ASK HER: What’s the Smoothest Way to Approach a Woman at a Bar?

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ASK HER

You ask, she answers. Have a burning question about dating, sex or relationships? Drop a line to rebecca@welldoneboston.com.

Trying to figure out the right way to approach a woman at a bar can be stressful—I still haven’t really come to any conclusions about which tactics are effective. What I want to know is, do any pick-up lines actually work? — Dave, 29, Cambridge, MA

photo-1436018626274-89acd1d6ec9dI’ll put it this way. If it sounds like a line—”Are you a parking ticket? Because you’ve got FINE written all over you,” “Do you believe in love at first sight—or should I walk by again?”—it’s probably not going to work in your favor. Why? Because it doesn’t feel authentic. It feels like you read it somewhere. It feels like you’ve used it on a million other girls. And if you have to work so hard to come up with a clever “line” instead of just being yourself, we assume you’re probably not very interesting. That said, there are strategies for approaching women that are likely to give you an advantageous edge. The big secret? You’re probably putting in a lot more work than you need to.

A recent study on pickup lines from the University of Edinburgh found that men generally overestimated how successful sexually candid lines would go over, and conversely, underestimated how positively women would react to comments that displayed traits like honesty and humor.

Here’s a perfect example: “Hi, do you have a few minutes for me to hit on you?” This is effective because it’s as honest as honest gets, but still playful. By acknowledging your intentions outright, you lighten the mood.

Another one I like: “Hey, someone said you were looking for me?” Obviously, a deadpan execution is key here. But there’s something charming and ridiculous about it. It’s a little riskier than the all-too-common “have we met?” but it’s far more original.

photo-1436985847904-40f78a6bef9dSometimes, instead of trying to get a laugh out of her, it’s better to just be straightforward without being overly aggressive. One night, when I was out drinking with a girlfriend at a waterfront bar, a guy approached me and said, “Hey, I noticed you when you walked in, would love to get to know you. If you’ll let me buy you a drink, I’m over there,” and pointed to a table in the corner with a couple of his friends. “But if not, that’s cool, too. Just had to give it a shot.” Then he promptly walked away. This was refreshing for two reasons: it was non-threatening and sounded genuine. Try it. The best part? It saves you a whole lot of awkward—because you put the ball in her court.

If you’re feeling a little shy, you can always try the ever-classy move of asking the bartender what she’s drinking and buying her one while delaying your approach. There’s something inherently gentlemanly about this because it shows you noticed her drink was getting low, and that in your own way, you’re taking care of her without demanding she talk to you first. The bartender’s bound to tell her where the drink came from, and you can hang back for a few minutes to observe her body language. Does she smile in your direction or avoid eye contact? These are the kinds of cues to notice before you take the risk and stroll on over to her.

Bottom line: Keep it simple. When in doubt, a “hi” and a simple introduction is a hell of a lot better than a cheesy line. Most importantly, though, don’t try to be someone you’re not. Different women are looking for different things and putting on some kind of act isn’t going to do you any favors because in the end, you’re merely attracting a person who’s a wrong fit. In other words, if you hit on one woman and she’s not feeling what you’re putting out there, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to change your approach — you just have to find someone that vibes with it.

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca Strong

Born and raised in CT and having lived in Boston for a decade now, it's safe to say Rebecca is a die-hard New Englander. (She tried moving to L.A. once...and was back on the East Coast in four and a half months). Since graduating from Emerson College, she's contributed to numerous local and national publications—which have included The Huffington Post, BostInno, Elite Daily, U.S. News & World Report, and Stuff Magazine—covering a range of topics from technology and travel to style and beauty. Now she's most interested in helping the men in Boston (and beyond) boost their sex, dating and relationship IQ. Meanwhile, she's currently pursuing her master's at The Boston Conservatory. When she's not writing, Rebecca can be found in a kickboxing class, drinking a generous glass (or three) of wine, watching a Bs game...or patiently waiting for hockey season to return.

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