Being in a relationship could be wonderful in more ways than one. A new study indicates that people who are married, or cohabiting, generally tend to drink less – that’s fewer drinks, and less frequently.
Singles are more inclined to drink more often, and in larger quantities, the findings showed.
“It seems that intimate relationships may provide a real benefit in terms of drinking behaviour, maybe through mechanisms such as a monitoring effect that partners have on each other,” said lead study author Diana Dinescu from the University of Virginia.
For the study, the researchers compared the reported drinking patterns of twins in and out of relationships.
“By using twins, our study allows us to eliminate entire classes of alternative explanations, such as genetic predispositions and upbringing influences, and brings us a step closer to understanding the true impact of relationships on drinking behaviour,” Dinescu said.
The researchers culled their data from the Washington State Twin Registry, a database of twins who participate in health and behaviour research.
Their sample included 1,618 female pairs and 807 male pairs. Registry participants stated on forms whether they were married, divorced, widowed, separated, never married or living with a partner.
They also included information about their level of alcohol consumption – how much they drank when drinking and how frequently they drank.
Dinescu’s team compared married twins with their single, divorced and cohabiting co-twins on drinking frequency and quantity.
The married co-twins, they found, consumed less alcohol than their single or divorced co-twins and also drank less frequently.
Cohabiting twins, like their married cohorts, consumed less alcohol than single or divorced twins, showed the findings published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
The study concluded that once a relationship is over, people may be more inclined to drink more heavily in a session, but not necessarily more frequently.