So you go on a great date or a few great dates and you’re convinced you’ll hear from him. Except you don’t days, even weeks, later. Until out of the blue your phone buzzes and you realize he didn’t actually suffer from amnesia since you last talked.
Chances are the first thing out of his mouth is an apology and an excuse: “Sorry I haven’t called. Things have been crazy at work/school/with my family.”
Whether or not the excuse true and the apology sincere, this line makes the list of the most annoying things you can hear. It implies that while he has been busy carrying out a rich, full life, yours stopped the moment you met. Plus, there’s no good way to respond. To say “oh it’s fine” sets a precedent that you’re ok with inexplicable radio silence. To say “oh yeah me too” sounds insincere and starts an annoying game of “Who’s more stressed.” Either call or don’t call, but let’s leave humblebrags masquerading as apologies out of the courtship process.
"'Oh yes, the ol’ sorry-I-haven’t-called-line…I know it well.'
However, not one of them could recall a time a girl called them to apologize for being busy."
It’s one thing to be genuinely overwhelmed with something out of the ordinary. And it’s even nice to explain why you’ve been MIA. But I’ve heard this line enough to think that there’s something else at work here. (Aside from my typical attraction to less-than-competent guys and others who are just not that into it.) I canvassed a few of my male friends who all admitted to using the line, regardless of how true it actually was. Many of them even said, “Oh yes, the ol’ sorry-I-haven’t-called-line…I know it well.”
However, not one of them could recall a time a girl called them to apologize for being busy. So what is it about this move that makes it male-specific? Why do they love it so much and what happens if a woman uses it?
I decided to test out its magic, specifically on a guy who had used it on me previously. I waited for some time to pass since we last hung out and when I called, he seemed genuinely surprised, yet not unpleasantly so.
“Hey! It’s been a while. Sorry I haven’t called recently…” I ad-libbed a bit more about how time has flown and things have ramped up at work, careful not to come across as a complete ass, even though I was sort of trying to play one. And the result was so destabilizing, I realized for the first time, we were discussing my busy schedule instead of his and he was figuring out how to work himself into it.
“Oh yeah, I meant to call, too…” he began, but it sounded as weak a reply as “Oh yeah, I’m really busy too. Who is this again?” We went back to talking about me.
I heard it in his voice, the uncertainty of how to respond to my faux apology, him wondering if this was the first time he had popped up in my head. Before I knew it he was saying “Really glad you called! When can we hang out again?”
Overall the experiment was a success. Not that we’re going to date or anything—how many successful relationships begin with a social experiment, after all? But it was refreshing to, in the wise words of Missy Elliot and more recently Hannah from Girls, “lay it down, flip it, and reverse it.” And hey, if you're ever sick of playing the waiting game, it's nice to know that phones work both ways.