Today, a lot of kids binge drink not because they want to, but because their sweetheart’s friends want to.  Researchers at Pennsylvania State University analyzed the behaviors of over 900 high school students. They completed questionnaires about their drinking habits and social life, like “How much do you drink at a party?” And “Who have you dated at school?”

The result? The study found that when a teen gets involved in a romantic relationship, it’s the friends of their new partner that have the strongest influence over how much – and how often they drink.

Why? Experts say that a teen’s longtime friends tend to be like-minded when it comes to values and lifestyle.  But romantic partners are more likely to come from a circle with different attitudes and values. And a lot of teens will immediately copy the friends, because they figure it’ll get their new boyfriend or girlfriend to like them more. Which means even if they can’t stand the smell of tequila and don’t approve of underage drinking, if their partner’s friends are doing tequila shots at a party, then they’ll do shots, too.

But experts warn it could be deadly behavior. 5000 teens die every year because of binge drinking. And hundreds of thousands of teens are severely injured or sexually assaulted because of it.

So, parents, every time your kid leaves for a party, remind them of the dangers of drinking. Also, the moment your teen has a new sweetheart, invite them over for dinner. That way, you’ll have a chance to get to know them and their values.