Exchanging Numbers While in a Relationship: Is it Okay? 

Giving out your phone number may seem innocent. But is it always? The short answer is no. It’s not always okay to give your number out while you’re in a relationship. However, there are circumstances where it’s okay. 

You might be here because you gave your phone number to someone and are now wondering if it was the wrong thing to do. Or maybe you found out that your partner gave their number out to someone and you’re feeling weird about it. 

If you’re in a relationship, you need to be aware of when it is and is not okay to be giving out your number. Let’s take a look at whether or not exchanging numbers is cheating and how to determine if it’s okay or not to exchange information with someone else when you’re dating. 

Is Giving Out Your Number Out Considered Cheating?

The act of exchanging phone numbers with someone else while you’re in a relationship is not cheating. However, it falls into a gray area and could be considered emotional cheating or microcheating depending on the intention and feelings surrounding the exchange. 

Since there are times when it’s perfectly acceptable to give out your number or take down someone else’s, even though you aren’t single, it isn’t always a bad thing. There are several reasons for exchanging contact information with someone of the opposite (or same) sex that aren’t linked at all to attraction or a romantic relationship. 

Although the act alone isn’t cheating, if done for the wrong reasons, giving out your number can be a slippery slope to infidelity. So, there is validity in being concerned if your partner has given their number to someone or if you did and are thinking it may have been the wrong thing to do. 

Determining the Intention Behind Exchanging Numbers

The key factor in determining whether or not it is okay to exchange numbers with someone is to define what the intention is. If there is a practical and appropriate reasoning, then it’s perfectly okay. If there is no reason that is appropriate while in a relationship, then this could be a deal-breaker in the future and be something that needs attention. 

Questions to Ask

In order to evaluate the situation, there are several questions you can ask yourself or your partner to determine whether exchanging phone numbers is appropriate. Take a look at the questions below and use them as a guide to evaluate the situation. 

These questions should ideally be asked before numbers are given out. However, you can use these afterward to evaluate situations that have already happened and handle future interactions with the person the numbers were exchanged with. 

questions to ask to before exchanging phone numbers when you're in a relationship

Who is the number being exchanged with? 

You should first ask who the phone number is being given to. Who is this person? 

What is the relationship with the person?

You also need to evaluate the relationship with this person. How do you know them? 

Does this person know you’re in a relationship?

Should this person know that you’re in a relationship? If so, do they? 

What is the reason for the exchange of numbers?

Why are you exchanging numbers? Is there a particular reason or is it just so you would be able to have a private conversation in the future?

Could texting or calling this person lead to cheating?

Is this person a potential threat to the relationship you have with your partner? Could they have feelings or an attraction to you or vice versa? 

Does your partner know you’re exchanging numbers?

If your partner isn’t present when the issue of swapping phone numbers comes up, would they be comfortable with it? Imagine that they are in the room watching. Would you still do it? 

When is it Okay to Give Your Number Out While in a Relationship?

There are several instances where giving out your phone number to someone is acceptable and appropriate. As long as the intentions are good and the situation is evaluated properly, there could be hundreds of reasons you would be exchanging numbers. 

Here are just some of the times when it would be normal and appropriate to swap numbers when you’re in a relationship:

  • The person is a close friend or family member of your partner.
  • This person is someone you’ll need to coordinate with in the future.
  • The person offers a professional service that you may need.
  • You offer professional services that the other person may need.
  • The reason has something to do with your children. (parent, teacher, babysitter) 
  • You have to network for your job. 
  • The relationship is or would be strictly platonic. 

How to Handle Exchanging Numbers While You are in a Relationship

People exchange phone numbers for many reasons that are acceptable while in a relationship. There may be platonic, practical, and professional reasons behind the exchange. 

If you are transparent with your partner about who you are exchanging phone numbers with and why, you can save a lot of trouble for yourself. If there is nothing to hide, it’s good to be upfront with anything that could be misconstrued in the future. 

Some couples are more relaxed and others need more communication about things like this. Depending on the dynamic of your relationship, you might want to let your partner know when you’ve exchanged numbers with someone to avoid questions later. 

For example, a wife might say something like this to her husband:

I ran into Seth’s dad at the grocery store today. He said that Seth would love to have our son over to play sometime. So we swapped numbers and are going to see when a good time to get the boys together would be. 

