I’ve [34M] never really had this issue before, but it seems a little odd to me that the women  to whom I’ve been writing refused to give me her number after I gave her mine after we had set up a time/place to meet, and I’m not totally sure how to feel about that. I understand that there might still be a stigma out there of creepy dudes being obsessive or whatever, but what would stop them from doing so after the date, if that’s the way they are? I suppose it’s a little off-putting that she’s mistrusting right off the bat like this. It makes me feel like she’s purposely making it more difficult to contact her than is necessary, and is in turn making ME skeptical about her.
Is this common practice?
I have never been more happy that someone asking a dating advice question provided their age as well as the age of the person in question. Seriously, this greatly changes my response.
First, I feel like I have to say this because people tend to conflate “normal” and “common” with being inherently right or good. Even if it is normal or common practice to not give your number out before a Tinder date, if you have a problem with it that’d be perfectly okay. In fact, if you have a problem with any dating convention, whether it is the norm or not, it’s okay. It’s okay to not like a thing, even if that thing is normal. Most people wait 3-5 dates to have sex with a new partner, but if you have a problem with that and want to wait 6-10 dates, that’s okay too. Normal doesn’t mean good or bad, it’s just a standard you can choose to accept or disregard.
Okay, that’s out of the way. Is it common practice to not exchange phone numbers before an online date? No, it’s definitely not. It’s a pretty rare practice actually, but I will tell you who is more likely to do it: People 30 years or older. It isn’t very common, but the only people I’ve heard of who do this are people who are at least in their 30s, usually older. If you’re 30 years old or older, your relationship to technology, especially mobile devices is probably very different from a 20 year old’s. You probably remember a time when most people didn’t date online, or communicate solely through social networks. We didn’t grow up with Facebook, or texting, and definitely not sliding into someone’s DMs. Our views on the internet are still a little influenced by 90s era paranoia and we tend to be a bit more apprehensive around technology that facilitates human connections.
I get the reasoning behind not wanting to share your phone number before a date, especially for a straight woman. While I’ve never really had to deal with the worst sort of behaviors online dating can offer, I’ve heard quite a few horror stories, almost exclusively from straight women, where they genuinely regret giving out their cell number. Worst case scenario for most straight men when they give out their number is so much better than the worst case scenario for most women when they give out their number. In your specific case, she might have had several recent experiences that were so traumatic that she refuses to give out her number to a relative stranger. That’s what you are right now, a stranger. Keep that in mind. If you had to worry about giving your number to someone and a legitimate fear of yours was “I might be sent an unsolicited dick pic” you’d be hesitant too.
I think in your case, as long as everything else seems above-board about her, it’s just going to be one of those things that’s a quirk that you have to accept if you’re going to go on a first date. My advice would be to not take it personally, since it probably has nothing to do with your behavior. If you can accept why she might be hesitant to give out her number, setup a date. If you can’t accept that, just don’t go on the date. Worst case scenario if you do go on the date is that she isn’t who she says she is, or you get flaked on. Best case scenario you guys hit it off. I think meeting despite having her number first is worth the risk.
With your question out of the way, here’s some general advice for anyone who might be dating online and is wary about giving a stranger your direct line. Have you heard of Google Voice? No? Well here’s the tl;dr version: You can set up a phone number, free of charge, link it to your own number, and you can share said Google number with people if you don’t want them to have direct access to your phone. You can even setup your account so that calls or texts to that number do not directly go to your phone (which is how the Tao of Indifference number is set up btw. Feel free to call or text and we’ll get back to you eventually ????). I’d highly recommend setting up a Google Voice number if you’re a bit gun-shy about sharing your direct line while online dating, but don’t want to come off as sketchy.
Good Luck Out There.