At some point along the way, you may have heard, or experienced, that Russians don’t readily smile back at you in public if they don’t feel like they have a reason to. Don’t let this deter you on your quest to find love in Tolstoy’s great country (or in Brighton Beach). You can go ahead and shoot your shot with corny Russian pick-up lines you just Googled on your phone if you’re feeling up to the challenge, but don’t be surprised if your love interest continues to be unamused. Russians are full of smiles when they mean it, and you’ll probably have a better chance of breaking the ice with a polite, sincere and confident gesture.
Who knows, though. Maybe you can pull it off. In any case, it’ll help to inform yourself a little about Russian dating culture first, as well as any major faux pas you should avoid. Keep reading to make your smoothest move and put your best foot forward.
The Ins And Outs Of Asking Someone Out In Russian
The main thing you should know going into this is that Russian dating culture is, generally speaking, pretty traditional. For straight couples, it’s expected that the man make the first move, that he call/text first and that he maintain a consistent application of effort and take-charge decisiveness around planning dates. Russian women may seem indifferent or lukewarm to their overtures at first, but it’s persistence that often wins them over in the end. Persistence and effort is a demonstration of sincerity, and they want to see that you’re in it to win it.
This is not to be confused with “not taking no for an answer” — this won’t win you any favors. As one Russian woman puts it, “Honestly, the first thing a young man should ask is whether the girl has a boyfriend and only then try and raise her interest in one way or another. One thing is clear: if the girl wants to share her number she will do so, if she does not, nothing a man does, however creative, can help.”
Gender roles are obviously less defined in gay relationships, and dating culture is complicated further by the fact that queer and same-sex couples in Russia can’t be as open in public as they would in more tolerant societies. More often than not, LGBTQ people use apps or go to clubs to meet each other.
No matter who’s doing the wooing, overtures are appreciated, and gifts are a primo love language for Russians. You wouldn’t come to a friend’s house for dinner empty-handed, and it’s pretty much the same for romantic excursions. Russian women especially love flowers. It’s not too much to bring a gift or a bouquet to your first, and second, and third date. It’s more or less expected. That’s not to say you can’t meet someone at a bar and go home with them without setting up a formal date — but if you’re meeting them virtually anywhere else, or you’re interested in seeing them again, it’s better to put too much effort into it than not enough.
But first, what that other woman said. Make sure you’re not barking up the wrong tree. Learn how to say hello first, maybe sprinkle in a compliment, then ask your person if they’re single or taken. Here are some phrases you can work with.
(Note: these phrases all use the formal “you” pronoun — when approaching a total stranger and when in doubt, it’s best to stick to this until some familiarity has been established.)
- Я обожаю вашу улыбку. (Ya obozhayu vashu ulibku.) — I love your smile.
- Вы хорошо выглядите. (Vy horosho vygladite.) — You look good.
- Мне нравится вашe чувство юмора! (Mne nravitsya vashe chuvstvo yumora!) — I like your sense of humor!
- Вы очень красивый/красивая. (Vy ochen’ krasivyy/krasivaya.) — You are very handsome/beautiful (masc./fem.).
- Вы классно танцуете! (Vy klassno tantsuyete!) — You dance well!
- У вас есть парень? (U vas yest’ paren’?) — Do you have a boyfriend?
- У вас есть девушка? (U vas yest’ devushka?) — Do you have a girlfriend?
If you get the green light to proceed, you can either ask to buy your crush a drink or ask if you can “get to know them better.” Note that this isn’t necessarily as suggestive as it sounds — you’re just opening up the possibility of further dialogue.
- Mожно с вами познакомиться? (Mozhno s vami poznakomit’sya?) — Can I get to know you?
- Mогу я угостить вас вином? (Mogu ya ugostit’ vas vinom?) – Can I buy you a glass of wine?
- Потанцуетe со мной? (Potantsuyete so mnoy?) — Would you like to dance with me?
If you want to seal the deal and get a future date out of the situation, it’s more natural-sounding to suggest an activity than to say, “Will you go on a date with me?” If you do want to make your intentions really explicit, you can say:
Давай встречаться? (Davay vstrechat’sya?) — Let’s start dating?
But if you’ve already asked them about their relationship status, chances are they know what you’re going on about. Inviting your crush to the movies or to dinner is a pretty safe bet.
- Пошли в кино. (Poshli v kino.) — Let’s go to the movies.
- Давай поужинаем вместе? (Davay pouzhinayem vmeste?) — Should we have dinner together?
- Хочешь пойти со мной на вечеринку? (Khochesh’ poyti so mnoy na vecherinku?) — Do you want to go to a party with me?
- Что ты делаешь в выходные? (Chto ty delayesh’ v vykhodnyye?) — What are you doing this weekend?
Remember, if you’re the one doing the pursuing, it’s up to you to make the suggestions, make decisions and take the lead. You should pay for the date, and definitely don’t agree to split the bill, even if they offer. It’s normal and expected that they’ll eventually treat you to drinks or dinner on an upcoming date. If you’re a man pursuing a woman, ordering her cab, opening doors for her and helping her take off her coat are all expected behaviors, but it doesn’t hurt to lead with good manners in any dynamic you may be in. Generally speaking, be decisive, not bossy and continue to demonstrate your interest via text messages, compliments and gifts.
Cheesy Russian Pick-Up Lines That Just Might Work
Listen, don’t be upset if none of the below lines get you anywhere. You had several paragraphs above of normal, good advice. But if you’re feeling bold, feeling cheeky, or just want to know a few Russian pick-up lines for your own amusement, here they are. Who knows — if you’re charming enough, maybe it doesn’t even matter what you say.
- Я влюбился/влюбилась в тебя с первого взгляда. (Ya vlyubilsya/vlyubilas’ v tebya s pervogo vzglyada.) — I fell in love (masc./fem.) with you at first sight.
- А что вы делаете всю оставшуюся жизнь? (A chto vy delayete vsyu ostavshuyusya zhizn’?) — What are you doing for the rest of your life?
- Твой отец вор? Он украл звезды с неба, чтобы оставить их в твоих глазах. (Tvoy otets vor? On ukral zvezdy s neba, chtoby ostavit’ ikh v tvoikh glazakh.) — Is your father a thief? He stole the stars from the sky to put them in your eyes.
- Tебе не было больно, когда ты упал(а) с небес? (Tebe ne bylo bol’no, kogda ty upal(a) s nebes?) — Did it hurt? When you fell (masc./fem.) from heaven?
- Вашей маме нужен зять? (Vashey mame nuzhen zyat’?) — Does your mom need a son-in-law?
- Вы когда-нибудь встречали у вокзала красивого молодого человека? (Vy kogda-nibud’ vstrechali u vokzala krasivogo molodogo cheloveka?) — Have you ever met a handsome young man by the station?