A marriage counselor would probably never tell an ailing couple to try getting well and truly bladdered together, however this could be the key to a lasting relationship. Well, for some people at least.
After analysing genetic data from the UK Biobank, researchers from the University of Bristol have found evidence to suggest couples with mirrored alcohol intakes are more likely to weather the course of a relationship.
While examining data from 47,000 couples, researchers looked at reported levels of alcohol consumption and variations of ADH1B, a gene which is linked with heavy or light alcohol consumption.
This study, which was published in the science journal bioRxiv, hypothesized ‘genetic variants related to alcohol consumption may, via their effect on alcohol behaviour, influence mate selection’.
There had been previous studies on the connection between alcohol consumption and relationship longevity, however these had predominantly relied upon mostly self-reported data.
Researchers therefore wanted to ‘disentangle’ this information from social factors and cohabitation which – as many of us will have anecdotally observed – regularly turns both sides of a couple into pretty much the same person.
PhD candidate at the University of Bristol, Laurence Howe, told the New Scientist:
We wanted to disentangle the possibilities using a genetic approach.
This suggests that alcohol consumption directly influences mate choice, adding to the growing evidence that humans are more likely to select a similar mate.
Social factors and cohabitation aside, research findings made it clear there was some sort of pre-existing harmony of bevvy habits between these couples.
This fascinating study concluded:
We found strong evidence that both an individual’s self-reported alcohol consumption and rs1229984 genotype are associated with their partner’s self-reported alcohol use. The Mendelian randomization analysis found that each unit increase in an individual’s weekly alcohol consumption increased their partner’s alcohol consumption by 0.26 units (95% C.I. 0.15, 0.38; P=1.10×10-5).
Furthermore, the rs1229984 genotype was concordant within spouse-pairs, suggesting that some spousal concordance for alcohol consumption existed prior to cohabitation. Although the SNP is strongly associated with ancestry, our results suggest that this concordance is unlikely to be explained by population stratification. Overall, our findings suggest that alcohol behaviour directly influences mate selection.
So there you have it. This of course no way suggests that you should bump up your number of beers if your partner happens to drink like a fish to ensure a boozy happy ending…
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.