In a perfect world, you could actually say, "I'm not sure I want to call you, but, what the heck, give me your number just in case." Of course, a line like that isn't exactly flattering. You're probably better served by expressing an interest but giving yourself an out by saying something like this:
"Look, I'd really love to call you, but I'm . . . (pick one)
really busy at work traveling a lot getting out of a relationship covered with herpes feeling poorly (not poor, which means you're in the midst of pecuniary strangulation)
scheduled for surgery about to be drafted fS
Advice from the animal kingdom
Yes, even at our most well-behaved, we're still animals — human animals, but animals nonetheless. As a result, the same rules that apply to the larger animal kingdom sometimes apply to us.
Lionel Tiger, an anthropology professor who has done a lot of work on animal behavior, reports that, to show that their intentions are honorable, animals bare their necks, the most vulnerable part of any animal's body. Where do you think we got the phrase "Go for the jugular (vein)"? And you thought it came from a Dracula movie.
Therefore, the best way to show how honorable your intentions are is to bare your neck metaphorically: In other words, to get a phone number, offer your own.
. . . so if it's okay, I'd like to take your number and call you in a month or so." (Of course, if you use the herpes line, don't expect them to be too enthusiastic.)
When you take this approach, you're not misleading anyone or setting the other person up to hang by the phone waiting for you to call. You're simply keeping your options open without doing so at someone else's expense.
If you're feeling really ambivalent about asking for a phone number, you can always offer yours, saying, "Why not take my number?" Then if the other person calls, you can go out on his or her nickel and enthusiasm. After all, all of us like to be courted.
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