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Wise Guys: Why Do Men Hate Talking on the Phone?

Tue, Sep 22, 2009

Advice, Wise Guys

no_phone_sign_421photo by Mykl_Roventine

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following:  Why do guys seem to hate talking on the phone?

Gay Single Guy (Daniel): My suspicion is that it has to do with how most straight guys talk, or rather, don’t talk. Straight men seem to not indulge in gossip and tangential storytelling when it comes to conversing with others. The phone is much more utilitarian to them. It’s about communicating the necessary information: where to meet, when, where are you parked, what should he buy your parents, etc. For the most part, they aren’t interested in talking about the banalities of daily life on the phone, and certainly not their feelings — not surprising, if you consider how difficult it is for them to talk about them in person. But whatever the reasons, don’t take it personally if he doesn’t like talking on the phone with you. In all likelihood, he is probably the same with his mom. It isn’t necessarily reflective of how he feels about you. And look on the bright(er) side: if he doesn’t like the phone, then the other option is more face time!

Straight Married Guy (Figleaf): I’m not sure men hate talking on the phone.  I practically lived on the phone as a teenager, for instance, talking endlessly with both male and female friends.  And a very informal visual survey I made while thinking about the question turned up equal numbers of men and women passing by with cellphones to their ears.  None of them looked like they were hating it.  I’m going to wing it here, but it’s possible that in a world where men are supposed to make the first calls to ask women out — and might have more associations with being turned down — we might feel more self-conscious about saying “the wrong thing.”  Even when you make it clear you want to hear from us.

Straight Single Guy (Mark): We don’t hate it, per se, but we’re practical.  It’s an on-demand world, and pretty much everyone these days has the other technological conveniences of email and texting at their fingertips.  Functionally, the phone has a strike against it already because it’s not asynchronous (sorry, there’s my inner nerd coming out) — we’re all running around in our busy lives, and you have to coordinate both people at the same time for a phone call (poor us, I know, but still).  With an email or a text, each party can digest and respond at their convenience, not to mention a little pressure-free room to craft things exactly how you want them (and decrease the possibility saying something stupid).  Admittedly, you lose some of the real-time reactions and such of a live conversation, but not much.  I don’t mind the phone, but most of the time I’d just as soon keep it to not much more than making the plan to actually go do something together.

Our “guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Gay Guy is one-time stripper and sex columnist Daniel; our Straight Married Guy is Figleaf, the guy behind RealAdultSex.com; and our Straight Single Guy is Mark Luczak, a tech geek at Carnegie Mellon University. To ask the guys your own question, click here.

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17 Responses to “Wise Guys: Why Do Men Hate Talking on the Phone?”

  1. Amanda Marcotte Says:

    The assumption that women are banal, impractical, and gossipy that is shot through the 1st and 3rd of these answers is really insulting. Reality check: Men actually gossip more than women. I’m a woman and I hate talking on the phone, but I know men who love it.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    You know – I don’t like talking on the phone at all… But that is really because a) I don’t hear well, and b) It’s easier to get confused as to meanings over the phone. Plus- don’t men talk significantly less than women anyway? Maybe that’s the problem there. :)

    I also get frustrated by the definition most men hold of “practical”. Why in the world is having a decent knowledge of your own emotions and the ability to discuss them impractical? By my definition of practical, most of the men I know are way less practical than me or my female friends/relatives.

  3. Spes Says:

    I feel inclined to agree with Amanda about some of the poor assumptions being voiced. Although I must admit, that though I personally detest talking on the phone (I’m a girl), most of my female friends but only a few of my male friends, do seem to enjoy wasting time strapped to phone. Truth be told, I have a couple of male friends that I have to schedule time to talk to, because I know they won’t let me off the phone for at least an hour.

  4. Isis Uptown Says:

    I don’t like to talk on the phone, and I am a very talkative woman. It’s not a guy thing.

    (My son, a talkative man, noted the irony of our shared disdain for phone-talking.)

  5. Nikki Says:

    Wow, what’s with all of the angst?

    I think it is pretty unfair to say “The assumption that women are banal, impractical, and gossipy that is shot through the 1st and 3rd of these answers is really insulting.” about Guy #3′s response. In fact, he didn’t make a single reference to gender!

    Regardless, isn’t the point of this column to get the opinion of ‘average guys’, whether you agree or not?

    Reality Check – Not everyone is out to get you!

  6. Carrie Says:

    I completely agree with Nikki. And I have to say that knowing a lot of girls who talk their boyf’s ears off on the phone, their conversations are pretty banal. I myself hate talking on the phone and much prefer texting.

  7. Frank Says:

    I agree with opinion 2.

    Having just recently had to change my close-quarters relationship to a long-distance one (curse you college!), I don’t like talking on the phone as much as the free online alternative.

    Not to sound like a commercial, but Gmail comes with a built-in video chat and audio chat, and the visual makes the distance seem much less, and the sexy moments so much better.

  8. Johnny Says:

    I blab on the phone sometimes. I chat away with my friends on the opposite coast, or even someone local who I haven’t caught up with in a while. Or with just about anyone, if they have something interesting to talk about.

