The problem with pick up lines…and what to do instead

Researching the best pick up lines for the next time you want to ask someone out? We'd advise stopping there, and trying something else...

Ah, the pick up line. It’s a tricky business, isn’t it? How many times have you Googled ‘best pick up lines’, in an attempt to bring a little more spark into your dating life? We’re guessing more times than you’d care to admit; but don’t worry. We’re not judging. We’ve all been there — popular culture would have us believe that the much lauded ‘pick up line’ is an area of expertise worth investing in.

But is it? In our current climate, is there really a space for something as obligatory, cursory and performative as a single line designed to leave the object of your affection (or, more often, attraction) falling at your feet? Gents: there isn’t. Pick up lines — like so many long established societal trends — are outdated and borderline embarrassing. It’s time to shake things up a little. To aid you in navigating this social landmine, we’ve outlined just exactly why the pick up line needs to be dropped; and we’ve put together a couple of suggestions on what, exactly, you should do instead. You’re welcome.

The pick up line confuses people and inanimate objects

Let’s break down the etymology of the phrase first. What do you think of, when you think of ‘picking up’ something? Presumably, you think of physically picking up an object; or you think of ‘picking up’ a takeaway or something less exciting on your way home. “Can you pick up some kitchen roll on your way home?” is something your housemate or partner might text you, towards the end of the working day.

“I picked up a woman last night” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Right? That would be because — as we’re all (hopefully) aware — human beings are not inanimate objects. The concept of the pick up line suggests that people are there to be ‘picked up’ in the same way that a shopping basket can be ‘picked up’: but, thankfully, that’s not how human interrelationships work.

The pick up line reeks of fakeness

So: we’ve dealt with the ‘pick up’ part of the equation. But what about the ‘line’ part? Frankly, gents, that’s the part that exudes fakeness to the last degree. A ‘line’ is something actors deliver on stage, or on set; it shouldn’t really be something that makes its way into everyday conversation.

The ‘line’ is something that suggests inauthenticity. Have you ever been ‘spun a line’? We hope not; but if you have, you’ll be familiar with the lack of honesty and frankness that accompanies those unfortunate line-based conversations. Delivering a pre-rehearsed ‘line’ isn’t the way to go, chaps — especially if it’s recycled material. It suggests that the person on the receiving end is no different from those who preceded them, or those who may come after them (not a good way to begin a relationship); and it lets you hide your real self behind a veneer of performativity. Keep it real, gents; and dispense with the pick up line.

Instead: let first impressions speak for themselves

You don’t need the veneer of a pick up line in order to strike up a conversation with someone. You truly don’t. A gentleman who lets a pick up line speak for him isn’t the sort of gentleman we’re sure you aim to be. A pick up line is a lazy way to insert yourself into someone else’s presence; and true gentlemen are as far from lazy as it’s possible to be.

Instead, trust that your natural first impression will be more than enough. So long as you’re dressed in a gentlemanly manner (though we’ll allow for a more casual ensemble at the moment, since it’s festival style season — just make sure those sunglasses are on point), you’re sure to make quite the impression without any help from a pick up line.

Instead: keep it simple

Pick up lines are cliched and cheesy; there’s no getting around that. If you start the conversation with an obvious pick up line in this day and age, the conversation is distinctly unlikely to have the desired effect (which, we’re sure, is thoroughly honourable). Instead, why not keep things simple? Start by introducing yourself, or by asking her a question — it doesn’t matter how mundane. Even a casual “What do you do?” is better than a pre-rehearsed statement.

Rather than strolling over to the person who interests you and delivering a pre-rehearsed statement (or worse, asking a question in the manner of someone who’s just bursting to share the answer because it’s sure to induce hilarity on all sides — spoiler: questions like that rarely have the desired effect), why not strike up a conversation in a non-rehearsed way, by showing a genuine interest in the other person and who they are, or ask them for coffee? It’s a sad misconception that simple means dull, in the dating sphere. It doesn’t have to mean any such thing. Simple means honest and unfussy, and it spares embarrassment on all sides. Isn’t that better than delivering a corny line? 

Instead: be yourself

This is really at the heart of the pick up line issue. The pick up line allows your real self to hide behind a flimsy, one-sentence strategy: whereas the other person is far more likely to want to connect with you and pursue something if they know who you really are. Rather than performing for an invisible camera, let all that go and show the object of your affection your real self.

That way, the connection you create together will be genuine. The other person will be able to make an informed decision about whether they want to pursue things with you, based off an idea of who you really are: and that really is the best way to start anything, be it a fling, a casual arrangement or a relationship. We promise.

Now that’s all cleared up, are you wondering where to go for your first date? These are the best seaside restaurants in the UK

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