Bars & Boys: College Guys Reveal Their Thoughts on 'Picking Up' Girls at a Bar

We’ve all been told bars or any other alcohol-dependent social functions are not the ideal locations to meet a prospective boyfriend. But still, we fall for the friend of a friend with killer dance moves, the guy who offers to buy us a drink, or the bartender with bright blue eyes. We talk, laugh, sip, flirt, sip some more, and before we know it, we are being whisked away to this charming man’s pad – only to wake up the next morning with a hangover and expectations that will never be met. And although it’s possible to meet a guy at a bar who actually wants to have a future with us, most guys are honestly just looking for a hook-up. I surveyed 15 local college guys to get the inside scoop on what they really think of the girls they meet at bars. Dr. Mark E. Sharp, clinical psychologist at Aiki Relationship Institute, and Dan Lier and Mike Lindstrom from ASK Dan & Mike weigh in on why guys think this way. Here’s what they told Her Campus:
Have you ever picked up a girl at a bar?
Response: Almost all of the men surveyed say yes. But what exactly does it mean when these guys ‘pick us up’ at a bar? A senior from Michigan State University who wishes to remain anonymous says, “Picking up may be open to a broad interpretation – as you can meet a girl at the bar that you start seeing down the road. So, although you may not have picked her up that night, you were able to turn a chance meeting at the bar into something down the road. On a different note, the only girls that get ‘picked up’ the first night you meet them are either very intoxicated or huge sl*ts.”

Lesson to Learn: If you meet a guy at a bar and want more than just a one-night stand with him, do not go home with him that night. It may be tempting, but you will most likely be just a hook-up to him rather than a potential girlfriend if you go home with him on the first night. As Dr. Sharp says, “For some men, having sex with someone is seen as a conquest, an assertion of their power. This can be a powerful motivator for picking someone up.” I’m guessing you collegiettes™ don’t want to be some stranger’s nightly conquest. Maybe you will meet this man again (in real life, not drunk life). In that case, take things slowly, and see what happens. Start with a casual hello, then a hangout, maybe a few dates here and there, and, if all goes well, then you can hop into bed with him. I repeat: do not go home with a guy the first night you meet him at a bar if you’re looking for a relationship. If you aren’t looking for a boyfriend, then proceed with caution and use your best judgment.

Was she a girl you might want to date in the future or just a hook-up?
Response: The popular answer is “just a hook-up.” Surprise, surprise. Adam, a junior at the University of Michigan, says, “Primarily a hook-up, but there’s always the option of dating (if she isn’t a crazy h*e).” Nick, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan says, “No guy thinks about that when he is at the bar. Girls wish we did, but we don't.”

Lesson to Learn: It depends on the particular guy you happen to meet, but it’s good to keep in mind that most guys you meet at a bar are probably just looking for a hook-up. But if you’re looking for something more than sex, pretend every guy feels the same way as Nick (although I highly doubt this is true) and try to behave in a classy way. You do go to a bar to have some fun, though, so just concentrate on the moment and enjoy the vodka cranberry he just bought you. If he seems like a great guy, take things slow and see what happens. If he’s just looking for a hook-up, move on to the next guy who is eyeing you from across the bar (unless, of course, you’re just looking for a hook-up, too).
Do you ever go to bars looking to find a girlfriend or are you only in hook-up mindset when you’re there?
Response: Once again, almost all of the guys say, “Hook-up mindset.” But they are open to the idea of something more. An anonymous guy says, “Want to f**k, but anything could happen.” Another says, “Mostly just the hook-up mindset, but who knows what will come of it.” The senior from Michigan State University says, “You go to the bar with the hope that you'll meet someone new – someone you can have some type of a future with. Sure, I've gone to the bar with a hook-up mindset, but when you really get down to it and the situation presents itself, you can find yourself reluctant to take a one-night chance on a girl because although it may feel good now, you've got to ask yourself if you'll be ashamed in the future. I wouldn't necessarily say I go there 'looking' for a girlfriend, but, as earlier stated, the hope in the back of your head is that you'll meet someone that not only catches your eye but has some type of sense in her head.”

Lesson to Learn: Although the guys say a hook-up is the only thing on their minds, there is hope – there are guys like the mystery man from Michigan State University. So, follow his advice, and show him and every other guy that you do have some sense in your head. You are a smart, attractive and interesting woman, and some guys want to see all of these sides to you (not just the drunken, party girl side). As for the other guys’ responses, Dr. Sharp says, “Many guys really want to feel a connection to someone, to a woman, and they get that through sex. They may have some issue with pursuing it on a more permanent basis, but they can at least create a temporary feeling of connection through sex.” A message to any guys reading this: quit the temporary stuff and pursue us on a more permanent basis – we want to feel the connection, too!