Pickup lines don't work. Pickup lines do work. So which is it? Easy answer. The canned, one-size-fits-all pickup line that you find in a book, forum, or website does not usually work. They go like: "Hey baby, wanna ride my escalator?" Even if they aren't sexually suggestive, they still seem as authentic as a three dollar bill.
But there is one type of pickup line--we prefer to call it introduction--that tends to work better than others.
Rule 1: Simple, Not Complicated
First, it's organic and of-the-moment. It relates to the place and the person. As prosaic as it may seem, it's best to begin with a comment on something at hand rather than something outside of your immediate realm.
You may think you're being bold and inventive and subversive for your first words (and we do mean the first words) to be about Kierkegaard's later works, Guillermo Del Toro movies, or the decline and fall of Western Civilization. But unless you're in a rarefied setting, such as a university library or film festival, these types of intro lines will only give you blow-back.
Remember, your pickup line isn't about being the smartest person on Earth. It's simply a way of clearing your throat and saying, "Hey, I'm here." The brilliance follows later in your date.
Rule 2: Statement, Not Question
But the best advice we can give about the best pickup line? In The Tourist, with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, Depp plays awkward, nebbishy Frank and Jolie plays Elise, a beautiful sophisticate.
They're on a train, and Frank wants to ask Elise out to dinner. Only he doesn't know how. He makes several stabs at it, only to be turned back by Elise.
The best lines in this exchange:
Frank: "Would you like to have dinner?"
Elise: "Women don't like questions."
When you make your pickup line, introduction, or whatever you want to call it, phrase it as a statement, not a question. This works on many levels:
- Nearly all pickup lines are questions. Yours will stand out.
- Questions put the other person on the defensive: "What's he want?" Even if the other person has vetted you as not being a hobo bumming you for change, you've still set up this dynamic where they have to supply you with an answer of some type.
- It sets up an interesting challenge. How will they respond? Will they respond at all? When you ask a question, you railroad the other person into a set number of answers. But when you make a statement, it can go in any direction.
So, Best Pickup Line--Ever?
Let's say you're in a coffee shop. Instead of this:
Hey, is that a mandolin case? Do you take lessons?
What's wrong with it? It's chirpy, chummy, question-y. She can see a long, protracted conversation ahead of her.
Or the direct, ballsy approach:
Mandolin case. Cool.
The question element has been removed. The respondent can answer as briefly as "Yeah" or can go on for the next five minutes. Her/his choice. This lets you test that person's temperature, too. Is he gruff and unfriendly? Does he readily volunteer information?
Mandolin case. I played when I was eight year old. The powers-that-be made me stop.
Statement. Simple. It's a little funny. It provokes question.
Perhaps no mandolin is conveniently available? Substitute with an element in the coffee shop that you both can see or something about that other person (but don't get too personal).