Dating quality control: When and why you should delete someone’s phone number

One summer during college I worked on the final inspection line in a windshield factory. As the heavy, 6-foot wide SUV tailgates rolled out of the shaping oven, they were passed through a series of visual and physical tests at 5 different stations.

Total inspection time was about 12 seconds per unit. If any flaw was detected in those 12 seconds, the piece was deemed incurably defective. It got removed from the line and the inspector would slide it into a large case with transparent walls. Suspended inside the case was a thin hydraulic spike, with a tip shaped like the window-breaking emergency hammers you find hanging on the walls of buses and trains.

Pressing two red buttons on either side of the case caused the spike to shoot down against the center of the tailgate, and a bit of focused pressure would produce a thick BOOM as the safety glass exploded into a spray of tiny pieces.

Number trashing: quality control for dating

Many years later, I sometimes think of that spike and the exploding glass when I delete a woman’s phone number—I can almost hear the satisfying boom of quality control. Inside my phone, as inside the factory, what’s clearly defective gets eliminated without hesitation.

My rule is simple:

If a woman ignores a call or message from me (even one) before we’ve been out on three dates, I’ll give her about 12 hours to respond or call back, and then I’ll delete her number from my contacts. After that, I go to my recent calls and texts and delete all instances of the now-orphaned number. Once that’s finished, there is literally no way for me to contact her again. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.

And that is exactly why I do it.

Sadly, I know that if I become unusually bored or exceptionally drunk, I may reject my better judgment and reach out to her again, which would be an error.

People don’t ignore people they really like, especially when they’re getting to know each other.

In the very beginning of any relationship (up through the first few dates, until some kind of momentum and familiarity is established), people make it a point to be responsive in order to show their interest and avoid offending/losing their prize. Generally, greater interest = more responsive/talkative.

If there’s real mutual interest, both parties are trying hard to make a good impression. So if someone straight up ignores me during this stage, for any reason, I assume she isn’t sufficiently interested, or at least isn’t concerned about losing me as an option (same thing). I cut my losses and move on. If I reach out to her again before she responds, my perceived value will only drop further. I know because every time I’ve made an exception to this rule, I end up looking foolish and regretting it (without getting the girl).

For women, this idea should be taken as an infallible law. That’s because men, who are thoroughly and constantly motivated by the possibility of having sex with someone new, are very responsive to a woman they actually want to see again, and will never ignore a call/text from a woman they consider genuine dating material. Ever. If you reach out to a man you just started seeing and he doesn’t respond within half a day, delete him. Cut your losses and move on.

There’s no need to make a show of it.

Deleting a contact is not the same as burning a bridge or whining for attention. I don’t send a bitter “just so you know…” announcement to the person I’m deleting. I don’t say anything at all. I just do it and let it go.

Sometimes a person gets unfairly deleted. Maybe they were just busy. Maybe they didn’t get the message. If that’s true, they’ll reach out to me because they’re genuinely interested (presumably they still have my number). But most of the times when I delete someone, nothing happens. Just radio silence. That’s why I keep doing it.

A decisive filter keeps you open to meeting more people and making a stronger connection.

Over the years, this filter has saved me hundreds of hours of wasted time and effort. My few solid relationships have taught me that when there is real chemistry, it’s hard to keep two people apart, even in the very beginning. For that reason, I don’t waste my precious time chasing anyone around, and I don’t lavish attention on anyone who isn’t reciprocating.

Anyone who is genuinely interested in seeing you will not play hard-to-get or be inattentive. Save yourself the trouble and delete anybody who is just lukewarm.

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