The Link Between Your Relationship Status & How Much You Drink

Photographed by Pheobe Chuason
Married or cohabitating couples are likelier than their single friends to say "I don't" when it comes to frequent and heavy drinking, according to a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology. But even if romance hits the skids, we're still inclined to hit the bottle less often post-breakup.

Previous research had already established a reliable correlation between long-term relationships and a drop in boozing. But this study is the closest we've come to identifying coupling up as the causational culprit behind the pattern, rather than other variables, such as people's predispositions to abstain, limited budgets or lack of time.

"It seems that intimate relationships may provide a real benefit in terms of drinking behavior, maybe through mechanisms such as a monitoring effect that partners have on each other," lead study author Diana Dinescu said in a press release published on Science Daily.

In other words, couples may subconsciously keep each other's wine consumption in check. Not to mention, time previously spent going to bars in the hopes of hooking up likely gets swapped out for less intoxicating activities.

Dinescu, who's studying clinical psychology at UVA, along with colleagues at the University of Southern California and Washington State University, combed through the Washington State Twin Registry to compare twins' relationship statuses and their self-reported drinking habits. Investigating twins instead of random, unrelated people eliminated any genetic explanations for post-marital alcohol adjustments.

In doing so, Dinescu and her team found twins married or living with a significant other consistently drank less and less often than their respective single, divorced, or widowed twins. Cohabitating folks drank less than their married counterparts, but more than singles, although cohabitating and married women tended to share identical drinking habits.

Aside from the health benefits of cutting back on cocktails, this finding also bodes well for couples' budgets. Though settling down is stereotyped as more boring, it might leave us with more cash on hand to have a good time.
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