Drunk In Love

role that alcohol plays in relationships

There are a lot of elements you might consider before going on a first date: What should you wear? Where should you eat? Who should pay the tab? What about having a drink before leaving the house?

To understand the role alcohol plays in our relationships today, we surveyed 500 Americans about how much they and their partners drink regularly, the types of alcohol they consume most, and how drinking plays into overall happiness as a couple. Continue reading to see what we learned.

How Couples Meet

infographic on how and where couples meet

From those first (awkward) dates in high school to meeting online, dating these days can be difficult.

Still, most Americans polled met their current significant others through friends. Over 31 percent met through a friend, while about 29 percent connected through social media or a dating website. Even more unlikely: meeting someone through work, school, or at a bar.

While relationships where people met at school were less common, they tended to last the longest – averaging 12 years, according to our survey respondents. People who met at work also had a full decade under their dating belts.

People who met online were together the shortest length of time. While their time (so far) may be short, 5 percent of married Americans say they met their significant others online.

Meeting Under the Influence

infographic on initial intoxication of the first date

More than a third of women and nearly half of men said when they first met their dates they were already drinking. Additionally, 36 percent of women and 40 percent of men indicated their date was already drinking alcohol when they first met.

While drinking to reduce anxiety or stress may not seem overly troubling, alcohol can become a crutch you believe you need to feel comfortable.

The Places We Go to Drink

infographic on where couples go to wind down over drinks

Between 32 and 38 percent of couples who preferred to visit breweries, sports bars, or nightclubs were completely satisfied with their relationships. However, fewer than 1 in 5 people preferring dive bars felt the same way. Furthermore, people who preferred going out with their partners to dive bars were the most likely to feel as though they had several problems in their relationships.

According to our research, the places where mostly satisfied couples with few problems like to go most are sports bars and lounges – perhaps because of the camaraderie from watching the game or the pleasure of conspicuous consumption.

infographic on how satisfied americans are with their relationships

Alcohol and relationship dissatisfaction

infographic on percentage of americans who expierenced relationship problems and choice of drink

While couples who abstain from alcohol are still likely to have some problems in their relationships, couples who regularly drink must deal with issues that they don’t.

While tequila drinkers were the most likely to report having occasional relationship problems, the group that saw the most issues with their significant others were rum drinkers. Surprisingly, non-alcohol drinkers came in second behind whiskey drinkers as the group with the least amount of relationship problems.

According to the NIAAA, what constitutes as a standard drink can vary by type. While 12 ounces of beer is considered a standard drink, only 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (vodka, whiskey, or tequila) is standard.

More Time Together, Less Alcohol

infographic on how often couples drink together by relationship length

Americans who were in relationships longer were generally less likely to drink together each month.

Relationship experts indicate that relationship problems can become exacerbated when alcohol is included. While light drinking of certain types of alcohol may pose some health benefits, excessive drinking can have negative impacts on the body and mind. Too much alcohol can:

  • Make it harder to sleep.
  • Cause a sense of anxiousness after the effects have worn off.
  • Cause depression.

Binge drinkers may experience even more troubling side effects, including:

  • Mood changes.
  • Aggression.
  • Other mental health issues.

Ultimately, people whose relationships lasted the longest (10 years or longer) drank the least often together – no more than three times each month with their significant other. People who were in a relationship for one year drank the most, averaging almost six times each month.

infographic on dating under the influence

Breaking Free

For some Americans, alcohol plays a major role in their relationships. Whether it’s the little bit of alcohol they consume to shake off the jitters before a first date or the number of times they and their partners drink together, drinking can have a great impact on how satisfied people are with their significant others.


For this project, we surveyed 500 Americans in relationships about drinking before the first date and how alcohol affected their relationship satisfaction.

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