Sex + Dating

Pick-Up Lines That Actually Work, According to Women They've Worked On

Cheesy pickup line on iPhone
Jennifer Bui/Thrillist

You have one chance to make a good first impression. If you're vibing that cute girl over yonder, your pick-up line could be the deciding factor in landing a date... or a drink in your face. Additionally, if you didn't already know: we’re now living in the age of online dating! A recent eHarmony study revealed that 22% of today’s couples met by virtue of the Internet. Therefore, you're faced with coming up with two variations of the pick-up line: in-person, and via the typewritten word.
 
Below, real women (including me!) share some female-approved pick-up lines and tactics that have actually worked on them online and IRL.
  

Take the indirect celebrity look-alike approach

It’s never a bad thing to be told you resemble a pretty celebrity. But if your lady of interest is a spitting image of Rashida Jones, chances are she’s heard it before. She’ll take the compliment in that case and move on. So recall who you saw on the cover of OK! Magazine this week and dig a little deeper. 

“As a redhead, I’ve been told I look like Emma Stone and Isla Fisher a million times,” says Maggie, 25. “But one guy took me by surprise and told me I reminded him of Jennifer Lawrence because of my fun personality. I liked that he noticed something non-physical about me.” Word to the wise: if her temperament or “girlish figure” reminds you of Rosie O’Donnell’s, keep it to yourself.

Man using mobile smartphone
guteksk7/Shutterstock

Use emojis ironically

Normally I’d advise everyone to steer clear of emojis whilst perusing a dating app. But if you’re a purveyor of stupid jokes and she lists It’s Always Sunny and American Dad as her favorite TV shows, you might just score. 

“A guy first messaged me on Tinder with, ‘How’s this for a pickup line?’ followed by five pickup truck emojis in a line,” says Elizabeth*, 24. “It was so stupid that I laughed hysterically. He clearly didn’t take himself too seriously, which is attractive, so I answered and we ended up dating for a few months.” (Note: eggplants and heart-eyed cats may not yield the same results.)
  

Inquire about what she's holding

At a bar? Naturally cute-girl-over-there is holding a drink, so don’t bother with a stale “Whatcha sipping on?” -- that's the NECCO Wafer of pick-up lines. But if she’s toting an object that may reflect an interest of hers (gym bag, art portfolio, etc.), then point THAT out to spark further conversation, ideally about her. 

“I was reading a book on the train when the cute guy across from me asked if it was a good read,” says Bailey*, 29. “He had a book in his hands too, so even if it was just a ploy to talk to me, the common interest factor helped his cause. We ended up chatting instead of reading the whole ride and when our stop approached, I took him up on his offer for coffee.” And hey, if she’s carrying around binoculars, maybe she’s ALSO into bird watching and you’re a match made in old-people-pastime heaven.
  

Pay attention to details

Why do women breathe fire when you don’t notice their new haircuts? Easy -- when men don’t take note of the little things, we don’t feel special. This phenomenon applies tenfold when you’re trying to impress someone in your first message on a dating site. The girl has essentially done the work for you. Her profile spells out IN WRITING that she plays the piano and drinks Stella, so include that detail in your “pick-up message” so she knows you’re not just interested in her legs in her main photo. 

In my Match profile, I included that I was a huge grammar geek. When this one guy first messaged me, he divulged at the end that he had someone proofread the whole correspondence before sending it. I loved that he took the time to learn about me and really try to impress me. Once again, little details (or properly used semicolons) conquer all -- he and I have been together ever since.

Couple drinking coffee and smiling on their first date at a restaurant
antoniodiaz/Shutterstock

Be direct, not a sketch ball

“Hi, my name's Dwayne and I’d like you to sit on my face,” is certainly a direct approach, but it’s also quasi-verbal assault and won’t land you a bar-side convo OR a date. There’s a fine line between being straight up and straight-up aggressive, and you must tread carefully in order to grab (and keep) her attention. 

“A guy once introduced himself to me," says Crystal, 34, "then said, ‘You’re pretty and strike me as the most interesting person here. I’d love to learn more about you.'” This tactic worked on Crystal because the man was a) confident and POLITELY direct, and b) using compliments to genuinely spark conversation in a non-predatory manor.

And, yeah, EVERY girl likes to be told she’s pretty.
  

Keep your eyes on the prize

Actions speak louder than words. So a well-executed “eye bang” from across the room will peak her curiosity pre-introduction. “A really attractive man walked into the bar and we locked eyes immediately,” says Jacqueline, 27. “For a few minutes, I kept catching him looking my way. He finally came over to take the seat next to me, then said, ‘I need to know who you are.’ I was smitten -- and now we live together.” 

Why did this move work? Because the guy didn’t just grill Jacqueline like a porterhouse with his stare from afar. That was just a teaser. After a few exchanged glances, you too must strap on your big-boy boots and cleverly use your words.
 

Keep it simple

Imagine you’re enjoying a scoop of vanilla gelato; it’s delicious in its simplicity, so there’s no need to douse it with caramel, gummy bears, sprinkles, crushed Reese’s bits, whipped cream, kale, and unicorn tears. Apply the same idea next time you see a hottie but can’t think of a damn thing to say -- channel your inner Adele with a simple “Hello.” Faye, 28, agrees: “‘Hi’ works pretty damn well for me. I’m not for cheesy one-liners!”

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Brooke Sager is an NYC-based contributing writer for Thrillist who in the past, has gone out with three guys who opened up with the line, “You look like Kate Middleton.” Decide for yourself and follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @HIHEELZbrooke.