3 Things You Need to Know About Phones and Dating

3 Things You Need to Know About Phones and Dating

Your phone can make or break a relationship

What do these three statements have in common?

  • Rest thirty minutes after eating before going swimming.
  • Sear a steak to keep it juicy.
  • Wait at least two days before returning his/her phone call.

They actually have two things in common.  All three statements are conventional wisdom and there is no science behind any of them.

It turns out, you can swim and digest at the same time.  Searing a steak promoted tasty brown bits, but does not actually seal in moisture.  And, waiting two days to return your potential partner’s call sends him or her the message that you’re not interested.


Chris Brogan, a business guru – the person’s whose emails I read like you read mine – invites his readers to reply to his emails.  I was shocked.  A busy expert with a legion of followers was inviting me – an anonymous reader- to email him whenever I felt the urge!?

I wanted to test him.  Would he get back to me today?  This week?  This year?  So, I replied to his email, commenting on something I read.

Then I waited….

Do you know how long it took him to write me back?  Two minutes!

Do you know how I felt?  I felt amazing.  I felt valued.  Chris Brogan, a person whose opinion I value, didn’t waste a moment in responding to me.

He could have waited two days to write me back, thereby reinforcing the impression that he’s insanely preoccupied.  But he didn’t.  By writing me back in two minutes, Chris Brogan let me know that he valued me.

So I ask:  Why would you wait two or three days to return the call of the person whom you value? Why not return that call immediately?

I know, I know.  Everyone says wait a day or two.  And, if everyone says it, they must be correct, right?

That’s not how I operate, and it isn’t how my clients operate either.  I follow my heart, my clients follow theirs, and you should follow yours. When your heart tells you to return a phone call, then return that phone call.

The choice is yours: Follow your heart or follow the crowd.  (I don’t think it’s a hard choice at all.)


We already discussed the hierarchy of communication.  The best way to communicate is in-person, followed by over the phone, then email, and finally, text messaging.  The more importance you want attached to your message, the higher your choice of communication should be on the hierarchy. 

I told you once that I asked out a girl by beeper.  I did that even though we met on a ski trip and spent the better part of a weekend getting to know each other.  Looking back on The Ask, I asked her out by beeper because I was scared of being rejected.

I will never do that again and neither should you.  Asking out a potential partner by text, making plans by email, expressing your admiration on his or her Facebook wall are all preludes to a relationship with poor communication.

Having said that, I’m not asking you to forgo electronic communications altogether.  There are times that a text or an email are perfectly appropriate:

  • A quick post-date “I had a great time.
  • A last-moment “train is running late.
  • Can I call you around 9?
  • Saw your call.  I’ll call you back when I get home. 

Oftentimes in life, there is an exception to the rule.   Here, the exception is for the people who communicate differently.  For example, today I was reading about Renee Salas’ son, Sebastian, who is autistic and non-speaking.  He communicates in various ways, but verbal words aren’t one of them.

Perhaps you are non-verbal.  Perhaps you have difficultly speaking.  Perhaps your ability to communicate with a keyboard is exponentially better than your ability to communicate over the phone.  You qualify for the exception.  Type away!


By definition, a date is a meeting between two relative strangers who are determining they and their lives are compatible with one another. With that in mind, when you are on a date, is there anything more important at that moment than getting to know your potential partner?

I’m am hoping that you answered, “no”  because there should be nothing more important in your life at that moment than your potential partner.

And, yet, I see tons of people on dates checking their phones.  They sneak peeks at their iPhones under the table; they make fake trips to the bathroom to send text messages; heck, some people don’t even disguise what they’re doing and just start using the phone at the table.

Looking at your cell phone while on a date not only sends the message that your potential partner isn’t important, it also breaks the momentum you work so hard to generate.  So, put it away and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Again, there are exceptions.  There will be times that you must check your phone because you’re expecting great news or horrible news.  (Perhaps someone is ill or someone is about to give birth.)  In those special cases, it’s fine to keep your phone handy, as long as you give your potential partner forewarning that you may have to check it.

Come to think of it, letting your potential partner know about the impending news is an automatic conversation spark.  You are giving your potential partner a small, but intimate, look into your life.


Do you know someone who whips out his or her phone all the time?  At inappropriate moments?  Sending this to him or her is a subtle hint to quit doing that.

So, send this to them.  And share it with the world: Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn StumbleUpon


  • The best communication is in-person, followed by over the phone, then email, then text, then smoke signals
  • The more important your message, the more personal the form of communication should be
  • There are a very limited number of acceptable reasons for checking your phone when talking to your potential partner.  Unless you’re expecting major news, pretend like you don’t even have your phone with you.
Jeremy Hamburgh
Jeremy Hamburgh
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  1. Tony Langdon says:

    Some good advice there. And when an online conversation takes a turn for the better, it’s also good to “escalate” the conversation up the scale.

    As an example, when I met my current partner, we initially met on a gay dating site in a chatroom. We almost immediately went to MSN (a step up, because it was relatively private, and we could get each other’s attention instead of having to be on the site).

    2 days later, after a lengthy MSN chat, we upgraded again, this time to the phone. Talked on the phone for an hour and then went up again, to a face to face meet. Although we had no intention beyond ordinary friendship, the face to face meeting was love at first sight, and the rest, they say, is history. :)

    • Jeremy Hamburgh says:


      I love your discussion of “escalation.” I agree totally! When I work with clients, I call it “momentum.” No matter what you call it, if the communication doesn’t progress, the relationship goes nowhere.


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