    But I see my GF more than I see any other single person. Three or four days a week at least, sometimes more. The idea of just talking on the phone with her sucks because:

    1. I see her often. She’s hardly a neglected GF. When I’m not in her company, I want my time to be just that – my time.

    2. Unless something noteworthy happened since the last time we talked to each other, that conversation’s going to be booooooooorriiiiiiiiiiing. I don’t want to give a rundown of what my day’s been like, and I don’t want to listen to one either.

    3. I’m not an entertainer! I don’t want to give my GF the impression that she can just call me when she’s bored, and have me be her instant source of amusement.

    I think number 3 is the biggest one for a lot of guys. If you call someone up, the onus is on YOU to have a conversation topic. I find it annoying when a GF, or anyone, calls like, “hey, what’s up?” with nothing particular in mind.

  9. Elizabeth Says:

    Oh, Johnny, I hate that too!! I often have friends call (or text) just because they are bored. Ugh. There are people I hang out with sometimes that don’t have my cell phone number for that specific reason.

  10. Ozymandias Says:

    Um. When I talk on the phone, I generally just want information about what we’re doing or where we’re going. It’s my boyfriend that makes phone conversations into four hour ordeals even when we have nothing to say to each other.

    I like Facebook chat for pointless conversations, personally. Easy to run in the background while you’re doing something else.

  11. Shay Says:

    I think Johnny makes a much better point than the 3 Wise guys. I try to keep in mind that my boyfriend should not be my first or only source for entertainment. This is hard for a lot of people because that’s usually the person we care the most about, want to share our lives with and a significant other is also a friend. But keeping a balance and other friends is important, especially since couples see so much of each other. My bf and I are long distance and we still will have days when we want space – just to make sure EVERY night isn’t spent video chatting on Gmail.

    It doesn’t matter what gender you are since some girls (including me) don’t sit on the phone gossiping away all day. And there are plenty of guys who love talking, with or without a phone.

  12. Daniel Says:

    Hi, it’s Daniel, Wise Guy #1.

    Boy do I love responses! It’s interesting how when I say that “Straight guys don’t seem to indulge in gossip…blah blah blah” that it there is an assumed, opposing meaning that woman necessarily do like to gossip and are “banal and impractical” as stated by Amanda. But of course, I didn’t say that at all. From my statement, someone could have also assumed that I was saying “Gay men are banal, impractical, etc. etc.” since no where did I mention the phone habits of women. But in fact, I didn’t say that either. My statement was an observation about straight male behavior in general. Period. Thinking otherwise, I’m afraid, results in feeling insulted by really one’s own doing.

  13. Elizabeth Says:

    Daniel, I do see your point, but even re-reading your response it sounds like you are implying that women just love to sit around gossiping and being impractical all the time. I am sure that is related to my own bias – as I have had this discussion, or ones like it, often with friends of mine. I have male friends who correlate long phone conversations with emotional outpourings and thinking with “feelings”, which they believe is impractical and annoying. And in general, men tend to accuse women of being gossips. I do understand that you may not have intended for your response to come across that way, but, to me anyway, it very much sounded like you implied that.

  14. figleaf Says:

    Oof, teach me to be away from internet service for three days! Reading the answers, including mine, and the responses in comments, it’s clear I gotta spend more time going with my gut (the premise of the question that all men hate talking on the phone is a false generalization) and less time guessing wildly about what the answer might be anyway. :-)

    figleaf

  15. Madamoiselle L Says:

    Although Daniel is Gay and single, he summed up my married, straight husband to a T.

    My Man nearly detests the phone! He has less than 10 people “In” his phone list. (Basically, me, our kids, his mom, my mom, my dad, and one of his buddies (the one who talks a lot.)

    He has never used text in his life. Doesn’t know now, doesn’t know how to “receive” them, or read them, can’t use the buttons as letters, between not “getting it” and with his huge sausage fingers hitting the wrong keys, he gave up long ago.

    He cannot receive his messages on his phone. Doesn’t remember his password, can’t find the “right” button, hangs up before the voice prompt him…..(“babe, what’s my password?” I have to keep a running tally of HIS and my passwords.) So, as he can’t bring his phone into work with him, he is missed a lot.

    “Why does this thing keep beeping like that?” “Um, you have a voice message, sweetheart.” “Oh, crap.” Turns off phone. Problem solved.

    Says the phone is for communication, “What time is dinner?” “When will you be there?” “Why aren’t you here yet?” “What time will you be here, already?” “What time are the funeral arrangements?” or “What hospital did you take him to?” “Is there going to be liquor served?” That’s about it.

  16. Michael Harris Says:

    Amanda Marcotte, you’re full of it. Where is the evidence to back up your claim? Men do not gossip more than women. It is also a proven fact that women talk more than men — much more. On average, women say almost three times as many words a day as men.

    Anyway, no hard feeling. I just had to say something. =)

    Be well.

  17. Michael Jenkins Says:

    I think it depends on the person. I like talking on the phone to people that actually have SOMETHING to talk about. Not to just spend time boring me.


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