Ask the librarian anything: I probably don’t know the answer … but I know how to find it.

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Enrico asks: I just started university and I’d like to have a girlfriend but I don’t have a sweet clue how to get one. What does the research say about dating and about how to get a girlfriend? Can you find some good pick-up lines for me to use?

The Librarian: There are a number of good books at the library about dating and relationships. Since you’re a university student you might want to start with Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus (2008) by Kathleen A. Bogle. Then there’s How to Woo, When, and to Whom. The title sounds really good but it is a bit dated (it was published in 1855). It contains advice such as: “Before acceptance, the young lady should be addressed as ‘Dear Madam;’ after acceptance, the [first] name may be used,” and “Love-letters are often very absurd things when made public.” It’s important to keep that last point in mind when using Facebook and Twitter.

The library also has a lot of good journal articles that give dating advice. In fact, “An Evolutionary Perspective on Effective vs. Ineffective Pick-up Lines,” by Senko and Fyffe in the Journal of Social Psychology (2010, vol. 150, no. 6) offers some good advice about using pick-up lines. For example, it reports that “flippant pick-up lines, so often used by men to impress women, often backfire” (651) and that “flippant lines evidently convey low intelligence.”

The research shows that so-called “innocuous lines,” such as, “What do you think of the band?” are much more effective, especially when trying to attract a woman who is looking for a long-term relationship. The research also shows that women seeking short-term relationships are more likely to be receptive if the line-user “is attractive and non-receptive if he is unattractive, no matter what line he uses” (652). So if you’re thinking of using a line like “It’s a good thing I brought my library card because I’m checking you out,” then you’d better be very good looking.