One thing you can usually depend on with men (other than leaving the toilet seat up), is that you can take our words at face value. Our speech is primarily goal-oriented and our words can be taken literary. One important example to the contrary, however, is the phrase, “I’ll call you.” On the surface, this phrase sounds simple enough: Three little words that seem to promise a future interaction. But the truth is, more often than not, when uttered by a guy at the close of a first date, all they really mean is “good-bye.”
So why do guys break with their usual direct (some might call blunt) language usage and opt for a pleasantry that is intentionally misleading, and has left more than a few women wondering if their phone service, hearing, or understanding of the English language is faulty? The answer may surprise you. It is primarily because the end of a date is a particularly stressful time for men, and we’re looking for an exit line that is both brief and vaguely upbeat. “I’ll call you,” fills the bill to a “t.”
You see, for a man, the end of a date is the culmination of a serious amount of effort on his part. First he had to risk rejection to ask you out. Then he had to spend the evening trying to impress you with his wit, intelligence, charm and accomplishments, while avoiding alienating you with his opinions, arrogance, poor conversational skills or lack of proper table etiquette. He wants to make sure everything goes right so at the end of the evening your clothing will magically melt away and the two of you will be joined in a sweaty, undulating mass of ecstatically-intertwined flesh, knowing all the while that, at best, he’ll likely have to settle for a little tongue and a quick feel. But he is also aware that he may fall far short of his goal. His attempt to initiate physical interaction may subject him to rejection, ridicule or being seriously laughed at. Or, horror of horrors, when he goes in for a lip lock, you might shift the target at the last moment causing him the ultimate humiliation – a close encounter with your cheek.
So the pressure is on. And if he is unsure of how well the date went, how much you liked him, how much he liked you or all of the above, and your parting kiss, hug, handshake or fist-bump was unfulfilling and/or gut-wrenchingly awkward, he may be hard-pressed to come up with some succinct witticism to bid you an appropriate farewell. And at this point, though he may be uncertain about the future of your relationship, he still doesn’t want to ruin any possible potential with you by abruptly saying, “Ciao,” “It’s been real,” or “See ya’.” Thus he trots out that trusty old chestnut, “I’ll call you,” which allows him to quickly extricate himself from an uncomfortable situation with optimism and a little dignity. If he actually is satisfied with your evening together, he will probably be true to those words and dial, email, fax or text you for a repeat performance. If, on the other hand, he is undecided about his feelings or deflated, disappointed or depressed by your encounter, he can now safely retreat to the sanctuary of his abode and engage in quiet introspection to determine how he really feels about you and a potential second date. Or he can just get drunk and watch internet porn.
© 2008 David M. Matthews. All Rights Reserved.