It’s the number-one question women have about dating. Does this scenario sound familiar? You have a great time with Mr. First Date. Not a so-so, marginal, you-can-sort-of-understand-why-it-didn’t work-out time. No, this was clearly fun that was had by all.
He says he’ll call you, but when the phone doesn’t ring, you think, “OK, maybe it’s too soon to hear from him.” One week later without a text, tweet, email, or call, and you wonder what you did wrong. Why did he disappear after the date that apparently only you thought was great?
You imagine dozens of reasons why he didn’t call you back. His phone fell into a pond. He lost his memory in an accident. The telephone company is on strike and no one can get through.
Yes, there could be dozens of bizarre turns of events that left him unable to contact you. But that’s probably not the case. To end the suspense, I spoke to men to uncover and share (in their words) some of the most common reasons they don’t call women back after that first date.
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I wasn’t ready for a serious girlfriend
“When I first met her, I felt a hot connection with this girl I knew nothing about. During our date, I got to know her better, liked her, and could tell she was really looking for a serious boyfriend. I could sense our expectations were different. I didn’t have the energy to explain to her that I wasn’t looking for my future wife right now, so I just passed.”
— Allan, 27, Westchester, NY
Lesson learned: The woman he wants (eventually) to bring home to mom may not always be the woman he wants to date right now. If the guy in question was just looking for casual dates and you had different expectations (which is a good thing, unless that’s all you wanted in the first place), you are much better off putting your energies elsewhere.
She was too self-absorbed
“She gabbed with me like I was a girlfriend. I guess I made her feel comfortable, since she had no problem telling me the minutiae of her life. She seemed very focused on how she was coming across. I wasn’t feeling it.”
— Bill, 33, Bethesda, MD
Lesson learned: The idea that men are totally focused on a woman’s looks is a big myth. That’s not how building an attraction with someone works. In this area, woman and men are alike. Most men don’t want a self-absorbed woman who’s focused solely on herself — her friends, her job, her hobbies, her goals, etc. Ask him about his life, too. Focus less on making an impression and more on facilitating the best possible connection.
I didn’t want to deal with any confrontation
“Sometimes women get upset when you say it’s not working for you. The attraction we had shared initially faded pretty fast. I don’t know why. She’d probably press me for some logical reason why I asked her out in the first place if the attraction was so iffy. But attraction isn’t created by logic.”
— Chad, 34, Washington, D.C.
Lesson learned: Some men are too immature or scared to be honest and straightforward with a woman about their feelings. The truth is simply that, somewhere along the line, the attraction and connection vanished. Of course, a man’s definition of “confrontation” might be the same as your definition of “friendly, respectful call.” But if he’s scared, he won’t be calling you.
I’m keeping my options open
“I had a good time on the date, but I’m focusing more on another girl I’ve been seeing for a few weeks. Who knows, I might change my mind and call.”
— Jack, 38, San Diego, CA
Lesson learned: The timing just wasn’t right for the two of you. He’s otherwise occupied, and it has nothing to do with you or your charms (or lack thereof). Dating can be like musical chairs; your date is simply keeping his options open until the right one presents itself. Always assume that your dates are seeing other people until there’s a mutual agreement about exclusivity. Remember, some men don’t call women back because there’s someone else who’s picking up steam in their dating race.
“While men excel at compartmentalization, women tend to have a more difficult time separating their feelings, so multi-male dating may be a bigger challenge for the female set,” says Kimberly Dawn Neumann, author of The Real Reasons Men Commit.
She was annoying
“She had this annoying habit of throwing her head back when she laughed. It was too hysterical and weird for me.”
— Josh, 29, New York, NY
Lesson learned: Some guys carry the Seinfeld curse; that is, they share George Costanza’s obsession of overly picky and shallow physical or behavioral traits when it comes to their dating lives. In her book, Why He Didn’t Call You Back: 1,000 Guys Reveal What They Really Thought About You After Your Date, author Rachel Greenwald notes that 78 percent of women she surveyed believed that a man hadn’t called her back for reasons beyond her control, i.e. the elusive “chemistry” or a career that intimidates men. The truth is that 85 percent of men surveyed felt the opposite. In fact, there were sometimes small and always-specific behaviors women exhibited which ended up being deal-breakers for the guys.
Both men and women can nitpick their dates into obscurity. Ask your closest friends if you have any controllable, attraction-inhibiting habits that warrant adjusting, such as avoiding eye contact when you’re nervous. But if you’re being judged on characteristics you can’t control, don’t spend time obsessing over what you could have done differently. Move on, because the next person will likely have different expectations altogether.
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit hiswebsite, follow him onTwitter, oremail him.