I’m not a patient person– what can I say, it isn’t one of my virtues. (The ‘good things come to those who wait’ cliche has always made me nervous.) So this tends to be quite the struggle in both my work and love lives. How long should you wait to call? How long is ‘too long’ when waiting hear back?
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent the past year waiting for my life to start. Waiting for the bus; waiting for an interview; waiting to hear from a guy. Just waiting for the water to boil, so I can get cooking! [You should see me on a slow business day at my restaurant, the minutes seem to crawl slowly over my skin until I'm bouncing off the walls from boredom.] Apparently professionalism and romance have a lot in common. In a lot of ways, it’s the pursuit of who you aspire to be, either as a career or relationship. They’re both presenting your better self in hopes of getting the future you want. Whether in the dating world or job market, the game’s the same: you’re looking to score. You want to win, and only your persistence will earn you results. But how long should you wait to hear back from your thank-you note after an interview? Do you text the day after a first date, or the night-of? [For that matter, should it be the guy or the girl who contacts first?] There’s a fine line between perseverance and nagging, and you don’t ever want to come out on the wrong side.
One of my home-state’s Senators is currently in the market for a new Staff Assistant. Not only did I vote and volunteer for his election in college, but he’s on Foreign Relations and anything international is kind of my thing. Thankfully, I know one of his DC staffers, who kindly pulled my resume and got me into the top group to interview. After being told the Assistant to the Chief of Staff would probably be my first interview, I was understandably stoked when I got the call last week to meet with the Chief himself. The interview went exceedingly well, and ended with him asking how my writing skills are, and to expect an exercise soon from his assistant to gauge my style. Two days passed, and I still hadn’t heard back from my message to his assistant. I know that scheudles on the Hill are far busier than my lowly life in hospitality, but he asked for my writing sample as soon as possible, and I didn’t want someone else’s tardiness to reflect on me. I emailed my friend again, communicating my concern, and eventually got a response from the Chief’s assistant over a week after my interview. I’m now waiting again, after sending in my writing response. I expect I’ll hear back by the end of the week (though I’m not really optimistic about my chances…), but it definitely struck me as a similar struggle to what everyone deals with in dating:
“How long is ‘too’ long a wait?”
However long it takes for that thought to enter your head– then it’s been too long. It really is that simple. If it takes you a week to think, “huh, wonder why I haven’t heard from them,” then it’s likely past its expiration date. If only three days have passed in what felt like agonizing radio silence, then you’ve reached your limit. Everyone’s lifestyle is different, so it’s unreasonable to tout some number-specific rule of a ‘Three-Day Deadline’ or some such nonsense. You never know how busy or slow someone else’s life is, just as they don’t know yours, so it’s unfair to judge. But it’s equally unfair to make yourself wait.
Everyone I know– myself included– has wrestled with this issue. As women, we wonder if we should: a) be assertive as a femme moderne and make first contact; or b) wait for him to man-up and show some damn initiative. Guy friends similarly deal with brooding over just how many days should they wait until calling for a second date, and does their decision make them seem desperate/ stand-offish/ God knows what else. A work friend insists that the guy should call first; she says that too many guys have gotten lazy these days, and need to put in some more effort woo a girl. I can’t say I disagree. From personal experience, I sometimes feel like I’m too assertive. My insecurity isn’t in wondering if the guy knows I’m interested, but that he knows JUST how interested I am. I suppose it’s possible to be too open a book, especially when it’s an audio-book on the loudspeakers. Once that precedent is set, a lot of guys will sit back and let the girl do the chasing. [For the record, I prefer two dominant people in a relationship; I want someone who can match me.] But if I’m genuinely interested in a guy and I haven’t heard back within a few days, then my emotions start to sour. What could have been a period of eager anticipation has now turned into feeling like I’ve been stood up, and that’s a damn ugly feeling.
So once you know it’s been too long, the next obstacle to deal with: what do you do now? Should you man- (or woman-) up and call? Continue to twiddle your thumbs and practice patience? Or should you just move on?
Depending on how many days it’s been, I wouldn’t just write someone off– like I said, you never know what’s going on in their lives. But don’t let yourself get strung along by a complete flake, either. I’m a firm believer in the whole “if someone wants to see you, they will” concept. If the connection you thought you had was genuinely mutual, they’ll find a way to get ahold of you (both communicably and physically, hey-yo!) There sure as hell are enough communication options these days, so there’s just no excuse for radio silence. Either you want to see someone, or you don’t– be honest about it. But stop checking your phone. If they want you, they’ll get their shit together enough to dial seven numbers. When/ if they do eventually call, its up to you on whether you think they’re worth another shot. But if you pass the point of wondering where that call is, then stop checking your phone for their name; you’ll only wear your battery [and nerves] out. Instead, find something/someone else to amuse you.
It’s a tough habit to break. Even as a self-proclaimed Impatient, I find myself sliding into excusing away my waiting. I haven’t heard from interviewers? Well, they’re busy. A crush I finally made some butterfly-inducing headway with still confusingly hasn’t called? Well… it bums me out, but I was away for the weekend and work schedules are a bitch. I did my best with the Hill job process, and all I really can do is wait on that one. With the guy? Well, I’m actually proud of myself for waiting on that one; I’ve fought against my childhood shyness in order to be assertive for so long, I’ve forgotten how to let a guy do the chasing for once. If this one doesn’t have the guts [or interest] to rise to the challenge, then it is certainly time to move on. At the moment, this radio silence has left me significantly Not Impressed.
In the end, a job and a guy really are the same thing: if they want me, they will make their interest known. But I’m sure as hell not going to wait around forlornly watching the phone for their calls, either! I’d much rather go play laser-tag, or discover a new favorite local band. If he remembers himself in time to manage transforming that sick forgotten-feeling in my stomach back to butterflies, I’m open to the possibility. In the meantime, it’s a lot better to make your own future rather than waiting for it to happen.
So who wants to go cheer the Phillies as they crush the Nats this weekend? I bet you a Dogfish Head that Werth-less drags DC down to his level and my baller Phighters come out triumphant! My Big Bro will be visiting for the game, and Jules Junior and I look forward to showing him around our town.
Though I prefer more than one a week, Big D and the Kids Table have the right idea: