The Best Pick-Up Lines For When You're Not Sure How To Start A Conversation

Approaching someone you're attracted to IRL is hard. You can blame dating apps, DM-sliding, and the recently-expanded emoji vocabulary for that. Even though you know words, it's all too easy for them to fly out of your brain the second you're around someone you're interested in pursuing romantically. And unlike the Bumble world, you don't always have a deadline to make a move, so it's easy to abort your mission and let the opportunity pass you by.

Luckily, experts say figuring out what to say shouldn't require too much thinking. "It's not necessarily about what you say, but whether or not you say something that feels genuine or right to you," says Gabrielle Applebury, a sex and marriage counselor in Orange County, CA.

If you try some cheesy pun that you'd normally never use, that's probably going to backfire. Applebury likens this type of thing to the "uncanny valley" phenomenon, in which a human talks to an AI robot and can tell that something is off, which makes them feel icky. She says the same thing can happen when you try to say something that's just not you. "It's going to register on the other person that something is a little bit off," she says.

That said, if you don't know where to start, we've rounded up a few pick-up lines that might resonate with you. These are just general ideas, so feel free to tweak the exact wording to make them feel more authentic to you.

"You went for the top-shelf whiskey. Mad respect."

Why it works: This strokes their ego a little bit and shows that you know a lot about their drink of choice, too.
"Did you get those earrings on Etsy? They look handmade."

Why it works: It's a compliment, but not a static one that ends with, "Thanks!" Maybe there's a cool story, and you'll hear it.
"You're reading Casual Vacancy? Not as good as Harry Potter, right?"

Why it works: Bringing up a contrary opinion (in a playful, not defensive way) can start a more interesting conversation. And reading is sexy!
"This playlist is fine, but honestly I'd rather be listening to a musical soundtrack."

Why it works: Believe it or not, connections are often born out of a mutual hatred for something. Just try to keep the rest of your conversation positive.
"Do you ever think about moving to a new city?"

Why it works: People have a low tolerance for small talk, so go for an interesting question that will encourage an interesting answer.
"Is that the Kylie Lip Kit or a different brand? You did such a good job applying it."

Why it works: Game recognize game. This is a compliment about their appearance but also acknowledges that they've got skills you admire.
"I notice you have a Nasty Woman shirt — did you go to the Women's March?"

Why it works: Bringing up politics with a potential suitor can be tricky territory, but mentioning an event or experience you both went through can take the edge off.
"Do you come here often? Because I do not, and I have no clue where anything is."

Why it works: Put all your awkward feelings out there in the open. Plus, everyone likes to feel helpful.
"Hi! I just wanted to introduce myself."

Why it works: Straightforward as hell, and makes the person you're introducing yourself to feel important.
"How do you know this band?"

Why it works: If you're at a venue to support a friend's music, chances are the other people around you are, too. Talking about mutual friends (and celebrating their successes) will put you on an even playing field. If they don't know the band, you can have that classic first conversation about what music you're into.
"That's a great jacket."

Why it works: Negging is not worth it. Effortless compliments can do no wrong, as long as you're being genuine.
"Is this workout relaxing for you?"

Why it works: You might find you have the same opinionated view on this workout class. And who knows? You might just see each other there again.
"This reminds me of a hilarious Vine I saw once. Wait, you have to see it..."

Why it works: You'll bond over the video, you'll get to show off your great sense of humor, and if things go well you can count on tagging each other in memes forever and ever.
"I was going to say that's the cutest dog I've ever seen, but you'll have to see mine before we make that call."

Why it works: Everyone loves animals. Especially cute animals. Play date?