Why Pick-Up Lines Don’t Work, According To Science

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While some scientists are trying to cure cancer and fight climate change, other lab-coated nerds are tackling something truly important: Understanding why you have so much trouble getting laid. (All right, maybe saving the human race is slightly more important, but still.)

It turns out, those cheesy pick-up lines you drop at the bar are doing more harm than good. And they say a lot more about you than you might think…

1. They Make You Seem Like A Dumbass

You probably don’t need a scientific study to know that you’ll sound idiotic asking a girl you’ve never met, “Are your legs tired? Because you’ve been running through my mind all day.” A 2002 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that “relationship initiation strategies” involving a corny pick-up line immediately cause women to lower their estimation of a man’s intelligence. And that’s bad news for you, because the study also found that intelligence is one of the “necessities” women look for in a guy.

2. They Don’t Start A Conversation

How do you honestly expect a girl to respond after you’ve dropped, “Are you from Memphis? Because you’re the only Ten-I-See.” She’s just going to roll her eyes and turn back to her friends. However, an actual icebreaker like “what do you think of the band?” works best as an “opening gambit,” according to a psychology professor at the University of Louisville. If you’re interested in what she has to say, she might actually, y’know, talk to you.

3. They Inevitably Sound Creepy

No lady is going to feel comfortable around a guy who opens with, “I seem to have lost my phone number…can I have yours?” In fact, a 2009 study in The Journal of Social Psychology found that guys who use “flippant” pick-up lines were immediately deemed untrustworthy — plus, sexual innuendo ranked toward the bottom of 40 approach topics in effectiveness — whereas guys who use innocuous introductions (“Hi, I’m Mike”) are perceived as better fits.

4. They Only Work On Girls Who Sleep Around A Lot

A University of Edinburgh study suggested that the only kind of women receptive to pick-up lines are the same kind who are — how can we put this gently? — receptive to a whole lotta things. Also, they tend to be tired and depressed. Not exactly your dream girl.

5. They Won’t Work If She’s Stressed (And Who Isn’t?)

The whole “tired and depressed” thing isn’t even going to work in your favor if she’s also feeling frazzled. Pick-up lines rarely work on people who’ve had a stressful day, discovered a team of researchers at Monmouth University in New Jersey. Isn’t everyone at the bar because they’ve had a stressful day?!

6. She’s Already Made Her Decision By The Time You Open Your Mouth

Psychology professor Monica Moore notes in “Sex: A Man’s Guide” that women have actually decided whether or not they’ll sleep with you within the first few seconds of meeting you. So your oh-so-clever pick-up line is probably just a waste of both your times. Why not throw your copy of “101 Great Pick-Up Lines” in the trash and instead actually try being interesting, funny, witty and charming?

7. They Only Work For Guys Who Can Get Laid Without Them

Nearly all of the above studies also found that if you’re devilishly handsome, your chances for a one-night stand are always going to be pretty damn good, no matter what comes out of your mouth. Still, even if you look like George Clooney, please don’t ask her if it hurt when she fell from heaven, all right?

Photo credit: imgur

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Aaron Goldfarb (@aarongoldfarb) is the author of ‘How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide’.