Are pick-up lines a lazy tool to ‘charm’ someone into going home with you, or a tongue loosener to help get conversation flowing when you meet someone you actually like? We’ve asked around to find out.
What do men in the UK most commonly search for online, around the topic of dating? ‘Pick-up lines’, apparently. If you’re as surprised to learn this as I was, you probably won’t feel reassured to learn that ‘cheesy pick-up lines’ comes in second. Pick-up lines, or chat-up lines as they’re otherwise known, are a notoriously clichéd way of flirting. So why are these crude, insincere phrases being Googled more than, say, ‘how to flirt’?
I threw this question open to the office. Which pick-up lines were common? Interestingly, everybody seemed happy to talk about this, shouting out their favourites, but almost everyone asked not to be named in this article. “I’ve lost my number, can I have yours?” said W, 27. “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” piped up C, 28. “Do you have a name or can I call you mine?” chimed in A, 25. We agreed these were unoriginal, yet pretty inoffensive as pick-up lines go. The kind that might, at best, win a wry chuckle from the receiver.
Asking the same question to people beyond the office, I heard some more thought-through lines. B, 60, believes that chatting up someone with a generic question such as ‘Do you come here often?’ deserves a cold shoulder, while telling them what you like about a place, letting them choose how to respond, is both friendly and non-personal. “It doesn’t assume too much interest – and keeps the early chit-chat grease-free,” she says. At the more romantic end of the scale, H, 26, said that if he ever met a woman he liked who was a nurse or doctor, he’d jokingly tell them that by law, if there was anything wrong with him they’d have to help. Which in the past had prompted replied such as “What’s wrong with you?”, to which he’d smoothly say “a broken heart”. Sweet and playful lines like this might do the trick for H, when coupled with his good looks, but you run a high risk of sounding soppy and unimaginative.
Are sexually predatory lines worse? A, 25, said he’d once been approached by a man boldly stating: “That shirt looks good on you, but it would look better on my bedroom floor.” While F, 29, spoke of a (loose) friend who once told a woman: “You remind me of my toe, because I can see myself banging you on my table later.” I’m not sure what to say to that, but I hope the woman in question had the audacity to throw a splash of her drink in his direction. Opening the conversation out to the Soulmates Twitter network, a follower pointed out that interested singles often send ‘unsolicited dick pics’ as a conversation starter. R.I.P chivalry, charm and decorum.
Perhaps there’s just no place for pick-up lines in our culture? M, 26, believes we shouldn’t use them at all. “They’re so clichéd,” she says, “I think they give a forced, unnatural approach (to dating).” M, 31, agrees. He believes it’s far better to “act normal and have a nice conversation” when you meet someone you like. C, 26, goes further, explaining that they make her feel uncomfortable. “I don’t know how to respond around them,” she says. “I just find them really corny.”
Which pick-up lines fly and which flop comes down to personal preference. However, as a rule of thumb it’s probably worth avoiding anyone who questions whether you’re feeling tired after running through their mind all night. Similarly, dodge he who asks you to feel his jumper and tell him what it’s made of, as let’s face it, it’s not boyfriend material unless you’re looking for a relationship full of uninspiring moments. If you’re still feeling unsettled by the dominance of ‘pick-up lines’ among search terms, you might feel reassured to learn that ‘long distance relationship’ is the third most commonly searched dating term tapped in by UK males. Let’s just hope the relationships they’re looking to extend across counties and overseas weren’t forged on cheesy chat-up lines.