His Take: “Why Do Guys Lie About Calling?”

Today, the guys of Dear Wendy answer an age-old mystery:
“Why do guys say they’re going to call when they know they’re not??”
See their revealing answers after the jump.

JAREK: The same reason you told your college friends you would stay in touch. As self-involved Americans, it is part of our culture to make courteous exchanges we never intend to make good on. How many times have you told someone “we should do lunch”? S/he likely agreed, and the two of you went another ten years before seeing each other again. We make these exchanges because it allows us to give the perception that we care. The reality is, we don’t. Unless a specific date, time, and location is set, lunch will not be happening. So when a guy says “I’ll call you,” I wouldn’t really hold your breath. If he absolutely wanted to see or hear from you again, he’d either make plans right then and there or elaborate on when he’ll actually call you. Otherwise, it’s his way of saying you two should do lunch sometime. It’s easier than saying he’s not interested in you, because there could be a chance you’ll cry. And we really do not know how to handle that situation.

MARK: Same reason women sometimes give out fake phone numbers. No guy ever wants to look like a prick — just as no girl hopes to come off as a stuck up snob.  And so — in both instances — they LIE. What both fail to realize, however, is that they only come off as even bigger jerks. For now the intensity of rejection has been magnified by the power of anticipation. Sure, the poor guy feels like a sap when he tries to call in a day or two, but it’s even worse for the would-be Juliet now waiting for her phone to ring… Heck, she has probably been left hanging for a week, maybe more, all the while thinking up various excuses as to why Romeo hasn’t called just yet.  I mean, of course he IS going to call. He said so, right? It sucks, big time. But it’s all a part of dating… You can’t take it personally, although often it’s impossible not to, I know.

ERIK: What you really mean to ask is “Why do guys say they’re going to call and then not call?” You can’t assume they know they’re not. Guys don’t call for the same reason women don’t often respond on online dating sites: they were into it when they signed up, but the next day they aren’t feeling as flirty and decided maybe you’re really not their type after all. If you go out to a party and meet someone nice who seems really into you and the flirting commences, it puts you in a certain kind of mood, and you ask for her number. The problem is, when you wake up the next morning you aren’t thinking in that flirtatious frame of mind anymore. Your differences start to stick out, and you don’t have a level of arousal to help ignore them. Basically, when he says he’s going to call, even he doesn’t know that he’s not.

ALEX: A guy that says he will call when he knows he won’t is either letting you down like a coward or leading you on to feed his ego. When a guy says he will call, it is best to consider it a nice idea and then go about your life. If he doesn’t call, you aren’t disappointed. If he does, you’ve had a great, unexpected conversation with a man of his word


  1. MellaJade says:

    I’ve been burned by this one quite a few times. Sad to say, now when a guy says to me ‘I’ll call you” I generally don’t believe they will. If they do, then I’m pleasantly surprised but if they don’t this way I am left with the cold comfort that at least I knew it and was right about them. Wow, that makes me sound like a bitter dater, huh? Since I started online dating I have also used this line so I can’t get too upset over it. I’ve used it when thinking ‘maybe’ I’ll call the guy but as the guys above have said, after a day of mulling it over I decide, ‘nope, not gonna do it’. Its a tough world out there these days….

    1. Nah, you don’t sound bitter. You sound realistic.

  2. I totally understand why a guy, or anyone, would say they are going to call when they don’t intend to. It’s easier and less scary. But I still don’t think it’s ideal… just say “I had a good time, take care!” or something. Have some balls up front to avoid more pain overall. Giving someone who is interested in you a kernel of hope to cling to when there is no hope is cruel. Any empathetic person of either sex ought to comprehend that and behave accordingly.

  3. I have usually found that if a guy truly wants to see me again, he will make future plans with me before we part ways.

    1. yep I can always tell if a guy is going to end up my boyfriend if he makes sure we make our next plans before we part

  4. ArtsyGirl says:

    There was a great “How I met your Mother” episode in which Ted accidentally has a repeat date seven years after the first one. He had said he would call the girl but never did and they ended up getting set up together again – in the episode they both realized that there was some potential for the relationship but their personal quirks were not going to change and ultimately they were not right for each other so he never called her back.
    I always feel like the “I’ll call you” line is a way for an instant fade.

