Brain and Body

Drinking Booze on a Date Affects Men and Women Very Differently, Research Finds

March 28, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Man and woman with drinks
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Men might want to reconsider how much alcohol they consume on a date.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Personal Relationships, drinking booze on a date has a very different effect on men and women.

When women drink alcohol on dates, it makes them feel more intimate. However, for men, it has the opposite effect, making them feel less intimate.

The researchers defined intimacy as “a subjective feeling that is characterized by a sense of closeness, affection, and connectedness between interacting partners.”

"Intimacy is critical for the blossoming of romantic relationships in the early phase of courtship," they wrote in the study.

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Plenty of previous research has found that drinking alcohol on a date increases feelings of intimacy and takes the edge off those first-date nerves, but the psychologists from Australian National University wanted to investigate whether the effects were different for women and men.

They rounded up 323 undergraduate participants who had had alcohol on a date within the past three months, and surveyed them about their alcohol habits on dates.

About half of the dates took place at restaurants, while 28 percent were at bars or nightclubs, 9 percent were at the movies, 6 percent were at home, and 4 percent were at parties. On average, the couples consumed almost six drinks together per date.

After characterizing the dates, the participants were asked to rate their feelings of intimacy.

The results showed that drinking enhanced a female’s sense of intimacy on a date, while a man’s sense of intimacy was damaged by the alcohol, showing “significant effects in the opposite direction,” according to the researchers.

However, the study did have some notable limitations. The sample size only included Australian students, so the results could have been different with older couples or same-sex couples. Also, relying on self-reported data isn’t entirely accurate — especially when participants are recalling events where alcohol was involved.

Nonetheless, the findings are intriguing, and could offer some advice on how to handle a first date, particularly for men.

"This provocative finding suggests that men may wish to limit their drinking on dates to minimize its potential disadvantageous effect on intimacy for both themselves and their partners," the researchers concluded.

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