Frantic for Phone Numbers
Laurie offers advice to a letter writer wondering if he should “cut to the chase” and try to get a connection’s number immediately, or if he should spend more time messaging.
When you’re talking to a person on a dating app, should I even bother with the conversation or just ask for their number upfront? I’ve tried both ways and am having mixed results. Asking for the number upfront is more efficient, but is it seen as abrupt?
Mark, 32, Denver, CO
Efficiency is why a lot of people date online. Sometimes, unfortunately, the process can seem anything but.
Like you, a lot of daters try to speed up the messaging process. Maybe it’s because you don’t want to waste time, or maybe it’s because you can’t quite figure out how to turn messages into actual dates. Either way, in theory, getting your match’s number sooner should mean getting offline sooner. But in reality? It doesn’t always work out as well as you hoped.
Here’s why: you haven’t built a connection yet. And when there’s no clear connection between you two, there’s not much inspiration to follow through. It’s like skipping foreplay, only this time it’s a stranger you’ve only just swiped right with. Abrupt indeed. I’m all for being efficient, but not when it’s at the expense of being effective – and I know that’s what you want too.
Instead of focusing on how quickly you can exchange numbers, consider this: what makes you different from the other people who are vying for your match’s attention? This is what you want to focus your messages on. Right now, you are only one of dozens (or more) messages in an inbox. But wouldn’t it be better if instead you were one of only a handful of in-person dates? So let’s talk messaging.
My team and I find that people are much more likely to reply if you start a message string based off a commonality. It creates comfort and makes it more likely your match will reply. When you lead with a common interest, the conversation flows more easily and the transition to a date is more natural.
Every message string is different, but after helping thousands of singles meet online, I find that exchanging somewhere between 15-30 messages total between the two of you before moving offline is the sweet spot. Know that the more specific your messages are early on, the more likely you’ll be able to get on a date after about 15 messages. If it’s a slow start and you’re exchanging pleasantries like “Hi” and “What are you doing,” you’ll probably need closer to 30 to create date-ready comfort. As a baseline, you should know that on Hinge, around 25 percent of number exchanges happen within a day of a connection being made, 40 percent within two days, and 72 percent within a week.* Clearly, there’s no rush.
Also, I noticed that right now, you’re focused on getting the person’s number as an end goal, but a date is what you really want, right? Focus on that instead. A number is just a tool, a way to develop a connection and ask someone out – but so is an app. You’re already texting within the app, so suggest a date there! It’s one way you can be efficient and effective.
Keep in mind: using several digital platforms may result in mixed messages and less follow through. Don’t make the person chase you to a new digital location! When it’s time, use the app to suggest meeting up, then exchange numbers after the plan is in place, just in case anything changes – like one person is running 10 minutes late. That way, you won’t miss any last minute messages from each other. And as a bonus, you’ll now be able to text your date after you meet so you can keep eFlirting.
*June 2017 Hinge Data Analysis
Laurie Davis Edwards is a relationship coach and the founder of eFlirt, a company that has helped thousands of people find love. She’s responsible for more than 100 marriages and her advice has been featured in more than 500 international media outlets, including the New York Times, Good Morning America, Elle, and the Wall Street Journal. Send questions to Laurie at firstname.lastname@example.org with her name in the subject line.