“I’m 39, attractive, nice body—I’m told—friendly, helpful, yet when I find someone and we go out, the night ends with the usual line, ‘I’ll call you,’ and they never do,” writes an anonymous woman from Denver.

“Then I rehash the night’s events in my mind:  was I overbearing, too independent, etc.  I have a good job, make great money, have a nice home, but I feel so rejected!  Please help.”


Few things are more puzzling to single women than men who say they will call and then don’t.  Especially if the man flirts with or pursues the woman, and then doesn’t call again, the woman is left feeling as if she did something wrong or has otherwise been judged inadequate.

Why would a man ask a woman out once but not a second time?  For that matter, why would a man ask for a woman’s phone number and then not call in the first place, as some women also complain about?

I have several thoughts:

  • He is actually taken, and in a relationship with someone else, but still enjoys the male-female game of flirting and creating new possibilities.  Some people need the ego boost and flattery that they are still considered attractive to the opposite sex, and they could still succeed if they ever again have the need.
  • He is thinking maybe his current relationship won’t last, so he is collecting options just in case.
  • He decided in hindsight he wasn’t all that attracted to her; that there just wasn’t enough spark or sexual attraction for him to follow through.
  • He meant to follow up, but either he had several opportunities at the same time, and one of them is working out, or an old flame from the past suddenly rekindled.
  • He really doesn’t want a relationship right now; he wants to know he could have one.
  • Some people who are in a relationship and unavailable just love to flirt with temptation.

There is a courtship game men and women play with each other.  Although the traditional roles are changing, typically men are in the position of advantage because they usually have the lead and can decide whether to pursue.  (This is also their disadvantage:  ask men how nervous and frightened they get when they are about to approach a woman, and listen to them talk about what it feels like to be rejected over and over again before someone says yes.)

Women are in the position of advantage because nobody expects them to do anything except look nice, and they have such little risk in the process.  (Which is, of course, their disadvantage as well:  they aren’t supposed to act, they’re only supposed to react, and they are at more risk when they actually do go out with a stranger.)

Learn to take the lead more.  Don’t just give out your phone number, exchange phone numbers.  If he hasn’t called after a week, call him.  Say you enjoyed his company and you are looking forward to getting to know him better.  Then suggest the two of you get together again.  If he hesitates, ask him if he would be willing to talk about why.  If honest, that feedback could be useful to you.

You have to give yourself lots of opportunities with new men all the time.  Don’t be so sure you’re doing something wrong.  This may be just a string of bad luck.

Has your relationship turned cold and distant? Neil’s book Love, Sex, and Staying Warm can help you rekindle your passion.

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