When does a conversation starter become a pickup line?

When does a conversation starter become a pickup line?

Let’s face it, one-liners rarely work. Terri Orbuch, author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship says that women view pickup lines as “degrading, sexual, sexist or just too forward”. That doesn’t mean all conversation starters are necessarily doomed to fail. In the nerve-wracking world of online dating, it’s hard to make a first impression that works, we know. So you can avoid embarrassment, we’ve compiled a few pickup lines that simply do not work, and provided some effective ones instead.

“Are your legs tired? Because you’ve been running through my mind all day”

 Why it doesn’t work: While one study actually found that people who use silly pickup lines are perceived as more sociable, confident and funny, they were also perceived as less trustworthy and intelligent. Research has found that low trustworthiness and low intelligence are among the least sought-after traits when looking for a long-term mate; hence why this pickup line, while humorous, simply does not work.

Try this instead: “Hi”

In a study by the Universities of California and Massachusetts, where participants were asked to rate pickup lines (from “Terrible” to “Excellent”), a majority 60% of people rated this line as good to excellent. Keep it simple, honest and straightforward. Who would have known?

“I’m not Fred Flintstone but I’ll make your bed rock”

Why it doesn’t work: Unsurprisingly, opening with any reference to sex or sexual innuendo has been proven to be ineffective. A study by psychologists at the University of Edinburgh revealed that most women rank any reference to sex in a pickup line poorly. Opening remarks speak volumes about a person’s character and what type of person they want to attract. By starting a conversation below the belt, you may risk being perceived as uninterested in getting to know the person you’re talking to.

Although if you are looking for a fling, research has shown that women who are after the same thing look past the corny pickup lines. 

Try this instead: “Hey, I’ve read your profile and saw you like [X INTEREST] – so do I!”

Doing your homework by reading the profile of your interest goes a long way in making a lasting expression. Make sure you’ve got something in common with the person first to be able to hold a conversation without having to Google facts every two minutes. Having something organically in common with someone will ensure the conversation flows naturally, leading to a greater chance of a good first impression.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a partner”

Why it doesn’t work: We may squirm uncomfortably when we hear that line, but it’s used far too often. In the Universities of California and Massachusetts study aforementioned, this was rated by men and women as the most terrible pickup line. Most of us have experienced the pain of a bad breakup and being unable to meet someone new, but there’s a time and a place for further explanation. You do not have to justify your relationship status as soon as you start talking to someone. Chances are, they are in the same boat and you will have those deeper conversations further down the track. In the meantime, keep conversations light and positive.

Try this instead: “How was your day?”

We ask many of our friends and loved ones this question, but surprisingly not our love interests. It has been proven to be a simple effective line though; in the University of Edinburgh study, attentive and inquisitive opening questions were rated more favourably than the stock-standard, cheesy pickup lines. Using this line will ensure that you make a genuine and empathetic first impression.

The final word

Those first few opening lines when reaching out to a potential partner can be nerve-wracking, especially with the chance that your conversation starter may be ignored. The trick is to be genuine, straight-forward and honest – don’t put on any fronts or demand an instant connection from someone. More than likely, the person who you’re reaching out to is feeling exactly the same nervousness. If they ignore you, don’t stress; there’s plenty of fish in the sea ready for your winning opening line.