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Study: 3 Types of Pick-Up Lines Women Can Use on Men

How do men respond to pick-up lines when women use them?

In a previous article, I discussed the science of pick up lines in general. Nevertheless, the research cited in that article dealt with the effectiveness of men using pick-up lines on women. Thus, while we subsequently reviewed research describing how women flirt overall and what women do to get noticed by men, we have yet to explore whether pick-up lines would work for them to attract men too.

Fortunately, a recent research article has addressed this question. So, we can finally see the effects of women using pick-up lines—and whether some types might be better than others!

Research on Women Using Pick-Up Lines

This line of questioning was investigated by researchers Fisher, Coughlin, and Wade (2020). Initially, the group explored whether women used pick-up lines and, if so, what types. From there, they evaluated men's perceptions of the effectiveness of each type of pick-up line. In addition, the researchers explored whether the effectiveness of using various pick-up lines would differ, depending on whether the women were judged to be attractive and/or promiscuous as well.

To begin then, Fisher, Coughlin, and Wade (2020) asked a sample of women to report how they would approach and start talking to a man they did not know. The most frequent strategy reported by the women was that they would go up to the man, say hi, and then start a conversation. Beyond that though, a significant sub-group of women did report using various pick-up lines, which fell into three main categories:

  • Innocuous Lines: These lines started a conversation, without expressing direct or clear interest, such as; Can you recommend a good drink?, I've seen you before, do you work here?, or the initial Hi.
  • Direct Lines: This group of pick up lines expressed some clear interest in the potential partner, such as; Want to have a drink together?, "ou have really nice eyes, Can I have your number?. and You're cute.
  • Flippant Lines: Lines that expressed a more flirtatious or sexual tone, such as; Shall we talk, or continue flirting from a distance?, Since you're alone and I'm alone, why don't we sit together?" or I'm easy, are you?

After identifying those various types of pick-up lines, Fisher, Coughlin, and Wade (2020) asked a sample of men to rate their effectiveness. The men were also shown pictures of various women, previously evaluated as being of either higher or lower attractiveness (above or below 4 on a 7-point scale) and higher or- ower promiscuity (as judged by the sexual or provocative nature of their outfit). Given those photos, the men were asked to envision whether various pick-up lines would be more effective for some types of women than others too. Results indicated the following:

  • Direct pick-up lines were rated as most effective for women to use overall. This was especially true when the woman was looking to pick up a man for the purpose of dating. Thus, the lines were judged particularly effective for women who were perceived as more attractive and less promiscuous.
  • Flippant pick-up lines were rated as the second most effective overall. Nevertheless, this was largely due to the fact they were rated as particularly effective for women who appeared promiscuous, regardless of their level of attractiveness. Thus, they may be primarily useful to pick up men for more short-term flings and hook-up interactions.
  • Innocuous pick-up lines were the least effective for most types of women, likely due to the fact that they gave no direct indication of interest (either emotional or physical). Nevertheless, when a woman was considered fairly attractive and not promiscuous, an innocuous approach was more effective for her than being flippant (although less effective than being direct). Therefore, this might be considered a more conservative and traditional style of finding a longer-term relationship.

Overall, these results show similar effects to the types of pick-up lines used by men. In both women and men, more direct (or innocuous) pick-up lines tend to match up with mate characteristics and mating goals suitable for longer-term relationships. In contrast, flippant and sexual lines appear to communicate characteristics and goals more consistent with short-term flings.

Which Pick-Up Lines Should Women Use?

Given the research above, whether a woman may benefit from using pick-up lines depends on her longer-term relationship goals and more immediate sexual intentions. Specifically...

Women looking to start a long-term relationship could benefit from being direct. Therefore, using one of the direct pick-up lines noted above could be helpful in starting a conversation. In fact, such an approach might be particularly effective for women, as indicated by previous research on being direct and asking for what you want. To be direct like that, however, could require getting over feelings of anxiety around dating, improving self-esteem, and coping with possible rejections of interest that may arise. Additionally, focusing on improving overall attractiveness in key areas could help increase the success of this type of approach overall too. Nevertheless, for those who are interested in finding a long-term and committed relationship, with a partner of their choosing, such an approach might be worth the effort.

Women looking for shorter-term flings might benefit from being more flirty and sexual. Those who have decided that they want to hook up instead could benefit from using the more flippant pick-up lines above. More open body language and female flirting techniques could help too. Also, touching the man in a flirtatious way may help as well. In any case, if a woman wants a hook-up and is not interested in a relationship afterward, then such an approach might work for her.

Finally, women who are shy or more traditional might find success being innocuous and coy. Although the research indicated that this approach did not work for all women, it can work well for women who are more sexually conservative and who are attractive as mates. Therefore, for women who want a relationship but do not want to be so direct, an innocuous and indirect pick-up line might be an effective choice. Essentially, this is simply breaking the ice in a noncommittal way. As with the direct lines though, strategies for looking one's best and tactics for getting the attention of a potential mate can be beneficial. Overall, though, the goal with this approach is to stoke a man's interest a bit, but to wait for him to do the asking. Thus, it is a form of playing hard to get or being scarce, which tests his motivation to invest, and possible readiness for a commitment too.

© 2020 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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Fisher, M. L., Coughlin, S., & Wade, T. J. (2020). Can I have your number? Men's perceived effectiveness of pick-up lines by women. Personality and Individual Differences, 153, 109664

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