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This Is the One Pick-Up Line That Works Every Time, Experts Say

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure you start with the best pick-up line.

Chances are high you've been doing a lot more online dating these days than in-person. And while it's challenging to choose the right thing to say when you're getting to know someone in any circumstance, it can certainly be a bit easier when you have a screen dividing you. However, with our return to life as we knew it getting closer and closer, you may be looking forward to hitting up the bars once again to find that special someone. Since you're likely months out of practice, when you're ready to get back out there safely, turning to a pick-up line may be your best bet. "Most of the time when we think of pick-up lines, we think of the super cheesy and cringeworthy ones," says relationship expert Beth Ribarsky, PhD. "But, pick-up lines are more than that! Pick-up lines are anything that helps initiate a conversation."

Of course, not just any pick-up line will do. So, we consulted the experts to determine the line that's proven to work the best. To see what you should open with, read on, and to see which line you should stay away from, check out The Worst Pick-Up Line You Should Never Use, Survey Says.

Direct pick-up lines always work best.

young man in glasses taking book from library bookshelf in campus library while smiling at girl
Motortion Films / Shutterstock

A 2020 study published by the journal Personality and Individual Differences examined which pick-up lines are the most effective—direct, innocuous, or flippant ones. The study specifically looked at women using pick-up lines on men and defined "effectiveness" as "success in securing a phone number or agreeing to meet again." The findings clearly showed that direct pick-up lines are the best way to go, and experts agree.

"Direct [pick-up lines] are just what they sound like—they let the other person know that you're attracted to them, and you're interested in getting to know them better," says Ribarsky. Her example? Someone starting off a conversation with something simple and straightforward like, "I saw you across the room and knew I had to come over and say hi."

Ribarsky points out that pick-up lines are an advertisement of who you are and what you bring to the table, so you want to be sure to represent yourself, and your intentions, accurately. "Direct pick-up lines are great because there is no doubt of what your intentions are," she says. "Too often, when we use innocuous lines, it might just seem like we are being friendly, but a direct pick-up line indicates a clear romantic interest." To see what you should wear when you're ready to mingle, check out Wearing This Color Instantly Makes You More Attractive, Studies Show.

But be careful not to come off as too aggressive or sexual.

Woman flirting with man using facial expression

Ribarsky also notes that it's important to keep in mind that one of the problems with direct pick-up lines is that "they can come off as too aggressive or too forward" if not executed correctly.

To avoid coming on too strong, "you have to find the right moderate approach of letting them know you're interested but not being pushy," says Ribarsky. She also explains that "most people do not respond well to overly sexualized messages, especially as a first approach or interaction," so it's best to keep your pick-up line flattering but appropriate. And for more useful dating tips delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Innocuous pick-up lines likely won't reap the desired results.

Business persons in informal discussion

The 2020 pick-up line study found that the least effective lines are innocuous, meaning they're "more subtle—something to get your foot in the door and start a conversation," explains Ribarsky. Examples of innocuous pick-up lines include, "What's your favorite drink on the menu?" or "You look really familiar. Do you go to X gym?"

Ribarsky says people tend to find innocuous pick-up lines appealing to use because they feel the least forced, but she warns that due to their indirect nature, the true intention of the line can easily get lost, leaving the receiver assuming the person is just being friendly. And to see what's not likely to get you a date or phone number, check out This Is the No. 1 Turn-Off for Men, According to a Therapist.

Flippant pick-up lines should also be avoided.

Woman looking annoyed at her companion

Flippant pick-up lines are the kind you hear in a cheesy rom-com, or as Ribarsky calls them, they're the most "cringeworthy ones." Exhibit A: "Is that hand sanitizer in your pocket or are you just happy to be within 6-feet of me?" or exhibit B: "Your name must be yogurt because I really want to spoon you." If you're wincing right now, you're not alone. The 2020 study concluded that flippant line users are perceived as "the least likable and responsible, as well as being the most selfish, domineering, and promiscuous."

Ribarsky warns that without the gift of comedy or the ability to read the receiver, these lines could easily come across as creepy. "The only way the flippant [pick-up lines] work is if they are delivered in a way that makes it very clear that you are making a joke, but that's also the problem with humor," she says. "Not everyone is good at delivering it effectively, and if your receiver doesn't know you, they might not know you're really trying to make them laugh." So unless you have a knack for comedy, stick to something direct, but not sexual in nature. And for who might have the easiest time picking someone up, check out People With These Names Are the Most Attractive, Says New Survey.

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