Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

Why Do Women Never Return My Texts?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Why have I been having girls that give me their numbers but never return my phone calls/texts when I call/text?

This has been happening to me several times already where I talk to a girl and we really hit it off right (e.g. I don’t walk on eggshells talking to her, there are no inconsistent “silent gaps” throughout our conversations, I am open with myself without any reservations, etc.). Throughout our conversation, it seems like we are getting along with one another and really getting to know each other and then when the night ends, I ask for her number and she gives it to me and we exchange numbers and even exchange hugs too.

And then after I call/text her, the next day or 2 I don’t hear back from her. Normally I just think to myself “hmm, she must be busy or might have not gotten the text or voicemail. And then I call her back again and leave a message and play the waiting game 2 more times just to not ever hear from her again.

I know that I should not be taking this personally but what bugs me is that this situation has happened to me 3 – 4 times already. I have tried to change my conversation topics (no talking about sex, about dating history, about who she’s currently seeing, about family, about anything that is deemed personal, not talking about my interests in dancing and letting her talk the whole time). I have even ruled out meeting women at bars and clubs and other places where women are likely to be defensive when being approached (coffee places, malls, bookstores, etc.) and only going to bars and clubs to practice my dancing for upcoming battles and competitions.

Why has this been happening to me and what can I do to turn numbers into dates?

Call Waiting

DEAR CALL WAITING: It’s a little hard to answer questions like this without actively following you around, like a dating version of David Attenborough.

That being said, there could be a number of issues going on here.

First and foremost: if you’ve ruled out meeting women at bars, clubs, coffee shops, bookstores and other places where you fear that women may not be open to being approached and meeting people… where exactly are you meeting people that you’re having these long conversations? Location and timing can mean everything. If you’re meeting women at parties, say, you were likely not the only person who she’d been talking to. Hell, depending on the people involved, you may well not be the only person she’s given her number to that evening. If she’s been drinking, it’s possible she may not remember you all that well; now she’s getting texts from somebody who she met that she doesn’t remember and just ignores ’em.

Similarly, even if booze wasn’t involved, you may not have made that much of an impression to stand out in her memory. This is one of the reasons why I advocate using a little callback humor and teasing nicknames when you text them for the first time. “Hey Red, it’s CW from last night. I’ve decided I forgive you for insulting my shoes, but only if you admit you were wrong about Donna being the worst companion,” is more memorable – and less wishy-washy than “Hey, it’s CW from that party last night? We talked for hours about Doctor Who by the snack table and you spilled your drink on my shoes, so hey call me some time?”

You also don’t say how long you wait before calling or texting. If you wait too long (like the completely asinine “three day rule” that arose from Swingers and it’s ilk) then in all likelihood she will assume you’re not interested and have moved on. Worse, by the time you do get around to calling or texting, you’ve lost the emotional momentum and interest you’ve had and now you have to work your way back up from zero. 

Personally, I like texting (which is less intimate and lower investment, thus more likely to get a response) the same day I get a woman’s number just to keep the conversation going and her interest engaged. I don’t necessarily recommend trying to keep the conversation going well past it’s natural lifespan – that only gets awkward – but establishing contact early helps maintain the level of interest that she had initially.

Now here’s a big mistake you’re making: you’re calling more than once. Let’s be real here: yes, things can go wonky and texts and voice mails can get delayed or even lost in the ether… but it doesn’t happen regularly. Odds are that if you texted or called her, she got it. She just isn’t that interested in calling you back right then and there. Calling or texting again really isn’t going to help; if anything, it’s going to make you look needy and desperate. The best thing you can do if you’re leaving a message is to leave a hook. My favorite: “Hey $NICKNAME, it’s CW. You wouldn’t believe what happened after you left last night. Call me later.” It’s an obvious hook, but it’s going to pique her curiosity… and if she’s going to call you out on it, at least that means she’s going to call you back to do so. The only time to play phone tag is if she’s playing too. Otherwise you basically shoot yourself in the foot.

Dr. NerdLove’s rule: only one contact attempt per response. If you text her and she doesn’t text back… well, more or less time to move on. If she texts you back, then you get to volley it back to her. Again: if she doesn’t text back… ok, probably over with. OCCASIONALLY you can reinvigorate a dead or dying contact with what I call a dust-buster – something short and intriguing to shake the dust off the line and see what response you get; personally I like “Hey, I just saw your evil twin!”

All that being said: if she’s digging you when she met you, she’s going to want to call you back. If she doesn’t… well, odds are good that you didn’t do a good enough job flirting and vibing with her before you got her number.

I can’t judge how things were going by what you’ve given in this email, so I can’t tell you whether your problem is what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, but it’s entirely possible that you’re not doing as well as you’d think. In the era of caller ID and voicemail, phone numbers really don’t mean anything. Women (and guys – I’ve known plenty of dudes who’ve done this) will give out their numbers with absolutely no intention of ever picking up. This is why you should always, always make plans before you get the number. If the two of you are vibing as well as you think, then there’s no reason not to propose a date right then and there – not “hey we should hang out some time” but “You know what, I’m really enjoying talking to you. There’s this art exhibition at the McNay this weekend that I’m planning on going to and I think you would really like it. You should totally come with me.” If she’s interested, then you get the number; having definite plans means she is much more likely to pick up when you call than if you have vague, nebulous intentions of doing something maybe. You can then call to just talk, under the pretense of making arrangements.

And if you’re still unsure how to turn numbers into dates… well, then it might not be a bad idea to check out my book, “I Got Her Number… Now What?”, available in print or on Kindle via Amazon.

Good luck.

Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (; or to his email,