Does alcohol make you argue with your partner?
Why alcohol can be a factor in arguments and what you can do to avoid it.
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Why is it that a pleasant evening with our partner, whether it’s a cosy night in or a romantic meal out, can sometimes end in an argument when we drink?
Alcohol affects the brain causing lower inhibitions, which makes us feel more confident. But lower inhibitions can also make us say or do something that we may come to regret. And this can lead to arguments.
Alcohol interferes with the brain, reducing our ability to think straight or act rationally, it can cause some people to become angry.
Evidence shows that while alcohol may not always be the direct cause of a person’s aggressive behaviour, it is often a contributing factor, and some people even become violent.1,2
Sometimes alcohol can be used as an excuse for bad behaviour, but finding that you frequently argue with your partner when you get drunk, could reveal underlying problems with your relationship.
If alcohol is affecting your relationship, the best time to address it is when you are both sober.
If you both drink, it is helpful to be supportive of each other, and say things like: “Why don't we try to cut down together?” Then you can both motivate one another. You might also want to agree how you will both help each other do this, for example, by making a pact that you will set yourselves a limit.
Remember that others could be affected by your drinking and arguments, such as family members, and particularly children.
If only one of you drinks, then that person needs to accept their drinking is causing a problem in the relationship before you can begin to deal with the issues it’s causing.
The best nights out, or evenings in, don't have to include alcohol. You can bond over a romantic film or try alcohol-free cocktails.
If you do decide to drink alcohol, stay within the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines by not regularly drinking more than 14 units a week and having several drink-free days.
Food slows down the rate your body absorbs alcohol. So if you do choose to drink, eat before and while you are drinking.
If something is worrying you, don't wait until you've had too much to drink to talk about it. Instead, discuss any problems with your partner when you’re both sober.
Alternate your alcoholic drinks with a soft drink or water to help you drink less alcohol in a session.
 Leonard, K, E., and Quigley, B.M. (2017) Thirty years of research show alcohol to be a cause of intimate partner violence: Future research needs to identify who to treat and how to treat them. Drug and Alcohol Review. 36, 7-9.
 Duke, A.A., Smith, K.M., Oberleitner, L., Westphal, A. and McKee, S.A. (2018). Alcohol, drugs, and violence: A meta-meta-analysis. Psychology of Violence, 8(2), p.238.
Last Reviewed: 11th February 2021
Next Review due: 22nd February 2024