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Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder

A recent survey published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour found that almost 61 per cent of university and college students included alcohol in their latest hook-up, meaning that they’d had a few drinks to embolden themselves, releasing their more flirtatious sides.

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By Professor XXX (Sexpert) – Email

Illustration by Brittany Cardinal

“Beer Goggles”: a common form of inebriation in which the attractiveness of those around the drinker increases with the more alcohol that is imbibed. It’s a commonly referenced phenomenon, and is often attributed to the decrease in cognitive function caused by excessive consumption.

Basically, the drunker you are, the hotter people around seem. But what exactly is it about alcohol that can give us the impression that the regular Joe at the bar is actually a dashingly handsome hunk? How exactly does alcohol affect our libidos? These are important questions, and thankfully there’s been a recent spate of research into it.

A recent survey published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour found that almost 61 per cent of university and college students included alcohol in their latest hook-up, meaning that they’d had a few drinks to embolden themselves, releasing their more flirtatious sides.

After a few drinks, it’s very common for people to report feeling confident, comfortable, and less shy about flirting and engaging in sexual behaviour. These feelings aren’t caused by the alcohol itself though, instead it’s believed that this overconfidence is actually a form of the placebo effect, where the drinker believes that slight intoxication can make them bolder.

In actuality, there is little evidence that would support the idea of alcohol as some sort of confidence boosting drug. Alcohol is actually a depressant, and the more that’s consumed, the more likely it is that negative responses will occur. This is often cited as a possible reason that so many drunken hook-ups result in feelings of regret. Such sexual encounters are often recalled in a negative light, and a 2012 study, centred on Canadian university students, found that the overwhelming majority of students who had participated in “uncommitted sexual encounters” had reported feelings of regret afterwards.

The study went into more detail and uncovered the fact that women reported feeling stronger levels of regret and shame than men, though men reported feelings of regret that were more linked to physical attributes. Both men and women cited intoxication, by both alcohol and drugs, as a source of regret.

Many of the studies’ subjects cited the fact that inebriation had led them to approaching people they normally wouldn’t have been attracted to, thus leading them to being unhappy with their partners after hooking up.

Other studies, from several different publications, have demonstrated that sexual satisfaction is much harder to derive from drunken or intoxicated liaisons, whereas participants in sober sexual activities often report higher levels of enjoyment and satisfaction, and these uninebriated hook-ups have been linked to increases in both self-confidence, and a decrease in body-image dissatisfaction.

So the next time you’re at a bar or party, be mindful of how much you’re drinking. If you’re looking for a more satisfying, enjoyable, casual one-night stand, then perhaps put down the alcohol and stay sober. You’ll have more fun, and you won’t go to bed with someone you think looks like Adonis only to wake up next to Freddy Krueger the next morning.

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