Flirting is a delicate skill. It can be hard to strike the balance between of being subtle enough to not come across desperate and aggressive, but forward enough so your intentions are clear.
Add in the fact you might be in a different country, and it might feel nearly impossible.
Of course, there are some people who are so naturally in tune with the art of flirting they could pick someone up without worrying about the language barrier. For everyone else, though, here’s how to flirt in five different languages, courtesy of the experts at language app Babbel.
The French don’t really use pick up lines, unless they want to make the other person laugh. Those who try and use them seriously probably don’t get very far.
A couple they may use are “Est-ce que ton père est un voleur? Parce qu’il a volé toutes les étoiles du ciel pour les mettre dans tes yeux,” which translates as “Is your father a thief? Because he stole all the stars in the sky to put them in your eyes.” and “Bonjour, désolé mais je dois vous arrêter pour excès de beauté sur la voie publique,” which means “Hello, I’m sorry but I have to put you under arrest for beauty excess in the public area.”
In France, it is typical to greet each other with a bise when you see the other person, which is when you touch cheeks and make a kiss sound – usually one on each cheek, but it can vary by region. Also, if you kiss after the date, it is implied you’re together and not seeing anyone else.
DO: Invite them for coffee or a meal, as pubs and bars are considered too loud to talk.
DON’T: Talk about your ex or how many children you want, or expect the other person to pay.
Pick up lines are used by men in Germany but women find them ridiculous. Some might be funny, but generally, most people feel offended if a pick up line is used on them because it suggests the person is awkward and uncreative.
Some they might use are “Ich habe meine Telefonnummer vergessen, kann ich deine haben,” which means “I have lost my phone number. May I have yours?” and “Glaubst du an Liebe auf den ersten Blick oder muss ich noch einmal vorbeilaufen,” meaning “Do you believe in love at first sight or do I have to pass by again?”
DO: Be honest and upfront about how you think things are going.
DON’T: Talk about topics like politics and religion that might be a bit too intense, or talk about your ex as it insinuates you’re not over them. Definitely don’t put on an act and try to be anyone but yourself.
It’s usually better to give a subtle and elegant compliment in lieu of a pick up line in Spain. Something that may work is “¿Me das tu Instagram?” which is asking “Can I have your Instagram?”
Asking for Instagram details is apparently a good excuse to stay in contact without being too forward and pushy about it.
Another line could be “Me suena tu cara, ¿vienes mucho por aquí?” meaning “Your face rings a bell, do you come here often?”
DO: Show a genuine interest in the other person’s life and work, and greet with two kisses on arrival.
DON’T: Hug or hand shake, talk about your ex or politics, or talk about the future of the potential relationship.
Italians also like to keep the pick-up lines subtle, such as “Ciao, come ti chiami? Non credo tu venga qui spesso perché ti avrei notato/a di sicuro” which translates as “Hi, what’s your name? I don’t think you came here often otherwise I would have noticed you for sure.” There’s also the simple “Posso offrirti qualcosa da bere?” meaning “Can I buy you a drink?”
DO: Show a genuine interest in their personal life and career, and tell them they look beautiful “tonight,” as this means you’ve noticed the other person has spent time on their appearance.
DON’T: Let a woman pay for the bill, or offer to pay for it if you are a woman with a man. Don’t turn up underdressed, talk about your exes, or mention the fact you still live with your parents.
Pick-up lines in Sweden are considered really cheesy. They tend to be less common than starting a conversation in other ways, because telling complete strangers that they are hot is perceived as weird.
“Går du hit ofta eller?” or “Do you come here often?” is cliché but common. But you may also hear “Tjena kexet, står du här och smular?” which translates as “Hi cracker, are you standing here crumbling?”
(Kex, or cracker, is 70s slang meaning “hot person.”)
DO: Be attentive, authentic, and show genuine interest, and arrive on time.
DON’T: Just pay the bill, as normally you would split it. You can offer to pay it all, but if the other person wants to pay their share then don’t insist on it. Don’t overdo it with the flirting and compliments, as Swedes can be a bit wary of this.
Also, don’t use the term “date.” In Sweden, you don’t ask someone out for a date, but for a “fika,” which is to meet for a coffee.