When Exchanging Numbers is Wrong While You’re in a Relationship

You’ll probably know when exchanging phone numbers is wrong because you’ll be able to feel it. If there is an attraction to the other person or something that tells you your partner wouldn’t like what you’re doing, it’s most likely the wrong thing to do.

When you’re in a relationship, swapping numbers with another person is wrong when it’s done for inappropriate reasons. The situations where it’s wrong could look like these:

  • Someone is attracted to you so they asked for your phone number. 
  • The person didn’t know you weren’t single so they asked for your number thinking you’d get to know each other better.
  • You wanted a way to talk to the person privately. 
  • You have had or do have romantic feelings for the person. 

The Problem With Giving Out Your Number While You’re in a Relationship

If the reasons for exchanging numbers aren’t done with the best intentions, it can cause real trouble for your relationship. Sure, it can feel great when a good-looking stranger asks you for your number. 

Obliging them can feel exciting and innocent since you aren’t planning on talking to them or seeing them again. But, what happens when they actually text or call? Are you going to respond just to feel a bit more excitement? Then what happens after that?

You can see how simply accepting the boost to your confidence can turn into infidelity really quick. Even if you don’t plan on physically cheating, it’s still not appropriate. Emotional cheating is just as serious and can happen easily even if you’re just communicating on the phone with someone. 

Examining Scenarios of Exchanging Phone Numbers

Let’s take a look at some common scenarios and determine whether it would be appropriate or not to exchange phone numbers. 

Scenario One

A married man is at the grocery store picking up food for dinner. He runs into a woman he went to high school with. They were pretty good friends back then, but never dated.

They chat about their families and some of the memories from school. Before they leave, they talk about getting together to catch up more soon and exchange phone numbers. He tells his wife about the interaction when he gets home and wants her to meet his old friend when they do meet again. 

This scenario is appropriate. 

The man knows this woman and has had a friendly relationship with her in the past. He talked about his family with her so she knows he’s married. 

He’s also letting his wife know that he took down the woman’s number and makes his intentions of seeing her clear. By including his wife in these plans, he’s being transparent. 

Almost any situation can turn into something inappropriate. However, this man has taken all the necessary precautions. If the woman starts messaging him inappropriately and things change, he can let his wife know and stop communication with the other woman. Being transparent in this situation is key. 

Scenario Two

A woman who is in a serious relationship stops at the gas station on her way home. A really attractive man is getting gas next to her. They exchange smiles and he makes his way over to her. 

He introduces himself to her and asks if he can have her phone number. In a rush of excitement, she gives him her number thinking that it’s an innocent act that won’t turn into anything. She forgets about the situation and goes home. 

This scenario is inappropriate. 

In this instance, exchanging phone numbers would not be okay. The woman doesn’t know the man and it is pretty clear that he wanted her number to ask her out later. They didn’t discuss their romantic statuses and could both be taken for all they know. 

When he does contact her, he will most certainly be looking for at least an emotional connection. She also didn’t let her significant other know about the exchange. Even if she does tell him later, she still acted on her rush of emotions in the heat of the moment. This could be a deal-breaker for her partner. 

Scenario Three

A married realtor gives her number out to a single dad she meets at her son’s school. The dad is new in town and doesn’t know anyone. Before the exchange they discuss their sons and their professions. She casually mentions what her husband does as well. 

When she gets home, she tells her husband she got a new contact as a potential client in the future and mentions that it might be nice to have him over sometime since he doesn’t know anyone yet. 

This scenario is appropriate.

The woman has two clear reasons for swapping numbers with a man she just met. Since he’s new in town, he might be in the market for a home later and she is a realtor. Also, his son goes to school with her son and is a potential new friend.

When she got home, she let her husband know the situation and was transparent about the new connection she made. He’s probably used to her getting new contacts since she’s always doing so for her job. Nonetheless, he appreciates that she’s always upfront about her new relationships, even if they are purely professional. 


Exchanging numbers with other people while you’re in a relationship can be somewhat of a gray area. Only you know your true intentions and feelings around the different scenarios that may come up. 

There are many practical reasons you can exchange phone numbers with others that are perfectly valid. However, there are situations that seem innocent that really aren’t. By asking the right questions and being transparent with your partner, you can avoid falling into situations where you’re sending flirtatious messages or even physically cheating. 

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