Let's face it: While alcohol is a great social lubricant, there's a reason people make some terrible relationship decisions when too much booze enters the picture.
It turns out liquor can actually impair your ability to interpret visual cues from members of the opposite sex, and two new studies show just how those genuine "beer goggles" can cloud your vision.
In the first study, British researchers asked college students leaving bars to take a breathalyzer test, and then look at some photos.
The photos had been altered so that the women appeared either perfectly symmetrical, or just a little bit off. And the students who had been drinking were far more likely to find the asymmetrical faces to be more attractive.
What's more, when asked outright, drunk students couldn't tell there was anything wrong with the asymmetrical images, according to the study in Alcohol.
Women in particular had a hard time with facial symmetry-- which researchers say may be due to the fact that men are, quite simply, more experienced at ogling.
In another study, researchers found that men who had been drinking were unable to tell the difference between a friendly smile and a more flirty expression of interest.
Researchers asked 59 young men to look at photos of women with different facial expressions and different kinds of dress--from conservative clothes to slinky, provocative attire.
Then, the young men enjoyed some vodka cocktails and looked at the photos again.
Must've have been a very unpleasant experience!
In any case, the researchers say the drinks changed how the men viewed the facial expressions, with many interpreting a causal friendly smile as a possible sexual signal, according to the study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
And that can probably explain the start of far too many instances of hurt feelings, socially awkward moments and barroom brawls.
Oddly enough, however, the men consistently understood the "signals" sent by the attire--and even after a few drinks knew that conservative dress sent a hands-off message.
Memo to female bartenders: Tight-fitting clothes may be great for the tip jar, but more casual attire might be better for your sanity... and security.
But while these new studies show the already well-known risks of hooking up while drunk, don't let them put you off a healthy booze habit. Research has consistently proven that a drink or two a night can help protect everything from your heart to your brain.
Moderate drinkers even live longer. And if you keep it moderate, you'll never have to wonder about who you're waking up next to... or how s/he got there.