Alcohol: Is it killing your game or winning it?
Imagine: It’s Friday after clocking out and your workweek has been filled to the brim with stress. So you transform for the night, tie one off, eventually waking up under an unfamiliar sheet that feels like a coffin — the person lying there with you keeping rhythm with a snore not unlike that of a hibernating grizzly.
This is an all too familiar scene for most who believe that “getting some” is all anyone needs for a successful night out. That is until they wake up with the same nagging question from last weekend muttered under foul breath: "Is alcohol killing my game, or winning it?"
Somehow it's become a prominent stake in culture to be comfortable enough to flirt only after a few drinks. Yet still, curiosity continues to grow with every first-hand testimony I hear from both friends and complete strangers about alcohol ruining any real chance they may have had at an actual relationship. College students, I’ve found, are hesitant to answer any questions about alcohol and dating — put off at the thought of bragging about the times a new “tequila mockingbird” recipe was found and then having to end up wearing some random guy’s “fratagonia” shirt the next morning … go figure.
It wasn’t until after several failed attempts to have an actual human interview that a college junior, let’s call her ‘Kelly,’ agrees to speak with me under anonymity. Her average weekends are never complete without at least one night of heavy drinking, she asserts that right off the bat.
“Its just the culture of our friends,” she explains. “It’s a given that on the weekend everyone drinks together to relieve some stress.”
Adding that her weekdays are usually full tackling school and work, I ask when Kelly makes time to date, if ever. “Usually I meet most of the guys I’m interested in at the bars or at parties,” she shrugs.
When I asked her if this was a successful venture, she looks me dead in the eyes and says, “Well I’m still single, aren’t I?”
I get my answer.
Kelly goes on to mention several occurrences when alcohol got her into trouble with guys she was interested in. “I remember one time I had been drinking pretty heavily, and me and this guy I really liked were walking out of a house party,” she says. “It was just after a huge ice storm we had, and I fell to my ass on the ice.”
I ask about his reaction. Kelly laughs uncomfortably and explains further, “He was really nice about it but I was so drunk and embarrassed that I yelled at him for trying to help me up, and then cried when I got back to his place. There’s something about vodka that makes me either cry or get into a fight and that night I did both. I was mortified when my friends told me what happened the next morning, and I have never looked at him the same.”
It’s no secret drinking increases the likelihood of casual sex (emphasis on casual). The U.S. National Library of Medicine conducted a study that examined alcohol consumption and dating relationships. It found “a positive correlation between the number of drinks consumed and the likelihood of sexual contact for those not in a committed relationship.”
Essentially, single people drink to get it on.
But how unhealthy is this type of behavior? It’s hard to ignore that alcohol has the potential to break down barriers that might have otherwise never diminished. Once these barriers are down, it’s easier for college singles to meet people, specifically love interests.
One true advocate for liquid courage is ‘Julianne’ — also a junior at Colorado State University who doesn’t want her real name used. She, like Kelly, has a similar story, although the ending is quite different.
“There was this guy that I was interested in for a while and we hadn’t hooked up yet,” she says. “On New Year’s Eve, everyone told me this was the prime opportunity to make it happen. They said a kiss on New Year’s could either mean everything or it could mean nothing, basically there was nothing to lose.”
Julianne explains further how she knew the only way she would have enough confidence was if she threw back a hearty amount of shots. She drank more than normal that night.
“We went to a party together and headed right to the basement,” she continues. “Everyone kept telling me I had to go for it, and I had the feeling he wanted to kiss me too. I finally saw my opportunity and I went to talk to him. I was so drunk that I slipped on the five-inch heels I had mistakenly mixed with alcohol and totally ate shit right in front of him. Luckily I was so drunk that I shook it off and proceeded to kiss him for the first time. It was a damn good night.”
Even after determining if you’re a ‘Kelly’ or a ‘Julianne’ (or a mixture of both), the answer to whether or not alcohol is the Dexter of dating still goes unanswered for me. I turn to Shawn Whitney, assistant director of the Center for Family and Couples Therapy at Colorado State University, for some much needed clarity.
Whitney’s answers are incredibly helpful. Initially, I expected him to incite immediate caution when mixing alcohol and dating, like it’s his job — however, he does quite the opposite. He explains that you can meet someone you are compatible with anywhere. It doesn’t matter if anywhere is a school, church, a bar or even a house party.
“Alcohol isn’t an evil thing, it can be a great addition to intimate relationships,” Whitney says. “But if it becomes a norm it can be a crutch to genuine connection.” His only bout of caution is clarified when he explains what he means by alcohol turning into a crutch. “If you’re using it [alcohol] as the only way to connect with your partner, then the issue isn’t the fact that you like alcohol, it’s the way you’re using it that can be problematic,” he says. “Find out why you can’t connect with them in another way and start from there.”
Whitney goes on to explain that any kind of one-dimensional relationship is never truly healthy. In other words, you need to be able to connect with your partner with and without a third party, Mr. Jack Daniels. It all comes down to how you are using the substance. The main thing college students must remember is that anything in moderation is okay; it’s excessive abuse that often proves to be problematic.
So if you need that extra shot to make contact with a hot guy or girl in the corner, permission granted. Get out there and wear that crop top with pride because Friday nights, snoring grizzlies and alcohol only have the power to kill your game if you let it.