Will Alcohol 3rd Wheel Your Valentine’s Day?

Alcohol is closely associated with Valentine’s Day date nights, romantic dinners, and even physical love. The reasons for its association with romance tap immeasurably deep into our collective psyche. Through the lens of the latest scientific knowledge available, it is well worth taking a closer look at the reality of alcohol’s effect on romance and love-making to answer a question we may not have given it’s due consideration…Is alcohol 3rd wheeling our Valentine’s Day celebrations?!

In the name of clarity, lets get basic definitions out of the way. Generally speaking, a third wheel is someone who is unnecessary to a group and is tagging along. For our purposes, the group consists of a Valentine’s couple (insert yourself here…hopefully) and the third wheel, superfluous alcoholic beverages. 

The purpose of this inquiry is to determine, is alcohol third wheeling Valentine’s Day? Is it necessary to the celebrations? Does it aid or hinder romance? And should we permit alcohol to 3rd wheel our most festive of date nights?

Let’s throw out some questions to help us gain insight.

Will alcohol make me look sexier?

Well, that’s a bit of a loaded question. Let's unpack this one. 

It’s safe to say the alcohol itself, or the A.B.V., will most certainly hold no bearing on your perceived level of sexiness. Whether your cup contains 80% moonshine, or 0% Monday Gin, this will not impact your own attractiveness. However, a stunning cocktail in good glassware can go a long way in terms of aesthetics. Lean on some good garnish work (think dehydrated citrus wheels, a fresh fig, lemon twists, and blowtorched…well, anything), to bring an aura of appeal that shows you put an impressive level of care and attention into your date night selections.

In different terms, there is the question of the “beer goggles effect” ie: do people look more attractive from a drunken perspective? Some studies have shown that alcohol does in fact make people look more attractive to the drinker. Even landscape paintings were reported to be more beautiful after alcohol intake. But while alcohol can make you attracted enough to hook up with someone you wouldn’t normally give a second look to, its hard to separate this from the well documented effect alcohol has for impairing one’s judgement. And for our purpose of the Valentine’s Day date, it is most certainly far less important to impair your or someone else’s judgement enough to hook up, than to achieve a successfully romantic evening between two people who already want to be spending the evening with each other.

Will alcohol make me perform better in bed?

While it’s a fairly common to have experienced alcohol’s effect of lowering inhibitions, this experience can easily slip more into one’s own psychological interpretation of their performance rather than any measurable reality of sexual performance. Just take dancing for example. Ever witnessed or personally had a bit too much to drink, then hit the dance floor thinkin' your moves are as good as Michael Jackson, only to see a video of those same moves that made you cringe out of your skin?  Self perception is a tricky thing isn’t it?! Same goes for the bedroom.

So lets leave perception behind and stick to the more scientific metrics of sexual performance shall we?

It’s Harder to Get Aroused

Alcohol inhibits the physiological response that facilitates sexual intercourse through targeted release of our bodies’ own natural production of lubrication. 

Erections Are Diminished Or Can Be Prevented Entirely

Alcohol decreases bloodflow resulting in weaker or shortened durations of erections. More regular alcohol consumption causes an increase in the release of the hormone Angiotensin, which is known to increase the risk of erectile dysfunction. Furthermore, alcohol depresses the central nervous system which can prevent one’s ability of having an erection in the first place, also commonly referred to as…(well, just check Urban Dictionary if you want the slang terminology on this one). Let’s just say our zero-proof whiskey doesn’t cause this whiskey-associated condition.

Getting Off Is Harder To Pull Off

Moderate drinking shouldn’t be an issue here, but once you tip over that “one drink too many” point you can cause what’s known as alcohol-induced orgasmic dysfunction. The cognitive, physiological, and behavioral effects of too much drinking cause the dysfunction which results in delayed climax and less intense orgasms, that is unless you are prevented from having one entirely. 

As any true romantic will tell you, Valentine’s Day, love, and romance are about much more than just sex, so it’s worth being aware of how else alcohol can crash a date night.

Drunken Fights & Arguments

It’s a fairly common, yet mortifying experience to wake up the following day after drinking too much to learn of something awful you said to a friend, loved one, or acquaintance. So why does alcohol make us prone to verbal slip-ups, aggression, and arguments? Founder of The British Association of Anger Management, Mike Fisher explains, “…alcohol slows down thoughts and reactions. The natural human ‘fight or flight’ reaction system, which is responsible for warning us about confrontational situations, is significantly reduced. People are more likely to misread social cues and have an inability to consider the consequences of actions that they may well regret when in a sober state of mind.” Even the good happy feeling that comes along with alcohol can have the insidious effect of masking feelings of anger that haven’t been appropriately dealt with, driving these emotions further inward. Then all it takes is just the right words or trigger from a loved one to set off the drinker, letting emotions spill out in an uncontrolled outburst. There’s not much worse than planning a lovely evening to celebrate romance and Valentine’s Day with your partner, only to have it ruined by a drunken fight. 

The belief that Valentine’s Day requires alcohol’s presence in your evening, is certainly worth focused scrutiny. Upon closer examination, the assumption that alcohol makes you more attractive, increases sexual performance and experience, and results in a romantic evening rather than argument are all weak assumptions at best. 


Look, theres nothing wrong if you choose to enjoy alcohol in moderation with your Valentine’s celebrations, but it is certainly worthwhile to be mindful and aware of your alcohol intake when the effects are so powerful. As a result of a closer examination of our own assumptions, the automatic associations of Valentine’s Day with alcohol are put into a more realistic, and therefore beneficial context, so that one does’t go into auto-pilot, thinking they must drink or that their night of romance will be inherently better with alcohol. There are so many creative and thoughtful ways to enjoy romance and Valentine’s Day, and so many new, quality non-alc options that this may be the first, and perhaps the easiest year to ask yourself, ‘Are we going to let alcohol 3rd wheel our Valentine’s Day?’