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Why Your Married Friends Are the Worst Drinking Buddies

An upcoming study, to be published in the Journal of Family Psychology, found strong evidence that “intimate relationships cause a decline in alcohol consumption.” And while this might not be the most surprising scientific finding of all times, it...
August 5, 2016, 5:00pm

Anyone navigating the meat market that is dating will tell you that going out for casual drinks is part of the deal and certainly facilitates the end goal.

Meanwhile, your wedded friends happily turn down offers to get wasted, opting instead for whatever the quaint, married equivalent of Netflix and chill is. Who needs alcohol when you're already guaranteed the sweet, sweet oxytocin that comes along with missionary sex and constant cuddling?

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But drinking is a complex behavior, as is dating. So, if you're a scientist trying to understand the finer point of how alcohol interacts with marital status, how on Earth do you isolate all of the social variables involved?

READ MORE: Getting Married Means the End of Your Heavy Drinking Days

Twin studies, that's how. By looking at 2,425 same-sex twin pairs (1,703 identical and 722 fraternal), the authors of an upcoming study, to be published in the Journal of Family Psychology, found strong evidence that "intimate relationships cause a decline in alcohol consumption."

And while this might not be the most surprising scientific finding of all times, it sheds fascinating insight into the mechanisms underlying both drinking and relationshipping. Appropriately titled "Is Marriage a Buzzkill? A Twin Study of Marital Status and Alcohol Consumption" a team of researchers compared married twins with their single, divorced, and cohabiting twin siblings on their frequency and quantity of boozing.

Because twins share the same genes and the same environment growing up, it allowed scientists to confidently rule out "a great many third variables, alternative explanations to the hypothesis that marriage causes less drinking."

What they found was that putting a ring on it was not actually the most important influencer of drinking habits. That turned out to be cohabitation, as there was no discernible difference in boozing between married couples and those living together. But perhaps the most insightful finding was that the married co-twins drank significantly less frequently than their divorced and single twin siblings, and less frequently than their single co-twins.

In other words, being single or divorced might free you from the shackles of monogamy, but it can also make your relationship with booze a little (or a lot) more intimate.