Ok, we're talking in the early stages here of dating, before you've officially become "an item." At that point, all's fair. But in the beginning, you should never ever call a guy. Never. No exceptions. None. Do I make myself clear here?
First meeting/Getting the digits
When you meet a guy (whether through a friend, at a bar, or online), he should always make the first call. Men are hunters by nature and they enjoy a good hunt. In a good hunt, a rabbit does not come knocking on the fox's door asking "Hi, would you like to chase me for a bit?" And likewise, the girl should not call the guy first.
If a guy suggests that he gives you his number, then one of two things are going on.
1. He's done talking to you, and doesn't know any other polite way to get out of the conversation.
2. He's a lazy SOB, and doesn't want to put any effort into a relationship
Either way, you don't want to be involved with this guy. Now, I hear you saying to me "But what if he's just shy?" Well, in that case, I suggest coyly saying "I'm an old fashioned girl, and don't call boys first. Here's my number." But I didn't see "shy" as an option I listed above. I've tried that maneuver with guys before, and surprise, they didn't call! Either because they weren't that into me, or didn't care to make the first move. Either way, I don't want to be calling him and either embarrassing myself because he doesn't answer, or get involved with a lazy guy. If you're calling the guy first, I can guarantee he'll be lazy in all aspects of the relationship. He won't plan dates, won't call you, and will just date you to sleep with you until he finds someone better.
Now, if a guy I'm talking to suggests giving me his number, I'll either be straightforward and say "no, that's okay, but I enjoyed talking with you" or take the number and promptly put it in the trash. In neither of these circumstances do I worry about hurting his feeling, because in neither of them, did he care if I called or not. And I'm better than that.
This also refers to a guy you met at a party that's a friend of a friend. If he really likes you, he'll get your number from the friend. The second you call him and awkwardly say "Hi, I met you at the party, I got your number from Steve" all romantic inclinations will be out the door.
To set up dates
This one is very closely related to the above reason. Guys like to hunt. Guys like to feel like they're in charge (even though I laugh very evilly as I type that knowing full well we women are in charge). And how do they feel like they're in charge? By calling you and setting up dates. If you have to call to set up dates, then you're either dating a guy who isn't really that into you, but figures you're an easy piece of ass and he might get laid, or you're dating Mr. Lazy, and you can guarantee he'll be lazy the whole relationship, until you suggest marriage, at which time you'll never see him move so fast to get out.
Just to talk
At first, I was so gung-ho on the reason not to call a guy is because they needed to feel like they were the one pursuing. I had friends rebuke this, "That's just not true. I don't agree. There's nothing wrong with calling a guy." Well, if you're not calling to set up a date, then what are you calling for? Just to talk. Those three words are a man's worst nightmare. Men use the phone for business. To set up dates. They do not want to be chitchatting with you, especially when they haven't decided if they even like you or not. (Note: once you are in a relationship, feel free to call the guy to talk, and likewise, he should be calling you every day to check in and talk with you. If he's not, then you're just time he's wasting, but that's another post for another time). If you catch him at a bad time, he will become irritated with you just wanting to gossip. He'll be thinking "why is she calling me? Can't this wait until our date tomorrow night?" And then he'll start thinking negative thoughts about you. You do not want a guy to be thinking negative thoughts about you while you're still in the courtship phase. Next thing you know, you're hearing the "it's not you, it's me" speech. In the beginning, the guy should be thinking he can't get enough of you, he can't wait to see you again. But if you're always there, calling him, he'll have had enough and I hate to say it, but your expiration date will be up shortly.
If he hasn't called you in a few days
This one should be a no-brainer, but for some reason, the majority of girls I know can't get it into their head. If he's not calling you, it does not mean he's lost his phone and doesn't have your number. It does not mean he's waiting for you to call. It means he didn't like you and doesn't have the balls to tell you he doesn't want to see you again.
