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Making contact

Can I ask you for your number?

“Will you give me your phone number?” Karen (52) repeatedly has trouble responding to this question, because she feels the time is not yet right. We asked our members what they thought about exchanging phone numbers; here are the results - and also a few tips from us.

Can I ask you for your number?

Dear Parship

It often takes as little as two or three emails before I am asked for my phone number. I’m not comfortable with this because I really don’t know the other person yet and I can honestly say that I don’t know what I should do in this situation. Perhaps you can help me. Karen (52), Civil servant

Dear Karen

Should you use Parship’s messaging system over a period of time to get a proper idea of each other, or should you aim to move as quickly as possible to a phone call or even a meeting? Opinions differ on this and there are valid arguments on both sides. We asked our members how they react to being asked for their phone number at an early stage of online acquaintance; 839 women and 538 men gave us their opinion. Only one in ten women would be happy to give out her number, while the figure for men was 37%, so the field’s wide open for women who are ready to get chatting on the phone!

Men mustn’t be surprised if they get a ‘no’ when asking for a woman’s phone number: 40% of women are not ready to give out their number at an early stage and most of them will tell a man that that’s the case. The comparable percentage for men is 21.5%. Asking someone for their number is unlikely to have drastic consequences: just one in 20 women and one in 50 men would feel it was enough of an intrusion to make them lose interest in the other person.

Around a third of both men and women are not sure how they would react, preferring to base their decision on how interested they were in the person asking for their number - so if you are keen to get talking to your recommended partners, make sure your profile pushes the right buttons and think of something more original to say in your email than: “Could you give me your number?” 14% of women and 4% of men just turn things round by asking the other person for their number.

The next step

So, Karen, you’re not the only person who’s unsure about things. Men who ask for your number shouldn’t take a refusal too badly: it won’t be the first time they’ve been turned down on this one. Of course, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong in asking for a number: as long as it’s not some kind of random activity, it means that the other person is interested in you and wants to take the next step to getting to know you better. Maybe you are hesitant because you are concerned for your safety and don’t want to give up your anonymity - both of which are important factors. If you are basically prepared to talk on the phone, then give your mobile phone number rather than a landline number which appears in the phone book.

Safety tips

An alternative is to answer along these lines: “It would be good to talk to you on the phone, but to be quite honest I don’t want to give out my phone number at this point, though you do sound very nice. But maybe you’d like to give me your number so that I can call you.” If you then make a call, check that the number you are calling from won’t appear on the other person’s phone display - you can do this by making a test call to a friend. You can find out how to block display of your number by checking in your phone’s instruction leaflet or by asking your phone company.

What would you prefer?

Parship is designed to reassure you with its safety mechanisms, but it is a good idea not to overextend the online phase of getting to know each other. While you probably don’t have any doubts about the genuine intentions of the other person, you still might not be quite comfortable with giving out your number or ringing them. If that’s the case, then say so: it doesn’t mean that everything is necessarily going to come to an end. You might just need a few more emails to reassure you, and it’s not realistic to expect that getting to know someone in this way is going to be a completely smooth process. At this stage, as in the later stages of a relationship, it is important for each person to respect the other’s limits. It is quite legitimate to express your wishes, just as it is quite legitimate to say no. And anybody who breaks things off because you weren’t prepared to give him/her your phone number couldn’t have been the right person for you anyway.

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