‘Do you eat fish?’: seven of the world's worst chat-up lines

high-angle shot of some nigiri sushi and a pair of chopsticks on a blue table

Looking for a good date? Don’t try any of the lines below.
Photograph: Juan Moyano/Stocksy United

A man in a bar once said to me: “I think you’re on fire.” I’m not averse to a chat-up line as long as it’s funny or deployed with sufficient flair – in the age of online dating, a zinging opener is as much a necessity as an appreciation for the absurd.

In fact, according to a survey by the dating app Inner Circle, openers that lack creativity only have a 12% response rate. Survey respondents argued that messages such as “hey” and “hi” simply don’t show enough effort or interest. The dating app has gone so far as to ban one-word openers, which instead will be autocorrected to funny, conversation-starting one-liners.

As I waited for the punchline, though, the man from the bar began open-palm slapping me on the back. It turns out, he wasn’t trying to be cute (he had a girlfriend who was watching in horror), it was just that my hair had caught alight on a candle and I was moments away from turning into a full human flame.

You live, you learn. Sometimes, a man does just want to know if you’re tired, not because you’ve been running through his mind all day, but because you’re looking a bit wan.

And sometimes you really are on fire.

Here are some of the worst actual* pick-up lines I’ve heard, which, given that I’ve been single for, literally, ever, may possibly be the worst in the world.

‘Pull your knees to your chest and relax’
Nothing that sounds like an instruction from a gynaecologist will ever secure a date. See also: “I’m regularly screened for STIs”, which a GP once said to me on a dating app and which, tbf, in these difficult dating times, could be read as quite thoughtful, really.

Would you restrain me in latex?’
I did end up going on a date with this one because I thought it was a joke and played along, like “ha ha, sure”. In reality, he was a latex fetishist who turned up to our Thursday night drinks in Old Street with a gimp suit in his bag. I couldn’t tell who was more disappointed; I thought I’d found someone with a good sense of humour, he thought he’d found a new mistress. I bought him an apology drink and said it wasn’t really my thing.

It did make me wonder, though, perhaps we need clearer guidelines on when it’s appropriate to initiate a potential partner into your kinks and fetishes.

My friends said that my tolerance for weirdness had obviously grown too high if I was responding to this.

I think I saw you in Fitness First.’
No one likes to be stalked, especially while blobbing around on a treadmill at 7am.

I have a lot of money.’
A few years ago, my friend and I had bumped into a guy we knew from university in a bar in Ibiza and ended up going back to his yacht (it was his parents’ yacht) for a “party”.

They also invited a Russian model and a 22-year-old shot girl from Newcastle who was out there doing a season. The “party” turned out to be bad electronic dance music played from a phone in a pint glass and everyone speaking in hushed tones so as not to wake the boat’s skipper who’d have to get up and sail in a few hours.

Perhaps out of boredom, the Russian model took off all her clothes and jumped in the sea. Then the six men who were actually staying on the boat all had a hissed debate about whose responsibility it was to go in after her. After it was decided that it wouldn’t be him, one of them sat next to me with a self-satisfied smile and whispered: “I have a lot of money”, and, honestly, I’m not sure what else I expected. (NB: the model was fine and enjoyed her swim).

Do you eat fish?’
Yes, I do eat fish. But this one came hot on the heels of the latex fetishist so, taking my friends’ advice, I did not reply.

Do you want a swig of this gin?’
… said a man as I waited for a taxi to take me home after a party. It was 3:45am and he was gulping from a bottle. At least it was a nice gin, I thought. I also thought he probably had a drinking problem, so that was that.

Suck it.’
So I’m never going to eat an ice lolly in public again.

*I genuinely wish some of these were exaggerated, but they’re not.

So why not try more than hi? Sign up to Inner Circle, and get one month’s full membership for free


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