When to Call her?

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She wants you to call after the date - Let's cut to the chase

Your girlfriend is going to want you to call her after your first date. Alot. And once she's got you on the phone, she's going to want to talk. A lot. For a long time. Twenty minutes may be an eternity for you, but for your girlfriend, it's a warm-up. Training since she was twelve, she has built up the endurance of a marathon runner. While you were spending your time playing Sega Genesis, she was honing her skills at talking about nothing for hours. She can kick your ass in this event, which is a shame, because chances are you don't even want to be in the competition.

We don't know any Patel men who like to chat. Do you?
Men use the phone to give and receive pertinent infor-mation. Women use the phone as a way to bond, and we can't imagine that you're not going to use it in this way, too. Your girlfriend will want to experience your day through your con¬versation (and vice versa) as a way to be close. She wants to know how you are. The inside stuff—not merely the results. Your girlfriend will take your "yes," "no," "good," "bad" con¬versation as a rejection even if you don't mean it that way.Can you get out of talking on the phone? No. Not really. Men have tried for decades to figure out how, without much success; however, a few simple adjustments to the way you approach the issue should keep her happy and keep you sane.

Rollover Minutes -
It's not just that women like to talk on the phone more than men, although they do. And it's not just that women like to divulge more personal information than men, although they do. Men interrupt—please let us finish—more than women do. And women ask more questions than men do. (You didn't know that?) And as if that weren't enough, men are more direct in their conversation, more likely to make bold state¬ments. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be concerned with how the person on the other end of the phone is doing. It's not that one of us is right and the other is wrong; it's that we have different ways of doing things. This shouldn't come as a surprise. When's the last time you saw your girlfriend drinking milk straight from the carton?

The thing is, you can get credit for staying in touch, being attentive, thoughtful, considerate, and loving, all with¬out leaving the comfort of your Bluetooth. With a very small investment—say a two-minute conversation—you can reap a substantial return. The calls can be short, but you score major points by phoning her two or three times a day. Follow this advice, and you can avoid that hour-and-a-half "Do you love me?" conversation at the end of a long day. Think of it as the premium you pay to keep your relation¬ship insurance current.

We can tell you're scratching your head on this one. "How in the world do I have a brief conversation with a woman? Just trying to give my mom flight information turns into a twenty-minute chat." These perfectly respectable, minimally sneaky solutions should do the trick:

  • Call when you know you won't reach her. "I know you're not home, but I was thinking about you and what a great time we had at the art exhibit/hot-dog-eating contest/evening of lesbian poetry/[insert your last date here]."

  • Call when you have only two minutes to spare. "Hey, I gotta go into a meeting in a second, but I needed a [insert girlfriend name here] fix. How are you?"

  • Call when you know she'll be busy. "I think you're getting ready for your ten A.M. appointment, but got a second to catch up? I just wanted to say hi." (You'll win bonus points for remembering she has a ten A.M. appointment.)

  • Call to ask a quick question. "Does your sister like candles or should I just get her a CD for her birth-day? Could you give it some thought?" This one has the added advantage of connecting over something real. It's a bonding moment, and your girlfriend will know that you value her input. (Also, hello? You're buying a present for her sister? You rock. We give you permis¬sion to throw this book away.)

When used as directed, these tactics are 93 percent effective. Still, you're going to need assistance for that other 7 percent of the time. We can help there, too. If you find your girlfriend going on longer than you'd like, you can always wrap up the call by book-ending your getting-off-the-phone reasons with sweet talk, as in "I love talking to you, but I'm just ... finishing this report/turn¬ing on to the interstate/donating a kidney/[insert your reason here], thanks for being so cool about it." When you bookend—and we're claiming it as a verb—you give your girlfriend what she needs while backing her into being understanding.

Hold the Phone Mr. Patel!
Talking on the phone is like flossing. You keep your teeth and your girlfriend a lot longer if you do both. And just like that dental hygienist who always wants to review proper flossing

GIRL ON GIRL- Advice for Your Girlfriend!
Men will never use the phone the way you do. Once they've told you what time they want to pick you up and where you are having dinner, they are ready to hang up. Tips to follow:

  • When you tell us you're going to call on a particular day or at a particular time, don't mess around—CALL. Please don't underestimate the importance of this. It really matters to us.

  • If we call you at a bad time (you're working, you're watching TV, you're exfoliating), tell us you can't talk and that you'll call us back. Otherwise we chase you around verbally, not knowing why you're distracted, worried it's something we did, and the conversation gets weird and fucked up.

