Shooting My Shot

Putting TikTok’s “Peter Method” Flirting Tip To The Test

The strategy, coined by TikToker Marissa Mullen, helped motivate me to approach hot strangers… with mixed results.

Elite Daily; Getty Images

Six months ago, I got dumped. Like, majorly dumped. My boyfriend decided to move overseas, and when I asked if he wanted me to come with, he responded, “Uh… I think you should stay here.” Someone call me Carrie Bradshaw, because I was left single and confused in New York City (see: “Big is moving to Paris”).

My ex and I met on Hinge, and ever since the breakup, I’ve had no desire to rejoin the app. Everyone and their mother seem to agree that dating apps are in their flop era, and as I emerged into the NYC dating scene as a freshly single bird ready to spread my slutty wings, I knew that chatting people up in person had to be the way to go.

But how does one approach someone IRL? It makes sense to flirt in bars or at parties, but what about those cute men I make eye contact with on the street and never speak to (but still create an entire fake relationship with in my head)? Lucky for me, TikToker Marissa Mullen popped onto my FYP with the answer. She calls it the Peter method.

The “Peter Method” Involves… Well, Calling Men Peter

Mullen, who runs the food account @thatcheeseplate and apparently also dabbles in dating advice, invented this strategy for those daytime run-ins when you want to break the ice with a Sexy Street Stranger™ and don’t have the help of liquid courage.

The Peter method goes as follows:

  • Step 1: Spot someone in the wild whom you’d like to talk to, and make eye contact.
  • Step 2: Look at them with a quizzical face and say “Peter?” Most likely, they will reply “no.” (On the off chance their name is actually Peter, the system sort of falls apart.)
  • Step 3: Assuming their name isn’t Peter, you will say, “Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry, you look so much like my friend’s cousin.”

In her video, Mullen concluded the explanation by saying, “If they’re interested, they’ll be like ‘Who’s your friend’s cousin?’ [and] start a conversation, and you’ll have to carry it from there.”

She candidly shared that she has never tried this method before due to social anxiety, but a few people in the comments said they’d done it and it worked. I unfortunately have the brand of social anxiety that doesn’t stop me from embarrassing myself, so I figured I was a perfect test subject for this experiment.

TikTok/@thatcheeseplate

The Bit Didn’t Really Land For Me At First

It turns out, it’s way easier to romanticize Sexy Street Strangers™ than to actually approach them. I spent the first few days of my two-weeklong experiment failing to make it past Step 1. I would pass ample gorgeous specimens on my commute, at the gym, or in line at a coffee shop, but I would only have the courage to make eye contact and never find the strength to utter the simple word “Peter.”

Eventually, I told myself that I was not allowed back in my apartment unless I Petered at least three people to rip off the Band-Aid. So, did I Peter three people? Yes, I’m a woman of my word. Did it work? Absolutely not. As I looked these men in the eyes, smiled, and asked if they were named Peter, each one shook their head and kept on walking.

As the first week went by and I reached eight total Peters, a few things became clear: Firstly, people probably aren’t going to ask you “Who’s your friend’s cousin?” after hearing that they look like them. That logic doesn’t really track. Secondly, if the person thinks you’re looking for Peter, they probably won’t realize you’re into them.

I needed to find a way to make my intentions more clear. Enter: My slightly altered version.

The Peter Method (Mia’s Version) Was My Second Attempt

In my new and (hopefully) improved strategy, Steps 1 and 2 stay the same: Make eye contact with your Sexy Street Stranger™ of choice and ask if their name is Peter. Step 3 is where you shake things up. Instead of saying they look like your friend’s cousin named Peter, reply “Sorry about that. You look so much like someone I matched with on Hinge.”

It’s a little bolder, and maybe a little scarier to say. But by sharing that you matched with someone who looks like them, you’re able to communicate “I think you’re hot,” a message that “You look like my friend’s cousin” isn’t able to deliver.

Trying the updated Peter method still left me with plenty of rejection and embarrassment — five of the seven men I Petered with the updated strategy seemed uninterested in the fact that they bear some resemblance to my Hinge match — most responded with a “Uh… wrong person,” before walking away, and a few laughed at the confusion but didn’t initiate a further convo.

However, for two of my seven lucky Peters, we actually hit it off while bonding over shared Hinge trauma, and one even asked for my phone number. Has he texted? Of course not. Will I still create a fake relationship in my head? Obviously.

It Didn’t Get Me A Date, But I Did Learn Some Things

As a newly single gal unsure how to reenter the dating scene, the Peter method was the perfect push to put myself out there. The more I tried it, the more I realized how truly low the stakes are when chatting up a new person. The cringe moments were certainly there, but they stung less as the experiment went on, because I knew the interaction was just a fleeting moment. I got practice giving flirty eyes, and I got practice being utterly rejected — and both are equally valuable experiences.

So, if you need a script in place to motivate you, totally get out there and Peter every love interest you see. (I’d recommend my Hinge date version for optimal results.) However, if you’re trying to play the odds, I don’t think this strategy is the optimal way to initiate a convo in public. After finalizing my experiment and becoming more comfortable approaching strangers, I started trying new lines that felt more me: “I like your shirt!” “Your dog is so cute!” “I love those Trader Joe’s crackers; you have to try them.” Sometimes these were a total flop, but other times they led to genuine conversations, or at least I got to pet a cute dog.

Once you’re ready to branch out, your best bet is being straightforward and using your own line — because any Peter (or any friend’s hot cousin) would be lucky to have you.