  5. I do think that its true 99% of the time that someone says they’re going to call and they really don’t intend to, for the reasons that if they really wanted to get together again they would make plans then and there.

    But I know that sometimes, a person doesn’t actually know their schedule off the top of their head (or have it programmed into their phone), so they can say they’ll call, check their schedule, and get back to you.

    I guess I just see it this way-if a guy makes plans with you on the spot, then you know he’s interested. If he says he’ll call but doesn’t-well hell, why would you want to be with a guy who writes you off anyways?

  6. ( . )( . ) says:

    The reasons listed above are too similar (and slightly miss the mark).
    Sometimes, yes it’s a cop-out.

    Other times it’s because at the time, you were my next best option; no need to lead you on from the point in discovering that you are no longer my best option (and so please, don’t be offended)

    The main reason I have avoided calling girls (though I’ve uttered the phrase; “I’ll call you…”) in the past is because I was certain she had given me false digits and/or have reason to believe you gave me your number out of pity.

    Being in a relationship, I find myself saying to my lover… “Ma cher, I’ll call you before…” and clearly don’t.
    My fiancee will confirm I do pull that move on her occasionally, but I don’t remember. It doesn’t mean I love her less…it’s just a bad habit of not remembering to call before I show up to pick her up for lunch or tell her I love her 5 times a day… (saving the world, one uHPLC column at a time) so…yea.

    In yakking, I realize there is no good excuse for that. Thus, I’m giving up saying, “I’ll call you” for Lent. Let’s see how it all plays out after Easter.

  7. In some cases it could also be that people in general are bad with goodbyes. They don’t like the feeling that they are deciding to part with something that is good in at least one little way, so they convince themselves they are not going to do so.
    It’s like when you decide to move out of town. You know you don’t want to stay in that place anymore, but still it freaks you out a bit that you’re gonna let its good parts pass you by. So when your friends say they’ll miss you you say “but i’ll be back! probably next year” so you don’t really have to think of the fact you’re losing what you have on purpose when you might not get something better the next time around. Then you get to your new city and remember why you moved in the first place, and you never go back. But it was easier that way.
    it’s still an awful thing to do, but it’s not evil or manipulative. it’s just cowardly.

  8. Beckaleigh says:

    If a woman really likes a guy and he doesn’t call, why not call him first? I agree that sometimes it is a cop out (ok, most of the time probably), but what if they are genuinely busy or something really did come up? Instead of pining away, pick up the phone, leave a message, and forget about him if he doesn’t respond.

  9. Fairhaired Child says:

    I really like Jarek’s + Erik’s responses. I loved the “we should stay in touch” reference, but I liked the fact that Erik points out something that could be a very true reason. They could MEAN to call you – but depending on where they say it (say you met them at a bar/singles mixer etc and dont have a very solid knowledge of the person anyway) could depend on if they really will call you or not. (esp. if they have guy friends who go – maaaan you were totally trashed last night, you told ___ you would call her – we all know she can be -insert negative comment that dampens the male’s decision to call back- )

    I’m also with MellaJade on the “dont expect it but can be pleasently surprising”. But Beckaleigh really hits it on the nail. If you really want a guy to call you back, and you honestly think you had a great connection that was worth continueing (rather than a “oh hey you are cute here’s my number byeeeee” moment at the bar) then don’t leave it up the guy to continue that connection. If you give him your number,it’s just as easy to go “Oh here’s my number give me a ring/text, but why don’t you give me yours in case it gets lost or you accidentally wash it in your pants” and do an amazingly adorable girl laugh. Because, really, why wouldnt anyone want to call you back, thats absurd.

    That just reeks confidence from you (which a lot of guys admire) and then you have a safety net for if he forgets/gets busy whatever, and you’ll get a more honest answer right away (either something along the lines of a no meaning he def. wasnt planning on calling anyway -saves time on you waiting for him to call- or he gives you his number and he’s at least partially interested and then you can choose to make that move happen).

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