“Can I have your number?” someone asks.
“Sure,” I reply after a moment of hesitation, reluctantly listing it out while I wish there was some way I could just say no.
I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me in the last few years, and how many awkward text and phone conversations this has lead to. This is frustrating to me, made even moreso by the fact that my partner doesn’t understand, he just asks me why I give my number out to people who I clearly have no interest in talking to.
“What am I supposed to say? No?” I ask, trying to point out my lack of options.
“Exactly, just say no.” He responds, and I look at him as if he has just sprouted an extra head.
Typing in my number, but one digit off. Claiming that my cell phone service is about to change, and I’m getting a new number anyways. Claiming that my phone is only for emergencies. Why do all of these options seem more reasonable to me than a simple no?
Lately I have been feeling a familiar tinge on anxiety creeping back into my life – partially because of a barrage of unwanted comments and prying questions coming from people that I really just don’t feel comfortable talking to. People who I would never be rude to (treating anyone without respect is not in my nature) but, at the same time, I have no interest in being as close with them as they seem to assume I already am.
Frankly, I feel incredibly rude and strangely exposed even writing this. Somehow, admitting that there are people out there who I don’t want to be close with seems wrong to me. Though I know it’s something that everyone feels.
In a heterosexist gender-binary society this issue is particularly gendered. Traditionally men are the ones who go out and collect the phone numbers, and women the ones who passively give them out. To refuse to give your number out is to shake up the system, and run the risk of being labeled a “bitch” or something similar in the process.
This might explain why my female-identified friends seem better equipped to understand my predicament… they don’t question why I didn’t just say no. In fact, all of the excuses above have been suggested by various female identified friends over the years. It really is no wonder that this double-standard exists, with all of the awful advice out there directed at men looking for phone numbers. For instance:
You should get into the habit of asking for numbers every time you approach a woman — even if you don’t plan on calling her. The more you do this, the more it’ll become second nature to you. Further, you will be creating a list of backups that you can later call on. This is just gross to me; it’s one thing to ask for a number after a pleasant conversation with someone who you’d like to see again. It’s another thing to just start collecting women’s numbers just for the sake of getting as many as possible. You’re not a pokemon trainer, there is no need to catch ’em all.
When you ask for email, it’s very low risk for a woman, so she’ll think “Fine, I’ll do that.” Most women will give out an email address without thinking about it, because they know that they can choose later to just not answer.
The magic of asking them to write their phone number down WHILE they’re in the middle of writing down their email is all about the psychology of human behavior. She’s already mentally said “OK, I’ll give you my email address”… and she’s in the middle of writing it down. When you say “And just write your number down there too” it’s only NATURAL to just write it. Just one of the many techniques I found for manipulating a number out of a woman. This guy also boasted that he could get a number in just two minutes if he was “in a hurry.” Charming.
The most effective way to get a girl’s phone number is to just tell her to give it to you. That’s right. It’s that straightforward. Simply say something like, “Hey, I really enjoyed talking to you. Give me your phone number and let’s get together sometime.” Please note: This is not the same as asking for it. the difference is sophisticated. When you ask the woman for the woman phone number she has an opportunity to tell you “no.” Whenever you tell her to give you the girl phone number, she’s more likely to do it. People, and especially girls, will merely follow along if you take the lead of things. In truth, they tend to like it. Telling a girl to give you her number is an instance of taking charge. There is nothing I can even say to make this “advice” more fucked up than it already is.
I know that I deserve better than this, I deserve every right to declare my boundaries and stick to them without guilt… but somehow, in the real world, when someone is asking me for my number and I know I don’t want to give it to them… its just not that simple. For the first time in a long time, I don’t even really know where I’m going with this. All I know is that giving out my number to people I hardly know makes me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, but so does refusing to give it out. So I’m going to ask you some questions instead:
- When is it okay to decide you simply do not want to be friends with someone?
- Is there a polite way to refuse to give out a phone number/information/whatever?
- How do you deal with another person’s reaction to your rejection?
(This may be the worst post I have ever written, but I felt like I needed to get this out there. My apologies for the sub-par writing and lack of any real conclusion! Better posts are coming soon.)