Online daters might underestimate the importance of filling out various fields on their dating profile. But there is one they should take seriously — drinking.
The long-term health effects of drinking are well-documented. But what if your drinking habits didn’t just affect your overall wellness but rather informed the size of your social circles and the number of dates you received? Perhaps you would think twice before putting an answer.
In 2010, a study from psychologist Charles Holahan at the University of Texas at Austin found that moderate drinkers live longer than people that abstain from alcohol. The study’s findings spurred a number of possible explanations as to why this would be the case, one of which was that alcohol is often a “social lubricant” that indicates strong social networks — an important aspect of maintaining mental and physical health.
David Hanson, professor emeritus of sociology of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam has researched the subject of alcohol and drinking for over 40 years. In a comment to FirstMet.com, he explained that the social theory isn’t out of the realm of possibilities, as drinking helps people relax, reduces emotional tension, and creates more opportunities for friendship and popularity.
“These factors also appear to contribute to better health and longer life,” he said.
Heavy Drinkers Have Larger Social Circles
By combining data from the 25 million people who have connected their Facebook accounts with FirstMet.com and a sample of 125,00 of our U.S. members, we examined if the way singles answered the, “Do you Drink?” question on their dating profile affected how many Facebook friends they had. For each of these members we know:
A) Their drinking habits by filling out the field on our site ( never, rarely, socially, and often)
B) The number of Facebook friends AND 2nd degree friends of friends they have in their social circle
What we discovered is drinkers have significantly more friends than non-drinkers.
Singles over 30 that drink “often” have 56 more friends on average and social circles that are 30% larger than singles that never drink. The trend is similar for singles under 30 as well — frequent drinkers have an astounding 80 more friends and social circles that are 27% larger than nondrinkers.
Kate B. Carey, Ph.D, professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, says the data reinforces “a long-observed finding that heavy drinkers are more extroverted and sociable than lighter drinkers.”
Carey explained that drinking to enhance an experience or feel more comfortable are some of the most common social motives for drinking, especially among young adults.
“Heavier drinkers are also more likely to be sensation seekers, and seek out stimulating environments or activities. So add those trends up and your findings are not surprising,” she said.
Heavy Drinkers Are More Attractive To Opposite Sex Online
Not only are their social circles larger, but we found that drinkers get more responses online. We examined 1.5 million interactions between our U.S. members to determine the likelihood a member would contact another member based on the drinking habits of the potential mate.
Women that report they drink “often” were 13% more likely to be contacted than those that never drink. Not far behind are women that identify as “social” drinkers. Men that are “social” drinkers were the most contacted on FirstMet.com, although they were closely followed by men that “rarely” and “often” drink.
Men and women seem to place different levels of importance on drinking habits, but data for both genders show that regardless of how often someone drinks, drinkers always outperform abstainers.
“If alcohol usage serves as a proxy for social behavior, we can assume that individuals may perceive social drinkers to be more attractive for prospective dates,” said Jessica Carbino, Ph.D. candidate in sociology at UCLA. “While this study doesn’t control for demographic and non-demographic factors, it’s clear that individuals that are drinking socially do receive more dates.”
We were reminded again and again while speaking with professors at Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and the original researcher Dr. Charles Holahan that a study like this has a lot of confounding factors that affect the findings. While we were unable to control for all of the information online daters provide on their profile, there seems to be a significant correlation between drinking habits and socialization.
FirstMet.com’s VP of Product and Data Insights Joshua Fischer explains: “While our study does not state that publicly displaying that you drink socially makes someone more likely to be interested in you, based on the large scale of data we can conclude that for members of our dating site, people who admit to drinking are the type of people who are more attractive to the opposite sex.”
We did examine other factors that might affect someone’s predisposition to alcohol consumption, such as age, location and income. We break down those findings below.
The Drinking Age
Younger adults drink more often than older adults and, as a result, singles aged 19 to 24 are most likely to select that they drink “often.” the heaviest drinkers. Singles in their early thirties boast the highest percentages of “social” drinkers, after which the percentage gradually declines. However, even into the late-sixties, over 50% of singles identify as social drinkers.
Much like exercise, drinking is expensive hobby. Data shows that social drinking is less common among lower-income brackets. We looked at information provided by nearly 158,000 Americans over 18 years old and found 45% of singles that made under $20,000 annually identified as social drinkers compared to 68% of those that made over $80,000. Additionally, 22% of under $20,000 earners reported they never drank, which was significantly higher than any other income level.
Our data shows that the most frequent drinkers live in North Dakota, which is perhaps unsurprising given that the state’s largest city, Fargo, was named the drunkest city in America and the state has the most bars per capita — one bar for every 1,620 North Dakota residents. Close behind were Hawaii, Alaska, and Louisiana.
The most sober state? Utah! Social drinking was least prevalent, unsurprisingly, since the state has notoriously strict liquor laws that severely limit the times during which restaurants can serve alcohol to patrons. Twenty-four percent of online daters in Utah said they abstain from alcohol.
Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice for both men and women on FirstMet.com. By examining which Facebook pages that singles like Facebook, we found that both genders greatly prefer ale to vino and even have the same beloved brands — Heineken (73,580) and Bud Light (33,826). Data shows men are also partial to Budweiser (22,735), Dos Equis (15,854), and Coors Light (14,819).
When it comes to spirits, nearly 23,000 men on FirstMet.com like Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey on Facebook, making it the most favored liquor for men. A distant second for men is Bacardi rum (12,700). Women have singular tastes and significantly favor Skol vodka (20,000).
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