Online Dating: When To Give Your Phone Number?
Knowing when to hand over those precious digits is about as important in online dating as it gets. Deciding to take the conversation away from prying dating app eyes to a more private realm, requires careful consideration.
Give out your number too soon, and to the wrong person, you could end up with a stalker calling you at stupid o’clock, asking you things that would make a nun blush! But wait too long to do the exchange, and you might come off as not serious, thus turning some people off.
Why you need to be extra cautious
There are some real crazies out there. Not the fun kind, either. Ever received email spam? Companies trying to sell you products for genitalia you don’t have, that sort of thing?
Of course you have. And it’s incredibly annoying, but mostly harmless (unless you click on the link a Nigerian prince sent you, then discover your computer’s been hacked!).
Well, imagine that spam on your cellphone – the personal line that your loved ones reach you on. A line that gives them access to you wherever you go, any time of day. A line that, under some circumstances, can even be traced to your whereabouts. Yikes!
That guy or gal that seemed like a sweetheart on your favorite dating app could suddenly become your worst nightmare under a full moon, or if communication turns sour. You might be unlucky enough to have your number plastered all over public restrooms, offering “services” that would make a nun blush… twice!
It’s not as easy to abandon a number as it is to close an email account or dating profile. Nowadays, our lives are so connected to our phones that changing numbers would be an absolute headache.
So how do you know when to exchange numbers?
When you know them well enough
Pretty obvious, but you should feel confident that you know enough about them before you grant them access into your private world. This is something you can’t undo, remember, so do your due diligence. Vet, vet, vet.
Converse through the dating app as much as possible to see if any stalkerish tendencies present themselves. Look out for inconsistencies in their stories. If the ginger cat they said they had at the start of communications miraculously turns into a dalmatian a couple of weeks later, you’re probably best not giving that person your number.
Other things to look out for
Overly insistent? Red flag
You should only give your number to someone when you feel comfortable, not if they pressure you. Beware of those who ask for it too early and keep hounding you for it before you’ve even had a chance to get to know each other. That’s usually a sign that they’ll misuse it in the future.
Pay attention to how they ask
The way someone asks for your number is just as important as when they ask. Are they pushy? Are they somewhat reserved? Do they take a blasé approach to getting it?
The pushy person should be avoided at all costs. Chances are, they’ll be just as pushy in person, if you ever progress to meeting them.
On the other hand, the person who doesn’t seem to care either way if you exchange numbers or not is likely juggling so many other people that you’ll become just another number in their phone. Avoid if you’re looking for something serious.
The person who politely suggests, not so much asks, is the safest bet. This doesn’t mean they’re not sociopaths (sociopaths can be charming too, don’t you know), but it does slightly reduce the odds of you giving your number to someone who’ll abuse it.
Go with your gut
If you feel at all apprehensive about exchanging numbers, this is probably your instinct telling you to quit while you’re ahead. It could mean that you need more time to get comfortable with the person, or simply that you’ve spotted red flags you know will present problems down the line.
Human beings rarely listen to their intuition; they hear it but ignore it. You can’t afford to do that here. If someone seems… off, and you feel anxious about sharing your number with them, don’t do it. You’ll soon see them for who they are if they get frustrated at your refusal.
No set time frame
It could take days, weeks or months before you exchange numbers. There’s no specific amount of time you should wait. For instance, you could spend 3 whole days messaging each other religiously on the dating app, and that might suffice. What counts is the amount of time you’ve put into getting to know each other.
Don’t simply give out your number because you hate logging in to the app to reply to their messages. The in-app messenger is there to protect you – to offer a veil of protection between you and people with bad intentions.
Consider getting a throwaway number
Maybe you’ve reached the stage where it’s time to exchange numbers, but you’re still apprehensive about giving strangers access to your real number. Getting a throwaway/burner number could be the answer. These give you permanent access to the line but won’t impede on your privacy. They can be used for dating but also for other non-essential communication.
The Hushed app gives you a permanent phone number that’s yours forever for a low, one-time fee. You can do almost everything with it you can do on a normal line: send texts, make calls, send picture messages…
So now you can exchange numbers with Slightly Neurotic Adam from Tinder, the one with the nice abs, knowing he can’t blow up your real number when you’re enjoying time with friends and family.
You get to compartmentalize: no need to change your number and have to inform everyone closest to you. No need to edit your 2-Factor Verification information on a bunch of sites you can’t remember.
Make use of the block feature
Many phones now come with the ability to block certain numbers. iPhones have this feature, and I’m sure most other smartphones do, too. This should be your last resort. Take all the necessary steps above before you use this, as it’s not as effective as you’d think.
The person you’re trying to block can always call you from another number, if they’re that determined. And if they have malicious intent, who knows where your number might end up? You could find yourself blocking 10 numbers a day if yours gets into the wrong hands.
You should have your vetting process down to a fine art before you go handing out your number to any Tom, Dick and Harriet (I’ve met her; trust me, she’s a real pain in the butt!).
Get a private line or a throwaway, pay-as-you-go sim card to use in a burner phone. When it comes to online dating, you really can’t be too careful.