bored woman on date
photo: iStock/innovatedcaptures

You know what I hate? I hate when I meet someone online and I think we're really going to hit it off — he’s attractive, we have similar interests — until we meet in person and I realize that we don’t click at all.

Sometimes there’s no concrete reason for it (if there’s just no spark, for instance), but other times maybe our senses of humor don’t line up; or his voice is kind of grating; or he like, says “like” after like, every other word.

I’ve been doing this online dating thing for a while now, and in doing so I’ve learned a really useful trick to narrow the pool of matches down to just the people I know I’d at least have a good conversation with over drinks. 

The trick is simple: Talk with the person over the phone first. Yes, really!

It seems simple, old-school, even — and that’s because it is. You can tell a lot more about a person by speaking to them via, you know, your voices, versus over text. You hear inflections. You read sarcasm, or a lack of it. You find out how they flirt. You can hear if their voice is super high or super low. You can tell if you find their voice sexy.

For me, a guy with the right voice is a huge turn-on. For me, certain voices are turn-offs. I was chatting with a guy online a while back and decided to have a quick phone call with him before setting up a date. His voice was fine, but some of the things he said were super awkward. We never ended up meeting, and I saved myself a couple of hours sitting through drinks with someone who I would know pretty immediately I had no romantic interest in.

Another time, I asked a guy I’d been messaging online if he wouldn’t mind a short call before we picked a time and place to meet. I never heard back from him which, for me, is fine; the kind of person I’d want to date wouldn’t consider a five-minute phone call to be a dealbreaker, so in a way I saved myself there too.

Granted, this isn’t a foolproof method; there have been a couple of times where I’ve spoken with men on the phone and enjoyed our conversations, but then I met them in person and I wasn’t as attracted to them as I thought I would be.

But hey, that’s okay — I was still able to have a decent conversation in some dark corner of a bar with a potential friend, even if I never ended up seeing them again.