I have a friend who is famous for this. Her excuse is "well, now I know." Now you know what? There was no mixed-signal here. No confusion over what happened. No "well, maybe he went white water rafting and lost his phone." No "maybe he died." He just doesn't like you and didn't have the balls to tell you he didn't want to see you again.
This one's the hardest because girls think one of two things.
1. They want to know why. Well, I say "Why do you want to know why? To have your feelings hurt?" Isn't the fact he doesn't want to see you enough? Besides, he's not going to tell you why, he's not going to answer his phone and you'll never know why anyways. This guy acted like a jerk and just decided to not call you again. Why are you going to give him the power of thinking he's such a great guy that you are begging to be with him. Or at least, that's what he's going to be thinking. He will see your number pop up, he will promptly hit ignore, then smile smugly to himself about what an awesome guy he is, girls are just begging for him. And since that's the case, why settle for you, when clearly Gisele would love to have at him. And please, if just for the sake of your fellow females out there, do not help inflate this guy's ego who's single and out on the market potentially hitting on me. Wouldn't you rather have him wonder what happened to you? And think maybe you were such a great girl that you already have another great guy and that you didn't even really care that much about him anyways?
2. They think "well, maybe he's waiting for me to call, after all, he did call me last." Don't fool yourself. If a guy wants to take you out, if a guy likes you, he will call you. He does not wait around to see if you'll call him. He doesn't want to take that risk. Sometimes (and very rarely), the guy will go out again with you if you call. But now, you're left with that nagging feeling "what if I never called him? Would he have ever called me? Does he even really like me, or just being nice?"
I've had friends who call, and sometimes the guy will answer and they'll go out again. It's rare, but it's happened. But you know what happened. The friend found herself calling every single time, and maybe a month later, the answering on the other line stopped. The truth is, you just weren't the guy's type. If you were, he'd have called you. And there's someone out there who will call you. Why try to force something? Guys are stubborn. If they've made up their mind, it's made up. And no amount of calling from you is going to change it. And wouldn't you rather have it end now, than in 3 weeks, when you've invested so much more and it makes the dump even that much more harsh?
Guys have stopped calling me. And I make it a rule to never ever call them. No exceptions. It's over. I do not call to find out what happened or hoping that maybe he was waiting for me to make the next call. And you know what has happened every single time? He calls me later. Oh sure, maybe it's a month or two later. One time it was 6 months later! But he called. It's eating away at him, why didn't I call? What am I doing? And now, the power's in my hands. The power to ignore and not call back. And usually, I'm so busy with my life, I already forgot about him.
By the way, when this happens, do not be tempted to go out with him again. He doesn't really want to go out with you, his curious nature just got the best of them, and he wants to know what you're up to. What do you have going on that you could just forget him and not call him like that?? I made the mistake of entertaining two guys in this manner. One, we just texted and chatted on the phone but he never asked me out again and it fizzled away. The other, we did go out one more time and I'm sad to say, he disappeared again. Both times were straight up embarrassing for me. And I'm better than that. I won't be making that mistake again.
He called last, so now it's my turn
NO NO NO NO NO!!!! The guy SHOULD be calling you. You're hot! You're fun! He can't wait to take you out again. In the beginning, it is not a driver's education car with passenger pedals. You let him do all the driving. You let him call you. Let him think you're a busy, popular girl with lots going on (because you are) and he would be so lucky to get the chance to go out with you again. Men innately want to be calling and doing all the work. The joke isn't the cave woman going and knocking the guy out with the club and dragging him back to her cave. In Victorian times, the guy was the gentleman caller and did all the courtship visits. It's in their DNA, and if you try to go against nature, it will backfire on you. I can guarantee it.
It is okay to call when...
You are returning a phone call. Be punctual and be polite and call back in a reasonable amount of time.
You are in an exclusive relationship and have had the "discussion."
So, next time you're tempting to call, put the phone away. Read a book, go to the gym, call a friend instead. You'll be glad you did.
Background for Guide on Dating and Men