Naomi asks, "I just read your article about talking to someone before meeting them online and I totally agree. I have saved myself plenty of dates by having a phone conversation beforehand. I'll hop on the phone, only to realize that the person on the other end is negative or just really dull. The one question I have, though, is "What if someone just isn't a phone person"? I know that some people are uncomfortable on the phone and great in person. What do you think?"
Great question, Naomi! Let's jump right in.
If you had asked me this same question ten years ago, I would have given a different answer. Most folks who would go out of their way to share, "I'm just not a phone person," really, truly meant it, however (in my experience with clients and readers) they'd still choke through that first phone conversation. Why? It shows interest, proves you're actually a real person, and shares information you'll never get through the internet alone. Plus, it says that, even though your potential date dislikes the phone, they're willing to invest the time and energy into you, while displacing their distaste temporarily. Not only did it say a lot about their character, including, "I want you to feel safe, so I'll do this one small thing for you to help with that."
That isn't to say talking on the phone precludes any sort of dating scam; take a peek at the extensive list of stories from readers just like you over at the Avoiding Internet Dating Scams blog post to understand what I mean. You still have to do the work, look for red flags, and so forth. To me however, giving the excuse, "I'm not a phone person," puts up a few fairly significant red flags, or at least orange ones.
Statistically, very few people suffer from social anxiety, and even fewer from social anxiety related to phone conversations. Sure, some folks would rather meet in person than spend the day texting or chatting on their cell; definitely put me into that category. Having said that, if someone I'd met on a dating site said to me, "Hey, let's talk on the phone prior to meeting," I'd suck it up and make the call. If I was concerned about my own personal information being shared with a relative stranger, I'd use Skype or one of the various dating sites that offer this kind of cloaked phone service, like Lavalife. It's easy and painless, and if I'm really interested in someone, I'll make the time.
So, why would someone say, "I'm not a phone person?" to you as you're getting to know them, and refuse to chat beforehand? Well, there's a lot of guessing on my part, so I'll just share what my readers, clients and my own experiences have shown over the years. Usually, when says they don't 'come across well' over the phone and thus just want to talk, it's because they:
- Have something they want to hide; such as a partner or family member they're living with;
- Are a player or Pick Up Artist (PUA), and it's easier to juggle multiple people without investing one-on-one time over the phone;
- Don't have a phone because they've hit a rough spot;
- Have decided they'd like to focus elsewhere, or that you're low on their priority list.
Really, it comes down to this: if they're a potential life partner or mate, and it's important to you to talk on the phone prior to meeting, they'll get over or put aside their dislike of phone conversations to get to know you. Or, and this does happen occasionally, they'll tell you outright they have a phone phobia or other, legitimate issue with using the phone. Either way, they'll have shared with you they are at their best in person. You can then decide if their being vulnerable and sharing their fear deserves a bit of leeway and compassion when speaking with them on the phone.
What do you think, dear readers? Are you a phone person? Do you talk to your date on the phone prior to meeting, if you've met online? Does 'not being a phone person' lift any flags for you?