


The nicest way this has ever happened to me is that the man said "Can I call you?" Simple as that. It may be unoriginal but if you make it sound sincere that's pretty nice.

Personally, if I like the guy, I'd rather he demonstrate his seriousness by actually calling me and not just facebook friending me. If I don't like him, I say no. If I'm not sure because I'm a bit drunk or we just don't know each other well enough, I give him my number, and then if he calls me I don't answer. No hard feelings in any case.
posted by mai at 12:13 PM on December 3, 2011


Your business card would work for me. If you're anything like me you spend too much time at work and my work email or work mobile number are the easiest ways for anybody, including friends and family, to get hold of me.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:33 PM on December 3, 2011


Agreed with mai - "Can I call you?", simple and direct
posted by nickji at 11:33 AM on December 5, 2011


"I had fun talking - I'd like to see you again. Can I call you?"

Lots of people above have already answered, but I wanted to add my voice of agreement—just keep it simple & it's totally not creepy.
posted by eleyna at 1:09 AM on December 9, 2011


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