I recently got a call from my friend Heidi. Essentially, she wanted the man's definition of the word "later." Although I think this falls into that Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus book, I tried to answer.
Unless it deals with business, men can be very vague. When someone says, "catch you later," it means that they will see you when they see you (with no time constraint.) That is quite different from "see you later" which can mean goodbye and good riddance or again an open time frame for when they will see you but they definitely will. Yes, we have phrases that mean entirely opposite things but aren't meant to be deceiving. Men just avoid the stress of "That's right, I promised Dan that I'd call him." Men don't promise to call each other and don't get upset if someone doesn't call unless it's Dominoes and their pizza is going over the 30 minute mark.
Does this mean all women are like this? No. It just means that jumping to conclusions doesn't help your case if you are waiting for a guy's call and he told you "I'll call you later." Anytime after that call is later. If he had something important to call you back about, he would have said, "I'll call you later tonight" or "I'll call you later tomorrow." Men don't offer those extra words if it's not urgent because the don't like wasting words or pinning themselves down to a time-frame where they may forget to make a call. What this generally messes up for women is when they are trying to figure out the depth and level of a relationship. How many days is waiting too long for later? This can drive a woman batty as they then wonder if they should call that man instead of waiting for 'later'. For some reason, it reminds me of Jon Favreau in Swingers.
I just think later without any dressing is a blanket word for sometime. Personally, I don't enjoy phone conversations all that much and would never pin myself to being near a phone or having to use one unless it was important. That usually is when I throw in the determiners like tomorrow, tonight, in the morning, on Tuesday and many more. Is it worth stressing out when someone doesn't determine the time-frame of their next conversation with you? Not really. What is more important is the quality of that single conversation if you paced the floor for a week waiting for it as it most likely won't meet expectations.