Pick up lines and college students, the love-hate relationship

The right pick-up line can make or break a new romance. Some thoughts on the dating game from students across the country.

The scene: A classic college hangout, a scruffy bar just at the edge of campus.

The move: A guy with a beer spots a beautiful woman across a smoky room. He makes eye contact. He walks toward her. He trips. He falls. Face first. Ashen, he looks up at the smirking woman.

A Swing and a Miss!The line: “I’ve never fallen harder for anyone in my life.”

Does it work? Depends. Pick-up lines are a staple of college courtship, both as tongue-in-cheek humor and as hat-in-hand heartfelt sentiment (albeit often momentary). “Lines” are ubiquitous on campuses across the country, even if they serve only to lighten a mood and charm through a target’s defenses.

“If [the lines are] stupid, they’re ridiculous,” said Columbia University junior Jessica Ullian. “But if they are creative, you at least get some points for trying.”

Boston College junior Mary Alex Dundics says pick-up lines can break the ice if the person who delivers the line is otherwise attractive. “I’ll usually accept a drink from a guy if he offers me one,” Dundics said. “And if a guy is cute then, sure, a pick-up line can work.”

But the line has to be right.

While a simple “hello” can work wonders, some lines are alienatingly absurd.

Boston College senior Amy Larson shared two of the worst she has heard: “Is there a mirror in your pocket? Because I can see myself in your pants…” and “You must be tired since you’ve been running through my mind all day.”

Larson says few pick-up lines work. But she concedes saying something,anything at all, slightly raises the odds that two people will connect. “If you have nothing better to say, you might as well try to use one,” she said.

Both Larson and Dundics report that in Boston, a city known for its massive student population, the most common pick-up line genre is the age-old, “You look familiar. Have we met somewhere before? Do you go to [insert local college here]?”

Columbia junior Danielle Honzig says lines in the city that never sleeps can get rather raunchy. She says a guy in Manhattan once approached her and said, “You look like a piece of filet mignon. Do you know how much that costs?”

Pick-up Lines From the Web
A surprising number of pick-up line lists are located on university servers. Does that mean people don’t use lines after graduation?   

Lines and rebuttals: An important statistic: 71 percent of men were successful when they used the pick-up line “Hi,” while 100 percent of women were successful when they used the same line. Go figure.


Northwestern students just outside Chicago report they’d believe almost anything when it comes to bad pick-up lines. Thirty students surveyed say they’ve heard everything from the relatively tame, “So where have you been all my life?” and “Did your father steal the stars from the skies and put them in your eyes?” to the bawdy “I love your outfit. It would look great on the floor of my bedroom,” and “If your right leg is Christmas and your left leg is Easter, what do you say I come up for the holidays?”

Northwestern senior Seth Macari says he thinks students who try to lure their bait with pick-up lines probably lack self-confidence. “People use pick-up lines because they are afraid of honesty and of being themselves,” he said.

Northwestern sophomore Heather McElroy says she’s wary of men who approach her armed with lines. “I wouldn’t go out with a guy who used a pick-up line on me because I think the very fact that he is using a pick-up line implies something about his character,” she said. “It tells me he is desperate and that all he probably cares about is sex.”Matt Masur, a graduate student at Ohio State University, agreed with McElroy. “People use pick-up lines because they are drunk and want to get some action,” he said.

University of Michigan sophomore Garth Heutel said sincerity is the key to pick-up success. “Pick-up lines are often not original and sound stupid,” he said, but an honest compliment can work like magic.

In densely populated cities, some students say pick-up lines are a necessary evil when trying to meet new people. Noah Weiss, a first-year law student at Columbia said: “When you first meet a person there is really nothing else to go on besides how they look.”