If you're anything like me, your experiences with online dating and drinking (and drinking on online dates) are, shall we say, substantial. Because online dating is still becoming more mainstream, and because collecting data on such a broad phenomenon is challenging, we still don't really understand how these social practices overlap and interact. So I was pleased to see that dating site AYI.com (Are You Interested) has produced some significant research on the drinking-relevant characteristics of online daters. Here are some highlights.
1. There Are Some Regional Drinking Differences, But They're Not Huge
When they looked at their user data, AYI.com found (as initially reported in Business Insider) some differences in the drinking habits of their online daters across cities. But notice that the range offered by the map's key is actually quite narrow: with 55 percent of singles who drink "frequently" at the low end, and 70 percent at the high end. That means that a majority of singles (at least the online daters) in all of these cities are frequent drinkers. And if you look closely, the results might surprise you. For instance, I was interested to note that although my current city, New York, has a particularly hard-drinking reputation, actually 1 percent fewer of its singles drink frequently than in my hometown of Atlanta (64 percent and 65 percent, respectively).
2. Drinkers Have More Friends – At Least On Facebook
Further, because AYI.com uses common friends and interests to help members date more effectively, they are positioned to put part of the puzzle together regarding Facebook and drinking. Of their users (who are a subset of all online daters), check out median number of Facebook friends by drinking frequency:
The total number of Facebook friends for the over-30 set is lower in general, likely because these folks adopted Facebook after college and didn't go crazy friending current and recent classmates right away. Even still, by age group, more drinking always predicts more Facebook friends. Fairly intuitive — drinkers are stereotypically more social in person, so they're more social online — but it's nice to see data confirming the stereotype all the same. This could be contributing to another of AYI.com's data points, too: that drinkers get more dates. AYI.com helps to match members with Facebook friends of friends, so if you have more Facebook friends, your second-order dating sphere grows rapidly.
3. Women Who Drink More Tend To Be More Sexual
So let's add this to what we already know about online daters and their drinking habits. First of all, gentlemen: you can quickly tell how sexual a woman is by determining her drinking habits, apparently. Female sexuality is strongly positively correlated with amount of alcohol consumed, masculinity, and her self-perceived attractiveness. Conveniently enough, you can figure all three of these things out from most well-completed dating profiles. Proceed at your own risk.
4. Beer Lovers Are More Likely To Put Out On A First Date
As reported by OkCupid's blog, OkTrends, back in 2011, online daters who report liking the taste of beer are much more likely to have sex on the first date than those who don't like the taste of beer. Beer drinkers are a whopping 60 percent more likely to have sex on the first date, in fact, and this held across gender and sexual orientation lines. Somewhat unfortunately, that finding was reported and re-shared with such zeal across the Internet that it's no longer a subtle feeling-out kind of question for dates, but more like an open Internet inside joke.
5. You'll Probably End Up With Someone With Similar Drinking Habits
On a more serious note, although the AYI.com data only established correlations between factors, to its credit it does corroborate some other well-established findings about what makes people romantically attracted to each other. "Opposites attract" tropes aside, people are attracted to people who are similar to them. Approval of one's social group and opportunities to be alone are also key. Drinking relates to all of these — drinkers end up with drinkers due to social factors, find them easier to assimilate morally and socially into their lives due to drinking similarities, and are more likely to end up alone together and having sex than would a mixed drinking/non-drinking couple.
What's the takeaway from all of this? Although there are differences in how much people drink from city to city and age to age, they aren't huge differences. All things being equal, a teetotaler and a hard drinker are less likely to find love than two people with similar drinking levels, but this is true of most habits. If you're looking for a one-night stand, a drinker is probably your best bet, especially if you're seeking a woman. But because drinking seems pretty good for your health, you're going to be living a while and the dating circuit will eventually get old — so remain open to the possibility that that alcohol-fueled online dating phase of yours will ultimately lead to a happy marriage.