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Sex + Relationships

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!
What do you typically think of the girls you meet at bars?
Response: It was refreshing to hear most guys say it depends on the particular girl and situation. But, still, sex was on their minds. An anonymous guy shares his inner thoughts with us by saying the first thing he thinks is, “Is she down?” Another says, “[The girls] are drunk and looking to get picked up, or at least hit on.” According to Max, a college junior, “They are nice, pretty and probably looking to hook up.” The senior from Michigan State University says he’s met all types of girls – “hot girls who were stupid and hot girls who were sensible, as well as less attractive women who were stupid and less attractive women who were sensible.”

Lesson to Learn: If you don’t want to automatically be placed into the one-night stand/hook-up category, don’t act as though that’s all you are capable of. Guys can either think good or bad things about you. It’s in your power to portray yourself in a good way, if that’s how you want to be perceived. When you’re at a bar, think, “classy girl who’s friendly and flirtatious,” not, “blackout drunk girl who’s ditzy and desperate.” True, alcohol can help to make you more confident when talking to guys. But if a guy talks to you because you’re one of the only sober girls in the bar, that’s an ego boost that doesn’t require drunkenness. Plus, you’ll stand out in the crowd because you can actually walk straight and talk in complete sentences – making it impossible for guys looking for more than just a hook-up to resist you. 

Have you ever dated a girl you met at a bar?
Response: All but one guy say a big fat NO.

Lessons to learn: What does this tell us? A Saturday night encounter with a cute guy at the local bar will probably not lead to a romantic relationship. Lier and Lindstrom say, “Men throughout their mid- and late 20s typically don't ever look for a ‘relationship.’ They look for the hook-up, and sometimes they connect with a woman they like and end up in a relationship.” In Lier and Lindstrom’s bestselling book, MEN - 10 Secrets Every Women Should Know from Two Guys that Do, they explain the RMS (Relationship Maturity Scale), which indicates that men emotionally mature up to 10 years behind women. “That would explain why ‘college guys’ are looking for the hook-up MOST of the time and not looking for a relationship,” Lier and Lindstrom say. But then we hear responses like this that make us feel as though good guys do exist: “There are all types of men at the bar; a woman just has to put in her due diligence to find the non-dbag, or she has to be able to see past any male stereotypes and not feel that every man that is talking to her is looking to hook up – he may really want to get to know her,” says the anonymous senior from Michigan State University.

Maybe the preconceived notion that bars are only full of horny guys looking to take advantage of drunken girls gives men and women alike a negative view of bars’ matchmaking abilities. As these college guys share with us, a bar shouldn’t be your go-to locale for a relationship. However, not all men are strictly looking for a hook-up. Some of them do make smart decisions (despite their own level of drunkenness). An anonymous University of Michigan senior says, “Don’t bring back a girl that’s blackout drunk. That’s just not cool.” According to Clay, a sophomore at Michigan State University, guys should “go beyond looks and how easy/not easy it is to get in their pants.” And, to bring home the point, Josh says, “Anywhere where booze is the main feature is a tough place to meet anyone you want a relationship with. Better to meet her before and then go to the bar for a few drinks.” Lier and Lindstrom agree: Rule of thumb on campus; when going to a bar, guys are looking for one thing only. So if you decide to go to the bar, it's important to understand the game that you are playing. Meeting a guy in class or at the student union is a much better way to actually meet the person, not the guy at the party or the bar who's looking to hook up.” So there you have it collegiettes™: be wary when looking for love at a bar.
Do you agree with the guys? Have you ever been picked up at a bar? What was the outcome like? If any of you have found a boyfriend at a bar, please share your secrets with us!

Mark Sharp, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at Aiki Relationship Institute in Illinois 
Dan Lier, relationship, sex and communication expert from ASK Dan & Mike
Mike Lindstrom, relationship, sex and communication expert from ASK Dan & Mike

Erica Avesian is a successful young professional in the marketing industry. In her current role, she plans and executes high-end events and marketing projects for a variety of luxury and automotive clients. Erica has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Michigan with specializations in Communication Studies and Writing. She is an experienced writer who loves blogging about her personal experiences as a college girl and writing how-to guides for recent grads. When she's not writing, you can find her styling outfits for her best friends, traveling with her family, and hanging out at her happy place, Starbucks. Erica is obsessed with fashion magazines, Disney, and the color pink. In the future Erica would love to start her own online publication or be the next hit talk show host.  
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