  • For big, big points, ignore your call waiting, and take credit for it: "I don't want to talk to anyone but you."

  • If you have caller ID, don't avoid her calls too many times, or else make sure she doesn't find out you were home screening.

And be honest: Have you ever been talking to your girlfriend on the phone and staring into the mirror? Guess what—we can hear you studying yourself. We hear your voice change slightly, and we can feel your mind wandering away from the conversation and into the fascinating world of "Is that a blackhead? Do I need to shave? Is my hairline receding? Jesus, I'm cute." Yep, you're a multitasker, but the gig is up. We can tell when you are talking to us and madly e-mailing, going over paperwork, or watching the game (see chapter on televi¬sion). We just wanted you to know.
PS.: If you have to pee while talking to us, pee on the side of the bowl so we won't hear the splashing; and if you have to poop, we'd rather you call us back after you are done.

Static on the Line
Although it can be easier to say "I love you" on the phone than in person (in fact, it's the only place our friend Lou can say it), it's also easier for conversations to spin out of control and quickly degenerate into long, sticky relationship discussions. These discussions, which always seem to happen in the middle of the night, are deadening. You don't need directory assistance to find your way out of the conversation and into bed; all you need is a simple: "This is too important, let's wait till we see each other." This kind of statement will calm your girlfriend. She'll know you aren't blowing her off, and you can get some shut-eye.

If you do get into a fight on the phone, always end the conversation with kindness, a word of caring or love. Say it even if it feels like a lie and you hate your girlfriend at that moment, because the fact is, eighteen hours later, you will love her again, and in the meantime, she'll really appreciate the gesture. It's a hedge for the future.

You've Got Mail
It seems like e-mail was invented with the BF in mind. It's the perfect forum for a quick flirt and a great secret weapon if you want to avoid a phone conversation. E-mail feels like intimacy without all the intimacy. Genius. It's one of the eas¬iest, most painless ways to connect, and your girlfriend will love it. There's nothing better than getting a quick e-mail from your guy. It can be short and sweet—"How's your day going?"; or a little more provocative—"Are you wearing the red thong? I just had a feeling you were."E-mail is also a great way to make up after a fight. A quick "I'm sorry" or "I'm a bonehead, let's start over" really clears things up. Best-case scenario, the e-mail will put the fight to bed. But if she still needs to talk about it (and she might), at least you've done the hard part the easy way—apology in absentia. Remember, while it saves you from the phone call (which is over when it's over), an e-mail is forever. The problem with any paper trail is that it's a paper trail. If it is a really good e-mail or a really bad one, she will forward it to her friends and maybe even her shrink.

Take a Letter
The phone has its place; e-mails, too. But there's nothing like a letter. A letter is like a secret, a quiet conversation between just the two of you that no one else even knows about. It's romantic and old-fashioned, and she can keep it in her jewelry box or lingerie drawer. When our friend Julie was in eighth grade, she got a letter from her boyfriend who was away at camp. He drew a picture of two stick figures standing next to each other and under it wrote, Arent we cute together? Love, Andy. She's thirty and still has it. Unlike a present that you buy for us, a letter is actually a little piece of you, your handwriting, your spelling, your spit on the envelope (or to the criminally minded, your DNA).

If you've screwed up and been out of touch, don't try to cover by blaming it on the technol-ogy. We girlfriends will never buy the "didn't you get my e-mail?" rou-tine. Dogs don't eat homework, and e-mails don't go missing like socks in the dryer perfect and painless way to connect. Two sentences can pack a wallop. Let a girl know you are looking forward to dinner tonight, and she's halfway undressed. We pay attention to your letters in a different way than we do to your e-mails or phone calls. Maybe it's because they don't come around that often. Whatever the reason, be aware that a letter carries weight. Use this to your advantage. You can break up with someone in a letter, but only a weenie breaks up in an e-mail, and only a coward breaks up on a Post-it. (Your girlfriend remembers that Sex and the City episode, even if you don't.)

Can You Hear Me Now?
Keeping in touch can be a delight or a drag. If you find your¬self limply capitulating to your girlfriend's demands for phone time, instant messaging, or even letters, stop. E-mail and the telephone can be a burden, just another thing you have to "get right" for your girlfriend, or they can be a secret weapon in your arsenal of romance and seduction. Turn an enemy into a friend. Think of them as a means to an end, like fore¬play. The trick is to make the connection in a way that satis¬fies you both.When you change your perception, you change your experience. Wasn't there a time when you thought girls had cooties?

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